Strengths and self-directed learning

In 2017, our home school, Bethel Hill Academy, is going through some exciting changes. Since Darah and I began homeschooling the boys in 2010, our goal for them has always been the same: Teach them to teach themselves. If the boys learn how to learn, they will be able to acquire any knowledge or skills they require to lead the lives God has created them for, no matter what those might end up being.

These last few years have been spent helping the boys acquire essential skills: reading efficiently and with good recall, basic math facts and operations, expressing one’s thoughts in writing clearly and concisely. They have each made good progress in all of these. And, as with all basics, continued practice at them will help them achieve and then maintain mastery.

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Look, listen, and live

I read a blog post from a friend of mine the other week. It was all about when “good” Christians do bad things. You can read it here (and I can highly recommend it!). I came away reminded that what makes me a “good” disciple is not my performance or behavior (although I should see this improve consistently over time), but rather the fact that I continue to look to and lean on the One I follow because he has the words and the life that I need so much. Little did I know I would have a terrific real-world example of just this in my own life within a matter of days.

I had a thing happen at work where I ended up being upset with a co-worker. The same thing happened a couple times more, and I started hold a grudge. One night after this happened again, my spirit was so unsettled by it all that I could not fall back to sleep. Lying there, it struck me: I don’t have to hold on to this anger and bitterness. I am choosing to do so, but I can choose something different. Right then and there, I turned my mind and my heart toward Jesus and started talking to him about the whole thing. He gave me what I did not have within myself–the capacity to absorb the wrong I perceived had been done to me and to replace it with love and patience. I was back asleep soon after.

This is a small thing, I suppose. But it was a huge thing to me that night. This is what it looks like to exchange my tired, worn-out life with the unending, undying life of Jesus. As I learn to do so in small things like this, I will eventually mature to the point where I can do the same in big things. Along the way, I can encourage others to do the same and speak from my own experience to testify to the fact that “It works!”

Anything I find myself holding onto that makes me feel lousy, anything to which I turn for comfort that does not provide lasting fulfillment—all of it can be traded in to Jesus and swapped out for his life instead. This is a great promise, a solid truth, and a way of life.

Matthew 11:28 is one of my family’s memory verses. Jesus says to us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I have verified that this is quite literally true!

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Welcome to the Discipled Life

I have updated the name and URL of my blog to better reflect the current stage of my journey through life. “The Way of the Warrior” was a helpful word picture for me a few years ago and, when I was more involved in the martial arts, was a good representation of where I was. This was also a period of a lot of internal struggle I was engaged in.

But my interest in fighting has largely gone away. This has been a internal change as well. Over the last few years, I have stopped resisting and fighting against my Good Friend and the path he is leading me along. Having found him to be completely trustworthy and his way far better than my own, I now go with him willingly wherever he leads, as best as I am able, learning what it means to be his disciple. I am still a warrior, but now I am focused on “fighting the good fight” using Jesus’ strength instead of my own. And thus a needed change from the “way of the warrior” to the “discipled life”.

As my friend Reepicheep encourages me, “Come further up and further in.” And so I shall. Hope you’ll take the trip with me!

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Mysteries of Twitter Finally Revealed

spartan-red-swiss-army-knife-02

As a former IT professional, I know all about the need to fake-it-until-you-make-it when it comes to new technologies. I almost always know about new tech. I’m just not always sure what it’s good for. Part of the reason I left IT as a career is that it was simply too much change to keep up with. I started always to feel like I was just a bit behind everyone else and not quite clued in on all the new stuff that I wasn’t quite ready to embrace yet.

Twitter has been another such technology for me. Like the corkscrew on a 12-year-old’s Swiss Army knife, Twitter has been this incredibly appealing and highly visible tool–and I had no idea what I would use it for.

I signed up for Twitter about a year ago. I can’t remember what exactly prompted me to do so, but I know it had something to do with me feeling like I was missing out on something important. I was greeted by some of my friends when I joined, I started getting a few followers, and my entry into the Twitterverse was even hailed by one friend as something noteworthy. (more…)

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Home school: A learning of love

1 Year AnniversaryIn January 2015, I started working from 4 pm to midnight. While this was a tough switch at the time, it allowed me to more or less be awake and functional during home school hours. After observing what Darah was doing with the boys, I started to help here and there, as well as beginning to pitch in on some housework. As the weeks went by, I became more and more involved. I’ve always enjoyed school and structure and schedules, and I found I was in my element coordinating lesson plans and being more involved in running a household.

Then, in mid-September of 2015, I was laid off from my job. The very next day, I took over the record-keeping for the school and began to envision myself as its primary teacher.

And now, a full year has passed! Sitting here today, it is hard to believe that so much time has already flown by (there goes old tempus, fugiting again!), but looking back, I realize I have learned a lot and grown in my own thinking. (more…)

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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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