Thankfulness

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Thankfulness (also known as gratitude) is one of the most important attitudes we can have in life. That’s why I’m always telling my kids to say thank you and to appreciate what they have. God even wired our bodies to thrive when we are thankful. An attitude of gratitude produces more serotonin (the happy chemical) in the brain.

So, I’m going to follow this advice and take a break from blogging this week to appreciate time with my family (I’ll be back on Monday, December 1st). Hope you all have a Happy (serotonin-fueled) Thanksgiving!

Before I go, here are some things I’m thankful for:

  • My husband who puts up with me asking how to kill people on a regular basis (for my books, of course)
  • My three kids who keep life full of drama (and trips to the grocery store)
  • That we managed to avoid the stomach flu when almost 10% of the school had it last week
  • My sister who just came to visit me in the frozen tundra of Iowa
  • My amazing critique partner
  • My wonderful agent who is out there shopping for my first book deal
  • All my writer friends locally and on-line who get me
  • All my other friends who don’t get me, but love me anyway
  • And last but most certainly not least–the Lord who gives me every breath I take

What are you thankful for? I’d love to know!

 

 

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Devotion

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:10-11

How many hours a day do we spend on electronic devices or thinking about things on our electronics, like games, TV shows, networking sites? I confess that I love my lap top, I don’t go anywhere without my Kindle, and I’ve been known to suddenly lose an hour after being pulled into Facebook, so I’m preaching as one of the sinners in this area.

Consider this quote:

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” –Albert Einstein

Oh, Albert, how did you know the constant struggle we’d face? While, he was probably referring to the atom bomb, the comment applies to many of our interactions today. How many times have we missed a meaningful conversation by playing games on our phone and ignoring the person next to us in line or answering one more e-mail while our child hops around begging for attention?

Our devices are tools, not substitutes for real world interactions.

Dear Lord, help us to use our technology to better the lives around us. Break our addictions when the electronic world controls us. And help us to honor your name in both the cyber world and the real world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

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Ever wonder what lives in your belly button? Me, either. But apparently God gave the ecologists at North Carolina State University a double dose of curiosity.

In 2012, they sampled 60 belly buttons and analyzed the swabs for bacteria. They found over 2,368 species of bacteria—1,458 of which appear to be unknown to science.

They also discovered the average number of species harbored in a belly button was 67 species, although some individuals had as few as 29 and others had as many as 107 species.

Who knew we’d have so many bacterial hitchhikers hiding in our orifices? One individual had belly button bacteria found only in soil from Japan—a place he’d never been. Another person carried around extremophile bacteria that usually thrive in polar ice and thermal vents.

What will come out of this study? Researchers believe that microbes are involved in physical processes on the body, including immune function.

Could you someday take a pill filled with the bacteria from your neighbor’s belly button swab? Yikes. That kind of gives new meaning to the phrase love thy neighbor.

 

Reference: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/11/121114-belly-button-bacteria-science-health-dunn/

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End Game of Evolution

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Have you ever thought about what would be the natural end game of the theory of evolution?

It isn’t a cooperative society, as some would have you think. Of course, there are a few selective advantages to cooperation, such as the group benefitting from different people’s gifts and talents, but in terms of natural selection, these are outweighed by the disadvantages of having to provide for every member of the society.

Natural selection alone actually encourages us to become sociopaths—people who use and exploit others to get what they need.

If evolution is correct and we’re all just animals trying to survive (and evolution would say that’s all we’ve ever been), why care about other people who are not as fit as you are? Why build nursing homes for the elderly? Why fund shelters for the homeless? Why develop special needs programs in our schools?

Evolution would say all of that is a waste of time and money, at best. At worst, it’s impeding the progress of the human race as a whole.

Based on the theory of evolution, Hitler teased out his idea for the Aryan master race. After all, if we’re evolving, then we must be evolving toward something. Hitler decided it was tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Germans. In his mind, he helped evolution along by trying to exterminate the Jews—an inferior race (according to him).

Few people who believe in evolution would take it this far. But in the same vein, not many people who believe in evolution have actually thought about what this theory supports.

All the things we think of as distinctly human: the capacity for compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love. Those things would be selected out in the name of survival. If I’m on a survival mission, I don’t survive best if I use up my resources trying to take care of you. No, I survive best when I worry only about myself.

If we’re merely smarter than average apes, where did all these beautiful qualities come from? There’s no evolutionary advantage to them, and yet they are what makes humans different, what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.

What do you think? Why are most people compassionate and loving? Would evolution have encouraged us to be that way? What would be the evolutionary pathway/selective pressure that would bring about kindness?

(And just for the record, I think apes are pretty awesome and I wouldn’t mind being related to them, if I actually were)

 

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Devotion

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:21

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” –Bill Gates

Success feels great and sometimes it’s a gift from God. Other times, success can be a test. A whole-scale challenge to every part of your life. Often, it brings additional pressure to keep achieving, to set the bar higher, to keep impressing those who have believed in you.

I find failure somewhat easier to deal with, spiritually speaking. In the throes of rejection or disappointment, I cling to Jesus as the definition of my life, because I can do nothing else.

But when success comes, it’s too easy to let that success define me—and make me insecure about losing it. Living with success requires constant effort to focus on the One who gave it to you. If you are there right now, are you making the effort?

Dear Lord, whether I’m experiencing rejection or accolades, let my focus be on You and Your will. Give me a heavenly perspective. Remind me that all the success in the world cannot compare to hearing You say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” In Jesus’ name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

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In case you missed it, the European Space Agency made history this week. On Wednesday, Philae, a robot probe launched by the satellite Rosetta, stuck a two-point landing after bouncing twice on the comet 67P, coming to rest about 1 km from its intended landing site.

Unfortunately, Philae should have made a three-point landing. The robot is resting on only two of its legs and scientists believe it’s tucked up against the wall of a cliff. This position means Philae’s power cells won’t get enough sunlight to completely charge its battery. It’s projected to run out of charge on Saturday, unless scientists can figure out a way to move it more into the open. What a sad thing for the robot to end its ten-year journey this way.

Researchers hope to find out more about the early history of our solar system by analyzing the data Philae sends back, but the data may be limited based on Philae’s position. Even so, I’m looking forward to their reports. I always love to learn more about how God made such a glorious universe. The earth and the heavens declare His name.

Reference: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30034060

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Self-watering Plant

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The desert rhubarb plant was uniquely designed by God to thrive in a desert environment. In the Negev Desert of Isreal, one of the driest places on earth, the average annual rainfall is 3 inches. So, the desert rhubarb can’t rely on rainfall. Instead, it uses a channeling system to irrigate itself.

The leaves of the plant are waxy to promote water flow and heavily grooved with miniature peaks and valleys to channel dew or any rainfall into the root system. In fact, the plant collects 16 times more water during a rain than other plants. Just look at the tiny mountain range on those leaves. If you were an ant, it would be like crossing the Alps.

Many desert dwellers have hoped to harvest precious water in the same way—from the dew that collects each night. Perhaps understanding how God designed the desert rhubarb will help scientists to create “smart materials” that can do just that.

 

Reference:   De Young, Don. July-Sept. 2011. Three-Foot Oasis. Answers, p. 40.

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