29 February 2016

Risen by Angela Hunt

The political climate in Jerusalem is ripe for revolt. Already insurrections, often bloody, are put down on a regular basis. Balancing the will of all powerful Rome - and the emperor - and the local religious sects takes finesse and knowledge of the inner workings of both cultures. Knowing this all too well, Roman Tribune Clavius has been tasked by Pilate to ensure that the latest round of crucifixions end before sundown, as the Jewish Passover begins then, and Pilate doesn't want another reason for the Jews to complain.

When he arrives, one of the trio of men, Yeshua, is already dead. Ensuring this is so, he orders a soldier to thrust a pilum into his side. Following Pilate's orders because of the status of the Nazarene and the possibility of his followers stealing the body to incite revolution, Clavius follows Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb, witnesses the tomb being sealed, and heads home for the day, his daily orders completed.

Only, the body goes missing, and so Pilate orders an investigation. With time ticking away and pressure building as the Sanhedrin, and the upcoming visit from on-high Rome, put the heat on Pilate, Clavius commits himself to find out the truth.  But the more Clavius probes, the more reality doesn't add up. Meeting followers of Yeshua and condemners alike, Clavius' journey leads him to unexpected places . . . and people.

Risen is a compelling story offering a unique point of view of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I loved the narrative, told from the point of view of Tribune Clavius. Scattered throughout the book, in the background, are depictions of Biblical scenes, such as the earthquake the day Jesus died, the Roman soldiers gambling for Jesus' clothes, the women who followed Jesus. The way these are woven into the story, combining real events with fictional characters, brought a new feel to the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Clavius' narrative also offers a more objective, if withdrawn, view of the death and resurrection of Jesus. He doesn't believe from the start - far from it. He approaches his mission of finding the body methodically and from the point of view of a pagan Roman, who prays to the Roman gods often.

Interwoven with Clavius' story is that of Rachel, a Jewish widow who finds herself in the unlikely place of falling out of her faith because of life's circumstances. Only seeing Yeshua (as Jesus is called in the novel) one time before his death, she begins to be drawn into His following and becomes a believer. The author's note tells readers that Rachel's character was omitted from the movie for time constraints, so it will be interesting to see how the movie is without her story interwoven into Clavius'. I think the two narratives together adds another level of humanness to the story - the need for redemption and a new start.

My recommendation: read the book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

12 February 2016

The Hard Goodbye

I titled this picture "The Longest Walk" on my Facebook page. This is the view of the airport parking garage as you exit the terminal - we were parked in one of the last rows. I took this picture this past weekend as my lovely little children and I walked back to our van after dropping my husband off at the airport. He departed the US for the Republic of Korea for a remote tour - one year - away from us.

The build up to this moment ebbed and flowed with anticipation, dread, anxiety, and other such emotions as we prepared for his departure. After Christmas the countdown really began. Out processing finalities picked up, a moving van actually came to pick up his stuff (talk about getting real!), and finally, he packed his suitcases and we loaded up the van and drove to the airport.

In some ways it's hard to describe the plethora of emotions, the standard roller-coaster if you will, of what I felt in the weeks and days leading up to The Day. I often felt torn between dread and denial - trying to push away the thought of Mike leaving so I could focus on the present and soak up as much time together as I could.

Denial will only get you so far. Then there's this:

The day finally arrived and we all said our goodbyes and the kids and I took that long walk.

Since then, we are trying to establish our new "normal" without Daddy around. All of the kids are having a pretty hard time dealing with the fact that Daddy won't be coming home for a really long time. It's hard for them to wrap their minds around the fact that Daddy can't just "come home on Saturday because he doesn't work Saturday" (they know he is working in Korea). What breaks my heart is Butterfly's "Why can't he just come back? Why did he have to leave?" with tears streaming and a trembling chin. Little Man hasn't cried yet - which worries me - and seems to be internalizing his emotions. Flower, who said she was "happy" in the weeks leading to Mike's departure, finally broke down the next day, at Costco, with a melt down choruses of "I miss Daddy."

And since then, a serious breakdown of discipline has occurred. Regression back to babbling, potty accidents, major disobedience (even gleeful at one point), and more has been the reality of the week - which has brought me to a not very happy place as a suddenly overwhelmed [again] mom. In the moment it's hard to remember that the reason behind these outbursts and regressions is a deep sadness and sense of loss in their little hearts and minds as they try to work out their feelings - feelings that they don't really know how to express otherwise.

As for me, well, I think I'm just still in shock. Or I've become really stoic. Or I'm still in denial. On Sunday when Butterfly came in from playing, I jumped and expected Mike to walk through the door for a second before reality came flying back to me. He won't be walking through that door anytime soon.

So we go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and get on with our lives as best we can. Our family not whole.

Life is lived simultaneously in the present and in the future "after Christmas". We talk about the movers coming a lot, even though they won't be coming for us for another year. (We already have our follow on orders and know where we are going - unless the Air Force changes that.)

During the day, missing Mike isn't too bad - I mean, he works during the day and normally I don't even see him until he comes home from work. Nights are harder of course. And the weekend is upon me now, and that hollow feeling inside is starting to fill with anxiety at the thought that there will no whole family pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, no one (that isn't a small human) to sit next to in the pew on Sunday, holding hands. No one that takes the children outside to play at the park. I mean, I will do that, but that is something Daddy normally does . . .

Almost one whole week down, fifty two, or so, to go. . .