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Comstock Chronicles: Being the Policeman

Benny was upset about having to stay out of the kitchen while lunch preparations were underway. He grabbed the side of the domino bucket and scattered them across the wooden floor. This greatly distressed Lee because we have a rule that when quiet time is over the children must clean up their space regardless of who made the mess in it. Benny was scattering dominos in Lee's quiet time space. So Lee ran over and grabbed Benny around the middle. He wrenched the now empty domino basket out of Benny's hands and rolled over on the floor with him squealing in his arms.  In the meantime I was giving commands that fell on deaf ears. "Leave Benny alone!" "I see what he's doing!" "Don't touch Benny!" "Get your hands off him!" "Stop being the police!" "I will take care of it!" Finally the uproar died down enough for Lee to hear me.  "I hate it when you say I'm the police!" he shouted at me. I tried to explai
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The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

 We visited the Huntington Library today in the late afternoon. The setting sun on the trees and roses and pools of water was glorious. All the colors and textures seemed intensified. We tried to obey the foot-traffic pattern signs, and Benny wore a mask for about the first fifteen minutes. I thought this was both sad and cute. Towards the end we all tore off our masks and played tag in a stone-fruit grove. Allen Street in San Marino is lined with Ginkgo trees which are at their finest this time of year. I love how the Boston Ivy drips off the building in yellow and orange chains. "This garden has a lot of naked statues," Rose observed. This blooming vine was growing over the trellises that are covered in roses at other times of the year. More Ginkgoes in the Japanese rock garden. Rose brought "Uni" because she said she was celebrating the unicorn's sixth birthday. I asked the children to pose in front of their favorite bonsai. Rose chose this oak forest. She wo

Split Souls

 I love to write. I like to daydream about what I'll write next. When I hear beautiful music, I envision new scenes. Sometimes the only bright spot in my day is the fifteen or so minutes I get to write. I like to outline scenes and plot my characters' development. I like to research new words and animal behavior and landscape formations. I like to re-read chapters until I've corrected all the typos. I even like to write when I don't feel like writing. Sometimes the mere discipline of sitting down and letting my fingers type whatever comes to mind gets the creative juices flowing and before I know it, something worthwhile has developed. I love to write with all my heart and mind and strength. And this is the way I think we are commanded to love God.  Loving God is not merely a choice we make everyday. Loving God is not merely a passion that burns within us. Loving God is not merely the research and study to increase our knowledge about him. Loving God involves all parts

Car Troubles

I’m not particularly knowledgeable about cars. When a warning light goes on, I usually have to look in the manual to discover what it means, and until I do, I worry that that light might mean thousands of dollars of repairs. Sometimes I delay looking up the meaning of a light  or I look it up and am none the wiser. Then I start to wonder if my car is going to spontaneously combust or if the engine will fall out of the engine compartment or if all four of my tires will blow out as I go around a sharp turn on Turnbull Canyon Road.  Sometimes its not a dashboard light that warns me that something's not right but a strange sound—a banging or grinding sound—or an acrid burning smell. In any case, isn't it uncomfortable not knowing what's wrong with your car? I suppose if you're familiar with cars, noises and smells don’t worry you so much because you know what they mean and how to fix them. You’re confident in your knowledge. I think the care of our souls is similar. Everyda

Scary Needy People

Needy people  Needn't frighten me When I'm full And I stop believing I'm the only giver. Powerful people Needn't threaten me When the Omnipotent Lives in me, and I trust  His power even more. Rebellious people Needn't worry me, When I believe His goodness Surpasses my pathways To righteousness. Glamorous people Needn't threaten me When gratitude abounds, And I see any excellence As another testimony. Heartbroken people Needn't depress me When I know His purposes Are only to draw us nigh, And pain is His domain too. Judgmental people Needn't intimidate me When I believe The gavel already dropped Declaring me perfect Because of Christ's blood.

The Giving Tree

I just reread that depressing children's book The Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein, and I'm trying to understand it. Is the tree supposed to be our parents? They sacrificed everything for us but all they really want is to be with us?  Or is the tree the child who wants to be with the parents, but the parents are too stir-crazy or busy or sad to be with the children, and only when the parents are old do they rest in their children's company? I don't like either interpretation. But I can see Christ as the giving tree. As a child we had child-like faith in God. Then we grew up and wanted thrills. Later we were too busy or too cynical to be with the Lord. Finally when old and gray and too tired to run about, we find rest in him. Christ gave us the fruit of his labor, he cut off branches and grafted us in to his tree, and he allowed his body to be nailed to a tree for our sins. He gave us everything so that we could be in a constant resting relationship with him. But we need

The Gospel for Every Enneagram Number

One: the Reformer "I want to be in total control of myself. And by that I mean that I want to make myself good. I've done pretty well, but I can't shut-up that inner critique who is always guilting me if I mess up and who is always pointing out ways that I could be better. I have exhausted myself in the trying. So now I must admit that no matter how hard I try, I cannot reform myself enough to give me peace and contentment. And that I am in need of another perspective.  "I want to submit myself to a new management, God's management. It is only through my submission to his control within me that I can do the right thing with the right heart. I don't ever need to fear of acting wrong again because God will never judge or condemn me. He has made me good enough already because of a credit to my account, so to speak. Based on no deposits of my own, Jesus credited his own perfect life to my account. According to God, who is the ultimate authority on goodness, I am c

Book Review: The Gifts of the Jews

I found  The Gifts of the Jews  by Thomas Cahill wildly interesting. I would like to read it again someday. But I don't recommend it unless you're naturally critical. Some of what Cahill says is marvelous, some is confusing, and some is doubtful. I'm not sure I understood it all, but here's my best attempt at an assessment. Cahill argues that the Jews altered how everyone thinks and feels. They are the originators of many of the western beliefs that we have, such as: people have an inherit value as individuals and not just pawns to be used; history is going somewhere, it is not an endlessly repeating cycle; people have an inward life and an outward life, and both matter when it comes to acting rightly; there is a definitely way that people are to behave and it has nothing to do with how much money one has or how powerful one is. He is very complimentary about how the Jews were really unlike any other people group. He also does a fantastic job of describing the world pre

Work the Word In

If our religion is realized  Only in the quietness of the morning,  In the wind through the trees on a blustery day,  The ocean waves crashing on the shore,  And a picture of a new mother with her babe;  Then we segregate our faith from life's meat and potatoes,  And our vague religion becomes  All stirrings with no action—  Like bread un-kneaded  And tinted paint unmixed  And a house built on sand. Eternal life is not had "By simply feeling  The presence of God In flowers and music" (Lewis, 155); But in working the words in— Like dye into clothes, Like salt into soup, Like food's nourishment to the body. And yet, not like that at all. For unlike a taskmaster cracking his whip Or the sacrificing of art and emotion, This working bears up Until it sees  Another bearing it for you.  So work the Word in  'Til he penetrates every space; Every impatient look at the clock Every patronizing offer for help Every feigned smile to save face Every discontented wish Every dise

When We Grow Up

Do you remember when you were a kid what you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a missionary pilot. . . and a stunt woman and military captain, a horse tamer and rock climber and famous author. I was going to be gutsy and strong and independent: like Mulan, like Arwen, like Black Widow, like J.K Rowling. I dreamt of being heroic, taking a stand against the forces of evil, slaying dragons, and doing glorious work . . . There’s this place in the backyard where I sit and watch the children, and from there I’ve been noticing the paint bubbling on a rafter beam for quite some time. And the other day I climbed up there and poked at it with a screw driver, and the beam just disintegrated amidst termite droppings. I was supposed to fertilize the lawn a few months ago, but I forgot. The rocking chair cushions on my front porch are still covered in ash from the recent fires. And the other day someone waved me down on the road to tell me my tail lights were out. My daily to-do's ar