Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Paul's Letter to a Bunch of Dead People

Yesterday we visited Ephesus. Ever heard of it? More likely you've heard of the people who lived there, the Ephesians. St Paul wrote a famous letter to them in the New Testament. That book of the Bible is only 6 chapters long. So I re-read it this morning as our tour bus began the 3 hour journey to our next stop in Turkey. I was curious if there were any insights to be gained by re-reading it after visiting the town. 



I should clarify that the term "town" should be taken loosely. Ephesus was once the second most important city in the Roman Empire. It had a large port, and was the end of the Silk Road, and was the big city of Asia Minor. So it was a bustling and wealthy metropolis of about 250,000 people surrounded by fertile agricultural land*. It was a nice place to live at the time. 



But Turkey is prone to earthquakes and mudslides. So the city was eventually destroyed, abandoned, and covered with mud, and it disappeared for centuries. Until some archeologists came along. 



Now Ephesus boasts some long marble-paved streets lined with columns and the painstakingly reassembled facades and walls of buildings. There's a hospital, a library, some temples, shops, houses, and theaters. If you squint hard and use your imagination, you can see the bustling port city coming back to life. You do have to drive 4 miles to find a port. The once deep u-shaped port was silted in over time. The columned commercial road that led there now leads to nowhere. 



There are no more Ephesians. They're all long dead. Their once lavish city adorned with ornately carved marble fell into nothingness. All that surrounded them, their art, their objects of pride, all of the physical aspects of their daily existence were consumed by the earth. Why should a letter to these people matter to us?

Interestingly, Paul's instructions to these dead people sounded oddly contemporary. He spoke of family relationships; he gave advice for marital relationships and child-rearing. He spoke of workplace relationships - how bosses should treat their employees and how employees should work for their employers. He spoke of community relationships. His words on patience, forbearance and gentleness never fail to convict me and highlight my daily failings.  

Despite all of the differences in technology and material wealth that we experience now, our human nature is no more advanced than it was in Ephesus' heyday. That should be a bit humbling. And the glory of Ephesus, once a marvel of civilization, was consumed by dust. Can we not assume that our now-lovely cities will, as well? What will happen to the physical objects that consume our resources and energy? Will they too be claimed by dust?

Touring the ruins of Ephesus is a great reminder to me that all material things of this earth will pass away. And reading the intro to Paul's letter to the Ephesians is a great reminder to me of what will not. 


I pray that, in the grind of daily life, I can keep this in perspective. 


*This info given by our tour guide, and not independently fact checked. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Bunny, The Bunny, Oh I Love The Bunny

If you're starting to sing right now, you've likely watched a lot of VeggieTales. If not, well, you've missed out on anthropomorphic produce teaching Christian values and re-telling Bible stories. You don't know about 3 veggie friends who did not worship the giant bunny idol and were thrown into a fiery furnace only to be joined by an angel and saved by God. 

And that's ok. It's actually irrelevant to the rest of this post. But I can't see a rabbit without singing the song about the bunny idol:  "the bunny, the bunny, oh I love the bunny..."

I came home today and the girls dragged me out to the back deck. "You've got to come see this! It's awesome!"

I expected to see some art project or creation. But the girls were standing still, watching a rabbit munch on our yard. According to the nanny, they'd been there for a while. Now this bunny frequents our yard, and our neighbors'. We've seen him pretty much every day since we moved. But we're still excited every time we see him. 

I guess we didn't really have neighborhood bunnies at the old place. Perhaps there were too many neighborhood coyotes and fisher cats? Or maybe this neighborhood is more bunny-friendly. More bucolic. With actual grassy yards. 

I went walking with a neighbor tonight, and we saw more bunnies. All over the    place. I miss living across the street from the Arboretum. But this neighborhood is definitely cuter than my old one...

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Spices of Life

I'm discovering today that it takes an extra long time to unpack a large amount of stuff into a small space. There's a process of prioritizing and purging that really slows things down. But there was one heavy box that I knew needed no purging. 

Spices. They filled a whole box. It was a heavy box. And I need them all. 
I love spices. We use spices. Lots of them. And my accomplishment for the evening? I found a place for them all. 


I only needed two cabinet shelves, one double-stacked drawer, and one spice rack to hold them all. They all fit. My job for tonight is done. I finally felt like I could open that bottle of bubbly I had bought for the closing and actually celebrate. 

Cheers to new chapters in life. And spices. 

The Fridge

So we found out the day of our house closing that the previous owners decided to take their fridge with them. We considered moving our old fridge with us, but realized that it was too large for the small opening in the cabinetry. So we decided to buy a small cheap fridge that would fit in the slot and become our basement fridge after we updated our kitchen. 

We went to Home Depot. They had a sale! But they couldn't get us the fridge until Thursday. Too long. We passed on the offer and went to Lowe's. 

The saleswoman told us that she had one of the fridges we were interested in actually in stock, and we could have it tomorrow! We could buy it on Saturday, and use it on Sunday! We were sold!

We plunked down some plastic, and waited for our phone call to tell us our delivery window. It never came. 

When we called to follow up, we discovered that we had been misinformed. Since we ordered after noon, we couldn't get it on Sunday. 

In conversation with the manager, I might have used the word "defrauded." He made a lot of phone calls to try to get us a fridge on Sunday. I talked to him half a dozen times. No luck. 

So he got it scheduled for end of day Monday so I wouldn't have to miss work. I got a call telling me it would be delivered between 3 and 5. Ok. 

Monday morning I got a call telling me it would be delivered around 1:00. I could accept the delivery at 1, or reschedule it for another day. I needed a fridge. So my boss kindly excused used me mid-day to get a fridge. 

The truck arrived at 1:10. I asked him to install the handle on the opposite side. He protested. I might have given him The Look. He did it. While yelling on his phone. 

The fridge was installed in my kitchen. It fit in the slot, and started cooling immediately. Finally! I could shop for groceries! I could feed my family! 

I went back to work, relieved. My stress level had dropped dramatically. I had to work late to recover the time. I rushed home to relieve the nanny and take the girls to my Dear Friend's house who graciously hosted a dinner play date so I could go shopping to fill the fridge. 

I came home and ogled the fridge briefly and check its cooling progress before leaving. And then it happened. 

The door fell off. Onto the floor. Completely off the fridge. 

My family needs food. Perishable food that needs refrigeration in July. 

I put the door back on. It stayed. As long as the door wasn't opened. 

Good enough. It could hold food. And keep it cold. We'd just have to be careful until the door was repaired. 

I played phone tag with the store manager throughout the evening. The frustrating conclusion came at 9:50 pm. Instead of ruining another work day, we'd reschedule a delivery of a new fridge for Wednesday, my day off. 



Sometimes expectations need to be violated to realize what your expectations are. 

Apparently my expectations include:
Salespeople understand the details of "next day delivery". 
Things get delivered during their pre-determined delivery times. 
Things get delivered in working order. 

How much money do you have to pay to get what you're promised? When it's promised?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Transylvanian Mover


The big stuff is gone. Our condo echoes with every noise I make. The movers wrapped up our furniture, and swooped out every last piece. I'm left to fill a few random boxes with the odds and ends that weren't ready to go. We'll be completely out by the end of the day. 

The moving crew was a group of 4 appropriately fit-looking guys. They were professional, courteous, and a flurry of energy. While the crew chief was American, the other 3 were European imports. I chatted up one of them briefly while we were simultaneously packing stuff in the girls' room. He told me he was Romanian. "You heard of Transylvania?" His English was great, although accented. He was an IT professional back home. But he came to the U.S. for the moving season every year, where he out-earned his yearly salary many times over. 

We talked about my new job, where many of the health aides were educated professionals in their home countries. But the chance to earn a living here in the U.S. is better, so they feed and bathe the elderly instead. 

The young gentleman from the moving crew described the ongoing corruption at home. "One group of Communists was just replaced by another." I mentioned the exchange student we'd had from Moldova when I was younger. She's living in the U.S. now. "So she escaped. Moldova's even worse," he said. "When the Berlin Wall fell, the only freedom we really got was the freedom


 to escape."

I consider it my job as a parent to make sure my girls know how lucky they are. We occasionally grouse about not living closer to family, but we don't have to live in a different country to find a job. My girls live in a country where smart people jump at the chance to move their belongings, babysit them, and care for their great-grandparents. They are growing up in what is considered the promised land by people all over the world. 

I find that to be a sobering thought. Certainly with that great privilege comes some great responsibility?

Occasionally, HeyMama will ask us if we're rich. Our standard answer is, "Well, you'll always find people who have more money than us. But we never have to worry about having enough food to eat. We never have to choose between heat in the winter and medicine. If you outgrow your shoes, we can get new ones. So yes. We are rich. "

And now I realize that we have to add to that definition. We live in a country that other people pray for the chance to come to. People jump at the chance to take menial jobs here. Are we rich? Yes. We're super rich. 

So good luck, Transylvanian mover. Kudos to you for taking the hand in life you were dealt and playing it well. I hope your back stays strong and the work keeps coming. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Little Gifts

The previous owners of our home were an elderly couple who needed help from their kids to move. And I'm finding more and more things left behind. The fridge was not, unfortunately. But these were:


I have some dirty dishes, and some chips. I guess they even out, right?

The New Chapter

So we closed on a house. After about two years of looking. 

I call it a restoration project. It has great bones, is very liveable, and is a great find. It needs a little help to be loveable. But we'll get there. I've set a five year deadline. The probable cost is more frightening, but hey, it's just money, right? (Cough, gag, hyperventilate...)

The big girls and I opened the house with our own key for the first time today. 


This is real.