Tag Archives: Mary

“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.