An Inadvertent Lock-In

When I was a bit younger, churches used to have ‘Lock-In’ events for their youth groups. Kids would show up on a Friday night and at some point the youth leaders would lock all the doors, trapping everyone inside. Kids would stay up all night playing games and talking and generally having the run of the church.

The sleeping bags and pillows were just for show, to confuse the parents. Nobody actually used them, of course.

Now that I’m sort of a grown-up, I wonder about the wisdom of such events, even back in that day. As our culture has turned away from any semblance of personal morality, I suspect such events would require a much higher number of chaperones, or maybe a very small church and a very small youth group.

Today, we had a different sort of a lock-in. Kathy’s friend Nancy came to visit, and soon after her arrival, we discovered that the front door wouldn’t open. Apparently the lock mechanism in our recently-changed front door lock became jammed, and the bolt would no longer retract. The first thing that crossed my mind was to check out Rhys from Strongholdlocksmith for an emergency locksmith expert to get here.
Always eager to show off my skills as a handyman, I leaped into action. “Get me a screwdriver thingy,” I told Daniel. “Not a minus, but one with a plus.” My kids never seem to know the proper names of the tools. Quick as a jiffy, I had the doorknob off. “Go catch the other half of the door knob,” I told Sarah.

But at this point, my ingenuity failed me. Even with the doorknob off, the bolt would still not retract. It was at this point that Nancy’s true duplicity was revealed. She had engineered this whole situation just to give her husband a chance to show off. Before I knew it, his van was in the driveway.

"Now, see, Tim, this thing here is called a Phillips screwdriver."

Dave rang the doorbell, cruelly underscoring the fact that we were trapped inside. “Come in,” we caroled helplessly. After a few dozen doorbell rings, he relented, and came around to the back door. In less time than it takes me to write this paragraph, he had the door open, and the lock mechanism repaired, using only a common toothpick. My wife’s friends are always showing off their husbands like that — it is a nauseating parade of wisdom, competence, charm and good looks.

After fixing the door, Dave offered to make a few adjustments to my personality, but he didn't have the right tools.

Grinding my teeth in rage, I thanked Dave as graciously as I could, and went back to work. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t work in the city more often …


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Diamond Pushups

Some two- or three-hundred years ago (or so it seems) I served as an enlisted man in the Army. Through a series of foolish mistakes, I had forfeited my ROTC scholarship, and joining the Army as a PFC (E-3, Private First Class) seemed the best of my options. God used it to make a man of me (or at least changed me enough so that I could play one on TV) and I eventually went back to college older, wiser, and considerably more physically-fit.

Good military pushup posture means keeping your face forward and your back straight.

I’ll never forget the day in Basic Training when our drill sergeants decided to teach us the joys of muscle fatigue. First, they had us do diamond pushups with our feet on tables. Most of us could only do a few, and soon we were doing diamond pushups with our feet on the benches, and finally on the ground. Then we switched to regular pushups, and eventually ‘girl pushups’ (with knees touching the ground). After an hour of this, we were laying on our faces in the dust, unable to do even a single ‘girl pushup’. When they shouted for us to stand, we had to roll over onto our backs and sit up from that position, because our arms were so weak and trembly.

A diamond pushup works the triceps and involves making a diamond with the thumbs and index fingers.

This year Daniel has begun to work seriously on physical strength. He lifts weights at the YMCA, and participates in Physical Training (PT) in ROTC. Lately, he has been doing diamond pushups, which make me smile nostalgically. He’s getting pretty good at them — soon he’ll be able to pick Joshua up, when they wrestle. It’ll be a while, yet, before he can lift me, though.

Even at the point of muscle fatigue, Daniel maintained his diamond.


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Eggs and the Navy

Today, Joshua received a call from a Navy Lieutenant (an O-3, equivalent to an Army Captain). “So, we haven’t heard from you about the four-year Navy ROTC scholarship we offered to you. Will you be accepting it, or should we offer it to someone else?”

In recent days, Joshua’s sense of God’s purpose for his college years has solidified into a near-certainty: it seems evident that the full-ride scholarship at Union University is the best path being offered. Joshua really likes the school, admires the faculty, is sold on the honors program, and even found a good church (while visiting last month). Best of all, his cousin Rebecca attends Union — the two of them really seem to enjoy each other.

So Joshua thanked the Lieutenant, and respectfully declined the scholarship the Navy had offered. It is odd, I think, to see a door close that was once hoped-for so passionately. I remember Joshua’s jubilation at receiving the scholarship, and the relief we all felt, knowing that there was at least one way for him to attend college. Now we hope that it will be the source of jubilation for another deserving young man.

Our hopes for a culinary scholarship were dashed early-on, although Joshua can cook one dish: scrambled eggs.

There is a powerful sense of belonging that military service provides, and for many years, we have all assumed that Joshua would pursue military service in exchange for college funding. His enjoyment of his Junior ROTC unit during High School, his personality, and his physical bearing have all contributed to that assumption. Yet now that Union has offered an academic, full-ride scholarship, ROTC is no longer necessary to underwrite Joshua’s college education.

It will be interesting to see what he does. Union has a cross-town relationship with another nearby ROTC detachment, and it might be rewarding for Joshua to join the unit. I worry that he might bite off more than he can chew, with the Honors program, maybe some difficult Physics classes, and the minimum 3.25 GPA requirement that comes with his scholarship.

We had a nice discussion about it today — I often feel very honored when Joshua talks with me about the big decisions in his life. As we agreed last night, it isn’t all about Joshua, but rather about God. How will God be most glorified?

The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. — Proverbs 23:24


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Childhood Friendships

It is clear to me that the children have inherited my deep love for relationships. Likewise, they have also been very blessed in the friends who have come into their lives. When we lived out in the country (sometimes a very lonely existence), we were inexplicably surrounded by Christian families (many of whom were also homeschooling). Deep and lasting friendships resulted from those years. Often the teenagers would come over and babysit the little ones while I did school with the older three kids, the moms opened their homes for coffee and visiting, and the children ran with their “pack” of friends.

The kids all gather for Joshua's birthday.

Birthdays were crazy and fun as the children (including siblings) would gather to celebrate. I couldn’t find a picture that included ALL the neighborhood kids, but the memories are precious and vivid.

As the years pass, I see it over and over again, the respect and honor for friendship blossoming in my children. Joshua has a close friend from Michigan who has vacationed with us several years running, both here in Washington and in Texas. Rachel has the unique ability to maintain old friendships while still reaching out and welcoming new people in her life. Joshua and a homeschooling friend who has moved to the southwest talk on the phone nearly every week. Daniel is saving his money to go visit his best friend, Zachary, who now lives in Thailand. Neither boy seems to be a bit daunted by the years and miles that have separated them as Zachary’s parents serve as missionaries. It is especially a joy to see how most of these friendships develop around families.

Joshua and David R. are bookends to a bunch of silly swimmers.

The Burts are dear friends and we miss them terribly while they are far off in Thailand.

David and Sarah are following in the excellent example of their older siblings. They constantly open their hearts and homes to friends of all ages. They are ready to host play dates and parties on a moments notice and don’t think twice about including younger or older siblings. They routinely set up outings at the park with friends.

Last week we had the opportunity to go to the new Children’s Museum of Tacoma with some friends. David and Sarah were a little bit older than the typical crowd, but they enjoyed their time thoroughly. The reason being? They were with friends.

The best thing about the museum was definitely the water works.

I suspect they were secretly hoping to flood the place.

And next week they are excited to know that we’ll be keeping some of their closest friends for two days while their parents are out of town.

I am impressed by the quality of friendships that all my children display and the sweet, mature, godly, fun people that they choose to call friends.


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Family Values

With our oldest son preparing for college, it makes me wonder: “Have I been faithful to teach him everything he needs to know, to be a godly man?” If not, is it too late? And if I have, am I making sure that the other four kids are also learning what he has learned?

A couple of weeks ago, Kathy was listening to some parenting sermons, and she asked me what our family values are. Apparently one of the preachers advocated coming up with a list of core principles that everyone in the family should know. When I didn’t leap into action, she whipped up a quick list … but since I didn’t write it myself, I was hesitant to embrace it. As much as I have tried to ignore this question, it keeps niggling at my subconscious.

What are our family values? What makes us special as Edgrens?

  1. Don’t eat Dad’s Nutella.
  2. If you use up the toilet paper, go get another roll.
  3. Don’t wake Rachel before 10 am.
  4. Always give your Starbucks cards to Mom.
  5. Leftovers are never left over.
  6. The family that sings together, has more fun.
  7. There’s nothing quite as special as that bond between a boy and his frisbee.
  8. If we do it twice, it is a tradition!

Hmmm. Maybe this first list of values needs a little work.

Over Christmas last year, we had the opportunity to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary with Kathy’s mom, my brother, my sister, and their families. It made me think about my children, and how who they are is defined (at least in part) by the extended family we belong to.

So, really, what are our family values? I think there certainly is no doubt about the #1 value. Kathy and I have both been deeply influenced by the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which begins: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” I think we would say that our core family value is that we seek to be reconciled with God through the blood of Jesus, which was shed for us for the remission of our sins, so that we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever. For that reason we have taught each of our children the gospel at a very young age, and each of them has chosen to follow Jesus. That’s what Edgrens have done for generations, now, and that’s what we intend to keep doing, as a family and as individuals. We seek to live out Deuteronomy 6:5:

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

But (at least when it comes to writing a blog about them) that is sort of a cheater value — it ought to be the core value of any family. What else do I want my children to know, deep in their bones, before they leave the home?

Our family: non-stop silliness since 1992.

Kathy’s list (edited by me, of course) seems a good place to start:

  • Be obedient to the Scriptures
  • Joyfully serve others — use your spiritual gifts
  • Respect others
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life — display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
  • Love children
  • Pursue Holiness
  • Choose a godly spouse in a godly way
  • Live as ambassadors for Christ
  • Love the Bible and have a good understanding of church doctrine
  • Submit cheerfully to those in authority over you

Strangely, the next value that comes to my mind, after loving God, is humor. Kathy and I love to laugh, and we take great joy in many of the twists and turns of our lives. We greatly value the ability to find and share joyful humor with others, and continually seek to hone the skill of laughing at our own foibles as an effective antidote to pride or despair. Laughter and joy are a big part of the glue that holds us together as a couple and as a family — I really want my children to know how to find and promote joy and humor in their lives and in the lives of the people around them, before they leave our home.

What about you? What do you seek to instill in your children?


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