I have to admit that I have my ups and downs in re-entering life here in the USA. We weren't in Jerusalem that long, but in order to go, we had to make some drastic choices that aren't so easy to shake now that we are back home. In order to go to Israel, I had to say that following God is my first choice. I had to decide that I value my belongings little enough that I can live out of ten suitcases for 9 months. I had to decide that I can follow Christ and celebrate his life in mine without all the cultural trappings that living in a "Christian country" provides for me. I had to be okay walking in crowds of people who cared little about who I was and in some cases would rather I was not there.
Now that we have been home for awhile I find that I am able to live on very little. Now that I have my beloved Target always available to me, I don't feel the need to go as often as I used to. I don't feel a need to be perpetually busy or to keep my kids perpetually busy. For me to have good quality time with a few people who truly love me is what really matters. Somehow the Christmas season is nearly at it's end and today was the first day I was out shopping (with someone else's money I might add!). There has been a mad rush of people around me but I might as well be in Jerusalem again - watching people rush to prepare for Hannukah or Pesach, while I relax in my own little world, unaffected by the frenzy. Last year our family willingly became a group of "floaters" without any real tie to the activities around us, and in some ways that is how I feel still.
When I left this county I was in the cultural Christian mainstream, busy with lots of church activities. Christmas was a time of party after banquet after staff lunch after bible study breakfast. Lots of tables to decorate and gifts to purchase. I have returned to the area with a missionary mindset. I have had many meaningful conversations with neighbors and parents at my kids school, have spent a lot of time in prayer and in questioning God's purpose for me here. But the only Christmas event I have been a part of was 30 kids and parents crammed in our backyard decorating gingerbread houses. Don't get me wrong, I loved being a part of all the parties and rushing from thing to thing. But now that I have experienced another kind of Christmas, I wonder if I can ever do it the old way again. I will be interested to see how our family of "floaters" settles back in. Right now I still feel that I am on the outside looking in - I think that can be a good thing though and now that Christmas is near I know it is. Pulling out of the fray has given me opportunity to really think about the reason behind our celebrations. It was easy to do last year in Bethlehem, but God has made it possible again for us this year.