Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cheesy Bacon and Potato Soup

Here is a soup recipe I came up with recently that works well for cold evenings. It’s creamy and comforting and easy to make. It can be served as a meal with cornbread or another side or it can be used as an appetizer. 






1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
14.5 oz Velveeta cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
Black pepper to taste
6-7 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed
6-8 slices of bacon
Chopped green onions (optional) 

In a 4-quart or larger pot, on medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the flour to form a roux. Cook for a minute or so, stirring frequently, until the floury taste is gone.
 
 
 
Whisk in the chicken broth. Cut the cheese into chunks and stir them in until they are completely melted. Stir in the sour cream and black pepper and heat through. Do not boil. 
 
 

Meanwhile, cut up the potatoes into chunks and boil until just getting tender, but not soft.
 
 
Once the cheese mixture is done and heated through, drain the potatoes and add them to the soup.
 
 

Cook the bacon strips until crispy. I prefer a bacon tray in the microwave for this part as they get good and crispy and the tray drains off the grease. Break the bacon strips into bits (larger or smaller, as you prefer).

Serve the soup topped with bacon bits and green onions (if desired). Enjoy!


P.S. I actually recommend the green onions, even though I am definitely not an onion person. I had simply run out of them in the photo above. :-(

Linked up with NOBH, WFMW, Time-Warp Wife, and WLWW.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Demolishing Pro-Choice Arguments

The pro-abortion crowd can be a little slippery with their arguments. They decided long before they looked at the evidence that they wanted abortion to be okay so it could be made legal. It was just a matter of rationalizing their idea to get people to agree with them. In order to do this, they have employed a number of tactics designed to explain away an unborn child’s right to life and justify abortion.

They started out by denying that the unborn child was alive. "We don't know when life begins," they said. Then science made it very clear when life begins. At fertilization a new individual with a unique set of DNA is formed. That is simple fact. Check any introductory biology text. A fetus grows and develops. Non-living things do not do that. There is no question that the unborn are alive from the moment of conception. 

So they updated their argument and said that maybe it was alive, but it wasn't human. It's just a fish or a frog...or maybe just a lump of tissue. Well, science had something to say about that too. The unborn child has human DNA and follows the unique human development sequence. Ultrasounds show that it is definitely a developing individual, not simply an overgrowth of tissue. The unborn child can be shown to be genetically distinct from the mother. No question, science says it is a separate human being. 

So, the next argument was that maybe it's a live human, but it's not a person. This is a trickier argument because science cannot answer this one. This is a metaphysical question of value, not scientific fact. To use this trick, they had to differentiate between humans and persons in some way. They use various criteria for the all-important difference, but none of them hold up to scrutiny. The most common argument is that a fetus isn't a person because it isn't self-conscious. Well, we don't really know that, but even if it is true, the same could be said of newborns. There is nothing that happens at birth that changes a baby’s state of consciousness (or anything else, for that matter). On top of that, there are others we consider persons who also lack self-consciousness - those who are in a coma or a vegetative state, for example. Even healthy children and adults are unconscious during sleep or while under anesthesia. Are these not persons when they lack consciousness? Are they not entitled to the protection of the law? Obviously, this argument has fatal flaws. 

Actually, there are just 4 differences between an unborn child and other human beings:

  • Size

  • Location

  • Stage of Development

  • Degree of Dependency

None of these form a logical basis for denying personhood. You cannot use any of these criteria to define personhood without serious ethical ramifications because you would be denying personhood to many individuals, not just the unborn. 

The last argument, and the one which is perhaps the most sinister, is that an unborn child is indeed a living human person, but that it has no right to live off of its mother. The mother's right to bodily autonomy, they say, is absolute and no child has the right to use his mother's body for shelter or sustenance. They view the child as a parasite, feeding from the mother, and this gives her every right to kill him in their opinion. What a twisted view!

The thing is, a woman's body is designed to bear children and the existence of a child within her womb is not at all like a parasite taking from its host. Further, a woman has a responsibility to her child. A mother cannot refuse to feed her child after he is born. She cannot leave a newborn out in the cold to die. The child has an inalienable right to live. When you create a child, you have the unavoidable responsibility for taking care of that life. Outside the womb, this means you must feed and shelter that child. It means the same thing before birth. The difference is, before birth the options are more limited as to where that care can take place. The unborn child needs the protection of the mother's womb just as babies who have been born need clothing and milk. A mother cannot refuse to meet the needs in the latter case, so why should she be allowed to neglect the needs in the former case? The child's rights have not changed. The mother's responsibility has not changed. Birth changes only the location of the baby - not his status as a human being and not his right to live.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Top Blog Posts

It's official. This blog has had over 10,000 pageviews as of this morning! I promise those were not all me (or my mom). That's encouraging to me because somebody, apparently, likes what I write.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would revisit some of my most popular posts. Here are my ten most-viewed posts of all time. If you missed them, check them out.

#1: The Art of Writing Love Notes
This is by far the most popular post. Maybe it's the catchy title. Maybe it's the fact that I've linked it up all over the place. Anyway, this one seems to be everyone's favorite. This post has tips and examples of how to write a love note for your spouse and help keep your marriage close.

#2: Opposite Sex Friendships After Marriage: How to Guard Your Heart
In spite of the fact that this one is pretty recent, it comes in at second place. It deals with keeping emotional intimacy for marriage and being careful not to let opposite sex friendships become inappropriately intimate.

#3: How To Settle Disagreements Without Arguing
Is anyone seeing a pattern here with the most popular posts? I sure am. Maybe it's because I link up with a lot of marriage blogs, but the marriage and relationship posts are usually the most popular. This one talks about the plan my husband and I developed to handle disagreements and avoid arguments. It works too, because we still haven't had an argument!

#4: Cohabitation is NOT Practice for Marriage
This post gives reasons why cohabitation is not practice for marriage and why it does not lead to strong marriages. Many people think cohabitation is a practical solution, but cohabitation before marriage is not a good idea and this post will give you practical reasons why.

#5: Items to Discuss Before Engagement
Here you can find some questions to ask your boyfriend/girlfriend during or before dating to determine if you are compatible for marriage. I highly recommend that couples answer these questions before becoming engaged.

#6: Sunday School Fairy Tales (or Why the Bible Should Be Taught as History)
This one is about the way the Bible is often taught in churches, sunday school classes, Christian schools, picture Bibles, and even in Christian homes. In many cases, the Bible is taught as "Bible stories" - as if it were analogous to fairy tales told at bedtime. In some cases, this leads to an inaccurate view of the Bible that can persist into adulthood and can even cause people to reject the Bible due to this erroneous view. Here I advocate for teaching children a more rigorous view of the Bible as true history, not a series of cute moral lessons.

#7: Characteristics of a Biblical Dating Relationship
This is the beginning of a series on Biblical dating (which isn't finished yet...but it will be, just as soon as I get around to it). This one gives a list of characteristics that are found in a Biblical dating relationship. Be sure to read all the posts in the series (which are linked on this one).

#8: A Biblical View of Alcohol
This post is a discussion of what the Bible has to say about alcohol with a little bit of insight added from a look at the original words for wine used in the Bible. This one is likely popular, at least in part, because this topic tends to be controversial.

#9: Biblical Dating: Intentional
This one of the posts in the Biblical Dating series mentioned above. It talks about how dating should have a clear goal of determining whether or not two people should get married and gives tips on how to put that goal into practice in a dating relationship.

#10: Being on the Same Team
This was my very first marriage post and it remains a favorite. In it, I talk about how a husband and wife must see themselves as teammates rather than opponents in order to keep their marriage strong.


The other two main categories of blog posts I have written are political posts and recipes. Since none of those showed up in the top ten, I'll list a few of the best in those categories as well.

My top three recipes are:

#1: Homemade Pizza
This one is an easy recipe for homemade pizza that is better than takeout. Seriously.

#2: Chicken Pie
If you've ever wondered what to do with leftover chicken, wonder no longer. This recipe is so easy and delicious to make and kids love it.

#3: Lemon Pepper Chicken Strips - A Quick and Easy Meal
 This is one of my husband's favorite chicken dishes and it contains no breading, so it's gluten free. It takes only 20 minutes to make too, so it's something I can do last minute when I don't know what else to have for supper. This post also includes a bonus recipe for my flavored mashed potatoes.

If you like these quick and tasty recipes, take a look at the rest of them (just click on the recipes label on the left hand side of the page). 


As for political posts, I have a variety of posts on political topics, mainly dealing with principles, rather than specifics. Here are the top four posts in this category:

#1: Inalienable Rights - Part 1: What Are Inalienable Rights?
This is the first post in the Inalienable Rights series (and my first post ever). The series serves as an introduction to the concept of inalienable rights, which is one of the most important foundational principles for this country. The United States is unique in that we have a government that recognizes and protects the inalienable rights of the people and thus limits itself and leaves the people free. The concept of inalienable rights is one that is vitally important in understanding American government. Unfortunately, very few schools (really, none that I know of) teach this concept thoroughly enough. This particular post introduces the concept of inalienable rights, including what they are and how they are different from alienable rights.

#2: Inalienable Rights - Part 2: The Source of Inalienable Rights
This is the second post in the Inalienable Rights series and explains where inalienable rights come from. It sets forth a rationale for humans as created by a Creator, who retains rights to His creation. We humans thus have no right to destroy or harm God's property, including ourselves. It also explains how inalienable rights cannot exist unless God exists. While you're at it, read the rest of the series to see how the protection of inalienable rights forms the basis for government and its legitimate powers.

#3: Why Prostitution Should Not Be Legal
In this post I use the concept of inalienable rights to determine what should and should not be legal. Since government's highest purpose is the protection of inalienable rights, those behaviors which violate inalienable rights must be made illegal in a legitimate government. This particular post deals with the issue of prostitution, showing how it violates inalienable rights and thus should be illegal. However, it is also an example of how the concept of inalienable rights can be used as an objective basis for determining what government should and should not allow.

#4: Voting for the "Lesser of Two Evils"
This post is recent and quite relevant with the election coming up in just a few days. If you are a conservative Christian thinking of voting third-party, please read this post first. It explains why voting for a third-party is ineffective and why it is better to vote for the "lesser evil" this time around since the practical result is to get less evil in our country (and we all want less evil, don't we?).


So, those are the most popular posts so far. What kinds of posts would you like to see in the future? Comment below to give suggestions of improvements and other topics you would like me to write about or just to give your thoughts on this blog as a whole. Thanks for visiting!


Linked up with NOBH, WFMW, The Alabaster Jar, Unveiled Wife, WLWW, Proverbs 31 Wife, To Love Honor and Vacuum, and Yes They're All Ours.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tasty Meatloaf

This meatloaf is my variation on a recipe from my mother-in-law. I’ve never been crazy about meatloaf, but my husband likes it and this recipe is one of the better meatloaves I’ve ever had. It has sort of a classic, savory taste. I prefer it without celery, but my husband loves celery so I sometimes make half with and half without celery. For him, I double the celery (4 stalks in a whole batch), but that’s way more than most people would like so the recipe below reflects a more reasonable amount. This meatloaf is just as good leftover (if not better) so it makes a great lunch item for my husband at work.


2 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. sausage
1 egg
1-1/4 cups oats
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
5 tsp Worchestershire sauce
2-1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp celery salt
2 tsp Mrs. Dash original flavor
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped (optional) 

Mix the ground beef and sausage together. I usually use ordinary 73/27 ground beef and a sage sausage. Add the egg, oats, tomato sauce, ketchup, Worchestershire sauce, and spices. Mix well. Add the celery last and stir it in by hand to keep the pieces intact.

Press the dough into an 8x8 inch square baking dish or similar sized pan.


Cover the top with ketchup.
 


Bake at 350F for 55-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully pour off the grease in the bottom. Slice and serve. I typically serve this meatloaf with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Enjoy!
 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why the United States is a Republic

If you haven't seen this video, it is well worth watching. It explains the differences between different forms of government, including monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, anarchy, and a republic. The United States is a republic, not a democracy, and this specific form of government was put in place by the Founding Fathers for a reason. I could write it all out for you, but this video says it quite clearly and concisely.


 
 
 
As the video states, a republic is the rule of law, not the rule of the majority. The American republic is based on natural law - laws that proceed from nature. Natural law includes the concept of inalienable rights, which all people have by virtue of their existence. For more information on inalienable rights, see my 5 part series:
 
The Inalienable Rights Series 
Part 1: What are Inalienable Rights?
Part 2: The Source of Inalienable Rights
Part 3: Liberty in Society and Government
Part 4: Government by Consent of the Governed
Part 5: Some Common Misconceptions


Linked up with WFMW, NOBH and WLWW.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What it Means to Be Conservative - Part 5: The Right to Bear Arms

Here we go. The long awaited fifth part of the What it Means to Be Conservative Series is finally here. If you've missed the others, check out the earlier installments.

Part 1: Limited Government and Free Enterprise
Part 2: Anti-Elitism
Part 3: Wealth Creation
Part 4: Natural Law

In Part 5, I'll be talking about a very important part of the conservative viewpoint: the right to bear arms.

Now, when we conservatives refer to the right to bear arms, we mean an inalienable right - a right that all people have by virtue of their existence and that cannot be rightfully taken away or given up. This right to bear arms is right up there with the rights to life and liberty. In fact, the right to bear arms is derived from the rights to life and liberty.

How so, you ask? Think of it this way. If you have rights to life and liberty, you must also have a right to protect your life and liberty from those who would threaten to kill or enslave you or else your rights mean nothing. If you have no way of protecting yourself, your rights to life and to liberty may be trampled on with impunity. Thus, there must be a right to defend yourself. Even our laws recognize this right. If someone threatens your life and you kill them while defending yourself, you go free. You can't be punished for murder when you act in self-defense.

The right to bear arms is an extension of the right to self-defense. You aren't required to use only your bare hands to defend yourself against those who are attacking you. You may use various implements in protecting your life and liberty - whether knives, guns, baseball bats, or whatever. And if you desire to own a particular object that makes defending yourself easier, you have the right to obtain and keep such an object. This is the right to bear arms.

However, while guns are very useful for protecting oneself, this is only one aspect of the right to bear arms. This argument alone is sufficient to show that we have such an inalienable right, but it doesn't show the full reason that this right exists or that our Founding Fathers specifically included this right in the Bill of Rights.

Plenty of people (on both sides of the gun-rights issue) speak of the right to bear arms as if it's all about the right to go hunting or the right to defend yourself against muggers. While hunting and defense against criminals are valid and very important uses of guns, this is not the reason that this particular right is one of the first rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights. You see, if the right to own guns is merely about having a rifle to go hunting with, then those who don't hunt...well, they don't need guns and maybe the government should keep them from having guns (or so some would argue). Similarly, some try to argue that cops may need guns, but private citizens do not since they can rely on law enforcement. There are flaws in both arguments, but even pointing out that people sometimes need to protect themselves because law enforcement is not present doesn't get at the real issue.

The real issue is that we the people must have the right to bear arms because without this right, we will not remain free. An unarmed people is not only at the mercy of violent criminals, but of their own government as well.

Remember that the Founding Fathers, when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, had just thrown off the oppressive government of England by force and instituted their own government. They knew that without arms - without guns in the hands of the colonists - they would never have been able to stand up to the tyrannical government that was violating their inalienable rights. The colonists were able to not only fight against the well-trained and well-equipped British military, but win - precisely because they had the arms to do so. With that in mind, they wrote the Second Amendment in order to ensure that future generations of Americans would not have to live in fear of their government.

Notice the language of the Second Amendment:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Notice that it doesn't say "The need for a person to be able to kill deer..." or "The need to protect onself from criminals..." is the reason for this right. It says that having arms in the hands of the people is necessary in order for the people to remain free. They knew that the people must hold the threat of forcible removal of their government in order to prevent government from taking their freedoms. Without actual firepower in the hands of the people, the political power will not remain with the people either.

And, of course, history bears this out. Every government that has disarmed its citizens has soon become tyrannical - taking absolute power and killing large numbers of its own people. The history of disarmament is a bloody and gruesome one. The Founding Fathers knew that the same horrible attrocities could happen here as well and thus they gave us the Second Amendment to ensure that the people always hold the power.

So, on that note, here is 5th part of the video series with Bill Whittle, which points out many of the same points I just made. He makes some other good arguments as well. For example, he makes a very good point that if you take away the Second Amendment, you will also destroy the First Amendment because if someone decides that "real people can't be trusted with dangerous guns, it's just a matter of time until they decide that they can't be trusted with dangerous ideas either." He also makes the same point I have elsewhere, that guns are equalizers that enable the weak to protect themselves from the physically strong. Watch the video and comment below.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Opposite Sex Friendships After Marriage: How to Guard Your Heart

One thing that produces marital strife in today’s world is friendships with the opposite sex. In our society, men and women often have friendships with each other outside of marriage, and in some cases these are very close. However, when one or both friends are married to another person, too often the spouse feels threatened by the friendship and it can lead to tensions, distrust, and accusations and can even tear a marriage apart. How should such friendships be handled? What priorities and boundaries should be set? These are important questions to think about and to discuss as a couple (preferably before the wedding, but the issue may arise later as well). 

Here’s my take on the issue. 

First of all, I don't think men and women should build close intimate friendships with each other outside of a committed relationship. It is not appropriate to build intimacy (emotional closeness) without a plan in place to head towards marriage. Men and women can be friends, but they shouldn't be sharing their deepest feelings and dreams if they want to remain just friends. It just doesn’t work that way. When you do share in that way, it is intimacy. Intimacy between a man and woman should be reserved for marriage, period. It is part of the beauty and sacredness of marriage that your spouse knows you more deeply and intimately than anyone else. Your spouse alone should know your innermost secrets, hopes, and desires. 

A lot of people, however, will object at this point. Men and women can maintain a purely platonic friendship, they say. They will point to a friendship or two in which they were very close but never had feelings for the other person and will testify that their close friendships of the opposite sex have been good for them, filled a need for them, etc.

My response to that is that of course these friendships fill a need – a need that should be filled by your spouse (or your future spouse). We all have a deep desire to be intimately known, to be accepted just as we are, to make deep emotional connections with another. But this need was meant to bring a husband and wife together to fill this need in each other. It is not appropriate to fill this need outside of marriage any more than it is appropriate to fill the need for sex outside marriage.

The problem is, we like to think in little boxes. We want to put emotional closeness and sexual attraction in separate boxes and pretend that they’re totally unconnected. We believe we can have emotional closeness with someone of the opposite sex without having "feelings" for them. The problem is, we aren't robots that can put things in little boxes and keep them that way. We are integrated beings. We are designed to build emotional closeness that leads to physical attraction and its culmination in physical and emotional unity through sex. Again, that's supposed to draw a husband and wife together.

The marriage relationship is about more than just having sex. For that matter, sex is way more than just a physical act. Sex is a physical, emotional, and spiritual bonding experience that is designed to merge two people into a single unit. Just as physical closeness (such as kissing and cuddling) are preparation for this marital unification, so too is emotional closeness. The physical and the emotional go hand in hand to bring the kind of unity that God designed marriage to be.

Because of this, when you are married, emotional intimacy with someone other than your spouse is cheating. It may not be physical, but it's still sharing with someone else what should only be shared with your spouse. Such emotional affairs are not only wrong in themselves, but dangerous. Most adulterous affairs begin with a seemingly innocent emotional closeness with an opposite sex friend. It’s part of God’s design for our sexuality that we feel physical desire when we have emotional intimacy. This is a beautiful truth within marriage. Emotional closeness brings husband and wife together to show their love for each other physically, and the physical act of sex bonds them even tighter emotionally. Both male and female bodies even release a hormone called oxytocin that triggers emotional bonding after sex. This is the way God meant it to be within marriage. But when a person allows emotional closeness to form with someone to whom they are not married, their body will, sooner or later, want to respond as if they were married.

Even if an emotional affair does not become a physical one, it still causes damage to the marriage relationship. For one thing, the emotional energy that is invested in the inappropriate friendship is energy that is not invested where it should be – in the marriage. If you feel the need to express hidden desires and feelings to someone else, it is a sign that your marriage has a problem and your immediate response should be to work to fix the problem and restore intimacy in your marriage. Sharing with another person of the opposite sex ignores the problem, allowing the gap to widen between husband and wife, while also building closeness with someone else. No wonder it leads to so many problems. In addition, when a spouse learns of an emotional affair, they often feel betrayed (and for good reason). This can cause a lot of hurt as well as further rifts in the relationship. Thus, even when an inappropriate friendship does not turn physical, it is still extremely harmful.

Because of the design of our sexuality, we need to guard our hearts in order to protect our marriages. While men and women can be platonic friends, that will only happen if there is an emotional reserve between them. In other words, we should not build intimate friendships with the opposite sex outside of marriage. With this is mind, we should be extremely careful what we share with others, especially those of the opposite sex. Even what is shared with friends of the same sex should be limited (though, obviously, there's less cause for concern that inappropriate sharing will lead to inappropriate physical acts). The need to share your inner desires and feelings should bring you back to your spouse to fill that need.

 

Note:

A question that often arises is what to do when a husband and wife are having problems and they can’t seem to talk to each other or regain the intimacy in their marriage. The default position should be to work out your problems with your spouse, not to talk to someone else about how to "fix" your marriage. However, sometimes there is a rift that does require outside advice. Sometimes counseling is needed. Ideally, a husband and wife should see a counselor together, but that requires both spouses to participate. Sometimes a spouse has to get help alone. In that case, here is my advice. Anyone you tell about your marriage struggles should be: 
  •  your same sex,
  • a happily married mentor figure, and
  • given only enough detail to allow them to help and pray for you.  
You want to avoid using anyone (male or female) as a dumping bin for all of your frustrations instead of working them out as a couple. And you want to avoid ranting about your spouse on a regular basis to someone who takes your side all the time. This will only cause you to focus on the negative qualities and turn your heart further away from your spouse. The proper kind of mentor figure, if you must confide in one, will challenge you to change yourself, not your spouse. After all, you are the only one you can change.


Linked up with WLWW, Seeds of Faith, WFMW, The Modest Mom, Unveiled Wife, Proverbs 31 Wife, Time-Warp Wife, The Alabaster Jar, To Love Honor and Vacuum, Revive Your Marriage, NOBH, and Yes They're All Ours.