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Good Friday

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In the last few years, I’ve become more and more fascinated with the Temple. I think of this beautiful courtyard, the altar overlaid with gold, with animal blood running down the sides and congealing on the floor. I imagine the beautiful implements being lovingly crafted, some of which would disappear into the Holy Place, or even into the Holy of Holies, and never be seen again except by a select few priests. I wonder what the veil looked like, the one that only one priest passed once a year. And I wonder what it was like on the day when it tore, top to bottom.

Were there priests serving in the Holy Place when it happened? Were there eye witnesses? What went through their minds when God tore through the curtain that had protected them from His raw presence? What did they feel when God broke free of the walls that they had built to contain Him?

The Israelites always seemed to try to avoid the Presence of God. They asked Moses to speak to Him on the mountain. They built Him an Ark that they could carry with them, but couldn’t get too close. They built the Most Holy Place with the very best they had to offer, but let someone else bring their sacrifices to the Lord.

Do God’s chosen people still do that today? Do we build Him a room, maybe small, maybe large? Do we put up a veil between Him and us and serve around the edges? Do we ask others to bring our sacrifices for us because we are afraid?

Good Friday, that best and worst of Fridays, says no. The veil was torn, top to bottom, because God would no longer be contained. He violently burst out of the carefully constructed room that had been built for Him. As the Spirit left the body of the Son on the cross, He also left the dead dwelling where we had consigned Him.

Good Friday says that the Spirit of God cannot be confined to a room, a building, a person, or a race. It is Gospel, good news, that nothing stands between me and God. It is also terrifying. Nothing stands between me and God. There is no one who will intercede for me except the Son Himself. There is no place to hide my secret sins and shame. Everything is laid bare and exposed.

No one understood that Friday, even though He had tried to tell them. It must have felt like He had been defeated and that His promises about the Kingdom of Heaven could not possibly be fulfilled. They must have felt like the greatest fools in history for believing yet another Messiah. And yet…they didn’t flee Jerusalem. Scattered and deserted, those closest to Him couldn’t quite bring themselves to go too far. When there was nothing left to believe in, they waited. Easter morning was coming.

C.S. Lewis

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I know, I know. I’m a bad blogger. But in order to earn your forgiveness, I’m letting you know about a great sale on C.S. Lewis books for Kindle. Here is the complete list. And here are the ones I bought:

The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis
On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis
The Four Loves (Harvest Book)

I can’t wait to start reading! How about you?

Goals for 2013

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So New Year’s in traditionally a time to set goals for the year ahead. And they say that the best way to work on your goals is to write them down and to share them with others. This is both, so here we go:


  • Follow promptings from the Spirit without delay
  • Finish reading The Message Bible
  • Start giving regularly (monthly) in addition to tithing to our local church


  • Buy and completely pay off a new truck for DH
  • Max out our Roth IRAs
  • Start automatically saving in MB’s college fund


  • Work out for 20 minutes at least 3 days a week
  • Find a way to consistently track my eating habits


  • Make more comments on Facebook instead of just liking things
  • Send Christmas cards


  • Build a computer
  • Read security-related blogs more regularly
  • Write an Android app
  • Read 80 books, including one non-fiction book and one classic each month


  • Take part in another study group
  • Get CISSP certification
  • Review and update resume at least once a quarter


  • Spend some time working or playing with Meredith each day
  • Start having date nights with Brad

I realize that some of these aren’t good, measurable goals – it’s still a work in progress. I’m thinking of following Jon Acuff’s 7-part plan (which I already shamelessly stole my categories from). That way I can come up with a more bite-sized and measurable goal for each of my time chunks. I’ll let you know as my goals evolve this year. So what are your plans for 2013?

My Hopes for Fringe

WARNING: Here there be spoilers! If you haven’t watched the latest episode of Fringe, you should do so before reading this post! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

So I was all into Fringe for the first three seasons. (Which, as you know, I got into late and just got caught up at the beginning of this season.) The fourth season was a bit off for me, though. The whole Peter being removed from the timeline at the end of season 3 was a great curve ball, but I didn’t feel like season 4 explained sufficiently why and how he came back. Then, Olivia had that whole alternate history, which wasn’t explained if the only difference between the timelines was that Peter was never in her universe. Then she forgot it all by being near Peter, anyway. So it seems like they are the same characters that we’ve been following for five seasons, but everyone else is slightly different.

But on the other hand, they don’t act any different. Unlike their doppelgangers in the alternate universe, they seem like the exact same people. Perhaps it’s because most of them didn’t meet Peter until they were adults, but what about Walter? I would have thought that seeing both Peters die would have had an affect on him, but maybe the removal of bits of his brain and subsequent insanity has something to do with it. Nina may be a little more attached to Olivia, but she was always sort of weirdly protective of her, even before Olivia supposedly was raised by her.

I was also disappointed that season 4 saw the gateway between the two universes was sealed, presumably never to reopen. We’d invested a couple of seasons in these alternate characters, and now they seem to be gone for good. Did they have any purpose beyond driving a conflict in the show? Now that the two sides have made peace, we have to lose them?

Then we came to season 5. It got off to a rough start with me. The finale of season 4 was great, but it seems like the whole plot with William Bell trying to create a brand new universe should have happened earlier in the show. All of my difficulties with that season were still outstanding, too. And season 5 seems really disconnected with the previous seasons. I think it’s because of the loss of the alternate universe. And maybe the jump 20 years into the future, as well. In addition to the time they’d been in amber, we also lost the years between the end of season 4 and the team ambering themselves. If we’d had a season about the Observer invasion, I think that might have helped some, although it may have also removed all the drama of figuring out Walter’s plan.

It really turned the corner for me when Etta died. I liked her, and her death shook things up, both for the characters and the viewers. I started realizing that Walter’s plan was not going to be easy, and that the characters we love are no longer safe.

Now – you have watched everything, right? Including the 12/21 episode, “Anomaly XB-6783746,” right? Because if not, I’m about to seriously spoil you. I’m going to talk about the previews they showed for the last three episodes, too. If you don’t watch the previews, stop reading now. Don’t blame me.

After last night’s episode, though, I am dying to see the rest. Nina’s now gone, too. I wonder what Michael showed her? Was it scenes from her past, like he did with Walter, or something else? The plan, maybe? Plus, now that we know Donald is September, I’m wondering if the boy is actually September? Will he somehow grow up to become him? The most exciting revelation for me, though, was in the preview for the final episodes. Someone said something about having to reset time. I’m really hoping that somehow the whole Peter being part of the timeline will be straightened out. What if September changes his own past, or eliminates himself, so that he never distracted Walternate, Walternate was able to save his Peter, our Walter saw it, and so he never tried to cross between the universes? Would that somehow prevent the Observers from ever being?

Darn it, my head hurts now. The good thing is that I’m more excited about Fringe now than I have been in a while. The bad thing is that it will be three more weeks before we get a new episode. I can’t wait!

Labor and Delivery

I could no longer deny what was happening. When I had dismounted the donkey in favor of walking, despite Joseph’s protests, I thought perhaps the back pain was from the long, bumpy journey. When the contractions began, they were light, and I thought it was only the walking. But this one forced me to stop, my entire body clenching around my womb, as if to embrace the child within.

As the pain receded, I became aware of Joseph’s solicitous concern. “Can you go on? We are almost there.”

“How much longer?” I asked.

“Maybe a quarter hour. The shepherds back there said it’s just over the next hill.”

“Yes. I’ll make it,” I declared. “We’ll find a bed, and a midwife, and our son will not have to be born on the side of the road.”

The minutes stretched into nearly an hour, however, as I had to stop for several more contractions. Joseph had helped me back onto the donkey so we could walk faster, but he still stopped to steady me during the worst of them.

Finally we entered Bethlehem. The streets were packed with people, vendors, residents doing business, travelers like us. Joseph asked directions to the inn as I fought against the worst pain yet. Thankfully, it was not far. I stayed on the donkey as Joseph went in to secure a room for us.

By this time, I was engrossed in a private world of pain, but it seemed to be taking a very long time. Finally Joseph returned, followed by the innkeeper and a woman I took to be his wife. The woman came over to me directly and asked, “How is it? Will it be soon, do you think?” I was unable to answer, as a fresh wave of pain and pressure washed over me. But she nodded over her shoulder, saying, “She can’t go any farther. We will have to put her in the stable.”

The stable? With the animals? Joseph and I didn’t have much, but before leaving Nazareth we had carefully packed money that we had hoped would purchase a small, private room, at least for the birth, if not for our whole stay.

As the pain lessened, I became aware of the woman’s gentle, soothing stream of chatter as she led me into a surprisingly large cave partitioned into stalls. “I would give you my own bed, my dear, but it has already been rented out as well.” This she said, casting a dark look over her shoulder at her husband. “But we still have room in here. It’s not as comfortable as the house, but it will perhaps be a bit more private. The stable boy has put down some fresh straw, so it’s as clean as we can make it.”

She escorted me into a stall with high walls not far from the entrance. The straw was indeed fresh and clean, and Joseph threw his cloak over it for me to lay upon. As the pains began again, I was glad for the chance to at least rest my weary legs. They were coming faster now, with not much time between to catch my breath.

The innkeeper’s wife shouted orders to someone outside the door. The dear woman stayed by my side the whole time, encouraging and comforting me through the worst of the pain. It seemed like a long time, but I don’t think it was actually very long before she told me that the child was almost here. One more contraction that felt like it must either free the child or tear me in two, sudden relief, and she was holding up my son. He gave a gasp, pulled in his first breath, and let it out in a small, piteous wail. She laid him then on my breast saying, “You have a fine, healthy son.” She provided towels to clean and dry him and soft cloths to wrap him. I held the small bundle to my chest, finally holding the tiny boy that I had been promised. That day now seemed a very long time ago.

“He is your first born. Will he be named after his father then? A little Joseph?” she asked as she bustled about, removing the soiled straw and replacing it with fresh.

“No,” I replied. “Joseph and I have agreed that his name will be Jesus. His…his father’s family asked us to give him that name.”

“A fine name for a son of David,” she said, kneeling next to me and gently brushing her hand over his head. “Yahweh saves.”

“Yes,” I agreed, hugging the little boy tighter to me. “He does.”


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I know, it’s been almost two months since I’ve updated. Strange how sometimes I have tons of ideas and find writing therapeutic, and other times there’s just nothing there. So they say the only cure for writer’s block is to write, so here’s a few updates on what’s going on.

The Kid

MB is doing great in Kindergarten. So far she’s gotten a star every day! She started Girl Scouts (Daisy Scouts) about a month ago, and she seems to enjoy it (at least she says she does), although she acts really shy while she’s there. She does seem to be opening up a little, though, so I’m hoping it will be a good way to get to know some different kids.

We’ve been doing less well at home. We moved her bedtime up, and that seems to be helping.

The Job

Well, not exactly, but I’m doing an Android development study group with some co-workers. We just started a couple of weeks ago, but I’m blaming that retroactively for sucking up quite a bit of my time. It’s fun, but a lot of reading, listening, and experimenting.


I finished watching Fringe season 4 on DVD, so I am now watching the fifth and final season along with the rest of the world, which is exciting. Strangely, though, I’m finding this season somewhat weaker than the previous ones. That deserves its own post, so I’ll try to get to that soon. Expect spoilers if you’re not caught up.

Hmmm, I just realized that my last post was about the time that I received the DVDs. I’m blaming my blogging hiatus on that, then.

However, since I’m no longer devouring Fringe like a crazy person, I’ve had to branch out to some other show. In particular, DH and I are both enjoying Last Resort, which is a minor miracle. I’m worried that they won’t be able to keep the premise going for long, but I also worried about the same thing with Lost, and that turned out fine (in my opinion!). We’ve also given Nashville a try, but I’m probably not going to make an effort to keep up with it. I’m not sure how DH feels about it, but I think it’s a little too soapy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still watch it if I happen to catch it, but I’m not going to make an effort to catch it, or to watch it later if I miss it. On Netflix, I have discovered Twin Peaks. I’ve heard so many good things about this show that I’ve wanted to give it a try, and I’m enjoying it and pretty much watching it straight through. There are only two short seasons, plus a movie, so it’s not a huge commitment, and I don’t feel too bad about taking a break from my other Netflix viewing.


Ah, books. I’m still reading as much as ever. I made a goal a couple of months ago to read one non-fiction book per month, and so far I’ve done it. My most recent read was When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself, which was excellent, and I’ve started The Historian, which is turning out to be a great Halloween read. I’ve actually read quite a few pretty amazing books in the last few months that may make it into a future post. Stay tuned. Oh, and I’m still rocking along on the Outlander audio books – I’m almost finished with the third book, Voyager.

Well, I’m at almost 600 words, so it looks like I haven’t done too bad for not knowing what to write about! I’ll try to do better. I’m also wanting to start writing on my other blog, Marianne Plays With Computers, which I haven’t updated for over a year. (See how good you have it over here?) Till next time (hopefully sooner rather than later!).


I couldn’t help it. When I first heard that He was coming this way, my heart started beating faster with the old hope. Perhaps this was the One who could help me. I immediately tried to quash it. I had tried so many times before. All any of them had ever done for me was to dash my hopes and lighten my purse. I had long ago stopped looking for the next physician or holy man who claimed he could cure me.

I’m not sure why I decided to go. As always, changing my routine required a major effort. Just thinking about it usually made me tired. But this seemed different. He couldn’t help me, I told myself, but they said that He was a great Rabbi. It would be interesting just to see Him. And maybe, maybe…no. I had heard that sometimes He would stop and speak to crowds. I would just hope to hear some of His wisdom. That would be enough. That would have to be enough.

He wasn’t hard to find. I just had to find someone to follow. It seemed like everyone in town was going to the same place. The crowd was headed toward the nicer end of town, and I was almost out of breath by the time I reached them. My uncleanness kept most far away from me, but I did overhear someone say that He was going with Jairus.

I realized that He was actually at the tail end of the crowd, with most of the people running ahead toward Jairus’s house. I knew that Jairus’s daughter was very ill. Much more ill than I was. He must be going to see her. To heal her, perhaps. No one wanted to miss the miracle.

A sudden surge of bitterness twisted my insides, at the point of my illness. The girl would die soon, or she would get better, but what of me? Who else knew what it was like to live as I did? Who else had to watch their lifeblood seep away, not in a sudden surge, but a trickle at a time, day by day? Who else had a womb that was worse than barren, one that would not stop bleeding no matter what the physicians did? Who else had to bear the dual burden of perpetual uncleanness and the contempt of everyone around me?

A sudden energy, driven by anger, carried me to the very heels of the Rabbi. Desperation made me foolish, and I reached out to Him. If He was the miracle Man that everyone said He was, perhaps just a touch of His cloak would be enough. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed into Jairus’s house with the others; it was my last chance.

As my fingers brushed the fringe at the bottom of His cloak, I felt something. I don’t know how to explain it except to say I knew that as of that moment I was well. The pain was gone. The rags I used to catch the blood were still damp, but I could no longer feel the slow seep of blood.

Then the Rabbi stopped and announced that someone had touched Him. I recoiled with horror at what I had done. Even then I was still unclean from the bleeding; I had not even changed my clothes yet, much less purified myself. I had defiled His cloak, and therefore Him, with my filthy touch. He would no longer be allowed into Jairus’s house, so I had taken away a young girl’s chance to be healed. I dropped to my knees in shame.

I vaguely heard the muttering of the crowd through the tears that blinded me and the sobs that I tried to hold in. I crawled to His feet and through my tears admitted to Him that it had been me who had touched Him. I found myself pouring out the years of pain, illness, and shame onto His feet. I told Him that I could feel that my body was now well.

Then the true miracle happened. He reached down and put a hand on my head. Slowly, I looked up into His eyes. They were filled with compassion and kindness. “Daughter, your faith in Me has made you well. Be well and go in peace.”

I remained in that spot, unable to move from this place where I had touched Him, and He me, even after the excited crowd had pulled Him away. Finally, after I was sure that I would remember every detail of His kind face and gentle hands, I turned and headed home to begin the purification rituals. Twelve years of blood, and in seven days, I would finally be ritually clean again. But my heart already felt clean.

© 2012 Marianne Gieseckee

Something Different in YA

It’s been a crazy few weeks around here. School started this week, so first there were all the pre-school fuss with teacher visits, meet the teacher night, and making sure we had everything MB needed. Then there was the first day. Then there was parent orientation. And figuring out how the logistical stuff was going to work now that MB is closer to home, but farther from both of our workplaces. So that’s what’s been going on and why I haven’t been able to think much about blogging lately. I do have a few ideas, though, so stay tuned.

I’m still reading as much as ever, though, so today it’s about a book I read recently that is a little different from anything I’d read before, and it’s a YA book, too. It’s Liar by Justine Larbalestier.

Micah Wilkins is a liar. Since the story is told in first person, she is the most unreliable narrator you could wish for, despite her initial promise to tell us the truth. One thing does seem to be true is that her boyfriend, Zach, is dead, and no one is sure what exactly happened to him. Micah and his other friends, including his “real” girlfriend, are being questioned by the police, and Micah may be a suspect because of her illicit relationship with him.

The book is divided into three parts, “Telling the Truth,” “Telling the True Truth,” and “The Actual Real Truth.” Each begins with Micah’s confession of lies in the past and a resolution to now tell the real truth, complete with a confession that throws a whole new light on the story told in the previous part.

The story is intriguing. Personally, I just went with whatever Micah was saying at the time, expecting to be able to figure it all out in retrospect. When it was over, I still wasn’t sure exactly what the truth was, although I certainly understood more than I had before. And I had realized that Micah was so deep into her lies that she probably didn’t fully understand the truth, either.

Sorry if that’s a really cryptic description, but the book itself is as well. Despite (or more likely, because of) its weirdness, I really enjoyed this book. It kept me in suspense until the very end. Actually, beyond that. If you look at the reviews, it’s clear that people aren’t quite sure what to think of it. If you’re OK with having to stay on your toes and not having complete a complete resolution at the end (ie., if you are a fan of Lost), you will probably enjoy this book in the same way. If that kind of thing drives you crazy, stay away.

What’s On My iPod

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So I’d thought I’d share some of the podcasts I’m currently listening to…

The Dave Ramsey Show
For a radio show about personal finance, this one is highly entertaining, and often informative as well. And with an hour-long episode released each weekday, there’s always a new episode available to listen to. (Actually, it’s about 40 minutes without all the radio commercials.)

Relevant Podcast
This one is associated with a Christian magazine of the same name dedicated to culture and social issues. The highlight of the show is usually the banter between the hosts. Now on the first listen, I kind of thought they were a bunch of hipsters. But after a few episodes I was getting all the in-jokes and felt like one of the gang. They also have interviews with musicians, authors, and Christian celebrities and play pretty good music, too.

Omega Tau
This is a podcast dedicated to science and technology. It explores a wide range of topics, from roller coaster design to the Mars rover. It’s almost always in interview format, with the host speaking with one or more experts on the topic of the day. This is produced in Germany, but the link is to the English episodes. You can do a search in iTunes to find the full feed if you speak German.

Previously a short, daily podcast, it’s on a hiatus right now while the married hosts are going through a health crisis in their family. Old episodes are well worth listening to, though, and fans are keeping the show alive by submitting listener edition podcasts.

Blessed and Broken

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My father and I only wanted to go and watch. Listen to the Rabbi. Perhaps see a miracle.

We had heard that He had come to our area trying to escape the crowds. We weren’t quite sure where He was, so we brought a bit of food just in case. It wasn’t much. Barely enough to share. Just a fish each and a little bread. I carried the basket.

He wasn’t hard to find, though. We just had to follow the crowd. They were all chattering and speculating about what He might say or do. By the time we had arrived, there were already people in the crowd saying that He had healed them. I didn’t know any of them, but my father said that he had seen one of them, a cripple, begging on the streets of a nearby village while he was trading there. The man was leaping and dancing at the edge of the crowd.

A hush fell over the crowd like a wave, starting with those closest to Him. The Rabbi was speaking. He said many strange things that I didn’t understand. I wanted to ask Father about them, but the crowd was nearly silent, straining to hear His words, and I didn’t dare.

The harsh afternoon sunshine had mellowed into a golden sunset, and the rustling noises of the crowd were increasing. My own stomach growled, and I began thinking about the bread and fish that I held in my lap.

There were men moving through the crowd. One of them saw my basket and said, “The Rabbi has asked us to find food. Have you brought some?” Without thinking, I nodded. “Will you bring it to Him?”

I thought about my empty stomach and the long walk home. I thought about all the people around us. Surely others had brought more food than we had. We only had enough for ourselves. And what we did have was hardly fit for the Rabbi. It was just our everyday simple, coarse bread. It wasn’t far to the nearest village, where He could buy as much bread as He needed for Himself and His followers. It would be far nicer than anything we could offer Him, even if He had come to our home.

Then I thought about how the Rabbi had come to this place to escape the crowds, yet the crowds – and my father and I – had followed Him. I thought about the man I had seen dancing on his newly strengthened legs. I thought about the Rabbi’s strange words about a new kind of kingdom. Without realizing that I had made a decision, I found myself getting to my feet and walking to the front of the crowd in the man’s wake. I threw a belated glance over my shoulder at my father, but he was following and gave me an approving nod as I approached the front of the crowd.

The other men were crowding around the Rabbi, telling Him that they had found no food, when the man I was following pulled me into the crowd. The Rabbi addressed the man, but His eyes were on mine, when He asked, “And you, Andrew? Have you found food for the crowd?”

I barely heard the man called Andrew reply as my eyes filled with tears. I had thought he just needed food for himself. Our little basket couldn’t possibly feed more than one or two people. The Rabbi couldn’t use what I had brought at all.

I heard Him exchange greetings with my father. Then He knelt down so He could look into my eyes. Embarrassed, I rubbed my hands across my cheeks to wipe away the tears that had fallen despite my efforts to hold onto them. He smiled at me. “You are the only one here who was willing to offer me food.”

Surprised, I looked into His eyes, which I had been avoiding. They were looking directly into mine, filled with kindness and humor, but a little sadness, too. “It’s not much,” I said.

“It is everything that you brought,” He replied. “That is much.”

I held the basket out to Him. “You are welcome to it, Rabbi.”

With another smile, He took the basket from my hand. He held the basket up, giving thanks to God, and He blessed it. Then He reached into the basket and pulled a loaf out. He broke it into several pieces and gave them to some of His followers. I expected them to eat what they had been given, but instead they passed it along to others in the crowd. What were they doing? Even if broken into bite-sized pieces, only a few people would get even a taste. The Rabbi did the same with one of the fish, then more bread and more fish were being passed around. Surely the basket must be nearly empty. The food kept coming, though.

I ended up sitting on the ground between Him and my father, eating what seemed like the same bread and fish that I had carried in the small basket. It couldn’t be the same, though. I was sure that I myself had eaten more than the basket had held, but every time the morsel in front of me disappeared, the Rabbi passed me another, or Father did, or one of His disciples, who were sitting nearby.

I leaned back, my stomach full to bursting with bread and fish. The Rabbi turned to me and said, “Thank you for letting Me use what you brought.” Then He turned to His followers. “Gather the leftover pieces and bring them here. This boy and his father should take them home.”

How could there be leftovers? It was a miracle that there was food for all. But the men started coming back with handfuls of bread and fragments of fish. They piled them into my little basket until it was overflowing. Someone must have found more baskets, or perhaps the Rabbi multiplied those like He had the food. When the men finally stopped going to and fro, there were a dozen baskets lined up in front of us, all filled to the brim with bread and fish. Laughing with joy and confusion after saying goodbye to the Rabbi, the man named Andrew, and the others, I carried my own basket home, while Father carried two larger ones, one under each arm.

© 2012 Marianne Giesecke