Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Mommy, How Would Male and Female Evolve?”

thumb3
Our Family’s Creation Science Journey, by Mary Elizabeth Hall (originally published in Home Educating Family Magazine)

MY DAUGHTER hit me with one of those impossible-to-answer-in-thirty-seconds questions while I was dashing, arms laden with once-highly-revered artwork now surreptitiously removed to make room for more, to the garage recycling bin before racing back into the house to slap supper on the table before our evening event (whatever it was) beckoned us into the car and off to infinity and beyond. “Mommy, how would males and females evolve randomly?” she asked.  Thankfully I had a non-stuttering response for this question. “I haven’t a clue, Sweetheart.”

As our family discussed the topic over dinner, we wondered how a random evolutionary mutation developing either male or female parts could possibly spur the necessary corresponding reaction in another of the same species. Consider for a moment what would be required. Both organisms would have to be fertile. The offspring produced would have to include both males and females, and be fertile as well. This would have had to occur during a point in the evolutionary chain before any higher organisms evolved (since all such organisms today reproduce sexually). It would also have had to be more successful than the asexual reproduction practiced by the other organisms around them. This means they would have had to produce more offspring, since every higher organism alive today had to descend from this original pair (unless you suggest this process randomly and successfully occurred multiple times). It simply didn’t make any sense to our family that such an event would have happened by chance, and I gave thanks in my heart for our Lord’s clear and simple explanation that He created us male and female.

I grew up steeped in modern scientific thought and never questioned the notion that we evolved from lower life forms over thousands of millennia until I became a believer in Christ during college. During a scripture discussion a friend said he would have a problem with the suggestion that Adam had a parent. I mulled that over and began to read arguments on both sides of the issue. I was amazed to find a wealth of evidence supporting the notion of young-earth creation, and I gradually became convinced of its truth. I learned that bombardier beetles carry chemicals in their bodies that ignite when combined, and that giraffes have spongy material in their heads that keeps them conscious when bending down to drink. I can’t explain these remarkable facts with random mutations and natural selection.

Years later my husband and I felt led by the Lord to educate our children at home. We were blessed by the abundance of creation science resources available to help us. Our family finds science fascinating, so we’ve used books and materials from a variety of sources. In fact, we’ve used public school texts side by side with creation study materials to discuss their differences in philosophy. We want our children to be familiar with the world’s thinking and armed with the tools they’ll need in the future to think logically and critically through the arguments they’ll encounter wherever the Lord leads them. We participate in programs at our zoo and local public school district’s science center. We watch nature programs on public television. But we talk together about what we see and hear, and evaluate the world’s teachings by what we know to be true in God’s Word.

Our family has found that the more we study God’s creation, the more deeply we are awed by Him. Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” It saddens me that home educating families sometimes shy away from studying the sciences any more extensively than their home states require because they fear the world’s influence on their children. The world in all its beauty was created by our Lord for us. Scripture tells us the stars were made to give light upon the earth! That alone is an astounding and humbling fact, and makes me want to learn about the wonders God created.

Psalm 8 (English Standard Version) says, “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” I certainly don’t deserve such dominion. I don’t even deserve to look upon the beauty of God’s creation. That He allows me these things makes my heart want to cry out the next verse with the psalmist, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

Last year our family took a trip out west to see the great national and state parks in Utah and Arizona. We were captivated by the astounding beauty our Lord created. As we walked the slopes of Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake we were struck by the subtle colors in the uniquely brackish water at sunset. Zion National Park surrounded us with rocky formations that seemed to touch the sky. Climbers looked like tiny beetles as they made their way up the vertical walls. The colors in Bryce Canyon took our breath away. At dawn the hoodoos seem to glow, as if warmed by the sun’s first bright rays. And the Grand Canyon made me want to sit still and look out over the landscape for a year or more just to study all the different ways the sunlight and cloud shadows played over the rocky surfaces.

But what struck me most powerfully as we traveled from park to park were the swirling layers of rock that proclaimed evidence for the Genesis flood. Dust doesn’t land in curving layers over millennia of settlement. It gets deposited that way when carried and dropped by water plunging over the land. In such a cataclysmic event water rips tops off mountains and scatters the soil through the valleys. Eddies and whirlpools carve tunnels and crevices. If I had any lingering notions of slow deposition creating the layers on the surface of the earth’s crust, they were obliterated by what I saw during this amazing trip.

“The earth is the Lord’s,” Psalm 24 says, “and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” Let’s make sure we don’t neglect to teach our children about it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brisket Pot Roast with Carrots

This is a warm family favorite of ours for a cool autumn day:

Ingredients:

2-3 lb. beef brisket (or leaner cut like London broil)

1 lb. baby carrots (or sliced regular carrots)

1 onion, sliced

1 bag wide egg noodles

Ketchup to cover beef

1 pkg. brown gravy mix (or 3 Tbsp Better-Than-Bouillon Beef mixed with water and flour)

Salt, pepper, garlic

Spread carrots evenly over bottom of 9×13 pan (or buttered crock pot – OR steam carrots later if you prefer more gravy for the meat). Place beef on top, fat side up. Poke with fork, sprinkle with seasonings. Cover with onions. Pour ketchup over all. Mix brown gravy mix with 2.5 cups water, stir with fork, then drizzle through fork over all (don’t wash all your ketchup away). Cover with foil, make 5 slits, bake at 350 for about 5 hours (or crock on LOW for 12-14 hours, then HIGH for one hour to thicken the gravy). Meat should be very tender. If you don’t have this much time, baking at 375 for 4 hours works well too.

Start cooking noodles. Take pan from oven, remove foil, scrape tomatoes & onions into carrots & gravy, and stir. Remove and slice meat, place carrots & onions in a bowl, and stir gravy over low heat (if desired) to thicken a bit. Pour a little gravy over meat. Serve with noodles (or, to stretch out the meat, shred & mix with extra noodles & gravy).

Bon appetit!

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Uncategorized

Italian Tiramisu Cheesecake

20161225_134955

This gorgeous, easy cake is wonderful for holidays!

Ingredients:

  • 24 lady finger Italian cookies
  • 12 Oreo-type sandwich cookies
  • 1 tsp finely ground espresso
  • 1.5 cups brewed espresso (6 T separated out)
  • 8 T butter, softened
  • 36 oz. name brand cream cheese, warmed to room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 packet of white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (OR)
  • 1 bar dark chocolate for curls
  • Baking parchment
  • Spring-form pan
  • Cake pan slightly larger than spring-form pan
  • Larger pan for water bath

Instructions:

First, preheat oven to 350 and line a 9″ spring-form pan lined with parchment paper (place a round piece on the bottom and a long strip along the sides).

Step 1: Prepare the Crust

  1. Finely grind the sandwich cookies, lady fingers, and espresso powder in a food processor.
  2. Add melted butter and pulse until fully mixed.
  3. Press mixture down onto the parchment on the bottom of the spring-form pan.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. Turn oven down to 320

Step 2: Cheesecake Filling

  1. Beat 32 oz. of the cream cheese, butter and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Stop mixing a few times to scrape down the sides .
  2. Add eggs one at a time while mixing.
  3. Add 6 T of the prepared espresso, vanilla extract, and then flour, scraping down as needed.
  4. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture onto the crust in the spring-form pan.
  5. Dip the lady finger cookies in the remaining espresso and line them up to form a single layer over the cheesecake mixture, cutting to shape as necessary.
  6. Pour the remaining cheesecake mixture on top.
  7. Place in water bath – use cake pan under spring-form pan (to keep water out) inside large, deep pan filled partway with warm water.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 320 degrees. The middle of the cheesecake will still be a little jiggly.
  9. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake reduce temp in the oven for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove it from the oven and let it fully cool on a counter top.
  11. Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Whipped Topping

  1. Beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Chill in refrigerator while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining cream cheese, milk, and pudding mix until completely smooth.
  3. Stir the chilled whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it is fully combined.
  4. Place mixture into a piping bag with a large tip, such as Wilton 2A, and then decorate the top of the cheesecake.
  5. Dust the top with powdered cocoa (OR)
  6. Shave on chocolate curls.
  7. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes, Royal Recipe Collection, Uncategorized

New Release by Kathryn J. Bain!

cover-takeherbreathaway-4Kathy Bain is a writing critique partner of mine, and she’s just released a new spellbinding novel in her Lincolnville Mystery series, called Take Her Breath Away. Here’s an interview we did to celebrate its release:

Mary: What prompted you to write Take Her Breath Away?

kathy-bain

Kathy: My Lincolnville Mystery series came from an idea because of Toby Keith’s song “God Love Her.” I liked the idea of the Bible on the motorcycle, it just took off from there. In Take Her Breath Away, my lead characters, Ty and Rayleene, were two minor characters, married to each other, from previous books. In the last book, it was announced they were separated. This is the story of them working their way back together. 
Mary: How do you come up with your gripping story ideas?
Kathy: I get them everywhere. In my first Lincolnville Mystery, Matthew, my hero, keeps a secret from the heroine, Lydia. The idea of the secret actually came from a news story in NE Florida. (Love Law & Order’s “ripped from headlines”). An officer stopped two guys on a motorbike. The driver of the bike was pulling something from his pocket, and the officer shot and killed him. Turned out to be a bag of marijuana. In my book, things were a bit different, but the gist of the news story is still there (innocent man killed by officer).
Mary: Which one of your characters in the Lincolnville Mystery series would you say is most like you, and why?
Kathy: Oh, my, that’s a hard one. Age-wise, it’d probably be BJ, the heroine in One Last Breath, only because she’s retired and I’m 55. Personality-wise, I would have to say Sheryl is probably the closest. She uses humor a lot, yet inside she’s not as secure as she portrays. (You’ll find out more about that in the fifth and final Lincolnville Mystery.)
Mary: Which authors have most heavily influenced your writing style?
Kathy: I love Terry Blackstock and Dean Koontz. They both have spiritual aspects in their books. Ms. Blackstock writes Christian novels and Koontz, while not a Christian author, is a Christian man, so he puts aspects of that in his books. They also like a lot of suspense.
Mary: Is there a message you want to get across to your readers?
Kathy: I seem to use forgiveness a lot. Not just God forgiving us, but us forgiving ourselves and each other. Sometimes it’s easier to believe God forgives our past sins than it is for us to forgo the guilt of our pasts.

Take Her Breath Away is available here.

1 Comment

Filed under Author Highlight, Uncategorized

Spring! A Few Favorite Springtime Quotes

springtime_tulips

I’m so thankful for spring! Where I live spring comes early – crocuses and daffodils popping up in February, sometimes even late January. My seven year old daughter Megan says she likes spring because the flowers bloom and there are Easter Egg hunts on Easter. And since Easter is my favorite holiday of the year because our Lord arose on that day, this is always a joyful time of year for me. I hope it is for you as well.

And so we should have a few favorite springtime quotes:

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” – Mark Twain

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” – Pablo Nerud

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

“The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend.” – Terri Guillemets

25th-anniversary-1161.jpg

“The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

– Song of Solomon, 2:12

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Author Spotlight – Kathryn J. Bain!

Image of Kathryn J. BainTonight I have the privilege of introducing you to another one of my fabulous writing critique partners, award winning author Kathryn J. Bain! Kathryn’s sixth book, The Visitor, was released on October 14. Her awards include the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award for Inspirational Fiction.

After being President of Florida Sisters in Crime from 2010-2012, Kathryn is currently the Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors. Kathryn has also been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law. Whenever any of the rest of us in our group write a crime scene, it has to pass muster with Sergeant Kathryn!

Kathryn grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but it apparently wasn’t far enough south, because two years later she headed to Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since.

Product DetailsThe Visitor:
What you can’t see can kill you!

 When Christine Westman bumps against a stranger in a Jacksonville supermarket, he gives her only one month to live. A killer moves into Christine’s walk-in closet and watches her nightly preparing for the day of her death. Can Christine survive when midnight hits and The Visitor comes calling?

Beautiful Imperfection:Product Details
Would God bring her through cancer to die at the hands of killer?
When witnesses to a mass murder start dying, breast cancer survivor Teddy Federline must push aside her anger and trust an ex-boyfriend to ensure she lives long enough to testify against the killer.

Detective Sloan Michaels still has deep feelings for Teddy but realizes that after the way he left her years ago, he has a lot of making up to do. Now, he must keep his focus on the case and off the woman he loves. If Sloan doesn’t keep Teddy safe, he’ll never get a second chance.

I thoroughly enjoy critiquing Kathryn’s stories – mainly because I never have a clue what’s going to happen next, and she’s a master at drawing out suspense! All her books can be found here. Don’t miss any of them!

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Highlight, Uncategorized

My favorite D-Day Tribute

May our nation never forget the sacrifices made for our liberty. Here’s my favorite tribute.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized