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112 – Update

As I mentioned in the previous post, the information my eldest child shared with me still needed to be confirmed, and at the time of writing, I had a choice to either confirm the factoid of the day, or write about it.

I have since looked at his source material. In it, all of the countries of the world are listed, and in addition to land size and currency, the spoken languages of each country are listed. It was a little tedious, but I thought it worthwhile to properly inform the boy and those of you reading this.

Here is what I found: there are 86 countries that have English as one of its spoken languages (I can only attribute the difference in my numbers to his as being the result of late night grogginess). The other distinction to make is that these 86 countries recognize English as one of the languages spoken, but not all 86 have English as its “official” language.

Do with this as you see fit.

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112!

Monday night, I returned home from Bible study and, by the darkened rooms and sounds of noisemakers going, was led to believe that all of my children were (allegedly) sound asleep. The beautiful bride and I were in the midst of domestic responsibilities when her mommy radar went up: “Someone is awake”. I took that as my cue to climb the stairs to see who was awake, for what reason, and what it would take to get them back to bed. My suspicions led me to believe that our middle child, who vacillates between crashing as soon as his head hits the pillow or staying up for an extra hour singing to himself, was the offender. In fact, I was so convinced of it, that in the 4 seconds it took me to scamper up the stairs, I already had concocted a disciplinary tactic to address the middle child’s behavior.

Instead, it was my eldest. He was on his way to the bathroom, and by the glow emanating from the bedroom, I could tell he was in the midst of some late-night reading in his bed. Though not verbally, I debated whether to correct him for being up much later that he was supposed to be, but since the kiddo has a great love for reading (a love we deeply desire for him to continue) I was unsure whether I could be the ogre (on this occasion) to request him to stop.

I caught him in the midway point between the bedroom and the bathroom. Clad in white astronaut jammies and clashing tan socks, he saw me before I saw him. He whipped into the door of the bathroom, then popped right back out. With a combination of enthusiasm, conviction, and bewilderment, he uttered the following to me:

“DADDY!”

“Yes?” (eager to hear what excuse or reason was going to roll off of his tongue)

“There are 112 countries that have English as its official language. ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE!”

(*Note: this came from the mouth of a 5 year old, late at night, and thus the information still needs to be confirmed. Do not use this anecdote for a research paper or your own trivia purposes until it is confirmed. I had a choice tonight – either confirm the fact, or write about the encounter. I think you see what I chose.)

With this fact sharing complete, he continued back into the bathroom. I stood at the top of the stairs stunned, not knowing what to do. I was equally fascinated by this bit of trivia, but flummoxed as to what to do next with the boy. I kept standing there until he came out, still unsure of my response. He looked at me, I looked at him, and all I could say was “tell me more in the morning”, kissed him on his head, and looked and listened for the sound of him crawling back into the top bunk and the “click” of the light going off.

Whether by intention or not, I now realize I delivered the following message to my child: if you are still awake when you should be in bed and asleep, and reading through an atlas, and you share with Daddy a fascinating piece of information (and really, whether you are 5, or 35 like me, or 85, why would you not be fascinated by this info?) then you get a free pass.

A day-time simulation of the previous evening's activity. Note the lack of white astronaut jammies.

I’m comfortable with having issued this free pass, and truthfully, I’m anxious to hear another piece of trivia Tuesday night.


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A noteworthy quote from a dead man

This week, I saw the same quote twice. Normally, that would not strike me as odd in our 24 hour news culture.  But, to see the same quote from a man who has been long dead, and about a specific topic, it captured my attention. The quote is from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, from 1865.

I received this quote (it is coming, just be patient) from an email sent out to a larger group, of which I was a part. I saw it also on the blog for the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. Whether the two are connected, I do not know, and truthfully, am not entirely sure I have the energy to establish a link. Regardless, the quote was at a minimum noteworthy, if not instructive:

“It is with cheerfulness that we dismiss our twelves, our twenties, our fifties to form other Churches. We encourage our members to leave us to found other Churches; nay, we seek to persuade them to do it. We ask them to scatter throughout the land, to become the goodly seed which God shall bless. I believe that so long as we do this, we shall prosper. I have marked other Churches that have adopted the other way, and they have not succeeded.”

I could pontificate on the implications of this quote, but I’ll spare you that for now. However, I will say that I heartily agree that a greater priority needs to be placed on church planting. I would humbly, but passionately, ask churches to be far more eager to plant churches than: to become the next mega-church in their community (or ask established mega-churches to be far more intentional in church planting); to start other “felt need” programs or ministries; to persist in neglecting their responsibility of planting churches. I’m sure the list could go on, but I’m just using generalities for the sake of time and readability.

Whether you are church staff member, volunteer, member, attender, whatever, my prayer is that you will develop a similar passion for seeing the church grow and expand, and that your heart, in some way will be drawn towards church planting. Whether by prayer support, financial support, joining a church plant, or leading a church plant (or any combination), I would ask that you seek out ways to support the birth and growth of more churches.


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Beast vs. beast

Animals can be a bit of a paradox. Certain animals you want to keep around. Others, you would rather not see. Depending on the day, that is how I feel about our dog Polly. Some days, I just want to have her next to me and rub her back. Other days, I want her to go play in traffic.

Tonight, Polly was around to “help” me do some late night chores – by “help” I mean that she was at my feet whether I wanted her to be there or not.

I keep a pair of outside shoes in the garage. These never make it into the house. I sauntered from our kitchen with our recycling bin to take to the much larger recycling bin on the side of our house, and into the garage, to put on said outside shoes, to make the journey to said much larger recycling bin.

Of course, Polly followed.

I pitched the recycling, walked through the exterior door of the garage, and noticed that Polly was no longer with me. I couldn’t decide whether to leave her in the back yard (I was enjoying the break from her excessive need for attention) or find out why she was not with me. I chose the latter, and went out from the garage to see if I could find her in the back yard.

She stood perfectly still, looking, not at me, but towards the fence along the far side of the yard. “Tis odd” I muttered to no one in particular. I called her, she turned her head to acknowledge me, but remained still. Now, she has never been accused of being overly compliant, but generally, when faced with the choice of coming inside with a human, or staying outside by herself for an undetermined amount of time, she almost always goes for what’s behind door number one. She moved just enough that I could see what had captured her attention.

The object of attention

Why look, it is a critter from the category of “animals you don’t want to see”. I’m not entirely sure what it is that drew this opossum into my domain (perhaps the aroma of the compost pile just 10 yards away, but I’m not an opossum and can’t really be expected to know all the desires of an opossum’s mind) but I was fairly certain I was not interested in his/her (didn’t take the time to look) presence in my yard. From the looks of things, it seemed the critter was not too keen on my having interrupted his/her (again, I didn’t take the time to look) late night lurking. Exhibit A below:

So now, what to do? I could kill it, but then I would have to figure out what to do with the body – I have small children who use that yard and I’m not so sure they would respond well to seeing a carcass in their play area; or I could bury it, but it didn’t seem wise to spend that amount of time to dig a whole for such a small creature; and I for sure was not going to carry its lifeless body down the street to the wooded area for disposal because I’m not sure that would have brought any joy to my neighbors or passersby.

Polly, showing a good deal of restraint, stood right by my side. I considered another option – what would the dog do? I looked at the critter, looked at her, then said the magic word: GO! Off she went! She tore after the opossum, and with both amazing braking ability and little noise, stopped mere inches from the critter’s face. I was both fearful and mesmerized by the possibilities of what could happen. Here is the encounter:

As you can see, the critter was not pleased to meet another member of the animal kingdom. Polly took that personally, and dove at the opossum’s body. Some hissing and some growling took place, and again the tension between fear and mesmerizing in my mind arose. Then I got to thinking: I have no idea what manner of filth is in that critter, and I’m not interested in taking Polly to the vet because she was bitten by the critter and on the verge of death, because how could I explain to my bride (who sometimes likes Polly, but rarely likes foolishness, and never likes wasting money) and my children (who mostly adore Polly) that Polly is dead because Daddy had to try a dumb experiment? So, I called off the dog – I think that is the first time I’ve ever been able to use that phrase in a literal sense – and she came back to me with a mixture of pride and thankfulness in her eyes. If she could have spoken , I’m sure she would have said “I would have done it for you, but thanks for not making me finish the job”.

For those of you who might wonder about the brief physical encounter,  Polly neither inflicted nor received any wounds. She is fine, fast asleep and snoring on the floor, though unlikely to follow me again anytime soon. As for the opossum, he/she (again, I didn’t take the time to look) survived its encounter, and has likely moved on to less hostile environments. At least Polly hopes so.