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The Plain Little Yellow Pencil - Leading by Placing Yourself Below, is the first in a series of heartwarming tales using whimsical characters and scriptural analogies. This story teaches children that when they work together and use their individual gifts, they help create God's kingdom no matter how insignificant those gifts may seem on the surface.

The other art tools burst into laughter. "What could a plain little yellow pencil contribute to these masterpieces?"

No.2 felt confused and embarrassed.
Why did the Artist place me here among these superior tools? What could possibly be my purpose?

Michele's second book is now available on Amazon and at Barnesandnoble.com.
Author proceeds go to help benefit the work of International China Concern.

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Are You a Solid, Liquid, or Gas?

For the Heart and Mind of Your Young Einstein  

One Saturday afternoon Little Albert was helping his mom in the kitchen. “Will you help me make some soup Albert?” asked his mom.
 
“Sure. What do we need to do first?”
 
“Let’s get some water boiling,” suggested Little Albert’s mom.
 
As the water began to boil, Little Albert filled a glass with ice water because he was thirsty. He looked at the ice floating in the water and then looked at the water in the boiling pot. Just then steam began to form and rise up from the water’s surface.
 
Little Albert’s mom returned to the stove as he asked, “What happens when the water changes from solid ice, to liquid water, and then to steam? Why does it look so different?”
 
“Oh, Little Albert, you run along and research that one,” mom requested. “I’ll finish up the soup.”
 
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Little Albert went to his dad’s computer and began researching the different properties of solids, liquids, and gases. He quickly learned it was the amount of heat applied to the water that determined whether it was found in the form of solid ice, liquid water, or steam, but what was really happening to it?
 
He read on and learned that when water is found as solid ice the molecules are so tightly packed together they barely even jiggle. There is very little space between the water molecules and they cannot move or slide past one another. This rigidity makes ice a solid. When ice heats up, the molecules begin to move and can slide past each other. This movement gives liquid water the ability to flow – it is no longer rigid. If the water is heated further, the molecules start moving around really fast and the steam cannot be contained within the pot. It just floats around all over the place.

 
Little Albert started thinking about some of the people he has met.
 
“Hey mom, people are just like the different forms of water.”

“How is that?” Albert’s mom asked.

“Well, some people are really stiff and rigid like ice. They always think they’re right. They believe others who don’t see things exactly the way they do are always wrong. Other people are floating all over the place like steam. They go wherever people tell them and believe whatever people say. They don’t have a home at all. Liquid water assumes the shape of its container. It has a home, but it flows within it.”
 
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“That is a pretty cool way to look at things Little Albert,” said mom. “How do you think God wants us to be?”
 
“I think God wants us to be like liquid water. I believe He wants us to be contained by His truth, but not be rigid about how people should live it out in their own lives.”
 
“Wow, Little Albert, maybe this is why liquid water gives life.”
 
In John 4:14 Jesus says, “…Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

My second children's book,
"The Plain Little Yellow Pencil - Leading by Placing Yourself Below," now available at Tate Publishing.

Always love your thoughts. Have a great day!

 
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Staying Connected to the Vine

For the Heart and Mind of Your Young Einstein
Austin Faith and Family

Little Albert was hanging out over at Max’s house when Max’s dad came home with a beautiful potted plant. It had huge, white, fragrant flowers.

“Who is this wonderful plant for?” asked Little Albert.
“This is a lily for Max’s mommy. Easter is next Sunday,” Max’s dad reminded.
“That’s nice,” answered Little Albert. “Could I please have just one of those perfect flowers for my mom on Easter?”
“Sure, but be certain to put it in some water,” Max’s dad instructed as he cut one of the sturdy stalks from the plant and handed it to Little Albert. On top of the stalk sat an enormous bloom.
“Thank you!”

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Little Albert rushed home, secretly slipped the lily into a cup of water, and hid it in his closet. The next morning Little Albert noticed the flower didn’t look as fresh as the day before. He decided to research what plants need to stay healthy.

Little Albert learned a plant stays healthy and grows through a process called photosynthesis. He learned plants require clean water, sunlight, carbon dioxide, and mineral rich soil to thrive. His flower has clean water, so maybe it requires some sun and fresh air. Little Albert found a nice sunny spot outside where his flower would have the things it needs, but where his mommy would not discover his special gift.

Little Albert’s flower seemed happy, but on Thursday he noticed the flower was beginning to droop and the crisp white petals were curling on the edges.
“Oh no!” gasped Little Albert. “What is it you need now to stay healthy?”

What was he missing? Little Albert went back to his research. “Aha, I ‘m missing the mineral rich soil," he said confidently. Little Albert went out to his daddy’s garden house and found a bag of mineral rich soil and a nice pot. He placed the stalk deeply into the soil and gently patted until it was secure. Then he added some clean water and placed the flower in his perfect sunny but cool spot.

“There, now you have everything you need. See you on Sunday.”

Easter Sunday had arrived, and Little Albert was excited to present his special gift. He bounced out to retrieve the flower.
“Oh no!”
“What is it Little Albert?”
“Your special flower is dead,” he sobbed.
“Oh Albert, this flower has been cut from its vine. Nothing can live very long once it is detached from the vine.”

That night Little Albert and his mommy spent some time in God’s word.
“I have a special message from Jesus for you on this day of Easter hope.”
John 15:4 begins, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine... Now remain in my love.”

“You see, it is not the things from the outside, but our roots in the love of Jesus that keep us alive and healthy. Sweet dreams Little Albert.”

True, a story written for a child, but how many times do we find ourselves in the state of this flower? I often find myself so busy and consumed that my once soft, vibrant, open petals are all but dried up, dull, and closed.

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We reach for a variety of things outside of ourselves to fill us up, yet they inevitably fail because we are no longer connected to the vine.

Easter is a perfect time to
rethink, reconnect, and renew. Easter is our reminder to gratefully embrace the certainty and hope that all things are made new again.

Happy Easter. Michele






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How Does the Sun Get Its Energy?

I am honored to be a new contributor to the Austin Faith and Family magazine. My monthly article focuses on weaving scientific exploration with the truth of God's two spiritual laws of love. I'm hopeful the musings bring a unique perspective of Jesus' way, truth, and life to children of all ages. You may pick up a free copy of Austin Faith and Family at all HEB and Randalls locations.

Austin Faith and Family

For the Heart and Mind of Your Young Einstein

One day, Little Albert wondered about the source of the sun’s energy. How does this big, hot ball in the sky keep burning day after day after day? So, he decided to research the sun.

Little Albert learned the sun is powered by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms at its core. Little Albert knew the atom is the smallest piece of an element. He also knew hydrogen is one of those elements. Hydrogen is a gas, but what in the world is nuclear fusion? Little Albert continued to search, and he found there are two types of nuclear reactions: fission and fusion.

Fission is the splitting apart of a big atom like plutonium or uranium into smaller atoms. Fission, the division of an atom, is known to us here on earth because this is the way nuclear power plants work, even though fission does not normally occur in nature.
OK. So what about fusion? Fusion is the combining of two tiny atoms, like hydrogen, into a larger atom like helium. This is done naturally, and it is the process by which the sun provides energy for all life on the planet earth.

When humans split atoms and cause a chain reaction, it releases a lot more energy than any of the other ways we currently produce power for our day to day lives. But Little Albert learned it is
nothing compared to the energy released when the sun naturally combines its hydrogen atoms to make helium. The nuclear power plants here on earth produce a ton of energy by dividing the atom, but the sun
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produces many more times as much power by unifying them. Little Albert learned there is much more energy released through merging atoms together than by dividing them. The sun’s energy is enormous!

That night when Little Albert laid his head down on his pillow he thanked God for the cool way the sun fuses atoms in order to produce the energy that keep the plants, oceans, and all the animals alive. In the quiet, Little Albert heard God say, “It is no different for any of those made in my image. There is infinitely more power when my people are unified than when they are divided.”

People may feel they can produce force when they divide and exclude others, but this is tiny compared to the enormous power possessed when they choose to gather together. Remember, Little Albert, unity will always out-perform and out-power division, whether it be the energy released from an atom or the love released from a human heart.

Jesus tells us:
“For where two or more come together in my name, there I am with them.”
Matthew 18:20

Make every effort to keep the unity of Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3


If you enjoyed this article, please check out my first book
“God’s Spirit in the Heart of Every Child,” for the young Einstein's in your life.

I always look forward to your thoughts.
Michele



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Forgive Me Forward


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I’m fond of the “pay it forward” concept. In our frantic world, it is a simple way to feel connected to the universal nature of our humanity without being tied to or even aware of the outcome or recipient of our gesture.
 
The other day Josh came careening around the corner into the kitchen, and with a lower body hug that nearly knocked me over he announced, “Mommy, I will follow you anywhere!” Instead of these endearing and
innocent words filling me with joy, they actually produced a visceral reminder of a traumatic event from my own childhood.
 
While in elementary school, I would walk the three and a half blocks home at noon, so I could eat lunch with my mom. After a bowl of Alphabet soup and a few Club crackers, I was off again. This particular afternoon, on my trek back, I was joined by a small, friendly, white, curly haired dog. After petting him and whispering the sweet nothings of a pre-tween little girl, I kept walking. He followed.
 
Arriving at the double doors of the school, I bent down, gave him one more pat on the head, and asked him to run back home. I settled into my second row desk by the window. As I pulled out a sharp No. 2 pencil and a blue spiral for math, I noticed the little dog out of the corner of my eye. From my third grade classroom, I had a full view of Sheridan Boulevard. It was a busy suburban street especially around lunchtime. As the little dog neared the street, my heart sank. He trotted across. My eyes became glued to his bright white fur against the deep green clover as he frolicked in the median.
 
The light turned, and cars intermittently blocked my helpless view. I whispered to myself, “Please stay put little dog.”
 
He didn’t.
 
I saw him dart between the quickly moving cars, but he did not come all the way across. It was not until the traffic cleared that I discovered his lifeless body lying up against the far curb.
 
Paralyzed, I watched as another stream of cars passed between me and the little dog who chose to follow me anywhere.
 
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My son was still wrapped around my legs as this memory finished playing in my mind, and I snapped back into the present. I lifted Joshua to my cheek and held him tight. Quietly I prayed, “Oh no, no, don’t choose to follow me anywhere,” as I softly said aloud, “I love you my sweet child.”
 
As broken, incomplete, and imperfect humans, our responsibility as parents can feel daunting. Being in the wrong place, I will disappoint him. Saying the wrong thing, I will crush his spirit. Making the wrong decision, I may harm him. On any given day I may be distracted, disturbed, or simply despondent. I fully realize I am incapable of being everything our sons need me to be. I will let them down.
 
Valentine’s Day seems like an appropriate time to ask all those I love, but especially those who count on me to show them the way and the truth, to please “forgive me forward.”
 
Today as we celebrate love, let us remind our children who it is that embodies
perfect love. As we look forward to the Easter season, remind the hearts of our next generation of the way, truth, and the only life they should ever choose to follow anywhere.
 
Hug those you love.
I look forward to your thoughts. Michele




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