Merry Christmas!!!

From my family to yours, I pray you have an amazing, miracle-filled Christmas! May you rest in the love of your Savior, knowing He has come and He is here!

To spend time with my family, I’ll be taking a week(ish) off of blogging. When I come back in the New Year, I’m going to start a new schedule of posting that will take me down to twice a week. I love blogging, but my goal is to get more time to write the novels that are trying to leap out of my brain.

Starting January 6th, I’m going to post every Tuesday and Thursday with a Devotion on Tuesdays and a Faith Filled Science post on Thursdays. I can’t wait to start my second year of blogging!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!!!

Advertisements

Devotion

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

This is my first winter in a vehicle with heated seats, and let me say …. oh, wow, how did I live without them? They heat up faster than the van’s heater so that within three minutes I’m wrapped in a cocoon of warmth. I’m so toasty in my van bubble that I have to drag myself out to run errands. I imagine it’s the same feeling I had leaving my mother’s womb.

But eventually I have to go outside and dart from store to store, trying to be in the cold air as little as possible. And I started thinking (maybe a warm brain is more active?) about how easy it is to get comfortable in our own bubble—whether it’s our own neighborhood, our own schools, or even our own country—and forget about the suffering going on around us. While Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, not of His suffering on the cross, I still think it’s a time to examine how our lives conform to His image.

God made us to make a difference. And there are so many places where we can. Orphans and widows exist all over the world, even in our own community, and there will always be an opportunity to take care of the poor.

Are you in a bubble? Or are you out there making a difference in the cold, harsh world? Because those who are out there, need us.

Remember them, this Christmas, and you will honor the birth of the precious Christ child.

Dear Lord, keep us centered in You, so we can stay focused on how to help the people You created for this world. Bring opportunities our way to make a difference. Give us love and compassion for those who need us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

small_14732935796

The Siberian salamander has the brown, scaly skin of an average salamander, but it’s not your average salamander. It has an amazing super power.

During hibernation the Siberian salamander is able to survive temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius by allowing its body tissues to freeze. It can survive in this state for long periods of time.

Unable to burrow through the permafrost in winter, this species is often trapped within the ice on the surface of the ground, although rotten trees and logs are also used for hibernation. Some have even been found more than 40 feet down into the ice, although there is debate about whether the salamanders are as old as the surrounding ice or whether they fell through cracks in the ice.

When temperatures begin to increase in spring, the ice thaws out, defrosting the salamander. The animal runs off as if nothing happened and maybe in its mind only a blink of an eye has passed. Scientists aren’t sure what chemicals give this salamander its super freezing power, but it’s clear that God gave the salamander a great gift to aid in its survival.

 

Reference: http://www.arkive.org/siberian-salamander/salamandrella-keyserlingii/,

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicholas_hunter/14732935796/”>NicholasHunterGreen</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Cells Programmed Not to Evolve

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Did you know that cells are programmed not to evolve?

It makes sense if you think about it. When scientists study heredity, what they usually look at is the differences in genes from person to person. But rarely do they analyze the sameness within species. Sure, we see different breeds of dogs, but a dog is still a dog. No matter how much interbreeding you try, you aren’t likely to get a cow-dog, because the two animals are too different.

Why does this happen? Because the basic body plan is preserved by the reproductive cell.

It’s true that genes vary from person to person and are subject to mutations (most of them harmful), but scientists are discovering that in embryos individual genes don’t take over until after the major body plan is already established. The reproductive cell is programmed by the mother to start the major cell development for the head-tail, left-right, and front-back axes of an embryo before new cells are allowed to move in to build the individual organs and appendages. Kind of like the molecular version of Norton Antivirus, the cell keeps the new genes from messing up the structure of the developing embryo.

In essence, the embryo is started on the path to becoming a human (or a rat or a groundhog or a fruit fly) and then the basic cells are ‘locked down,’ so they cannot be changed at a later stage of development. This would be why we never see a human embryo accidentally develop into a dog, because the basic body plan can’t be changed by the individual’s genes.

Thus, reproductive cells are programmed to reject any type of major deviation from the body plan of the mother—the very thing the theory of evolution depends on.

What do you think? If evolution is an active process, why don’t the major body plans change over time? Is every species so perfectly evolved?

References: Williams, Alex. “Heredity is functionally cellular, not genetic, and life’s history is discrete, not continuous,” Journal of Creation, 28(3), 2014, p. 73.

Photo Credit: ID 31467242 © Zinco79 | Dreamstime.com

Devotion

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20-21

When I get mad at someone for cutting me off in traffic or for being rude at the checkout, it’s because I expected them to behave differently. Many times I’ve heard it said (and I’ve lived by this much of my life) that a person’s behavior will rise to the level of your expectations.

But that’s not always true, is it? I have some family members who don’t seem concerned at all about how I expect them to act.

You see, the problem with expectations is that they are almost never met. They’re in our head and even if we communicate them to the other person, something gets lost in translation. When people don’t meet our expectations, especially our spouse or our kids who should know better, then we get disappointed, angry or frustrated.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we give up and let everyone do what they want with no boundaries—then we’d be even more frustrated and angry. No, the key is to keep our expectations in line with God’s way of thinking.

God expects us to fail, to disappoint Him, to get it all wrong. Every day, He gives us grace and another chance, along with more instruction on how to live for Him. How much would our relationships change if we followed that example?

What if we expected people to disappoint us and we were okay with that?

What if we saw it as a learning experience? A chance for all of us to become more like Christ.

Dear Lord, thank you for the grace you give me every day when I don’t meet Your expectations. Remind me to extend the same grace to others, especially when I need to give them more instructions on how to live for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

 small_6275342569

You’ve probably heard that hippos can be dangerous in submerged water. They are very territorial animals. In many rivers, they kill people by flipping over boats and drowning the occupants.

Recently though, I felt sorry for the hippos in Africa. A filmmaker captured footage of rowdy lions attacking local hippos at night just for sport. Lions rarely hunt hippos, but for fun these lions jumped onto the hippo’s back, dug in with their claws and hopped along with their back legs.

The poor hippos rushed back to the river in a panic. I don’t blame them. Big cats are some of my favorite animals, but I wouldn’t want to be nighttime play for a pack of lions either.

 

Reference: Prieme, Anders. “Africa by Night,” Science Illustrated, May/June 2012, 5(3), p. 56

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/mizerphotography/6275342569/”>rorymizen</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

How many Mach’s are you?

small_138386538

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Machiavellianism? Anyone?

Before researching it, I’d heard of the term, but had no idea what it meant. Machiavellianism is a personality trait (some might say a disorder) characterized by the ability to use manipulation for self-serving purposes. I’m thinking this definition might make my six-year-old high on the Machiavellian scale.

This trait was named after Niccolo Machiavelli, whose life was characterized by power seeking behavior and whose book The Prince praised an anything-goes ideal for leadership. In fact, this book is where we get the phrase—the ends justify the means. Machiavelli believed that rulers could be justifiably amoral and ruthless to achieve their political goals.

Along with Narcissism and Psychopathy, Machiavellianism is a part of what psychological researchers have come to call the Dark Triad of personality. What makes Machiavellianism different from the other two parts of the Dark Triad is these people have the ability to control their impulses (more so than Narcissists and Psychopaths) and the ability to make other people do what they want. Those with high Machiavellianism are usually seen as smart and charming, until they get what they want and no longer have a need for your help. So, the next time you meet someone who is charming, think hard about what they might want from you.

Levels of Machiavellianism are measured on a scale from 1-100 using a test called the MACH-IV. Want to take the test? Are you sure? Click here.

As a comparison for your results, I’m a competitive person (which is why I was nervous to take the test), but apparently I’m not very high on the Machiavellianism scale with a score of 37 Mach. When evaluating your score, please pay attention to the note on the score page that tells you the results are not necessarily a representative sample, so just because the results look like a bell curve on the graph doesn’t mean that is a representation of people in general.

If you score higher than you’d like, don’t panic, it’s just a test and not necessarily a measurement of who God made you to be. Every personality that’s brought under submission to God is beautiful–just remember to always use your powers of manipulation for good (and for God).

 

Reference: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-machiavellianism.htm, http://psychometricsforumblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/a-narcissist-a-psychopath-and-a-machiavellian-walk-into-a-bar/

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/robert_scarth/138386538/”>Robert Scarth</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;