Fiction Thursday: Fully Alive, Chapter 7

This is an excerpt from my Novella Fully Alive, currently in progress. I have not edited or rewritten the fiction posted here yet and do so before I publish it later on Kindle, so there are bound to be typos, plo. To read the other parts of Fully Alive, click HERE.

Josefa woke with a start, cold sweat beading across her forehead. She tried to remember where she was, the only sound her rapid, pulsating heartbeat . She looked around and slowly her room began to take shape in the moonlight. She’d had the nightmare again. The one she’d had night after night. The nightmare of that day in Jerusalem, when her family had been there for Passover.

The day Yeshua died.

The day five years ago when Yeshua had been murdered on Golgotha.

She remembered it like it had been yesterday.

Voices full of rage echoed within the city walls.

“Crucify him!”

Her father had trembled next to her with shock, anger, confusion. He pulled and her younger brother close. “Keep walking. Don’t stop.”

Her mother followed, tears streaking her face, sobs shaking her body.

“Father, why would they do this?” Tears soaked Josefa’s face as the crowd enveloped her, jostled her into other people.

She didn’t understand. Why were the priests of this city demanding the death of the man who had brought her back from the dead? What had he done that deserved death?

She screamed in protest, but no one could hear her and if they could, they weren’t listening.

“It’s not true! He saved me! He brought me back from the dead!” She tried again, her throat raw, her voice hoarse. “He gave me back my life!”

A man shoved her hard to the ground.

“Shut your mouth, you blaspheming liar!”

Saliva dripped down his chin as he screamed. A tremor of fear rushed through Josefa and she looked away quickly. It was as if he was possessed. Maybe he was.

Jairus stooped to protect her and swung around toward the man, anger clouding his vision. “Never touch my daughter!”

The man was screaming again, standing over her and her father. “You are nothing, Jew!”

“I am a leader in the synagogue, I am a holy —”

More people were shouting at Jairus and Josefa now, shouting at anyone they felt were followers of Yeshua.

“You are nothing!”

“Blaspheming scum, go back to whatever city you came from.”

“Do you follow this man? Then you should be put to death with him.”

Jairus jerked his head toward an open area near the city wall.

“Myriam, Ephra, Josefa, come. We must leave.”

Josefa turned to follow her family but paused, looking over her shoulder at the yelling crowd, at the sudden appearance of Yeshua through the crowd, struggling to walk under the weight of what looked like a large piece of wood. She watched in horror as he fell onto the stones, the wood on top of him. Blood dropped onto the dirt from his face, his hands, everywhere. Josefa couldn’t see any of Yeshua’ skin that wasn’t bleeding.

She broke from her father’s arms and stood along the edge of the crowd as Yeshua walked by, reaching out, her fingertips touching Yeshua’ bloody garment, hanging in rags off his shoulder. She jerked her hand away and held it to her mouth as she began to sob.

“Yeshua. Yeshua,” Josefa choked out. “I believe in you, Yeshua.”

Yeshua looked at the ground as he fell again, and she wondered if he even knew she was there. A Roman soldier dragged a man from the crowd and tossed him to the ground in front of Yeshua.

“Help him! Pick up the cross!” the soldier demanded.

As the man helped lift what the soldier had called a cross, another soldier lifted Yeshua to his feet. They watched the scene together and Josefa’s heart raced as Yeshua stood slowly, raised his eyes toward the crowd and found her gaze.

His eyelids were swollen, blood running in rivulets from what appeared to be thorns bent into the shape of a crown on his head. He looked at her with an unfocused gaze as he hooked one arm around the man and the other around the wood. Hot tears stung Josefa’s eyes, rushed down her cheeks as Yeshua moved his gaze from her and looked back to the ground, shuffling his feet forward in step with the other man.

A strong hand gripped her wrist and pulled her backward, through the crowd. She looked up into deep blue eyes, a smooth face stained with dirt under a Roman helmet. The soldier’s face was young, but his eyes were old. She expected a rebuke but instead his voice was gentle, filled with compassion.

“You must leave this area. It’s not safe for young girls like you.”

She could hear her father calling for her, but Josefa couldn’t seem to pull her eyes from the soldier’s.

“Come, Josefa!” Jairus said sharply, prying the soldier’s fingers from his daughter’s wrist. “Let’s get away from here.”

Her father’s voice was breaking with emotion and when she looked up at him, he was rubbing the back of his hand across his face.

“I can take no more,” he whispered hoarsely.

She looked up and the soldier had turned and was following the crowd, to where she didn’t know.

She followed her father and they found the rest of their family waiting for them by the city gates.

“We must leave, Jairus. It’s no longer safe,” Myriam whispered, trembling.

Jairus pulled her close and nodded. “We will go and collect our things from Lieber’s and begin our journey this evening. I will see if I can convince him and his family to come with us. The Romans are thirsty for blood this day.”

“What are they going to do to Yeshua, father?” Josefa asked, fear shivering through her.

Jairus shook his head. “I don’t know, Josefa. Keep walking.”

Jairus’ brother declined traveling away from Jerusalem, begging Jairus to remain for Passover.

“Traveling on Passover is forbidden. We will be safe here on this side of the city. The Romans are only taking care of a troublemaker, a man who called himself the Son of God.”

“But Uncle Leiber —”

Jairus scowled at his daughter. “Josefa. Be silent. Go prepare the afternoon meal with the women.”

All these years later, Josefa still remembered how darkness fell later that day, how the ground shook and she fell to the dirt courtyard outside her aunt and uncle’s home in fear.

She screamed, reaching out for something to hold onto but finding nothing. As the ground rose up beneath her, the sun darkened and she couldn’t see her parents or anyone else.

“Yeshua! Yeshua! Help me!”

Bricks fell from stone structures around her, striking her and then blackness settled over her and all was still.

“Josefa!” She woke to her mother’s voice that day and again, five years later, she heard her mother call to her.  And again her mother took her in arms and again she told her everything would be okay and prayed over her, asking for Adonai’s protection

Fiction Thursday: Fully Alive Chapter 6

Find the other parts of this story HERE or at the link at the top of the page. There are other works of fiction at the top of the page, as well, including The Farmer’s Daughter, Quarantined (a short story), Rekindle (the start of another story story), and links to my two books for sale on digital platforms.

P.S. The character in this section will have a name change before the final publication. I just have decided on the name I want for her yet.

Eliana couldn’t stop thinking about the day her healing had come. Cleaning flour from the bowl, preparing to cook a meal for her sister’s family after so long, tears were warm on her face.

The morning she had been healed she had sat in the room of the home she’d been confined to for so long, weak, her heart heavy with loneliness and despair, the same as almost every morning for 12 years. Her husband Josiah had divorced her years before, declaring her unclean and unfit to bear him children. She watched him with his new wife from a distance, watched their children grow and felt the ache in her own womb for a child of her own.

“He will come with healing in his wings,” she whispered the morning she had been healed, remembering the prophecy of Malachi.

His wings. She wasn’t sure what that meant but she thought of what she had heard – that John the Baptizer had spoken, saying that a man who came to him for baptism was the one they’d been waiting for, the prophesied messiah. This man was a rabbi, a teacher, but whispers said he was so much more. Healings at his hands. Blind men seeing, crippled walking, souls rejoicing. She closed her eyes, pictured the man and what he might look like. What he might be wearing. She pictured his prayer garment and thought of how the corner of it, the tzitziyot, was called the wings of the garment.

The wings of the garment.

The wings.

With wings.

She felt it first in the pit of her stomach, a hard, hopeful knot. From all she had heard this man was indeed the one who would come to heal, not only her, but all mankind.

He had been easy to find. She had simply followed the crowd that pushed against him. She walked with her head covered, the covering pulled across her face with her hands that she clutched before her face, her head bowed.

Even though Eliana felt that this man called Yeshua was the messiah and knew touching his garment could heal her, she was fearful as she approached him. She was impure and she knew that if she touched him – this pure man – he would also become impure. He paused to speak with a man and someone in the crowd bumped her and she stumbled forward. He was so close. So close. She lowered herself to the ground as he stood, slowing reaching out. If she could just touch — Her hand trembled and she clutched her fingers into a fist, biting her lower lip, closing her eyes, hesitating.

Adonai, Adonai. . .” she whispered, her lips dry.

She opened her eyes, drew a breath slow into her lungs, and stretched out her hand again, a sob gurling deep in her chest as her fingertips brushed the twisted wool at the edge his prayer shawl. Comfort and warmth flowed through her immediately and the pain she had suffered under for so long was gone. It was gone. She couldn’t feel the crunching agony within her womb. She couldn’t feel anything but peace.

The blood she had felt drip slowly down her leg, off and on, so many days for the last 12 years suddenly stopped. She felt dry where she had wet for so long. Eliana stood abruptly and turned to leave, to go home, get away from the crowds, think about what had happened, about what her future might hold now.

“Who touched my clothes?”

The voice of Yeshua startled Eliana and she looked back to see him looking around him, searching the crowd for the person who had touched him. A lightening bolt of fear coursed through her. She had been careful only to touch the tzitziyot, not him. How had he known? Even one of Yeshua’ followers expressed disbelief that he wanted to know who had touched him and pointed out that people were all around him. Anyone of them could have touched him.

“I felt power go out from me.”

Eliana trembled in fear, her breathing shallow. She clutched her hands together to try to stop the shaking. He knew someone had reached out for his healing. He knew.

How could he know?

How could he know unless. . .?

She watched him and fell instantly to her knees.

The words spilled out of her

“It was me, teacher.”

She felt, rather than saw him turn to her. Her eyes were on the ground, trembles shivering through her.  “I have been bleeding, unclean for 12 years. I have been to every doctor. I have tried everything. I was shunned by my family, my community. But when I heard about you – when I heard of those you had healed, I knew – I knew you could take it all away and heal me. I knew you were the one who has been prophesied.”

He kneeled to her level, cupped her chin in his hand. She lifted her eyes slowly, to eyes soft with compassion.

“Your trust has healed you,” he said softly, so soft she could barely hear him. Then he spoke again, louder. “Your trust, daughter, has healed you. Go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

Her sister’s voice yanked Eliana from her memories of the day.

“Eliana! Have you finished the bread?”

“Yes, Ledah, I have.”

“Well, bring it. We are ready for dinner.”

Sunlight poured in through the window of the family home and across the table lined with food. Ledah’s family sat on the floor, children with big brown eyes looking kindly and expectedly at Eliana as she handed her sister the bread mixture. Her sister immediately started cooking the bread over the small fire pit just outside the door.

“We shall celebrate today,” Ledah said with a smile at Eliana as she placed the bread in the bowl. “Jeremiah has slaughtered our best lamb to celebrate your healing. It still makes no sense, but I don’t care. It is a wonderful day!”

Eliana smiled and shrugged. “I don’t understand it either. All I know is when I touched his garment, I was healed. I can’t explain it. I can’t tell you more than that. But I no longer suffer the way I did.”

Ledah shook her head. “It makes no sense, Eliana. A mere man can not heal you by you touching his garment.”

“Then he is not a mere man, is he?”

“Eliana, we have all heard these stories before. Supposed messiahs come to rescue the Jews. Yet here we sit under Roman rule. Don’t start believing all that nonsense now.”

“I don’t know what to believe, yet, but I know what happened to me and I know I am healed, Ledah. I know I have a lightness I have not known for 12 years. This is a gift I can not take lightly.”

Ledah took her older sister’s hand, squeezed it and smiled. “And that’s all that matters. That you are back with us and soon you will live life again among your people.”

Live life again? Eliana didn’t even know what that meant. After so many year alone, watching her husband remarry and have children from afar, she didn’t even know how to enter life again.

She couldn’t imagine any man wanting to marry her, not after she’d been cast aside by her husband. Her chance of having children was gone.

Yet, she had her health again and that in itself opened up hope to her.

And hope? Well, hope meant anything was possible now.

Fiction Thursday: Fully Alive Chapter 3

I finally found some time to sit and finish Chapter 3. As always, this is a story in progress, so there will be most likely be typos, plot holes, etc. I’ll rewrite and edit it prior to publishing it in the future on Kindle.

If you’re looking for other fiction I’ve written you can find my first book, A Story to Tell, on Kindle; my second book, chapter by chapter, here, or at the link at the top of the page under A New Beginning, or my short story Quarantined. I’m also sharing The Farmer’s Daughter on Fridays.

“Eliana, you must understand. Your bleeding does not stop. You are tuma. Unclean. I can not continue our marriage covenant any longer. There isn’t even a possibility of continuing my family’s line with you in this condition and there is no possibility of us  . . .”

Josiah turned to look at Eliana, pain in his eyes. He shook his head and turned from her.

“My heart is broken but this is the way it must be. Arrangements have already been made and the divorce will be finalized within a fortnight. I will give you your certificate of divorce then.”

Eliana fell on her knees to the dirt floor of the home she had shared with her husband for only three years before the bleeding started and wouldn’t stop. Eventually he had cast her out and she’d been living in a small home behind theirs because Jewish law called her unclean.

Her body shook with sobs that rose from deep within her as Josiah continued to stand with his back to her.

“Josiah!” she cried out between sobs. “Please. I love you. I am your wife. You can not abandon me at such a time. I am frightened and no doctor has helped me. I already live away from you, I can’t make you unclean. Please, wait . . . wait for me to be healed.”

A cold shiver rushed through her body. She had been shamed so much already, would she now be further shamed by being cast away by the man she had loved for so long? Panic seized her and without thinking she lunged forward, grasping Josiah’s hand, pressing it to her cheek.

“Do not shame me further, Josiah!”

Josiah ripped his hand from hers and staggered back as if struck by a blow.

“Eliana! No! You have made me unclean! I must go to the mikvah now to be cleansed! Stop this! You must accept our marriage is over. I will no longer continue to be bound in marriage to a woman I can’t even touch or . . . or make love to, have children with. A man can’t be expected to live such a lonely existence without his needs being met.”

He turned away from her, yanking the door to the home open. “I will provide you with a small sum of money to help you find food and shelter,” he said, his tone cold and detached. “You may stay in the house I have provided until you find a new home. Please be gone from this house when I return. Goodbye, Eliana. May Yahweh protect and bless you in your future.”

Eliana screamed at the closed door several moments, but soon collapsed in exhaustion. She had no strength to mourn. Blood had flowed from her for so long she wondered how she still breathed at all, let alone how she had managed to function to prepare her own food, clean her clothes and wash the clothes of the gentiles who knew nothing of her lengthy bleeding.

Josiah spoke of loneliness. He knew nothing of the isolation and loneliness she had faced for 5 years now. He knew nothing of the looks of disgust from those in her own community. He knew nothing of what she had suffered because he had turned from her when she needed him most.

Looking around the room, prostrate on the floor, she remembered the early days of marriage with Josiah. She remembered laughter, warm kisses, intimate moments within the bonds of marriage.

“We shall call him Tikvah. ‘Hope’,” Josiah had said, his hands on her protruding belly.

She laughed. “But we don’t even know if it will be a boy or a girl.”

“It will be a boy,” he said, laughing as he leaned close to kiss her. “A big, strong boy to help me in the fields.”

Eliana had laughed with him and now she wished she could remember how to laugh.

The day she held their son, Tikvah, lifeless in her arms, mere minutes after birth, she had forgotten how to laugh or even what laughter sounded like.

Josiah had become more distant, snared in his own grief, unable to soothe Elaina’s emotional pain. When the bleeding wouldn’t stop after birth, trickling each day, she became worried.

“It will stop,” her mother told her. “Do not worry, Eliana. This happened to my sister after she lost her baby, but the bleeding stopped.”

And eventually the bleeding slowed, her energy returned and Eliana was certain happiness would one day return to her, Josiah would hold her in his arms, and another baby would come.

The water of the mikvah was warm and inviting the day the bleeding stopped, and she prayed it would cleanse her from the tuma, make her clean again, help Josiah love her again. His mouth was warm on her own that night as he believed she had been cleansed but she no longer felt the passion she had before the loss. Something had withered inside her, faded away.

A week later she woke and felt warmth beneath her garments. Looking at her bed clothes she stared in disbelief at the growing red stain. The bleeding had returned.

“I love you, Eliana, but you must stay here. I can no longer have you in the home.”

Josiah tossed blankets at her feet, a small sack of coins, a few weeks later. The barren room around her reminded her of her barren womb and she wept when he had closed the door, leaving her alone in the darkened room. She stayed there, alone, only her sister visiting her with food and company a few times a week, watching Josiah live his life at the bottom of the hill, inviting friends to his home, working in the fields, and eventually speaking with Baruch, the butcher, who Eliana knew had three young, unmarried daughters at home.

“Elohim. Please. Please.”

She had paced the floor, tears in her eyes. She clutched at the top of her dress and sat, weak again.

“Don’t let Josiah marry again, leave me behind,” she had whispered to herself.

She could not even reach out to him, beg him to not choose another wife. Touching him would make him unclean like she was. She should have known then that this day would come, the day he would tell her she was no longer wanted, and he would no longer wait for her to be healed.

Eliana wished for death the night after Josiah told her he was marrying another to give him children.

“You can remain as my wife and return if the bleeding stops,” he had told her in a soft, hopeful voice.

But the bleeding had not stopped, and Eliana had watched as Abbigail’s belly had grown rounder and then later when she held a small newborn against her chest.

She now wished for death again, knowing Josiah didn’t want to wait to see if she would be healed. He had decided he truly no longer wanted her, no longer loved her.

She dragged her nails along her skin, wished for something hard and sharp to stab through her veins, let the blood run from every inch of her like it had been seeping from beneath her garments for so long. She imagined death enveloping her like a black sheet, pulling her down and down until she no longer had to think about the pain, the hurt, the rejection, the loss.

Do it.”

A voice hissed at her from the darkness, barely audible.

Her hair and clothes damp against her felt like chains as she thrashed under the blanket, trapped between sleep and wakefulness.

End it.”

She was choking, fingers tight around her throat, squeezing.

No one loves you. No one ever will.”

She reached out, tried to scream, but no sound came.

Shame whispered, breath hot against her face. “You are unclean. You will never be clean.

Depression growled deep in her soul. “You’re worthless.”

Rejection taunted. “You’re nothing. Nothing but a burden to all you touch.

Despair urged her to stop the voices, stop the hurt, stop the terror gnawing at her insides. “Just one cut and it will all be over.”

Eliana screamed out, trying to pull away from the claws pulling her down. “Adonai! Adonai! Help me!”

She gasped as she awoke, sun pouring in on her from the small window above her bed. She threw her blankets from her and stood quickly looking around the room frantically.

Had it all been a dream? Were the spirts still there?

“Eliana? Are you awake?”

Her sister’s voice startled her and she backed against the wall, sliding down it and pulling her knees to her chest.

When Ledah opened the door, Eliana’s face was pressed against her knees as she rocked slowly and sobbed.

“Oh, Eliana.” Ledah kneeled beside her, wrapping her arms tightly around her and pulling her close. “Eliana, I am so sorry for these many years of suffering you’ve faced. I will not leave you. I am here and I am not afraid to touch you. Do you understand?”

Eliana nodded but couldn’t speak, sobs choking her words, tears soaking her hair and dirt stained robe.

Oh Adonai, she prayed, clutching to her sister’s garment. Save me. Don’t let the Spirit of Death torment me any longer. Please, bring healing to me.


The sound of footsteps outside her window woke Josefa. She rubbed her eyes as she looked out the window, watching a crowd of people walking, laughing, talking past. Women and men were carrying children on their shoulders or leading them through the crowds. Older women were walking slowly with walking sticks. Men were speaking in hushed tones while other men spoke loudly, debating theological subjects.

“Where are those people going?” she asked her mother when she walked bleary eyed into the living area.

Her mother was busy kneading flour to bake bread.

“They say Yeshua is speaking on the hill today. They want to hear what he has to say.”

“Can I go, mama?”

“We have things to do here, Josefa. And you have not had your morning meal yet. You should eat.”

“I can take bread with me. I could go and tell you what he says.”

“Go alone? I don’t like the idea of that. . .”

Josefa glanced behind her, out the window and caught a glimpse of her mother’s friend Elizabeth among the crowd.

“Look, there is Elizabeth! I could walk with her.”

Sitting back on her feet, Myriam saw her daughter, saw the brightness in her eyes, the hope. She sighed. There were worse things than her daughter learning from the man who so many, including herself, were beginning to believe was truly the son of God.

“Hurry and catch up with her but don’t stay long. Come home for lunch and tell us what he says.”

She wrapped a cloth around a piece of bread she’d made fresh that morning. “Take this with you and eat.”

Josefa threw her arms around her mama’s middle quickly, snatching the bread and darting from the room.

“Thank you, mama!” she called over her shoulder.

Outside the sun was bright. Excited voices mingled with the sounds of the street – creaks and groans of a merchant’s cart, a woman calling for her child, a man calling out the price of the fish he was selling, laughter from a group of men gathered together outside the synagogue. Josefa pushed forward through the crowd toward Elizabeth, reading out and touching arm.

“Mama said I can come with you. Are we going to hear Yeshua?”

Elizabeth’s dark hair hung loose down her back, bouncing as she walked. Her smile was sweet and welcoming as she turned to look at Josesfa.

“Yes, Josefa. We are going to hear what the teacher has to say. Is it okay with your mother that you come with me?”

“Yes. She said I could come if I was with you.”

 Elizabeth’s youngest daughter, Lydia, held tightly to her mother’s hand, her toddler cheeks flushed in the warm sun.

Josefa slid her hand into Elizabeth’s other hand.

Elizabeth squeezed her hand gently. “Tell me, Josefa. How do you feel since the teacher came to visit you?”

“Amazing, Elizabeth. The world has never been brighter, food never tasted so incredible. It’s as if life is new again.”

Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, Josefa, you always have sounded older than you are. Sometimes I think that you were born a little old woman.”

Josefa smiled, hoping that Elizabeth’s words were meant to be a compliment.

A man behind them walked faster so he was walking in step with them.

“Are you Jairus’ daughter?” he asked, breathless.

He didn’t wait for Josefa to answer.

“Yeshua brought you back to life, didn’t he? What was it like? What did he say? Who do you believe he is? Is he truly the son of God?”

Words rushed out of him quickly, too quick for Josefa to answer and even if she had been able to fit her response in between the questions, she didn’t know what to say.

The rabbi had told her parents to treasure the miracle as their own and not to share it with others.

Elizabeth pulled Josefa against her as they walked.

“She’s just a child,” she said to the man. “Don’t bother her with so many questions.”

The man fell silent, looked down at the ground as they walked.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

He looked up and they followed his gaze to the top of the hill where Yeshua stood with his disciples and other followers.

“What do you think?” Elizabeth asked the man as the crowd slowed their steps. “Who do you say he is?”

The man shook his head slowly, never taking is eyes off the teacher.

“I don’t know. Truly. I do not know.”

“Hear me, everyone, and understand.”

The voice of Yeshua drifted to Josefa and she strained to hear, walking beyond Elizabeth and the man, pushing through the crowd.

“There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him, but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Josefa sat among others near the front of the crowd, pondering Yeshua’ words as he spoke. So much of his words were a mystery to her but she silently prayed Jehovah would show her later what the words meant.

An hour passed before Yeshua’ raised his hand to those asking questions.

“There will be time for answers later. I must go and break bread with my disciples now.”

Josefa looked over her shoulder for Elizabeth but couldn’t see her. She knew she should turn around and find her so they could return home but instead she rushed to follow Yeshua and the men who followed him, careful to stay several steps behind.

They sat next to the water, under an olive tree as another man approached with baskets.

“I have found us food – bread and fish, some fruit. Let us eat.”

As the men began to eat Josefa crouched behind a mound of dirt several feet away, close enough to hear their words.

“Where shall we go next, Master?” a man asked Yeshua.

“Wherever people will listen to us,” Yeshua said, breaking a piece of bread off.

“Master, I have a question – about what you said earlier today,” a disciple sat close to Yeshua, knee propped up and an arm laying across his knee.

“Yes, Thomas . . . please ask.”

“When you were speaking about whatever enters a man will not defile him. Does this mean that there are no rules about what foods we should eat? Should we ignore the law Moses gave us?”

Yeshua took a drink of water from a cup one of the disciples offered him. He sighed and leaned toward the man he had called Thomas.

“Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from the outside cannot defile him because it does not enter his heart, but his stomach and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods. What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Josefa leaned back against the rock mulling the words over in her mind as the men ate and began to talk about their plans for the rest of the day, where they would rest that night and what cities they hoped to reach later in the week.

Hurried footsteps startled her. “Josefa!”

She looked up to see Elizabeth standing above her. “What are you doing? Your mother trusted me with you. Now come. It’s time to get home. Your mother will want you to help prepare for the afternoon meal.”

Josefa walked behind Elizabeth, the voice of Yeshua and his followers fading with each step. Her mind wandered to life before Yeshua had healed her as Lydia reached up and slipped her tiny had in hers.

Josefa thought about how every day had seemed routine, mundane, not full of life and hope before she’d been risen from the dead. She’d never thought about her future before then. She’d thought about chasing frogs with her friend Caleb and learning how to sow and make bread with her mother. She’d worried about who she might be betrothed to by her parents. But now she thought about so much more. She thought about how she could help others feel the way she felt; how she could show them how amazing life could really be and what a gift it was.

“Josefa, now that you are well life seems normal again,” her brother had told her one day after Yeshua had visited.

But Josefa didn’t want to go back to normal. She didn’t want to look back at the normal of her life before. She wanted to look forward to a new type of normal – a life full of opportunities to really live.

What Anthony Bourdain taught me

“[When I die], I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted and advantages squandered.”
― Anthony Bourdain

I’m not sure how healthy it is to cry off and on for two days over the death of a person you didn’t even know but this week I have done that.


Photo from

Cutting myself a little slack, I know some of the emotions from the death of writer and former “chef” Anthony Bourdain stem from the still raw loss of my aunt, and the unsteady feeling I now live with that my world is tilting a bit off kilter. Bourdain was a man who called himself simply a “cook” when others called him a chef and became well known after writing an essay about working in the cooking industry and even more well known from a show on the Travel Network called “No Reservations” and his recent TV foray on CNN called “Parts Unknown.”

I don’t like change. I never have. I’m a creature of habit and like my routines. I don’t like things to be different, no matter if it’s a change in my toothpaste to a change in who is in my life. I don’t mind spontaneous moments or last minute plan changes, within reason, but I don’t like when that change of plan includes the removal of people from my life.

Anthony Bourdain wasn’t really part of my life, yet he was. He was who I listened to when I needed to be reminded the world was bigger than this small town I lived in. He was who I went to when I needed to remember I may have had a cruddy day but there was always great tasting, delicious food available to be cooked and sampled to make it seem a little better.

My family watched reruns of No Reservations on Saturday nights and I cooked while the dishes Tony ate inspired me to try harder to create something worth eating.

When I say Tony reminded me there was food to help my day seem better, I don’t mean it in that unhealthy “using food as a crutch” way. It’s simply that food is good and good tasting food is even better. We are humans and we need to eat and if we are going to eat we might as well eat food that tastes good. Good tasting food doesn’t always mean processed, crap food, either, as Tony showed on his shows.

Yeah, sure he featured scenes of him gorging on some of the most disgusting processed, chemically-laced food you’ve ever seen more than a few hundred times over the years but he also showcased some of the most simple, divine and flavorful dishes on the planet created with some of the most delicious and healthy ingredients known to man.

To be honest, I didn’t see Anthony Bourdain living much beyond his 60s. I always thought he would die from a heart attack induced by some of the garbage he shoved into his pie hole, as he might call it. The thought of a day when he wasn’t around to watch do crazy things and eat even more bizarre things was always unsettling to me so I tried not to think about it. I knew it would come, though, but I thought it would be years from now and from a plane crash, a diving accident, food poisoning, a shark attack, not from his body hanging from the end of a bathrobe belt.

Anthony and I didn’t agree when it came to the spiritual world. He was an outspoken atheist, maybe sometimes an agnostic, and I have always been a Christian. There are lessons he taught with his life that I don’t want to learn from, nor or they lessons I care for my children to heed. By his own admission, he did too many drugs and drank too much (though he had been drug free for many years before he died) and he frequented places I never would have. Still, I learned a lot from Anthony Bourdain, and not just what not to do.

For one, he taught me to live fully and ironically he taught me this one even more so by his death.

Anthony definitely knew how to go out and experience every bit of life he could – traveling to every country you could think of, eating meals and meeting people wherever he went. I don’t experience every bit of life and it’s a change I hope I can make in the future. I want to experience freely and fearlessly, while recognizing the need to shield body and soul from things that could steal the joy of life from me.

Anthony showed me how to taste fully, breathe fully, feel fully, laugh loudly and immerse myself wholeheartedly in life. He did that and I wish I knew what made him forget how amazing that could be.

With all that traveling, much of it without his family, it’s clear that Anthony probably faced some very lonely nights. Lonely nights where he was trapped with his thoughts, fears, regrets.

Maybe he regretted not seeing his daughter more, of leaving two wives, of drinking too much, hurting too many. We don’t yet know what drove him to end his life the way he did but it’s really no surprise the demons he battled with finally overtook him and drowned out the voice of reason and hope and the love he’d always had for life. Some don’t believe in real demons, but I do. I believe in servants of the devil who whisper lies in our ears.

“You’re not good enough.”

“You will never realize your dream.”

“You’re a horrible mother.”

“You are unloveable and indescribably impossible to care about.”

“You’ll never be worthy of love.”

Who knows what lies were whispered in Anthony Bourdain’s ears that night. Whispers that grew to deafening screams that he only knew one way to drown out. I can’t save Anthony Bourdain. I wish I could. Oh, how I wish I could. But maybe we can save someone else. Maybe we can drown out the whispers with words of life. Words of hope. And the word of truth.

For we are all wonderfully made.

We were created out of love by an ultimate creator to be loved and to show love.

And you, and I, were created to life fully alive.

So let’s do that until God decides it’s time for us to live fully with Him.

I don’t know if living life fully is what Anthony Bourdain would have thought his life, and even his death, would have taught someone, but both were worthy lessons for me to learn.


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