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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Christian Living

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

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1. What do you call a group of crows?

2. Often seen at the end of a sentence, the three trailing dots that indicate the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues are known as…

3. How many kingdoms are part of the United Kingdom?

4. Solve the following equation: 5 + 3 * 4 / 2 – 1 = ?

Can you answer these questions? All were featured on the show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? What made the show funny was that college-educated adults went head-to-head with fifth-grade students and usually had to admit, “I am not smarter than a fifth grader.” Only two contestants actually won the $1,000,000 grand prize. Of course, the students had more recently studied all the subjects, and as the expression goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” I am never more aware of that then when I’m helping my middle-schooler with math. Every time I have to look up the difference between rational numbers, irrational numbers, whole numbers, and integers. My son will ask, “Mom, didn’t you have to learn all this?” And I reply, “Of course, but that was years ago.”

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Far From Home

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Having returned not long ago from a 4000-mile, three-week family trip, we’ve seen our fair share of license plates. In our part of rural Texas, we see mainly other Texas plates, with an occasional out-of-state plate from Louisiana or Oklahoma. But in the Northeast, our destination for this trip, seeing another Texas plate was rare. We took an overnight camping trip to Maine while on our trip, and seeing another Texas plate in the campground was really exciting. We felt an instant bond with the other Texas family that had made the long haul north. The further away you are, the more exciting it is to see someone from home.

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When Sunscreen Isn’t Enough

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We should have listened better. Here we were, college kids from Michigan, on a choir tour to Florida during spring break, a very welcome relief of sun and warmth. Our choir director warned us that we had to be careful in the sun. It was six times more intense that much further south than we were used to, and we would get a sunburn much more quickly than we would in Michigan. He told us to use plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, and stay in the shade when possible. Naturally, most ignored his advice. I mean, come on. You can’t very well come back from Florida without a tan. So despite the warnings, many students got some sun on the beach with little or no sunscreen to protect their skin. There were a lot of lobster-red faces for the remainder of that tour.

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What Moms of Young Kids Really Want for Mother’s Day

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Ask any mom of young children what her ideal Mother’s Day would look like, and if she’s being honest, chances are she’d like an afternoon without her kids. All. By. Herself. I know that doesn’t exactly match the spirit of the day, but moms are already with their young kids the vast majority of the time. Every day is “Mother’s Day.” Moms are always caring for their children, changing diapers, making food, acting as peacekeeper and referee, constantly being interrupted from a task they’d like to accomplish. So the thought of not having to do that for a day actually sounds really nice.

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To the Mom Whose Kids Misbehaved in Church Yesterday

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Dear Mom Whose Kids Misbehaved in Church,

I heard your kids yesterday in church. Like, through the entire service. I saw the displeased glances people exchanged and the dirty looks a few people shot your way.  I know you were embarrassed and frustrated and probably wish you’d just stayed home. I’m sure you personally didn’t get much out of the service. Perhaps you left early to avoid people making comments to you about their behavior afterward. But I wish you’d stayed, because I have something very important to tell you: Thank you.

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What Pro-Lifers can Learn from the Other Side

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Last weekend I saw Unplanned. This past weekend I was privileged to hear Abby Johnson speak at a pro-life fundraiser. Both events were thought-provoking and eye-opening, and a few of the insights I’ve gained have little to do with the actual topic of abortion. One of the main concepts that struck me is the mentality of those on both sides of the issue. Those who fight for womens’ “reproductive rights” are clearly “all in.” They display a commitment that puts most pro-lifers to shame. And although my stance on abortion is quite different from theirs, I appreciate and admire their tenacity and the passion with which they defend their cause.

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Running Out of Time

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I’m running out of time. The closer I get to launch date for Faith Alone, the less ready I am. I’m about to drive my formatter crazy with the last-minute changes I’m making. Why am I just now noticing how often I use certain words and phrases in dialogue between characters? And doesn’t this need to be hyphenated? Oh, and this word needs to be italicized. And how did we miss that comma through all the rounds of editing? Sigh. For a “final” proofread, I sure am finding a lot of changes yet to be made. In some ways, I feel like the editing could go on forever.

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How Not to Pray

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Mary was in a delicate position. She was at a wedding, and they had run out of wine. This would be a huge embarrassment for the bride and groom. Wedding celebrations in those times ran for days, and running out of wine early meant the party would have to be cut short. Mary knew her Son could help. As His mother, she could have pulled the “parent” card and told Him what to do. But this wasn’t your typical mother/son relationship. Her Son was God, and she knew her place. The way she handled the situation was diplomatic and wise, and it can teach us a thing or two about prayer.

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Santa Sightings

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I saw Santa Claus in the post office the other day. He ended up in line behind me as we waited for the postal clerk. Now, my kids don’t believe in Santa, but my three-year-old was gawking at him, so I decided to have some fun. “Is that Santa I see here?” I asked my son. “What’s he doing here? I didn’t think Santa mailed stuff from this post office! Isn’t he supposed to be in the North Pole?” The pretend Santa smiled,  but otherwise remained silent. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I’d hoped for an obligatory, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” After all, he was wearing the costume. The least he could do was play the part.

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