Saturday, April 4, 2020

Why the Enneagram Numbers Quarantine

Type 1: The Reformer
    I quarantine because it's the right thing to do and everyone ought to be doing their part for society by following the same procedures.

Type 2: The Helper
    No, I'm not concerned about myself, but I quarantine for everyone else. I want to help my neighbors feel safe, and I would absolutely die if I found out I had passed on the virus to someone else.

Type 3: The Performer
   I quarantine because that's what's expected of me, right? Plus, think about how bad it would look if I didn't.

Type 4: The Individualist
    I would've loved to quarantine before all this started but now that everyone is doing it, I'm not so sure I want to follow along. I guess I'll quarantine but somehow find a way to still remain exceptional.

Type 5: The Observer
    I might quarantine. I might not. I probably will while researching the facts about this virus. When I know enough, I'll make a final decision.

Type 6: The Guardian
    I quarantine because COVID is actually a really deadly virus. And do you know how many ways there are of getting it? Let me tell you.

Type 7: The Enthusiast
   I quarantine because my family is making me. But I can still have drive by parties.

Type 8: The Challenger
    No, I'm not quarantining. No, I'm not afraid. If I quarantine, it'll be because I want to and not because some government authority told me to.

Type 9: The Peacemaker
    I quarantine because I don't want to cause problems. I want to maintain good relationships between me and my friends.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Harried Mother's Daily To-Do's List

1) Change out of my sleep wear into one of my numerous daytime outfits.

2) Brush not just one side of my teeth but all three.

3) Prepare breakfast, lunch, and if I'm feeling industrious, dinner too.

4) Gather up all the crumbs and smashed food after a meal and, while considering how I'm too full to eat them, throw them away.

5) Gather, rinse, and load all the reusable cutlery and dish-ware into the fully automated, grease-erasing, grime-wiping, 3-cycled dishwasher and press the start button.

6) Read, answer, or respond to 1/24th of the new facebook posts, 1/12th of the e-mails in my inbox, 1/8th of the news, 1/3 of the children's squabbles, 3/5ths of my texts, 3/4ths of the children's questions, and 9/10th's of my husband's statements. (Calculations not entirely accurate)

7) Collect paraphernalia all across the great expanse of my property that has been deposited there by the fully-functioning, completely-healthy, spritely 20-month-old boy I am raising.

8) Subdue the wild animals into each of the four corners of the house and compel them to remain there for an hour or so in order to sneak outside, into the bathroom, or into the car for some silence.

9) Count up all the places we haven't gone today—the bathtub, roof, neighbor's fence, into the planters, in the bushes, under the bed, on top of the car, under the kitchen table, on top of the kitchen table and in the crawl space under the house—and think of sending each of the kids to one of them tomorrow.

10) Reflect back on the day's activities and think how they might be considered educational and thus "count" as part of the day's practically non-existent school time.

11) Secretly eat children's candy.

12) Make a mental to-do list of all the things I wish I could've gotten done today—cleaned something, cut the kids nails, art projects with my kids, made cookies, put away laundry—and then imagine that to-do list being ripped into tiny pieces and burned in a bon-fire while I laugh evilly as if this is what I meant to do all along.

13) Use threats and a nerf gun to get all zoo animals back into cages for the night.

14) Change out of grubby daytime outfit and into sleep-ware. Bonus points for taking a shower or just shaving something, anything!

15) Try to fall asleep before husband.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Comstock Chronicles: Living in Another World

It feels like I'm living in another world, perhaps even another time period. Michael's crafts store down at the quad is boarded up. Ross has signs on the windows saying they're temporarily closed. The parking lot down at the quad is mostly empty except for Vallarta market and Rite Aid. The very air outside seems more still and, well . . . restful, I suppose.

People in Uptown Whittier seem different too. We're more friendly and open to chat with each other, sharing news and fears while keeping our distances, of course. I've seen so many couples, parents with children, and entire families walking around our neighborhood. People wave and pause in front yards to exchange greetings. There's more time, it seems, to take an interest in each other. We're not rushing off trying to keep to a schedule.

I suppose people are less involved in their own business. They're more interested in others. How are you doing? Have you run out of supplies? Can I offer you some of my oranges? How are your children?

I've seen several sidewalks decorated with chalk bible verses, and someone in Uptown Whittier has instigated a bear hunt for the children. Residents have placed stuffed bears in their windows and the children find them on their walks. My neighbor has put a stuffed Garfield on his porch.

Today, Phil and I started to date one another again. We've decided that we needed some time just to ourselves, so Grace and Eric Nimmo (our studio neighbors), watched the kids while we picked up Fideo soup and sat in our front yard around our fire pit. I was giddy with excitement. How romantic! How intimate! How special! We plan to continue this each day for a half and hour or so. The kids will watch Clifford and Benny will hang out in a pack-n-play so Phil and I can finish our sentences with each other.

Going out for groceries was special too. I was rather exciting to see another part of Whittier. I was interested in everyone and everything. Would anyone be getting their oil changed? Who was taking care of the animals at Petco? Which restaurants would have "We Deliver" signs in their windows? I wondered where that old lady in that car was going? What are the homeless people doing right now?

Vallarta has hired a larger security guard. The older sullen-looking fellow has been replaced by what I can only describe as a Hun. I'm pretty sure if I spoke to him, he would speak in grunts, but I know this can't be the case because I saw an older lady speaking to him when I exited.

One exit is closed so that everyone must funnel through one entrance. The self-serve bins are empty and so were the bean, pasta, and rice sections. There was a 6-pounds-of-meat and one milk and egg carton limit last week, but the meat restrictions have been lifted. I observed four or five butchers behind the meat counter in their white uniforms, pushing raw meat through the machines. A waft of cold air blew over the counter my direction. It's cold back there. Suddenly, being a butcher is an integral job. I made sure to thank him after I got my packages of meat.

Down the canned goods aisle, a shelf-stocker struck up a conversation. He told me about the line out front that morning, and how half-an-hour after opening, the newly stocked toilet paper shelves were bare. "We get a shipment in every day and every morning it's gone," he said. "Someone put our store online as the place that has everything, so people come from all around to get it. And then when the regular shoppers get here, it's all gone." He told me about his 14-16 hour shifts and how he just wants to get out and go somewhere, but there's no where to go. "I have to keep doing my job," he said, "but I'm not even married! I don't want to die!"

I'm sure at that point Grandpa Seelye would've shared the Gentle Touch, but seeing as I'm usually tongue-tied in these situations, we simply wished one another well and went on with our jobs. The overhead speaker then asked everyone to wipe down their stations.

I can relate to the shelf-stocker. I'd rather not go through the process of dying. Sounds uncomfortable, especially now as I'm getting used to this strange new way of living.

Our outdoor schooling space
After two weeks of ups and downs, awkward transitions, and unexpected change, I finally feel accepting of what needs to be done now. We've attempted too much school and then given up on school. Simeon (our roomer) was off work then went back to work and now is off work again. I met with friends and then I wrestled with feeling guilty about meeting with friends. I took on the bulk of the domestic responsibilities for a number of days while Philip rested up from being sick. We've had our church, get-togethers, and excursions completely wiped off our schedules. I attempted to make an 8-year-old extrovert happy on his birthday while at the same time catering all our activities to unclear mandates and Lee having one swollen foot due to a bee sting. I relearned how to meal plan and cook while watching three kids. Lee and Rose, the 8 and 6-year-old, are having to adjust to my being their primary authority while Benny, the 20-month-old is getting used to having to share me all the time. It's been a huge time of change.

Every night before we go to bed we share our day's rose (a happy part), thorn (a sad part), and bud (what we're looking forward to). And the last few days the children have looked at me and asked, "What is happening tomorrow?" or "I have no bud." But they don't say it despondently anymore like I used to think it—"Oh gosh! I have nothing to look forward to. I'm stuck here in this house with these kids, slaving all the time with no moment to think or do what I want" They say it as if it were simply a fact.

We don't know what will happen next. But we're living with open hands these days. What will happen next, Lord?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

My Hope is Found on Nothing Less

I could self-soothe with the illogical
Probability of contracting
A virus that threatens the elderly,
Or declaring myself low risk.
But then, I close my eyes to God's
Wielding of chance and uncertainty.

I could rely upon my own thoroughness
Of washing packaging and the cleanliness
Of hands, which rarely leave this house
So air-tight and fortress-like as it is.
But then, I assign myself the power
And outcomes God alone rightly determines.

I could keep joy alive in distraction,
Flippancy towards news and others' fear,
Busying mind and body with comedy
And lists of projects awaiting completion.
But then, I plug my ears to God's invitation
To join in the exchange of compassion.

I could awaken hope, remembering
Humanity's resilience to war
Disease and famines, and how
Before we know it, this too will pass.
But then, I miss the Spirit's companionship
In discovering glorious messages in today's mess.

I could declare myself safe and blameless
Of catching this COVID-19
By following authoritative advice
And measuring my every effort.
But then, I misplace my respect and goodness,
Not upon the only qualified one to bear them,
That is, Jesus' blood and righteousness.

"I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is in the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever."
                                                 -Psalm 146:2-6

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Proverbs 8 (Abby Version)

Wisdom's App

1  Are not wisdom's notifications turned on?
       Does not understanding's app show a flag?
2  From the cell towers on every hill,
       at every intersection she signals;
3  beside the entrance of every store,
       at the opening of every door, she dings:

4   "To you, O men, I call
        And my alerts are for every generation.
5   O psychosomatic ones, learn sense;
        O information-drunkards, learn discernment.
6   Hear, for only I map out noble ways,
        and from our communication will come your route,
7   for my programing is done from Heaven;
        misinformation is impossible.

8   "All the advice from my mouth is apropos;
        there is nothing irrelevant or generic about it.
9   This guidance comes straight to those who know they don't know,
        and right to those whose ears are tuned in.
10  Take my instruction instead of researching more,
        And my knowledge rather than redoubling your own efforts.
11  For wisdom is better than a self-made man,
        And living a cushy life cannot compare with her.

12  "I, Wisdom, am life's Harmonizer,
         and I combine street smarts with graceful actions.
13  Deference to God's authority means having no taste for evil.
         Setting yourself up as an authority
         and veiled speech make me gag.
14  I know what God means and have his power;
          I have cracked the code; I have youth's pluck.
15  By me, good CEO's oversee,
          and legislature decrees what is right
16  by me presidents direct
          and bosses too, anyone justly in charge.

17  "I dance with those who dance with me,
          and lifelong learners find me.
18  Good character and a life well lived are my gifts,
          a pleasant character and nothing wasted.
19  My tutelage is better than a Master's degree, even a PhD,
          and my yield is more than an endless database.
20  I teach where to start and what to do next
          every day, every hour, every minute,
21  weaving into my legacy those with open hearts,
          and filling their hours with treasures.

22  "The sovereign programmer wrote me before anything else,
         I was the first of his creations.
23  Ages ago he coded me,
         even before people were around to use me.
24  When there was no cyberspace I was operating,
         when there were no libraries.
25  Before the world's religions had evolved,
        before psychology was founded, I already knew,
26  before he landscaped humanity
         or characterized the elements.

27  "When he designed outer space, I was there;
         when he drew circles for orbits and currents,
28  when he made the air breathable,
         when he mapped out earth's innards with fire and water,
29  when he assigned to science its limits
         so that matter might not transgress his commands
         when he split apart Pangeae,
30  then I was beside him, like a master craftsman,
         and I was daily his hobby,
         always fitting together each new insight,
31  attentively experiencing his inhabited world
         and delighting in the way of living well.

32  "And now, O children, listen to me:
         blessed are those who befriend me.
33  Hear the notifications and tune in to the Spirit,
        And do not neglect her.
34  Blessed is the one who gives pause for me,
         watching daily for my signs,
         waiting in the midst of activity.
35  For he who pieces together obedience, pieces together life itself
         and obtains wholeness from the Lord,
36  but he who never waits for my messages, shoots himself in the foot;
         all who do it on their own sign up for an inner death."

Many of the concepts in this were inspired from Eugene Peterson's As Kingfisher's Catch Fire.

Monday, March 23, 2020

When Dry Milk Will Be Enough

If all the stores were out of milk
And our last carton was empty,
Milk made from powder
Would be enough.
But we've half a gallon in the fridge,
And more if we go out;
So the dry milk is not enough.

If we had been rained out all week
And then the sun shone like today,
A romp in the yard
Would be enough;
But yesterday's weather was fine
And this is SoCal,
So the playtime out front is not enough.

If we'd slept in a hotel for a week,
Eaten out three meals a day,
Being home
Would be enough;
But we're stuck here,
With no foreseeable outings,
So this familiar house is not enough.

If my dearest friends spoke ill of me
And my husband only criticized,
The Lord's pronouncements
Would be enough
For upon that only
I'd have to stand;
But my friends and family think me alright,
So God's pronouncements are not enough.

I hear you say, "But we can enjoy powdered milk even if real milk is available. We can enjoy beautiful weather even if every day is beautiful. Surely, we can appreciate our homes even if we never travel. And most of all, can't we fully believe in what God says of us even if most people think we're pretty nice?"

 Perhaps we can do this when we stop thinking we have a right to these things, and instead, see them as unexpected gifts placed in our laps. It is the surprise that we get yet another good thing that keeps us from seeing the repetition as our human rights but instead, our delight.

Conversely, we can be so disconnected to what is really good that we whine that the good things we've been given are still not enough.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Comstock Chronicles: Things Organizing Themselves

I was watching Portrait Artist of the Year, a BBC show Philip found on Youtube where artists compete by painting some famous Brit. Charles Williams, one of the artists, throws out several paintings before deciding he'd got it right. Williams was asked what he was learning through these attempts, and he said. "My eyes are getting more and more used to what I'm looking at. The more I look, the more I understand. You see things in a terrific panic, and then you gradually calm down and things begin to organize themselves."

I thought that perfectly described the way food, space, and time have rearranged themselves this last week as my children are no longer in school, I've become their teacher, Phil is home from work, grocery stores supplies are limited, and social gatherings are canceled. In addition to that, a week of rain has prevented outside activities. The house feels small and crowded, and while I'm never isolated, I do feel cut off from the rest of the world. Even Grandma Seelye said she'd never experienced something like this before in her life.

Yesterday, I sat on my front porch bundled in an old quilt with a warmed bean bag across my lap, and I watched the rain come down in gauzy sheets that darkened the tree trunks and sent rivers down the gutters. Sea gulls were crying and so were sirens, but I couldn't see either. I couldn't see anyone from my place on the front porch where I sat opposite a row of cosy craftsmen homes with crisp clean paint.

The front yard has become my private room during Benny's nap and the children's break from each other. It is probably the most beautiful room in the house and I'm savoring the moments of relative silence. Our neighbor across the street occasionally peaks out her window and waves at me. Today she came out to get her newspaper, saw me, shrugged and went back inside.

Each morning begins with a walk, weather permitting, and this morning we went by Blanche and Rosie's house. We stopped by their chain link fence where the Scarlet Firethorn bush bulges out onto the sidewalk. My children pushed doggie treats through to the ladies who yelped and leapt until they'd gotten their fair share. Then I poked my fingers through the wire to give the girls' necks a scratch. They're not maintaining a 6-foot distance.

Robin and David Cox opened their doors to us and we had a brief porch chat together. Robin, through the screen on her front window, and David on the side porch. The children climbed their fig tree and tasted nasturtiums. Robin reminded me how suddenly the most common of people have become heroes, the grocery store checkers, that is. Here they are risking their lives, daily submitting themselves to serve grumpy, demanding, and rude people. How very true, I thought, and part of me wished I was a grocery store clerk too. At times, I think that might be easier than being a mom.

The cheery checker who helped me yesterday at Vallarta Supermarket took one of my gallons of milk off the conveyer belt, saying only one was allowed per household, but he let me have my Lactaid milk. He said if I wouldn't tell, he wouldn't either. I left feeling blessed and full. Phil had asked me to buy a big bag of dry milk a few weeks ago, so there was always that. Besides, I'd gotten my 18 eggs, a whole chicken, and a bag of brown rice that I'd found in the automobile repair section. We have more than enough.

I was rather surprised to find our counters full of food the next morning. JDO Mediterranean food is temporarily closing its doors and Simeon came home from his last day with several packages of pita bread, onions, potatoes, and a huge tub of rice in addition to a large take-out box of cooked rice. I think we have too much food now. We'll plan the next week of meals accordingly.

We have ensconced Phil and his desk in drapery to separate him from the rest of us while he works remotely and I homeschool the children. Noise canceling headphones are on the way, and as soon as the weather clears, I hope to set up a schooling classroom outside beneath an umbrella with twinkle lights and an outdoor heater, a rug, table, a few potted plants, and a busy box for Benny. I think the place with suit us just right for the brief time I attempt to teach my children.

Let me tell you, I have never appreciated our school's teachers more than now. Even now they're still giving of their time. Many of them are at home, having to parent and teach their own children while guiding twenty-seven parents on how to teach their children too.

Granada Heights Friends Church children's staff led my family and at least a dozen other church families in songs over Zoom on Wednesday. Each miniature picture on our big screen TV showed us a window into each of those families' homes. I was nearly moved to tears by it. Another blessing. Blessings upon blessings: milk, my library loans extended, Tim White gifting us this outrageously large TV last Christmas, prayer meetings held over Zoom, heaps of food, and new routines getting established.

"O heart sore tried! though hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee,—rest,"
(John Greenleaf Whittier Snowbound: A Winter Idyl Lines 386-387)

I hope in the midst of it—for all this change has had its awkwardness and discomforts—that I can be like the mother in Whittier's Snowbound:

"And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health
And love's contentment more than wealth."
(John Greenleaf Whittier Snowbound: A Winter Idyl Lines 602-607)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Archaic Trust

For most of us, when we were children, we trusted that we would be protected and loved and, to a certain degree, allowed our own preferences. We went along for the ride, trusting our parents to supply us enough so that we could survive once on our own.

Then we grew up. The freedom we'd yearned for was now ours, and it seemed so wondrously beautiful: now we could do as we liked and be in charge of ourselves. 

However, as time passed, we realized that we were out to sea and that that archaic trust was gone. We had no parents to supply us now. We had to stand up for ourselves. So we worried about how to keep our jobs and how and what we should eat. We feared about making our schedules and interacting with our friends who didn't love us like our parents did or rather in a very different way. All the supports were gone, and we began to doubt ourselves and fear the world.

We believed that it was up to us to keep ourselves safe and loved and alter our surroundings. We all believed it, not understanding how subtle the lie began to creep in. If I don't behave a certain way, I won't be loved. If I don't plan ahead and prepare, I won't be safe. If I don't stay strong, I will be walked upon. If I don't speak up and judge correctly or if I do speak up and make a stand, the right things won't happen. 

Brick by brick, we began to transfer onto our backs what we believed our parents carried on their backs. We heaped the bricks higher and higher as we birthed babies and acquired mortgages. We made carts to carry the load. And as we pulled with all our might, we found life a great burden.

How did we get to this place? We are weighed down, bowed low, old of spirit because the cares of life have become too much. We've bought into the lie that we are in charge of our own welfare. We thought that if we don't do something, our lives won't be good or good enough. 

But this is not true. We lost something back in childhood besides countless hopeful dreams. We lost that archaic trust. We lost it because we failed to transfer that trust from our parents to God. Instead we believed that all this pushing and prodding and duty and stifling of desires was the right thing to do; it was the Christian thing. Isn't this what it means to die to self? To bear these burdens for my spouse and family?

Absolutely not! Perhaps to die to self means to stop thinking myself so necessary and that the outcomes depend on my choices. The more I believe it is all up to me, the more I obsess with measuring my own moral muscle and the less I trust what Christ has already done and is doing right now.

But when I wait and watch to see what He does and is doing, He can then invite me into it, invite me into the dance, so to speak.

Sabbath Rest

Stop what you are doing.
Pay attention.
Ascribe to the Lord, O Mighty Ones,
For this is our entry into participation.

Is adoration,
Uniting my heart to fear Thy name
Will put all names in their proper place,
And say, "Off my back children,
The witch is mine!"

Taken to heart,
Turned into prayer,
Providing instances of
Listening to and answering
And ascribing Him glory and strength
All of which, are stronger than any of my doings.

All truths lived
Enjoyed, nurtured, and affirmed
As God's work:
Our rest.
And we ride His back like the Pevensies
As He breathes life into statues.

Return, O my soul, to your rest;
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Various references from: Psalm 86:11, Psalm 29:1, Psalm 116:7, Eugene Peterson's As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Madeleine L'engle's Ring of Endless Light, and C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (Part 1)

This here is the dumping ground for marvelous quotes from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert's The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. If I had to rate Enneagram books, this one would be my second choice only surpassed by Marilyn Vancil's Self to Lose - Self to Find book, which is shorter, easier to read, and more accessible. I also think that Rohr and Ebert don't seem to explain how to trust the Lord with our deficit quite as well as Vancil.

This book really encapsulates what I tried to teach my mom's group last month about the Enneagram: transformation through a relationship with Christ. Wish I had read this one before I spoke, but as my husband said, we've arrived at the same peak only to find other people are there too.

"The incarcerated know that the separate self has not served them well" (Rohr & Ebert, xv). Makes sense why Jesus ministered to the prostitutes and tax collectors, and why He said "Blessed are the poor in spirit . . ." The poor in spirit seem to know they aren't good. The rich and well-mannered seem to have a harder time realizing how much they need Jesus because their own systems for right living are supporting them quite well.

"The great tragedy of our age is the fact, if one may dare to say it, that there are so many godless Christians—Christians, that is, whose religion is a matter of pure conformism and expediency. Their 'faith' is little more than a permanent evasion of reality—a compromise with life. In order to avoid admitting the uncomfortable truth that they no longer have any real need for God or any vital faith in Him, they conform to the outward conduct of others like themselves. And these 'believers cling together, offering one another an apparent justification for lives that are essentially the same as the lives of their materialistic neighbors whose horizons are purely those of the world and its transient values." (Merton as quoted in Rohr & Ebert, xvi) Ouch!

"We are all partial knowers . . . It seems we must somehow 'kneel' to hear and see correctly." (Rohr & Ebert, xviii). I find it oh-so-comforting to admit that I don't know. I don't know all the depths of my heart. I don't know the depths of others. I don't know how to guard my life against misfortune. I don't know how to handle situations. I don't know how to love people. But God does.

"Only those who love rightly see rightly! Only those who are situated correctly in the correct universe can read the situation with freedom and grandeur. Text plus full context equals genius. Only the true believer can trust that larger context, even to the point of including God. Then the believer is at a cosmic level of peacefulness: reality is good, the world is coherent, it is all going somewhere. That allows the believer to move ahead without a rejecting or superior attitude. Such people are constantly learning and always teachable and will likely do good things." (Rohr & Ebert, xix) So beautifully said!

"The Enneagram gets right to the point and calls it our sin." (Rohr & Ebert, xix)

"If we will not balance knowing with a kind of open ended not knowing—nothing new seems to happen. Thus it is called 'faith' and demands living with a certain degree of anxiety and holding a very real amount of tension" (Rohr & Ebert, xx). So wonderful to hear this rather frightening-faith-life described as such. It can sometimes be scary to obey and trust in God.

"The practice of prayer we can choose to do ourselves; the suffering is done to us. But we have to be ready to learn from it when it happens and not waste time looking for someone to blame for our unnecessary suffering" (Rohr & Ebert, xx). Gosh, I've wasted a lot of time!

Don't have a direct quote for this, but Rohr and Ebert mention hearing God in the pain of our enemies. They don't mean hearing God's justice being done, but rather seeing God in the very people who happen to be our enemies.

"There are two utterly different forms of religion: one believes that God will love me if I change; the other believes that God loves me so that I can change!" (Rohr & Ebert, xxii).

"...people are destroyed by their gifts and talents. We are destroyed by our gifts because we identify too closely with what we can do well." (Rohr & Ebert, 25)

"You'll get the feeling that you have loused up and ruined many relationships, once you realize how many people you have used exclusively to build up and maintain your own self-image (the ones who didn't play along we generally banned from our circle of friends) . . . When we keep the enemy outside the door, when we don't allow the not-I to enter our world, we'll never be able to look our sin or our dark side in the face. Men and women who get on my nerves, who threaten me and cause me anxiety, need not become my bosom friends, but they have an important message for me." (Rohr & Ebert, 27-28)

"Each of us has put together a construct by which we explain why what we do is necessary and good." (Rohr & Ebert, 28)

"That is why we can't simply 'give it up': it (the construct by which we explain what we do) belongs to the specific way that we give our life a goal and a direction. It belongs to the survival strategy that we adopted as children." (Rohr & Ebert, 29)

"Sometimes one meets people who are free from themselves. They express what moves them—and then they can, so to speak, take a step backward. They play an active part in things, but you notice that they don't think they've got a corner on the truth market." (Rohr & Ebert, 30)

" . . . it (our pitfalls) determines us at least every ten minutes. It's like an addiction. Perhaps that is why it is called 'passion'" (Rohr & Ebert, 31). I can definitely attest to the truth of this. When I am not trusting the Lord and letting Him handle the complications of my life, I resort to detaching myself from life (I'm an Enneagram 5) more like ever 2-3 minutes.

"Don't 'go after' your sin directly or you will only confirm your stance and your willfulness! You will attack your ONE in a ONE way. You will 'understand' your FIVE as another FIVE trip. You will try to 'succeed' at being a redeemed THREE. The key is to recognize, name, and let go" (Rohr & Ebert, 32). The key is to repent and give yourself into God's merciful hands, but Rohr and Ebert talk about this later in the book.

More quotes to come . . .

Merton, Thomas. The Living Bread as quoted in Rohr and Ebert's The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013.

Rohr, Richard and Ebert, Andreas. The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Beauty Be Wasted Not on Me

May not an instance of beauty be wasted on me
Because I was too preoccupied standardizing goodness
Based on my own malnourished understandings.

May I not mis-assign cacophonous children's games,
Wasteful experimentation, and fights to get more
Because I am parsing the day into duty and spoiled delights.

May their neediness, sleeplessness, and incompleteness
Not feel to me a robbery but an awakening to the fleeting now,
Corporeal and tender as my efforts are to God.

May I not mistaken what is Yours to be mine,
Carrying what I cannot and discerning as if I must.
For when I labor, I rest not, delight nor see;

And all of God's beauty is wasted on me.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Enneagram 1's Longing for Righteousness

O Lord, I've done it again,
Expected them to regard my words as gospel truth
And when they didn't—because they couldn't—
I blamed, dismissed and planned
My next defense of this authority
I wield like a flaming torch in a hay barn.

O God, I've done it again,
Believed my judgements were Yours,
Thought that I alone held the truth
And thus had to speak to bring about goodness.
I convinced myself that Your Spirit provoked
My inability to hold my tongue—
My impatience, really, with Your invisible work.
I judged what I saw to be wrong.
I assumed You wanted it differently,
You intended something else,
That things had gotten out of Your hands.

O Lord, rightly order my strength's conquests
To trust that nothing is outside Your power or goodness;
That even in the garden Your plans weren't derailed
And You waited for Canaan's sacrifices to be fulfilled.
Not a blink is made without Your, 'Let it be.'
Not a sin enacted outside Your methodology.

O God, You alone rightly wield this authority
To define what is good in the depths of their hearts.
You alone, unbound by time and flesh,
Open minds and realign false thinking
In those regions I cannot touch or teach or rule,
Yes, even within my own upside-down soul.

O Father, You need me not for this process
Save in surrender of my ill-used power,
And admittance that I know not Your goodness.
Indeed, the more I wait and watch Your ways,
Slow and unseen though they seem,
The more I see that this yearning and angst
Is merely a longing for Your righteousness in me.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Believing the Store Owner

I went shopping at a hardware store for a reverse osmosis system. I asked a passing store employee, who also happened to be the store owner, which system was best. He guided me to what I needed, and I was glad to see that it would only cost me $235. That was well within my budget, so I loaded the system into my cart and headed to the cashier.

On my way, I ran into a man who looked like a plumber. He saw what I had in my cart and said, "Those don't work. I had one, and the water tasted terrible."

Needless to say, I was concerned. He would know. Right? Perhaps I'd chosen the wrong system. So I went back and found the owner still in the water systems aisle.

"Oh no," he replied when I repeated what I'd heard. "This system will do the job. You just have to change the filters periodically or else your water will get a funny taste. The instructions and filter schedule are all inside. This one will give you the absolute purest water. I used to be a water chemist and so I know. You live in Whittier?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Yeah, you've got pretty awful water, but this system will purify your water better than bottled water."

That was enough to convince me of my decision, so once again, I headed for the cashier.

On the way, I bumped into a frumpy store employee who raised her eyebrows at my selection. "You going to buy that one?" she asked whistling. "The cheaper one does just as well."

"$235 doesn't seem bad to me," I replied. I didn't mention that I don't trust those cheap models.

"That's not $235," she replied. "That's $2,305."

I was aghast. Uh-oh! Had I read the label incorrectly? There's no way I was prepared to drop that kind of money.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yep, see." She ran the item under the in-store scanner and sure enough $2,305 appeared on the screen.

I turned right around and found my way back to the water systems aisle. The cheap one didn't seem like such a bad idea anymore. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to find the store owner still there. I explained what I'd discovered, and he smiled and laughed.

"No, no," he replied. "It doesn't cost that." He wrote something indecipherable on the box with a sharpie and then said, "Just have the cashier call me if she rings up a different price."

I was a little confused. His scribbles looked anything like numbers, and most definitely the cashier wouldn't be able to read it. However, at this point, I was beginning to feel self-conscious about asking him so many questions, so I decided to just go to the cashier and find out.

While waiting in-line I encountered yet another worrisome customer. I could see her eyeing my cart and making critical evalutations about my purchase. I decided to stand up for myself.

"It's for clean water," I explained. "It goes under the sink."

She smiled in a patronizing sort of way. "I know. I had one for years. But I got tired of changing out the filters, so now I have Sparkletts delivered to my door. It tastes better anyways."

The man just behind me heard all this and laughed. "I used to drink from the hose all the time and it never did me any harm. It just made me stronger. Kids now-a-days get sick for nothing. I never get sick! Ha!"

At this point, I was feeling rather wretched and angry. Why was everyone so bent on convincing me that I was making the wrong choice? I really wanted to disappear, either that or have the store owner defend my choice to all these people.

He must've been reading my thoughts because I spotted him just beyond the cashier with a clipboard and a pen. He was busy at the return's desk. Once he caught my eye and smiled. After that, the customer's comments didn't feel so threatening. Maybe they didn't need a reverse-osmosis system, but the store owner knew what I needed, and this system was the right one for me. Who cared what the other people thought?

When I handed the cashier my system, she took one look at the sharpie writing and smiled. "You're all set. Shall I put it in a bag?"

"What do you mean, I'm all set."

"It's paid," she replied.

"But isn't it $235?"

She laughed. "Oh, no, no. This one costs much more than you'll ever be able to pay."

I tried not to be offended at this. How much money did she think I had? I wasn't poor, after all.

"That's why it's free," she went on. "Just don't forget to change your filters every 9 months."

I think I walked out of that hardware store in a daze. I must've looked completely shocked because an elderly man asked if I was okay.

"Yes," I replied. "I've just been given a reverse osmosis system for free!"

The old man raised his brows. "Nothing's for free. Believe me. When you've been alive for as long as I have, you'll know. You just wait until they start calling you from collections. You live in Whittier?"

"Yes," I answered.

"You're going to need much more than that water filter to clean your water." Then he left me there.

Yes, I went back inside to speak to the owner. And I intend to keep speaking to the owner until the naysayers and doubters and head-shakers and scoffers and just-generally-confused people are unable to knock me off balance with their judgements because I actually trust what He says.

*The events in this story did not happen. This is an analogy to our doubting what the Lord says about His work on the cross.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Burned in a Forest Fire

I dreamt my family and I were driving in my car when a forest fire prevented us from going any further. There were hot flames all around us. We were trapped and afraid.

As the car began to heat up, I unbuckled baby Benny from his car seat and held him on my lap. Rose too was in my arms. My husband held Lee. I remember hearing the children's cries as I looked down into the footwell and saw a burst of flames infiltrate there. Then in my dream, I called on the powerful name of Jesus Christ to protect us.

After that I woke up.

There was no way I was going to sleep after that. I was too worked up and anxious. I remember asking myself, "Would you call on the name of Jesus, if you were trapped holding your children in your car in the middle of a forest fire?"

The answer was undoubtedly yes.

"Then why aren't you?" came the next question.

The simple answer was I haven't thought I was in a forest fire. I've gone to sleep, so to speak, with the daily concerns that trick me into thinking that they're the real threats to my peace. I've ignored the flames while devising a way to teach my son how to stop sucking his fingers, to make a new plan for calming down my daughter post-exhausting events, to practice my defense for when someone might accuse me of making a poor parenting decision, to put up my guards whenever I see that offensive personality, to self-soothe whenever I think of the state of the world, etc.

Or when I'm in good health and things are relatively peaceful, I go to sleep thinking that I've kept immorality at bay. This crust of civility has prevented me from seeing what is blazing outside my home, no, even in the footwell of my car. I get good service at restaurants and respectful technicians at Valero. Because my roof isn't caving in and my neighbors are all respecting my boundaries, I figure, I'm good. I'm safe. The flames aren't there.

I think it's time to wake up.

The fire isn't my children's poor behavior or what people say of me. The fire isn't the impending downfall of democracy or the termite eaten beams on my house. The fire isn't the feelings inside me of inadequacy or insecurity or powerlessness.

The fire is my own heart and the hellish place it is bound to go without continuous calling on Christ Jesus to save me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Spotting the 9 Enneagram Sins in Me

1. Anger: more easily recognized as impatience or frustration because my and others' progress towards godliness is too dang slow!

2. Pride: judging my own worth above others based on status, age, worldly knowledge, education, or supposedly-good deeds; a byproduct of believing that I have something to offer others without believing that others have just as much to offer me.

3. Deceit: acting or saying whatever I think my friends wish to hear/see in order to gain their esteem, goodwill, or praise.

4. Envy: a discontented attitude that believes what I have isn't good enough and what you have is, and if I have what you have, I'll be happier.

5. Greed: a continuous grasping for more time, energy, information, or money out of fear that what I have is not enough to sustain me in the future.

6. Fear: a black cloud of dread that something bad is going to happen, and that when it happens, I won't be able to handle it.

7. Gluttony: an insatiable appetite for distractions—be it celebrations, Netflix shows, or educational activities—while having an aversion to all that seems boring, painful, or uncomfortable.

8. Lust: attempting to bring within my sphere of influence, people or situations or things that aren't mine to control or order or manipulate.

9. Sloth: an unwillingness to disrupt my own inner equilibrium for the sake of affecting change in others, situations, or things.