How Not to Go Stir-crazy

I’ve appreciated those who have shared how they are coping while we’re all socially isolating. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my own little list. Maybe it will help someone else get through the weeks ahead.

The calendar may say spring, but it’s still winter in Colorado. We had a lot of wind and several inches of snow yesterday, and today we’re still in the low 20’s at lunchtime. I’d love to do some gardening, go for a walk, or even better, go for a hike in the mountains, but I’m not that much of a masochist. Therefore, all these suggestions can apply indoors.

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They Can’t Cancel Love

COVID-19 is now all the news, all the time. Many of the articles and newscasts appear designed to inspire fear and create panic. Dire predictions dominate, not only of people getting sick and dying, but of shortages and an economic depression. With all the closures and cancellations affecting us daily, it’s easy to buy in, to start building our own hoard of masks, disinfectant, and whatever else we determine we can’t live without, and to succumb to anxiety.

But wait. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s still in control. He still loves us. Worry is the opposite of faith—a way of telling God we don’t trust Him to care for us (see 1 Peter 5:7). Perhaps all this disruption is a reminder that we’re not the ones running the show. That we need to keep an eternal perspective. Perhaps God is giving us an opportunity to love one another.

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gods Before God

10 commandments

If you follow the church calendar, we’re now in the season of Lent, a time of introspection and confession leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. The idea is to do some personal housecleaning, and hopefully grow closer to God as a result. Instead of giving up meat—or chocolate, or TV (which I rarely watch anyway), I’m trying something a bit different this year. Since I’ve been reading Deuteronomy, I’m asking God to search my heart as I focus on each of the Ten Commandments. How am I doing with obeying God?

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Creation from God’s Point of View

One of the most controversial subjects in the church is that of creation. Did God create the world in billions of years, or six, 24-hour days? Did it happen by a Big Bang, or did God breath creation into existence a few thousand years ago? Did animals evolve on their own, under God’s direction, or were they created in less than a week? What kind of day is “yom” referring to? How does a believer reconcile faith and science?

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Cherry-picking Christians

Are you a selective Christian? A Biblical cherry-picker? Are there some parts of God’s word that you embrace, and others that you disagree with, and therefore ignore?

To be honest, I think we all do that to some extent. I have short hair, in spite of Paul’s words to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 11:15). I don’t stay silent in the church, either, even though some commentators believe 1 Corinthians 14:34 tells me I should. Am I doing something wrong?

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Comfort? Or Obedience?

It was “Mission Sunday” at our church. Our pastor preached on Jonah’s call to Nineveh, and linked that story to Jesus’ last words, when He commanded us to go to the nations:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 18:18-20)

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

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Baking Soda and Vinegar?

How many times have I seen statements or headlines like these?

Of course, we all want a cheap, non-toxic way to clean the house, but is baking soda and vinegar the answer? I put on my science hat and dug in.

Do you recall that unit on acids and bases in your high school chemistry class? If that was a long time ago, here’s a quick and simple refresher.

You know that water is made up of hydrogen (H) atoms and oxygen (O) atoms in a 2 to 1 ratio, hence it’s abbreviated as H2O. What you may have forgotten is that mixed up in this liquid are some loose hydrogen ions (H+). They hook up with water molecules, creating H3O molecules. There are also an equal number of extra OH ions—a pair of atoms missing their extra hydrogen. Because these H+ and OH ions are in balance, the solution is neither acid nor basic. The pH is 7.

How let’s introduce a substance that sheds H+ ions. Suddenly, there are more H+ ions than OH ions, and you have an acid. Acids are solutions with a pH less than 7. The more extra H+ ions there are, the lower the pH and the stronger the acid. One example of a strong acid is hydrochloric acid, which hangs around in your stomach to help digest your meals.

If, on the other hand, you add a substance that collects those extra H+ ions, grabbing them away from the H3O molecules, there will be now be an excess of OH- ions. Now you have a base. Bases are solutions with a pH greater than 7. The more extra OH- ions there are, the higher the pH and the stronger the base. Lye is a very strong base.

Now back to the vinegar and baking soda mixture. Distilled white vinegar is an acid, with a pH around 2.4. (Most brands are diluted until there is 5% acid and 95% water.) It has extra H+ ions. Because it’s an acid, vinegar on its own is handy for cleaning things, like getting rid of hard water scum in the bathroom.

Baking soda is actually sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3. When dissolved in water, it grabs the H+ ions, creating a surplus of OH ions, so it’s a base. The pH depends on how concentrated a solution you mix up, but it’s likely somewhere between 8 and 9. Because it’s a base, baking soda is also a good cleanser. I’ve used it in place of scouring powder with satisfactory results.

Now, what happens when you combine vinegar and baking soda? The H+ ions in the vinegar react with the sodium and bicarbonate ions in the baking soda. The end result is sodium acetate (C2H3NaO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and water (H20).

Sodium acetate has a number of uses—medically to replenish electrolytes, as a food additive, in anti-freeze, photographic supplies, and in the manufacturing of concrete, textiles, heating pads, and other industrial processes. However, it doesn’t make a good cleaning agent. In fact, it can irritate your skin, and you should avoid getting it in your eyes.

The carbon dioxide bubbles away, which looks pretty impressive, but, except for the slight scrubbing action of the bubbles, it isn’t likely to clean much of anything. (You may as well just exhale on the dirt!)

Water isn’t that bad at cleaning, even by itself, but why go to all the trouble and expense of combining vinegar and baking soda just to get water?

Mixing vinegar and baking powder may create some pretty impressive foaming action as the two solutions combine. You can use the combination in some exciting and educational home science experiments that the kiddos will love. You can even make a model volcano! (I liked the list of activities at Growing a Jeweled Rose.)

Just don’t expect the combination to be a super cleaning agent.