Tag Archives: Mary

Classic Post: Of Blessed Barbarians and Baby Jesus

Image by Case Newton from Pixabay.

This post first appeared on December 28, 2022.

Years ago, my husband and I prepared for a barbarian invasion.

We hid valuables. We said prayers. We kept watch, knowing they’d sweep away our well-ordered lives.

They came.

We charged outside … and retrieved the world’s most beloved barbarians, our two-year-old granddaughter and 10-month-old grandson, from car seats.

Baby allowed us to cuddle, but his mind was fixed on his search-and-destroy mission.

“Gwandma! Gwandpa!”

Baby immediately yanked our books from shelves. When we interrupted, he reacted with a type A personality’s outrage.

His sister flipped light switches. “On! Off!” The little blonde goddess obviously controlled the universe.

Time to civilize barbarians — a little. We played with blocks, love-worn stuffed animals and an ancient Fisher-Price parking garage our children enjoyed.

The grandchildren zoomed cars down the ramp, cheering wipeouts. The scene reminded me of Christmas parking lots. And (shiver!) future 16th birthdays.

This parking garage has entertained our three children and all seven grandchildren. Like Grandma and Grandpa, its parts creak and groan, but it still works.

I offered a Nativity set with soft finger puppets. Baby happily crawled around with Wise Men in his mouth. Retrieving bowls from my cabinets, his sister made imaginary applesauce for the Nativity crew.

Peace on earth reigned.

Too soon, they had to leave. Hubby and I helped their parents search for bag, bottles, coats.

Our little blonde goddess knew she ruled our universe.

We wanted to send the Nativity set home with them, an early Christmas present. Hopefully, gnawing the Wise Men would keep Baby quiet during the trip. Mary and Joseph bore evidence Little Girl had found real applesauce for their dinner party. We corralled animals, angels and shepherds.

Where was Baby Jesus?

Hubby sifted through the toy box again. I scanned refrigerator shelves, hoping Little Girl hadn’t decided Jesus needed air-conditioning.

“Is Jesus in the parking garage?” I yelled to Hubby.

Not a question I’d ever expected to ask during my lifetime.

Shaking my head as I raised the toilet lid, I hoped He wouldn’t be floating in a not-so-sanitary Sea of Galilee. No, but new anxiety seized me. Had someone flushed Him?

“I’ll find Jesus and mail Him,” I promised.

But I’d wanted our grandchildren to get to know Him during Christmas.

I dove under furniture again and discovered Baby Jesus behind the stereo.

“How did He end up there?” Our daughter dusted Him off.

I shrugged. “Who knows? Jesus sometimes turns up in the oddest places.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where did Jesus show up during your Christmas season?

Classic Post: Miracle Morning Sickness

Image by Eukalyptus from Pixabay.

This post first appeared on December 22, 2021.

Unlike Mary, Jesus’s mother, and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, my husband and I didn’t see angels when we learned we would be parents. Medical tests one December confirmed our first child was under construction. Our Christmas miracle.

Other confirmations seemed less wonderful. Entering Grandma’s kitchen Christmas morning, I nearly fainted. The fragrance of spareribs, usually mouth-watering, spun my stomach onto a Tilt-A-Whirl ride.

Soon my waistline and feet vanished. One guy, playing a game at my couples’ shower, guessed my belly diameter measured seven feet. He shouldn’t have lived to procreate. Because his wife was my friend, I allowed it.

Given pregnancy and delivery, how does the human race continue?

Yet, according to Dr. Luke’s biblical account, devout, elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for that miracle. Marginalized because of infertility, they’d lost hope.

Then Gabriel, an angel, appeared to the freaked-out priest, proclaiming they’d have a son.

Even an angel couldn’t convince Zechariah. Still, as Elizabeth’s baby bump swelled, his faith grew.

Meanwhile, Gabriel visited teenaged Mary in Nazareth and greeted her as the soon-to-be mother of the Messiah.

Image by dodo71 from Pixabay.

Mary was engaged, not married. She hadn’t been with Joseph or anyone else. This intruder was delusional, maybe dangerous. If I’d been Mary, I would’ve called 911.

Instead, she believed he came from God. Mary offered herself to whatever He had in store.

Gabriel also said Elizabeth was pregnant too.

This, Mary had to see. Had Gabriel shared God’s truth? Or was that stranger crazier than she?

When big-bellied Elizabeth greeted Mary as the mother of her Lord, Mary’s festering doubts disappeared.

Elizabeth knew. Mary didn’t have to explain. Or hide.

Image by gamagapix from Pixabay.

The pregos could tell their stories without boring each other. They could gripe about swelling feet. They agreed that neither could stand spareribs.

Both, however, had developed cravings for pickled goat. If Zechariah balked at buying it, Mary would.

God gave those women each other. Elizabeth could face people asking if John was her grandson. Mary could go home to her parents. Face Joseph. Face rabbis who might throw rocks.

Our daughter’s first Christmas. She made the spareribs worth it.

Mary would need more miracles. Thankfully, God wasn’t finished yet.

Because Mary accepted stressing along with blessing, Jesus came and redeemed humankind.

Today, His miracles also may include not-so-spiritual complications, some nastier than morning sickness. Some, dreams come true.

He’s not finished yet.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you think He will work in 2024?

Of Blessed Barbarians and Baby Jesus

Image by Case Newton from Pixabay.

Years ago, my husband and I prepared for a barbarian invasion.

We hid valuables. We said prayers. We kept watch, knowing they’d sweep away our well-ordered lives.

They came.

We charged outside … and retrieved the world’s most beloved barbarians, our 2-year-old granddaughter and 10-month-old grandson, from car seats.

“Gwandma! Gwandpa!”

Baby allowed us to cuddle him, but his mind was fixed on his search-and-destroy mission.

Baby immediately yanked our books from shelves. When we interrupted, he reacted with a type A personality’s outrage.

His sister flipped light switches. “On! Off!” The little blonde goddess obviously controlled the universe.

Time to civilize barbarians — a little. We played with blocks, love-worn stuffed animals and an ancient Fisher-Price parking garage our children once enjoyed.

The grandchildren zoomed cars down the ramp, cheering wipeouts. The scene reminded me of Christmas parking lots. And (shiver!) future 16th birthdays.

Our little blonde goddess knew she ruled our universe.

I offered a Nativity set with soft finger puppets. Baby happily crawled around with Wise Men in his mouth. Retrieving bowls from my cabinets, his sister made imaginary applesauce for the Nativity crew.

Peace on earth reigned.

Too soon, they had to leave. Hubby and I helped their parents search for bag, bottles, coats.

We wanted to send the Nativity set home with them, an early Christmas present. Hopefully, gnawing the Wise Men would keep Baby quiet during the trip. Mary and Joseph bore evidence Little Girl had found real applesauce for their dinner party. We corralled animals, angels and shepherds.

Where was Baby Jesus?

Hubby sifted through the toy box again. I scanned refrigerator shelves, hoping Little Girl hadn’t decided Jesus needed air-conditioning.

This parking garage has entertained our three children and all seven grandchildren. Like Grandma and Grandpa, its parts creak and groan, but it still works.

“Is Jesus in the parking garage?” I yelled to Hubby.

Not a question I’d ever expected to ask during my lifetime.

Shaking my head as I raised the toilet lid, I hoped He wouldn’t be floating in a not-so-sanitary Sea of Galilee. No, but new anxiety seized me. Had someone flushed Him?

“I’ll find Jesus and mail Him,” I promised.

But I’d wanted our grandchildren to get to know Him during Christmas.

I dove under furniture again and discovered Baby Jesus behind the stereo.

“How did He end up there?” Our daughter dusted Him off.

I shrugged. “Who knows? Jesus sometimes turns up in the oddest places.”

Image by schuylkillcountyink from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where did Jesus show up during your Christmas season?

Has Murphy Visited Your House?

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

This maxim originated in 1949 with Air Force Captain Edward A. Murphy, Jr., who ran a bungled aerospace experiment. Perhaps his holiday gathering didn’t resemble a Hallmark movie’s, either.

Few do. Anyone celebrating Christmas wrestles with Murphy’s Law.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.
  • If you’ve decorated, young children/grandchildren will un-decorate.
  • If you hide medicines from them, you’ll have hidden them even better from yourself.
  • If you’ve moved plants and breakables to your bedroom, they’ll remain safe — until you and your spouse rise for nocturnal bathroom visits.
  • If light strings work, five minutes later, they’ll short-circuit your entire block’s electrical grid. Repairmen will come “after the holidays.”

Murphy’s Law also wreaks havoc with holiday feasts. Along with meeting fat-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and pescatarian (fish only) requirements as well as free-range partridges that have roosted in pear trees, hosts face numerous other challenges.

Image by Oscar Portan from Pixabay.
  • If everyone shares dinner responsibilities, COVID-19, flu, road construction, blizzards and/or meteorite showers will necessitate a host’s wild dash for a turkey that can thaw and cook in 15 minutes.
  • If you make real giblet gravy, older diners recall Grandma’s tasted better. Younger ones request gravy-in-a-jar.
  • If you overload grandchildren with sugar, parents will disappear for a week.

Then, there is the weather.

  • If half your family votes for snowmen, and the other half for clear roads, you’ll receive a compromise politely called wintry mix. Less politely: slop.
  • If eight grandsons visit, it will slop all day. Every day.
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

Murphy’s Law loves to tinker with generational differences.

Image by mpmd2009 from Pixabay.
  • If the eight grandsons play Monopoly, keep ice bags handy.
  • If you own five identical, yellow toy cars from Cheerios® boxes, all your future NASCAR drivers will claim the same one.
  • Mary, Jesus’ mother, might have welcomed a little drummer boy, but most moms of infants — and cranky, old adults — don’t.
  • Though … if grandparents turn up “Jeopardy!” volume to seismic levels, they still insist children are too loud.
  • If no one brings up politics or COVID, the don’t let-your-kids-tell-my-kids-there-isn’t-a-Santa discussion keeps communication flowing.

With Murphy’s Law on the loose, grinches could present an excellent case to ban holiday get-togethers.

But grinches don’t understand that Family Law trumps Murphy’s. It declares love is worth risks. Worth gravy, Santa and Cheerios® car clashes. Worth learning to pronounce “pescatarian.”

After Christmas 2020, who would have it any other way?

We celebrated a merry, outdoors Christmas, but we’re glad we can hug this year!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How does Murphy’s Law affect your Christmas?

Miracle Morning Sickness

Unlike Mary, Jesus’s mother, and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, my husband and I didn’t see angels when we learned we would be parents. Medical tests one December confirmed our first child was under construction. Our Christmas miracle.

Other confirmations seemed less wonderful. Entering Grandma’s kitchen Christmas morning, I nearly fainted. The fragrance of spareribs, usually mouth-watering, spun my stomach onto a Tilt-A-Whirl ride. Our teeny-tiny daughter, who later adored Christmas cookies, ate zero that day.

Image by Eukalyptus from Pixabay.

Soon my waistline and feet vanished. One guy, playing a game at my couples’ shower, guessed my belly diameter measured seven feet. He shouldn’t have lived to procreate. Because his wife was my friend, I allowed it.

Given pregnancy and delivery, how does the human race continue?

Yet, according to Dr. Luke’s biblical account, devout, elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for that miracle. Marginalized because of infertility, they had lost hope.

Then Gabriel, an angel, appeared to the freaked-out priest, proclaiming they’d have a son.

Even an angel couldn’t convince Zechariah. Still, as Elizabeth’s baby bump swelled under old-lady dresses, his faith grew.

Meanwhile, Gabriel visited teenaged Mary in Nazareth and greeted her as the soon-to-be mother of the Messiah.

Mary was engaged, not married. She hadn’t been with Joseph or anyone else. This intruder was delusional, maybe dangerous. If I’d been Mary, I would’ve called 911.

Instead, she listened — and believed he came from God. Mary offered herself to whatever He had in store.

Image by dodo71 from Pixabay.

Gabriel also said Elizabeth was pregnant, too.

This, Mary had to see. Had Gabriel shared God’s truth? Or was that stranger crazier than she?

When big-bellied Elizabeth greeted Mary as the mother of her Lord, Mary’s festering doubts disappeared.

Elizabeth knew. Mary didn’t have to explain. Or hide.

The pregos could tell their stories without boring each other. They could gripe about swelling feet. They agreed that neither could stand spareribs.

Both, however, had developed cravings for pickled goat. If Zechariah balked at buying it, Mary would.

With her young body, she accomplished tasks creaky Elizabeth couldn’t. But the older woman’s lifelong faith, despite hardship, strengthened the teenager’s. God, who already had done miracles, wasn’t finished yet.

Image by gamagapix from Pixabay.

Because He gave those women each other, Elizabeth could face people asking if John was her grandson. Mary could go home to her parents. Face Joseph. Face rabbis who might throw rocks.

Our oldest daughter’s first Christmas. She made the spareribs worth it.

Mary would need more miracles. Still, God wasn’t finished yet.

Because Mary accepted stressing along with blessing, Jesus came and redeemed humankind.

Today, His miracles may also include not-so-spiritual complications, some nastier than morning sickness. Some, perhaps dreams come true.

He’s not finished yet.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you think He will work in 2022?

“Fear Not” — Are You Kidding Me?

(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.

Crazy times. Terrible times. Yet God’s message rang out: “Fear not.”

Today, we want to call Uber and escape this scary mess. Go to Bongo Bongo. Or Neptune.

Adult Jesus did, too. He knew His enemies would kill him. Yet, His life vibrated with that theme: “Fear not.”

Jesus could have blown away his foes. Instead, He used His murder to pay for human sin. Then, He laughed at death — that thing we fear most — and rose again.

Jesus wants us to know if we believe in Him, we are safe. Now. Forever. Loved. Cherished.

“Fear not.”

He wasn’t kidding Mary, Joseph or the shepherds. He isn’t kidding us, either. Or our children and grandchildren bawling on Santa’s lap.

Joy and peace to you this Christmas.

Really.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you trusting Jesus for 2021 — and your forever?

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16 NIV

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Miracle Morning Sickness

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.  

   

Hurray for Bossy Big Sisters!

Bossy Big Sisters often receive bad press, so I am setting the world straight.

My siblings and me in the 1960s.

You think I’ve got attitude? If you’d just listen occasionally, you’d find Bossy Big Sisters can prove very inspirational.

We even find them in the Bible. Few remember Moses’ big sister Miriam got stuck babysitting as Moses floated among the bulrushes. The Nile crocodiles probably weren’t as friendly as those on Animal Planet. Without Miriam’s help, Moses wouldn’t have survived in one piece to receive the Ten Commandments. But when he became a big shot in Pharaoh’s palace, do you think he remembered Miriam gave up Saturdays with her friends to save his hide? No-o-o.

In the New Testament, Martha (last name Stewart?) got carried away, fixing a fancy dinner party for Jesus. Her sister Mary didn’t show sufficient concern about presentation. Jesus had to remind Martha that God really didn’t care about matching napkin rings. On the other hand, if Mary had been in charge, Jesus and his hungry disciples might still be waiting for hamburgers.

Inspired by these Bossy Big Sisters, I shared important medical facts with my younger siblings. My sister would not have known she was born with a brick in her stomach if I had not informed her. Nor would she have realized the dangers of swallowing watermelon seeds. First, I said, green vines would curl out of our eyes and ears. Left unchecked, these seeds might even produce big watermelons in our bellies — either melons or babies, I wasn’t sure. I spat all watermelon seeds off the porch and advised my sister to take similar precautions.

Fortunately, I passed the Bossy Big Sister gene down to both my daughters. The elder educated the younger about shooting stars hovering over a nearby playground. The evidence? Brown rocks, the remains of flaming asteroids, had landed under swings and slides. Little Sis sifted patiently through tons of gravel, spending whole afternoons looking for “shooting stars” while her sister played with friends in peace.

Apparently, Big Sis’s fine teaching qualities rubbed off on Little Sis. She later set up a school for her younger brother, complete with chalkboard, assignments and recess, when she forced him to play outside, whether he wanted to or not. But when Little Bro started kindergarten, he knew how to multiply.

Our children circa 1988.

Big Sis and her husband later supplied our family with an outstanding Bossy Big Sister, who has fulfilled her moral duty in educating her younger brothers. She’s saved them from crocodiles, conducted divine dinner parties with matching napkin rings, warned them regarding watermelon seeds, and locked them outside for recess.

With her fortitude, her little brothers will go far.

They’d better.

Our grandchildren circa 2010.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does your family include a Bossy Big Sister?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Thou Shalt Gab

Oh, my God, I’m so glad You gave Mary three whole months with Elizabeth, because pregnant women need to talk. They could gripe about morning sickness. They could compare the angels who’d stood on their doorsteps. They could talk about their babies. … OMG, while You were doing Your greatest Miracle, You wanted women to talk.