O Lord, this Thanksgiving, we give special thanks that our family knows You through Jesus. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1)—OMG, even if that togetherness is expressed through breakneck air hockey, euchre, Ping-Pong, and tossing sponge burritos at our relatives.
Pulling a camper is like being followed by a shadow that’s gained 2,000 pounds.
Sure, I’ve spelled my husband en route to nearby campgrounds. When straight roads send him to Lullaby Land, I save our lives by driving short stretches on state highways.
But brave roaring, dragon-like semis on interstates? Motorcycles whipping in and out of lanes at Star Wars speeds? Han Solo, I’m not.
Especially as the rearview mirror is rendered useless.
My husband installed extended mirrors. However, they warn that reflected objects are closer than they appear.
That’s nice. Even humble, and I admire humility. But sorry, nice mirrors, when changing lanes, I want accuracy. And if up-close-and-personal encounters with construction barrels throw you off, I really don’t need views up my nostrils.
Especially when parking. We often need to stop for gas, food, and/or restrooms. Those paltry reasons pale, however, as we focus on more profound questions: Will we find a place to park the camper? Afterward, can we get out?
Once, as I contorted truck and camper in my 100th effort to leave a convenience store, Hubby lost all hope. “Will we spend the rest of our lives behind Kwickie Mart?”
Not exactly the retirement we’d envisioned.
I tried to console him: “Living on Little Debbie® cakes and beef jerky wouldn’t be so bad.”
My attempts scared traffic to a dead stop. A hundred yards away.
Thus, we finally left Kwickie Mart.
Hauling a camper never bores us. Once, while I was driving down South, purple-cloud giants charged us. They spit lightning and smothered us with avalanches of rain that drowned car taillights ahead. If I had risked pulling over, my flashers would have disappeared, blown out like candles.
Did I slow down? Not much. Storm or no storm, drivers who never drive less than 85 mph — on roads, shoulders and in parking lots — can be found everywhere. Even in easygoing Mississippi.
My prayer life shot up several notches.
Hubby’s, already flourishing, set new records.
Jesus took the wheel.
Afterward, when He had guided us to sunshine, Hubby tried to talk Jesus into taking all my shifts.
He smiled and said, no, we needed to grow in faith. Together.
Though Hubby still had theological doubts about Kwickie Mart experiences, and I struggled with mirror-nostril crises, we indeed have learned to depend on Jesus and each other. With His help, we and our 2,000-pound shadow return home, safe and sound.
We will hit the interstate again soon.
It’s only fair I give other drivers advance warning: Look out, I’ll be pulling a camper!
Prepare to grow in faith.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever pulled a camper? Driven an RV?
O Lord, why a fussy, tropical plant named after a politician should figure prominently in commemorating Your Advent seems a mystery. But You designed lovely, gaudy poinsettias. You also loved a party … and disliked nitpickers. So, OMG, I will celebrate You any and every way I can!
For years, I celebrated holidays by directing church musicals. One fateful Easter, I chose Watch the Lamb, which focused on Jesus as the Lamb of God. A live lamb would make the ancient story come alive.
During rehearsals, the cast greeted our lamb with enthusiasm.
Church janitors did not. “Do something before that animal pees all over — or worse.”
Why hadn’t I considered this minor complication? Especially as the lamb made entrances down different aisles.
Most Passover lambs in 30 A.D. did not wear Pampers®.
What other option existed?
God provided the perfect solution: we would cover the stage and church aisles with the burlap-like backside of my recently discarded carpet.
However, God didn’t send angels to cut, arrange and duct tape the carpet throughout the sanctuary. After two unspiritual, aching-knee days, all my bases were covered. No worries now, right?
Loony the Lamb had his own ideas about entrances and exits. A hay bale helped keep him quiet, but for obvious reasons, we avoided feeding him too much.
The 60-member cast’s noise made Loony more nervous than your Aunt Nellie. Kids petted him without mercy. Bright lights and heat caused him to hyperventilate. During dress rehearsal, Loony the Lamb collapsed onstage in a wooly, quivering heap.
Watch the Lamb? No audience would want to watch this.
Two animal lovers carried the prostrate lamb outside while we prayed — and Loony recovered. One guy built a pen outside the stage door where our prima donna cropped grass between scenes. Visiting hours were restricted, with no autographs. We did everything but paint a star on Loony’s gate.
Thankfully, he showed no new signs of cardiac arrest. His brassy baaaaa erupted only once during performances — during solemn prayer after the crucifixion.
Our ingenious actors shifted and blocked escape routes, all the while looking very holy.
One child earned my special appreciation: “Loony was peein’ on my foot the whole time Jesus was on the cross, but I didn’t say nothin’.”
Even after Loony returned home, I couldn’t shake off sheep. Scriptures about lambs leaped from the Bible’s pages. Jesus frequently called his followers His sheep. After Watch the Lamb, I figured He didn’t mean it as a compliment.
Nevertheless, the King of Heaven volunteered to take on the title “Lamb of God.” It meant daily life with stupid sheep and deadly encounters with wolves in sheep’s clothing. What God in His right mind would do that?
Only a King who loves confused, clueless sheep more than His own life.
Even one dithery pageant director named Rachael — which, BTW, means “lamb.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever participated in a pageant/play that taught you more than you expected?
Jesus, I know You’re eternal, but for us, a half-century holds a lot of years. M*A*S*H is more than a half-century old. Nerf balls were invented half a century ago. OMG, I never thought I’d say this, but, oh, to be ONLY a half-century old!
(Note: I wrote this piece in 2019, with no idea of what lay ahead. Reviewing it, I thought it might prove even more relevant for Christmas 2020.)
Children nowadays text Santa with requests. Some use PowerPoint presentations. (“Last year, you brought a baby brother instead of a puppy. Seriously, Santa, you and Amazon Prime really messed up.”)
Yet, up-close-and-personal encounters continue as children assure Santa they’ve been good. He probably doesn’t do background checks, because even mean kids make out like Christmas bandits.
The majority, however, look scared.
Reading storybooks on Mommy’s lap about jolly St. Nick felt cozy and familiar.
Sitting on a big, bearded hippie’s lap doesn’t. Children inform the entire mall this wasn’t their idea. The only photos taken feature close-ups of tonsils. Or kids’ calling Uber for a ride to Bongo Bongo.
Yet loving grown-ups assure them, “Don’t be afraid.”
They’d never endanger children. Even hired Santas probably would have found easier work — like digging ditches — if they didn’t care about kids.
The children are safe. Cherished.
I find similar, odd “fear nots” in the biblical Christmas story.
When the angel Gabriel told Mary about her impossible pregnancy. When another urged Joseph to marry her, carrying a Child not his. When shepherds hit the ground before a regiment of angels. Mary, Joseph and the shepherds had real reasons to be afraid.
These strange visitors weren’t wearing wings and halos from Dollar Tree. Seeing genuine angels today while shoveling snow or brewing coffee — who wouldn’t set Olympic records for the 10-mile dash?
Besides, the angels’ words smacked of the revolutionary.
In Mary’s culture, a woman pregnant with a supposedly illegitimate Child might be stoned. A man who married her would bear her stigma, affecting relationships and his job. Having left flocks untended, the shepherds also might lose their meager livelihood.
Worse, the angels proclaimed the Baby was a King. Paranoid Herod, who killed family members, considered that high treason. Also, Romans readily crucified anyone who didn’t worship Caesar.
O Lord, not a normal Christmas! We exchanged gifts with family, not around our Christmas tree, but met in a park we’d never seen before. Sharing fervent, but distanced love and hot chocolate to combat chilly Michigan weather helped, but — crazy!
What’s that? OMG, of course, You’re right. The first Christmas was pretty crazy, too.
O Lord, You and I both recall the Christmas I carried my first child — a blessed miracle. However, the smell of Grandma’s traditional Christmas spareribs sent my stomach spinning like a Tilt-a-Whirl®. Not so wonderful. OMG, Mary, who probably traveled to Bethlehem while in early labor, knew what tough miracles were all about.
O, Lord, I hope all the gifts I ordered arrive on time. Um … exactly what did I order? But OMG, when You sent the greatest Gift of all, Your Son, You knew exactly what You’d given. You got Him in the right place at the right time — even without Amazon Prime.