Goodbye 2016

How was 2016 for you?

I can’t complain. The political stuff that filled my Facebook newsfeed was quite annoying and tiring. I really just want happiness on my newsfeed……live puppies safe at home, as opposed to lost puppies or abused puppies. I want flowers and birds, as opposed to dead rainforests and killing the bees posts. I want images of people enjoying the life they’ve been given as opposed to dead or bloodied bodies in war torn nations or children crying in the streets.

I know I sound like I want to avoid all conflict. I don’t and I can’t. BUT I just don’t want it on my Facebook page. The hate is real. The wars are real. The lost kids and dogs are real. I can find those reports on the news. I know there is stink in this world.

But what I also know is that exposing myself constantly to negativity makes me sad, can bring on depression and hopelessness, and even poor health.

So why do we do it? Why complain about your health, etc., and keep on filling your eyes and mind with the negatives??

Just words for you to ponder.  It’s a New Year upon us, 2017. Do you want to change? I do. I’m trying and it is not easy. Not for anyone. It takes hard work and concentration and deliberate actions to change our thinking, our eating, our exercising. But the results of the hard work will be amazing!

Here are some wise words to repeat often that will help:

Philippians 4:8-9The Message (MSG)

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Isn’t that beautiful? That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this last day of the year.

Now here are some photos I grabbed on an intentional, refreshing drive yesterday. Enjoy! And may you have a prosperous and healthy New Year!

Cate B

Finding God in Vegas

Welcome To Las Vegas, Las, Vegas, Sign, Las VegasI am almost settling into my new role as mommy. I find myself still uncomfortable, not yet there but joyous at the days that await me. As preparation, God sent me to Las Vegas. Shocking as it may seem, Vegas seems to be the very place that has given me the foretaste of the promised land. Vegas is the place where my sister is, where I left my heart.

It has been nearly a year and a half since I have seen her. I thought all was hopeless until my parents swooped in like God’s angels and announced we were all going to Vegas to be together. I wasn’t sure what to make of God in that moment.

Sometimes God grants the prayers that you never pray.

In a city known for its sinfulness, I was staring at God’s love. I didn’t know what awaited me there, but I knew that He was there already, preparing the way for me. You see, we limit God to people and places when in fact God cannot be limited. We don’t allow Him His fullness, His space, His Holy Spirit to work wherever we are. I knew I wasn’t leaving God behind, I was finding God in Vegas.

It didn’t take long to see why God had me here. My sister, who decided to leave her career behind as a professional dancer, opened up her home to all of us . It was soothing and comfortable to be able to roll my bags and three children into my sister’s home- no elevators or stuffy hotel rooms, no overpriced food or the hustle bustle of a hotel lobby. She had the coffee machine ready, blankets and gifts for the kids, and my kids were reunited with their cousin. And I could breathe.

But it was seeing my sister’s face that changed me. She was relaxed and smiling, hospitable, not worried about messes. The only remnant I saw of her career was the picture of the cast of her last show framed in the garage.

And as I woke up in the morning and looked out to the mountains, I too could breathe. And God’s gentle voice came to me in the stillness of the hot desert air,

“You must learn to change your perspective, change your view”

The words were so quiet, but real. My sister had made a life out here knowing nobody. She left everything at the very height of her career to have my niece, to have a family. And motherhood was looking so very radiant on her.

I knew God had to bring me out here to give me a foretaste in accepting my vocation. I had to see the mountains, had to know there was life outside of lawyering, had to see my sister’s face, had to change my perspective.

I Don’t Know What to Say!

There are times in life when we simply don’t know what to say. Suppose the phone rings in the wee hours of the morning, waking you from a deep sleep. If you are anything like me, your first thought, upon the comprehension that the phone is actually ringing, might be something like, “Uh oh, this can’t be good”.

You answer, and the person on the other end is your best friend who tells you that his or her spouse just died of a heart attack; your friend is simply overwhelmed… what are you going to say?

They ask you to come over… what will you say?

You arrive, and your friend is still overwhelmed by what has happened: what will you say?

What can you say? There are no magic words that will make the situation any better, and in all likelihood, your friend doesn’t really want you to say anything, he or she just doesn’t want to be alone right then.

At such a time, few are in the mood for speeches, fewer still are in the mood for condescension: “I told him he should exercise more and lose some weight”.

No, they just don’t want to be alone; it is a basic human need. This is sometimes called “The Ministry of Presence”. Presence is all about a person finding comfort in the fact that there is someone who cares enough about them to be present when they are at their lowest point, even though they might feel awkward or uneasy. It is more about a caring face, than golden phrases; it is more about connection and less about reason.

The Christian presence is powerful, it is more than merely the presence of another body in the room, for as Christians we are a royal priesthood, every one of us (1 Peter 2:9) and as a royal priesthood, each one of us mediates God’s presence to others by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. If that sounds a little too theoretical to you, don’t worry, for I doubt that any mere human comprehends it fully, just know that when you are present with a person in need of your presence, there is more going on than we might be conscious of, for we are bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the situation.

Jesus needed the ministry of presence too. Do you recall the story of His praying in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34), and He asked Peter, James and John to stay close by and keep watch; He needed their presence. As a Kingdom of priests, our presence is an active service to God, one of the most powerful acts of service in God’s arsenal, a service that God has clearly modeled for us.

As you know the Temple in Jerusalem is one of the most powerfully significant symbols in all of Scripture, for it represents God’s dwelling place in the midst of his people. It served as the center of Jewish life, their pride, their joy and their great comfort, for when they gazed upon the Temple, they knew that God was present with them. In the fullness of time, God moved His presence beyond the symbol of the Temple, taking on the flesh and blood for of a man, in Jesus Christ. Jesus could walk and talk in the midst of God’s people; He could literally reach out and touch them, share a meal with them and bring hope and comfort to them. Yet He knew that His time was short; preparations were made to keep God’s presence among His people worldwide, and when the time, His people received the indwelling Holy Spirit. I think it is safe to say that God has gone to great lengths to make His presence available to humanity, and part of His effort is for us to make ourselves available to one another in the ministry of presence.

So, what will we say?

Not a whole lot, so don’t worry about it. Maybe a brief prayer, or a longer silent one. Maybe a hug, a shoulder to lean on or to cry on, maybe the holding of a hand. Perhaps an ear to listen… or maybe just being there.

I will meet you

20160514_070935The challenges of motherhood are many, but it is who I am. I never asked God to make me famous, rich or powerful. I never asked him for a big house or lots of friends. I grew up with a sense of knowing, what I now know is my vocation, motherhood. There was never anything I wanted more than that. But I had a sense from a young age that would be a struggle. The Holy Spirit was present and alive to me ever before I knew who Jesus Christ was, and even though I was not a believer in Christ, I knew God and saw His hand in my life. So when I struggled to have children I found it a curse, cruel, a God that didn’t hear my shouts for mercy, my Hannah prayers, my desperation.

For those that have not grappled with infertility, I am glad for you. Out of all the things I have contended with in my life, this by far was the greatest fight for my soul. I wanted children like I wanted water, it wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity.

After several opinions, I stumbled across a doctor willing to help me. His name was Dr. Christie, I can’t make this stuff up. I was not a believer in Christ at the time but even I as a Jewish girl recognized the name. It was subtle. God doesn’t bulldoze his way through, He glides gently. It was one of a series of small whispers, God’s call to me. Subtle.

Dr. Christie was my third opinion. I came armed and prepared with my research and data. I had by this time diagnosed myself. I had come from a doctor who told me I’d never have children unless I paid him $25,000. The world of infertility is legalized extortion. I told myself that this time around with this doctor, I would put him to the test.

But he wasn’t like the others. He was quiet, kind… unassuming. At the time he was working in a small infertility office. He had been at the job exactly one week.  The specialist that owned the practice brought him on. That specialist was booked up for six months. But not Dr. Christie- he was available right away.

I hesitated to make the appointment. The words “he’s wide open because he’s new” are not usually a good sign. But something drew me in. I knew it was his name.

I sat down with the good doctor. He was visibly nervous. He had just moved his whole life to Florida and he was a true southern boy, accent and all. But his presence was calming to me. We spoke, and he rattled off his diagnosis- the same one I had come up with. I told him he was hired. He told me he couldn’t guarantee me anything, but that I was a good candidate for an alternative to IVF.  He told me with a smile that he had a good feeling.

We started the process, Shlomi and I. It was a perpetual wave of emotions. We started out with pills, then moved on when I told Dr.Christie that I was ready to go for it, full force. He smiled again. He knew why.

More drugs this time in the form of shots. What an emotional time. Your husband injecting you in the hopes for a baby. He was so gentle. I would cry out of sheer emotional pain. It wasn’t the needle that hurt me, it was the reminder of the needle that hurt me. But Shlomi was there encouraging me, telling me, I was going to be a mother, He was sure of it.  Another subtle reminder. Another subtle reminder of Jesus.

Several months, lots of drugs, emotions high and the blood test that changed my life. A call from Dr. Christie. I was on edge. I had been pregnant twice before and lost those within a couple of weeks. I closed my eyes.

I was pregnant, and he had a suspicion that it was multiples.

I felt the sting of the needle, unsure of God, could He be this cruel? It was my birthday, 2008.

7 weeks in I entered the room. There were three. Shlomi, Dr. Christie and me. Dr. Christie had inadvertently become an inextricable part of my journey. I trusted him. And before I looked up to see the ultrasound, to hope for a baby and not an empty sac or no heartbeat, I looked over at Dr. Christie. He told me he had a good feeling.

And there it was. His good feeling on a screen. His instinct. My pain. The needles. My husband’s confidence in God. And my husband was an atheist at best. Two sacs. Two heartbeats. Two babies in my belly. That is when I knew God had not left me. That is the moment I knew that God had not forgotten me, my destiny, to be a mother. And He didn’t stop there. Three months after I delivered my twins I found out I was pregnant with my third. No drugs or doctors or needles. God filled my belly. Why? The first prayer I ever prayed from my heart that I understood, not in Hebrew.

God I want another baby. Please God give me another baby, and He did. 

Although my third was not the result of any intervention, I only trusted Dr. Christie. With my condition, I knew there was a high chance I’d lose this one too. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t lose this one. And he happily agreed to monitor me for Meadow’s first 12 weeks of life. He was there when I heard her heartbeat too. I knew it was a miracle. Only God could do that…

I believe I was destined for the cross, destined for Christ. I believe God chose me before I ever chose Him. I believe God picked my vocation and filled my belly with three babies. I believe in divine providence and its many and numerous gifts. I believe He dresses me in sacred vestments. I believe His altar is wherever He meets you.

Exodus 30:6, “This altar you are to place in front of the veil that hangs before the ark of the covenant where I will meet you.”

A Soldier’s Duty

When our battalion was called together, I wondered if it had something to do with the rumors that the Jews were on the verge of rioting. Pilate just released a rebel leader to them to calm them down, but maybe extra precautions were being taken.

When we arrived in the governor’s headquarters, there was a man there badly scourged. Some of the soldiers stripped him and made him wear a royal scarlet garment. Then, they twisted together a crown of thorns, placed it on his head, and gave him a reed for a scepter. As blood tricked down the prisoner’s head, they began kneeling and saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.” We laughed uproariously and then spit on him, as most of us were miserable with the predicament at this posting. One soldier took the reed and struck the prisoner on the head repeatedly.

When we were done venting our frustration, the other soldiers replaced the prisoner’s original clothes. I was assigned the duty, along with several others, to escort this prisoner to his execution. This wasn’t anything new as I’d assisted with many crucifixions since I’d been assigned to this garrison.

As we made our way towards Golgotha, the prisoner was barely able to carry his own cross. Yet, as beaten and bloody as he was, he seemed determined to make the journey.

“So what’d this guy do?” I asked one of my fellow soldiers.

“Claimed he was the Son of God, so his own people want him dead. They even stated that he was a threat to Caesar by his claims.” he replied.

Okay, I suppose that makes sense, especially since the Caesars claim to be sons of god. Do they really execute people for that though? Sure, lock him up for being crazy maybe, but this seems a bit extreme. Perceiving my thoughts, the other soldier just shrugged. I guess if it’s our duty to execute, we execute.

It seems most of the crowd hated this Jesus fellow, so I guess we didn’t have to worry too much about the zealots today. Though, there were a handful of people weeping as they followed us on to Golgotha—probably some close friends and family members. Suddenly, the prisoner turned and made a statement that sounded like Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. He spoke with such conviction, yet he still had such compassion in his voice, as though he was sorrowful if such a thing were to happen to the very people condemning him.

Not much longer after that, the prisoner collapsed. Some of the soldiers tried to get him back on his feet while the rest of us watched the crowd. Suddenly a man stepped out and looked directly at me. I quickly readied my spear, but then noticed his composure. He had tears running down his face and his hands were together upright in front of him. I believe this symbolized that he had no weapons or intent of violence. As I relaxed my defensive posture, still unsure of what the man wanted, he looked over to the prisoner on the ground.

This man’s actions caused a slight ache in my heart. This must have been a good friend of his for him to risk his very life by interfering in an execution. For a moment, I didn’t know what to do. If the centurion saw him, he might run him through or arrest him. I suppose I can do something to help him out. At first I thought to push him back into the crowd before the others noticed, but they might think a fight was about to break out.

After a moment’s thought, I stated loudly “You, help this man carry his cross.” I glanced over towards the centurion and he seemed to be okay with this solution.

After a long trudge, we finally reached the top of the hill. The assistant laid the cross down, then gently rested the prisoner beside it. While the other soldiers were beginning to prepare the crucifixion, I stepped aside to talk to the man who had assisted.

“Who are you…and why’d you do that?” I asked, “Why would you risk your life for a man who’s already dead anyway?”

“I’m Simon, and…” he stated as he struggled to restrain his tears, “he showed me mercy when I didn’t deserve it….He really is the Son of God…and he’s doing this for all of us….including you.” With that, my heart stopped mid-beat. There was something in this man’s words, as though he had been through an unfathomable experience. Could there be something more to this Jesus? Could he really be divinity?

“Hey,” the centurion bellowed from behind me in the midst of my thoughts, “I’ll hold him, you hammer in the spikes.” Oh no, anything but that. The centurion shook the hammer slightly suggesting that I hurry up and take it. Reluctantly, I did. Then he handed me three long spikes.

As I aligned the first spike to Jesus’ hand, I hesitantly raised the hammer. I looked over to Jesus who had quite a peaceful expression considering the ordeal he had been through. My eyes began to fill with tears as thoughts invaded my head again. If he really is the Son of God….if I do this. “Oh God….please forgive me,” I repeated over and over in my head, still trying to make my trembling arm take the first swing.

“I…” a voice weakly murmured. I looked around a bit confused until my eyes settled on Jesus’. “I forgive you,” he said with the glimmer of a smile on his face. I felt a shiver go through my whole body. Had he read my thoughts? Why would he forgive me? Did he want to be crucified? Why…Why was he doing this?

The centurion didn’t seem to take any notice of Jesus’ comment. Jesus’ eyes stayed fixed on me as I saw a resolute expression come across his face. A peace began to fill me, and I felt that bringing down the hammer was what I was destined to do. I struck the first blow and he grunted. Then he opened his eyes and nodded for me to continue. With that, I struck another blow and another as tears started streaming down my face.

As I completed fastening the second hand, the centurion took notice of my tears. “Are you alright? What happened?” he asked bluntly.

“I’m fine. I just..hit my thumb on that last swing and it really hurts,” I replied.

“Do you want me to finish?” he retorted.

“No! I got it!” I exclaimed a little more forcibly than intended. I didn’t want to place anyone else is such a horrible position.

I finished driving the spike through his feet, then we affixed the notice that Pilate had ordered be attached. “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”A shiver again traveled through my body as I read the sign.

The next few hours seemed like an eternity. I would rather have been on the front lines of a war than watching this man die. Many hurled insults as they passed. Some of the other soldiers joined in as well while Jesus’ cloths were being divided up just below him. Even the two robbers on each side mocked him. I hung my head in shame, remembering my actions in the governor’s quarters not even a few hours earlier.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus stated remorsefully as he tilted his head slightly upward. He then looked down directly at me and a bolt of lightning shot through my body. Here he was….crucified….and he’s forgiving the ones persecuting him. There’s definitely something more to him.

When one of the thieves heard Jesus’ forgiveness, he too became remorseful, and even started defending him. He then asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus responded kindly—that they would be feasting in Paradise that very day! This Jesus fellow seemed, even in his bleakest hour, to be filled with more compassion than anyone I had ever known.

Then, a darkness began to encroach. At first, I thought the sun was just going behind the clouds, but this became a much thicker darkness than I’d ever seen during daylight hours. I became more aware of the surroundings as I took note of each person still there. Most were familiar except a young man standing out in the edge of the darkness. He too looked to be weeping. One of the other soldiers suggested it was probably a disciple of Jesus’, too afraid to come close in case he was recognized.

Suddenly, Jesus cried out. Simon quickly prepared a drink while some others passing by thought he was calling a prophet from their history. They lingered around for the moment to see if perhaps this prophet would show up. A few moments later, a woman came frantically running out of the darkness. Her pace slowed as she got close enough to recognize the figure on the center cross. I could see the horror on her face as she stood there in shock. Then, tears began streaming down her face as she fell to her knees. I looked over to the soldier next to me, and he seemed just as perplexed as I was, though Simon had more of a shocked expression, as though he knew her.

“This isn’t right!” she screamed unexpectedly. I felt the tears welling up in me as she rocked back and forth and repeated the statement over and over.

As the woman quieted to a sob, we heard a resolute “It is finished” from above us and we all looked up to see an immensely passionate look on Jesus’ face. Tears began streaming from my eyes again as he exhaled one last time, then hung lifeless.

Simon approached the crying woman cautiously and attempted to console her. At first, she seemed startled that Simon was there, but to his surprise, she jumped to her feet and threw her arms around him. They both wept passionately. I sat in awe wondering how they might know each other as they seemed to be from two totally different walks of life. Was this Jesus fellow bringing such diverse people together?

I stood and moved closer, compelled by the compassion still on Jesus’ face. The tears were still running down my cheeks, though I’m not sure if anyone else noticed—and at that moment, I no longer cared.

Just then we got an order from Pilate. We were to remove the body from the cross and give it to a Joseph of Arimathea.

“Okay,” the centurion remarked, “I guess it’s over.” With that, he readied his spear and looked to the body hesitantly. After a small sigh, he plunged his spear into Jesus’ side. I looked on in horror as blood and water poured out, but Jesus didn’t make a move; he was already gone. My heart sank as tears continued to roll down my face. If he really was the Son of God, why didn’t he save himself? And why was he doing this for us?

Without warning, the earth began to shake violently. The other soldiers fell to the ground and I collapsed to my knees while still focused on Jesus. Oddly, it seemed while everything else was in upheaval, I felt an indescribable peace kneeling there before him.

When the shaking finally stopped, light again filled the sky, and I quickly tried to wipe the tears from my face. The centurion, noticing my composure, began walking towards me. I prepared myself for reprimand—or worse—but instead…he gently laid his hand on my shoulder. As I braced myself on my spear and stood to my feet, all those still around drew in closer. Even the disciple that had been off in the distance dared to approach now. I looked up again to the lifeless body on the cross, and my heart was overwhelmed. I was now sure of it, more than anything else I’d ever known.

“Truly, this was the Son of God!”

The Path of Thorns

There’s no way he can worm his way out of this one! We were able to catch this woman dead to rights in the middle of adultery. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when we present her to him. If he excuses her, he will have violated the Law of Moses, and if he condemns her, he will prove that he is just like us. It’s the perfect setup! Finally, we can expose him for the fraud he is.

When we arrived at the Temple grounds, this Jesus fellow was teaching some more of his nonsense to a gathering crowd. Oh are they in for a surprise!

“Teacher,” one of my colleagues interrupted as we burst on the scene, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” As he finished his statement, I reached down and picked up the nearest rock signaling for the crowd to follow suit.

At first, Jesus looked like he had been caught off guard, but instead of fumbling for an answer, he just took a deep breath, let it out, and then knelt down to the ground. He began to draw in the sand as the watching crowd drew in a little closer to see what he might be revealing. Does he think that we’re so naive? Hah! Look at him, acting so calm and collected like he has all the answers. He’s just stalling for time!

As I glanced at what he was drawing, however, a chill suddenly shot up my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Everyone else seemed oblivious, but somehow I knew from the first few strokes what it was—a cross!

Did he know? Had he overheard? It was only an idle comment. My colleagues and I had been discussing this Jesus character a few days earlier. I jokingly made the suggestion that we could set him up so the Romans would crucify him. Had someone told him? Had he been lurking somewhere in the shadows? Or….was he….was he really from God? My heart sank and sweat began to soak my brow as I realized we may have made a terrible mistake.

Just then, one of my colleagues began demanding an answer from Jesus. Jesus stood to his feet, closed his eyes, and let out another long sigh as though he was deeply saddened. Then, he opened his eyes and looked in my direction. At first, my heart began to race, but as I looked into his face, he had a rather remorseful look about him. I couldn’t hold the gaze for long though so I looked away—right to the ground where the completed cross had been drawn. No one else seemed to have noticed since my colleague’s outburst. I began to tremble as my grip tightened on the stone in my hand. It was only a brief moment, but it felt like an eternity tormented by the situation.

“Alright,” Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” This time a bolt of lightning rushed up my spine. I was certain of it now; somehow he knew what I had said. As I hesitantly looked back up, unsure of what to do now, Jesus was looking directly at me. At first I wanted to slink to the back of the crowd, but I noticed that his demeanor had changed—now, he had the most loving expression on his face that I had ever seen. It was like he was saying that it was okay, that he wasn’t angry with me—that…that he was letting me off the hook! Again, his gaze was too pure to look at for long and tears began to well up in my eyes. As I looked down to the stone in my trembling hand, a million thoughts raced through my mind. Why would he just let me off the hook like that? Why didn’t he seek revenge? Why didn’t he tell the crowd the truth—that we….that I had suggested he be setup and crucified? How….how could he just forgive me like that? Is this how our Father really is—loving us even at our worse? What can I do now? Oh God, this is such a mess!

As all these thoughts echoed in my head, tears trickled down my face and splashed against the parched stones. What have I done!? What have I been doing with my life!? The weight of the stone began to increase exponentially. I remorsefully dropped it from my shaking hand, and it hit the ground with a loud thud. I didn’t know what to do, but I could no longer stay there. As I made my way through the crowd, I heard the people murmuring to each other. My compatriots, though, seemed quiet, but I didn’t turn back to see what their reaction was. Then, one by one, I began to hear other thuds as I was making my way out of the crowd. Others were leaving the scene right behind me, but I didn’t turn back to look. Instead, I began to disgracefully run. I ran without stopping through the streets until I reached the residence I maintained there. I rushed to my quiet place and fell to my knees, sobbing uncontrollably.

“God, please forgive me!” I yelled repeatedly. I knew I wasn’t supposed to say his name out loud, but I no longer cared if anyone overheard. My position among the religious teachers was probably forfeit already, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back anyway. Perhaps I should just move back to my hometown. At least my family is still there, and they didn’t have to witness the events of today.

As I sat there weeping, a sense of immense peace came over me that I couldn’t quite explain. I felt that somehow everything was going to be alright.


Jesus and I had a few beautiful conversations after that. I found myself drawn to his loving presence though often his words were so counter to everything I’d been taught to believe. I tried to convince him to stay away from Jerusalem, but he kept assuring me that everything was going to turn out exactly as it was supposed to. I also tried to find the woman that we had condemned to stoning, but she seemed to have disappeared—and asking around was getting me into more and more trouble. Jesus assured me that everything was going to be okay with her also, and that she had her own road to travel. I tried to trust him at his word, but it’s hard to let go of the control I thought I had for so long.

I never returned to my position in Jerusalem, though I often pleaded with some of my former colleagues to abandon their pursuance of Jesus. I spoke with Herod also insisting that Jesus really was the Messiah—the Son of God! I even petitioned Pontius Pilate not to give in to the Sanhedrin, but all was to no avail.

Now…here he is—the Messiah…our Savior—-beaten and bloody, forced to make the trek to Golgotha bearing his own cross. Tears streamed down my face as he stumbled onward, hardly able to carry the weight. I felt powerless. Is this really the path he was destined to take?

And then….he collapsed.

My heart sank as I thought of all the anguish he had already endured. I looked up to see some of my old colleagues across the way. Some looked smugly satisfied at the scene, though others looked troubled, like deep down they knew this whole charade was wrong. Was it happening to them too? Were they becoming remorseful at what was going on? Was Jesus’ love breaking through to them also?

As one of the soldiers prodded Jesus to get him on his feet again, I could no longer stand there and do nothing. As I stepped out, Nicodemus grabbed my arm and whispered harshly, “Simon, what are you doing!? You’re going to get yourself in trouble with the Romans—and the Sanhedrin—and Herod! Think about your family back in Cyrene!” As I looked at Nicodemus, tears dripping from my face, his eyes too begin to swell as he could no longer hold back the pain in his own heart. He sighed remorsefully then nodded as he loosened his grip on my arm.

As I stepped out, I placed my hands together and upright in front of me to show the Romans I had no weapons or intent of violence. I immediately caught the attention of one of the soldiers. He began to ready his spear, but then realized my composure. For a moment, he seemed a bit perplexed. He looked back to the other soldiers that were still attending to Jesus. After a brief moment’s thought, he looked at me and nodded. “You,” he stated loudly enough to catch the attention of the other guards, “come and carry this man’s cross.”

Relieved that he understood, I walked over to Jesus and placed his arm across my back and his cross on my shoulder. We then, slowly, made the agonizing trek onward to Golgotha.

Wood and Stone

This is absolutely the worse day of my life—and probably the last! I can’t believe I was caught in the middle of the act. I’m struggling to cover myself as the religious teachers and Pharisees are dragging me through the street. They seem almost smug as they talk about a teacher they are taking me before. If they are this merciless, I can only imagine how this teacher will judge me.

As they toss me into the dirt, I see a crowd gathered, still somewhat perplexed by the intrusion. The men who drug me here then turned to the teacher and stated my offense—caught in the very act of adultery!

“The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” one of the Pharisees demanded.

The teacher seemed like he was in mid-sentence before the interruption, mouth still poised as though he was ready to continue his teaching. Instead, he sighed deeply as he looked to the man that had asked the question. The teacher seemed greatly disappointed, but not with me—he seemed disappointed with them!

Suddenly my mind was a buzz. Who was this teacher? Why was he disappointed with them? Perhaps they should have brought my lover along also….and how did they know what we were doing?

The crowd began searching for stones as the teacher was looking at the religious leaders with an expression of great sadness across his face. Then, he simply bent down and, of all things, started doodling in the sand! What he was writing didn’t seem to have any meaning, yet the crowd was focusing on the patch of dirt intently as though some great wisdom was going to manifest itself from the dust. It was then I noticed that all of the attention had been taken off of me—everyone was focused on him instead! He…he was taking all my guilt and shame onto himself!

Yet, it wasn’t long before one of the Pharisees began demanding again that the teacher give them an answer. The teacher slowly stood up, closed his eyes, and let out another long, disappointed sigh.

“Alright,” he said with sorrow as he opened his eyes again and looked at an elder at the head of the crowd, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” As the teacher looked compassionately at him, tears began to well up in the elder’s eyes. He averted them to the stone in his hand, focusing on it as though he was thinking back to some deeply traumatic event. As tears began to stream down his face, he dropped his stone and slowly turned to make his way through the crowd and away from the scene. As he was walking through the crowd, others looked stunned at the elder’s tears and began similarly looking at their stones. One by one, they began sorrowfully dropping their stones to the ground and walking away. A few in the crowd looked to the religious leaders still remaining who at first seemed infuriated, but then remorse seemed to slowly overtake them as well as though they were the ones who were naked and exposed. One by one, they too began to slip away.

When I looked back to the teacher, he was again doodling in the sand. This time, though, what he was drawing began looking slightly more familiar—three crosses like the Romans used to crucify people. For some reason, tears began to well up in my eyes also.

He then stopped doodling and looked at me with a deeply compassionate gaze and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” I was sure there was a glimpse of a smile as he asked.

I struggled to find words as the entire situation had twisted so much. As I looked around again, I timidly said, “No one, Lord.”

“Neither do I condemn you,” he replied as his face burst into a warm, radiant smile, “go, and from now on sin no more.”

For a moment, I felt as though I didn’t want to go. It was so beautiful here in his presence, and I truly felt free of sin. As he gently smiled again at me, reality snapped back and I realized that I was at the Temple half nude. I quickly stood and hurried back to my home.


For some time after that encounter, I wondered just who he was, and why he had told me to “sin no more.” Sure, I had never committed adultery again, but how is it possible to never sin again? Later, I heard someone proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom has come near!”—Just turn around, the kingdom is right here! These words seemed to penetrate to the depths of my soul, and it flourished again reminiscent of when I was in the teacher’s presence. Yet, I still felt unable to break totally free of sin, and I still felt too ashamed that I would be recognized in public if I began to seek answers.

As I was again turning over these things in my head, I reached the outskirts of the city to dispose of my refuse. I was relieved that it was unusually dark that day, making it less likely that I would be recognized on my journey. As I looked, I could barely make out the silhouettes of three crosses on the top of the hill. Suddenly my heart stopped and I felt I couldn’t breathe as I remembered the teacher’s drawing in the sand. I dropped everything I was carrying and ran frantically up the hill. The soldiers standing guard looked at each other perplexed as I hesitantly approached the battered body on the middle cross. It…it was him….the teacher who had saved me from being stoned not long ago. Just above his head was a sign, “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.”

The teacher…was Jesus—the one they say is the Messiah. Suddenly, what was happening washed over me like a tidal wave. Just like he had taken away my guilt and shame, he was now taking away the guilt and shame of the entire world! He was freeing everyone to “sin no more.”

I fell to my knees and began to sob uncontrollably. “This isn’t right!” I screamed aloud repeatedly as I rocked and moaned—the King taking our place….taking my place….As I again gazed up to him, he had opened his eyes and was looking in my direction. There was still such passion in his demeanor, and for a brief second, I almost thought I saw the glimmer of a smile as he was looking at me. Then, he took one last agonizing breath and said, “It is finished…”