Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seven Minutes

            I sat on the floor outside of my 10 month-old son’s room hugging my knees.  Inside the room Nate stood in his crib and cried for a mom who would not come.  I can still remember the agony of listening to him cry.  I was trying to get him to go to sleep on his own. Baby Nate will be 29 years old in a few months, and he and his wife are going through the same agony.  “Crying it out” is a hot topic with young parents. 

           Somewhere I stumbled on an article suggesting a time limit.  “Crying it out” with no limit on the time just seemed cruel, so whatever I read suggested limiting the time to 20 minutes.  But that was just too long for me.  I decided seven minutes was all I was going to let my babies cry. 

            The first time I let Nate “cry it out,” I was watching the seconds count down on a clock.  I was back in the room in seven minutes and two seconds. I don’t remember if I gave in and just rocked him to sleep, or if I kept letting him cry in seven minute chunks.  What I do remember is that on the second or third day I tried this, he fell asleep before the seven minutes were up.  After that, if he cried beyond seven minutes, I  figured one of his bi-monthly ear infections was back.

            Seven minutes was my rule.  I even started watching the clock in the middle of the night when he woke up, and I waited seven minutes before I went to him.  Even during the night I had my little seven minute miracles where on the second or third night, he went back to sleep on his own.

            In this part of eternity, God has given us time.  Sometimes I think I use time to measure how long an unwanted event is happening.   It’s been over 100 degrees for 32 days in a row.  I haven’t had a raise in three years.  That awful music from next door has been blasting away for 30 minutes.

            But maybe God gave us time so we can know that suffering has a limit.  Six months is a long time.  But six months is over in seven months. 

            I’m a clock and calendar person (47 days until school starts again).   It helps me to count down.  Have you noticed that sometimes you don’t get a number to count down from?  I can remember my sons asking me a “when” question, and I answered them with, “In a little while.”  It was probably frustrating for them, but it was the best I could do.

            I often find myself wanting a number from God.  “How long will this last?” I ask.  But the only answer I get is, “For a little while.”   Years ago I knew seven minutes was all I could stand to hear my babies crying.  I really don’t know my limit on other things.  But God knows.  He has promised that it won’t be longer than I can bear. 

            Thank you, God, for giving us the gift of time that puts limits on things.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
I Peter 5:10 (NIV)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Self Check-Out Scanners

            Do I want to stand behind five people in the regular line, or can I remember how the self check-out stuff works?

            I stood in between the two checkout lines at Home Depot clutching my new Delta bathroom towel bar trying to decide.  A man with a full cart pushed it up to the regular checkout line.  Now there were six.  The decision just got easier.

            I walked over to the self check-out line and stood behind a young mom with two little girls.  The mom was pushing a cart loaded with a large bag of fertilizer and a 100-foot roll of garden hose.  A little girl about 18 months old sat in the cart seat watching her four-year-old sister down on the floor dancing next to them.  Their mom studied the touchscreen and pushed “Begin.”

            I meant to watch the mom, but the dancing four-year-old was much more entertaining.  As she spun around, her little sister in the cart began giggling.  Suddenly a rack of gum and candy caught the dancing girl’s eye, and she stopped spinning.  She walked over to the rack, squatted down, and began studying all the goodies laid out just for someone three feet tall.

            Back at the cart her mom struggled to lift the bag of fertilizer over to the scanner.  She dropped the bag down with a “thunk” and turned it around in front of the scanner trying to align the magic lines with the light.

            “Bleep.”  Successful scan!

            Her four-year-old daughter had decided on the candy she liked and picked up a roll of gum.  As her mom struggled to lift the bag of fertilizer over to the side of the scanner, the little girl reached in with her roll of gum.


            Totally oblivious of the extra merchandise she had just purchased, the mom turned back to her cart, hoisted the roll of hose out, and held it in front of the scanner.  Back in the cart, her 18 month-old reached her hand out for some of her sister’s gum.  Big sis was not at all interested in sharing and pulled her gum in close. 

            “Uhhhhhnnn,” little sis wailed, reaching down for the gum.

            Big sis ran over and picked up another roll of gum.


            Mom’s garden hose successfully scanned.  She struggled to lift the roll of hose over with the fertilizer just as big sis held the second roll of gum in to the scanner.

            “Bleep.”  A second successful sneaky purchase.

            Should I say anything to the mom?  Will she notice the extra candy?  How long does it take to get the bored 18 year-old female employee with the rose tattoo on her shoulder over to cancel the candy purchases?  I really want to get out of here.

            I didn’t need to worry.  The mom hit “Pay” and saw four items where there should only have been two. 


            Cassie was busy opening her gum.

            “What?”  Even at four years old, Cassie has already mastered that innocent, questioning look I’ve seen a million times.

            I started laughing.

            “I’m sorry,” I said.  “I’ve never seen that happen before.”

            “She’s never done that before.”

            I guess Cassie’s mom was in just as much of a hurry as me.  She reached over, took the two rolls of gum from Cassie, and put them in her purse.  She called Cassie to follow her and pushed her cart out of the store.

            I moved over to the screen and pushed “Begin.”  A dad with a little boy was standing behind me.  I’m pretty sure the little boy had been watching Cassie.  I pulled my cart closer and positioned myself and the cart to totally block access to the scanner. 

            I may be a little shaky on using the self-checkout scanner, but I think the little kids have it all figured out.  Do you think that's why Home Depot has a rack of candy down on the ground right next to the scanners?