Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

"Your turn, Dad . . . uh, Dad, what are you looking at?"
"Oh, uh . . . I see some coal, right here in this hole. How's that?" He held up a large black chunk.

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#66-Lessons from a Lump

A Character story about patience.

"Boy, it sure is good to see spring come finally," Jason affirmed as the family took a Sunday afternoon strole.
"Ditto to that," Julie added. "I'm so tired of the cold weather. I'm glad it's finally gone for good."
"Gone for today is all we can say," said Mrs. Jensen.
"Hey, Mom, you're a poet and don't know it!" Julie giggled.
"Is this a rhyming game?" Jason asked. "O.K. My turn. Ah . . . Sis, I see a rock down deep in your sock."
"That's not really true, but I'll count it, ah . . . for you. You're turn, Joshua."
"See the pitty burd," Joshua shouted, pointing into the sky.
"It is pretty, isn't it?" Julie affirmed. "Maybe you could say, 'See the bird, prettiest I've heard.'"
"Not bad for short notice," Jason teased. "Your turn, Dad . . . uh, Dad, what are you looking at?"
"Oh, uh . . . I see some coal, right here in this hole. How's that?" He held up a large black chunk.
"My, that's shiny," Julie commented. "I always thought coal was dull black."
"Well, there are different kinds of coal," Mr. Jensen added. "Very hard coal is called anthracite, while this softer kind of coal is called bituminous. When we get home, I'll show you a nifty trick you can do with a lump of coal."
While Mrs. Jensen put Joshua down for a nap, Mr. Jensen got out an aluminum pie pan and the box of salt. "Did you kids know that coal is actually made from dead plants?"
"I knew that," Jason said. "But how long does it take for plants to change into coal?"
"That's not really known, Jason. But scientists have found that when wood or plants are buried under a lot of pressure, and when the heat of this pressure is kept inside, then coal will form fairly quickly. I believe that most- if not all- of the coal we use today is from plants that lived before Noah's flood. The sudden deep burial of these plants in the world-wide flood would account for the needed pressure. And, according to the fossils, some of these plants were whoppers!"
"So what are you going to do with this pan?" Julie asked impatiently.
"Oh, yes. Look here. Even though you can't see them well, coal has many holes or pores in it. To prove this, we are going to make a salt garden to show capillary action."
"Show what?" Julie asked, squinching up her nose.
"Capillary action. It simply means this: liquids tend to rise in tiny tubes or capillaries like mercury in a thermometer. To show this, first we place this lump of coal in the pan flat side down. Then we make a very salty solution. Here, we'll mix it in the blender. Add about a 1 cup of water and then mix in about 1/2 cup of salt." When all the salt was dissolved, he continued. "O.K., now pour it into the pan so that the bottom of the coal is well submerged."
"What's supposed to happen?" Julie asked, stepping back as if expecting an explosion.
"Over the next several days, the water will rise through these tiny capillaries in the coal. When a drop reaches the top, the water will evaporate leaving the salt which will grow into large crystals. To make it even prettier, let's add a few drops of various food colorings to the top of the coal. Then the salt crystals will be colored."
"So coal is good for two things: heating and growing salt gardens," Jason grinned.
"You're right, and many other uses as well. But its most important use is as a source of energy. Coal is largely the element carbon. Do you know where else you might find carbon?"
"It looked like coal on the bottom of Julie's cookies yesterday," Jason remarked.
"I'd like to see you do better," Julie retorted.
"Hey, I wasn't criticizing, just commenting."
"That's not how it sounded to me."
"O.K. you two. The black certainly wasn't coal, but it was carbon. Carbon is a very common element found in dirt, plants, gasoline, plastic, most food, and in you."
"You mean I'm just a lump of coal?" Julie asked.
"No, your body contains more elements than that, but it does contain a lot of carbon. By the way, just as coal is good for heating, so as Christians, we should be able to encourage others with our words or actions. Get the hint?"
"Yah. I-I didn't mean to be critical of your cookies, Sis. Will you forgive me? The ones that weren't so close to the heat were really good!"
"Sure. I have to agree some of them were pretty nasty."
"That's the way," Mr. Jensen grinned. "There's no place for hard feelings between us. Say, you two just illustrated something else: if coal is formed under some pressure, it makes soft coal; under more pressure it makes hard coal; and under even more pressure and heat it makes graphite."
"What's graphite?" they both asked.
"It's a form of carbon that is very slippery. The most common place to find it is in a pencil lead. Graphite is often used as a lubricant, too. The atoms of carbon are bound so tightly together that one plane of graphite will easily slide over another. This property makes it really good for eliminating friction when you can't use a liquid like oil."
"I've never used that," Jason remarked. "I always just use oil when I hear a squeek."
"Usually that's good enough. But say you need some lubrication in a lock. If you use oil, it will stay wet inside and dirt will cling to the oil and gum up the lock. Graphite would be a better lubricant in a lock."
"So how did we illustrate graphite?" Jason asked.
"Jason, you admitted that your comment about the cookies wasn't very kind, and Sissy, you admitted that your response was not too good either. When we, well, do what Paul said in Romans, "As much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men," the Lord calls us peacemakers. A peacemaker is someone who can eliminate the friction between two people. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that peacemakers receive a special blessing for this work."
"I guess carbon is used for more than I thought," Julie admitted.
"Yes, but I wanted to mention just one more form. If carbon from trees or plants is kept under a lot of pressure and high temperatures, the result is the most beautiful form of carbon. Do you know what that is? It's a diamond."
"Really?" Julie marveled. "You mean a diamond is just a lump of coal?"
"It's made of the same material, just carbon. But the heat and pressure forces the atoms of carbon into perfect order and this makes the carbon transparent and very hard. It's able to reflect light instead of absorb it. When the Lord puts us into pressure situations, it is simply to make us reflectors of His beauty."
"That's what I wanted to do at school when Jarvis was giving me a hard time," Jason added. "But there were times I felt like belting him!"
"Yes, I know. No one likes pressure situations. But if we respond correctly, like the atoms in a diamond, we will be drawn closer to those who care and who are standing with us in the trial. Together, we then can show others the love of the Lord in our lives."
"Well, it's been fifteen minutes, and I still don't see any crystals, Daddy."
"You can't be impatient, Sissy," Mr. Jensen warned. "By Friday I think you'll begin to see the reward of waiting."
"In the mean time," Jason inserted with a twinkle in his eye, "how about a couple of those gooood cookies you made!"

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Science Quiz:
These elements make up over 99% of the human body. See if you can put them in order from most common, to lease common.

_ Calcium
_ Carbon
_ Chlorine
_ Hydrogen
_ Magnesium
_ Nitrogen
_ Oxygen
_ Phosphorus
_ Potassium
_ Sodium
_ Sulfur




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Answers (with per cent and pounds of it in a 165 pound person)
1. Oxygen 65% 107 lbs
2. Carbon 18% 30 lbs
3. Hydrogen 10% 16 lbs
4. Nitrogen 3% 5 lbs
5. Calcium 2% 3 lbs
6. Phosphorus 1% 1.5 lbs
7. Potassium .4% .7 lbs
8. Sulfur .3% .5 lbs
9. Sodium .2% .3 lbs
10. Chlorine .2% .3 lbs
11. Magnesium .05% .08 lbs
(others trace elements are Iron, Zinc, Copper, Iodine, Fluorine, Manganese, Chromium)
If you sold these elements in a store, you would get about $6 for the whole thing. Think what a priceless treasure results when God puts these elements together!