Friday, September 26, 2008

Bella Notte -- posted by John

We watched The Three Amigos last night and today I can only find my left holster for my revolver. That is making it difficult for me to spin my revolver on my finger. We pulled out our holsters after seeing Tombstone last week. Those are both great movies and they sure put you in a Western mood. After practicing a lot, I was a faster draw than George this morning even though it was left handed. We actually have a black sombrero like the ones in The Three Amigos, that we got in Mexico. Unfortunately we only have one, not three.

Last night I made the recipe Mrs. Sarah gave me for an Indian dish. It is an India Indian dish, not an American Indian dish. I was a little confused on that at first.

The dish is called Jalfrezi and it has spicy spices like chilies and sweet spices like cloves and cinnamon which seemed like it would be weird but it was exceptional! We also made rice with turmeric (which can really stain your clothes so be careful) and sauteed almonds and raisins. We didn't make the Indian sides yet; we just steamed broccoli. It was so good!

Everybody loved the dish and told me to thank Mrs. Sarah for the recipe. Her e-mail to me was named Johnny Caker Curry Maker! That sounds like a nursery rhyme to me.

Will and Spencer and Dad raved over it. Actually, everybody raved over it. Next time we will go a little spicier. We thought it might be too spicy for the little kids but it wasn't really spicy even though it smelled like it would be while it was cooking. We cooked it in the slow cooker and it was so tender and good.

I love spicy food. Sarah Grace made jalapeno poppers all summer because we over-planted jalapeno peppers. I could eat them everyday.

Today is Mom and Dad's anniversary. I can't make a cake because Spencer's birthday was the 22nd and George's is the 28th. That would be three cakes in one week!

George will probably play Bella Notte from Lady and the Tramp on his accordion for Mom and Dad to slow dance. It is a tradition.

Here are the lyrics:

Oh this is the night, it's a beautiful night
And we call it bella notte
Look at the skies, they have stars in their eyes
On this lovely bella notte.
Side by side with your loved one,
You'll find enchantment here.
The night will weave its magic spell,
When the one you love is near!
Oh this is the night, and the heavens are right!
On this lovely bella notte!

I used to always get up on a stool in the kitchen and make up love songs while my parents slow danced when Dad got home from work. The lyrics would go like this: My parents love each other, and they love meeee, and our love will never die, and we'll always live in harmonyyyyy. I made up the tune with it. It was all original.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Economy -- posted by John

My Dad has been explaining the economy to us and what has happened on Wall Street. He even wrote a post on our family website! You can see it at [This post is from my journal. See Dad's post below.]

He usually doesn't write much on there but we've been having great conversations and Mom asked him to write some of it down since all of us weren't here for it. I also told him about Mrs. Sarah having to pay over $9/gal for gasoline!

Dad said all politicians will disappoint you, the trick is voting for the politician that you think will disappoint you the least.

It makes me so mad that the Federal government can take money from the productive people and give it to people who are not productive. If you reward people for being unproductive you'll get more of it, and you'll get more people to not be productive. Why would people want to work hard for something they could get for free?

These taxers think we are wealthy people, but we are not. I'm not going to say we are poor, but we are medium. If we get taxed more and more, we won't be able to start our family business that we want.

Mom made Dad some fried eggs for breakfast. Fried eggs look so sunny and happy, just like something a good farmer should eat every morning.

Ma found a farmer who grows Henderson Bush butterbeans. She bought a bushel or more and we had some the other night. They are so delicious. He also pulled up some peanuts and she gave us enough to almost fill our large stock pot. We ate boiled peanuts while watching football games on Saturday. That is so homey.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It is NOT a Failure of Capitalism! -- posted by Daddy

The family has had some particularly great conversations over the past week. Although the children are very aware of the political environment, and how current political debates fit in the stream of history, the recent events in the financial markets prompted some milestone discussions. And these conversations served to underscore our conviction that as a country we are moving further and further away from the moorings of the Constitution, and as we do, we will lose our freedoms, and continue further down what Hayek called the road to serfdom.

Mandy asked me to explain the current situation to the kids. I don’t pretend to be an economist, nor am I versed in the specifics of CDOs, CLOs, credit default swaps and such. But you don’t have to understand these to understand the root of the problem.

All you have to do is ask yourself the following: Exactly what were we thinking having publicly traded companies – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose debt carried the implicit guaranty of the Federal government? Think about it….for- profit companies with the backing of the government.

However laudable the intent behind these innocuous sounding government sponsored entities (GSEs), they were, in fact, massive government intrusions into what is becoming an increasingly less free enterprise system.

This has not been a failure of capitalism! It’s a predictable result of government intrusion in the economy.

The seeds of the current situation were planted when these companies were created. But they lay dormant for the most part, although they became huge contributors to members of Congress, especially those members who were responsible for overseeing them.

But then the seeds began to sprout. The Clinton Administration, wanting to boost home ownership among low income families, used its influence to substantially loosen the underwriting standards previously required by Fannie and Freddie. And all of a sudden, the sub-prime mortgage market began.

And then the fertilizer was added. In response to the recession that was forming as the Bush administration took office, and that became full blown after the September 11 terrorist attack, the Federal Reserve substantially lowered interest rates. This monetary policy, combined with the fiscal policy of the Bush tax cuts, helped bring the economy out of recession. But then, after economic growth had resumed, the rates remained low. This served to leave tremendous liquidity into the economy.

With all of this liquidity in the market, the banking system, both investment and commercial banks, sought opportunities to put this liquidity to work. This created even more demand for the sub-prime mortgages. The cash flows from these unstable mortgages then became the principle ingredient for the exotic cocktails of securities created by Wall Street to boost there own bottom line.

With the combination of lower mortgage underwriting standard promulgated by Fannie and Freddie, virtually free money created by the Fed, and natural profit motive of Wall Street, the perfect storm was created.

Now we are faced with the prospect of even more government intrusion in the market in an attempt to solve the problem that government intrusion created.

Anytime the government gets involved in the free market economy, it ends up failing miserably. It’s a fact. All you have to do is ask yourself what government program works the way it was supposed to. The answer is there isn’t one.

This came up in a subsequent conversation with John, when he told me about how his friend in England, Mrs. Sarah, commented that their gasoline had come down to $9 per gallon. John asked me why their gas was so much more expensive. I told him I don’t know the exact details, but that the governments in Europe have much higher taxes on gasoline.

This led to a brief discussion about socialism. At the outset, I told John that any man made economic system is inherently flawed, and certainly not impressive to God.

But having said that, the free market economy is the one that has proven itself to be the system that produces the most prosperity for the most people, in contrast to socialism, which has historically promised much, and produced very little.

And despite the abundance of evidence about the failures of socialism, there are those in this country that continue to listen to this siren song of collectivism. Take the current debate about health care in this country. The family discussed the socialized medical systems in Europe, which promise health care for everyone. What the promoters of socialized medicine forget to mention is that under these systems health care is rationed. As a consequence, people can’t get treatment when it’s needed, but instead have to wait, often with a dire result.

As they say in England, the proof is in the pudding. When people in countries with these much ballyhooed socialized medical systems need treatment, they come to the United States.

And now, there are those in this country that want to destroy the finest medical system in the world, and create a socialized system here.

The family has had some great conversations. And although we pray that we will have leaders who abide by what’s left of the Constitution and understand that the size of government is inversely proportional to the amount of freedom of its citizens, we also know that the trend-line of history will continue to be negative until Jesus comes back.

And so, here we are. The road to serfdom has become a slippery slope, and threatens to sweep away our shining city on a hill.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Love Never Fails -- posted by John

I saw Maverick again with James Garner and Mel Gibson and Jody Foster. I think she's pretty the way she tosses her hair and I love her Southern accent! We've been playing cards again since we saw it. It puts us in the mood, but we don't know how to play poker, so we play rummy. Dad said he will teach us sometime but he hasn't yet.

Nothing interesting has happened with me; I'm a book with no pages. Since I've got nothing, I will tell you something interesting about my mother instead.

My dad goes out of town three days of the week and on the days he's gone she reads the Bible to us and teaches us about life and she sometimes gets on a roll. We read the Bible when my father is at home, too, but I think she takes her time when he's gone since when he's here he has to go to work.

Today she decided to teach us about love. She got it on her mind because she heard Dr. Phil was teaching people how to get over people who have hurt them and to move on with their lives. (Although Mom accidentally called him Uncle Phil when she started her story. Lol.) Mom said that what he said is impossible to do for Christians who have a new heart. The new holy heart can't get over people. The new holy heart has love that never fails.

We have had a lot of family and friends who have ditched us and we still love them and pray all the time that God will bring them back to us. And we always will!

My Aunt Mary's husband has been remarried three times and some of her children are on again off again with her. She loves Jesus and she can never give up on them or get over them. She and her husband were married first to each other and God says only death ends a first marriage. Some people don't agree with God on that, but he's right whether they agree or not.

Mom said that we can't help it that we can't get over them and we can't move on. I Corinthians 13 says that "love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

So, Dr. Phil was very wrong to teach people to move on with their lives. It is not wrong to keep a broken heart when the ones you love are missing or don't love you or are evil. Maybe we can't have such a good time when we are missing people or longing for the ones we love, but God didn't put us here for just good times.

Listen, Jesus is coming back suddenly so it is more important to agree with him than anything else in the world. We've been reading The Revelation and if you don't totally belong to Jesus, then your teeth will be chattering when you read about the tribulation in that book. So I beg you to don't put it off.

How would you feel if someone you love said they never wanted to talk to you again? My mother has had that happen and it was her own father! I have grandparents I've never met but I love them all the same and I will always hope that one day they'll love me.

My dad's father told me he wanted to meet me, too, when my sister put me on the phone so I could get to tell him I wanted to meet him, but that was a long time ago and he won't talk to us even though we want to talk to them. I just wish I could sit down to a cup of coffee, in their house, at least, so I could see his face and my grandmother's face and then leave if they don't want to be with me.

I know my parents will always love me and I'm very thankful that I don't have to dread ever breaking up with them, but I can't get over my mom's father not loving my mother and my dad's parents not wanting us.

The Bible says that you can tell the real Christians from the phony Christians by their love, and I know we love people who hate us, and we just want to be reconciled and hold each other.

Anyway, while Sarah Grace was taking her guitar lesson on the webcam, I read The Wind in the Willows to Mom because it is one of her favorite books. Mom and I think it has some of the best sentences in the whole world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mandy's Testimony in Christ (from Facebook "About Me.") Mr. Allen asked me to re-post it here.

The Birth of Snow White ~ by Mandy Franklin Allen

I’m a simple woman. I enjoy serving my husband and children and most especially the Lord Jesus, and the most important thing “about me” is really all about him. He is my magnificent obsession.

In fifth grade I went down for an altar call to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior by praying “The Sinner’s Prayer.” Only, that particular prayer had me invite him into my heart to clean it up, and to get forgiveness. The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked and can’t really be cleaned up. The Apostle Paul laments his former unredeemed condition in Romans chapter 7. Oh sure, we may be able to (by an act of our will) do this or that for good, but our efforts can’t deal with our sin nature. Besides, those efforts are as filthy menstrual rags. Our sin nature must be replaced with a new, holy nature; one that is dead to sin, sins, and sinning- one that is born of God.

Consequently, that “sinner’s prayer” served to deceive me into thinking Jesus came to just forgive my sins, rather than take them away so that I didn’t have to sin them anymore. For many years I labored under the burden of trying to keep myself from sinning, while I still had a nature that was sold under sin.

And then, after years of church-going and Bible reading and struggling with secret sins (with some success but not complete success), the Lord opened my eyes to I John chapter 3, verse 9 in particular: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Immediately, a host of other verses that had been hidden from my understanding were revealed to me, and with a domino effect I understood that this is what it means to be “born again!” And since that moment, over a decade ago, I have not served sin. He made me, Mandy Franklin Allen, a new creation, holy and blameless…. someone that never existed before! He forgave me for all my sins that are past and delivered me from all my future sinning. He keeps me! I’m a kept woman!

And so, I get to spend all eternity praising him and worshipping him and bragging on what he did for the once O-wretched-Man-dy-stained-dark-as-crimson…. now made into fresh and fluffy Snow White! It is his work, it is marvelous, and it is finished!

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Poorly Blanket -- posted by John

My British friend, Mrs. Sarah (I believe you've heard of her in recent posts. I send her my clippings like Eli Cash sent Etheline Tenenbaum his clippings*, lol), told me a wonderful story. She told me about how her granny made a blanket out of scrap pieces of wool and they call it The Poorly Blanket. When her family feels poorly, they curl up under it on the sofa.

When I read that, I really wanted us to have a poorly blanket, too. Since most of us crochet, we could each make a part of it, only we'd have to buy some of the yarn since we don't have enough scraps, but that's okay. Or maybe we could spin the yarn from our own sheep!

One time Dad and Mom took The Big Four to see Les Miserables at The Koger Center. They brought us Young Guns t-shirts and coffee mugs even though Mom and Dad don't like wasting money on souvenirs. I know Mom felt so sad that the whole family couldn't go and she bought us a bunch of stuff.

At the same time that we got the mugs, the whole family got a stomach bug. We drank our herbal tea out of those mugs. That amused us because we were "les miserables!"

I'm remembering this because on Saturday we were planning on going to Hilton Head but a hurricane came plus some of us got a stomach bug again! We get a stomach bug every couple of years, I think. This time I haven't gotten it and I'm not planning to! Last time I thought I was going to die. I thought it was the end for me.

I guess our Les Miserables mugs are like poorly blankets, in a way, but wouldn't it be cool to sip tea in a Les Miz cup while cozying up under a poorly blanket, while watching NCAA football?

*Warning: The Royal Tenenbaums is NOT a children's movie. There are bad parts that I have to turn my head at even with the TV version but I just love that movie even though I hate the ending.