Monday, December 31, 2007

The Higgins, Rogers, and De La Rosa Cousins

The Higgins, Rogers, and De La Rosa Cousins
Originally uploaded by R J Bremer

All the cousins on Christmas morning.

I've been told that the responsibility of getting another set of pink pajamas in there rests solely on Steve and me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ethan's Getting Baptized! Part III

Let us look at it like this: To be a Christian means that we have had an experience of the grace of God. That is essential Christianity. There are many definitions that one could give. One I have often quoted because it seems to me to be such an excellent one is that old definition of Henry Scougal, the Scotsman who lived nearly 300 years ago. He said that Christianity is ‘the life of God in the souls of men.’ In other words, what makes us Christians is not primarily what we do, but what God does to us. That is essential Christianity. This rebirth, this being born again, is all God’s action. It is not man’s, it is God’s. It is being born from above. It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, the essential thing about being a Christian is that one has thus been dealt with by God.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, My Soul Magnifies the Lord

Well, we had quite the busy weekend here in the Bremer household, which is probably why I've not been able to blog about it until Wednesday. It was so much fun though, and pretty much everything went off without a hitch! Ethan was baptized on Sunday of course, but the fun started on Thursday when Nana and Papa showed up. Papa read Ethan some stories, but he didn't like this one:

Ethan soon forgave him though:

Friday was spent shopping for party food and supplies. Then Steve came home from his business trip to a family that was very happy to see him. Saturday, the men worked in the garage (and put some shelving in my utility room so it is so much more organized now!). Steve's sister Jill and brother-in-law Tim showed up Saturday afternoon and Jill helped me cut veggies and cheese and get ready for Sunday. I made a new recipe called Apache Bread Dip that a friend gave to yummy! That night we played my favorite board game ever, "Beyond Balderdash." Unfortunately it is not Jill's favorite board game ever, but she humored me and played anyway (and came in 2nd!).

Sunday morning we all got up and got ready for church. Ethan and his dad sang some hymns for us all before we left:
After the baptism, Steve and I had an open house for the church. Almost everyone came out to celebrate with us, and I was nervous if we would have enough food and space, but the Lord really worked everything out. No one went away hungry (some gracious friends even brought some food with them), and the house seemed to expand to fit all the people.As the youngest member of the church, Ethan got plenty of attention from the girls.
Over all, it was a fantastic time of fellowship and celebration for our newest little member of the Covenant.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ethan's Birth Announcement

As promised, here is a scan of Ethan's birth announcement. This was my first ever stamping project that I designed completely on my own and it was so much fun. And hey, it only took me 2.5 months to get these out to people!

The colors didn't scan so well, but all the blues sort of complimented each other when you see them in person.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ethan's Getting Baptized! Part II

Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. --Psalm 139:16

I ended my last post with these questions:

So then what? Why does an issue of apparent semantics -- me choosing Christ or Christ choosing me -- mean that babies should be baptized? They haven't chosen or been chosen at all yet, right? How does their baptism mean anything if they don't even remember it?

I want to focus most of all on that last question. My experience with my own baptism was very important to me. It was built up to be important to me; it was to be a public confession of my faith in Christ. My thoughts have changed on that, however, and now I view baptism as a sign of God's covenant with his people. In the Bible, God promises that our children are a part of that covenant, which is why, when someone professed their faith in New Testament times, their household was also promised to be saved (and everyone in the household was promptly baptized). We see this happening in Acts 16 (specifically verses 15 and 31). The way I read these scriptures indicates to me that children were baptized as part of the covenant of grace.

Even when I understood all of those things in my head, my heart still had a problem with baptizing infants that didn't even know what was happening to them. How was that at all meaningful? During a theology class at church, another mom told this anecdote and it really hit home with me; I think I almost changed my mind about infant baptism right there on the spot! She told us about how above each of her children's beds, there was a photograph of their baptism. At bedtime, it was common for the children to occasionally ask their parents about the photo -- they wanted to hear the story of their baptism. The parents would then tell them about how helpless and tiny they were as babies; how they depended on mom or dad for their every need. They then talked about how, to God, we are all like helpless little babies; that we don't even know that we need him, but he still cares for us and nurtures us. They talk about how God chose us to be part of his family before we even knew it, when we were too weak to choose Him (she mentioned reading Psalm 139 to them)! And so, they were baptized as small helpless babies into God's family, and Mommy and Daddy had to promise to teach their baby about God and Jesus.

That story from that mom is what really hit me about baptism -- it isn't about the experience one has, it is about pointing the child to Christ their whole life. God promises that our children are a part of his covenant and their baptism is a sign to us, their parents, of that promise. Does this mean that every infant that is baptized professes faith later in life? No. But many people that are baptized as believers go on to abandon their faith later in life as well. We don't know why this happens, but I believe Paul tries to explain much of it in Romans 9.

Part III of these postings will come on Monday, with pictures of Ethan's baptism. Hopefully I haven't bored everyone to death

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Cookies!

Check out how to make these fabulous cookies at The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

I made these for an ornament/cookie exchange party that I'm going to this evening.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ethan's Getting Baptized! Part I

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. --Genesis 17:7

I suppose, since the time is drawing near and I will be posting pictures of the event here, I should just come right out and say it: Ethan is being baptized in about a week and a half. No, I have not converted to Catholicism, and yes I said baptized and not dedicated. I've been wanting to write a series of posts on the subject, because if you had told me 5 years ago that I would be having my infants baptized I would have looked at you like you had two noses. But here I am, and I couldn't be more excited about little Ethan's big day.

Steve and I started going to a reformed church right after we got married. I had always grown up in non-denominational churches, and it was Steve's preference to attend a Presbyterian church. I didn't really think there would be a huge difference. I was a little wrong. We started going to Redeemer and becoming reformed really changed my theology a lot. Even still, my biggest sticking point with all of the new things I learned was not the total depravity of man, or the idea of a limited atonement, it was the relatively small point of baptizing babies. Anyway, I don't want to give a big theology lesson in these posts because, honestly, I understood the theology behind infant baptism long before I was comfortable with committing to it for my own children. I would mostly like to write about my own experience with baptism and what ended up changing my heart, and why I am so excited about Ethan's baptism. However, Patch Blakey has written an absolutely excellent article which sums up the theology behind infant baptism really well. Since you will inevitably be confused at my attempts to explain things, that article is a good place to start and see where I'm coming from.

To start out (yes, I'm just now starting; the above paragraphs were just, er, not the beginning), I want to say that I was baptized as a believer. I have witnessed many wonderful child dedications. I don't think either of those things are wrong by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think that my baptism "didn't count" because it wasn't done as an infant, and I don't want to make anyone feel like I think their baptisms were less than sufficient. But I am going to talk about why I think infant baptism is better, so hopefully I don't offend a whole mess of you.

I was baptized when I was 15 (some of you reading this were there! how neat!). I had come to confess my faith in Christ only a year before. Leading up to my baptism, there were one or two Sundays when I met with my youth pastor and we talked about my testimony. The main question was, "how did you come to know Christ?". There was an emphasis on when I accepted Christ into my heart and my story. During my actual baptism, I stood in the baptismal and told my story to the whole church. It was really a great day for me, and I was glad to experience it.

So why would I want to deprive Ethan of that experience?

Well, looking now, through a new lens of theology, I really feel that the day focused too much on me and what I had done to become a Christian. The thing I started asking myself when I was studying reformed theology is: if I am totally sinful (as the Bible teaches) how was I able to choose Christ at all? In Matthew 16, when Peter confesses Christ as the Son of Man, Jesus tells Peter that it was the Father that revealed the truth to him (Peter) and not flesh and blood. Peter didn't come to his faith on his own, the Father gave him his faith! So maybe the focus on my journey to Christ during my baptism should have been more of a focus on the faith that the Father had given to me.

So then what? Why does an issue of apparent semantics -- me choosing Christ or Christ choosing me -- mean that babies should be baptized? They haven't chosen or been chosen at all yet, right? How does their baptism mean anything if they don't even remember it?

Ahh, now that I've thoroughly offended everyone, I have to go attend to my wee babe. I will answer my own questions in the next post (maybe tomorrow).

Monday, December 3, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

So after somewhat of a hiatus, I'm getting back into my weekly menu planning. I've never blogged about it before now, but I was getting pretty good at it before Ethan was born and then, well, Ethan was born. We had a lot of help from the church with meals and I had a lot in the freezer too, but I hadn't planned out a menu for my week in a long time. I actually started up again last week and it just reminded me how much it blesses my daily life. Dinner should be such an important time for the family and having it planned out makes a much easier day. It also saves me a lot of money and time when I go shopping. I don't coupon clip or look for specials, really, but having a set list of things to buy helps me keep the impulse purchases to a minimum and prevents me from having to run out and get a key ingredient at the last minute. I plan my menu on Mondays and do a big shop on Tuesdays. Anyway, enough blabbering, onto my menu, which I am going to work on posting every Monday (we have a lot of leftover days because it's just the two of us and I usually cook more than we eat).

Tuesday: chicken noodle soup, wheat rolls, salad

Wednesday: marinated flank steak, green beans, salad, rolls

Thursday: leftover buffet

Friday: sole with lemon-butter sauce or cod with fennel and potatoes (depending on the fish selection)

Saturday: (sabbath feast): ham, homemade macaroni and cheese, salad

Sunday: leftovers for me (Steve will leaving town for a week)

So that's it! I try to vary the protein (red meat, chicken, fish, pork), and none of the recipes are all that complicated, save for maybe the mac and cheese. I pull from a variety of cookbooks and I always take requests from hubby. :)