Posts Tagged ‘moving forward’

Addition, division, subtraction and multiplica...

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Even though the school year is winding down, my son has been working hard to keep his grades up with more than a little prodding from mom.

The seventh grade has been rough scholastically, presenting challenge after challenge to the way he wants to do his schoolwork and the way he needs to do it. The one subject he seems to keep on struggling with is Algebra, and, the issue seems less about his inability to do the work and more about the way he does it.

In other words, he keeps on insisting that he can do it the way he wants to do it, not the way he needs to. This centers around his insistence that he doesn’t need to write out all the steps when he’s working out an Algebraic problem. And, sometimes he’ll even insist that he doesn’t need to write out the equation. Then when he solves the problem the way he wants to, he’s shocked when he gets a problem wrong. What shocks me is that he actually gets a fair amount of the problems correct.

The challenge for me this year is to try and help him change the way he thinks about Algebra, along with any of the other subjects where he has an insistent mindset about how they should be done.

My mom, who has a lot of wisdom, has always said if you think you’re going to tell a child something once, twice or even half a dozen times and they’re going to get it, you’re deluding yourself. If you want them to learn something you have to keep on repeating yourself, saying the same thing over and over again until it sinks in, which may take years. So, you might as well not get too upset about it, just do it.

I’ve had a lot of instances to think about that wisdom this year as I keep on telling my son, ‘You have to write out the equation. Then you have to write every step of the equation, because if you do something wrong then you have a better chance of figuring out where you went wrong than if you just try to do the problem in your head, get it wrong and have no point of reference to fix it from.’

When he actually does this it’s amazing how efficiently he gets through the problems. His answers are correct and relatively painless in the making, but, up until that point it is a challenge both for him and me. And, until he gets to the point where he does it all the time, he can’t really move on to higher math.

Seeing him and his resistance to changing his mind, how he does things, and my trying to get him to see another way, made me think about how often we do this with God.

How many times does it just seem like we’re waiting for something to happen? Waiting for God to do something when in reality He has been – and is – doing something. He’s been working on our resistant minds, conforming our ways and thoughts to His. Then, when we have finally learned what we need to learn, and our minds have been changed to look more like His,  He can take us into that direction that He’s been training us for along.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2

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Sometimes the weirdest things catch your attention.

There’s been a can sitting on the side of the road that just happens to be centered on the easement that leads into my driveway for about a week now. When I first noticed this little blue piece of metal, it was whole and  just sitting , slightly dented, but upright, where someone had tossed it when they were driving by.

I thought about going out and picking it up, but by the time I ended up in my parking in my driveway with my son and I hauling in everything  from the big blue beast into the house, I had forgotten about it.

Until the next day, when I drove out of my driveway and saw that the little can had been smashed flat by some vehicle during the night. It was just about as flat as could be, reminding me of  the unforgettable “Flat Stanley” of elementary school fame who was flattened by a chalkboard at school and ended up having all sorts of flat adventures.

As I drove over the little flat can, I made a mental note to pick it up when I got home that evening. Needless to say, I didn’t. I saw it, drove right over it and thought ‘tomorrow, I should pick that up tomorrow’. After all it was a pretty cold and dark night, and in my little rural county you just never know what’s lurking outside, especially at that time of day.

This was repeated every day, morning and evening, until last night when I turned into my driveway and in the arc of my headlights saw the little can was gone! Someone had come along during the day and picked it up. I vaguely wondered who it was that would randomly pick up an aluminum can along the side of the road. Then I thought maybe someone was collecting them to turn in for extra money.

So, I was pretty surprised when I pulled out early this morning in freezing temperatures and saw the little piece of blue metal sitting exactly where it has been for the last 5 days. Obviously, no one had picked it up. I just hadn’t seen it last night. I had somehow missed it, even though it was there.

How many times do we do this? We see something that needs to be taken care of, but instead of taking care of it we just let it sit until we’re so used to it that we just don’t see it anymore. Probably so many times we can’t even count them. And, if these things are little meaningless things, like the little blue can in the road, it’s not a huge big deal if we don’t take care of them.

The problem is we have a tendency to not want to take care of things because they could be inconvenient, uncomfortable or just distasteful to us. We’re like this with the little things and the big things. And I don’t just mean things that we look around and see, I’m talking about behaviors and heart attitudes too.

How many times have you lost control of your tongue and literally machine-gunned someone down with horrible words over the very same thing, over and over again. And afterward you find yourself thinking, ‘I need to take care of this?’ But you never take care of it.

Then because you never take care of it, you start to think it’s okay and you don’t even see it as a problem anymore. It becomes a vicious circle. And, it may not be your tongue at all, it might some sort of behavior, response or reaction you have, that God’s putting right in front of you, dead center, to let you know you need to take care of it.  It’s just like that little blue can sitting dead center in the front of my driveway for days that I didn’t see after I’d gone over it so much. Sometimes you just waltz over something so much that you just go over it until you can’t even see it anymore.

God puts those things in front of us for a reason. Not so we can see them then forget them or hide them, but, so we can take care of them. So we will go out, pick them up and throw them away, if you will. Because we all have something that needs to be taken care of in order to have a closer relationship with Him and that needs to be addressed before we can move on to what He has for us.

“For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”

Mark 4:22

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