Saturday 28 December 2013

Now that Christmas is Over...

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of timing thinking/planning/anticipating Christmas in the month(s) leading up to it.  I put in lots of effort picking out or making presents I hope people will love.  I put up decorations and bake up a storm throughout the month of December.  I come up with a game plan for having all my ducks in a row for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day - which presents come to which family gathering, what food prep needs to be done on what day - etc.

And then we get to December 27th and it's all over.  The presents have been opened, the food has been eaten, and you feel like you need a day to recover from the holiday!  What comes of all the planning?
(photo credit)

This year I memorized Zechariah's prophecy from Luke 1:68-79, which reads:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
 for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
 in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
 and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
 and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
 for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
 in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
 whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
 to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The truths that come as a result of Christ's birth don't just apply in the month of December , they last all year long.  
All year long, Christ redeems His people.
All year long, we are to serve Him with holiness and righteousness.
All year long, when we fall terribly short of what he desires, he forgives us because of His tender mercy.
All year long he gives light to our paths and guides our feet in the ways of peace.

If Christmas for you seems to simply end in December, remember these truths.  Pick up a Bible and read the Gospel of Luke with new eyes.  Pray to the God who created you to show you what He has done for you in sending His son to live on this earth as a man.  Put your trust in Jesus Christ, who through his death and resurrection broke the bonds of sin and death and can give even you new life.

Merry Christmas!

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Thursday 19 December 2013

Is there Too Much on your To-Do list?!

A good friend of mine recently told me she was often overwhelmed with too much to do, and wondered how I say no - and keep my agenda sane!  I can't say I ever thought of myself as especially good at this, but as I thought about it throughout the day - I realized there are a few measures I take so that my priorities stay straight.

Since I suspect we aren't the only two ladies who struggle with this - I thought I'd share my thoughts here as well.  Feel free to chime in with your advice in the comments.

  1. I generally check with Andrew before I take on something new and ask him if he thinks it would be a good idea.  He is much better than I am at knowing if I'm taking on too much.  In addition, I want to make sure I'm doing things that he feels are good for our family (and he's happy for me to do many things simply because I enjoy them too!).

  2. I try and make myself weekly and/or daily to-do lists.  Usually I make a week at a glance schedule (I just map it out on a notecard), so I know what events I have, and then also a list of things I want to get done that week.  Then I slot those things into the gaps in the days where I am not out - trying to leave time on Thurs or Friday to just do the things I haven't finished from earlier in the week.  Andrew and I will often go through our "to do" lists for the week or day in the morning or on Monday to see what the other wants to accomplish and to hear it ourselves too. We also share a Google Calendar, so we can put events on there and the other easily sees them - this is important for us because we are really good at forgetting!

  3. We have a "family vision" document which Andrew tries to have us go through once every few weeks which has the larger goals we want to accomplish, as well as bigger scale practical items.  This helps me have a picture of what is important for me to be spending my time on and to prioritize.  This is really great because if what you're doing looks different than what other mom's are focusing on, you have an understanding of why that is - it is about the vision of YOUR family - not anyone else's!

  4. Andrew never minds if I "blame" him for having to turn something down.  We got this wonderful idea from a wise married couple we are friends with.  It seems men are less likely to care what others think than we are - so if it is easier to say "Oh, I just can't take that on - my husband thinks I've got too much already" or "My husband would rather I spend my time on ____.", than check with your husband and see if you can "blame" him too!  (Just don't do it in a complain-y sort of way - its a blessing to have your husband watching out for you!)

As you can see, most of my success in managing my time and priorities well comes from consulting my husband.  You are a team (Matt. 19:5)!  And also, you are his helper (Genesis 2:18) - so don't be afraid to ask him how he'd like you to be spending your time!  I think you'll be surprised how much this one little step can make a world of a difference.

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Monday 9 December 2013

As-Good-As-Lasagna Eggplant Parmesan!

During the summer, my mother-in-law's garden was overflowing with eggplant and one evening she decided to make Eggplant Parmesan. We couldn't BELIEVE how good it was.  Thanks to her generosity, and it being my new favourite meal, we had it quite a bit throughout the late summer and into the fall.

It's a great recipe to make if you have a vegetarian friend coming over, OR if you just want a delicious meal!  We always ate ours right away, but apparently they do freeze well.

All you need is two eggplants, any kind of tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan:
  1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise (so you have long strips, not circular pieces).  Try to slice them pretty thin.
  2. Dip a slice in flour, then whisked eggs, then bread crumbs. 
  3. Fry about 4 minutes each side.  You want them to be fairly soft after this.  (You can bake them for a healthier option).
  4. I continued to do the above with all the eggplants while I assembled the casserole as described below.
  5. Tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. (In the above photo I did two 9x9 pans.)
  6. Then repeat: a layer of eggplant pieces, tomato sauce on top, sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella (I think I did three layers).  I ended with the cheese but did more mozzarella on the very top than I had inbetween layers.
  7. I didn't layer the eggplant pieces in the same place, which you could do if you wanted to be able to take out a single eggplant portion.  I figured I would try and make more of a solid eggplant casserole and cut it into servings, which seemed to work.
  8. Bake it for around 30 minutes at 350F.  I then broiled it a couple minutes at the end to get the cheese a little crispy.
Watch in wonder as people exclaim over the deliciousness! :)

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Saturday 30 November 2013

How Do You Keep Your Toddler Busy? A Growing List of Ideas!

Last week I shared how I had been unwittingly viewing my little guy as an "inconvenience".  One thing a friend said struck me as true - it takes some creativity and planning-ahead to allow yourself the time to get things done (ie: dinner) when you have toddlers.

See, up until recently I was still sorta living like our son was in the infant stage - the one where you plop them on their tummies on a mat near the kitchen and coo at them every once in a while and they are perfectly content!  Even though he was now running, hammering, building, exercising - I somehow still expected the same sort of ease in distracting him with a few (same-old) toys on the floor.

Since talking to other mom's, I see that isn't the case!  There is wisdom in planning interesting things for your children to do, and setting them out for the occasions where you need to be able to focus on your task at hand.

What I'm hoping is that you'll share a new idea (or ideas!) here in the comments, or on Facebook, and I'll add them to a growing list in this post - so that we can all benefit from a little creativity and planning!  Feel free to include links to your post, or great ideas you found on Pinterest! (Update: Lots of great ideas coming in - please continue to add yours!)


  • Give them some pots and pans, wooden spoons, a bit of water, and your veggie peelings so that they can make their own dinner/soup!
  • Spread out some towels on the floor and let them "wash dishes" in some soapy water in the sink, or on a tub on the floor.  Expect there to be spills, so you aren't discouraged when there are!
  • Get out some huge pieces of paper and tape them in place and let them colour with crayons on the floor, table, or in their high chair.
    • Do be careful as it only takes a moment for them to decide to colour off the paper!
  • Put them in a large cardboard box and let them colour inside it.
  • Have different jars of things like dried beans or  assorted pasta shapes.  Spread out a sheet and have various containers for them to sort into.  Be wise about what they could choke on and how likely they are to put them into their mouths. 
  • Give them shapes and blocks - toddlers like to sort things or line them up over and over. Large rubber blocks are good for building and easy for little hands, and are still used by bigger ones.
  • For those that are noise tolerant - noisy toys can often bring lengthened contentment!
  • GREAT POINT: Most important of all though, is to find a couple of (or more) things your toddler ABSOLUTELY LOVES to do and use them ONLY in those specific times and ALWAYS make sure you stop while the interest is still high.  Even if you're not finished your own task, change what they're doing so they don't get bored.  If we allow them to play with "it" until THEY'RE done, it will shorten the life span of what you're using to occupy them, and we need all the advantages we can find at this fun age :)  
  •  The book Slow and Steady Get Me Ready is a fantastic book for every young mom. It has an activity a day from birth through to age five. The last activity is learning to pack a suitcase.  I highly recommend it as it is filled with a plethora of age/ ability appropriate ideas.
  • An indoor "sandbox" is a huge hit in our house. We use cornmeal, but you could use anything. We put it in a shallow rubbermaid container with a lid, so it's easy to put away if necessary. 
  • Homemade playdough or fingerpaints - that way it's okay is they decide to do a "taste test".
  • Hot Wheels cars and ramps made out of cardboard provide lots of entertainment - especially when the cars go far! A ramp with a parking garage underneath is even more fun.
  • Bowling with a soft ball and paper towel tubes or anything else that stands upright. 
  • Stickers and a blank sheet of paper are great fun. Puffy stickers are easier for littler ones to peel off on their own. When the masterpiece is finished we sometimes mail it to grandparents, which spreads more joy!
  • Put together a bin of dress-up clothes and the creativity begins. 
  • Make a fort out of dining room chairs and some blankets and let your little one explore. 
  • Cotton balls, a little bowl of glue and cut out shapes (ie a sheep or snowman). 

I can't wait to see how this list will grow! As you leave comments or links I'll add them above!

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Monday 25 November 2013

Debt-Termination - the story of a family climbing out of bondage

I am really excited.  I am excited because a very wise woman, who happens to be one of my best friends, has decided to share some of her wisdom with you!

She has always loved to write, journaling her thoughts and prayers for years (and encouraging me to do so as well) and she has a severe passion for mentoring younger woman.  God called her out of ladies ministry in the church many years ago, and since then her home has been flooded with younger woman as he proves himself faithful in providing opportunities in HIS time.  And now He has done it again, with a new-found challenge, and her husband's blessing - she has just began blogging their family's journey to get out of debt!

You can check it it out now at The Debt-Termination Blog, or you can listen as I tell you a bit more about her, and this new adventure.

I don't want to give you the whole story - because I think you'll love the way she tells it herself!  She only started blogging the week before last, so it is really worth starting at the bottom of the page, so you can read the whole thing chronologically.  Then you'll be up to speed and can follow along as she give you the play-by-play of the blessings and challenges coming along the way!

In a nutshell, this is just your average North American homeschooling family of ten!  And like most families, they have a mortgage.  Also, like most families, they figured this was pretty normal - in fact if you looked at debt statistics for the whole country, you'ld see why they figured they were doing pretty good!  Thank the Lord that He doesn't leave us be at "pretty good", eh?  He convicted my friend and her husband that they needed to take some radical steps to get themselves out of debt - ALL debt! And this is where you come in....

My friend is going out on a limb, and trusting that the Lord will use this experience not only to benefit her family - but to possibly benefit yours as well!  It's much easier to talk about a journey once it's over and you have that "hindsight is 20/20" perspective, but its much harder to share when you're in the thick of it - and yet this is exactly what she's doing.

And I'm sharing this with you here because I have been so blessed by her friendship and openness about her family throughout the years I've known her - and I want you to have the chance to benefit from it now too!

So head on over to The Debt-Termination Blog!  Be sure to be as kind over there as you are over here! :)

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Saturday 23 November 2013

A Surprise Christmas Gift for your Husband (or wife)!

Okay friends,

I'm going out on a limb sharing this with you here because I really want it to be a surprise for Andrew for Christmas!  However, I think it is such a neat idea, and it would be a shame to wait until after Christmas to share it with you!  Also, Andrew has amazing self-control when it comes to not being curious about things he knows are a surprise, so the only way he should find out is if one of you tells him - please don't! :)

I originally saw the idea for a "Year of Dates" here, and she explains it really well and has lots of good tips for organizing it.  Also, if you go on Pinterest and search "a year of dates", you will get lots of other similar pins as well:

Search "a year of dates" on Pinterest
The basic idea is this:  You put together 12 pre-packaged dates for you and your spouse - one for each month of the year.  You may simply include a page explaining what you will do, or you may add things like gift-cards, little presents to go with the date, or anything else you can think you!

I decided to split my date ideas into three categories:
  • outdoor dates, 
  • eating-related dates, and 
  • free dates
We are trying to save money and so I've tried to keep costs for the dates low, and planned things that can come out of our monthly "date" budget throughout 2014.  We try to plan two dates a month - one recreational one, and one more conventional one (ie: dinner), so I know these will fit in with our routine.

Some ideas of what I'm including are:
  • A new board game and a plan to get take-out (this is for the month our baby is due!)
  • A triple-date: bowling with our parents (we did this two years ago and had so much fun we've been wanting to do it again!)
  • A picnic date (this is sort of a "free" and an "eating" date)
  • Rock climbing (one of the more expensive dates, but an activity we both enjoy and have probably only done twice together)
  • Starbucks gift card and a date brainstorming dates for 2015 (this will be the December one)
So that's the plan!  And I would LOVE to hear your creative input for more ideas!!

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Wednesday 20 November 2013

The Post it Pains Me to Write (or the trouble with "inconvenient" children)

It hurts my heart to say this, to even admit it:

Sometimes I treat my son like an inconvenience.

Oh I love him, I know I do, but I don't always treat him like I love him as much as I know I do! Sometimes whats more important to me is having time to myself.  Whether that is time to cook, or time to sleep, or time to blog.  Lord, forgive me.

This isn't to say I think it is wrong to train your children to play by themselves.  I don't think it is wrong to decide it is best to cook dinner without a whining toddler tugging at you.  But what I know needs to change in myself is my own inner thoughts when dealing with such situations.  I need to know, and to convey to him, the reasons why I'd like him to play alone - not just brush him off with a terse "No - you need to go play in the living room!".

Why am I telling you this?  It's not because I'm enjoying it, that's for sure.  But maybe you've noticed the same sort of tone in your own voice.  Maybe you too sometimes fall asleep at night thinking "Did I love my children as well as I could have today?"  And I want to encourage you that it is worth crying out to the Lord to change your heart!

I don't want to go through my days getting the things I "need" done and just having my little guy along for the ride.  I want our time together to be valuable for him too!  I wan't to use the opportunities I have him by my side to teach him truths about life and God and people.  To help him gain knowledge he can use in his future tasks.  And to instill in him the strongest sense that I love him THIS MUCH - but that even that is only a small fraction of the love God has for His children.

I don't want to take my time with him for granted.  I know I am so blessed to get to spend all day, every day with him - and I can gladly say I don't think I have ever wished for any other situation.  But I want him to know that.  I want him to come to understand it through the way I interact with him, and how I include him in our day.

The love I feel for him is overwhelming, and yet in the heat of things it is often overshadowed by an immediate desire towards some less eternal work than raising an eternal soul.  But yesterday I read: "While we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are unseen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

May God help us all as we raise our children, to do so with a love that is patient and kind, not self-seeking or easily angered.  May our love for them be more like a picture of His love for us.

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Friday 15 November 2013

Our Birth Story - a Joy to Share!

(You can read how we decided to have a natural birth at home here.)

A few years ago I would have thought it completely strange to be writing a "birth story".  I don't think I'd ever heard one, and I certainly wouldn't have been interested if the option presented itself!  However, as we found ourselves pregnant with our honeymoon baby - thinking about birth became something I did a bit more often!  That said, I am now practically a birth-story junkie!  And so I'm posting this for others like me now...and for those like me then.  Maybe this will be the first birth story you've ever read - and I pray it will be an encouragement to you that birth can be an amazing, positive experience!

Walking the hospital halls trying to keep things moving along!
January 10th - my due date - came and went.  As did January 11th, 12th, 13th.... By the morning of January 24th we had plans to meet with our midwife and an OBGYN at the local hospital, as I was officially two weeks overdue!  We were told the Doctor would push for induction (haha - get it!?).  We weren't super keen on this idea, as there was nothing from the ultrasounds which had shown the baby was in any danger, and the midwife had told us that the decision was ours, so we were planning to decline induction. (We loved our midwife!)

As it happens - thanks to many prayers and God's perfect timing - I went into labour that morning!  (I think it started very mildly the night before but I wasn't going to get all excited - I took two Graval (anti-nausea pills) throughout the night and slept until about 5:30am) .  We called the midwife at 8am and she decided to come meet us at the house.  After we confirmed that I really was in labour and things were moving along - she recommended that we have the baby at the hospital (although we had planned to have him at home) because I was technically post-term (more than two weeks overdue) which is when risk factors increase.  This was fine with us - I was so thankful not to have been induced!

Finding out he's a boy!
So I laboured at home until about noon and then we went to the hospital.  The whole time I was there it was only us, the midwives, and our birth photographer in the room.  It was so great to know EVERYONE who was around.  (Not the case if you are birthing with the OBGYN and nurses who are on call).

The amazing thing is that during the breaks between contractions I felt FINE.   (I tried to relax during the breaks and not think about the next contraction).  Sometimes I would feel like eating cookies, calling my mom, joking around, etc - and then a contraction would come - I'd focus on getting through it - knowing it will end - and the cycle continued.

One of my favourite pictures of Andrew ever - admiring his firstborn son.

Eventually around 3pm the midwife broke my water to try and get things moving along and I had to stay in bed after that hooked up to the fetal monitors (basically just bands around your belly that measure the baby's heart rate and your contractions).  The doctor had spoken with the midwife and said I should have them on.  This was the worst part, but I was able to take them off to go for long, leisurely bathroom breaks.  Also I was getting tired physically and so didn't mind lying down for the most part.

As contractions got harder I used nitrious oxide, which is essentially self-administered laughing gas which you can use during a contraction and it forces you to breathe deeply and slowly.  Some women say it makes them feel dizzy or high - I didn't experience this.   I started pushing probably around 6:20pm and honestly - people say this and I didn't believe them - but pushing is satisfying!  It doesn't really hurt it is just such hard work!  It was like I was being asked to do something that was too difficult - but it wasn't!  I did it!  Such a great feeling.
Celebrating God's goodness to us!
Again there were breaks during contractions where I was pushing - I even fell asleep during one of these - something I had read about women doing but also found hard to believe!  And so eventually I pushed that baby out!  It did hurt at the end when our baby's head was coming out but because I knew that meant I was MOMENTS away, it was practically a welcome pain!  I was actually annoyed early in the pushing that I wasn't feeling that specific burning pain because I knew that meant we weren't that close yet!  Andrew helped the midwife catch Jake and they put him right up on my skin.  (Holding your baby skin to skin as soon as possible is SUPER good for the baby - gets them the right temperature, helps their immune system kick in, and all sorts of other cool things).

Even though I knew I was in quite a bit of pain at the time, honestly, moments after it was over I was thinking "that wasn't so bad".   All of a sudden it was over, I felt no more pain, had to exert no more energy, and I was holding my BABY!  I don't know that it gets any better.

Our first family photo!

I was on the phone with my mom less than 6 minutes after Jake was out and had to hang up to birth the placenta!  (that was sorta funny!).  We had a whole bunch of relatives there within two hours and I felt GREAT.

Anyway - I hope this encourages someone that they can do it too and it can be AMAZING!  Also Andrew and I have been talking about how since having Jake we've been having the best days of our lives.  We are so happy we didn't decide to wait to have children, because there is nothing like it.  So hopefully this can encourage you in that way too - if it is something you are thinking about.

Welcome to the world! We loved you before we met you.

You can check out our previous post from this week to read how we had decided we wanted to try for a natural birth at home (which we obviously didn't get) - and also resources we would recommend to help prepare for one.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Our Decision to Have a Natural Birth at Home

We found out we were pregnant shortly after getting home from our honeymoon.  I didn't really have any strong desires regarding specific birth choices, but was very excited to be having a baby!  I was open to natural childbirth, but was also definitely open to having an epidural or other interventions.

My mother-in-law had given birth naturally at home to her four sons, and my own mother had a C-section with her first child (me!) and then a VBAC with her second.  One of my best friends, a mother of 8, had had epidurals, inductions, natural births at home and in the hospital.  So I had access to a variety of experiences right within my own family, and I wanted to keep my options open - not committing myself to any specific course of action.

Most of the people I knew who had given birth recently had done so under the care of midwives, and I had heard nothing but good things about them.  We went to meet with our local midwife group, and we really liked certain principles of midwifery like continuity of care, informed decision-making, and having them come to our house for the baby's check-ups in the first week.  With our midwife group you could choose to have your baby at home or in the local hospital, and had access to all the same interventions at the hospital as you would under the care of an OBGYN.

Reading and Listening

At some point in my early pregnancy I was perusing a used-book store and came upon a book called "Adventures in Natural Childbirth".  Sounded interesting - and though I wasn't planning to read it anytime soon, I thought I'd buy it anyway.  It sat on my bookshelf unread for the next few months.

During our third trimester, we began taking pre-natal classes from a local, private organization with an emphasis on making informed choices throughout childbirth, and which presented options for both natural birth and medicated birth.  We decided to take this course as opposed to the public health classes, as we were told that they were more about just letting you know what would happen when you came to birth at the hospital, less about giving you information and letting you make the choices. This course was extremely beneficial to us in giving us confidence regarding the birthing process, and an understanding of why and how one would desire to have a natural childbirth.

At some point I did start reading "Adventures in Natural Childbirth", albeit with a sort of squinty, apprehensive look - worried I was going to stumble across a story that made me fear the whole thing altogether.  That didn't happen.  Instead I saw for the first time the amazing breadth of variety there is within natural birth stories.  The book was divided into three sections - with a doctor, with a midwife, and unassisted births.  Throughout I saw that birthing a baby naturally wasn't something that only hippie-like people did, or only women with some amazing pain threshold.  This was just regular women, birthing naturally for thousands of different reasons, in different places, with different mentalities, and under different circumstances - but they all did it.

But Could I Do It?

I consider myself to have a very low pain-tolerance. Once after getting a black eye from a baseball I tried to catch, my best friend told me I looked tough, in an effort to comfort me.  Through my tears I whined back "I don't want to be tough - I wan't to be feminine and fragile!".   Was I up to the task of birthing a baby without anything to numb the pain?

Eventually the questions of where we planned to have this baby came up.  I knew that if I chose to birth at home, I ruled out any pain medication - and that was a huge barrier for me.  We went to a home birth information night, and I felt we could safely deliver our baby at home - I just didn't know if I was ready to let go of the pain-medication safety net!

I don't know exactly what happened that made me decide to go for it, but at some point I did decide I would plan to have a natural birth at home.  All of the above factored in, but the birth stories I read made a huge impact on me in terms of believing I could do it.  I came to believe that it would be the best thing for our baby as well.  Andrew was on board with a home birth from the beginning, but never pushed me and wanted me to feel comfortable with the decision we made. I was so thankful to have a husband who supported me in this, and believed in me also!

Getting Ready for the Big Day!

My best friend's mom (mother to 10) recommended the book Husband-Coached Childbirth - on the Bradley Method.  We found this very useful in actually preparing for the natural birth we now hoped to have. He focuses on relaxation techniques and trusting the woman's own instincts to mark the various stages of labour, along with much support from the husband (as the title suggests).

I made myself a bunch of inspirational bible verse cards, in nice big lettering so I wouldn't have to squint to read them!  I would look through them coming up to the birth, and wanted them in my heart, as well as there on paper as a reminder that God would strengthen me for the task ahead, and that He was in control of every situation.

Our midwifery group gave us a list of supplies we'd need for our homebirth, and we also purchased an inflatable fishy-pool online to have the option of labouring or birthing in the water.  We lived in a small apartment with a small bathroom and tub, and preferred the idea of having a larger water space in the living room.  This does make preparations a bit more complicated than if you have a nice big tub, as you need a plan for filling it and keeping the water at a good temperature.

On our due date, we had our pool all inflated and were ready for our baby to make his arrival.  However, in birth (as in life) things don't always go according to our plans...

Later this week we'll share with you what DID happen - in the birth story of our first child.

A summary of the resources which helped us plan for a natural, home birth:

  • Midwives who were supportive of our desires and willing to take lots of time to answer all our questions.
  • A private (that is non-governmental) pre-natal class with a focus on preparing for a natural birth and enabling you to make informed choices about your birth
  • Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, M.D. - this book was recommended by a mom-friend of mine who has birthed ten babies and she said she used it for every one!  It was a HUGE help
  • Reading positive accounts of natural births. I bought the book Adventures in Natural Childbirth, Edited by Janet Schwegel at a used book store, and though I couldn't bring myself to read it until the second trimester, once I did, it was really helpful to see all the different ways women had natural births, and encouraging to read that they did it!  There are many books like this, and even online you can find many wonderful stories. 

What helped YOU in preparing for a natural birth?  

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Friday 8 November 2013

The Issue: Should Pro-Life Groups Distribute Abortion Images?

Some people are disgusted by images of aborted babies - in particular when distributed by pro-life groups. They say "A line has been crossed", "Children could see that", or "It's gross".

We have some different thoughts on the issue:

  • Shouldn't we be more disturbed and concerned for our children because of the scantily clad women and men on billboards and fliers distributed to our home almost weekly? (You don't have to get Victoria's Secret catalogs, The Bay or Sears flyers have the same sort of pictures).
  • If a line has been crossed, please state it clearly, and defend it biblically. In the above case we can refer to biblical standards of modesty, purity, and lust of the flesh. When it comes to photos of aborted babies - what biblical standard "draws the line" against unsightly images?
  • Yes, it is gross.  Abortion is gross.
  • Our culture accepts disgusting, often immoral images of violence and lust if it gives them a high, but if the image makes us feel bad - we'd rather not see it. For example, if we tell our child that he may not see the latest James Bond flick, we're likely to be labeled judgmental and legalistic.  If we speak about "protecting him" from the truth about aborted babies - everybody nods in agreement.
  • What if instead we saw it as a great discussion starter with our children?  They can hear the truth about abortion from us, before they become inundated by the lies our culture tells about it.  Pro-choice groups would have us not think about the actual babies, but only abstract (and misapplied) ideas of "choice" and "freedom" - here is a chance to talk about what abortion is really about.
For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.  From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalms 72:12-14) 

Kudos to those who are doing something about the problem! What if instead of spending energy speaking out against pro-life methods we disagree with - we spoke out against abortion itself!  Or better yet - implement a method you think is better and share that with others. In the words of Edmund Burke "when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." Let us not condemn those working to end an atrocity, unless we can give a clearly stated reason, lest we likewise be crushed in a society falling all around us with unchecked immorality and injustice.
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    Monday 4 November 2013

    Moving on a Budget!

    Moving is expensive!  We spent our first night in our new rental house this week and it sure is nice to be finished moving.  We only moved to a city about 40 minutes away, so it wasn't a cross country trek - which would obviously be different.

    We're quite budget conscious, and didn't want to spend more on the move than necessary.  I figured there are probably other families in similar situations, and and it might be helpful to them to highlight some of the ways we tried to save, and where we decided to spend the money.

    Photo Credit
    • Helpers - Don't be afraid to ask for help!  Most people, even if they don't think to offer, will be happy to lend a hand when asked.  Especially if you are part of a church community, here is a great opportunity - some people want to help within the local church body, but with our culture being so self-sufficient, it can seem hard to even find ways to do it!

    • Boxes - I made it a point in the week before we were going to pack to fill up our car with empty boxes once a day, mainly from grocery stores and liquor stores. Some of our "cheaper" grocery stores leave their boxes at the front, and at others we were able to get a really great number of banana, apple, and pear boxes (which are good because they are strong and have nice fitting lids) by going to the back and asking.  The liquor stores provide smaller boxes but they are really sturdy and so perfect for books. (A great tip here is to standardize the box size(s) you pick up, making it easier for packing the boxes in a van.)

    • Packing Materials - A friend of ours works for a moving company and was able to get us a whole lot of packing paper for free.  See who you know who might have other materials you can use.  Our parents both lent us their packing tape dispensers, which are also a really useful tool.  We bought packing tape, but instead of getting the 4-pack that cost $20, we got the 4-pack that costs $4, and it worked just fine!

    • Moving Truck - We considered trying to do without one, but in the end it would have meant a lot of trips.  We rented a 17' truck (which was the same price as the 14' truck), and were able to do the whole move in one trip, along with a second vehicle for people and some fragile, awkward things.  An important thing for making this work is learning how to pack it most efficiently.  Our moving friend gave us some tips of what they always do, which we wouldn't have thought of ourselves:
      • Put the couches upright in the two back corners, facing the middle of the truck.  You can put mats under them, and then stack boxes on the arms.
      • Then try and find a dresser, bookshelf, night table etc that will fit snugly against the back of the truck between the two couches. Put boxes on this too.
      • If your truck has a ledge above the cab, put light boxes or items there (we used kitchen chairs & couch cushions) which won't break if they fall.
      • Pack the rest of your furniture and boxes next.
      • Leave your dresser drawers packed, carry them out separately, and put them back in when the dresser gets in the truck.
      • Pack your mattress and box springs using a tie-down ot hold them against everything already packed, holding it all forwards.  (You can pack a big mirror between the mattress and box spring.
      • Use the remaining space at the back to pack very awkward things (like bicycles).

    • Packing the Truck - We were blessed to have many friends who volunteered to help us pack and move.  I had a "packing party" the week before with six friends, and we had four or so guys help load and unload the truck, as well as family who stayed to help assemble furniture and start unpacking. We labeled all our boxes with a piece of masking tape and the room they belong in, so that it was clear and easy for the movers to know where it should go.  As well we put tarps down so people could walk through the carpeted areas without having to take off their shoes.

    • Attitude - Above all, no matter what happens, have a good attitude!  It rained the whole day of our big move and yet everyone stayed in sunny spirits.  The men worked hard all day, we had a big pizza lunch which helped keep everyone's energy levels high, and we all still had smiles on our face when it was done - feeling the accomplishment of a successful day's work!  If others are starting to wane, find a way to help them feel better - you can set the tone!

    I know we haven't get everything, and this certainly isn't going to be our last move!  Please share YOUR tips for on moving on a budget (or just moving tips in general)!

    Happy moving,
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    Wednesday 9 October 2013

    5 Lessons for Christians from Apollo 13

    Recently Andrew and I watched Apollo 13, the impressively accurate Hollywood retelling of NASA's "successful failure".  I remembered it being a movie about a team of people working hard to solve a difficult and time-sensitive problem.  The engineer and leader in Andrew was intrigued!  A great story certainly, a captivating film - for sure, but also one which shared some important messages we as children of God can remember as we live out our daily lives.

    1. We are part of a larger whole, working towards the same goal, and every part of the body is important. When you become a Christian, it's not only your relationship with God that changes, but your relationship with Christians all over the world.  They are now brothers and sisters, you are a member of the global church, and together you are all striving to bring glory to God, and fulfill the great commission and dominion mandate.    In Apollo 13, there were many men working towards the same goal of getting the astronauts safely home.  They had different ideas about how it should be done, but at the end of the day, none of them were going to throw in the towel in a huff because they didn't get their way.  In our Christian walk we will disagree with other Christians, maybe in our church, maybe in our family, maybe in our marriage - but that gives us no excuse for walking away from the institutions which God has given us to be a part of.

      "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12:18 )  "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some." (Hebrews 10:24-25)  "As it is, there are many parts, yet one body" "That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another."  (1 Corinthians 12:20,25)

    2. God has created lines of authority which we are wise to place ourselves within.  One of the things we noticed in Apollo 13, was that while discussing a potential solution everyone would give their opinions - but once the call was made that a particular strategy should be followed, everyone else immediately put their efforts towards making that happen - whether they agreed it was best or not.   They worked their hardest and did so without bitterness.  This was a problem on such a large scale that it needed all the efforts of every man working with his whole mind and spirit.  That is the case for us as Christians too.  We should not be dragging our feet, grumbling about the authorities under which God has placed us, or neglecting the place of authority he's given us.  The problem of sin and lost souls is so global in size, and the stakes are too high.

      "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."  (Romans 13:1) "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body." (Ephesians 5: 22-23)  "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account." (Hebrews 13:17)   ...children obey your parents...

    3. The security which comes from knowing an all-sovereign God.  This was a lesson learned from this film because of it's absence.  I don't know about the spiritual lives of the real people involved, but it was almost glaring how in the movie none of the wives or families of the astronauts prayed during the days of stress and waiting.  They paced, they cried, they hugged - but they never prayed.  I know the only way I could find peace in that situation was because I'd know Andrew was in the hands of a divine, sovereign, and merciful God.  We can use our conviction and this peace to bring comfort to people who have no hope outside of this world.  Yes, there were amazing men doing their best to save these men, but our hope ultimately rests in one greater than them.

      "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright." (Psalm 20:7-8)  "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)  "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

    4. Importance of forgiveness and not holding on to remorse.  There were three astronauts trapped inside a very small space, where, because of the limited oxygen supply, it became very cold and water rations were low.  And yet these men still had to remain focused on solving the problem of getting safely home.  We were impressed with how, for the most part, they were able to remain encouraging and supportive of one another.  Yet we eventually see the effect of pent-up bitterness when one of the astronauts explodes verbally at the other, blaming him for causing the problem. Lucky for them, the captain stepped in and put a stop to the foolish finger-pointing, acknowledging the fact that it could have been any one of them who flipped the switch which caused the problem.  We as Christians should understand better than anyone the importance of forgiving others, because we ourselves have been forgiven so much.

      "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)  "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:11-12) "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

    5. God has given man amazing dominion taking powers.  It is clear throughout the film, that the magnitude of what man has been able to achieve in bringing men to the moon is incredible.  The movie takes place shortly after men first landed on the moon, and the country is still abuzz with the excitement.  God tells the first man and woman to subdue all the earth, and here we see an expression of that capability - traveling to, and performing science experiments on the moon. Christians should be at the forefront of a great variety of fields - engineering, music composition, writing, medicine - because God has commanded us to do all that we do as unto him and because it is one of the purposes for which he places us on earth, to subdue it.

      "And God blessed them.  And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28)  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord" (Colossians 3:23)

    Are there any movies you've watched lately in which you noticed some big takeaways for Christians? 

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    Wednesday 2 October 2013

    Monticello Soap Company - Review and Giveaway!

    Alyssa, the creator behind Monticello Soap Company, and I met back in 2009. Upon meeting Alyssa, it was clear she has a passion for serving God in all that she does, and since part of this means "working as unto the Lord", I knew that whatever she put her hand to, she would do so wholeheartedly.  I remember hearing about her foray into soap-making a number of years ago, and have been really happy to see her soap business taking off throughout Illinois, Texas, Florida and online.

    I was so excited when I received my package from Monticello Soap Company!
    And let me tell you, Alyssa did not disappoint.  My husband and I have tried both the Honey Oat and the Lavender soaps, and I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favourite (Andrew's choice is Honey Oat, although I'm not so sure, considering the way he raved about that Lavender soap everytime he had a shower!).

    Truly though, Andrew says the Honey Oat soap is the best soap he has ever used in his life, and this from a man who is careful about using hyperboles!  We both really loved the earthy sweet scent, and the exfoliating ability of the oat pieces.  Andrew noted right off that it didn't leave a sticky film like other soaps once you've rinsed them off.

    The Lavender bar we tried was the smaller size, which would be great as a hand soap, but I loved the scent so much I knew I'd want it in the shower!  It smelt just like lavender, which makes for an ultra-relaxing experience.  The soap was nice and smooth and really just a joy to use!

    Other things we LOVE about Monticello Soap Company are:

    • The company motto Soli Deo Gloria, Glory to God Alone
    • That Alyssa makes all the soaps herself, and is constantly learning and trying out new things
    • The SUPER reasonable prices.  With natural soaps being all the rage now, it's easy to find overpriced options - but not at Monticello Soap Company!
    • Made with all-natural ingredients, we can use them without worrying about what our skin is absorbing, and happily wash our little guy with them too.
    • The lip balms.  I have peppermint and lime.  I knew I'd like the peppermint, but was surprised to find I LOVED the lime.  It was so refreshing and silky smooth.  Often I find fruit flavoured lip stuff to be sticky and overly sweet, but that is not the case here. 


    And we are SUPER excited because Alyssa has agreed to giveaway a great selection to one of you!  The winner will be able to choose whichever scents they'd like in each of the following:
    •  1 Large Soap Bar
    • 2 Guest Soap Bars, and
    • 2 Lip Balms!!  

    A Special Offer for Who Can Stand Readers!

    For the next two weeks, when you buy 3 large soap bars, Alyssa will include 1 FREE guest bar of your choosing!  Just place your order online (not including the free guest bar), and send her an email at with the subject line "whocanstand" and let her know your name, order number, and what scent guest bar you would like so she can include it with your order!  

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    Thursday 26 September 2013

    Why Tolerence Won't Solve Bullying

    We all know that bullying continues to be a growing problem with today's young people, and it is especially evident in public (and private) schools throughout North America.  You are also probably aware that this has lead to a number of policies and legislation which are attempting to "solve" the bullying epidemic.  But there is a reason we aren't seeing the problem reversed.

    See, trying to "fix" the bullying problem is, at best, putting a band-aid over a wound which is spewing blood - the band-aid isn't addressing the actual problem, and it's not even really working towards a solution.

    Consider the following problems with today's young people:
    • bullying
    • sexual activity at a young age
    • disrespect for adults in position of authority (parents, teachers)
    Our culture seems to be promoting a different solution for each, when they all stem from the same problem.

    We shouldn't be surprised when children who grow up in a culture which teaches that morality is relative and God doesn't exist, are "given over to a debased mind" (Romans 1:18-32).  They are surrounded by people who don't know Christ and don't have the Spirit of God working in them.  Their real teachers are their peers (Luke 6:40), and so it should be no surprise when they create a youth culture which despises adult authority and has no moral compass.

    Do we really want, as this ad implies, to teach children
    to merely tolerate those who have a different skin colour?  

    We need to recognize that tolerance is different than love, and our society even twists this. The Bible doesn't use the word "tolerance", instead God tells us we are to love our neighbours, even love our enemies, and we are to hate evil.  Hate it in ourselves, hate it in others, and hate how it ravages the world God created.  Hate is a strong word and it is used here intentionally, just like it was by Paul when he wrote: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good."(Romans 12:9) Love - as biblically defined - is much stronger than, and quite different from, tolerance.  1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and kind, that it does not boast and is not arrogant, it is not resentful and it does not rejoice in wrongdoing.   See, if our love is to be sincere, than it must be accompanied by hate for its opposite.  If you love your husband, you hate adultery.   If you love babies, you hate abortion.  If you love good, you hate evil.

    That said, the ways in which our culture is teaching children to "tolerate" evil is not helping.  Every day they are inundated by media images which say "tolerate sexuality", "tolerate senseless violence", "tolerate disrespect and rebellion".  Do we really think that hanging up a "We do not tolerate bullying" sign in the school hallway is going to undo all these other messages they get all day long?

    The root of the problem isn't the bullying, the sexual promiscuity, the disrespect, etc. - the root, sin, is expressing itself in the moral breakdown of our society, and the overwhelming influence of the peer culture. I am not going to discuss in depth how we can go about preventing or reversing this trend with our own children, but I do strongly recommend  Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld, which addresses this.  It is one of the most interesting books I have read in recent years, and I highly recommend it.  

    One thing you can do is fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in your own home.  Scripture shows that parents are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of their children (Deut 6:5-9, Eph 6:4).  We need to be constantly sharing the gospel with our children, teaching them to look at themselves, their peers, and their culture through it's lens.  In this way we can provide a moral compass for navigating the deviant peer culture of aggression, sexuality and disrespect surrounding them - and a generation like that will go far in solving the bullying problem.

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    Monday 23 September 2013

    Should Babies Be Baptized? (Part 2 of 2)

    This is the second half of a series giving a synopsis of the book by T.E. Watson.  For part 1 click here.

    The antiquity of the baptism of babies (Chapter 9)

    When studying the tradition of the church on this or any other subject, it is important to remember that any tradition that nullifies the commandment of God must be discarded (Mark 15:1-9).  It is important to note that, if infant baptism is inconsistent and unauthorized by scripture, as chapters 7 & 8 sought to show, then a strong tradition must be discarded.  Watson recognizes this when he quotes the Westminster Confession:
    "The Supreme judge, by whom all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture."
    In this chapter, a careful search is made of all references to infant baptism in early Christian writing, as contained in the Ante-Nicene Christian Library.

    Some say Justin Martyr's reference to old people who had been discipled to Christ from childhood is a reference to infant baptism, but this is a stretch, and hardly plausible given Justin Martyr's own description of baptism:
    "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. ... And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe... And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed." (Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 2, p. 59f)
    Tertullian is the first person in Christian history that discussed the age of children with regards to baptism, and is opposed to baptism before understanding.  He writes:
    "And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. ... The Lord does indeed say, “Forbid them not to come unto me.” Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ." (Works of Tertullian, p 253)
    The Dutch theologian and historian Venema concludes that paedobaptism was not the custom or practice of the early church and writes:
    "Paedobaptism cannot be certainly proved to have been practiced before the times of Tertullian ... These are the things that may be affirmed with apparent certainty, concerning the antiquity of baby baptism, after the times of the apostles; for more are maintained without foundation"
    It appears that infant baptism was neither an apostolic tradition nor a general practice in the church in the first 200 years Ano Domino.

    Arguments from the Old Testament (Chapter 10)

    Because the baptism of babies is not authorized in the New Testament, some paedobaptist scholars, like B.B. Warfield, seek justification for it in the OT:
    "The warrant for infant baptism is not to be sought in the New Testament but in the Old Testament." (Studies in Theology, B. B. Warfield, p. 399)
    Watson contends that seeking justification for "what is essentially a New Testament ordinance" in the Old Testament "indicate[s] the weakness" of the argument.  Watson then lists many of the sometimes competing grounds on which infant baptism is built on Old Testament arguments and then goes on in the following two chapters to address the two most popular current arguments (as of the date of initial publication, 1962); the "Church" argument and the "Covenant" argument.

    The 'Church' argument of Charles Hodge (Chapter 11)

    Watson gives an overview of this argument and a step-by-step analysis of each of the eight propositions that Charles Hodge uses to show that baby baptism is proper (these can be found here.).  A short synopsis is given below:

    At the outset, Hodge presents the question and how it may be answered:
    "The question, Who are the proper subjects of baptism? is determined by the design of the ordinance and the practice of the Apostles." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 540)
    It is noted that he writes of the apostles:
    "In every case on record of their administering the rite, it was on the condition of a profession of faith on the part of the recipient." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 541)
    Noting that 'infants cannot exercise faith, and consequently ought not to be baptized' (Vol 3. p. 546f), Hodge decides to hinge baby baptism on whether or not children of believing parents are in the Church:
    "In order to justify the baptism of infants, we must attain and authenticate such an idea of the Church as that it shall include the children of believing parents." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 547)
    And because there is more than one definition of church (e.g. visible and invisible) Hodge supplies a definition for this argument:
    "In the present discussion, by the Church is meant what is called the visible Church; that is, the whole body of those who profess the true religion."  (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 547)
    However, Hodge's conclusion is inconsistent given the definition of 'Church' used within the propositions; babies cannot "profess" true religion.  This is fatal to the argument.

    Perhaps most notably, in the third proposition, Hodge seeks to show that the commonwealth of Israel was the visible church, something inadmissible by the stated definition of the word church.

    In fact, elsewhere Hodge vigorously denies that the commonwealth of Israel was a visible church:
    "It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one his natural descendants through Isaac, were constituted a commonwealth, an external community; by the other his spiritual descendants were constituted into a church, [invisible of course, since, at that time, the only formal organization was that of the law.] ... The conditions of the one covenant [the old] were circumcision, and obedience to the law; the conditions of the other were, and ever have been, faith in the Messiah, as the seed of the woman, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, [that is, the old covenant with the new] and the commonwealth founded on the one, with the church founded on the other. When Christ came, the commonwealth was abolished, and there was nothing put in its place. The church [now made visible] remained." (Church Polity, Charles Hodge, (New York: Scribner, 1878), pp. 66-67, italics mine)
    Interestingly, Hodge is very concerned that babies be baptized for reasons of salvation:
    "Those parents sin grievously against the souls of their children ... who neglect ... baptism. Do let the little ones have their names written in the Lamb's book of
    life, even if they afterwards choose to erase them." (Systematic Theology, Vol 3. p. 588)
    and so it seems that Hodge ties the baptism of children to their salvation if they die in infancy.  However, he elsewhere disagrees with this:
    "All who die in infancy will be saved." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 26.)
    And we can affirm with William Cunningham:
    "There is a great difficulty felt, — a difficulty which Scripture does not afford us adequate materials for removing, in laying down any distinct and definite doctrine as to the bearing and efficacy of baptism in the case of infants." (The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, p. 246)

    The "Covenant" argument of J. G. Vos (Chapter 12)

    The Argument for infant baptism by Dr. Vos is:
    "Infant baptism is a Scriptural practice which does not depend upon isolated proof-texts'. It follows logically from other truths of the Scriptures; the proof may be stated, essentially, in the following form:
    (a) Baptism is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace.
    (b) The children of believers are included in the Covenant of Grace.
    (c) Therefore the children of believers are entitled to baptism which is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace." (Blue Banner Faith and Life, 1959 January-March issue)
    But this very argument would also justify baby communion if the word "baptism" is replaced by "Lord's Supper".  The argument proves too much, thereby destroying itself.

    Watson does look at this argument in more detail, and the entire chapter is available online here.

    The evils of the baptism of babies (Chapter 14)

    • Firstly, holding to a practice that is unauthorized and inconsistent with the Bible opens protestants to a justifiable attack by Roman Catholics that we rely on tradition in addition to scripture.
    • Secondly, any time an addition is made to the commandment of God, an existing commandment must be changed or annulled, and this is the case with baptism; the plain meaning of the following statements must be confounded if applied to baby baptism: "putting on Christ" in baptism, "walking in newness of life" after baptism, "buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith", and baptism as "an appeal to God for a good conscience" (these are some of the verses considered in chapter eight)
    • Thirdly, baptism of babies confuses the understanding of both baptism and regeneration; many parents receiving a false assurance for the salvation of their children.  And well it might confuse parents if the plain understanding of the words in the Westminster Confession apply the same to infant baptism as to believer's baptism:
      "... a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life." (Westminster Confession, 28. 1.)
      or in the Articles of the Church of England:
      "a sign of regeneration or the new birth" (Article 27 of the Church of England)
    • Fourthly, Christ's name is disgraced as His visible church is filled with thousands of unregenerate who neither profess repentance nor belief in Christ's salvation.

    The Who Can Stand summary of Chapters 9-14

    The antiquity of baptism is lacking in support for infant baptism.  The "Church" argument of Hodge breaks down using his own definition of church, and the "Covenant" argument of J.G. Vos seems to prove too much.  Finally, Watson concludes in chapter 13 that infant baptism is retrogression, and lists some of the evils associated with infant baptism in chapter 14.

    The Who Can Stand Conclusion

    Our hope is that this book will help provide clarity of thinking for those considering the issue of the proper modes of baptism.  The book is both tough minded and very readable.

    Semper Reformanda!
    We highly recommend you buy the book (there are a number of used copies for less than $2 on Amazon).

    If this synopsis has piqued your interest, you can also read a good review of the book by Fred Malone here

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    Tuesday 17 September 2013

    Should Babies be Baptized? (Part 1 of 2)

    I was recently questioned as to why I believe that believer's baptism is scriptural, as opposed to infant baptism.  Having done some study on the topic roughly 10 years ago, but being quite rusty, I asked the pastor of our church if he had any good resources.  He did.

    In the book Should Babies be Baptized? T.E. Watson examines the lines of evidence used for and against infant baptism.  His book is eminently readable, and highly recommended by both myself and Stephanie (we commonly found ourselves trying to read it at the same time!)

    Throughout the book, the author exclusively quotes those who support infant baptism in refuting its validity.  It is interesting that many of the following arguments are affirmed by some to support infant baptism, while other staunch paedo-baptists utterly reject many of these same lines of reasoning, requiring other "better" reasons must be used.   

    Below is a synopsis of the first half of the book.

    (photo credit)

    Did the Jews baptize babies? (Chapter 1)

    Some affirm that the Jews baptized infants of proselytes, and therefore it is natural that Christians would do the same.

    It is sufficient here to say with T.M Lindsay:
    “But the subject of the baptism of proselytes is one of the most hopelessly obscure in the whole round of Jewish antiquities, and can never be safely assumed in any argument, and the general results of investigation seem to prove that the baptism was not one of the Jewish ceremonies until long after the coming of Christ, while there is much to suggest that the Jewish rite owes its origin to Christian baptism.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition)
    and to affirm with Pierre Marcel that:
    "... as good Reformed Christians it is impossible for us to found infant baptism on extra-canonical texts, no matter how compelling their authority may be. In the Christian Reformed Church the baptism of infants must be established and justified biblically." (The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism, p. 21.)

    Did John baptize babies? (Chapter 2)

    A review of John's ministry shows that he only baptized those who confessed their sins, thus excluding babies.

    Thomas Scott writes:
    "It does not appear that any but adults were baptized by him." (Commentary on Matthew 3:5,6)
    And Francis Turretine writes:
     "John admitted none to baptism but those who confessed their sins; because his business was to baptize adults." (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Thelogy, Section IV, question 22)

    Did Christ baptize babies? (Chapter 3)

    Given John 4:1,2, this might be better stated, "Did Christ or the disciples baptize babies during Christ's earthly ministry?"

    It is important to note that Christ made and then baptized disciples. 
    Some affirm that Christ condoned baptizing of infants based on his blessing of the little children in Matthew 19:13-15 and related texts.

    However, we agree with Jeremy Taylor:
    "From the action of Christ's blessing infants, to infer that they were baptized, proves nothing so much as that there is want of better argument; for the conclusion would with more probability be derived thus: Christ blessed children and so dismissed them, but baptized them not, therefore infants are not to be baptized." (Liberty of Prophesying, p 327, Jeremy Taylor)
    And concur with John Murray:
    "To conclude: these two assertions: (1) that little children belong to the kingdom of God; (2) that they are to be received in Christ's name do not offer stringent proof of infant baptism and they do not provide us with an express command to baptize infants." (John Murray, Christian Baptism, (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company: 1970), pp. 55, 65.)

    Did Christ Order the Baptism of Babies? (Chapter 4)

    In the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:14-18) Christ commanded baptism.  The proper subjects of this command are considered in this chapter.

    John Calvin writes:
    “As Christ enjoins them to teach before baptizing, and desires that none but believers be admitted to baptism, it would appear that baptism is not properly administered unless when preceded by faith.” (Harmony of the Evangelist, Vol. 3, page 386)
    John Calvin again:
    “Baptism is, as it were, an appurtenance of faith, and therefore it is later in order; secondly, if it be given without faith whose seal it is, it is both a wicked and also a too gross a profaning,” (Commentary on Acts, Vol. 1, p. 362.)
    And A. Plummer:
    "Make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) implies those who are old enough to receive instruction." (Hastings Bible Dictionary)
    Finally, Dr. Wall states:
    "The commission given by our Saviour to his disciples in the time of his mortal life, to baptize in the country of Judaea, is not at all set down in Scripture; only it is said that they baptized a great many.  And the enlargement of that commission among all the heathen nations, is set down in such brief words, that there is no particular direction given what they were to do in reference to the children of those that received the faith." (History of Infant Baptism, vol. 1, p.5)

    Did the apostles Baptize Children? (Chapter 5)

    This chapter undertakes to study nine mentions of baptism (Acts 2:38-41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36,38, Acts 22:16, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, Acts 18:8, Acts 19:1-7) in Scripture in apostolic times.

    It is noteworthy that Thomas Boston affirms:
    "There is no example of baptism recorded in the Scriptures, where any were baptized, but such as appeared to have a saving interest in Christ.' (Works, p. 384)
    And Richard Baxter states boldly:
    “I conclude, that all examples of baptism in Scripture do mention only the administration of it to the professors of saving faith; and the precepts give us no other direction. And I provoke Mr. Blake, as far as is seemly for me to do, to name one precept or example for baptizing any other, and make it good if he can.” (Disput. of Right to Sacrem. Paed. Exam. Vol. II, p. 29.)

    Indirect evidence in the New Testament (Chapter 6)

    A study of the texts that are sometimes said to infer the existence of baptism in the apostolic church are undertaken in chapter six.

    The first verse commonly used is 1 Corinthians 7:14
    "For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy."
    While there is much that could be said about the use of this passage, it is sufficient here to agree with the second of Albert Barnes' assertions here quoted, while not agreeing with the first:
    "I believe infant baptism to be proper and right, and an inestimable privilege to parents and to children. But a good cause should not be made to rest on feeble supports, nor on forced and unnatural interpretations of the Scriptures. And such I regard the usual interpretation
    placed on this passage." (Notes, explanatory and practical, on the First epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, p.134, Albert Barnes)
    Colossians 2:11,12 is the second passage discussed in this chapter, and is commonly used to link physical infant circumcision in the OT to infant baptism in the NT.  These verses run:
    "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead."
    As Watson points out (p.47), the reference to circumcision is to a spiritual circumcision, made without hands, and baptism is a sign of this spiritual circumcision; it is not mentioned as a replacement to physical circumcision.

    We can conclude with A. Plummer that:
    "Not only is there no mention of the baptism of infants, but there is no text from which such baptism can be securely inferred" (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible)

    Baptism of babies unauthorized by the New Testament (Chapter 7)

    This chapter discusses the conclusion drawn out of the first six chapters, that there is neither precept nor precedent (example) in the New Testament for infant baptism.  This conclusion is well stated by B.B. Warfield:
    “It is true that there is no express command to baptize infants in the New Testament, no express record of the baptism of infants and no passages so stringently implying it that we must infer from them that infants were baptized. ...The warrant for infant baptism is not to be sought in the New Testament , but in the Old Testament.” (Studies in Theology, p. 399)
    But, as Watson says:
    " is the custom of Reformed Paedobaptists to demand either a precept or a precedent to prove a matter Scriptural." (p. 52)
    And Mathew Poole is of this mind when arguing against indiscriminate baptism of adults:
    "I cannot be of their mind who think that persons may be baptized before they be taught: we want precedents of any such baptisms in Scripture." (Annotations. on Matthew 28:19)
    Watson addresses the common challenge from paedo-baptists that female communion lacks precept or precedent as well on pp. 54,55.

    Infant baptism inconsistent with New Testament teaching (Chapter 8)

    In this chapter Watson endeavours to show that infant baptism is inconsistent with NT teaching in 5 specific texts:

    Romans 6:2-4
    1 Cor 1:13
    Galatians 3:27
    Colossions 2:12
    1 Peter 3:20,21

    The plain understanding of "walking in newness of life" after baptism, "putting on Christ" in baptism, "buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith", and baptism as "an appeal to God for a good conscience" is confounded when applied to baby baptism.

    Watson spends some time on each passage and comes to the conclusion that these texts teach either believer's baptism or baptismal regeneration.  The answer seems clear.  

    It is sufficient for us to here affirm with J. V. Bartlett and A.C. McGiffert:
    "Infant baptism is not an Apostolic usage. It is not only that there is no trace of it in the first century: but the very idea of baptism then universal, namely as a rite of faith's self-consecration (often outwardly ratified by manifestations of the Spirit) is inconsistent therewith. (The Apostolic Age, p. 472, J.V. Bartlett)
    "Where the original idea of baptism as a baptism of repentance, or where Paul's profound conception of it as a symbol of the death and resurrection of the believer with Christ prevailed, the practice would not be likely to arise. But where the rite was regarded as a mere sign of one's reception into the Christian circle, it would be possible for the custom to grow up under the influence of the ancient idea of the family as a unit in religion as well as in all other matters." (A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, p. 543, A.C. McGiffert)

    The Who Can Stand summary of the first eight chapters

    It has been shown that there is neither precept nor precedent (example) in the New Testament for infant baptism.  It has also been shown that the teaching of infant baptism is inconsistent with the doctrine of baptism as expounded in several New Testament texts.  

    We will discuss the final six chapters later in the week.  In the meantime, we highly recommend you buy the book (there are a number of used copies for less than $2 on Amazon).

    If this synopsis has piqued your interest, you can also read a good review of the book by Fred Malone here.

    What about you?  Do you have a favourite argument or book regarding infant baptism?

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