Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1864, by Abraham Lincoln

Just a little reading from our 16th President about Thanksgiving, 1864:

Date: October 20, 1864
By: Abraham Lincoln

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with his guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad, and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their campus, and our sailors on the rivers and seas, with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while he has opened to us new sources of wealth, and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards
. Moreover, he has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony where of, I have here unto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this twentieth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling

Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling
Titus, Snow, and A Little Bit of Traveling

The Medal of Honor And A Confused Culture

[U.S. Army Medal of Honor with neck band] (LOC)

If you Google “medal of honor” you’re confronted with some very interesting results. The first two (three if you count the “sponsored link”) are links to a popular video game with the same name, and the third result is for the “Congressional Medal of Honor Society” which was created by the U.S. Congress to remember the recipients of the highest award given to U.S. military personnel — that is, the literal Medal of Honor. This might be confusing to some, but not to Google. Google is just returning back what it thinks are the best results of what people are searching for. But Google’s results illustrate this reality: we live in a confused culture. Confused over what? The simple answer: everything. We are a culture that doesn’t understand parenting, gender, race, sex, death, development, God, religion, and many others. But in the case of the medal of honor, we are confused over reality, or said another way, we’re confused over what’s real and what isn’t.

Staff Sargent Sal Guinta is the first living person since Vietnam to awarded the Nation’s highest medal, the medal of honor (you can watch his personal account of the story in this video). Three years ago he bravely fought off the enemy in Afghanistan and his story, though heart-breaking, will give encouragement and hope to many Americans. It’s the story of a real young man, with real strength and valor, doing something that few would ever do. He stared down certain death and risked his own life for his fellow soldiers and his country. Even in his own words, he believed he didn’t deserve the medal, but wanted it to represent the many other who fought along side him and those who are still fighting today. He sounds like a humble and self-sacrificing man, and I personally want to thank him for his service to the United States. But as I listened and read his story, I couldn’t help but think that so many other young men are out there right now, sitting behind a screen playing a video game that, though entertaining, doesn’t teach them anything about life in the real world, with real pain, and real risks. I like the way one former Marine officer Benjamin Busch put it in his article “Why A Video Game Does Not A Soldier Make”, he says

“Playing and risking your life are different things. In the video war, there may be some manipulation of anxiety, some adrenaline to the heart, but absolutely nothing is at stake…A video game can produce no wounds and take no friends away.”

Some young men probably stood in long lines back in October waiting for the release of the latest “Medal of Honor” video game. Many of them probably didn’t even hear about President Obama awarding the actual Medal of Honor just a month later. But then again, there’s really nothing exciting about an old guy giving some young guy a little necklace, right? Wrong. My concern is that young men today don’t know anything of the bravery, valor, or even honor displayed by Sal Guinta. And what they do know of it is probably highly distorted. While they sit at home in their bedrooms playing video games created by companies that spend millions of dollars to create reality, there are real men and women risking their lives every day, many of whom have left their friends and family here and aren’t guaranteed a return ticket home. Again, officer Busch’s comments are relevant,

“And for those who truly want to play for a Medal of Honor, recruiters are standing by. Only eight have been awarded since we invaded Afghanistan. All but one have been posthumous.”

It’s easy to live in a confused culture and not see the weird dichotomy it creates at times, or the blurred lines of reality and fantasty. As I look forward to training and educating my own son about the world around him I would do well to see the problem here and make the necessary adjustments. I hope and pray that he would grow to understand that there’s more to life than entertainment and that he would always separate what’s real from what isn’t, even when the lines look blurred. More than that, I pray he would be a man of great courage, valor, and honor — not just for his country, but for his God who deserves far greater allegiance.

Watch President Obama reward Sal Giunta with the Medal of Honor:

Hollandse Appeltaart (Dutch Apple Tart)

Hollandse Appeltaart

Maybe it’s because Bethany has gotten really in to the Pioneer Woman, or maybe it’s because I love a good competition, but this weekend found me creating a Dutch traditional dessert called Hollandse Appeltaart (AKA: Dutch apple tart). Our church has yearly contest for a special service we called “Turkey, Tarts, and Testimonies”. During the service we sing some traditional hymns, spend some time hearing from people and sharing testimonies, and at the end we enjoy pie and dessert together. But where my dessert comes in is that the men are to provide the pies, with no help from the women. So my friend Josh and myself got together and baked the night away on Saturday. In fact, we live streamed the entire thing and if you have about 3 hours of uninterrupted time, feel free to watch it here.

For some reason I only took one photo of our final tart, but I did take a few photos of the miniature one I made. I’ve placed it next to my iPhone to give you an idea of the size of this little guy.

Hollandse Appeltaart

The recipe called for some great ingredients including “currants” which are like a small black berry which we found out are regulated by the USDA in some parts of the U.S. Thankfully Sprouts had them in their “open stock” area and we weren’t missing any ingredients from the original recipe. Other ingredients included apples (of course), raisins, lemon zest, sugar, and cinnamon. We made the crust from hand as well, which included an egg and sugar baked in. Super tasty…

Hollandse Appeltaart

Here is our final submission. We were #33 and we took 2nd place in the fruit category for taste! The family cookbook recipe calls for the tart to “always be served with a dollop of whipping cream and strong coffee” (which might explain Bethany’s love for coffee…it’s in her blood!). Our tart was on a cake stand with a French press of Starbucks Christmas blend, along with cups and plenty of dollops for every judge. I even created a little card with the name of the tart and the Dutch flag for good measure. It’s hard to see, but the background of the card I have a drawing of some old Dutch ships, presumably bringing their culture to the States! Later in the evening one of the judges told me we actually placed 2nd in both taste and presentation, but they weren’t awarding any pies with double prizes, yet it’s good to know that it looked as good as it tasted.

Hollandse Appeltaart

And as they say, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much” (and I’m Norwegian so I guess that’s saying something).

The Beginning of the End For Marriage?

© Shay Thomason

I got married at 21. Next month my wife and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary — I couldn’t be happier. But apparently I’m not the norm. At least that’s what the Associated Press is saying in a new article out today with the tagline “Is marriage becoming obsolete?” I offer you this snippet for your own discernment:

As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren’t needed to have a family.

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. Broken down further, about 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent who were never married. Within those two groups, a sizable chunk — 6 percent — have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

Then there’s this gem just in the middle of the article:

The changing views of family are being driven largely by young adults 18-29, who are more likely than older generations to have an unmarried or divorced parent or have friends who do. Young adults also tend to have more liberal attitudes when it comes to spousal roles and living together before marriage, the survey found.

via Four in 10 say marriage is becoming obsolete - Yahoo! News