Tag Archives: Bible

The Empty Tomb

I don’t know much about the women who came to care for Jesus’ dead body. When I have to do something out of the ordinary, I prepare myself mentally for it. They have probably prepared a body for burial before, but not someone as precious as Jesus. The women were walking together but there is no record of their time, walk, if they spoke of the man they loved who had died, or if they kept their busy thoughts to themselves. What I do know is what they found exceeded their expectations.

Mary Magdalene heard his voice. I don’t know if you’ve ever lost someone close to you, but I know when I have that I hear their voice and see them – his hand pushing the button on the elevator, that is not his hand. Or her coat on a woman crossing the street a block ahead of me. I don’t know if it’s an illusion, but I do know that was I saw was not what their was. Mary Magdalene must have thought something like that was going on. It wasn’t. Not only did she find Jesus, she found the Jesus she never could have expected. He was not bent over cowering in the corner – half dead from the beatings and cross he had spent so long enduring, but not all dead. He was vibrantly and completely alive.

There was nothing in that tomb. Martina Ockerman from United Methodist Church, explains that Jesus chose to show up and tell the women himself all that had happened. He couldn’t let use women-folkin the temple, or arrange for a private women’s Bible study and would have been considered scandalous to have her as one of his disciples.

She explains, “Those of us who serve as women clergy are spiritual descendants of these women at the cross. If not for these women, we might still be followers from a distance, never to have broken that boundary….” I do not consider myself clergy, although I’ve held various leadership positions in the church, but I know a reason I am welcome at all in the services is because those women went to care for Jesus, opened their doors to believers and seekers and strongly gripped their faith. The roles I do have are because those women went to the tomb in the service of God and they served Jesus because they loved him. They weren’t only wives, daughters and mothers, they were Ministers to Jesus.

Let’s do that, too.


Just Married! (For ten years)

I’m up and down.  Therapy is going well and my husband and I are going to go to marital counseling and he is cool with it.  Last time we had any sort of family therapy the social worker said she’d never met such resistance.  There wasn’t resistance, it’s just that my husband is shy and very private I  keep some things to myself. I’ll participate in therapeutic groups, but I am guarded.   My new psychologist pointed out that every time she tried to steer things about my marriage I guided that boat away.  I went to a counselor and I didn’t bring my husband up for over a year and she respected that.  Not exactly relevant and we will see how therapy goes.  We have been on three dates in the last two and a half.  It’s kind of ridiculous.  If I’m not on top of things we don’t spend any time alone at all.  Ah, I’m complaining.  

I wonder if you read the Break (the blog entry above this one).  I may do the yoga tonight as prescribed and I really hope I do.  It’s the only time I feel in control.  I don’t know how spending 30 minutes  doing one thing effects your whole day.  I have a good idea how a pill or a drink do, though.  It might be the same with the exercise.  I’m sure there are people I could ask (hello, Hubo?) but I don’t want to know.  Not now anyway.  I feel like I need to get my lifer in order.  I just realized that I say that all the time, and that I do not know what it means.  It meant getting my weight under control and reading my Bible.  It’s time to re-evaluate.  I don’t know exactly where to start.  My work book given to me by my therapist is about automatic thoughts and emotions and how to look at things reasonably.  I’m not so great about that, but everyone has a place to start, right?  The psychologist said I was better off than a lot of her other clients.  I did creative things, had good organizational skills and worked towards getting well.  A lot of hers just lay on the couch and watch t.v. all the time.  I remind myself of this.  It is possible for me to be better, but my life is worth living.  I just want more from it

Proselytizing can be easy and fun and alienating

Rookie mistake. It’s been almost a week since I last posted and a lot has gone on. I don’t know what to say about it. We’re having a family member come and stay with us and it could be potentially explosive. I am worried to death about it and have burst in to tears twice because of all the stress and pressure surrounding this trip.

Things keep getting switched up and I do not like that. I like to consider the facts, emotions and potential problems and develop a plan. Then I like to follow that plan, perhaps taking a slight detour to look at clearance racks or to use the restroom. When I create books or cards I like to pull out all the things I might consider using and look at them together for a while. Then I like to make whatever it is I’m making. Sometimes I put the things away; sometimes I don’t. This sort of organization soothes me and makes me be a better artist. That is not happening these days. It is dizzying.

Remember T? My sixty-something-bff? She and said relative got on the phone and talked for two hours. From what I understand the first hour was lovely and the second was spent proselytizing. Relative felt judged, which is really how it seems relative feels most of the time. Relative is Buddhist. I don’t know what happened during the conversation, but it sounds like T was judged, too. Part of the practice of Christianity involves sharing ones life and faith, and to obey God is telling the stories of what He has done in ours lives and at the cross. It’s an important, perhaps even mandatory thing to do, if one believes in Jesus. There are different platforms in which to do it. Friends and family members might bear the brunt of their loved ones religion, but it is essential for a Christian’s faith to grow. For some Christians this comes naturally, for others the challenge is praying for opportunities to share. Is all friendship a ruse to talk about Jesus? Of course not. Life itself is a chance to show off God’s love.

I was asked a few questions about Jesus the other day and I want to answer them here.

Why is there only one Jesus to save the world? Why are there not a dozen. How does one man do it all?

When a child dies, often the first question asked is, “Was he an only child?” If so, extra helpings of grief are measured out. It means that the family’s only treasure has been taken from there and that makes the situation all the more tragic. The triangular family in all it’s exclusivity is gone. When Jesus’ died, for a moment, God lost His only child. Yes, He could have sent more people, it would not be too difficult to send a fleet of fully God, fully human folks, but it was necessary. The only child, born of His mother, was a singular joy to His father, and that is why, I believe, there was only one Jesus.

BUT… The Body of Christ, which is the church, is Jesus on earth. The Bible tells us that we complete the sufferings of Christ. We also share His love, some of us desperately and passionately. (I do not count myself among those people, as much as I wish I was sometimes.) The book of 1 Corinthians tells us, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” There are a ton of verses about sharing in the sufferings of Christ – here are a few: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=sufferings+of+christ&qs_version=NIV . God is here, and He is in me. He is in us as a group of believers – Saint Augustine said, “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man…. the fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does ‘head and members’ mean? Christ and the Church.”

I am too tired to write any more tonight.

Christian stuff. Rated G, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

I used to teach developmentally disabled high school students. One family hand-picked me as their daughter’s teacher. I found her to be a difficult child to work with, probably slightly because she was smart enough to be aware of her limits. Imagine the frustration. Anyway, at a parent teacher conference, the parents said they wanted her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs met. It was clear to just about everyone at the table we only had so many hours in the school day to do that. After a lot of prayer, I called her mom and told her I was on staff at a church youth group, and I didn’t want to overstep boundaries, but, did her daughter want to come?

She did. The other kids (mostly) liked her, and some loved her. One kinda punk kid told a leader he could see God shining through her. She brought something special to the group and was also difficult for me to handle. We went to camp with us where I had to help her shower. She needed a lot of sleep and I needed to make sure she got it. I loved her, but she could be a real pain.

Since then, the family adopted two boys out of the foster care system, started going to church all the time. My husband talked to the dad and he said he was an agnostic. The mom was one of those “spiritual” but not “religious” types. They were generous and patient people.

Lately, the dad had taken to printing vibrant Bible verses on his facebook page almost every single day. I didn’t know what to think of it. I was encouraged, but it also made me wonder what was going on.

I got this on my Facebook wall today:

Father of former student
Hi Malakoa, Every day I am thankful for you and your bringing (their developmentally disabled daughter) to church and thus us to Christ! My daughter wanted me to say Hi So Hi From Her.

This short message turned me inside out with joy. I wrote back:

Your joy gives me goose-bumps. Thank you for your kind message and all the generosity and love you all have shown me and my family. Tell your daughter hi and a high-five back.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from the third book of John. (It’s a letter that the apostle John wrote to encourage the Greeks.)
3 John, 1-4 “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I’ve been talking about joy for the last ten days and I am thrilled to have this be the last page of this project.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!”

before I wake (G)

What five things do I want to do before I die? My list when I was twenty-five is miraculously different then the list I might make today. I want to write about both lists.

I’ve done a lot of things off the first list. I am content, my cup runeth over. I wanted to go to Berkeley – I got to do that. I wanted a husband, I wanted a little girl. Check, check. But wait! There’s more!

I wanted to go on long backpacking trips, specifically I wanted to walk the John Muir trail (211 miles). The longest I’ve been on a backpacking trip was two nights, so I suppose that belongs on the list, although the charm of sleeping on a gritty floor waiting for the bears to go away has lessened as I grow older. I wanted to tackle Half Dome and I’ve done that, I even got to sleep up there the year before they closed it off to over-nighters. Things have changed, and I’m not entirely clear I want to do that anymore. Give me day hikes and youth hostels. Let me think about walking with John Muir.

I want to spend more time in Europe. I’ve been there once, to Frankfurt and I didn’t like that. I want to see Paris in the spring, Rome anytime, and Spain. I want to visit Saint Petersburg. Russia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and I understand Saint Petersburg to be the most beautiful cities in Russia, maybe even anywhere. I do not want to ever go back to Germany, you can have that. I have a not very good friend in Switzerland, (who is the reason I hate Germany so much) so even though when I was younger I wanted to visit so badly, I do not want to see her. She has invited us to stay with her and I don’t want to see her philandering husband, either.

I also want to spend time in Africa, and more time in Asia. I could have gone to the Middle East after University, but there was a misunderstanding that made it not possible to go. When I think about this, it irks me.

(Weight Loss)
I want to be a reasonable weight. I was doing well, then I went to a wonderful wedding and ate three slices of cake. They were three different kinds of cake, but still, get a hold of yourself, Malakoa. I only gained .8 pounds, but they are .8 pound I do not want and now my belly is floppy again. My only real exercise is yoga. Although it is challenging, it may not be the right kind of exercise for me to drop this extra weight.

I was reading the other day from a self-proclaimed atheist about the God-fearing people’s response to 9-11. The part of his quotation that stuck out to me was that “people worship a God who couldn’t save us from these attacks.” It doesn’t really sound like atheism to me: It sounds like someone disappointed with God. If God does this, the writer reasoned, He can’t be a God. It seems like a misunderstanding. It is my experience that a lot of people who reject God do not understand who God is or what He has done. Simple questions like, “If Adam and Eve were white, how come all the people in the world are different colors?” are answered easily if you look to the Bible. (Answer: There are no colors assigned to Adam and Eve. The mark of the Canaanites is sometimes spoken of as dark skinned people, but there is no real proof anyone was white or black or purple. We can believe with some confidence Jesus looked like a ugly, hairy Middle Eastern guys.) I realize that believing that all agnostics or staunch atheists base their faith on figuring out the color of good ol’ mama Eve is potentially insulting. There are good and interesting arguments against the existence of God, but none truly convincing to me. I believe there are answers, and I believe I know a lot of the simple ones.

I would love to speak and write. I intend on working some of this blog to a book, and if it doesn’t I want to write another two or five. I go to conferences, etc, I think, “maybe someday I’ll be the one up there.” I’m only in my thirties. I don’t know if that’s young or old for that sort of work. I believe God has given me the gift the gift of prophecy. This doesn’t mean I can predict floods or locusts, but that I can explain difficult things clearly and am able to speak convicting truths where others are blind or just uncomfortable dealing with. These truths can be received harshly. I was warned that prophets can lack compassion and I try to be generous and compassionate. I’ve talked before about the bruised hand, and I am beaten up sometimes. Truth can be healing as well. It is a relief for people to see how they making things worse because of what they believe about themselves is not true, and what they are doing is destructive.

That’s more than five. Hope you didn’t give up on me. See you tomorrow.

What are you even reading?

I had a diaryland blog years and years ago.  It was fun.   I had a few friends who I knew just through diaryland and a few I knew in real life.  I started the blog when I found out my grandma had cancer, and ended it when she died.  Although I didn’t plan it that way, I’ve never thought of it as a coincidence.  I needed it.   I had one friend who wrote in her blog that I said exactly what she needed to hear, when she needed to hear it.  This is especially interesting because she was an avowed atheist and I wrote a lot about God.  I guess the other stuff was compelling enough she felt some kind of connection with me, and I with her.

I’m a sucker for complements.  I wish I wasn’t, but I am.  In college I took a class led by a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Ishmael Reed.  We had to apply for the class.  I thought we’d have the creme de la creme of poets, after all it was an excellent University with a large population of writers and poets.  I was excited to be a part of this workshop and couldn’t believe I even got in.

Well.  Most of the poems were horrible.  I hate to say it, but it’s true.  They were either predictable, trite, or just bad poetry.  There were two very good writers, M and G.  M wrote gorgeous, original work and G knew more about words than anyone I have ever met.  Everyone else’s work was a disaster.  However, since we had about a dozen students dedicating themselves to train wreck, there was always support and encouragement.  The teacher began each discussion with, “That’s a good poem.”  Even if it wasn’t, and it almost always wasn’t.

Here is the embarrassing thing.  I’d sit in my chair making fun of their work in my mind.  (I was a less gracious woman then.)  Then it would be time for my poem.  I paid attention and lapped their compliments and comments like a shih tzu hound.  I wrote them all down and read them later.  Sometimes Ishmael would write his own comments and I, fourteen years later, still have those papers.  I just knew that, even though every other comment directed to the majority of the writers in the room was stupid and wrong, the ones about my poems were genuine and helpful.  It was a very strange time in my life.

After the class was over a handful of us went to see a play Ishmael had written.  There was a question and answer session afterwards and we stayed.  Afterwards Ishmael said to me, in front of most everyone, “You’re a good writer, one of the best.”

If he thought I was “one of the best,” there had to be something there.  He addressed his statement to me, not any of my classmates.   I was the good writer.  He saw something in me that was special.  I told my bff at the time and he said, “But you already knew that.”  I didn’t.  I wasn’t insecure, I knew my writing was good, at least good compared to the hapless students in the class, but I didn’t really know what anyone else thought of it.

His compliment was clearly important, and would be to any young poet.  It makes sense to roll it around in my head to cheer myself on, but it’s not always those kinds of things that perk me up and give me the strength to write.  I loved Ishmael and loved hearing things from him, but I’ve needed more, little tidbits more, to pull me along for the last fourteen years.  I would like to say that it was all I needed to propel me in to better work, but rather it hugged me and made me feel cozy.  I got some sort of security knowing that my work really was good, and I was on my way towards important.

The bipolar dude wrote in his blog, “So, I was reading this incredibly well written post on a blog (thanks Malakoa!!) about not using real names while blogging about these kinds of topics.”  This has kept me going for the last month. If anyone calls to ask how I’m doing, I’ll tell them about what he wrote.  I think it’s exciting to be recognized by my peers.  Sometimes people care, others don’t, but I care.  I want people to read what I have written and think about it.  I want them to be both enlightened and healed by what I have to say.  Maybe they can avoid some of the wounds I’ve incurred.

Maybe not.  I’ve noticed folks with bipolar are stubborn.  We want to do what we want to do.  We’ll decide we’re going to go on medication, what medication we will take and not, and add other things such as vitamins or supplements as we feel is appropriate.  We’ll wear what we want.  (Remembering a 5’3’, 215 pound woman in a pair of knee-high, spike heeled pleather boots, black mini-skirt, a Raiders sweatshirt and her hair slicked down all over. She thought she looked fabulous, and ladies, if you have manic episodes and you

think you haven’t dressed in an outfit just as charming sexy as that, you are probably

kidding yourself. We eat what we want, and sometimes that means macrobiotic and

sometimes it means only M&Ms for a week. We can’t be told what to do, because then

we won’t do it. Sometimes a book about bipolar will change our minds about what is

“right” and we change our behavior. Sometimes it’s some sort of worship or reading

of holy texts (A lot of times this scares health care providers,

so I keep it on the down low.) Sometimes we’ll start yoga, but we absolutely

must be the ones to decide for ourselves. Perhaps we can make the changes other

people want to see in us but we’re unable to invest. While we’re low, everybody is

out of luck, you’re back to doing exactly what has been your decision all along.

Friends and family may feel betrayed, but we’re usually doing the best we can do

to take care of ourselves. Despite other‘s input, or past experience, we feel that

we know what works for us, and that does not include other’s values.

So while the statistics show I will probably not change anyone’s life or ideas, 
I hope that I can.  
More than that I think it’s possible to feel a relief when sharing with other 
chronically ill people, it might help with understanding what the mentally ill 
people in their lives go through most everyday.  It’s not always we can hear it
 when someone says I love you, or when some one calls your work “exceptional”.  
When I can hear it, I tuck it in a safe that I store in a safe place where 
there is always room for more.

So sings my soul

I have made every effort to write without cliches or catch phrases.  I know I haven’t ironed them all out, please forgive me, and please read until the end.

We started the morning with Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I’ve listened to it a dozen times.  I had seen the tears in the audience, it’s easy to cry listening to the songs that remind you of Grandma’s old radio or  sweet old time religion.  What came this time was the peace I saw in the faces of the celebrities.  It transcends the music hall, the awards, even Carrie’s magnificent voice.  It changed their hearts.  Music can do that.  God does that.

There was a time I was struggling greatly with my faith I came across this song, “I’ve Got Friends that Do.”

And I may not know what its like
To send my only son to save the world and watch him die
And I may not know how it feels
To hang there on the cross to prove that love is real
But I’ve got friends that do.

I don’t know why or how those words were so enlightening to me, but it genuinely convicted me that God doesn’t owe me or anybody else anything.  God sent His only son for us.  He watched Him die, for us.  I will never know the cost, but I  do know that what He has done is all I ever need him to do to worship and even love Him.  Jesus said, “it is finished”.  While God does bless me, give me good things and make me very happy sometimes, he’s not required to do so.  My heart for Him is only a response to His love for me.  When I felt totally unloved and unhappy, he has already concocted a plan in heaven to make me very happy.  Because I felt that way, didn’t mean it was true – He always loved me.  In between now and then things like the joy Small brings me, the security and love B brings me and all of the other things in life that are satisfying and fun are just a drop in the bucket compared with what is there for me there.

I am (making every effort to be) not ashamed of the gospel.  I believe in the power of God for salvation, and I believe He uses it.  I know that Jesus is real, is God, and is mine forever.  The fact, and I believe it to be a fact, that I am on my way to heaven, is exciting.  I get to see huge pearls and gold.  I get to see angels again.  I get to a real home, not one that will be taken away from me.  I don’t think I’ll have to clean it, either.  I really believe this is the point of Jesus’ words and the good news described in the Bible.

I don’t know where the peace in those country singer’s faces came from, other than being a gift from God.  I have that peace, sometimes, and I wish I had it all the time.  It’s a Fruit of the Spirit, which means it’s an extra special gift that God gives to His children.  According to Bible-knowledge.com, without peace, we can easily become “rattled, shaken, tormented” and “and knocked right off of your game in the Lord the first time any type of adversity should ever come your way.”  Who hasn’t been like that before?  Who wants that?

I think God has given me extra special gifts.  I’m not in the middle of a bipolar episode and I still believe that is true.  If I am elevated, I try to ignore any personal “messages” from God. I’ve said it before that I want to worship a real God, not one borne of mental illness.  I’ve was in a hospital with a schizophrenic woman who  talked the whole time about the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah Witnesses and some other sect of the modern world.  Since I was pretty amped so I laughed and even though I made every attempt not to laugh at the poor, tormented soul.  I didn’t have success – I just couldn’t stop laughing, but it served as a message to me that I did not want to crazily create an object of worship:  I wanted something hard.  The image that comes to me is a sturdy Craftsman chair, made of strong wood and constructed by a skilled artisan.  I don’t know if that is because Jesus was a carpenter, or what.  I read once that the plows He made were used up to the third century.  I think his word and work in the Bible proves that is true of Jesus.  Jesus is supernatural though, so things sometimes don’t seem solidly grounding. There is more to Jesus than a carpenter’s chair.

I most frequently hear from God through the Bible.  It is that carpenter’s chair.  Yes, there are different versions and what I believe to be the occasionally translation error, but I feel there is no evidence that is strong enough for me to believe it to be anything but factual.  Still, things happen to me, I see prayers answered, I hear God’s voice, I’ve seen angels.  (If you feel like proving me wrong, go ahead and pm me with it.  I don’t want to mess with healing people getting upset if you leave guest book messages.)

One last story.  This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me.  I lived in a big, old fraternity in college.  It was a mansion at one point, Spanish style with a once stately great room.  I don’t think anything about the house was stately while I lived in it.  There was an old Steinway piano, and I was going through an extremely difficult time.  I had, what I understand now to be, a major depressive episode.   I was failing out of school, so I just dropped out for the semester.  I didn’t do a whole lot: I went to Bible Study, I ate and ate, slept for hours and hours and I played that piano.  Steinway pianos have heavy keys, so I had to pound to make any music out of it.  The piano was out of tune, which made it sound more like what was going on with me.  That piano probably kept me alive.

I hadn’t really played piano for years, but I played pretty much when I wasn’t sleeping or eating.  I played show tunes, Disney songs and worship songs.  I played for church and for Bible study.  It was the only productive thing I did then, but I have nothing to show for it but that night with the angels.

It was Saturday.  I was alone in the house, which is an impressive thing when the house has twenty-three residents.  I went to the piano and felt like I really could freely play and even sing as loudly and fully as possible.  I had a book of worship songs and I played from the beginning to the end.  While I was playing, I swear to you, the room filled with angels.  The were swirling and swooping around the room.  There were dozens of them.  They gushed peace and joy and I received it, completely amazed.  The angels were silent, but in joined my worship as a created being.  I was refreshed.  I was surrounded by so much beauty.  I wasn’t exhausted like I’d expect to be after encountering supernatural creations.  I wasn’t scared like people are in the Bible, because I knew from reading about angel visitations they probably aren’t bringing messengers of death.  I was able to laugh and play with flourishes and took chances with my voice.  Bliss, joy, peace were their gifts.  The angels left without taking away any of the blessings they brought with them I don’t know where they went next.