Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Bethlehem Walk. And Advent.

Sharon said she'd always wanted to participate in the Bethlehem Walk and asked if we'd go with her. It started, this year, two days after her birthday; it's free; and Cade and I hadn't participated for five years (Jim and the little kids never), so we decided to go for it. The seven of us loaded up in the minivan and headed over as soon as Jim got off work, arriving a good thirty minutes before it started. We got assigned Group #35, nonetheless, and had to wait about 2.5 hours.

Totally worth it.

Incredible how much time and work goes into the Bethlehem Walk, and afterward, we talked about our favorite parts. Charleigh loved the Baby Jesus part, and Clementine the part with the animals "for sale": especially the bunny, she said. All I know is: toward the end, she ran up to me in a panic because she'd lost the shekel with which she'd planned, evidently, to buy a calf after slipping into the town without paying her tax. (Oh, dear.)

I appreciated everything about the Bethlehem Walk, but above all how it brought my last (my only other) Bethlehem-Walk experience back to me. Five years ago, Cade and I participated with Scott and Rachel. That was a much colder night: snowing, in fact, and big, fat lovely flakes. Magical (Is it wrong to use that word in this context?), but Jim had decided against participating because, 200+ pounds ago, he thought it might be a bit much for him. He worried especially about falling on the uneven ground. Cade wasn't yet nine, and I was pregnant with Clementine (2+ months from giving birth to her). Charleigh and Chip were beyond my wildest dreams.

I couldn't help but take a minute to consider, the other night, how the Lord has shown up for me over the past five years. My husband has transformed into an able-bodied man, confident in the legs and feet under him. The young man who was not yet nine is very nearly fourteen, now, and a Black Belt. The daughter with whom I was pregnant is bumping up against five and reading. And I've brought two other children into the world--ages three and one--who spill so much sunshine into my days.

Truth be told, I've already struggled somewhat, this Christmas season. You should see my prayer list: so many of those closest to me on it, and not for piddly crap, either. Huge, scary, yawning issues: life-or-death-type issues, in several cases.

And I may well be the world's worst for fixating on what's wrong. I suspect it's the dark side of my spiritual gift (mercy), but in a heartbeat, I can enter a loved one's pain and despair and have a heck of a time getting out of there. I may be able to acknowledge fully that things are well with my household and me, but I struggle in trusting that wellness, let alone celebrating it. It just feels like something could go wrong at any minute; I mean, look at what's going on with so-and-so, for crying out loud.

But God has been good, so good, to me. And during this season of Advent, I want to express gratitude that I'm not truly waiting for anyone or anything. Jesus has already been born into this world. He's already been born into my heart, too, and--in good and bad times, alike--He reigns there. Within my heart and my home, at least (at last?), this moment is beautiful, and I'm lifting my head, just now, and offering my thanks.


  1. You speak the words that are right there on my tongue.

  2. You write so much that I can relate to. Oh, I struggle in the trusting, too. And I sat on my kitchen floor yesterday and asked Jesus "What do You want to teach me through all of this?" I still don't know 100%, but I think part of what He wanted to teach me was to ask Him just that.

  3. is good even in the hard times to recognize how god has been there for us...and he will be still...this sounds like a really cool experience...smiles, glad you did not end up with a calf...

  4. I just left a long message and I am not sure if it went here it goes again....:-) I just wanted to say that I can see why we have connected so across the blogosphere much of what you have spoken here I can relate to. I have a hard time celebrating the blessings in my life, because I have an inner fear of what could go wrong....and on the mercy thing...I am right there with you girl. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us....the photos are inspiring...I wish I could have been there with ya'll! :-)