Tag Archives: Christianity

Jesus Cristo Resucitó!

Buenos noches, compadres.

Jesus died, and he rose from the dead.  Incidentally that was not so impressive during that time.  People “died” all the time and then “woke up” or were “revived.”  Maybe they weren’t dead in the modern sense of the word, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s say they really died and they really rose from their deaths in obedience to God.  The Bible features people that were not Jesus being resurrected by Jesus and his gang. For me to believe in the Bible, it means that I have to believe that people that were not fully God were dead and brought back to life. For you to believe in the resurrection, you don’t have to give full credence in the Bible, but I think one belief begets another.

So what then?  If rising from the dead is just a parlor trip, what does Jesus have to do with it?  Anyone can come alive again.  Why is he so special?

The question of why Jesus is special makes me chuckle.  If you cast aside that which appears to be mysticism – like the virgin birth – the miracles – his bravery and his speech set him aside.  He is clever, able to answer any question but able to keep the information to himself when it is the right thing to do.  He is never and always appropriate – he listens to his mother – even thought it’s not His time-  and makes all this wine from plain water.  He mouths off to the high priest when He could have just let the subject drop (and save his life) and finds himself convicted of blasphemy.  He gets an adulterous woman’s charges dropped and her would-be-executioners stones to drop.  I’ve heard the argument that he was having religious delusions.  I don’t know your background, but I’ve been around people with religious delusions.  They go around talking about demons or mistake family members for John the Baptist.  They don’t banter and they can’t form cognoscente sentences, let alone reply to questions about their beliefs.  Things just are.

In my time and space in the hospital, I encountered two deeply religious people.  I do not count myself a deeply religious person in the hospital because I do not want to get in trouble and have “pre-occupation with religious pursuits” written again on my records.  I bring my Bible, but don’t draw anyone out in to conversation.  If I was asked, I would speak about my beliefs and Jesus, but mostly I keep it to myself.

Of those two people, there was one I would call crazy.  She came and told the nurse I was talking to that there were demons at the edge of her bed.  The nurse asked her compassionate yet probing questions and I promised to pray for her.  Then I cracked up inside until I saw her hands, which looked like they had been washed over and over again.  It sounds like OCD, but I have OCD and I never wash my hands.  (Good to know next time I want to share nachos with you!)

The non-crazy guy was a devout Muslim.  He was a big guy – hefty.  Not blubbery, but if he was not in the wheelchair he could have been intimidatingly large.  He once took a butcher’s knife and stabbed himself in the belly, narrowly missing any sort of vital organ.  He thanked Allah for his protection and for the car accident that made him meek.  He prayed every few hours in his room.  He would dismiss himself from listening to music with us during (big waste of my time) music therapy time.  His life aligned with his beliefs, even if the chemicals in his body were off-kilter.  A suicide attempt that does not mean someone is crazy.  He was devout believer; I did not see him as nuts.  I considered him to be closer in line with Jesus’ actions than the poor, tortured girl.  I don’t believe good medicine could fix the Muslim man.  The girl?  Maybe she was being teased by the demons.  But maybe they hadn’t found the right anti-psychotic.  

And I can say that because I take the right anti-psychotic.  

Tomorrow I will talk about the empty tomb.  Tonight I need to have a bowl of cereal and my medications and go to bed.

Shout out to my homey, T, in Las Vegas tonight – hey baby, keep losing that change!


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.

Why I am Not Running Away

This is a draft of a letter I am going to send to my (ex) therapist. Please leave feedback in comments.

J –
Thanks for calling me back the other day. I am sorry about the mis-communication regarding our last meeting. I hope to straighten things out a bit.

I suppose I’ll start from the end. I felt judged many times in our sessions and perhaps I should have been more forthcoming about that. Being told you did not want me to “run away” from my problem was a highly judgmental statement. I am not running away from anything, I just feel like our relationship has not been as nourishing as counselor and therapists could be. During sessions I spent a lot of time waiting for you to say something that felt New-Agey. I respect your beliefs but I do not share them and often felt proselytized. I feel that, if I have a spiritual issue I will discuss it with a pastor or even just a friend from my church. The more I thought about it I did feel offended by our last session, not for the sake of my own views, but the idea that we’re all worshiping one God and all headed to the same place. If Christians believe they are going to a place where the streets are paved with gold, they cannot have a life looking forward to reincarnation, as Hindus do. Muslims and Christians do share a similar version of heaven, but the same cannot be said of Buddhists. I think my comment about Buddhism being an atheist religion was what spurred our discussion. I should have said Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. I read recently that, for those of the Buddhist faith, there is no need for God when you have Enlightenment. This concept is not found in other belief systems. I remembering you said once that we will all return to the earth. This reminds me of Wiccan teachings, a religion I once explored. While Muslims believe something like coming from and returning to the earth, I think it is incongruous to believe in all belief systems and allow all of us to ultimately to arrive at the same place.

I often felt on edge during our times together. I didn’t (and perhaps do not) have the tools to address that, but I frequently felt uneasy during our sessions. It seemed like you were ready to try to solve things or assumed you knew things about me that (I hope) were not true. One time I came in with news about my old “enemies” who are doing quite well. Your comment, “Don’t you hate that?” was premature. Other responses felt like pat answers to, what I considered, difficult or complicated issues. I spoke about it with you then, in fact I addressed it then, but again, I didn’t feel like I could bring in issues like that.

As far as processing all of this, I have spoken at length with my husband. I do not feel it would be necessarily or valuable to spend an hour going over these things again. I hope you do not feel cheated by this. I hold nothing against you personally and wish you the best. I did often find your work to be insightful and know you are a popular, caring therapist, but ultimately I believe that we are probably better fitted to other working relationships. I wish you the best.


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.

Believing in the One

For many, many years I worked in youth ministry at an Evangelical Christian Church. Please don’t stop reading – I’m not going to walk you through the Four Spiritual Laws (I have a problem with them anyway.) I’m not going to offer a free Bible if you subscribe. I’m just going to talk about dating, courtship and marriage. Just that.

In our group we discouraged dating in High School. It was a time to be “on fire” for God and to focus on His relationship with us and ours with Him. We should study, have a lot of fun, and do our best to remain pure in every single way. We saw kids who were strong in their faith felled by relationships. I would say to the girls, and I believed it then and believe it now, that the question we should ask is not, “How far can we go physically?” but rather, “How far can I go to be a blessing to God?” I don’t know if anyone ever listened to me, but it’s a good question. I should ask myself that more often.

I heard a lot of stupid things about marriage and dating at that time. One of the kids once told me that relationships were like a pyramid with God at the top. The two of you are on the edge, and the closer they get to the top the closer they get. I didn’t buy that for a second, and I told her so. The unmarried members of the staff were far more Godly and could be committed to God because of their singleness.

I read some books. A lot of them focused on saving the entirety of yourself for your one true soul mate. I wanted (still do) for the to wait for marriage to have a physical relationship, but I don’t think there is a call to wait for that soul mate. I saw relationships continue a lot longer than they should have because they believed since they were both Christians they wouldn’t have been brought together if they weren’t perfect for each other. I’ve also seen young people stay in physical relationships because they believe to be “married in the eyes of God.” They weren’t. (If there is a call for me to write more about this here, or to dash out an email I will). But that’s the danger of one of the “soul mate” designs.

Here is another reason why: Say some kids decide they like each other. They decide to be in an exclusive relationship. The do not have sex of any kind. (This is actually pretty funny to me – do you think you’re fooling God by “just” having oral sex or “just” groping one another?) The couple does share a lot of things with their girlfriend or boyfriend but the relationship doesn’t work out. Not only are they broken-hearted they feel like they’ve dishonored and misunderstood God. They thought that this relationship was going to be their last, but it wasn’t. Their faith in God’s leading takes a blow and guilt sets in. They feel that they did something very wrong.

I think it’s not necessarily true. After I become a Christian, I learned it was possible to love God through a relationship that didn’t ultimately end in marriage. We shared a lot of our lives together and I believe he saw us on a marriage track. I didn’t feel the same, but after a short time, we were able to be good friends. We didn’t belong together and the reality was both of us knew it. He came a long way to attend our wedding.

Some people argue that a heart that is never broken is no way to begin a relationship. I don’t know if I agree or not. In Genesis, the Bible says, “And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.” We can be there for each other, renew our souls and teach us trust. I’m not recommending serial dating, I don’t think that’s healthy either, but there are many rules that we taught that aren’t necessary true or Biblical.

The paths are different for everyone. It goes back to everyone’s Journey. I believe in seeking counsel, but I also believe that ultimately the decision needs to be 100% up to the couple. That said, I don’t think you can be 100% sure. You can be sure about your commitment to marriage, but without some sort of doubt you can’t have faith. Marriage is a huge act of faith. What are you to know about the next five, ten or fifty years? You can’t know what will happen in one year. We were married about two and a half when I was diagnosed with bipolar illness. I’m quite sure my husband clung to the fact he told God and everyone, he married me and would stand by me “in sickness and in health….as long as we both shall live.”

I know that my husband is the “one” for me. Ya know how? Because I’m married to him. I took a huge leap and found myself in love, pleasing to God and matched up. We’ve had quite a bit of troubles sometimes, but we are still together because we told God we would and because He is welding us together. We disconnect sometimes and truly connect other times. We both promised each other, and the people that watched we get married that we would do all we could to serve and love each other. We promised God we would, too. When our pastor asked B why he was sure I was the right one, B said it was because of the sense of “peace”. It’s funny to hear a man I respect and admire ask the question I think is most silly. He has an enviable relationship with his wife and family. For him, there might have been just “one”. I’m okay with that, even though I believe it is not true of every couple.

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.