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How the Enneagram Numbers Handle Icky Feelings

One: the Reformer"Ekk! I'm not supposed to be feeling this way. It's not right! I can't let these feelings out. I'll stuff them in a box and sit on them. There. Done. Those yucky feelings will just have to stay in there. Right? And I'm never going to do this again. This is what produced those icky feelings in the first place. Don't scoff! This is the best way I know how to maintain my idea of goodness."Two: the Helper"Golly, I don't know what to do with all these feelings. I certainly can't tell anyone about them. Then I'd look desperate and needy. I'll focusing on your icky emotions instead. It's much easier to feel your emotions than to feel mine. So tell me. What do you feel? How can I help you process through what you’re feeling? And maybe, once you've realize how much I've felt for you, you'll give me back everything I gave to you. Don't scoff. This is the best way I know how to get love."Three: the A…

The Right Kind of Fear

Fear the fire; God made it to burn. Fear the wind; God made it to lash. Fear the quake; God made it to crash. But this fear won't empower you For God is not them.
Fear the storms; they know not their masters. Fear disease; it ravages indiscriminately. Fear wars; they are inevitable. But this fear won't protect you From these instruments in his hands.
Fear other's intentions; they might misuse you.Fear other's grasping; they may rob you.Fear other's passions; they may unravel you.But this fear won't produce a strategyTo keep what's your.
Fear sin's enticement; it seizes every chance.Fear the evil one; he hungers for you.Fear displeasing God; he demands much.But this fear won't save youBecause it never stops striving.
Fear the Lord; his holiness is dangerous.Fear the Creator; he gave you your life.Fear the Master; he has authority here.Fear the Author; he can rewrite you.But unless this fear compels you to yield,You shall never stop fearing.
*I use fear in…

How Much I Need from God

I think I need God for very little because I seem to be able to do most things on my own—eat, sleep, shop, meal plan, settle arguments, keep up relationships, google questions, go to the dentist, etc. I actually need God's help for nearly everything I do. In fact, that little white portion at the bottom of the graph probably doesn't exist at all. Sure, I can physically do a lot on my own, but I can't do anything with a pure heart nor out of love for everyone else on planet earth. Hence, I need God's wisdom in everything. I don't know how my purchases will hurt the environment. I don't know how my splurges will affect the poor. I don't know how my voting will alter the course of history. I don't know how the words I choose will affect another's heart. There is just so much that I don't know. 

If God offers me everything I need—all wisdom, power, and love—through a relationship with him (this is not an instantaneous acquisition but a daily communion…

Why the Enneagram Numbers Won't Give

One: the Reformer "I know how much time, energy, and money it's going to take to do this well, and I just can't do that right now. I'm running too many other things. Sure, we could do it another way, but I just can't stand half-baked ideas, and I'd rather not give at all than see it done poorly."Two: the Helper"You have no idea how much I've already given. I practically destroyed myself giving, and no one seemed to appreciate me at all. So I'm done. Unless they start acknowledging how much I've sacrificed, I won't be giving anymore."Three: the Achiever"I just don't think it's going to succeed. I mean, I've given before and the project was an embarrassing flop. It looked terrible. Of course, if I'd been leading it, it would've been different. How about I do it next time, then I'll give it my all."Four: the Individualist"It just doesn't feel right. Everyone gives. It's so mundane, so or…

The Trouble With Comparing Troubles

Hearing about other's troubles is inevitable. And more often than not, when I hear about them, I compare them to my own. Actually, I think it's a natural tendency: to be in competition with others. Either my problems are harder than yours or your problems are harder than mine. We certainly can't both have hard lives. So I hear about a friend who has more kids than me and whose husband is a firefighter, and I decide she has it harder than me. I deduce that my troubles are smaller than hers, not as difficult, easier. In fact, I decide that I shouldn't be troubled by my troubles at all. They're nothing compared to hers. So I shame myself."You ought to be grateful, you pathetic thing! You don't have it that bad! Your troubles aren't troubles at all! You're just a wimp!" On the other hand, if a single friend complains to me about his responsibilities at work, I'm tempted to patronize him with things like, "But is your office quiet? Do you h…

Why the Enneagram Numbers Didn't Listen to You

One: the Reformer"I just had to interrupt because half of what you said wasn't right. And the reason that happened to you is because you should've done it differently. Let me explain the best way."Two: the Helper"I know you didn't finish explaining the problem, but I already know what your problem is and what you could do to make it better. In fact, I'll fix it for you."Three: the Achiever"But if you get all the airtime, I won't have a chance to impress upon you what a great friend I am, how I've accomplished so much, and how you have so many reasons to be proud of me."Four: the Individualist"After you mentioned having a weekend of solitude, I just couldn't listen anymore because it brought back this memory I had two years ago when I was on this hike by myself and even though I was totally alone, I felt in the presence of something marvelous. Oh my gosh!"Five: the Observer"What did you say? Sorry, you weren't…

I Deserve Something!

If after a day of stopping my intended activity to settle arguments, a day of spraying on mosquito spray and rubbing on cortisone, a day of planned activities that didn't go as planned, a day of being treated like I'm unreasonable, ridiculous, despicable, unfair, yes, even a tyrant! A day of picking up letter magnets and scraps of paper and couch cushions and books and play-kitchen fries and string tied around door knobs and scotch tape that comes apart in shreds and socks balled up and tossed behind the furniture rather than be taken to the dirty clothes,After a day like that, I deserve something!I'm thinking a tray of cookies sounds nice . . . and a chaise lounge. A movie, a back rub, a cup of tea and some silence.It is nearly impossible NOT to feel entitled to some luxury after working so hard. That's how life works. Right? Those who work hard earn something? The harder I work, the more I earn? And I have worked very hard. Perhaps the expectation of payment is what …

Put on the Fancy Smancy Clothes!

Literature seems to be full of people who were given a single command or task or warning, and failed. Pandora was supposed to guard that box filled with sickness and death. Orpheus wasn't to look at his wife until after they'd emerged from the underworld. Lot and his family were supposed to flee Sodom and Gomorrah without looking back. Blue Beard's wife was allowed to open all the doors in her husband's house but one. Adam and Eve weren't supposed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The wedding guests taken from the streets in Jesus' parable were supposed to dress properly. I've always been terribly peeved at these characters. How can it be that hard? Don't open the stupid door! Don't eat the dang fruit! Put on the fancy smancy clothes!But then again I've been given one major responsibility, and I much prefer to neglect that than do it. Some days I'd rather write blogs or check facebook or read a fun novel or do the dishe…

Rewriting the Messages

When we said, “Look at me!”
They said “You ought to be looking at others.”

When we said, “I did it well,”
They said, “But do you see how it could be better?”

When we said, “I need help,”
They said, “In the real world, you have to go without.”

When we said, “I’m afraid,”
They said, “Well, you shouldn't be.”

When we said, “You’ve hurt me,”
They said, “You’ve only yourself to blame.”

When we said, “You’re doing it wrong!”
They said, “Who are you to say?”
And because we knew not where to go for the cure,
Grown from the womb without His spirit woven in,
Over time we learned to limp on in disguise. Instead of Look at me! it was condescension on others.
Instead of I did it well, it was perfectionisms whip.
Instead of I need help, it was service with expectations.
Instead of I’m afraid, it was withdrawal into isolation.
Instead of You’ve hurt me, it was subversive messages.
Instead of You’re doing it wrong! it was public proclamations. Years of disguises built up walls of callousness,
And ancient longings were…

Sand is Normal

I remember learning about nursing. I'd just had my first baby, and things were way harder than I thought they should be.  You mean I'm supposed to wake up every two hours all night long? You mean I'm only supposed to sleep one hour at a time because I'm spending that other hour trying to figure out how to do this stupid thing? You mean I'm supposed to wake the sleeping baby to basically torture myself? How long is this supposed to last?I was not ready for this commitment. In fact, I was sure the lactation people had it wrong, so I lengthened the breaks between feedings until I gave myself an infection, twice. I wasn't ready for what it would take, and only later did I learn that nursing would be harder for me than most women. By my third child, I knew what I had to do and I was ready to make that sacrifice. This time I didn't back down from the task. This time I had my expectations set correctly. This time I had my support group in place. I had the same sort…

Why the Enneagram Numbers Hurry

One: I hurry because if I don't hurry I won't get there on time. And if I don't get there on time, people might give me the "look." I hurry so no one will find fault with me. Two:I hurry because people need me. I'm the only one who can calm them down, fix their heart aches, listen to them properly, advice them well, and help them understand what they ought to know. If I don't help them, they'll suffer needlessly. I hurry because I think everything hinges on me.Three: I hurry because I have so much to do to make this project excellent! If I do well in half the time, people are going to notice. They're going to see that I'm someone worth having around, worth liking, worth loving. I hurry so people will think something of me. Four: Hurry? Hurry! I can't hurry. If I hurry my work is going to look like everyone else's, and my stuff needs to be better than theirs. I'd rather not do it at all than produce something that's just average.…

This Little Light of Mine . . .

You know that children's Sunday school song "This Little Light of Mine"? I think it correlates with part of Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)There is a similar passage in Luke, but this passage seems to be talking about something entirely different."No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness." Luke 33-35 ESVThis passage follo…

Who Owes What to Whom

I am a Book Keeper. I know money and bills, loans and interest. I know who owes what and how much. And I know when the accounts are not in balance. And let me tell you, the accounts are not in balance.Carolina took 10 pennies from Patrick's pile and then Patrick stole 15 back. Juliet has been loudly demanding people give her their money because she needs more than most people to survive, or so she claims, and usually people comply because it's much easier to give her money than listen to her bemoan her poverty. Kennedy borrowed 5 pennies from Maximus and instead of paying it back has continued to pinch pennies from Maximus ever since. And Maximus doesn't do a thing about it. He's afraid of losing Kennedy's friendship so he just lets him continue stealing.Little Gregory has been sitting in the corner crying all day because he hasn't any pennies at all. He claims he started the day with a hundred and someone stole them but he's not sure who. At any rate, he&#…

Who to Blame for My Problems and How to Fix Them

I began reading Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson's Understanding the Enneagram: the Practical Guide to Personality Types and came upon the following quotes in Chapter 1.". . . the Enneagram indicates what is necessary for our real growth and transformation." (p. 4)"The Enneagram is not only about understanding and transforming ourselves . . . " (p. 7)"Because they (our parents) had to protect themselves from experiencing their own developmental gaps and losses, it was not possible for them to fully support the unfolding of all of the aspects of our spirit, no matter how much they loved us." (p.12)"Our parents unintentionally sent 'messages' to us as children to hide ourselves." (p12)". . . it is the quality of presence that restores the proper balance between them (our real self and our personality) and allows us to embody the expansive qualities of our true nature." (p. 15)How absolutely delicious! Right there in Chapter 1…

Comstock Chronicles: Starting Homeschool

There has been so much talk about COVID-19 and masks and quarantine that I am whole-heartily sick of it. The figs on our tree are ripening two a day and we can't seem to keep up with them and that seems to me far more interesting. We've sliced them thin and had them on toast. We've made jelly out of them. We've had them with goat's cheese and in yogurt. The birds are enjoying them now, but I don't mind so much. I much prefer the birds to the green buzzing Japanese beetles who don't seem able to steer their own bodies very well.This week we began home schooling. Simeon, our roomer, watched Benny by following him around the house and giving him his heart's desires while I began the Sonlight curriculum with the children. Despite their moaning and dragging feet, the experience has been overall positive. They interrupted my reading of Usborne's People of the World just about every other sentence to ask questions or add their own information. Some of it r…

What to Think of Yourself

People think things of you. Some people think well of you; some think ill of you. Some have fairly accurate ideas of you; some have inaccurate ideas. Some have made false assumptions; some have made true assumptions. Some know you intimately; some know you casually; some only know what you look like. Unfortunately, you're not in the dictionary for anyone to look up and be sure their thoughts about you are correct. They could ask you but even our own knowledge about ourselves is limited.We think quite a lot about ourselves. We think well of ourselves; and sometimes we think ill of ourselves. We have some accurate ideas and some inaccurate ideas. We sometimes know what we want; we sometimes don't; and sometimes we don't care. Some of us understand ourselves quite well; and some just think we do.I believe we're prone to thinking a great deal about ourselves and others' opinions of us especially when it comes to assessing how good we are. But these regions of thought—i…

Repairing Dry Rot

Dry rot occurs when wood is left wet for prolonged periods of time. The damp wood creates a favorable environment for fungus that eats away at the wood leaving it brittle and soft. You can safe guard against dry rot through repairing and repainting cracked, chipped, or peeling paint, which are possible entry points for moisture and dry rot. The first sign of dry rot is usually bubbling paint. If you insert a screw driver into the wood and find that the wood has become brittle and soft (almost foam-like), dry rot is present. STEP 1: Drill, scrub, chisel, and/or wire-brush all dry rot out until hardwood is reached. Don't be gentle. Continually gouge the wood with a flat-head screw driver to test that you've reached hardwood.  If all dry rot isn't removed, the fungi will continue eating away at the wood from within.STEP 2: Next spray exposed wood with a dry rot killer or wood preservative. Allow it to soak in and gas off for several days. Don't rush it.STEP 3: Brush on li…

Riding the Rails

If God is a magnet, I have the opposite attraction. It's in my nature. I am naturally repelled by that all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present being who desires me, not to consume me but to dwell within and be king there.And although I have confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I now have opposite magnetic poles within me: a repulsion of God, which is the old life, and an attraction to God, which is the life of the spirit.Or think of it another way.  My life is like a bowling ball pitched down the lane towards the pin deck where I'm expected to get a strike. But I was thrown askew and there is absolutely no way I'm going to stay in my lane. I will be in the gutter long before I'm even close to the pins. But, since my faith in Christ, God has set up the bumpers so that now this wayward ball goes bumping down the rails to where Christ has already knocked over the pins scoring a perfect 300 for me. The correct…

Love Thy Neighbor

"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39 NASB)
To love thy neighbor as thyself
Because it's the nice thing to do,
The unselfish thing,
Because we ought, Because we can't do otherwise With God's law woven  Into the very fabric of our hearts, Echoing God's yes and no, Right and wrong. (Rm 2:15 MSG) And if we don't at least try Our conscience will accuse us
Or our conflicting thoughts  Will try to excuse us. (Rm 2:15 ESV)

"Well, I gave it my best shot;
I followed regulations;
I wore my mask;
I kept my distance.
No one can say that I didn't
Love my neighbor as myself
Or that I somehow interfered with his good,
Even though I don't know what his good is,
Nor what God is doing in him, Nor what he most needs right now. But I think I do" For the heart is deceitful  And desperat…

Completing the Argument Cycle

A few weeks ago Phil's cousin, Heidi Dehart, explained an argument cycle to me, and I'm finding it so helpful that I'm writing it here. Who knows? Maybe it'll help other parents.The argument cycle begins with a disagreement. Big brother found little sister's fake jewelry laying on the couch, and he took them. She begins to scream. (By the way, my kids are 8 and 6.)Usually at this point I interrupt because screaming is unpleasant and not the way to discuss a problem. But interrupting an argument at this early stage, robs my children of an opportunity for them to work through their emotions, listen to one another, come to an agreement, and make amends. I have found that when I interrupt, they rarely listen to me because they're too mad, and the anger that was previously directed at the brother or sister gets transferred to me. The trick is to only interrupt the cycle if we believe their argument will permanently damage personal property or their relationship. Th…

The Spirits Behind the Bad Attitudes

What if some of the demons cast out at the time of Christ found their foothold in people's hearts through a particular weakness? I mean a spirit bent on a particular sin, or, what we might call now-a-days, a bad attitude.What if those attitudes, those inclinations brought about by our own insecurities, can become the foothold upon which the devil enters and becomes within us an evil spirit, a spirit that consumes us like too much drink or imbalanced hormones, poisoning every thought and desire, word and action.How dare those people make that sort of mistake—a spirit of wrath.Only I know what is best for these people—a spirit of pride.I'll show them only what I want them to see—a spirit of deceit.If they had what I had, they wouldn't be so happy, and if I had what they had, I would—a spirit of envy.If I give of myself, I won't have enough for me—a spirit of greed.I can't decide; someone else must do it for me—a spirit of fear.I need this to keep me safe from tomorro…

How Much The Children Cost

Window screens bent in and the latches lost in the Clivia below . . . an escape route.The balusters jostled loose on the outdoor handrails . . . weeks of sliding down the banister.A half-dollar-sized gouge in the drywall . . . the beginnings of a tunnel from bedroom to bath.A hairline crack across the porcelain pedestal sink . . . a monkey-branch? a climbing step? How did that come to be?A curl in the laminate, peeled back a great length down the kitchen cabinet . . . an enticing experiment.A watermelon-sized balloon hooked up to the faucet in the bathroom sink with the water left on . . . an explosive thrill.Chunks of dried mud stuck 14 feet up the stucco on the back apartment building . . . target practice.The slashes in the armrests of two new sofa chairs . . . a table for a cutting craft.The green fruit picked from the navel orange tree long before their time . . . harvesting lessons.A chunk of plastic broken off the shroud of the lamp's socket . . . gymnastics and climbing.An…

Book Review: A Survivor's Guide to Home Schooling

I don't care how old this book is (published 1988), it has such delightfully practical words for parents of both home and online schooled children alike. In fact, I'd like to recommend this book to every mom who is stuck in quarantine with kids. After all, everyone needs to know how to talk to relatives who don't agree with our decisions, how to make decisions and stay flexible, how to discipline well, how to view cleaning, cooking, and laundry realistically, how to understand the limited abilities of our kids, how to put the most important things first, and yes, how to teach our kids stuff. Am I allowed to give a book kudos if one of the authors is my husband's aunt? Oh, well. Here it is anyways.The thing I like most about this book is that it's all straight talk. It's not full of whimsical tra-la-la about the idyllic life of homeschooling. And it's not full of a bunch of over-educated technical blather. This was written by a mom of seven kids who at one po…

My Home Schooling Reminders For This Year

No one's education was totally destroyed in a year.No activity or assignment absolutely MUST get done today!How I teach is more important than what I teach. And loving God is more important than telling my kids to love God.Spending money for little tricks, baby sitters, and reward-snacks is totally acceptable.Make a plan. But then be ready to change the plan.Even if I taught nothing, the children were learning. Teaching my children to care for their baby brother, to wipe the toilet, and pick up their things are legitimate lessons.Experimentation seems wasteful. It probably is, but the Lord is also okay with "wasting" trees and water and day light hours on me.I don't have to strictly follow any curriculum or advice.I am trying to do the jobs of many people. Pick the moment's most important occupation and do that. Don't do multiple jobs at once.Don't do it alone. Be in community. Hear other's stories. If something isn't work, talk the problem out wi…