Designed to Leave: Creating Space in the Church for Postmodern Generations

i have not written a new post for a few years, and that is going to change.  The article that Rick Chromey posts resonates with me, given my interest in encouraging young leaders. So here is a reblog, and hopefully I will add a few more of my own in the new future.  It may mean learning how WordPress has evolved since my last blog, but this is a start!

via Designed to Leave: Creating Space in the Church for Postmodern Generations

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The Story is Not About Me

Is it coincidence?  It does capture my attention that so many books I’ve read lately are about the Story.  The Bible as Story.  The genre of Story. Each individual life as part of a grand epic drama.  I marvel at the light the Lord leads me with at such times.  Coincidence is exactly how he captures my attention and my imagination.


I hear in a dream, “Tell the story!” Whose story, Lord?  My story? Your story?

They are all his story, part of a grand story that stretches from Genesis to Revelation. While God’s story is from infinity past to eternal future, he sets his creation, all of us, in time.  There was a beginning, and there will be an end. Amen, we sigh.

There is a God, and it’s not me.  Amen again, we sigh.

My son, quiet and understated but confident in his faith, enjoyed wearing “GodSpeaks” white-on-black t-shirts in high school.  Did you ever see those billboards?  The anonymous GodSpeaks campaign started in Florida in 1998 and was expanded to 200 cities in 1999.  A few stand out in my memory.

What part of “Thou shalt not” didn’t you understand?–God

Big bang theory, you’ve got to be kidding!–God

When that season of his life moved on, I kept a couple of his shirts, just right for spare pyjamas.  The black and white were worn and gone, but my favorite was blue with a picture of the earth and a sliver of sunlight behind.

It’s NOT about ME

The shirt declares, with a Scripture verse that I never remember, a message that I need to remember once in a while.  Well, daily, to be honest.

I taught my son the Story and he passes the Story back to me.  Family should do that, I think.  I’ve written more than a few family stories this year.  I expected to write about my brother when his birthday came along last month.  My sister’s came a week later.  I was focused on other members of my family and just didn’t write much at all.  The Story continues to unfold one day at a time, though.

My husband is from Egypt.  One brother and two sisters all live close by so we have begun having them over for dinner on Saturdays.   Food is devoured, dishes are cleared away, bodies are scattered across recliners and couch, and after a nap, the stories begin. Fibi, the younger sister and newest to the US, is better in English than I am in Arabic, and the dominant language depends on the nature of the conversation and who is in the mood to translate critical pieces for me or Fibi.  Last weekend, I could tell they were rehearsing memories of their father, Pastor Zaki Khalil, and the church he built in Egypt in 1939.  I stayed busy in another room to leave them free to reminisce.  This was important and the Story was not about me.

Mary, the oldest, remembers the most.  Paul, the younger brother, spent a lot of time with his father so he has parts of the story that others didn’t share.  My husband Victor, the oldest son, left the country at the age of 19 and went to Bible college in Lebanon before moving to England and then the US.  At 67, he now has a legacy of his own but the foundation laid by his father is an essential part of his story also.

The consensus at the end of the evening was, “This Story must not be lost!”  Who will write the Story?  Victor motioned to me, the one who loves to read and to write.


I was brought back into the conversation as Mary and Fibi recalled Fibi’s first trip to the US for a women’s meeting.  Mary was her translator, and the Lord blessed in beautiful ways.  Fibi recalled that I used the hours waiting for our flight home to write down some of Mary’s stories of her father.  Yes, I remember.  Yes, I still have those notes!

There are other stories I know have been appointed for me to write.  I have known for most of our marriage as I heard about this amazing man of God that the day would come when the Lord would arrange for this story to be written.  Victor and I celebrated our 29th anniversary a week ago and the meeting of Pastor Zaki’s children a few days later has marked this out as a signpost.   Mary and I need to spend some serious time together!

Family is where stories unfold and where stories have to be told.

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Appointed times

Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: The feasts of the Lord [Yehovah] which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts” (Leviticus 23:2).

After defining the Sabbath day of rest, Moses gave specific times that Israel was to set aside for the God who had just delivered them from Egypt.  Initiating a new calendar to begin with their redemption from slavery, the Lord told them to celebrate Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and in the third month, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shevuot).

We are now in Israel’s High Holy Days of fall, the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the day of fasting and repentence on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and a few days later, the Feast of Tabernacles (Succot, or Sukkot).

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: "...

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: “To a good year” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I  began writing this on Rosh Hashana.  At the Feast of Trumpets, a ram’s horn is blown calling God’s people to assemble in a holy convocation, celebrating the creation and the beginning of God’s intended purpose for his world.

I am a Gentile Christian and for many years I have followed as the Hebrew calendar cycled through its holidays. Holy days. Appointed times. Times appointed by God for his people to meet with him, personally and corporately.  Mostly corporate, in family and community units.

I listen to teachers whose call is to educate Gentiles like me who did not grow up knowing the difference between challah and matzo.  I study the Old Testament and its foundation for the New Testament with awe, seeing Jesus Christ, the Messiah, revealed from Genesis to Revelation and especially through God’s appointed times.

Every year I learn a little more, like a child who learns family traditions year by year as they rehearse familiar patterns.  I am blessed now to have Jewish neighbors who grew up in kosher homes and practice their traditions as much as they find possible in Southern California. My mother’s Catholic family lived in a Midwest Jewish neighborhood for a while and she told me she assumed at one time that she was Jewish!  Community life at its best!

She passed on her love for the Jewish people, and for people from all backgrounds, but that is a story for another day.  For now I enjoy having my own Jewish friends, sharing recipes, faith and life.  I make a really nice challah (Sabbath bread) and I love their chicken soup. We talk about our holy day celebrations, and I long for the day they will fall in love with Yeshua, their Messiah.

Jesus, God’s son,  is the fulfillment of the Law and of the appointed times set by God.  Thinking of the first verses in Genesis, the apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2).  John described Jesus as Creator, Light and Life, themes of Genesis 1.

Thinking of the tabernacle presence of God and the realtionship he and the other disciples had with Jesus, John continued, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled, pitched his tent] with us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14).

Sukkah (from Pinterest)
Sukkah (from Pinterest)

How can the Feast of Tabernacles be anything other than a celebration of the God-Man Jesus who came to dwell, literally pitch his tent, among us? The Hebrew name for the feast in modern times is Sukkot, coming from the temporary shelter called a sukkah that Jews make in remembrance of how their fathers lived in tents in the wilderness for 40 years.  Families build shelters where they can eat together for a week, teaching their children and remembering their heritage.  I’m sure kids are happy to just camp out and sleep in the family sukkah!  What a great way to make a lasting memory!  I think of my son learning to camp with the Boy Scouts.  His dad wasn’t interested in camping but having his uncle share his tent was not just great fun but gave him an amazing  sense of security!

The feast is also known as the “Ingathering of Nations.”  Zehariah prophesied, “And it will come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations who came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship  the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16-17).

The Feast of Trumpets is understood by Christians to point to the return of Christ.  The regathering of Israel in preparation for the final day of atonement is foretold by Jeremiah.  While speaking of the return from the Babylonian captivity, the Lord also promised, “They shall be My people and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good, but I will put My fear in their heart so they will not depart from Me.” (Jeremiah 32:38-40).  This new heart was made available to us by the Holy Spirit who was given after Jesus’ ascension, poured out on his church at Pentecost.

Yom Kippur is then understood as pointing to the Atonement made by Christ in his sacrificial death and resurrection. It is a sober day of fasting and repentance that looks forward to the Day of the Lord’s judgment, where those who finally turn to Messiah Jesus will be washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Tabernacles, as the final of the High Holy Days, looks forward to the millenial reign of Christ when all nations are gathered together under his kingdom reign.   Hungry for that time, my heart longs after God’s eternal presence.  For now, I daily give him praise for being “God with me” in the tabernacle of my heart and home.  It has been a sweet time to meditaate on these truths and enjoy his presence.  The rest that he promised is ours to enjoy even now.

After my friends celebrate a week of Sukkot, a final day known as Simchat Torah celebrates the Torah, the teaching of the law and prophets.   The resilience of the Jewish people can be attributed to their home life and community life that is centered around the observance of Torah and teachings that are passed on from generation to generation.

And the annual cycle begins again.  I hope you will read the articles below by fellow Word Press bloggers.  Let us follow the example of our Jewish friends and continually feast on the Word of God, learning from one another.  Their Scriptures are our Scriptures.

May your new year be blessed with new revelation of God your Savior!

Related articles

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The Meaning of Rosh Hashannah, The Feast of Trumpets: Wednesday September 4, 2013

Today (starting last night at sunset) is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. You will enjoy this post by J. Scott Husted if you are like me, learning about the Feasts of the Lord.  I hope you have had a blessed day, rejoicing and participating in the plans the Father has for your life.  Happy New Year!  Shalom!

Pastor Deborah

Find more from J Scott Husted at the following link:

J. Scott Husted -- Through the Veil


Stepping up to the call

Rosh Hashannah is also known as The Feast of Trumpets. On God’s calendar this is the anniversary of Adam’s creation. This is a day to re-affirm our commitment to stewardship of God’s divine plan on the earth. Living in a way that ushers in His Kingdom is the call — in our lives, in our family, in our neighborhood, for our city and our nation. Jews believe that through our stepping up to this divine call, the universe can come into the fullness that God has desired all along.

To this end, Rosh Hashannah is a time when we want to set His plan of good as our highest goal; to be those who are working Life rather than death in the earth. On this day, and during the ten days to follow, we admit our wrongs and commit to change bad patterns in our…

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A heart set on pilgrimage

Many of my early posts this year were linked to family events, and this one is linked to my husband, Victor’s birthday a couple days ago.  A pastor friend came today to take us for lunch to celebrate, so it’s right on time.

We will celebrate 29 years together this fall.  I am from Michigan, as Anglo as they come (English/German/with a bit o’ Irish).  Victor is from Egypt, pure blooded from the pharoahs line (not the kings called Pharoah, but the Egyptian people).  In this testimony I write about our differences and the initial reception we received.

The fact that I have been physically weak from the beginning would have been an acceptable reason in his culture to have divorced me, but as a man of God, that never crossed his mind.  He has worked in the ministry, while I worked as a scientist.  Our cultural and physical differences provided the Lord with the raw material to shape and mold us into his image.  I wrote this testimony of our marriage in the spring of 2005. We rejoice in the Lord’s grace until today.


 I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,

Nor is Christ ashamed to call me His own.

I am not ashamed that He chose a man for me,

Eight inches shorter, thirteen years older,

And from a culture far different than my own.

Nor is this man ashamed to have taken a bride,

Not from the East, not strong in health,

And who works to support the family while he works from home.

Both of our cultures have expectations for us, but by the obedience of faith

(Hebrews 11:6) we looked for a blessing our cultures would not give us. 

Not caring about the raised eyebrows and careless remarks,

“We run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus,

the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before

Him endured the cross, despising the shame,

and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Called out of two countries, united in Christ we look for the heavenly country,

fulfilling the word of the Lord, “I will bring your descendents from the East

and gather you from the West” (Hebrews 11:15-16, Isaiah 43:5).

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Breath of God – Breath of Life

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earth was formless, empty, and dark.
Then, He spoke the light into being, dispelling the darkness
and it was good.

He spoke and light and darkness were separated.
Night and Day came through His voice
allowing for evening and morning
ending the first day.

God spoke the expanse into existence
forming the dry land diving the seas.
And God said that it was good. Ending the second day.

Then, He called forth vegetation
that would seed the land and bear fruit,
all their own kind,
all between morning and evening the third day.

He spoke the stars to spangle the night sky
to mark the seasons and days and years.
Giving light to the earth came the sun by day
and the moon by night, ending the fourth day.

At his word waters teemed with living creatures,
birds filled the expanse of the sky
at the command of His voice and
it was good in His sight at the end of the fifth day.

The land produced living creatures,
both livestock and wild creatures
and God saw that it was good,
almost complete.

Then God intimately created man
molded by His hands, rather than speaking,
breathing into him the breath of Life
giving him a living soul in the image of
a living God, unique in all His creation
with blessing and dominion over
all that He had done.

. . . And it was good.

(Keat Wade 1/11/02)

Keat and his wife, Judy, have been dear friends for almost as many years as Keat has been writing poetry.  As I prayed this morning, I picked up Keat’s book and this poem seemed the perfect entry to continue my blog experience. I had set July as a target for launching the web site for but the Master had other plans, all aimed in that direction but with the fullness of His perfect timing.

July has passed, a new month is here, and the Lord’s mercies are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness!

Keat taught Speech and English, ending his career with 22 years at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  His poetry is intimate and prophetic.  With my love for God’s creation and for teaching, this was a gift.  You will see the teacher’s heart in his comments below.

Keat wrote:  In the poem Breath of God – Breath of Life, the word “spangle” comes from an old classic poem.  “And God waved his arm and spangled the skies with the stars,” refers to that part of God’s creative work in a poem, “The Creation,” in which early African-American writer, James Weldon Johnson wrote and spoke in the cadence of black preachers of his time.

James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After one year of teaching on a temporary certificate, I did student teaching in speech and English to fulfill requirements for a standard teaching certificate in Kansas.  I had one high school remedial English student and two advancd high school sophomore English students.  The remedial student and I had a common interest in poetry.  Taking advantage of his fascination with “The Creation,” I developed an interpretive reading project for presentation to an audience of two.  As a new fan of James Weldon Johnson’s poetry, I learned a great deal also, along with the two sophomore students who became the presenter’s fan club as well.

Chronology of Love:  Times and Seasons, Keat Wade (2011, Xulon Press)

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Embracing life’s changes

Daniel and his friends had been carried away from their home in Israel with the deportation to Babylon (Daniel 1).  What had happened to their parents and other family members?  We are not told, so it might be safe to assume they were gone.  Four young men had some major transitions to adjust to!  At least they had each other, and they held fast to the faith of their people and to their God.

What changes have threatened the stability of your life lately?  Have they threatened the stability of your faith in God or your commitment to his service and faithful witness?  You have the choice to embrace them and make the most of each one as a new adventure.  Life changes can really pull the rug out from under our feet and leave us tottering until we find a new place of balance.  Where do you find strength to hang on and hold fast?

We left home, church and friends to move at the end of 2011.  It was not that far (but farther than what I can drive myself any more).  We moved closer to my husband’s family and to my son who was courting the young woman who became his wife last year. Most of this was pretty good.

Leaving that much after 15 years, though, was tugging my heart.  I left work in 2010 and was still in the process of filing for disability.  After two denials, a judge ruled in my favor at the end of last year, lifting some of the financial concerns.

I went to a counselor to see if I could talk through the challenges of not working.  I wanted to discuss “change management.”  Could I still pursue some of my dreams with the fatigue of multiple sclerosis that left me unable to work?  Aside from being a great listener, his best advice was to focus on what I did have (which was a lot) rather than on what I had lost.  He encouraged me to do more writing, which I am trying to nurture now.

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, S...

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, Sr.), Richard Thomas (John Boy), and Michael Learned (Olivia Walton) from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the move in 2011 was approaching, it was a random DVD of an old episode from “The Waltons” that the Lord used to adjust my heart.  Interesting things come to the surface when you have to pack for a move!  I have no idea where this DVD came from.  I dropped it into the computer to see what it was.   A young deaf girl was left on the Waltons’ doorstep, and of course they did what they could to help.  The family were all trying to learn sign language but she was quite resistent.  John Boy intercepted her tears, pantomiming a few words until it connected: “Don’t be sad; be happy!”

Simple words from a family full of Christian love.  Some weeks later I realized that story was the turning point in my emotions, too.  “Don’t be sad; be happy!”

Suddenly I was looking forward to the move, to the new life that God was opening up for us.  Three days after Christmas, the moving truck rolled away and we walked to the car.  Our realtor was amazed at my peace.  The Lord had gone before me and all I wanted to do was follow him.

What of Daniel?  He passed the testing of his faith when he proved that their vegetarian diet (obedience to the Mosaic Law) left him and his friends looking better than the rest.  They passed their exams in Babylonian language and culture, securing government positions where they could make a difference for their people.

Not too long into their new jobs (Daniel 2), the king had a crazy request.  He had an obviously significant dream.  He didn’t trust his counselors and he demanded that they tell him both the dream and its meaning.  He was ready to kill all the wise men of Babylon in his rage, which would include our heroes.

Daniel asked for a repreive so he and his friends could pray.  I love that after they sought the Lord together, Daniel went to sleep!  God revealed to Daniel in a dream what the king wanted to know. If God gave the first dream, he had no trouble providing a rerun. Here is Daniel’s testimony when God let him see both the king’s dream and its interpretation:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.  He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 

To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”   (Daniel 2:20-23)

What made these young men so solid that they could navigate these transitions successfully?

Daniel knew his God.

Daniel obeyed and trusted his God.

God came through for him and used him to save many lives.

What Daniel received from the Lord that night and at other times over the years still guides us today in the Scriptures.  We have the same mighty God who will steady us through loss and change.  It is his perfect intention to turn all of it into a life and a message that will save many.

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Fire and Fragrance

Prayers and Promises


Daily Prompt: In Good Faith

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.


© 2013 Diana Rasmussen

Wounds and scars, leftovers of pain
will they stop me from trying again?
Can I spend my pain like cash?
Letting good come of my suffering
I uncover my wounds in God’s presence
my offering of fire and fragrance
His healing – poured out oil
on the altar of His love
Was this meant for me alone?
leaning on the Cornerstone
or do I share my deepest pains
to ease you in your suffering?


Faith in What We Don’t See

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t…

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Where will this journey take us?


There is a young leader —
A prince or a princess?
Waiting for adventure
Hoping for love.

The Way is written in the Book
Of the ancient paths
That lead to Life
To Love and Joy.

I am a child, fragile and free
My Father gently guides me.
I learned in my mother’s home
To serve, to give, to rejoice.

Joy! Blessed freedom to dance as a child,
To sing my Savior’s praises.
To create, to be
The person I was created to be.

Peace! Still waters sooth my soul.
Wounded, I am healed,
Fearful, I am quieted.
Lost, I am found. I am safe.

The journey begins here.  With a poem written as I rested and prayed about a vision from the Lord.  I taught women and children.  I mentored young mothers who could not afford the time or money to go to Bible college.  Could I fill in that gap?

The poem is my story, and it is the story of young leaders who have come through our home.  It is the story of many others who will come through our home to find a place of refuge and encouragement for their journey.

Pray with me to complete the website Leadership Lighthouse (see the page, Soon to Come).  My posts will be shorter for the next few weeks while I focus on that project!

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Colors of Life


I Love Science

Since kindergarden I wanted to be a teacher. By sixth grade when I learned about the amazing way atoms fit together to make molecules, I decided I would teach science.  In high school I walked home one glorious autumn day and was overwhelmed by the blue sky, the fall colors of the trees, and the crisp air.  How wonderful if I could help people know about God, their Creator, through teaching about his magnificent creation!  I can still picture the street where I walked that day.  A dream was set in motion.

My high school chemistry teacher was fabulous.  Mr. Welch did anything to help us pursue our dreams.  I helped him work out new experiments that he would use in our class.  My class was the first to be offered a third semester of chemistry, and the last to be taught how to use a slide rule.  Hand-held calculators were fairly new and he told us about a former student whose calculator battery died during a final exam in college. She used her slide rule and finished with a perfect score.   I never needed the slide rule but Mr. Welch had a lasting impact on my life with his fatherly efforts to prepare us for the future.

High school biology was OK. The teacher was good but he wasn’t nearly as passionate as Mr. Welch.  There were some cool projects, like dissecting a frog and cleaning the skeleton so it could be reassembled for extra credit.  I have not only dated myself now, but revealed the nerd that I was and still am!  I went to Michigan State University with the idea that I would do something in the medical sciences.


The Designer’s Code

Biology was interesting but molecular biology and genetics, new fields in the late 70s, were very exciting.  Classes were offered in the department of microbiology so that is where I landed.  An added benefit as an honors student was being able to spend my junior year in England at the University of Surrey.

College brought another turning point in my journey when I submitted my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I had been raised in the church but still had to establish that heart connection with Christ.  I was baptized in England and was drawn to share God’s love with international students when I got back to Michigan.  I spent most of my year abroad with other international students, and I now had personal experience of the loneliness and cultural adjustments involved.  I continued to study Scripture and took every opportunity to develop what I began to see as a call to teach the Bible and science together.

To study biology, especially as an honors student, meant reading Darwin’s Origin of Species and beginning the indoctrination of evolutionary theory.  My understanding of life’s origin was that God created it all, but the details were fuzzy.  Could both be true?

Glorious Fall Colors

Glorious Fall Colors

A debate during my senior year was scheduled between a proponent of evolution and Dr. Walter Brown, a creation scientist.   Dr. Brown soundly won the debate without referring to the Bible or any line of reasoning that could be called a religious argument.  What a relief to hear there was another option!  It would be many years before I would learn about the defense of Genesis as taught by Dr. Henry Morris and other scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in California.

In the meantime, I continued to break with conventional wisdom.  What a journey!  I married Victor, a pastor from Egypt who had an Arabic church in Michigan.  The international part of my vision was unfolding.  Working as a scientist in Detroit and later in California kept me surrounded with colleagues from many nations.  Besides working in pharmaceutical research, I was able to teach science workshops for homeschool students at ICR and the dream from my high school walk was fulfilled.


New Life

It was great fun to visit my son Jeff’s classes, sometimes to help with reading or chaperone a field trip, and sometimes to talk about science.  Like Mr. Welch had done for me, I hoped to inspire these students to pursue their dreams.  I think it was his love for the Lord and for his students that made his love for science so contagious.

Planning a lesson for Jeff’s high school chemistry class, I remembered a wonderful illustration of God’s fingerprints in his creation.  The picture below is a photo of my slides drawn on acetate film for an overhead projector.  Smudges and all!  Technology has brought the tools of a teacher a long way in the last ten years!  At least I can say I have my own color printer and scanner now so I could convert these into digital images.

The molecules shown are porphyrins.  The primary structures are identical, the minor differences being the colored functional groups (chemistry lingo, sorry) and the central atom in each.  Fe stands for iron, Mg for magnesium.  Can you guess yet what these are?

The red is heme, a component of hemoglobin, making your red blood cells red. The green is chlorophyll, making green plants green.  They are the two essential molecules that provide energy for animals and for plant life.



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