And God Laughs
I told God my plans and He laughed. So now I am living, laughing, and loving according to His Plans.

The Christmas Menagerie: A Well Worn Tradition

 Note: This is NOT my Nativity scene. Mine is way more rough around the edges than that. Plus, what is up with Jesus being blonde and having blue eyes? Seriously!!

In an old cardboard box that replaced the shoe box used up until last year when it finally wore through the bottom I keep one of my familie's most precious Christmas traditions. It contains the assorted pieces of a nativity scene that has been my responsibility to arrange for display and tend to since I was about three or four years old. I took this responsibility very seriously as a child and often spent hours arranging, then rearranging, then acting out the scene before rearranging yet again the staging of the nativity. But this cardboard box nativity is special. It is absolutely, undeniably, certifiably one of a kind. It is not so much one set as the accumulated pieces and parts of numerous old sets combined together as parts and pieces went missing. So Mary and Joseph are from one old, handcrafted set but Baby Jesus had to be replaced last year after suffering a severe compound fracture to his arm and some skull lacerations when making a dive out of the manger. We have four wisemen instead of the traditional three, because those are how many are left over from all of the sets and I can not choose one to leave out. The wise men are in various scale sizes, making one look like he has a serious growth hormone problem and another as if he is from the same tribe as Goliath. I figure my wise men bring Gold, Frankensence, Myrrh, and the one thing every new parent needs - free diapers! Then there is one shepherd with a sheep and a free standing sheep of a slightly different shade of white paint...he's been rolling around in the mud. For the ambiance there is a single cow remaining and a single donkey (well, we call it a donkey but it could be a horse I guess...who would invite an Ass to the birth of Jesus?). The angel is missing the gold from her wings and her halo is chipped and dinged. Finally, there is a so-not-proportional bright green wooden pine tree with snow that I made when I was about eight years old at Church and insisted must join in the merriment. My nativity has some character to it, it has been around the block and been knocked around by life, it has been pieced together from pieces and parts that otherwise would have been thrown away, and it has been given a place of great honor every year. I love the imperfections and would have no idea how to set up a perfect, everything matches, nothing is damaged nativity. Just like I love the imperfections in my life and would have no idea how to live an absolutely perfect, unscarred, unmarred, undamaged life. In both the nativity and my life, the quirks, the marks from wear and love and from little hands holding tight, the collection of pieces that failed to fit in  and so were supposed to be discarded, the journeys from home to home, the ragtag menagerie is beautiful in my eyes. Creating that magical scene is something I look forward to every year, especially if I get ahold of some spray on snow, glitter, and straw/hay! Although this year I hope we can make it through the season without any serious trama, although I do have that spare wise man who can step in as an understudy.
4 comments:

Reminds of a movie I saw years ago - "The Fourth King" starring Martin Sheen. I'm sure it's available for rent, from somewhere.

Love this story, Bethany. Thanks for the glimpse of your Christmas season joy. Barbara


So awesome. I need a pic of the real deal, especially the disproportional 4 wise men.

I have some decrepit ornaments that are an eyesore on my tree, but have huge sentimental value. Ugly, mismatched memorabilia is what Christmas is all about!


As soon as I unpack and arrange my manger menagerie (this weekend), I will take some photos of the poor scraggly group.
I totally prefer decorations with memories and love than perfectly matching emotionless decorations. My one exception is my mini tree in my room which must have a theme because it is so small and has to have special miniature ornaments.


:) I must of missed this when you first wrote it.. but I do agree with you sometimes the things I love the most are the oldest things that have such emotions attached to them.


Job 8:21

"He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."



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Wild Olive

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Creative Victory

This is Me

I am a thirty year old enigma who has defied every expectation ever placed upon me and refused every definition created for me. My greatest passion in life is to make a difference in the lives of children with special needs and their families. As a special education teacher I broke all of the unwritten rules to make sure that my kids received the services they needed and had a right to receive. I have never been so proud to be reprimanded before in my life. Now, due to unpredictable twists in life, I am learning first hand what life is like when you rely upon a wheelchair for mobility. I am a medical puzzle with the pieces slowly being identified and put together, and my medical bills alone could fund a small nation. It takes a village to keep me alive. :) However, I am not defined by the genetic misspellings. I am a teacher, a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a dreamer, a reader, an amateur photographer, a writer, an advocate, a star gazer, a world changer. I am stubborn, situationally shy, quick to use humor and wit to make others laugh or cope with a situation, sarcastic, fiercely independent, giving, compassionate (sometimes to a fault), protective of those I love, defiant of arbitrary boundaries, perfectionistic, self conscious, self assured (yes you can be both!), articulate and occasionally dramatic. And that is just what I could fit in two sentences! :)

Who's On First, What's On Second, I Don't Know! (Third Base!!)*

Simple Vocabulary Definitions for those who may not speak fluent medical :)

Undiagnosed Progressive Neurological Disorder- This is the diagnosis that is believed to make everything else fit together. It explains my frequent infections, my muscle weakness and dystonia, my dysautonomia, my cardiac issues, my inability to regulate blood pressure, my dysphagia, my ataxia, my severe fatigue, my extreme nausea, my gastrointestinal dysmotility and IBS like syndrome, my unbelievable migraines, my sensory changes in my arms and legs, my vision issues, my hearing loss (so much for blaming medication), and so much more. Going back to infancy and childhood, this would explain the severe apnea, the significantly delayed motor skills, the reason why I could never keep up with my peers in physical activities, the neurogenic bladder, the malfunctioning thyroid, and my frequent illnesses and vomiting. This is the diagnosis now being used since the DNA testing for Mitochondrial Disease came back odd and I can not afford the expenses of a workup at the Mayo Clinic. We are treating symptomatically.

Pan-Dysautonomia- "Pan" means that it impacts many different systems of my body, "dysautonomia" is a failure of my autonomic nervous system or the part of my brain that does all of the automatic things that do not require conscious thought like telling your heart to beat, regulating your blood pressure, adjusting your body temperature, maintaining balance in space, digesting food, hunger and thirst, etc. It is believed that I have had this from birth based upon my history of symptoms, including severe life threatening apnea as an infant, but the cause remains elusive at this time

Dystonia- abnormal muscle tone and spasticity, including painful spasms, that primarily impacts my feet and lower legs and is now starting to be a problem in my back

Ataxia- difficulty maintaining balance and coordinating/executing movements

Dysphagia- difficulty swallowing due to any number of causes including muscle weakness and poor muscle coordination

Adipsia- the absence of a sense of thirst



Other Medical Issues- Lupus Anticoagulant (autoimmune disease that causes me to tend to form blood clots and has already caused two deep vein blood clots and one mild stroke), Migraines, unknown connective tissue disorder, abnormal gastric motility, allergies, history of v-tach and severe sinus tachycardia, changes to my echocardiagram that include leaking valves and a new murmur, low blood pressure, ataxia, untreated PFO (small hole in my heart that increases the risk of stroke), chronic lymphadema in my left arm, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Narcolepsy/Idiopathic CNS Hypersomnolance (believed to be a result of the dysautonomia and my brain's inability to regulate the sleep/wake cycle), mild hearing loss, malformed optic nerves, polycystic ovarian syndrome, pernicious anemia, vitamin deficiencies


* Title comes from an old Abbot and Costello routine that I chose to memorize in 6th grade and absolutely love.
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