Thursday, June 26, 2008

Speedy Man

The children are often allowed a single piece of candy after lunch. We keep a box in our cupboard which houses smarties, individual fun-size chocolates, lolipops, and the like. The routine varies only slightly with each child asking if they can have a piece of candy as they clear their plate from the table. Today, Caleb added the important fact that his candy was vital to his Speedy Race he was preparing for in the front.

This is going to make me go extra speedy.

Well, it is a good thing you have it!

Oh yeah. I will so need this when I go outside for my speedy race.

He left, and apparently ran his speedy race with great success. So much success, in fact, that he decided to come back in about 10 minutes later and request a second piece of candy.

Can I get another piece of candy, 'cause I have a speedy race again, and I need it.

No. *chuckling* You know the rules, Caleb. You already had a piece of candy, and you don't need another one.

Okay. (He contentedly goes into the bathroom, and calls out) I'll just get some speedy water then.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tools of a Darker Humor

I believe in the Sovereign God. I know that he works all things together for my good. I know I can trust that in times of difficulty he has a greater plan unfolding through the ages. I know that whatever I go through in my own experiences they are designed with my particular strengths, and weaknesses in mind. I know that God actually purposes certain circumstances to come about for my teaching. The reason I know this is because I can never get through any line without it becoming the longest, most complicated, utterly disorganized queue... ever. No exaggeration. 

Shall I elaborate? Good.

If I need to run into the store for 3 things, and there are 5 checkstands available for my use, it will take roughly 10 times the length of time for me to get checked out as it did for me to select the 3 items I needed in the first place. Here is a taste of what happens to me (mind you, these are all real life examples, and absolutely resemble the people portrayed in the anecdotal retelling) -

"The Goof"
This happens when I select the shortest line available only to find that the person in front of me has goofed. They entered the wrong pin, and have now forgotten the correct one but they still insist on using THAT card; I stand idly by while they fish out of their purse the scrap of paper with 17 different combinations of numbers presumably assigned to 17 different cards of which one will supposedly work. The person then leans over to the clerk and shows them the piece of paper asking, "Which one is it?"

"The Wall"
After struggling to make it through the crowds with my children in tow I am finally standing a mere 2 people back from the checker. The customer being helped inquires about a sale in the weekly circular. The clerk verifies that the circular she is referring to was published for last week's sales. At this point the scenario goes one of two ways, but they equal the same thing. One of them is wrong, one is right but both refuse to go that extra 10th of an inch to recognize their mistake. The battle escalates, one insisting the date is right, one insisting the date is wrong while the rest of us watch helplessly as a wall is built over a mere 30 cents.

We can all appreciate being new to the job. You feel foolish, never quite able to get your feet under you. Who doesn't have a special place of patience for Day 1? How about Day 1 unsupervised? The clerk looks so fresh, so blissfully unaware of the mayhem surrounding her that I figure her line must be slightly more enjoyable than Mr. Grumpface. I load my things onto the conveyor belt (and can I stop here and make a note about why I don't leave the lines I enter once I realize they are again tools of a darker humor? The invention of the conveyor belt to aid cashier's in speeding up lines is a fraud. The only thing it does is quietly steal any autonomy you may feel with the line. Once your produce is on that black ribbon of death you are committed. How many times does a different clerk offer to take you to the next checkstand if your things are already unloaded? Never, that's how many. I have sat for literally 15 minutes with only one person in front of me while gobs of people blow through the lines on my right, and left all because I made an unspoken covenant of " 'til death do us part" when I placed that first cucumber on the conveyor belt.) By the time Miss Newday finished my transaction my entire cart was rung up, voided, and re-rung with multiple variations of change being owed, and at least 42 instances where a trainer would have proven invaluable.

"Tape Replacement"
This is one of my favorites. I stand in a small line, making my way to the front with relative ease only to be informed immediately before it is my turn that the cashier has run out of register tape. They will need to change it before they can continue ringing. I remark that I will wait, but they insist on me moving to a different line for fear that I will be unhappy with the length of time it will take them. I try to assuage their guilt but there is no arguing, and by the time I am finished with my purchase through a different checkstand my original cashier has replaced their tape, and helped 4 customers.

"Error #349b"
I am aware that God is so convinced of my need to experience trying circumstances in lines that even when I am not purchasing an item the person who I am with will undoubtable receive my line treatment. My friend and I advanced to a "self-checkout" where the system treats you little better than a 1st grader. She had two items to purchase, and after swiping the first the screen goes blank, shouts that the item is unrecognizable with "Error 349b" in bold print, then reverts to the homepage display. She tried again, tried the other item, tried the first item until we both realize we need the supervising clerk. 10 minutes later we have tracked down the clerk who is obviously disgruntled that she has to work with peons, but after several more screens my friend finally has her purchase completed only to have the weighted bag holder yell at her for placing unidentified objects on it. So I stand by, holding fish in both hands while she pays so we can finally be done.

I could continue. If I pick the short line it will take twice as long as the long line. If I pick the long line, full of 2 or 3 item purchases it will be nearly 4 times as long as any other. The line I am in gets closed and merged with another. I give the clerk the benefit of the doubt only to find that my misgivings were completely deserved. It has gotten to the point where my husband, and friends will often ask me which line I would choose, and then go to the opposite one.

But I remain optimistic. Someday I will choose a line that runs smoothly, is correctly marked, takes me to the right counter, gets me out quickly, and ultimately behaves the way lines are meant to behave. I just have to figure out what God has for me to learn, and learn it. Apparently the last 15 years hasn't done the job yet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Leah's Home Planet

Our good friends, the Proctors, moved to Texas at the end of April. They are military, and we knew we only had them for a short while, but what started as a 14+ month tour turned into nearly four years. Our families shared a lot of laughs, tears, births, and deaths. And even though we knew it was time to say good-bye it was still difficult to watch them leave - especially to go to Texas. Now, this needs to be put into context because, you see, the Proctors are FROM Texas. Yep. The Army moved them back to their home state, and even fairly close to their home towns. We are excited for them to be reunited with family, and friends. But still... Texas?

This morning Leah was watching me make breakfast when she announced, "I have a play date with the Proctors today."

"No, sweetie. The Proctors have moved."

"Yeah," Caleb reminded her, "they live in Texas now."

"That's okay," Leah continued, "cause I live in Texas too. That's where I am from."

I don't think Leah is really from Texas (I birthed her in California after all). But I am coming to believe that Leah is simply not from earth. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Today is a day of remembering our fathers. Along with our natural fathers perhaps we remember our spiritual fathers, our country's founding fathers, our Abba Father, our husbands and sons. In short, it is a day to remember all the blessings that come from the men in our lives. I did not have the privilege of growing up with my own dad, but I have been given such a blessing in watching my husband with our children. There is something particularly sweet about a grown man beaming at his tiny newborn, tenderly kissing the boo-boos from a two-year old's imagined scrape, laughing at the "funny" jokes a 4 year old says, generously praising the efforts of a seven year old nervously trying their wings in public performance, and patiently allowing a 9 year old the room to grow through that awkward stage. Today, Christopher's children, each in their own way, gave him something that represented their thanks for the sacrifice, hard work, love, and irreplaceability of him in their life.

Hannah: beautifully wrapped an atlas of Egypt. She knows how much her daddy enjoys maps, atlases, and geography, and made the practical step of placing value on what he would like. She grows more responsible by the day, and is most likely to think through outcomes in order to make an informed decision. She wants to bless you with her effort to understand what would really please you.

Bethany: showered Daddy with gifts. She spent hours over the past several days writing stories, drawing pictures, and designing a host of "wrap-ables" for the number one man in her life. Her effort to show how special he is to her came through with crystal clarity. They weren't big gifts, or expensive presents, but often it is the hand-picked bouquet, or personal note that tells people that they mean enough for us to use our time.

Caleb: prayed for Daddy before dinner thanking God for the good job he did of helping to present our church's Sunday morning sermon today (our head pastor was out of town, and three elders stepped up to fill his shoes - Christopher being one of them). He praised his father for the good work he accomplished. Caleb values words that encourage and edify, often choosing to ask us how we are doing, or tell us what great people we are out of the blue. He appreciates the need to be told, verbally, that you are special.

Leah: came downstairs after nap and stayed quiet! She recognized Daddy's hard work in preparing for the sermon, and blessed him by remembering that if she remained quiet he could get a good nap himself. She grows in her sensitivity to others, and generously gives from her heart. She may not always get it right, but can't we all appreciate that the thought can sometimes be more crucial than the execution? 

Mary: simply wanted her daddy to hold her, and give her hugs. At 2 and a half she loves her daddy with an unspoiled, and uncomplicated affection. We drove to church in separate vehicles this morning so when service was over, and we were preparing to leave in those separate cars, she become nearly hysterical that Daddy was not coming with us. It is nice to be needed.

Josiah: fell asleep in his father's arms, being gently rocked by this wonderful man. His face lights up when Daddy comes home. His beautiful smile brightens anyone's day, but it is an especially poignant balm after a day of meetings, and politics in the corporate world. Sometimes you just need a small reminder that life really isn't all about greed, the corporate ladder, promotions, or getting ahead.

In myriad ways our children tell us how much they love us each day. We don't really need days like Father's Day, or Mother's Day to tell us of their love. But I think remembrance is important, and the ceremony of honoring those that we love is a way of affirming their place in our lives. We all need to be loved (and told so), needed (and told so), accepted (and told so), honored (yep, and told so), and included (don't forget, and told so). Today, in our special way as the Randall Family, we loved our one and only, Christopher. 

(picture taken by Bethany)

Monday, June 02, 2008


I am fairly level-headed. I recognize that things which you cleaned yesterday may very well get dirty again today. I especially recognize this as my family grows. Leah, in particular, has the gift of throwing all clothing, clean and soiled, into the clothes hamper. I rewash hordes of clothes for the simple fact that after sitting at the bottom of the hamper for 4 days they now smell like their genuinely dirty counterparts. I clean the bathroom, ideally daily, but realistically every third day; and just as soon as I clean it my son goes in to use it. Need I say more? I change sheets, only to have a baby explode out of a diaper that very afternoon. I wash dishes so that we might use them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I vacuum because lint, and outside debris carried in on my perfect children's perfectly wiped feet, prefer clean floors. I dust so I can see where the new dust falls. In total, I am involved in a very intricate dance that has no ending, but occasionally bears the allusion of conclusion. This, I can handle. What I can not handle are the injustices which pile on top of the never-ending cycle o' cleaning.

Vacuuming the vacuum.

Defrosting the freezer.

Washing the washing machine.

The last one really gets me, and it got me specifically yesterday. I noticed that I had a ring around the top of my inner tub. Then I saw that there was grime on the agitator. What!? How can this be? I don't spill detergent and leave it. I keep the dust off the back, wiping down the top and inside of the lid fairly regularly. But somehow I was faced with a dirty washing machine. I grabbed the vinegar, a brush, an old rag, a toothbrush, a cup and got to work. I scrubbed the tub, agitator, bleach dispenser, fabric softener insert, water spigot, top, bottom, and on and on and on. When I was done I started to feel a sense of accomplishment. My washing machine was clean. I could put my clothes in it with confidence... but wait!

The clothes were dirty. They were only going to make the machine gross all over again. Added to this was the fact that no one could tell that my machine was now a glowing representation of godliness because nothing looked different on the outside! Injustice! So in retaliation I am spending today thinking about how I can market a self-cleaning machine and the millions it will make me.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Tale of Two Languages

Bethany made up the following joke all by herself. I merely acted as recorder, and wrote exactly what she dictated. I hope you enjoy!

There was a man who walked into town and didn't know the language. He went to his hotel room, and he looked out one of his windows, and he saw some kids playing in the pool, and he heard one of them say, "How about I go to the bottom?"

Then he looked out his other window, he saw some kids go into a restaurant and saying, "I can't wait."

He heard a knock on a door and someone saying, "Hello, your food is ready!"

He then heard another knock on a door, and a person answering, "Yes?"

Then he went around town to explore. He stopped by some people who asked him, "Did you knock our car? If you did go to the top of the highest mountain."

He said, "How about I go to the bottom?"

Then they said, "Well.."

And he replied, "I can't wait." Then he said to the people, who were next to a restaurant, "Hello, your foods ready!"

And they said, "Really?!"

And he said, "Yes!"