it is well with my soul11:23 AM
This past Sabbath* was super special for us - we dedicated our darling girl Valentina to the Lord. The dedication was held at the church that I have been attending with my family since we moved to MD in 2005 and we were surrounded by all of our family and friends. It felt surreal to see my professor, pastor (he married us in 2008) and honorary uncle and his family there. He met me as a college sophomore and was there as papa bear and I fell in love, got engaged and he was the one that uttered the words "you may now kiss the bride." And now here he was watching us vow to love, cherish and protect this new life we brought into the world. There wasn't a dry eye around...
My daddy did the dedication (he's a pastor) and the prayer he said as he held Valentina will forever be etched in my mind - it was beautiful, simple and inspiring.
One of the hymns sung that day was my childhood favorite - "It Is Well with My Soul." One of my uncles and aunts used to be part of a Russian folk singing group and they would tour around the world. They had gorgeous voices and I loved to hear them sing. One year they toured in London and we got to hear them sing in a stunning cathedral that made their voices sound ten times more beautiful than I had ever heard them before. When they sang that hymn I was transfixed, it moved me in a way I had never experienced as a child and I'll never forget it. The fact that it was chosen this Sabbath was the cherry on top of a perfect day!
I don't often talk about my faith even though I come from four generations of pastors. I suppose it probably has to do with the fact that in our family we never believed in beating people over the head with the Bible. My grandparents witnessed more with their life than anything my grandfather ever said at the pulpit and mum and dad have always been of the view that a sermon is better said through giving someone a place to stay, a hot meal or a shoulder to cry on. And the things that stick out in my mind from my childhood are the way my mum taught me to get our house "festive" for the Sabbath every Friday (I still love gleaming floors and lit candles on a Friday evening it just sets a lovely tone for the weekend). The way I watched both my parents drop everything to help someone (often to their own detriment - a ruined date night, a sleepless night, less money in the bank account or a long drive). And the way they would always read a devotional with us before school no matter how much we grumbled about it because as they knew and we would reluctantly admit - there's no better way to start the day.
These are the things I hope to raise Valentina knowing and valuing - kindness, humility, forgiveness, generosity and love.
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul."