Finding Hope: Part One of an Advent Journey

By Marcy Barthelette

It was just about this time last year, November 24, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when my hope for the upcoming holiday season came crashing down, literally.

OK, let’s backtrack just a little. It had been a long week. Ken had been down with a respiratory infection and was better but not well. We chose to stay home from church so that he wouldn’t share his little malady with unsuspecting friends or strangers. It was a gorgeous day for late November, and I wanted some fresh air and exercise but didn’t want to walk alone. Ken just wasn’t strong enough to attempt a walk yet, so I opted to stay in with him and began walking the little course I had designed throughout our home. I’d overlooked the fact that my walking round in circles made him uneasy. We both suffered a bit of cabin fever at that moment and when he suggested that I might want to take advantage of the beautiful day and walk outdoors, I took offense. My walk didn’t serve its purpose, it was unsettling at best, so when I returned still feeling a little miffed at being politely “evicted” from the house, I decided to collect my tools and spend some time cleaning plant debris from one of my landscape beds.

I meant to take down my unsightly sedums and bag them, but my gaze wandered to a nasty looking hydrangea just over the fence. I knew I could get most of it by reaching over. I had only 3 or 4 branches left and was stretching to reach them. I stepped sideways and landed on a rock, slick with wet leaves. My foot slipped while the upper part of my body was draped over the top of the chain-link fence, the top of which is a series of metal triangles that stand above the cross support. My chest came down hard and the pain was instant and intense. I couldn’t breathe and I was really scared.

Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer.


Ken didn’t even know exactly where I was and I couldn’t yell loud enough for him to hear, even if I’d had air in my lungs. There were no neighbors outside to help me. All I could do was pray and try to get myself inside. Slowly and painfully, I made it to the front door, but I still couldn’t speak. I frightened Ken terribly because he immediately thought I was having a heart attack. I was able to shake my head “no” to that question but not yet able to explain what had happened. When I finally regained a little breath and we could discuss our options, it didn’t take long for us to agree that a trip to the emergency room was inevitable.

Some six hours later, we returned home after a CT scan revealed no breaks, just a lot of trauma to the chest. I fainted twice from stress and exhaustion before Ken got me safely to bed. It was a rough night as even a slight movement sent pain through my chest. I had been told that movement was my best hope for recovery within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, much rest was part of the prescription as well. I knew that God was beside me, but I just couldn’t imagine why he would allow this to happen just before the busiest holidays of the year. Of course, I realized I was the one at fault. I had been careless, influenced by my anger and impatience and I had made a very bad choice. I never see that fence that I don’t regret my decision to not walk around and go through the gate.

On day two, or maybe three, I learned how to roll and get myself out of bed without screaming in pain or requiring help. Ken let me borrow his power recliner so that I could move it up and down without further injury and I spent many hours there in between my experiments with movement. We weren’t expecting company for Thanksgiving, but I had already bought everything I needed to make our traditional meal. I wanted it to be good for Ken…he had done so much to help me and kept my spirits up, all while he was still recovering from his own nasty bug. We worked side by side in the kitchen and made a lovely dinner. I didn’t tell him until later how much I was hurting. I just wanted him to have a good day.

I traditionally bring out the Christmas tree and other decorations on Thanksgiving weekend but I couldn’t begin to do the heavy lifting so Ken took down each crate and carefully dug through them keeping out the items that I chose. He set the tree up in the living room and I slowly went about adding the lights. Supervision and lights were all I could handle for one day. Ken got the outside decorations set up and by Sunday, I had a wreath on the door, the creche set up, and the tree somewhat decorated. We have a huge collection of ornaments from many people and places. I used about half as many as I typically do so it didn’t seem quite finished.

The work was done, and I decided I kind of liked our minimalist Christmas. After all, it wasn’t about the decorations. That Sunday was the beginning of Advent. We celebrated at home, just the two of us and I was filled with gratitude that I had learned a valuable lesson. We all need help sometimes and we need to be gracious about accepting it because it means that someone cares enough to become the helper. If we deprive the caregiver of the privilege of serving God by serving His people, we have done our caregiver a great disservice. I was still impatient and looking forward to the day when I could care for myself again but I was truly grateful to my God that my injuries were not worse and to my caring husband who came to my aid without hesitation, even though my last words before the accident had been angry ones. He was truly God’s servant during those difficult days, and the two of them gave me the gift of hope.

Hope in the Lord! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the Lord! Psalm 27:14 CEB

So, enjoy your turkey and all its trimmings. Be grateful for all He has given to you and yours throughout this sometimes tumultuous, often frustrating, and perhaps lonely year. On Sunday, we turn our hearts toward the journey of Advent, and on the first Sunday, we experience the beauty of hope. Our hope rests with a tiny baby who came into our messed-up world to save us from ourselves. Open your heart and receive the gift.

Imperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks. Philip Yancey

Give thanks to the LORD because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever! Psalms107:1 CEB

Next week, Part Two, Discovering Peace ~ please join me.

One Response to “Finding Hope: Part One of an Advent Journey”

  1. Rhonda Wilson says:

    Our silly pride gets in the way so frequently. Thank you so much for your authenticity and sharing vulnerability.

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