Spiritual Cheerleaders: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth

Mary Visits Elizabeth – Luke 1:39-45

39In those days Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah, 40where she entered the home of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord’s word to her will be fulfilled.”

Until I was about 30 years old, I kept the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus on a pedestal of perfection with those images of the perfect nativity scene. Who remembers the plastic, bulb-lit nativities of the 1960s and 1970s? I was mesmerized by them! And, my goodness, the Christmas carols of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Away in a Manger”. I’m taking intermittent singing breaks (“Away in a manger no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head…)” as I type this. I am also visualizing Mary, Joseph, and Jesus with those golden halos as the shepherds and Magi Kings kneel in reverence. Wowzers!

A literary work, Two from Galilee (Marjorie Holmes, 1982), and what I think is the BEST nativity movie EVER , The Nativity Story (2006) changed my vision of the Holy Family forever.

Y’all imagine a 14 years-old girl who was told she was no longer a care-free child. She is betrothed to a man whom she had never had a sexual relationship with having to wait a year (Jewish tradition before and during the Roman reign of Augustus Caesar) to live with him without that conjugal fulfillment, and is a virgin who has never had sexual relations with any man, being told by an angel named Gabriel that she will have a baby that is a gift from God. What the heck, God? In a few months after Gabriel’s visit, she KNOWS she is pregnant. Gabriel had told Mary earlier in Luke Chapter one that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, was going to be a mother. Elizabeth had been the “talk of the hill country of Judah” as a barren woman. Can you imagine the gossip of those days, “What has Elizabeth done in her life that God has cursed her this way!”, “Poor thing! Look at Hannah, Elizabeth’s neighbor. She has 8 children. Hannah is so blessed. Who will take care of Elizabeth and Zechariah in their old age? Poor Elizabeth and Zechariah!”

When Mary knew she was carrying a child, she hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah to visit her elderly cousin who was passed her child-bearing years. The weeks and months had been emotionally and spiritually excruciating for Mary. “I’m pregnant! Joseph might divorce me quietly or he could encourage the town to help stone me! Dear Father in heaven, will Elizabeth have any answers for me or words of fortification?”

We are not told how far away ( Google is showing like 99 miles… over three walking/cart days!!) but I can only imagine Mary’s anxiousness. As I watched the spectacular The Nativity Story this Christmas season, I had already squalled when Joseph re-purchased Mary’s parents’ donkey (the same donkey that carries Mary to Bethlehem….tears and sniffs…LOL… that the government officials had taken to help pay for taxes), but when Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house and Mary’s voice made John jump in Elizabeth’s womb along with the scriptural words from Elizabeth’s mouth, my chest began to heave and I sobbed with tears…tears of joy.

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 

It was so spiritually moving. God gave Mary the confirmation and affirmation that she needed all those weeks before. God had given Mary her cousin, Elizabeth, to be her “cheerleader”, her confidante, her “hand to hold” for spiritual guidance.

Can you name your spiritual cheerleaders? Sometimes it’s not even someone cheering for you. It’s someone who responds to your spirit. My two spiritual cheerleaders who are now in Paradise are Naomi Alexander Caylor (my Nanny) and my adopted grandmother, Remell Hall. When Nanny died August of 1985, Remell picked up the mantle (2 Kings 2:13 when Elisa picked up Elijah’s mantle / cloak/ coat ). I’ve always thought it ironically special that Remell died on November 6, 2003 (Ammon’s birthday!) then God blessed me with my soul-mate, Sean Brown, in January of 2004. God did not leave me desolate for long.

Now, December 2020; 54, God keeping me out of any physical teaching environment, homeschooling Carter and Ammon, watching the world reel from the Corona virus, I have several spiritual friends I go to. It’s sometimes just a text to say, “God is Great!” or “Praying for you.” . Sometimes I have something serious to share; Carter and Ammon pre-teen drama, doubts on why God doesn’t want me working right now, or a spiritual matter that is troubling me.

My buds who do not fail me are Debbie Baker, Patsy Holland, Kathleen Lanford, Tami McClain, Claire Randle, and Evangeline Starks. There is an “odd man out” literally, so I’m putting him by himself; 21 years-old singer/songwriter, Hunter Lott has become a spiritual cheerleader God placed in my path as well. However, he lives in south Mississippi, and we have only been spiritual friends via social media and snail mail. Those ladies I mentioned are the toughest, Christ-like women I know, and they are physically near me. When I see them face to face and hug them, I get a spiritual, electrical charge, and sometimes we’ve had conversations where the tears flow (mostly mine) because we share from the heart and soul. My sincerest thanks to you 7 people (holy smokes… God’s number!!!).  You all have NO IDEA what you mean to me. And Patsy Holland, I’ll never forget your Christian (sister and brother in Jesus the Christ) words of encouragement to me, “God doesn’t make mistakes” during our first serious, spiritual talk together over 3 years ago.

Returning to Mary and Elizabeth. The holy scriptures do not allow us to enjoy another conversation between the two ladies. The Nativity Story shows Mary being in attendance for John’s birth, watching Zechariah speak, and watching and listening to Elizabeth and Zechariah speak words of the Old Testament to their newborn with biblical “bedtime stories”. At this point, Mary tells the jubilant, elderly couple with their “miracle baby”, John, that she is returning to Nazareth. Those weeks with Elizabeth and Zechariah gave Mary, now physically showing she was pregnant, the spiritual strength to return to her betrothed, Joseph, to face the next months; vicious gossip from the townspeople, tears and perhaps rage from her parents and Joseph, and perhaps even death if she is stoned for adultery. The Lord’s servant, Mary, was returning to fulfill what Gabriel had shared and Elizabeth was Mary’s human confidante / human- contact spiritual support to face the following months.

I truly hope and pray that you all have spiritual cheerleaders. They are priceless. As soon as the Spirit touched my spirit with Mary and Elizabeth’s meeting as I watched the actresses speak the scriptures from Luke 1, I knew I had to write. It’s also set up a second blog I hope to finish before December 23: Jesus’ Awesome, Earthly Father, Joseph.

“Give me the Roses”

Give me the Roses

 

 

One of my heroic parent figures, Claudelle Kubin, had her leg amputated the second week of August 2018. Her eldest daughter, my childhood friend, and now Facebook friend, Michelle Kubin Robins, is my dear friend. Mrs. Kubin’s husband died while Michelle and I were in the 8thgrade. It was a shock and a tragedy. Mrs. Kubin single-handedly raised Michelle and Michelle’s 3 siblings. All four turned out to be responsible, awesome adults.

As most of you all know, I live in Chattanooga, but I work in Dalton. After the amputation surgery, Mrs. Kubin was undergoing rehabilitation in Dalton . Michelle lives in Houston, Texas. I let Michelle know that if her Dalton siblings needed me to do something in Dalton for Mrs. Kubin to please let me know. Michelle said, “Thanks, Haven”

For several days, I kept telling myself, “After school, I’ve GOT to go see Mrs. Kubin.” … get up in the AM, drive to school, go home…. Exercise with my family, grade papers, get ready for bed, get to bed, get up and do it all again….. no visiting Mrs. Kubin. She passed on August 22, 2018, and I had not visited that sweet, precious lady. I was very upset with myself. I probably rarely came into Mrs. Kubin’s mind, but she was in MY MIND. I loved her and appreciated her, but I didn’t tell her. She wasn’t blood -family, but she was my sister in Christ and a wonderful parent figure to me.

I prayed and prayed for my heart -hurt to be healed, and God and the Spirit opened my heart to one of my favorite, gospel Blue-grass songs that I know: Give me the Roses while I live

 

Give Me The Roses While I Live

Wonderful things of folks are said
When they have passed away
Roses adorn the narrow bed
Over the sleeping clay

   Give me the roses while I live
   Trying to cheer me on
   Useless are flowers that you give
   After the soul is gone

Kind words are useless when folks lie
Cold in a narrow bed
Don’t wait till death to speak kind words
Now should the words be said

Let us not wait to do good deeds
Till they have passed away
Now is the time to sow good seeds
While here on earth we stay

I knew I could not give Mrs. Kubin her flowers while she lived, but  1) I could send Michelle a memory garden in her mother’s honor and 2) I could find and share with my other childhood parent figures how I felt about them. I had Michelle and her family a memory garden delivered to their home in Houston, and Michelle sent me a beautiful thank you message via Facebook. Now….

I’m sharing what I did not to “toot my own horn” but to encourage you all to “give them [whomever you love & appreciate] their roses” . 

I knew I had to send flowers to Mike and Sandra Lyle and Ellen Durham. These people helped raise me. Mike and Sandra’s daughter are the parents of my dear friend, Kim Lyle Schelegel, and Ellen is the mother of my faithful and awesome friend, Scot Durham (Scot lost his father, Ronald several years … I miss Mr. Durham’s corny jokes). These parents allowed me into their homes, fed me, took me to places where we had fun, chaperoned,  excursions, and most of all they loved me and gave me untimely advice. When I was 16, my father died. I KNEW that if I needed them, they would have dropped everything to come to side. Praise the Lord, I never needed to call on them, but I knew they loved me and supported me.

I got on the phone to order flowers from my favorite, Dalton Florists, Ruth & Doyles. However, that is where Ellen Durham works! LOL I had no idea how I was going to pull it off. Guess what??!! God had it handled. Ellen was off that day! Woot Woot! I ordered the flowers, and I had them delivered. They delivered them that very day.

By the next week, I had received two very kind yet unnecessary Thank you cards. Yes, they were from, Mike and Sandra and Ellen. My heart soared! I am so blessed to still have them, and I still know they would help me in a heart beat if I needed them.

Y’all the flowers/roses DO NOT have to be literal flowers/roses. They can be kind words, kind deeds , or other gifts to the people you appreciate. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you let them know!  Happy Saturday everyone. –Haven