Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dinner Scene

In 2000 Jayson and I traveled to Armenia.  On our way there we had a short layover in Amsterdam.  We met up with a friend of mine who took us out to dinner.  I was busy chatting and catching up with him and didn’t realize how much time was passing until Jayson gently nudged me and whispered, “When are we going to order?”  So I asked my friend if we could order and he flagged down the waitress.  He told us that the servers there leave you alone; when you’re ready to order, you have to call them over.  They don’t rush you in and out – they leave you alone to enjoy your time and conversation.  The meal is secondary.  We probably spent four hours there talking, eating and laughing.  I don’t remember what we ate, but it was one of the best meals of my life, because it was quality time spent with good friends.

My in-laws came over for dinner last week.  The table was full of food, the kids were happy, the conversation flowed.  Silas served the salad.  James put enough food on his plate for six people.  After dinner I cleaned up while the boys had popsicles.  They were at the dining room table with Papa, slurping on their popsicles.  My mother-in-law played the piano, sending music throughout the house.  As I stood at the sink washing dishes, I glanced over to the scene in the dining and family rooms.  I saw smiles, heard laughter and piano music – the love was palpable.  I’ve never felt so blessed.

I always think back to that night in Amsterdam, and how much fun we had.  But now it takes second place in my memories.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Mother’s Voice

I can’t remember her voice.

Most of the time.

I strain my ears
into my memory,
reaching all the way back –
back 16 years.

I can hear her.
It’s faint, but it’s there.

I laugh with her,
seeing her eyes crinkle
and watching her throw her head back,
and I hear her voice get louder.

Loud, uproarious laughter;
the kind that makes your belly ache
and shake and quake.

It gets louder and wilder
until it comes running
and jumps
into my arms.

My boys’ laughter,
filling my ears.

Filling my heart.

A mother’s voice,
reflected back
in her grandchildren’s laughter.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sheep Herders

Before moving out to the country, Jayson gave me a warning.

“Silva,” he said, “there are bugs.  Big bugs.  You can’t freak out.  It’s just how it is.”

I’m happy to report that I haven’t freaked out.  (Too much, anyway.)  Well, there was one incident with a grasshopper, a toy butterfly net, and sweating elbows, but that’s another story.  For the most part, I’ve managed well, making Jayson kill any creepy crawlers I see (and killing them myself if he’s not around).  And I won’t just take his word for it that they're dead – I have to see the carcass.

We’ve got spiders – some as big as the palm of my hand.
Stinkbugs.  They’re huge and alien-looking and ugly.
Wasps.  Don’t make them mad.
Red ants.  They bite.
Black wormy caterpillary things.  I’ve killed at least 30 of these in our house in the past week.
Roly-poly things.  (I don’t know all the official names.)
Mosquito eaters.  They’re big, but we like them.

Add to this assortment the following:

It’s a nasty menagerie.  And Jayson wonders why I stay indoors most of the time.

Recently I was informed that we would be adding a sheep to the mix in the near future.  “To get rid of our weeds, honey.”  So practical, isn’t he?

In college, my friends and I would joke about the type of guy we’d marry.  My basic requirements were that he must have a firm grasp of the English language and two distinct eyebrows.  We would laugh on and on about dowries and being set up with sheep herders.  Now I guess the joke’s on me.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Huh? What Was That?

I’m officially old.

We went out to dinner with some friends last weekend to celebrate a birthday.  The restaurant was packed and rowdy.  It was dark.  And it was loud.

When I say loud, I mean it in its loudest sense.  It was nerve-shatteringly, eardrum-piercingly, body-shakingly loud.

I didn’t used to mind loud restaurants.  When I was 18 or 19 my girlfriend and I used to go to Hard Rock CafĂ© in downtown Boston every single Friday night for dinner before going out.  It was really loud in there, naturally, and it never bothered us.  In fact, we’d go dancing after where it was even louder.  Fun times!

But now, it was just irritating.  We couldn’t have a conversation.  We couldn’t hear each other.  We were screaming across the table.  There was a lot of “huh?” and “what was that?” going on.  We left with sore throats.

We still had a fun time, as we were out with good friends enjoying good food.  But the excessive noise was a reminder that our idea of “fun” has definitely changed.  I’ve become the old lady who says, “Turn that noise down!”  And I’m okay with that.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Let People Change

I established in my last post the rule of Siranoush:  Siranoush is Siranoush.  People are who they are and I can’t change them (try as I might).  We can’t change others; we can only change ourselves.  But what if people do change themselves – how quick are we to accept them?

In Sunday school yesterday we studied Rahab the prostitute.  She took in two spies sent by Joshua to scope the land.  She hid them, protected them, and in return, asked them to spare her life and her family’s lives when the Israelites took over the land.  Although she was an Amorite living in a vile, evil culture, she acknowledged God and feared Him (“For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath”).  The spies kept their word and spared her and her family when everything and everyone else was destroyed.  Rahab went on to marry Salmon, a descendant of Abraham.  Her son was Boaz, who married Ruth.  Jesus was a direct descendant of Rahab the prostitute.

Rahab is mentioned twice in the New Testament, in both Hebrews and James, for her faith.  In both accounts, she is noted as “Rahab the prostitute.”  Poor lady can’t get a break!  She risked her life to save the spies, and yet the negative moniker remains to this day.

Obviously this is for our benefit – God uses broken, fault-filled sinners for His purpose.  We are all worthy of His love, and we can all be used for greatness, despite our poor life choices.  It’s also a reminder to keep our pride in check.  We’re not better than anyone else.  We’re not better than prostitutes.  We’re all sinners.  We all deserve death.  We are all saved by God’s grace if we choose to believe.  The cross is for everyone.

Sometimes I don’t want to accept that people have changed.  I don’t want to believe that they’re different – better – than they used to be.  I hold their past against them.  Shame on me.

I often say that I’m glad I’m not who I was 20 years ago.  We shouldn’t be the same now as we were a decade or two ago.  We should constantly be growing, improving, maturing, developing and refining ourselves.  We’re still sinners regardless, but we should be a work in progress with our eyes straining upward, our arms reaching outward, and our minds stretching Wordward.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.