Tea and Coffee with Reed

Our two boys are very different people, and they’ve been that way as far back as I can remember. Kent is more cautious and detail-oriented, tends toward perfectionism, is more introverted and (relatively) quieter. Reed flies by the seat of his pants, cannot sit still, loves to interact with others, and talks and talks and talks, regardless of whether there’s anyone around to talk to. It is amazing to see them both growing into young men, and fascinating to observe how the personalities they were born with continue to evolve and mature under our watchful eye.

Darah and I are reading an excellent little book right now, Different Children, Different Needs. These two very different children need different things from us as they grow and develop, and we are seeing positive results already from just the mere discussion of this reality with the boys.

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And We’re Back…

BACKWe’re just back from a four-week break that caught me somewhat by surprise. I’ve been so focused on working on some material for Kent’s 12th-birthday celebration that I took my eye off the mid-term outlook. And before I knew it, a month has flown by!

I knew we’d be off school for a week during our annual pilgrimage to Chicago. (We had a terrific time as always. So good to spend time with friends!) And I knew we were bringing home with us a special visitor from out-of-town, my brother’s younger son, Eli. And I knew his brother, Caleb, and my brother himself would be joining us a week or so after that. And I knew my mom was going to be in town to join the festivities. Put it all together, and you’ve got a solid four-week block of time during which no school was going to happen.

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Math is Hard

rational-expressionI started doing some math every day at the beginning of this year. I wanted to be working alongside the boys, and I thought it would help me understand their reality better if I was doing the same sort of work that they are. Plus, I’ll be their primary mathematics instructor as they progress, and it will be helpful if I go through a refresher on algebra and the like myself. Not to mention that my own math education stalled out after a basic trigonometry course in high school, and I thought it might be fun to pick up where I left off and see how far I could go!

I have been zipping right along, doing as many as four or five lessons per day. I was getting caught up to the point where I left off all those many years ago, refreshing my memory along the way. I had forgotten all the formulas for computing volume and surface area and the like, as well as concepts like the exponent “power rule”, etc. But picking that sort of thing back up has been pretty easy.

However, I finally hit a significant speed bump in the form of simplifying, adding, and multiplying rational expressions. For those who, like me, have largely forgotten 9th-grade mathematics, a rational expression, and the process of simplifying it, is pictured above.

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Unity and Disagreement

disagreementI came across this today, on one of those automated Facebook “memory” posts. These comments were made one year ago. Until I re-visited this post today, I had not seen the follow-up comments to my own.

I’m the kind of person who is driven internally to figure out the “right” way to do things. I’m also conflict-averse and try to keep the peace as much as I can, rightly or otherwise. So I have a “punched in the gut” reaction any time I receive strong feedback that runs contrary to something I’ve posited. (More on my journey in learning about what “church” means here.) When that happens, my challenge is to decide whether the feedback is helpful and constructive, and, if so, how I will modify my understanding in light of it.

With issues that fall under the heading of “Bible teaching”, it can be really hard to figure out what is right. On nearly every issue imaginable, there is a lot of different contradicting interpretation over the last two thousand years, much of it from “orthodox” sources (the very definition of which is also subject to considerable debate).

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Rolling with Life’s Interruptions (aka Life)

Life Happens!It has been far too long since I have posted an update here. I can assure you the time has not been wasted!

  • In the third week of April, we helped move my Dad to his new home in Florida. We enjoyed having my Mom stay with us here at our place while she was in town helping out with the move. They did the big job of getting everything boxed up at the house. Then a small crew of us loaded up a 26-foot moving van, and the good ship Herron sailed off on a mostly southerly heading.
  • During the last week of April I conducted my first annual whole house deep cleaning. I got behind the refrigerator and the stove, scrubbed walls (or decided to repaint), dove into every crack and crevice and corner, and did all those other unpleasant cleaning tasks that must be done (thankfully) at least once a year. The boys loved having the week mostly off from school.

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Our School Motto: Nil Desperandum

Here comes number 71!
Here comes number 71!

Somewhere along the way, I ran across this quote, purportedly from Richard M. DeVos, the co-founder of Amway:

If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down 70 times and get up off the floor saying, ‘Here comes number 71!’

I really like that. It matches up with my experience of reality; it is veridical. It reminds me of Galatians 6:9: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
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FREEdom in Christ

516azsgqv0l-_sx322_bo1204203200_That same situation is happening again, the one that always results in me running to my drug of choice for security and comfort. Those same thoughts are going through my head, the ones that conclude with me feeling disconnected from God and turning instead to some habit that “misses the mark” of truly fulfilling me in any lasting, meaningful way.

So, it’s decision time. I know the battle over doing what I do not want to do must first be won in the mind before it will result in behavioral change. So how exactly do I do that?
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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Not-all-that-super-man!

A classic depiction by Alex Ross
A classic depiction by Alex Ross

I love the classic Superman, the story of a just-about all-powerful visitor to our planet who decides to use his immense abilities for good, who is all too human in wrestling with the challenge of bearing up under the great weight of responsibility he has taken upon himself, and superhuman in his unfailing desire and ability to do so. He is a purely inspirational character with no neuroses or inescapable past tragedy rendering him “complicated” or dark. There is plenty of that in the world already; Superman stands apart from all that, in the world but not of the world, a shining light. It is hard to talk about him without relying on Messianic imagery, because something akin to that is very much what was in the minds of Siegel and Shuster when they created him back in the ’30s. For me, Superman has always been primarily a great moral character.

So it is with some sadness that I have finally conceded that Hollywood either cannot or will not write this sort of Superman into the current spate of superhero movies.
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KonMari Tidying Method

22318578It does not take much to overwhelm me, and I feel real, measurable stress in an environment littered with lots of stuff, especially when it is in no sort of order. Before we had kids, it was easy to keep things relatively tidy. Items that were put in a certain place actually stayed in that place!

But that changed with two little boys running about. And for a few years, when they were very young, it seemed all we could do just to keep up with them. The house became cluttered, stuff got shoved into closets willy-nilly, we began to burst at the seams, and my stress level grew. While I was working outside the home, it wasn’t too difficult to deal with, but once I started spending more time at home during the days, I knew something had to change.

The rule in our house is that it is okay to be high-maintenance as long as you are self-maintaining. In other words, if you want something a certain way, you are welcome to make it so but you are also responsible to take care of it yourself. Because I am willing to live with untidiness to a lesser degree than the rest of my family, I knew I would need to lead the charge on any sort of clean-up initiative. And, having been outside the home for several years, I was not sure where to even begin. We’d tried over the years to get things decluttered and organized, only to have the closets fill again and piles of stuff begin accumulating on every flat surface and in every dark corner.
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The Battle Is Waged First in the Mind

516azSGqv0L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Knowing who we are in Christ and resting in our true identity in Him, we know that we need not fear any failure or defeat. Our ultimate victory (success) is assured and our ultimate worth (security) has been unalterably established and declared by God Himself. Thus we can boldly move out into life, following wherever our Lord leads. Convinced of God’s love for us and thus desiring to be like Him and obey His commands out of our reflected love for Him, we will know inwardly what it is the Spirit is asking us to address so that our behavior comes more and more in line with the truth of our perfection in Him.

As we begin to do so, we will very quickly encounter great opposition! Both from within (our habit of making sinful choices) and without (the attacks and temptations of the enemy), there is terrific resistance against our making forward progress in the journey of faith and discipleship. Daily battle must be waged if we are to make any progress at all. Following Jesus never just happens by accident!
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