Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review - Children and the Lord's Supper

Children and the Lord's Supper is a collection of essays addressing the issue of (as you can probably guess) children's participation in the Lord's Supper. Specifically, the book provides a critical assessment of the doctrine of paedocommunion, defined as "the admittance of a covenant child to the Lord's Supper on the basis of his descent from at least one professing Christian parent." Edited by Guy Waters and Ligon Duncan, Children and the Lord's Supper offers both a rebuttal to pro-paedocommunion arguments as well as a defense of the historic Reformed position that covenant children should be admitted to the Lord's Table only after providing a credible profession of faith. The collected essays address the topic from Biblical, theological, historical and pastoral standpoints.

The book is released under the Mentor imprint of Christian Focus Publications, indicating that its intended audience includes pastors, seminary students, and other serious readers. The book would also be most appropriate for those examining the issues from within the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions, as the historic Reformed confessions form a starting point for much of the book's arguments. The book's contributors include a number of respected Reformed authors, including Derek Thomas, Joel Beeke and Cornelis Venema (in addition to Waters and Duncan). The collected essays address topics including the nature of the link between the Lord's Supper and the Passover, the application of the critical "self-examination" passage in 1 Corinthians 11, an examination of relevant portions of the Reformed Confessions and liturgies, and a survey of historical evidence for the practice of paedocommunion in the Patristic era.

I would recommend Children and the Lord's Supper to anyone looking for a succinct defense of the traditional Reformed view on admission of children to the Lord's Supper. Those outside the Reformed tradition will also benefit from reading the book, particularly the essays on the Passover, 1 Corinthians 11, and the history of the practice in the early church. For non-Reformed readers, the essays dealing largely with the confessions and Reformed liturgy may be interesting but not as helpful in evaluating the practice of paedocommunion. (Admittedly, I have not read much in the way of pro-paedocommunion literature, especially the works critiqued in this collection, so I will have to defer to others to indicate whether the pro side has been fairly represented.)

Personally, the issue of children and the Supper is one I have not firmly settled in my own mind, and instead of settling the matter, Children and the Lord's Supper gave me further food for thought. I am a member of a Presbyterian church, so I do hold the Reformed confessions in high esteem. Yet they aren't infallible, so I would have appreciated if the book had spent more time examining the relevant Biblical texts than it did. I also found the historical survey most interesting, as it pointed to a diversity of practice in the early church. Perhaps this points toward a way forward on the issue of children and communion? Either way, the book provides a great starting point to a conversation on an important topic, and I look forward to hearing the other side present their case.

(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for writing a review. I was under no compulsion to provide a positive review.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hot Doughnuts Now

So, last Saturday we traveled to Alabama for our first family Christmas celebration with Gaines' Grandmama. And we came home from playing dirty Santa with...a doughtnut maker.

And not just any doughnut maker. A Sunbeam one, bright yellow, that looks like it came straight out of the Simpsons!

It's complicated how we got it, actually. I opened it when it was my turn, but then someone stole it from me. However, Jacob was so distraught at losing the doughnut maker ("Noooooooo!") that his dad and Aunt Amy conspired to get it back for him after the game. He was almost as upset that Amy stole it away until he realized it was really for HIM. Such a sweet aunt! Glad Uncle Mike was so agreeable about swapping gifts! (We promise to share some with you!)

This Tuesday morning I felt well enough to try it out. It's quite simple, really, you just preheat, make a batter, spray the hot molds with cooking spray, add batter to the pan, and heat until done. Just like the sandwich maker I used to have growing up, except this does get really hot, in order to bake them up all crispy, so watch your fingers!

I didn't just use any old recipe that came with the book, though. If I was going to make doughnuts, I was going to MAKE DOUGHNUTS. Baked Apple Pie Cinnamon-Sugar-Covered Doughnuts, to be precise. This recipe made about 15 of our mini-sized doughnuts. Perfect for hungry little boys who ate at least two each!

We will be trying this again very soon, with glazed doughnuts, per Ethan's request! Yum!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Year in Review: January

This has been the sparsest year yet on our trusty old blog. With these few weeks left in 2011, and in anticipation of more blogging to come in the new year, I'm giving you a recap of all the things I might have forgotten about if I didn't take a few pictures. Most deserve a blog post of their own, but as it is, you're lucky to get this much. So, without further adieu, I give you: January.

Last New Year's Eve we spent the long weekend driving up to Kentucky to attend Gaines' cousin's wedding. It marks the longest road trip we've ever taken as a family. It was also the perfect place to read my first Wendell Berry novel. Snow still clung to the mountainsides near the interstate as we drove, and the crisp air and mountain vistas made me want to return again during the fall. And the boys -- miraculously -- sat through the ceremony quite well. They also enjoyed the reception, but I heard we left too early, before the real dancing began. Still, here are the highlights:

Ethan really really wanted some food. Stat.
Jacob and his 2nd cousin Kaden making funny faces.

Me and my oldest boy starting off the New Year.

Nana dancing with Ethan. He was getting so sleepy...
 I don't even want to know what this was about. Cake?

Ethan dancing with his 2nd cousin Charlotte. So sweet!

Back home, the older and younger women of our church started meeting together each Sunday evening to participate in the Apple of Gold mentoring program. There was lots of laughter, yummy dinners, and much sharing of life, love and recipes.
One of many demonstrations. Lauren taught us knife skills. Two of the women in this picture, Becky and Lauren, now have newborns! Later, we wondered what exactly WAS in those recipes?!

Some of my favorite ladies watching from afar. There's my friend Lindsay smiling for the camera, and she, too, just had a baby this past summer. I love seeing the nursery so full of little ones!

Ok, so right in the middle of all this January fun came THE GREAT SNOWPOCALYPSE of 2011. If you didn't hear about us snow-trapped Southerners you were either in a snowstorm yourself of living under a rock. But we made the best of it!

Our back porch covered in inches. INCHES! of snow.
Jacob loved being out in the white stuff and could've stayed all day.

Ethan, however, was not so pleased and looked like this for most of his half-hour outside. "Too cold!" We were glad Daddy got to stay home, even if he did bring work with him. But we let him out to play with us for a little bit!
Jacob the red-nosed reindeer?

Question: Will winter outerwear still go on deep discounts in January if we have another one of these freak storms this year?

Ok, moving on to more fun our field trip at the end of January! A fellow homeschooling mom and mother of five, a good friend from church, had two extra tickets to the Georgia Aquarium and asked us to go with them at the last minute! We were delighted! We also got to make a trip this past week (in December) and it was so fun to see how they've grown and how much more they enjoyed seeing the different exhibits now they are older. Still, I think our January trip will always be remembered for who we got to see it with...

Ethan studies a starfish. I love he still had a mullet!
Hanging out with a friend of ours from church!

Watching the deep-sea creatures with some siblings from the same family. The manta rays were a favorite!

Attempting a family photo, but the tropical fish were more interesting.

And that sums up our January of 2011 in pictures. I'm sure we did lots more wonderful things, like paint pictures and play trains and read books, but I was also in that first trimester zone where I was TIRED ALL THE TIME (thanks, Calvin) so mostly I remember staying inside, where it was warm. And taking naps. Can we do that again this year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

How to Get the Giveaway Fairies to Like You

This week, despite being a bit rough in the general life category, turned out to be quite prosperous online. I won not one, not two, but THREE online blog giveaways.

If you've been a reader for a long time (and bless you, because this blog has been basically dead for three years) then you might recall I had a spree of winnings back when our oldest boy was a newborn. I was online all the time and blog contests were just getting started, so I think I just got lucky. I won baby gifts and toys and all sorts of things -- some I still use and enjoy and some I gave away as presents! But this week I proved that the magic can still happen.

Not only did I win the previously mentioned camping gear, I won TWO prizes from Half-Pint House Handouts. I've been following Megan's blog Half-Pint House for years now and started entering her contests only recently, whenever I saw something that struck my eye. Earlier this week, I won a $50 Spa Gift Card, which I fully intend to use on myself once I recover from surgery.

Plus, this morning Megan let me know I won a Baby Bullet! I've secretly wanted one for a while, ever since my previous mini-food processor bit the dust after the birth of our second boy. Our oldest, 4 year-old Jacob, will probably be the most excited about this since he has been declaring for months, even before Calvin arrived, that "We NEED to buy a Baby Bullet, Mommy! To feed the new baby!" I think he's been watching too much Sprout. He even quotes the commercials. He's going to be psyched!

Well, all this happened because late one night last week I went on a twitter-flurry of entering giveaways. And I'm here to share my secrets with you.

1. Enter contests only for things you actually want to win.

2. Enter often, maybe a few times a week, but only if you feel it is worth your time. If a contest takes me a few minutes to enter without too much effort, I'll do it. But if I don't really like the product or the entries are too complicated, I usually don't bother. But even if you only enter once in a blue moon, you have a chance.

3. Enter small, blog-based contests. Half-Pint Handouts is a great site, and she has multiple giveaways each week! The contest I won from Southern-Savers had about 1,000 comments, which are pretty big odds in my book -- it might be the biggest contest I've won yet. Definitely the biggest prize I've ever gotten. I like to stick to smaller contests, usually from people I know. But I will still enter the Pioneer Woman and Money-Saving Mom Giveaways. Just because they have really cool stuff.

4. Go all in! If there are multiple ways to enter, use them all -- Facebook, Twitter, etc. I have a Twitter account mostly for the purpose of giveaways. And you can always un-like or un-friend something after a contest is over. Rafflecopter, a service that many blog giveaways use, makes this easy -- it tells you what to do for each entry and then you just check that you've completed that step.

5. Don't be disappointed. There are lots of contests out there, and lots of people entering them. For me, it's a fun diversion that I take part in every now and then, but I don't count on winning. Ever. Which is why it is such a great surprise when things like this happen! I count it all joy!

Alright, now that I've shared my tips and tricks my odds of winning are sure to decrease sharply since you found me out. But please show Megan some love at Half-Pint Handouts. And read all her other stuff, too. You'll like her. It's my way of saying "Thanks!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Camping, here we come!

Back in October, I entered a contest at Southern Savers, one of my most favorite coupon websites.

Today I got the exciting news that I won $500 in camping gear from the Boy Scouts of America!

They haven't given exact details of what is included in the camping gear, but I hope it's enough for this family of five to go camping this spring!

We don't have any of our old gear (not that I had much to begin with -- a small tent and maybe some sleeping bags), and we haven't been camping since before we had kids -- so this is a wonderful blessing to us, especially right now. Yay for the great outdoors!

I am so thankful for Jenny at Southern Savers for hosting this contest and for the Boy Scouts of America for sponsoring the prize. I'll be on the lookout for packages in the coming weeks!