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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Blessing of Anna Rachel Zirilli

The Blessing:

"Anna Rachel Zirilli, you are our daughter, whom we love; with you we are well pleased. You are no longer a little girl. You are now a woman. You are well equipped with everything you need to fulfill your calling as a woman of God," so ended a ceremony of blessing our 16 year old daughter in the company of family and friends, and some of the women who have been a blessing to her over the years. many of these women took the opportunity to speak and bless her. We collected their words in a scrapbook. And, we put together a word art collage incorporating some of those words, framed it and gave it to her as a reminder of who she is.

Word Art blessing given to Anna
My sixteen year old daughter is amazing. We love her. We looked at her and realized that somewhere along the way these past sixteen years she stopped needing her diapers changed, stopped needing us to cut up her meat, and stopped sticking car keys in electric sockets. And today, my wife will bring her to go get her driver's permit. She is no longer a child, but a woman.

We knew that we wanted to celebrate this with her, and so we dreamed up a way to do just that. For the past month we have been secretly contacting old teachers, family and other acquaintances who have had a part in Anna's life inviting them to participate in a blessing ceremony. Here is the blessing I read over her at the end of the ceremony:

"Anna Rachel Zirilli, you are our daughter, whom we love; with you we are well pleased. You are no longer a little girl. You are now a woman. You are well equipped with everything you need to fulfill your calling as a woman of God.

Before the foundation of the earth, God Almighty planned for your life and planned for you to be a woman. He knew this day would come. Psalm 139 says that He created your inmost being. He knit you together in your mother's womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. All the days ordained for you were written by God even before you were born. There is nothing that you will ever need to do to become a woman, because God has already made you one.

Today, we are simply recognizing publicly the work that God has already completed in you. Anna, you have heard what we think of you today. We see in you honesty, integrity, love, strength, grace, humility, power, weakness, intelligence, wisdom beyond your years, self-control, spiritual sensitivity and spiritual hunger, frugalness, compassion, a love for your Lord and Savior, and a desire to share that love with others. God has made you intelligent—you have a strong mind. God has made you beautiful. We've also noticed since the time you were a little girl that our Lord has given you a great ability to understand right and wrong, good and evil. You get along with everyone and are well-respected and well thought of by others, young and old alike. You are a leader and have used your leadership skills to make wise decisions concerning your friends and in many other areas of your life. We are filled with joy that God has given you to our family. You are a gift. You are a wonderful daughter

We love you and we bless you with all that God has for you. You are His and have been set apart from the world for his Holy purposes. We bless you with God's everlasting love, wisdom, peace, and joy. We bless you with sexual purity and if the Lord wills, marital fidelity and children of your own.

Would you gather around Anna, lay your hands on her as we pray together.

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."'

Lord, we are here today because we love Anna. We want her to know that we can see the work that you have done in her life in making her a woman. We commit her to you and we trust You to continue the work that you have begun in her. Make her into the masterpiece that you have designed her to be and You alone can create in her. We thank you for her. In Jesus’ name, Amen."

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life!”

It was an amazing day! Hopefully, one that Anna will never forget.

This blessing ceremony was our way of giving Anna a milestone to mark her passage from childhood to adulthood. We don't ever want her to believe that she needs something in order to become a woman. We don't want her to need a relationship, a job, a calling from God, a degree, or any measure of success in order to feel like she has become a woman.

We want her to know that she is a woman because God has created her to be just that. She doesn't have to prove it or earn it. She is.

Whether you have a child who needs to hear this or whether you just needed this reminder yourself, make sure you believe it. There is no greater waste of time than pursuing something that you already have. Finding it comes in resting and trusting in God, not in the endless pursuit.

"Meaningless. meaningless, everything is meaningless, a chase after the wind!"

Maybe today you need to look in the mirror or in the eyes of your teen and speak these words of truth.

You are a child of God. You are loved beyond all measure. You are an adult who doesn't have anything to prove. You are valuable because you are valuable to God. You are important because you are important to God. You are special, you are successful, you are all that God wants you to be. Surrender your great expectations.

Let God's opinion of you trump your own.
He's a much better judge than you or I.

(Here is the basic outline of the Blessing Ceremony that we used.
And, this is the intro and explanation that we prepared:

We believe that there is one God and Father over all and in all and through all. We believe that there is one Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through whom all people can be saved. And, we believe in the Holy Spirit who indwells all those who believe to convict, encourage and comfort them. We believe that Anna, based on your confession of faith, we believe that you are His. We believe He chose you to be our daughter and that He chose us to be your family and friends. We believe that He has your life preordained according to His abundant grace and plan for your life.

When you were still in Mommy’s belly, there was a time that we committed you to His care. You were, then, as you are now, very active. Since you were our first child, we were a little scared when we would see your heal or elbow push out and travel across the front of her belly, jutting out. And, then one day, you were quiet. You didn’t move for about 24 hours and here you sit, nothing wrong, but at that moment we weren’t sure what was going on. You probably just needed a long nap from all those gymnastics.

We climbed into bed that night and mommy turned to me and said that you hadn’t moved that day. I said, “Oh,” and preceded to go to sleep. She said, “The baby hasn’t moved all day.” “Oh! Are you worried that something’s wrong?” “I don’t know.” For those of you who don’t speak woman, that means, “Yes.” And, for once, I understood it. So, we prayed together.

As we prayed, God spoke to us. We felt like He was telling us that we were powerless. That we would have to trust him. That we couldn’t keep this little baby of ours alive, keep her heart beating, keep her lungs breathing, protect her from every disease and every evil even if we made it our only goal in life. We were powerless. This was sobering and our tears flowed onto our pillows.

But, He didn’t leave us there. He told us that he was able to protect and guide and hold our baby every single day of her life. And, that whether she died in Rachel’s womb that day or lived a hundred years, that He could hold her for eternity. He told us to trust him, to trust you to His care. And, we did. We didn’t have a promise that night that you would be ok. But, we had a promise that God was responsible for you and would care for you. That he was trustworthy.

We have clung to that promise every day until this one for each of our children. Today we want to celebrate Anna becoming a young woman. It is in conjunction with her sixteenth birthday, but it is not really about a number of years or a day of the year.

We want to celebrate what God has done and is doing in Anna’s life. He has guided her each day and he has made her a woman. She has graciously received His blessings and desired His leading in her life. We don’t know when it happened exactly, but we chose today to recognize that it has.

Anna Rachel Zirilli, today we acknowledge that you are a woman, a woman of God, and we who are gathered here today, will continue to love you and help you find your way on this next phase of your journey.

Some of you here have written something to Anna for this occasion and have come prepared to read it to her. Please do that now.)

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