Good Morning – and Happy New Year! 

It was the famed business consultant Peter Drucker who once observed: 

“Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.” 

It’s obviously never the right thing to abort a child because of a result of a prenatal test – yet countless people have done just that. Now we’re learning the test results are often wrong:  

  1. When They Warn of Rare Disorders, These Prenatal Tests Are Usually Wrong 

From The New York Times: 

After a year of fertility treatments, Yael Geller was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant in November 2020. Following a normal ultrasound, she was confident enough to tell her 3-year-old son his “brother or sister” was in her belly. 

But a few weeks later, as she was driving her son home from school, her doctor’s office called. A prenatal blood test indicated her fetus might be missing part of a chromosome, which could lead to serious ailments and mental illness. 

Sitting on the couch that evening with her husband, she cried as she explained they might be facing a decision on terminating the pregnancy. He sat quietly with the news. “How is this happening to me?” Ms. Geller, 32, recalled thinking. 

The next day, doctors used a long, painful needle to retrieve a small piece of her placenta. It was tested and showed the initial result was wrong. She now has a 6-month-old, Emmanuel, who shows no signs of the condition he screened positive for. 

Ms. Geller had been misled by a wondrous promise that Silicon Valley has made to expectant mothers: that a few vials of their blood, drawn in the first trimester, can allow companies to detect serious developmental problems in the DNA of the fetus with remarkable accuracy. 

In just over a decade, the tests have gone from laboratory experiments to an industry that serves more than a third of the pregnant women in America, luring major companies like Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics into the business, alongside many start-ups. 

The tests initially looked for Down syndrome and worked very well. But as manufacturers tried to outsell each other, they began offering additional screenings for increasingly rare conditions. 

The grave predictions made by those newer tests are usually wrong, an examination by The New York Times has found. 

2. FiveThirtyEight Asked for Abortion Stories on Christmas. Pro-Life Supporters Replied Instead. 

From The Daily Citizen: 

On Christmas Day, FiveThirtyEight sent out a tweet asking readers to respond and share their “abortion story.” 

Even on special days of Christian celebration, evil doesn’t stop looking to find a foothold in our world. And yet, thanks to the grace merited for us by our Savior, we can take comfort knowing that good triumphs over evil. 

That was apparent after numerous pro-life supporters used the occasion to share their pro-life stories with FiveThirtyEight, rather than abortion stories. 

Here are a smattering of examples: 

3. 5 missing teenage girls found, 30 sex offenders arrested in monthslong US Marshals operation 

From USA Today: 

Five missing and endangered teenage girls were recovered by U.S. Marshals in a months long operation that also saw the arrests of 30 individuals, the agency said last month. 

The annual operation sponsored by the U.S. Marshals, dubbed “Operation Boo Dat,” took place from mid-October to mid-December around the New Orleans area along with several Louisiana police and sheriff departments. The five missing girls found ranged from ages 14 to 17, according to a U.S. Marshal news release on Dec. 27.  

One of the girls found was a 16-year-old who had left her home by allegedly stealing a relative’s vehicle and handgun, according to the release. She was found at a New Orleans home, living with several adults, including a strip club dancer, the agency said. 

4. Top Five Family Formation Research Findings in 2021 

From The Daily Citizen: 

2020 was certainly a rough year and we were glad to see it fade in the rear-view mirror. But that annual turn of the calendar into 2021 brought more unexpected challenges to life. 

It’s worth asking, “How has the family fared this year? How has it gotten stronger? Has it weakened? What new knowledge did we gain?” 

Amid the pandemic, scholars have continued studying the family and its fascinating dynamics. As we put a satin bow on the year, let’s look at some of the most important developments in family research in 2021. 

#5 – COVID Strengthened Marriage in Important Ways 

#4 – Just 18% of American Households Are Families with Married Parents 

#3 – Marriage Continues to Dramatically Boost All Important Measures of Human Well-Being 

#2 Cohabitation Still Linked to Increased Divorce 

#1 – Divorce Rate Continues to Drop and Active Faith Reduces Divorce 

5. Media ripped for crowning trans player Amy Schneider top female ‘Jeopardy!’ champ 

From The Washington Times: 

There’s no question that Amy Schneider is a great “Jeopardy!” champion, but whether she’s the show’s greatest female contestant has touched off a heated debate on sex, gender and media. 

Last week, the transgender trivia whiz passed Julia Collins’ 2014 streak of 20 consecutive wins, the most by a female player, prompting media outlets to crown Ms. Schneider “the show’s winningest woman,” as The Washington Post put it. 

“On Wednesday, Ms. Schneider, 42, an engineering manager from Oakland, Calif., became the first woman in the show’s history to achieve 21 consecutive wins,” said the New York Times. 

Yahoo! Entertainment credited Ms. Schneider with “the longest winning streak by any female player.” 

Days earlier, NBC News declared her the show’s “top female earner” after she passed Larissa Kelly’s total all-time winnings of $655,930 with her Dec. 24 victory. Ms. Schneider also has exceeded Ms. Collins’ regular-season earnings mark, according to the show’s website.

6.  ‘They may go in for a broken leg’: Fauci says child COVID-19 hospitalizations are overblown 

From the Washington Examiner: 

Dr. Anthony Fauci says statistics for hospitalizations among children with COVID-19 are getting overblown because many young patients are being admitted with unrelated ailments before they test positive. 

“First of all, quantitatively, you’re having so many more people, including children, who are getting infected. And even though hospitalization among children is much, much lower on a percentage basis than hospitalizations for adults, particularly elderly individuals,” he said, “when you have such a large volume of infections among children, even with a low level of rate of infection, you’re going to still see a lot more children who get hospitalized.” 

“But the other important thing is that if you look at the children who are hospitalized, many of them are hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID,” Fauci continued. “And what we mean by that — if a child goes in the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID. And they get counted as a COVID-hospitalized individual. When in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s overcounting the number of children who are, quote, ‘hospitalized with COVID,’ as opposed to because of COVID.” 

7.  Worrying about COVID-19 leads to poorer choices, mental decline 

From Study Finds: 

Constantly worrying about the coronavirus pandemic not only stresses you out, but can impair your cognitive abilities as well, a new study warns. Researchers from McGill University found that people dwelling on pandemic-related fears made poorer choices, miscalculated the risks of certain outcomes, and displayed slower mental processing speed. 

The McGill team worked with The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) to survey over 1,500 Americans between April and June 2020 to see how pandemic fears affected their thinking. Participants had to rate their level of worry concerning COVID-19 before completing a series of psychological and cognitive tests. These exams measured how well each person processed certain situations and remembered important pieces of information to complete a task. Afterwards, researchers compared the results to the same tests conducted prior to the pandemic. 

8. Actor Chris Tucker turns down over $10 million for movie role over religious objections to content 

From the Christian Post: 

Rapper Ice Cube has revealed that actor Chris Tucker, his co-star in the popular 1995 film “Friday,” didn’t appear in the sequels because of his Christian faith, turning down a $10 million to $12 million offer to portray a character known for cussing and smoking marijuana. 

Ice Cube shared the information on social media after being asked if Tucker quit because the comedy actor, who portrayed the character “Smokey” in “Friday,” was underpaid. 

“We were ready to pay Chris Tucker $10-12m to do ‘Next Friday’ but he turned us down for religious reasons,” he tweeted. “He didn’t want to cuss or smoke weed on camera anymore.” 

In an interview with All Urban Central last November, Tucker, who is best known for his role in the “Rush Hour” film franchise, had hinted at the reason why he refused to appear in the sequels “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next.” 

“Back then, I gotta tell you, one of the reasons why I didn’t do the second one was because of the weed. Because I said, man, that movie became a phenomenon. I don’t want everybody smoking weed — and I never really told people this because I kind of forgot about it, but it was one of the reasons why I didn’t do it. Because I said, ‘I don’t wanna represent everybody smoking weed.’”

9. Unlock the Power of Family Habits in 2022 

From the Gospel Coalition: 

Habits are the little things we do over and over without thinking about them. And the tiny and subconscious nature of habits makes them powerful. Why? Because they create our “normal.” Normal life is what stays with you from January through December. Normal life is what shapes your kids, your body, your schedule, and your heart. 

The habits of the household are the engine of a family’s spiritual formation. 

During the past year, as I worked on my book on habits and parenting, Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms, I began to realize that the more ordinary a habit seems, the more extraordinary its power is. I ended up writing chapters about ordinary moments of the day, because that’s when most family discipleship happens. Here are some examples that convicted me and got me thinking. 

Waking: What are your morning habits? Is swiping the phone the first thing you do, or do you prioritize spiritual disciplines? Does rush characterize your schedule? Do you pay more attention to media and alerts than children? 

Mealtime: How often do you eat together? Are there questions that help engage children and draw out relationships? Are guests and neighbors ever invited

Moments of Discipline: What are your instincts with your kids in their daily moments of misbehavior? Do you bark orders from across the room? Or do you pause and take a moment to pray before you discipline? 

Screen Time: When is it normal to watch screens in your house? Is this something that brings everyone together, or something that sends people to their corners? Are you curating the things your family reads, listens to, or watches? Or do tech-company algorithms choose for you? 

Family Devotions: When do people in your family have a chance to pray together? When do you have a chance to talk to your kids about how everyone’s walk with Jesus is going? Is this an awkward, serious time when kids are told to be quiet and listen, or a normal part of your day when kids can engage and ask questions? 

Church and Worship: Has the pandemic normalized skipping church or dropping out of small group? Have you worked to reclaim these since having them disrupted? Remember that parents have the incredible power of shaping what’s normal in children’s lives. It’s impossible to overestimate the gift we give when we fight to make communal worship part of our normal weekly rhythm. 

10. 5 Things Conservative Christians Can Look Forward to in 2022 

From The Daily Citizen: 

If Anne of Green Gables was right – that “looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them” – what might lift our spirits and provide us reason for optimism heading into 2022?  

As Christians, we’re called to be hopeful people. As the late Pope John Paul II declared, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song!”   

  1. The Dobbs Case: Officially titled “Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization,” the nine Supreme Court justices are expected to rule on a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. We’ve been here before – but most court watchers feel this time is different. A decision is expected by the end of June 2022.  
  2. Carson v. Makin: Argued just weeks ago, the state of Maine has been prohibiting parents from using government funds to enroll their children in private religious schools – despite the fact other parents can use those same funds to enroll their sons and daughters in private nonreligious schools.  
  3. The Midterm Elections: All evidence suggests a legislative course correction is coming. 
  4. The Course of COVID-19: Medical professionals remain hopeful that the emergence of a weaker strain of the virus, coupled with a better understanding and methods of treatment, signals we’re now closer to the end of the pandemic than the beginning.   
  5. A Better Appreciation for the Essential Nature of Worship: Even as COVID cases rise this winter, don’t look for churches to close their doors in 2022. 

Of course, there are far more than just five things to look forward to in the coming year. This is just a start. What would you add? The sheer fact that you woke up today suggests God has a plan and a purpose for your life – but it’s up to you to lean into Him and welcome all the challenges and opportunities 2022 will inevitably provide.