Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Wonderful Day Indeed ("The Qwest One")

A lot of people have angry blogs. Blogs that they use to criticize and ridicule and vent their frustration at the world. While mine is not one of these kind of blogs, my next entry could be classified in the "venting" category, but it is not my intention to vent so much as it is to recount a moment of triumph.

It's about 3:30 in the afternoon. I'm sitting on the couch with my 3-month old who is happily working away at her bottle. The phone rings. Rrrring! I'll just let it go. Rrrring! But I am expecting a couple of calls... Rrrring! Yeah, I'd better get that. With the poise of an Olympic gymnast and the agility of a border collie I spring from the couch, wrap my free arm around the baby while still holding the bottle to her lips, and dash over to the kitchen counter. Rrrring! I quickly shift into a Flying Crane stance that the Karate Kid himself would applaud, balancing the baby and her bottle on my raised knee without disrupting her mid-day meal, allowing me a free hand to grasp the receiver.

"Hello?" I gasp into the handset.

"Hi!" says the perky voice on the other end. "This is Andrea calling from Qwest, your telecommunications company! How are you today?"

I feel my eyes narrow.

"Fine." I reply through clenched teeth, tucking the phone under my chin and trudging dutifully back to my seat on the sofa.

"First of all," Andrea continues, "We'd just like to thank you for doing business with Qwest..." she pauses, and I can't decide if she is waiting for me to hang up or to begin thanking her for such impeccable phone service. I want to tell her that a card would have sufficed, but having been recently convicted over my conduct with telemarketers, I stick that one in my back pocket.

"Uh-huh..." I say, skillfully side-stepping her corporate manipulation tactics. Her perkiness is undaunted.

"Well, we wanted to inform you of some of our additional services that are available to you!" Andrea announces, with a level of cheerfulness that would be merited only had she just told me that Qwest had decided to pay off our mortgage.

I am incredulous. Qwest has control of our telephone service, our television service, and now, our high-speed Internet service. Unless they plan on sending out a representative to do our laundry, I'm not sure how much more involvement they can have in our lives at this point. Caller ID, I suspect, would be among her suggestions, one that I find particularly enticing at the moment. The baby is crying now, and, this being the fourth or fifth call I have received from Qwest since we switched to them a month ago, I am not amused.

"Is there any way that I can not get calls from you guys anymore?" I ask, ignoring the introduction to her gospel of call-waiting and additional phone lines. "I'm on the Do-Not-Call List."

"Oh, are you on the National Do-Not-Call List?" she probes.

"Yes..." I reply cautiously, wondering if perhaps they have evaded my only weapon of defense by stationing Andrea in Mozambique.

"Oh, well you see," she explains, "Because we have a business relationship with you, we are still allowed to call you, even though you are on the list."

And Qwest wonders why the average American regards them with contempt. Could it be because they reward their newly acquired business relationships by descending upon them with customer service evocative of a cloud of gnats? I shudder to imagine the consequences were I to initiate a personal relationship with their company. Feeling defeated, I begin to envision myself twenty years from now, fending off their attempts to sell me videophone service, when Andrea pipes up again.

"Would you like me to sign you up for the Qwest Do-Not-Call List?"

My eyebrows rise in disbelief. Was this a trick question? She wouldn't try to pull anything over on me, would she? Surely not, especially not with my call monitored for quality assurance. I take a moment to grasp the magnitude of what I am about to accomplish with one simple word.

"Yes." I say definitively. "That would be great."

She types in the necessary information and gives me one last chance to change my mind.

"You do understand that by signing up for the Qwest Do-Not-Call List we will no longer be able contact you by phone for any promotions or additional services that could be available to you?"

I can hardly contain my glee.

"Yes, I understand."

"Well thank you for choosing Qwest and you have a wonderful day,” she concludes.

Oh, I will Andrea. I will.

Feeling like a man marooned on an island that has just stumbled upon a freshwater spring, I hang up the phone in triumph. A wonderful day indeed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I can’t sleep. I was doing okay, drifting off, until the fax machine that has called us periodically ever since we moved in decided to give us a ring. The baby is stirring anyway, so I may as well write until she realizes how hungry she is. I realized something myself yesterday. More like reminded, I suppose. I was reminded of just how dark the heart of man truly is. Just how steeped in sin, how tangled in pride, and how our hearts are riddled with the consequences. We truly are broken. I forget that sometimes. When the sun is shining and the birds are singing and life is skipping along, that happy rhythm can lull me into an acceptance of the world as it is; of life as we know it. I set aside thoughts of heaven and the difficult pursuit of true life in Christ because hey, maybe this world isn’t so bad after all. Maybe Adam just tripped and stumbled. But no. No, yesterday in my very own living room, I clearly heard the dull thud that has been reverberating in creation from generation to generation.

We are like wounded animals, as Matthew observes, crouching in our corners, lashing out at those who come near. And Christ alone is our hope. Only He can draw us out, and He does. But do you know what I find most wonderful about it? The greatest comfort to my soul? He does not merely dress our wounds and send us limping off on our way. He brings something far greater than healing alone. He brings redemption. A full exchange of what is worthless for what is most precious, of what is hideous for what is beautiful, or what is ours for what is His. He sets us free. Redemption. Speak the word aloud. Let your eyes linger over its letters. If it doesn’t set off fireworks in your heart then it will do so later, at another time, when your own reminder of our brokenness amplifies the groaning of your soul. For me this morning it brings to mind a thousand pictures and a thousand stories, all valiant attempts to capture a beauty that cannot be contained. But regardless how brilliant the colors of the butterfly and how zealous the cry of “Freedom!”, Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer. And He makes the woeful heart to sing.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Romans 8:19-25 ESV

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Quiche and Storage Bins

I don't have anything in mind to write about yet... just kind of wandering into it to see where it goes. I have the time and it's been a few days, so I figured I should come up with something. It's been a pretty nice morning so far. No major catastrophes, nothing too remarkable- except for the 6 mini quiches that Bethany put away for breakfast. In case you aren't familiar with mini quiches or the eating habits of toddlers, that's an awful lot of nosh for an 18 month-old. The kid baffles me. She holds up one of the little pastries and looks at me questioningly. "It's quiche," I say. A pause. "Quiche!" She declares and delightedly stuffs it into her mouth. We worked for months on "da da". She still can't say her own name. But French breakfast cuisine? We've got that one down.

In a few minutes here we'll be off to Toy 'R' Us. Not to buy toys, mind you, because that's the job of grandparents who have made careers out of purchasing toys. Were there a ladder of advancement in place for them they would all be vying for CEO. That being the case, we are now in the market for toy storage. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, purchasing stuff to store all the stuff that we already have. It's really more organization than storage because it's not that the toys don't have enough floor space to be strewn across (Bethany seems determined to prove that point at least once a day). But it seems that many of them need homes- somewhere to hide when company arrives and a place to go back to at night. Especially the Legos. Especially at night.

Between this paragraph and the last I have since returned from the toy store with a nice set of 3-tier stackable storage bins. Apparently we have resorted to the strategy of building upward that is implemented by the larger land-locked cities, seeing as I have just purchased what will be known among the toys as "The Projects". After 30 minutes of assembly with an infuriatingly small Alan wrench, the bins are complete. I try them out. They stack. They store. Success.

Bring it on, Grandma. Bring it on.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Sun Sleeps In

Just put my sweet little Harper back in her swing to catch a few more hours' sleep. I, on the other hand, only have about 33 minutes before my appointment with the toothbrush, and I have recently decided that unless there is more than one full hour of potential sleep time, I am officially up. Matthew somehow hit the wrong button on his alarm clock the other day and inadvertently put himself in another time zone. We think it's hilarious now, but he didn't think so when he was standing in the shower, bewildered by the clock on the bathroom counter displaying 3:30 am. That's the trouble with these winter mornings. The sun sleeps in.

It's still dark outside as I type this, but I can always tell that it's morning by the rhythm of the traffic on the arterial street just outside our door. A few beats between each car- still a little time left before night loses its battle with the sunrise. But as it slowly grows to a steady dull roar, it pulls me to my feet. Something about knowing that the rest of the world is already out there listening to the morning news, sipping coffee, and forming a plan of attack on the day's agenda makes me feel like if I'm still in my pajamas, I'm missing out on something. This morning has already begun and I need to join it now, otherwise two children will go without bath and breakfast and Travis will simply have to project.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Six Years Ago Today

I guess you could say that I've been procrastinating in starting my blog, but really I was simply trying to accommodate this little desire in me to make the first post on a day with a significance of some sort. The way things have timed out, I had my choice between Valentine's Day and my grandmother's 88th birthday. So here we are.

It's a little after six o'clock in the morning as I type this. At this time six years ago I was driving home in the dark, a silly grin across my face and little butterflies in my stomach that come after you've just pulled off something great. I had it planned for weeks. This was my first Valentine's Day with a Valentine, and I was going to take full advantage. Several days prior I had scoured the yellowpages until I found the biggest stuffed teddy bear in the greater Phoenix area. He was white with red hearts on his paws and, were he able to stand, would have been nearly eye level with me. As an 18-year-old, hopelessly in love, I wasn't thinking the practical thoughts that would come to my mind today. "A 5-foot, 40 pound bear. Where exactly is he going to put him?" or "Perhaps there is a more productive way to spend this $90.00." No, I thought only of Matthew, my boyfriend of 5 months, and nothing was too wonderful for him. So I hauled teddy home, imagining how great he was going to look surrounded by the 2 dozen balloons I had ordered.

The plan was simple: Get to Matthew's house before he got up for school. Leave my homemade card and a plate of blueberry muffins (still warm) on the kitchen counter. Put Teddy in the driver's seat of Matthew's car and cram any empty airspace with pink and red balloons. I had arranged with his little sister that I would tap on her window at 6:00 am and she would let me inside. This was where the only glitch came into play. Apparently her memory doesn't kick in until a few minutes after she is awakened, so upon hearing a tapping at her window she promptly jumped out of bed, ran into her brother's room, and woke him up. Fortunately for me, Matthew is not one who parts easily with an extra 15 minutes of slumber, so Rebekah was able to keep him in bed and get me in the front door. She watched me bleary-eyed as I raced around the house, carefully and thoughtfully placing out the various symbols of my love and devotion. Not more than 5 minutes after I had arrived I slipped back outside, bidding Rebekah and Teddy farwell as I drove off into the sunrise, my cell phone lying on the seat next to me in anticipation.

And now, six years and two babies later? Well, today being a Tuesday we will spend the evening surrounded by 200 other twenty-somethings as we do each week at church. Matthew will spend the day at the office and I will return to the flower shop where I once worked to help distribute over-priced roses to the masses. We won't forsake the Day entirely as we will most likely go out and celebrate on another night later in the week. But as I'm sure others would testify, Valentine's Day and all that goes with it simply does not mean what it did to us then. And that is not something I lament, because nothing has gone that has not been replaced by something greater. The silly grins have turned to knowing smiles flashed across a crowded room. The butterflies, though I still feel them now and then, have been edged out by a quiet assurance and content security. And as for Teddy? He sits on the plant shelf in our oldest daughter's bedroom, watching silently as we wake her every morning and pray over her each night. Although he may not be the most practical use of our limited space, you will never see him sitting out in one of our garage sales or in a bin for goodwill. He will remain with us always, wherever we go, as a reminder of that precious season we spent together and how faithfully God has grown us since.