“Wow, you must really have a system down,” the young lady remarks with a smile as she bags my groceries. I have heard similar comments a dozen or more times after cheerfully clarifying that I am expecting my fifth child, not my first. But this time, as I push my cart out into the hot sun, I begin to think. It is only a month before my fifth child is due, and things are not especially organized, American-standard adequate, or put-together back at the house. I am scrambling just to get home with the necessary grub for tonight’s dinner. I am feeding a household of seven, and the truth is this day looks like most others. Let’s just say, we improvise.
We have just returned from a wonderful, yet exhausting, family road trip, and I am not over-flowing with a sense that I have a ‘system down.’ Resources of patience, generosity, and monetary wherewithal run thin at times. In God’s grace, I know it will all work out, but it’s the here and now that makes me think it’s Christmas in July―my pregnancy feels something akin to Advent.
Just yesterday, my seven-year-old, who stands about the height of my belly, clearly got a picture that there is a human baby right on the other side as he witnessed a cosmic shift from one side to the other. He had asked, “How can the baby keep growing bigger in there?” “He can’t,” I said. This exchange somehow reminded me of the Advent phrase, “There is no room in the inn.” Let me be clear: I want there to be abundant room. It’s just that, well, room is running scant. As a child, I thought those innkeepers were harsh and cold, but one has to wonder if they were simply assessing the situation logically.
This brings me back to thoughts of our humble square footage, as I drive the winding way up over the flagpole hill to home. It is not the first time in the past nine months that I have attempted to mentally plan for our little one to join the casa. It’s just that, the last time I seriously thought it through, I melted. We aren’t moving, and my house is not expecting an addition (as am I).
In our already brimming household, it’s a daily feat to make us all look like we haven’t just pulled ensembles from the middle of the wadded, smashed, cleaned, laundry piled high. Our new baby is coming. Now, where are we going to put everything needed to care for this bundle of love? Where are we going to organize swaddling blankets, diapers, wipes, onesies, burp cloths, bibs, and gowns?
I get home and insist my husband helps move things and re-configure. A mini-crib set-up, a basket for onesies, a bin for diapers, a tray for soaps and lotion. The baby is coming, and we prepare room. We make room. It is not a work of outward perfection, but it is God’s plan. And God’s plan is always more than enough, filled with resplendent grace.
Oh, how I can feel like my life has run a-muck into a mire-like manger. I am tempted to say it is simply not enough. But back as a little child when I first beheld the heart of Jesus, I saw it then―and I see it now―he came to be all that we need. Jesus of the manger came tenderly and lovingly so that we would draw in close and be filled with his abundant presence, his love―his love that fills our hearts and makes a home in us. He comes and whispers the relief of “enough”―I am your all, your love.