In a galaxy far, far away…

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-telescope-reveals-largest-batch-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around

 

Seven planets were recently discovered using the Spitzer space telescope.  Three of these planets show promise of atmospheres similar to that on earth.  One of these planets could have significant amounts of water too.  This is interesting news for the scientific community.  It is exciting news too.  There is anticipation, curiosity, and expectation.

The faith communities might feel jolted, fearful if we do find alien life.  I wonder why we are always trying to put science and faith at odds with each other.  Evolution has been a centuries-long debate between scientists and religious adherents.  I, a follower of Christ, sometimes feel ostracized from conservative churches because I think evolution is plausible.

Now, I still think God had to orchestrate creation, but I don’t think that evolution negates God’s majesty, power, or biblical accounts.  The faith community would be naive to denounce that microevolution exists and occurs.  I’m not sure if macroevolution occurred.  I tend to lean towards macroevolution didn’t happen, but it is plausible.  I wasn’t there in the beginning.  The Trinity was and his ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are higher than mine.  I want to let God be God and I’ll simply stand in awe, rendering the praise he asks me to give; trying daily, by the power of the Holy Spirit to be made more in the image of Christ.

I simply ascribe to the notion that the Bible is literature.  I think it is inspired literature, but it is literature nonetheless.  Literature uses motifs like history, poetry, and allegory.  Literature tells a story- intricate, complex, nuanced.   There are interpretations to stories.  Yes there are proper ways to interpret, but sometimes the blank spaces or silences are meant to enhance mystery or intimacy.  The unknown can be scary but it also leaves room for adventure, stuff that fairy tale excitement is made of.  We compose stories to escape the mundane routine we typically think life is.  What if we realized we belong to the greatest mystery writing that ever existed.  What if we simply enjoyed the ride?

There could very well be life on other planets.  Extraterrestrial life doesn’t have to strip God of his majesty or power.  In fact, if we say that the Bible is God’s inspired word that reveals himself to his people, then we can admit that the Bible is pretty silent on matters of space.  We know God operates outside of our time-space continuum.

Einstein’s theories of gravitational waves don’t prove or disprove the existence of God.  They simply just are.  God gave us minds, minds to pursue, discover, and unlock mysteries, but only in part.  Scavenger hunts are fun because it is a quest to find hidden treasures.  God gave humanity science and math to search for the hidden treasures of his intricate creations, finding that sometimes, the search is more fun and exhilarating than uncovering the hidden gems anyways.  The hunt gets us connected with others and perchance in deeper search of him anyways.

God saved us through his son Jesus dying on the cross, in our place, resurrecting on the third day, and then ascending into heaven to intercede on our behalf for all time.  This is our salvation story.  This is a human’s romance to redemption.  Who is to say that there isn’t a book or story for the aliens?  Maybe God has his own book for them?  Maybe it is the same book written in a way that they would understand and relate to him.

Why must the search for life in foreign or distant lands disturb or weaken our faith?  Why are we so scared of foreigners when we are merely foreigners in this land?  Doesn’t Scripture tell us that we are merely travelers?  Why can’t there be travelers on other planets?  The Bible is pretty silent on such a case so may we not be rattled with such a discovery.  Instead, let us join the scientific community in wonder and awe.  Let us realize that our God is bigger, bigger than the Milky Way.  He is the Way.  That Way has created how he has seen fit.  We are perhaps finding out more about ourselves, our world, and most importantly, the relationship between God and his creation.

 

[Aside:  I’ve also wondered why the criteria for life must contain carbon backbones, water, and an atmosphere with oxygen.  That is how we understand physics and life here.  Maybe extraterrestrial life is governed with different principles, different miracles, but the same big God.  Why do the laws of physics as we understand them have to be what other “life” operates under?  There are forces greater than our understanding.  Can we admit that the God who created us is capable of creating distant lands?  He is all powerful, all knowledgeable, all present.  He could even be the God of a galaxy far, far away.  Our faith doesn’t have to be shaken with such discoveries.  We are merely uncovering how infinite our God truly is.  Let us stand in awe of a God who created all things, even things we don’t quite understand. We have yet to fully grasp God’s entire nature—fully man and yet still fully divine.]

Plagiocephaly: a humble lesson

A big word, isn’t it?  I didn’t even know what it was before my Fiona was diagnosed with it.  Essentially, it is a misshapen head that results from womb positioning, lack of tummy time, the back to sleep movement (which was helpful for reducing SIDS but has meant an increase in this issue), or positioning of a baby’s head during labor.  Severe cases can lead to behavioral or developmental delays.  Minor cases could be just cosmetic, but since it is a relatively new field, the long-term impacts of such a condition aren’t known in detail.  As such, I’m left with many questions.

What could I have done differently?  Should I have changed my diet or positions during pregnancy or labor?  Why didn’t I carry her more?  Did I give her enough tummy time?  There are so many questions you can play on a reel in your head.  These scenarios will simply drive you mad.  We must accept what happens and move forward in grace; forgiving ourselves or others that impact whatever situations arise in our lives.  Sometimes, forgiving ourselves or another person requires immense humility, a humility that comes only from asking for help.

God gives us community.  Community is messy.  There are conflicts and cliques.  However, there is beauty, sharing, and life abundant when we share life with others rather than trying to exist as islands unto ourselves.  Look out for others and in turn, glorify God.  This is one way that Christianity sets itself apart from other religions.  Christianity requires the adherent to think of others.  We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but rather, in humility, treat others better than ourselves.  (Phil. 2:3—if I am remembering my reference correctly.)  We are to love God above all else and then our neighbors (every person) as ourselves.  Sometimes, blessing others requires us to let them give resources or aid to our predicaments rather than trying to go it alone.

Our human nature, especially for those who are so independently minded as in America, rejects notions of assistance or vulnerability.  We would rather live life alone, gratifying our own desires and meeting our own needs.  Humility is required to admit we may have done something wrong and need help to bail ourselves out (repentance…which is so contrary to how we want to act) or that through an act of nature, you must admit you need people alongside you.  We must ask for others to help carry our burdens.  We are to carry our own loads, but burdens aren’t meant to be carried/dealt with in isolation.

My aunt recommended I start a gofundme page to alleviate the financial burden of the plagiocephaly helmet.  I cringe thinking about it.  I hate, absolutely abhor, asking for assistance.  I like to give, but asking for money is hard.  (Unless of course friends or family ask what gift we would like, say for a birthday, anniversary, or other major life event celebration.  In that case, I usually respond that I’d like money to pay off a bill or other expense I’m currently managing right now, expenses that mean I have fewer funds to devote to travel, the nomad at heart and travel junkie that I am.)  I am floundering in my Usborne business because I don’t like asking others to support me.  I feel as if my relationships become debts or mere transactions whenever I place monetary requests on them.  I have received massive aid from family and friends through the start of the gofundme page.

I’m plagued with curiosity, confusion, and caution though.  My mind wonders if I will have family or friends question the real need for such assistance if I ever travel, take part in an activity that requires money, or buy something new.  When I ask for money, I feel like there is less liberty to live life how I want or need to.  I feel as if I now must tread with trepidation, worrying how my budget might be perceived and my needs assessed.  I struggle with approval addiction. So, I’m sure you can imagine that requesting assistance of any sort sends my approval addiction into overdrive, being consumed with anxiety that I might purchase something that could have been used towards this need rather than asking for financial help from those around me.  I feel bound and not necessarily at the fault of others.  My sin nature must overcome my pride, the pride that says people think of me as often as I think they do.  My sin nature that says I don’t need others, and ultimately God, to get by in this life.

Perhaps my daughter’s misshapen head, and the necessary correction of it, is exactly what God is using to align my thoughts with his.  Maybe, just maybe, God is using this experience to get my head in the shape it needs to be for his glorious gospel more than my own.

Some Toddler Chronicles: A month and four days from two years old!

Toddlers.  They are exhausting creatures to raise.  However, they also had some massive amusement to your life.  My daughters bring me such delight.  I enjoy watching them grow.  Their interactions with each other and their curiosity with the world is invigorating.  I have a greater appreciation for life as I watch them have first experiences.  When I start to get bored with something I’ve grown accustomed to, I simply have to watch my children play and interact with people and things to birth a new appreciation for the mundane.  I want to make sure I journal amusing stories.  One of my favorite pastimes growing up, especially on long car rides, was hearing my mother regale stories from mine and my sister’s younger days, days that we experienced but didn’t necessarily have the memory for at that age.

Here are some of my chronicles as my eldest daughter is on the precipice of two!

During potty training: She claps for herself, says, “Yay Willow” and then waves good-bye to her poop.  “Bye poop.  See you!”

Shaking her hips, “Yogurt, yogurt.”  (Reeling the song Yogurt by Ylvis in her mind and dancing.)

The other day she wandered into the bathroom while I was getting ready:

“Mama, chocolate.”-Willow (W) “I’m sorry, we don’t have anymore”-Me “More chocolate.”-W “Like I said, all done.  We don’t have anymore.”-Me *a little firmer* “More chocolate.”-W “All out.  No more chocolate.  We ate it all.  We don’t have anymore.”-Me *an intense pout face and mumbling/sulking* “more chocolate.”-W “I know kid.  I know kid.  My sentiments exactly.”- Me

*Willow sitting in the driver’s seat.  Car is off and keys are in my pocket.  Pushing the windshield wiper knob up and down.* “I start it.  I start it.  Get going.  Bye!  Sit in driver’s seat.  Get going.!”

Whenever the dog tries to get her food *puts her hand out* “NO PUPPY!  BAD DOG!  MITZIE!”  *tries to run away so the dog doesn’t get her food*

“Dog treat. Mitzie, dog treat.”  (She loves giving the dog treats.)  *Jumps up and down after putting it in front of the dog.

“Willow hold baby Fiona.  Fiona with us. (Meaning she wants Fiona next to her.)” Willow plays patty-cake with Fiona, hugs her, kisses her.  “Aww.  Baby.”

“Missing _____ (insert friend or family member’s name here)”

“Mama hold Willow.”

“Snuggle” Then will snuggle.

*Shoving a tissue in her sister’s face.* “Blow.”

One time in getting ready to leave for the sitter’s house:  “Put your shoes on please.”- Me “No.  Throw toy.”- W “No, don’t throw your toy.”-Me *throws toy* “Sigh, alright, in time out.  We don’t throw toys.  C’mon, get up, to the corner now.” *walks to the corner.  Turns around, smiles, “Thank you.”-W*  *choking back laughter/a smile “We don’t throw toys”-Me

Anytime daddy leaves “No!  Daddy!  See daddy ‘gain.”  *motions for you to pick her up so she can look out the window at her father.

These are just a few cases of what I treasure day-to-day.  They are many and far more than I’ve recounted here.  It is important we do these things.

Thank God I was holding her hand yesterday.  As we ascended a flight of stairs to our friend’s house, the railing Willow was holding onto gave way and fell to the ground below, some 15 feet below.  Her head hit the side of the next railing as the weight shifted and almost would have brought her down too had I not been holding her hand.  There wasn’t a backing the the stair so I held her hand.  She is very good at stairs and had there been a back, I would have let her go up herself.  Thankfully, there wasn’t a back so I was holding her hand and I was able to pull her up before there was a worse situation.  My heart stopped briefly, I’m sure.  Tears well up in my eyes as I recall and retell the incident.

A friend’s son (who was also a friend) passed away at 17.  Life is but a mere breath.  I could have lost her.  Thankfully, by the incredible protection and grace of God, I didn’t.  The situation could have been much worse.

These scenarios press upon you the importance of treasuring each day with the ones you love.  Cases like this teach you to let go of frustrations or conflicts.  They truly don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  These instances teach you to hold the good, the bad, the ugly, and the funny tales close to your heart.  Recount them often.  Find blessing in the repetitive, day-to-day activities/interactions.  Enjoy every breath.

Let every breath that has breath praise the Lord.  In the same way Mary treasured Jesus’ growth in her heart, may I do the same. In doing so, may we glorify the Lord.

 

Love Yourself

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”-Ps. 100:3

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”-Ps.139:13

Yesterday, Valentine’s Day 2017, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a highly anticipated report.  This report provides guidelines to which scientists would be allowed to make genetic modifications in human DNA that could be passed down for subsequent generations.

NPR had a special regarding the report. Find the summary here:  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/02/14/514580162/scientific-panel-says-editing-heritable-human-genes-could-be-ok-in-the-future  (By the way, who made this committee an authority on morality anyways?  Just curious.)

The publication can be purchased here:  https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24623/human-genome-editing-science-ethics-and-governance

I thought it ironic that these academies would release a report regarding the ethics guidelines for such a controversial issue on a day for love.  Technological advances are important.  Science innovations play a key role in enhancing quality of life.  However, we must tread carefully.  How much is too much?

Scientific advancements have allowed us to make it possible for infertile individuals to conceive children they want so badly.  Some people, frequently those in the conservative Christian spheres state that we play God in such cases.  My argument there is that if God really doesn’t want children in a couple’s life plan, he will even prevent IVF from working.  Now, I might have a bias considering my husband and I were weighing this option during our 4-year infertility ordeal but negated it since we didn’t have the funds to move forward with this choice.  The fact still remains though that God is more powerful than our choices and he can stop us if he so chooses.  I do believe in free will however.  God allows us to make mistakes or successes and it all works out in the end.  Paths work for the glory of his kingdom, not our own.

However, we are now entering the realm of genetic modification.  We are opening avenues to gene selection.  The committees put forth restrictions that would inhibit modifications for non-medical purposes.  The reason gene modification is even a consideration is that scientists hope to eradicate certain diseases.  Scientists hope to remove genes that could cause cancer, Tay Sachs, etc.  While these discoveries are beneficial in principle, they might be more harmful than we know.

If we eradicate one disease, could we be introducing another, more fatal, disease?  While there are boundaries in place at what point in the future will people decide these boundaries are unnecessary?  If, in the future, these boundaries are removed, will new racial or social divides be introduced and increase the incidence of hate crimes?

Have we not realized that we have played around with genetic selection in the past already?  The field of eugenics selects particular individuals as superiors and eliminates the offspring of individuals deemed inferior.  [See post: March for Life]  What message are we sending to the “disabled” communities?  Are they any less worthy?  Are they less capable of influence or life quality because of their disease?  Sometimes a disease can make them stronger and better able to minister or encourage others, no?  We enter dangerous waters; waters that poison us with the image of superiority and make us thirsty to assert dominance and in turn, our pride and insecurities.

Now is a time that I recommend leaving my blog to go watch Gattaca.  This movie’s very premise is on genetic modifications and the ramifications that could happen in society.

Why are we so insecure with how God made us, always striving to disguise ourselves or rid ourselves from particular attributes rather than concentrating efforts on repenting and forsaking sin?  For instance, the sin of vanity.  Why am I concerned with appearance too?  Why do I complain about my curly hair, height, or shoe size?  Why can’t we be satisfied with traits God gave us, the very traits that might help us be better for serving him and bringing forth his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

I guess we want to play God because we are insecure.  We can’t see beauty in flaws.  Flaws are relative though.  What one culture deems important or necessary won’t be in another.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Start loving how you look and what afflictions you might have, especially if they aren’t traits that draw you away from God.  God might be using those afflictions or traits to make you stronger, more apt to do the tasks he has called you to.  Recognize your worth and value through the genetic chance that has transpired.  Sometimes the things we think unnecessary are the very things that spur us towards greatness or better character.

[I’m not saying it is inherently wrong to eradicate diseases like Tay Sachs (which I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, my genetic mapping, which I had performed during infertility testing, revealed I carried a recessive trait for).  I’m grateful that vaccines have helped remove small pox (oh vaccines, another loaded and controversial issue).

Yet, I do wonder how God’s leniency with scientific discovery has lent itself to an increase in deviation from God himself. Rather, is scientific innovation man’s attempt to reclaim paradise after the fall?  These are deep theological and philosophical matters that I’m sure have been discussed and argued by scholars far more educated in such fields than myself.

Regardless, I think we must carefully consider what permitting such research might actually entail.  It is important to ask ourselves these ethical questions.  What we think we want might be something we gravely regret.  Also, let us agree, at least every Christian brother and sister, that every man and woman is valuable; it is an essential detail to our Christian story.

Christ died, resurrected, ascended, and intercedes for ANYONE who chooses to call upon his name.  We are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory.  We are all in need of a savior for redemption.  Choose to love yourself, others, and most importantly God, the one who made you in his image.

{If it isn’t broken, why fix it?  Are trait characteristics culturally significant rather than advancing quality of life for all people?  I think so and if we start to go down this avenue, even in the name of a beneficial cause, when will we stop?  How am I contributing to vanity?  How are you?  What is morally required of us in the field of scientific pursuits?  These are crucial considerations.}

Chemical Free

A vacuum.

Brains of empty space, eating and digesting the void,

A place where we really think and consume nothing; hoping that truth is palatable, comfortable, and adjustable.

This is the education we have imparted to ourselves and future generations,

a hope to rid ourselves of self.

We need to die unto ourselves, but in an increasingly relativistic, accept everything, secular culture,

we have cast aside even scientific reason for fear that we might offend.

In America, diet is big business.  Going natural is booming.

In Christian circles, we want to restore things to the way they used to be,

since before the Fall,

the way God intended it.

We are helpless, aren’t we?

We are always trying to do it our own way but slapping on the God-approved label.

God created it so it must be good. Right?

We ignore that he gave us free will and discernment.

Wisdom must be requested and sought, it is not automatically granted.

Yeah, I went to an essential oils party recently.  Oils do have benefits.  I’m not denying that.  There is something to be said about reducing additives in our diet and cosmetic products.  I’m not against the natural movement, but I am against the complete abandonment of logic, reason, and intelligence.

No Chemicals.

I cringe.

I understand the intent behind the words.  However, how often do our words inflict harm, pain, or conflict? Frequently.  We are to watch our words carefully.  Communication is understood through language, through word.  Aren’t we told that if we don’t have anything nice to say then we shouldn’t say anything at all?  Can we refrain from logical fallacies then too please?  Especially if we know they are a logical fallacy?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?  We learn basic chemical principles in elementary school.  We learn that the backbone of everything is a chemical.  If we learned this as children then why do we ignore it as adults?

I don’t think it is our school system’s fault, at least not outright.  If we dumb people down though we don’t have to worry about them standing up for themselves or others though. If we don’t teach science, logic, or reasoning, we can be coerced into anything, no?

I want my daughters to be intelligent, to be able to explain why they believe things.  I try to do this with my faith.  Understanding the way the world works helps me to understand God, or at least a glimpse of him.

Wow, I’m jumping around a lot.  Can I blame children again?  Oh, sweet kids, sleep!  I need rest for my intelligence, to impart reasoning and logic to you!

Anyways, please, I can support a movement that strays from additives, but not a movement that assists in decreasing intellect.  I am a Chemist.  You are smart.  I challenge my kids every day.  I don’t speak so they understand me, I speak so that they figure things out, so they are challenged to be better because I expect others to do the same for me.  We aren’t to be complacent.  If we, especially Christians, say they want to be better, we must strive to be better and that starts by challenging ourselves to the goals we wish to see accomplished.  Push yourself further, deeper into Christ’s arms and wind up more in his image.  Be able to explain the reasons for your faith as we are told to do in the books to the Thessalonians or Timothy. (Sorry, I really want to remember…oh goodness, was it the book of James?  Seriously, I need more sleep…or to let my words be few, that is wisdom gleaned too.)  Reasoning stems from the ability to think logically and this is aided by the principles in science and math.  Science helps faith and vice versa, or at least I have discovered this to hold true.  (Relativism…hopefully my argument does not implode.)

In summary, please, just please, if you want to join the natural bandwagon then please do. I’ll support it too, but not if it requires me to abandon thought.

Everything is a chemical.  Yes, I understand you want to decrease synthesized materials in your daily life.  However, if you truly think everything natural is beneficial, then you would be denying that arsenic is poisonous?

Marijuana is natural too.  Do you support that?  If not, then where do you start and where do you stop with all things natural?  Just because it is natural does not make it good. Something made in a lab isn’t inherently bad.  We are working towards reducing world hunger and through medical advances, we have been able to enrich lives.  Let us at least all agree on one thing: EVERYTHING has atoms and that folks, is chemistry.

Chemicals abound.  Thank God.  Share this knowledge with others, especially your children.  We leave the world to them.  Let us leave them with intelligence and the ability to make smart, informed choices.

Please don’t give me, or my family, a chemical free world.  I couldn’t survive in it and truthfully, you couldn’t either.

 

March for Science

These days there seem to be relentless marches.  Stepping to a personal cadence where our opinions are espoused, resonate, and are heard.  Words are important.  Language gives humanity a voice.  However, words without action make potential listeners deaf.

Are we simply talking about wanting change or are we actually being the agents through which change might actually occur?

Faith without works is dead.  Words without action are merely letter puzzles.  We are known we are Christians by our love.  We are known we are scientists by our curiosity and innovation.

If you go to the website to register for the Science March, you learn what the march most definitely is not, a march for science.  Rather, it is another political march.  It is a rant for anti-Trump mentality.

[aside:  I am not a Trump supporter.  I find the man to be vile and vulgar.  He is not a man I admire.  If he puts orders for genocide or some other atrocity, I will make every effort to stop him by joining the choirs.  However, he hasn’t destroyed our country yet.  He has really just been that, a man of words with very little action.  I don’t see him as a threat just yet.]

The reason I’m upset is because we are labeling this march something it is not.  It is more a march for views on immigration, sexual liberty, etc.  This is not really a march for the pursuit of truth, the quest to innovate, discover, or progress.  It is yet another emotionally charged political march.  I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with wanting to march for these other causes, but I am upset when we claim it is a march for science when it is not.

My main reason is this:  Why didn’t we march when our space program was shut down under the Obama administration?  If we are truly indifferent to political climates and are really marching in the name of science, you would have heard an outcry from the scientific community when this research, which holds so much promise and possibility,  was closed down.  You didn’t see the streets of Washington being swarmed then.

As such, this appears to me to be less about scientific promotion and more about political ideologies.  The beautiful thing about science and math are that they leave little room for emotional outbursts.  Science and math are really pure logic.  They are quests to discover the unknown, to make sense of the amazing creation God has given us.  Science and math are mere tools to make sense of the world, to try and comprehend the incomprehensible, at least the truly incomprehensible this side of heaven.

I’m an advocate for scientific literacy and understanding.  I would like my daughters to have a thirst for STEM as I do.  I want people to appreciate the complexities of scientific and mathematical pursuits and innovations.  As co-workers and friends have said, scientists are worried about science and so most aren’t going to march.  We will be pre-occupied in the lab, putting our hands to mortars and pestles, grinding away to make the world a better place.  We will let our innovations speak because without evidence or inquiry there won’t be a real voice in the scientific community.  Marching is important, but march into the lab and continue doing the work the world needs you to do rather than complain.  If you want to see change, be the change.  Step off soap boxes. [I’m learning how to do this too.  I’m a hypocrite because I’m typing this opinion blog post when I should be adding acid to pharmaceutical samples to quantify metals.]

I have to head back to the lab now and hopefully you will too.  It is in research and its application that we will add stock to our hypotheses, conjectures, and ideas.  Science doesn’t really care if you are black, white, asexual, homosexual, transsexual, or even alien. Can you get the job done?  Can you work to figure out the puzzles hidden in the world? Science just wants to pursue the quest for the unknown, to tinker and discover.  Scientists are simply working towards innovation, uncovering the unknown to help make the world a better place, one find after another.  Thus, let us go forth and do just that.  Let us produce data to substantiate claims.  Let us have a voice by working towards the physical evidence to defend our opinions and innovations.

(FYI, I understand how difficult it is to be heard sometimes.  I am a female in a male saturated field.  However, I also know that I won’t be respected for merely complaining or talking as I’m often inclined to do.  I will be held in higher regard if I can produce results, if I can make processes more efficient or accurate.  The scientific community respects results and evidence more than just theories or voices.)