Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

Last week, we enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner with Esther's family in Indiana.

Esther's mother making Cranberry Salad

Mom - Daughter - Grandkids making sugar cookies

Were these cookies too pretty to eat? NO!

Gathering together to sing about God's blessings.

Esther's mother and Aunt Erma used to sing together for local revivals before they were married. But, it had been several years since they have sung together. Their voices blended well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kids enjoy first snow of the season ...

This post is especially for Esther's sister Sherilyn, who is enduring 80 degree weather in FL!

Is Huckabee Conservative?

Some friends of ours, Jeff & Dixie, cited an article by Bob Novak questioning Gov. Huckabee's conservative credentials. In the article, Mr. Novak basically claims that Huckabee is a fiscal liberal.

First, Novak reveals his own position while attack evangelicals with the following statement: “The rise of evangelical Christians as the motive force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own.” OK. We now know that the author is not a social conservative, and it appears he is resentful of evangelicals having such a voice in the Republican party. For too long, to social conservatives have been pandered to, and thrown a bone every so often to appease us ... I for one am pleased to see "one of our own" doing well. For more on this subject, see this blog.

Second, Novak states his concern with Huckabee ... "The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan." When Novak's refers to a true conservative, he means a hyphonated conservative-libertarian. Novak criticizes tax hikes in Arkansas. Susan Stilley writes:
"As a former resident of Arkansas during Governor Huckabee's tenure I know that he pushed through the Arkansas Legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history - a $90 million tax relief package for Arkansas families. He also doubled the standard deduction to $2,000 for single taxpayers and $4,000 for those who are married. Some taxes he eliminated entirely: the marriage penalty, bracket creep caused by inflation, income tax on poor families, and capital gains on home sales. To encourage investment, he cut capital gains for both individuals and businesses. To help people better themselves, he provided tax credits for employee training and education. In total, he cut taxes and fees nearly 100 times during his ten-and-a-half years as Governor, saving the people of Arkansas almost $380 million.
Further, when Huckabee left office in early 2007, Arkansas had nearly $850 million in state surplus, which he urged should go back to the people in the form of either a tax rebate or tax cut."
Only two candidates signed a pledge not to raise taxes if elected President -- Huckabee is one of them. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson have refused to promise the American people they will not raise taxes, but Huckabee has made that promise.

Third, Novak was misleading in statements about Huckabee's lack of support for President Bush's
veto of the SCHIP expansion. Governor Huckabee said the SCHIP bill was a bad bill. He felt it should have never gotten the point where a veto was necessary. He says that communication with the American people and the Congress is important. Because of a lack of communication, many people think the Republicans are against health coverage for poor children, because the only thing they see is that the President vetoed the SCHIP bill.

In summary, there is no perfect candidate. I wish Huckabee's stance was a little different on some issues. However, when looking at the candidates, Huckabee is far and away the one who lines up closest to my personal views. More importantly, Huckabee's views on evolution, abortion, marriage, stewardship, compassion to the needy, etc., are more in line with Scriptural principles than other candidates.

Mr. Novak may be a respected conservative journalist, but I truly believe he is biased against the evangelical element in the Republican party and has not thoroughly researched all the facts that are available. I still like Mike!

Dick Morris has an article that is a must read on this issue.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Huckabee -vs- Clinton & Blogger Conference Call

Huckabee -vs- Clinton

I have heard many people question whether Mike Huckabee could beat Hillary Clinton in next year's general election. Not only has Gov. Huckabee been successful against the "Clinton political machine" in Arkansas, but now some polling data shows that Huckabee (as well as other top republican candidates) would beat Mrs. Clinton! Here's the story from Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton trails five top Republican presidential contenders in general election match-ups, a drop in support from this summer, according to a poll released on Monday.

Clinton's top Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards, still lead Republicans in hypothetical match-ups ahead of the November 4, 2008, presidential election, the survey by Zogby Interactive showed.

Clinton, a New York senator who has been at the top of the Democratic pack in national polls in the 2008 race, trails Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mike Huckabee by three to five percentage points in the direct matches...

Huckabee Blogger Conference Call Summary

This morning, I participated for the first time in a Blogger Conference Call hosted by Gov. Huckabee. There are now over 400 bloggers who are using their blogs to support Huckabee's campaign for President. He credits the blogging world for making his recent surge in the polls possible by 1) getting out the positive news, and 2) responding to negative attacks with truth and facts. It was enlightening to listen in as fellow bloggers asked questions, and Gov. Huckabee took time to address each one by name and answer their questions. Below is a summary of the topics discussed:
  • Homeschooling -- Huckabee's first appointment to the Arkansas State Board of Education was a homeschooling parent. His children went through the secular education system, but he is very supportive of the homeschooling movement. I believe a national homeschooling group has endorse Huckabee. For an in-depth analysis of this subject, you need to read this article by a homeschooling mother in Michigan.
  • Fair Tax -- The key to the fair tax is understanding that there is a 20% imbedded corporate tax in all the products we purchase. Implementing the fair tax would lower the initial cost of products by 20%. The average American pays 33% of his income to taxes. Under the fair tax plan, that rate would drop to 23%.
  • Web Site Traffic -- The Huckabee website was not prepared for the influx of visitors after the Chuck Norris ad played. As a result, there were some delays accessing the site. They are continuing to upgrade the servers. Also, some hackers have been attempting to shut down the site.
  • Education -- Huckabee lamented the fact that in the first eight debates, not one education question was asked. In the last debate, one was finally asked, but he was not given a chance to address it. During a break, Huckabee spoke to the moderators, and they admitted they should have addressed the question to him, because he has some good ideas about education. The Governor would also like to see more questions in the next debate about domestic issues such as healthcare, the environment, and energy independence.
  • Michigan's Early Primary -- Huckabee was in Michigan earlier this month, but he cannot make it a priority, even though the primary has been moved up to Jan. 15th. This is due to 1) limited resources, and 2) the results in Michigan won't make as much impact as the results in traditional early primary states will make because of media perception. He believes Michigan did themselves a dis-service by moving our primary up. Romney is expected to win the state because he grew up here, and his father was a former governor of Michigan.
  • Immigration -- Reiterates that he is for secure borders, and against amnesty. He says that attacks by Romney and others accusing him of giving special benefits to illegal immigrants is not true. He supported a failed bill that would have given the children of illegals the same eligibility as other students for college tuition breaks which was merit based, with no limitations on the number of scholarships offered. In order to be eligible, the children of illegals had to go through the Arkansas public school system, excel in their grades, be drug/alcohol free, and apply for citizenship. His reasoning for this is that minors should not be punished for the crimes of their parents. Further, it would be better for these minors to get on a path to citizenship, and have an education that would help them become tax payers instead of tax takers.
  • Attacks -- There is a section on Huckabee's website called the "Truth Squad." His staff is in the process of adding more information to counter attacks. The plan is to have a summary statement, then a list of DETAILED responses for those who are interested in a more thorough, in depth article.

The next debate is Wednesday, Nov. 28th. It is sponsored by CNN/You Tube. Go Huckabee!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mom's Cranberry Salad

Sue Arnold requested that I post this recipe after I brought it to our November Women of Worth meeting. Our family loves this cranberry salad. Mom makes it every year at Thanksgiving.

2 packages red jello
2 c. water
1 package cranberries (washed & sorted)
1 orange
1 apple (cored)
1/2 c. coconut
1/2 c. pecans or walnuts (chopped)
1 c. sugar

Dissolve jello (I use raspberry) in 2 cups boiling water. Set aside. In a food processor or chopper, grind the cranberries, orange (peeling included, but you may wish to grate the peeling first and then cut off the thick white part) and apple. Stir these into jello. Add coconut, chopped pecans or walnuts and sugar. Mix all together. Chill in refrigerator overnight.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Josh McDowell Youth & Parent Seminars

On Monday the 12th, Josh McDowell was in our town and presented two seminars -- one for youth, and one for parents. I had the opportunity to take two teenagers from our church to listen to Josh for 3 hours Monday morning. Monday evening, Esther and I, as well as several parents from our church had another 3 hours of instruction. Below is a synopsis of what I learned:

Youth Seminar:
  • The first session was Josh's testimony. He had a rough childhood. His father was an alcoholic. He was abused by a man who helped around the house. Going to college, he did not believe in God. During his college days, he was challenged to study the claims of the Bible by a Christian professor. He planned to write a book exposing the hoax of Christianity. At the end of his study, he had to say "I Believe." He has been defending our faith ever since.
  • The second session answered the question, "How can I know the Bible is true?" He talked about the manuscript evidence, the eyewitness accounts of the writers of Scripture, and the fact that the disciples died for their statement in Acts 1:3. There's plenty of evidence to believe that the Bible has not been altered over the years, and that what was written down is actually true.
  • The third session was about moral purity. He said that 80% of young people think sex is sinful, mostly because of the emphasis we place of Bible passages about the mis-use of sex and apply it to sexuality in general. God created sex: 1) for procreation (Gen. 1:28); 2) for unity (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31); and 3) for recreation with your spouse (Prov. 15:18-19). Purity is living according to God's original design for sex. Thus abstinence before marriage is so beautiful that it's worth waiting for. He admonished the ladies to only marry Christian men who knew how to love themselves. Because (Eph. 5:28-29) if a man does not know how to love himself, he will never be able to love his wife and children appropriately. EXCELLENT session.
Parent Seminar:
  • Josh talked about the cultural shift taking place in our society. He says that we (as adults) are the first generation trying to impact youth in a society of 2 generations AND 2 cultures. Teens and children do not THINK the way adults do. He gave lots of statistics and examples to illustrate his premise. In order to connect with youth, we need to 1) develop a loving relationship with them; 2) model the truth and values you want to see them incorporate in their lives; 3) develop convictions (knowing what you believe, why we believe it, and experiencing it in your life). 78% of evangelical christian kids say that the only way to know if something is true is if it works. Convictions can't be only mental, they have to be experiential.
  • The second session was a repeat of why the Bible is true from the Youth session.
  • The final session was called "7 Steps To Build A Relationship"
    1. Affirmation -- gives youth a sense of authenticity (Rom. 12:15)
    2. Acceptance -- unconditionally accept your kids! (Rom. 15:7)
    3. Appreciation -- makes them feel that they have done or said something worthwhile.
    4. Availability -- communicates a sense of importance. (Mat. 19:13-14)
    5. Affection -- says "I am lovable" (John 15:12)
    6. Approach their world -- let them sense that you are interested in what interests them.
    7. Accountability -- give reasonable rules and hold them to it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

Here's a quick and easy idea for a Thanksgiving treat for kids. I made some yesterday for the children in Kid's Club at our church. Simply make cupcakes, then frost with chocolate icing. Use Bugle chips for the cornucopia. Arrange some Runts candy pieces for the fruit.

Soup Season

As the weather turns colder, we eat soup more often. Recently I was asked to share more recipes on the blog. One of our favorite soups comes from Chris' Aunt Sharon, with a few minor alterations.

Broccoli Chicken & Cheese Soup

1 T. oil
1 T. chopped onion (more if you like onions)
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 c. chicken broth (or 3 c. water + 3 chicken bullion cubes)
2 c. thin noodles
1/2 t. salt
dash pepper (to taste)
1 large bunch of fresh broccoli florets
1-2 c. cooked chicken
3 c. milk
1/2 lb. Velveeta cheese

Brown onions and carrots in oil. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add broccoli (raw), noodles, chicken, salt and pepper. Cook 3-5 minutes (until noodles are tender). Add milk and cheese. Stir until cheese melts.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Our family wishes to extend our thanks those who have served in our nation's military. Thank you for your service and sacrifice to secure and maintain our freedom! Below is part of a speech from Gov. Huckabee, honoring our veterans.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dear, oh, Deer!

Last evening, while driving on a dark stretch of country road, there appeared to my left 3 deer. I saw the first one start towards the road, but it was too late to stop ... as a result our van now has a busted light, cracked bumper, broken grill, and crumpled hood. Thankfully, nobody was injured, other than the deer.

Now the fun begins ... getting estimates on repairs.

Repairs = $3,000+
Days without van = 6
Talk about an expensive deer, and I didn't even get any meat!

Standing in the Corner ...

... and they weren't even being bad! It's just where we had them stand when we took the picture. They all dressed in green and blue for church last Sunday. This was right after the big in-state football rivalry between the University of Michigan (Blue) and Michigan State (Green). Of course, Esther didn't realize that she was showing support to both teams when she chose their outfits!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

If all desserts were this expensive ...

... we'd have no problem dieting!!

This news story tells about the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate. Guinness World Records researchers determined the $25,000 frozen hot chocolate was the most expensive dessert in the world.

It includes
a blend of 28 cocoas, including 14 of the most expensive and exotic from around the globe. It is infused with 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of edible 23-karat gold and served in a goblet lined with edible gold. At the base of the goblet is an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds.

The sundae is topped with whipped cream covered with more gold and a side of La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschildt Chocolatier, which sells for $2,600 a pound.

It is eaten with a gold spoon decorated with white and chocolate-colored diamonds, which can also be taken home.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Visit to Creation Museum

Yesterday, before coming back home, we paid a visit to the new Creation Museum built by Answers in Genesis. We were impressed by the quality information, the realistic models, and the use of technology. The planetarium was my favorite part ... it really put life in perspective. The Milky Way Galaxy, let alone Earth, is but a speck of dust in the vast universe. Yet, God loves and chooses us! We are truly special to God.

I hope this dinosaur is vegetarian!!

The kids posing in front of Isaiah, Moses, and King David.

Leadership Conference

This week we enjoyed a trip to Cincinnati, OH. Esther was able to spend time with some of her family and I attended a pastor's conference at God's Bible School. The feature speaker was Dr. H. B. London, who has a wonderful ministry to pastors through Focus on the Family. Dr. London was able to encourage and challenge us to not let the spark and vision go out in our ministry. Dr. Avery taught a tremendous lesson on "self-leadership." It was very convicting.