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18 April 2007
07 April 2007
I didn't understand it then, what I was saying, and maybe I still don't. Perhaps I never will fully comprehend the extent of the power of my words that day. I didn't know that they would change my life, or what little was left of it, and then the next life too. Let me start again...
The air was thick with death that day. You could feel it crawling on your skin and smell it in your nostrils and taste it even on your tongue, and perhaps most gauche of all, you could see it, witness it, with your eyes. Maybe it was the unusually balmy weather that day that played to my senses. But death, no doubt, permeated the air. As did the smell of jasmine. Looking back on it now, it was the smell of jasmine that seemed out of place to me. How was it that such a beautiful and pure aroma did not get drowned out or overpowerd by the depravity of the other?
I couldn't believe how they were treating him with such disdain and hate. Who were they that they believed they could do that, anyway? Like Jesus said, "He who is without sin cast the first stone." And I knew none of them were sinless. I had no actual evidence of them committing a crime except what was happening right in front of me. They were doing it so willingly, and with such ease that I was repulsed with the sight of it. It reeked of old crimes committed in their pasts, and, truthfully, my own. I don't think they would have been able to do the things they did that day without having had shady pasts of some sort. To treat an innocent man like that... It's unspeakable.
I deserved everything I got that day and more. But not him. He was completely innocent, absolutely sinless. Why should he suffer for my sins? Or the sins of the world simply because his father loved us that much? I don't understand it, even now, 2000 years later. It seems so foreign to me, too surreal to comprehend. But I know it was real because I was there, I witnessed it all firsthand.
I didn't know 33 years prior to that day, and before he was even born, that I would one day meet him. I had met his mother and Joseph on the road. They were on their way to Egypt and I was part of a band of thieves. We were set to jump them and take everything they had, but I felt something, even then. It was something that I can't put words to, but I just remember this sense of absolute sacredness, like they were the work of a miracle somehow. I told the others with me not to do anything to them, not to harm them, and just to let them pass. The woman, Mary, looked at me with such gratefulness and I could have sworn that I saw the face of God in her. The glory of it was so heavy that it forced me to my knees.
I remember that I used to wish I was still kneeling there in that spot. In the remnants of that illuminating glory. It would mean that I would never have done all the stuff that I ended up doing, I would never have hurt anyone else, I would never have been the person that I became. But then I also know that I wouldn't be where I am today if I had stayed there.
Thirty-three years later I met him after having heard of him on countless occasions. The very moment I saw him I knew that he was the miracle I felt the presence of all those years prior. And then there we were, both being whipped and beaten and scourged and degraded and defiled. I deserved far more than I got but he deserved none of it and yet received at least 5 times what I did. I was so ashamed. I couldn't even look at him, even though the one time I did I was met with a look of such deep, profound love. I could read in his face that he knew who I was. Maybe his mother had told him the story of the thief that let them pass all those years ago. Or maybe he just knew. Either way, it didn't matter. He knew me without ever having spoken to me. And I was utterly terrified because of it.
Pontius Pilate had him stand before the crowd with Barabbas, a murderer. Pilate then asked them, the crowd, which one to release: the known killer or the innocent man, thinking that they would come to their senses about it all. But the rulers had whipped them into such a frenzy that they all cried out, "Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!" until Pilate relented. He released Barabbas into the streets and set forth the events that had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier would change the world's history, and surrendering Jesus to their will.
They nailed us to crosses, big beams of wood that were sorely unforgiving. And put us on display for others to mock and spit at. Most of them ignored my friend and I and instead threw words of hate and scorn at Jesus, laughing at him, saying that he had saved others so if he really was the Messiah why didn't he call on God and his angels to save himself. "If you save yourself and come down from there, we will believe in you," the chief priests and elders called out. All that he could say in response was, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." They divided up his clothes by casting lots. And my friend even called out to him, forgetting all too quickly that he was in no position to mock another, for he himself was the subject of others' mocking. But he called out, "If you are truly Christ, then save yourself, and us."
My embarrassment for my friend didn't keep me quiet. Instead I said between agonizing breaths, "Do you not fear God? Are you not under the same sentence, fool? We deserve everything we've been given today. But not him, he has done no wrong." And turning to finally meet Jesus gaze, "Remember me when you enter your kingdom today." And it was those words that I didn't understand at the time, or even now, how they would change things so drastically for me. I had no idea what words he would speak to me, if any, nor did I have any expectation of them being fulfilled once he uttered them into the air. "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise." Once he said them, I felt a shift inside me. I didn't know then that it wasn't just death tightening its grip on me, or just Satan calling me a fool for putting hope in such things for who was I to even think that I might enter into the Kingdom of God? All of these things played in my head over and over again as the sky opened up and rained down a cleansing flood into the now dark landscape.
A while later he cried loudly, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" Someone below ran to offer him a sponge dipped in vinegar. Jesus cried out again and then fell silent for the last time. It was the events immediately following his silence that shook me. The temple curtain tore in two, inviting God's people into his holy presence. The earth shook and the rocks split and many who had died were brought back to life. When all this happened those who had been mocking him were terrified and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
Shortly after all that had happened, I was surprised to find myself in Heaven looking down and watching people crucify him all over again, day after day, and rejoicing with the angels when they repented, as I did all those years ago, ensuring their entrance to a place far beyond their imaginations, where we will all forever be in the presence of that illuminating glory.
This is a story based on true events, as if told by Dismas, the thief that went with Jesus into Paradise that day.
changing christina joy at 11:04
30 March 2007
I think I posted this a year ago today. But that's okay with me. I can make it a sort-of annual tradition. Today marks the seventh anniversary of the beginning of my mother's new life in heaven. I wrote this on the one-year anniversary of that beginning.
When liquid prism raindrops darken the path where I tread,
And thunderstorms spill ravenous but sweet upon my head,
It is then that I remember.
Behold the days of puddle-jumping up and down the street.
Gazing when it finally stopped at how everything looked:
so fresh, so green.
Breathing in the cool, clean air,
wishing we could always remain there.
When sunshine sneaks its way in through my window again
Like a long lost friend I haven't seen since who knows when,
It is then that I remember.
Behold the endless days of summer get-aways,
And sleeping late until the sun warms my face.
Climbing mountains, making wishes in fountains.
Roller skates, bike rides, somersaults and cartwheels
- playing in the yard.
Sunrises, sunsets, outdoor meals
- never thought remembering would be this hard,
A kite to fly and fireworks on the Fourth of July.
When leaves turn from green to gold to orange to red and brown,
Wood burns in fireplaces and cold and hard becomes the ground,
It is then that I remember.
Behold the cool nights of hayrides and bonfires that crackle,
Hot cocoa to hold and echoes of laughter.
Dressing up as hobos to collect all those candies and treats.
School starts again, making new friends,
Tasting the first eggnog of the year, thick and sweet;
Nights would get longer and we'd pull out our flannel sheets.
When snowflakes whiten my world with frost on glass
- fresh beauty unfurled,
And ice breaks the trees of their fragile leaves,
and drops them into the past,
It is then that I remember.
Behold long winters of Christmas caroling,
Holding on tight while down the hill we'd go barreling.
Forts of white stocked with weapons of snowballs,
Ready to fight; afterward snow angels and sugar plum dreams for all.
All cozy and warm curled up by the fire;
telling stories while we sipped hot cider.
When nighttime comes like the magic of a whisper
That moves me to lean in as though to keep it there -
Right there in the intimate air
between me and the one who whispered,
It is then that I remember.
Behold the nights of silvery lights:
white diamonds on a black velvet sky
Gazed upon by so many in a life gone by.
You once stood too in awe of what surrounded you.
But I remember this a different way,
It was your beauty your light that took my breath away.
Only you could make a trillion stars seem to go out at night.
As each second passes and I view this world
through rose-colored glasses,
It is then that I remember, I cherish, and I treasure
Your life, your breath,
and all you left me in the short time you spent on earth.
Like memories that did not go with you and faith beyond measure -
Priceless things, valuable things,
intangible things of boundless worth.
Though your face glowed a silvery gold and outshone the moon
I'll always remember it as the light that went out too soon.
changing christina joy at 08:23
19 March 2007
I am heading to Anchorage in just a couple hours to hang out with my friend Blassi tonight and then head to Chicago early in the morning. I will be visiting North Park University while I am there. They are actually footing the bill for my trip, which I must say is very nice. I hope to thaw out some while I am there too. It has been very cold here but it's been sunny and clear too - very beautiful from inside. I am anxious to get to some warmer weather and to be in the Midwest again even if only for a few days.
I will post again when I return.
changing christina joy at 14:20
10 March 2007
I had heard of him, yes. I had been hearing of him for quite some time. People had been telling me of his work for quite some time: how he would heal people even on the Sabbath; how he would dare to tell people that their sins are forgiven; how he would hang out with the least, the last people on earth that everyone else expected he should hang out with, but not only that, he sought them out!; and how one of his friends, Peter, had once walked on water because he said that he could; how he would simply say to someone, "Follow me," and that person would drop everything, completely transfixed, and follow him so close they were covered in the dust he kicked up. In the beginning, I thought Who does he think he is, telling people that kind of stuff? And it went from that to Man, who is that guy? and then to I want to meet this man, this mystery. I didn't originally know why I wanted to meet him, or at least get a good look at him, I just knew that I did. Maybe just to find out what he looked like, if he looked normal or not, who he was, if he was really who they said he was, and could really do the things that I had been hearing about, that kind of thing.
I knew I was the last person who should have been thinking thoughts about meeting someone so... extraordinary. A woman who has a past colored as dark as mine had no business entertaining such thoughts. I mean, it wasn't even all entirely in my past, it was my present too. How many mistakes had I made, did I continue to make over and over for that matter? And I mean, come on, who did I think I was anyway? I wasn't fooling anybody. I was convinced that I would be the exception, the one that he would look at pityingly and then after a minute, would say completely exasperated, "Hope and faith in me is not enough for you. Your past is too dark, too full of shadows and deceit. I cannot help you. You should just go home now."
I was so sure that would be his reaction to me if I even tried. So when I heard that he was in Bethany, at the home of Simon, a leper, I almost didn't go. I imagined the scene over and over again in my head. My eyes pleading for his favor and for his touch, asking him to love me. His deep brown eyes not even meeting mine. The white of his robe shining so brilliantly that I couldn't look at it, only at the dirt floor in front of me, and the toes of his feet. His rejection of me and then the hushed laughter and condemning whispers of the others gathered there. And then me, turning to go, trying to keep my head above water as I swam out fighting the weight of my shame, mocking me by pushing me under. And then, at last, I would give up and have to be dragged out, even though the thoughts of them putting their self-righteous Pharisee hands on me was worse than drowning in my own guilt and shame. The scene was a little different every time I went over it in my head but the end was always the same. And then something happened the last time that I tried to imagine it. I had just been dragged out and left just outside the doorway. I raised my head to see what it was that I felt on my hand. And a serpent slithered its way over my skin and then turned to look at me, right in the eyes, flicking his tongue at me as if to say, "Ha ha ha, and you actually thought he would tell you that everything would be okay now? You should have known better; you should have known that you aren't worth it." And that's when I knew that I had to go and try.
I quickly finished hanging the wash on the line and told my mother I would be out for a while. I grabbed the alabaster jar of perfume from where my father had been keeping it for me, and I set out for Simon's house. My parents were saving it for me, as was custom, as part of my dowry. When I married I was to break it over my husband's feet, anointing them with the sweet-smelling ointment inside, as a symbol of abandoning all that I had for him, that I would give everything I had to offer, what little it was, to him. I knew it was expensive, worth a year's wages, and that they might be angry with me later for it. I don't know what told me to take it but my heart told me that if I did, that he would take it and use it and give me back something better, something even more valuable.
I arrived there and saw the great crowd of people gathered there. They spilled out the doorway into the yard. I imagined most of them were curious, as I was, about this mysterious man. I shoved my way through them, carefully protecting the fragile jar in my hands. I entered and saw Simon first, though I did not recognize him right away for his wounds were all healed; he was clean and smiling. And then my eyes were drawn elsewhere, to a stranger that was seated in the center. He was dressed in a robe so brilliant white that I could not look at it directly. Instead I sought his eyes and when I finally met them, I fell to my knees. I had never seen eyes so filled with compassion and love. They stole the breath from within me, they were so beautiful. I was able to bring myself to crawl across the floor, weeping as I went. Tears of joy, tears of praise, tears of love, and happiness; but there were no tears of guilt or shame there that day. I made my way to him and when I finally arrived I raised myself up beside him, and the jar along with me. I uncorked the jar and poured all of it over his head, abandoning all that I had to offer to him. I was whispering to him words of praise and worship, offering prayers so effortlessly even though at the time I didn't realize that was what I was doing. My hands reached out then and massaged the perfume into his hair.
I had not noticed that it had been quiet until some spoke, first in whispers, and then finally someone out loud: "Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." I couldn't see them from where I was kneeling, my hands tangled in his hair. But I wasn't there to see whoever it was that was speaking; I was simply there to see him. Then, he turned to look at me and brought his hand up to touch my arm, and grabbing my hand he raised me to my feet, standing himself. He turned to look somewhere behind me and said, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." I was stunned. He really had taken what I had given him and used it. And he had given me something far greater and far more valuable: unconditional love, something I knew no other man would be able to give me.
But I was also stunned by something else. He mentioned that I had prepared him for burial. I had only just met this man and I knew then that I was in love with him. But he was going to die, and not just someday, but very soon. A deeper reality of that would sink in much later but at that moment my grief was overwhelmed with the joy of the present. He turned back to me and looked deep into my heart. He brought his hand to touch my face, in that intimate place where my jaw and neckline meet. "Your hope and your faith in me has saved you. You have offered to me the greatest offering you could give, yourself. All that you had to give you freely gave. Go in peace." I turned and left, upright and without the weight of my guilt and shame pushing me under. And as I exited the house I looked to my left and saw there a serpent slithering quickly away from me, his head sliding on the ground hung low in his own shame for he had been defeated again.
This was based on the biblical story of the woman who poured her alabaster jar of ointment over Jesus' head. It has been fictionalized to depict how I imagined it.
changing christina joy at 18:14
01 March 2007
*in conversations with 2 local Rotary Clubs and 2 local mayors about sponsoring me on my trip to London.
*trying to work in a trip to Chicago to visit North Park University over Spring Break in just a couple weeks.
*seriously rethinking my previous decision to go to Oak Hills Christian College in Minnesota to finish my degree. North Park is cheaper, just a little; it's closer to home; has a wider variety of classes; has more opportunities for ministry and outreach internationally and more of a social justice emphasis; is more reputable; but also has less financial aid options.
*changing my major (yes, again!) to Biblical and Theological Studies with either a double major in Psychology or Sociology (I have taken significantly more Psych classes than I have Soc classes though...) or a minor in one of the two.
*going to Anchorage for the weekend for the start of the Iditarod race. I am really looking forward to taking part in this huge aspect of Alaskan culture and history.
*sorry for neglecting my blog friends. I haven't read anyone's blog in a while and I haven't posted anything for a week. I miss you guys and I do think about you all often. I promise to return to blogdom soon, hopefully very soon.
*working on a couple ideas for future posts so stay tuned.
*becoming increasingly frustrated with my Peace Studies class. Some of the things that we read and talk about in that class are so... I don't know... I just want to laugh sometimes at some of the hot air that's being blown in that room. I can't explain it. For instance, in the assigned reading, I read that by eating meat we are killing Mother Nature and killing our future children (although the book actually says "eating the flesh of our future children..."). It is definitely stretching me in terms of forcing me to speak out for my faith.
*exhausted and going to bed now.
Check back the first part of next week for another update. I won't have computer access this weekend while I am away.
changing christina joy at 22:31
23 February 2007
The last week to week and a half has been good. Valentine's Day was pleasant for the most part aside from the hurtful comments of one gentleman who has since sought forgiveness and I gave it. I went away on a retreat last weekend up north of Anchorage. It was nice and much needed. It was on spiritual armour and spiritual warfare and the authority that is given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. I learned a lot about exercising that authority directly instead of going through God. For instance, I had been having dreams lately about demons and possession. I would pray to God that if there was anything there with me that wasn't from him that he would drive it away. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that but I learned that I can be even more effective by commanding the devil myself directly to leave. I have tried it and it is indeed more effective. And I started getting money in for my trip to London in April which is good. And I have more coming that's been promised to me which is also very good. I am getting quite excited about my trip. If anyone knows of someone that lives in London that wouldn't mind taking in a female college student for a few days I would appreciate the contact and a warm place to put my head.
And tonight I had a date. It was a first date all over again with a guy that I had been out with before, last October, several times and then wound up being different than I had originally thought. He contacted me about a month ago probably apologizing profusely and saying that he was glad I told him how I felt, etc., that he didn't expect me to forgive him but that he was sorry anyway and how horrified he was at the things he said to me the last time I saw him. He went on to say how beautiful, intelligent, and fun to be with I am. And how he had spent the last 4 months or so in a place where he had to deal with a lot of things, ugly things in his life and how much it had changed him. I had forgiven him back in October fairly quickly after that last night but I waited a few days after receiving his email and then called him to tell him as much. He was, of course, shocked to hear from me but I told him that I forgave him and we talked a while. And thus began a month or so of getting reacquainted with each other through email and over the phone. I was able to read some blogs of his (I don't link to him and he doesn't know about mine) and from what I read it was fairly evident that he had in fact done some changing and decided that it would be hard for him to put up that kind of a facade with all the people that read his blog if it was only for my benefit. It seemed as though he was being very intentional with me and I really enjoyed it. He called me on Valentine's Day, I think it was, and left a voice mail asking if he could take me out sometime. So when I got his message we agreed on tonight and continued to email back and forth and talked on the phone last night. And this morning when I got to work and logged into my email I got this message from him...
I think you have great ideas and I'm looking forward to seeing you.
A few days ago, while I was walking the (snowy) beach during lunchtime, I remembered your words. When I asked you one night last fall what the ocean was saying to you, you said, "I am God and I am awesome." And you expanded your thoughts for my benefit. Makes me think of Job 12:8, "Speak to the earth, and it will teach you." See ya tonight!
It made me smile. And the day flew by and I met him at Veronica's at seven o'clock for a steamer and some great jazz music. He was already there when I arrived. He stood when he saw me and gave me a hug and it was comforting and familiar. We sat and talked by the fire and listened to the band play. His blue eyes would search me and reach into places long forgotten. We talked about seeing a movie but because he had an hour drive ahead of him to go home we called it an early night. He hugged me and promised to call me again soon. I don't know what I think right now. It seemed good but I don't want to be naive about this. He knows that he's on probation with me, that if he treats me even remotely similar to the way he did before that he's out for good. I want to believe him but I am just not sure. I want to trust that God has the very best for me and I don't want to settle for anything less. I want to be smart about love. Not that I am in love with him but I just want to be smarter about matters of the heart than I have been in the past.
Poppa, I wish that you were close by. I would come over and talk to you about all this stuff. And you could maybe meet him too. You've always been a good judge of character it seems like. I miss you and I love you.
changing christina joy at 21:04
14 February 2007
In honor of Valentine's Day, I put the word love into the slogan generator (see the link in my sidebar under online entertainment) to see what it would come up with. These are the results; some are really quite profound and some are simply fun. Enjoy!
Love is mightier than the sword!
Every kiss begins with love.
Come to life, come to love.
Behold the power of love.
Only love can prevent forest fires.
Happiness is a cigar called love.
Go on, get your love out.
The love effect.
Love really satisfies.
I’d walk a mile for a love.
Happiness is love-shaped.
Built love tough!
Love: It’s everywhere you wanna be.
Grab life by the love.
Let the love out.
Let the love begin.
I saw love and I thought of you.
Love – the freshmaker!
Splash love all over.
Fill it to the rim with love.
It’s how love is done.
Simple impartial love.
See the love, feel the shine.
You can be sure of love.
A day without love is a day without sunshine.
A different kind of company. A different kind of love.
Designed for love.
Love saves your soul.
We do love right!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for love.
A love works wonders.
What can love do for you?
It’s a beautiful love.
Out of the strong came forth love.
Turn loose the love.
Don’t get mad. Get love.
4 out of 5 dentists/doctors recommend love.
Don’t be vague. Ask for love.
Ding-dong! Love calling!
The love of a new generation.
It needn’t be hell with love.
Love is Job #1.
If you can’t beat love, join love.
Only a fool breaks the love.
Don’t leave home without love.
When the going gets tough, the tough get love.
You’re never alone with love.
Love makes everything better/taste better.
The best part of waking up is love in your cup.
Made In Scotland From Love.
Bridge that gap with love.
Watch out, there’s love about.
Love born and bred.
You need a love.
It’s how love is done.
It’s a love adventure.
Keep that love complexion.
We’ll leave the love on for you.
There’s always room for love.
My anti-drug is love.
My doctor says, “Love.”
This is not your father’s love.
Promise her anything but give her love.
Moving at the speed of love.
Love tested, mother approved.
The world’s love marketplace.
Let the love out.
Love prevents that sinking feeling.
Wait ‘til we get our love on you.
Gotta lotta love.
If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the love.
Nothing works better than love.
Top breeders recommend love.
Let’s face the music and love.
Obey your love.
Choosy mothers choose love.
Hand-built by love.