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In May we gathered up our Charlotte Mink Creek fire-wrought life and turned our faces toward Northwest Montana. My dream of being home was the dream of being home. Home is now Montana. As we transitioned, we saw the lush green of late spring, we reveled in the long days of summer, tasted the musty tang of the fall air and are now in dark time of winter. We have touched the year, season by season, in no time at all. Time has circled and we are back at Christmas but not home.

Last year I had truly believed we would be in our rebuilt Idaho home by Christmas. We were not; we had not even broken ground. I broke my heart that we had no home and that we had no home for the Christmas things that we took out tenderly each year to remind us of the meaning of Christmas. We did not have our St. Nicholas that carried wood and food not toys and things. We did not have our nativity collection with all of the mangers behind which was Baby Jesus’ was tucked safely to be brought out on Christmas Eve. I understood more about Mary and Joseph looking in weary purposefulness for a place to rest for the night.

This Christmas we still do not have a house. I still identify with Mary and Joseph even though it seems garish to be tied to a home and to things. We are insulated from the burden of the world’s poverty. Even as we left our home to the all consuming hunger of the fire, we were rich with the things we were able to bring with us.

Blessed as we are with the things that we have, it is wearying to be moving yet again. Each time it seems to get harder. I don’t know if it is the increased amount of stuff or the increased number of times we have packed and moved or if it is simply the fact of not belonging in any spot.

It took 4 suitcases, a container of dog food, three computers, 5 hard-drives, a bag of food and 4 gallons of water to leave the fire. It took a couple of mini-van loads to move from the Marriott hotel where we lived the first month. After a year in the “Green Shag House” it took a moving van to bring us to Montana.

We have lived the past few months in a holiday condo. Our house bloomed out of the mud of the fall rains. As fall deepened and winter came on it was clear that we would not be in the house by Christmas. Out of yearning for home and practical concerns like rental costs, I created plans for a small space in the back of the basement where we could live while construction took place above us. We had hoped to move into that little island by now but we have no roof.

On December 20 our address will the the Montana Storage Center.

Unlike Mary and Joseph, we have a place rest our heads and enliven our hearts. We will be in the circle of our family as the year turns. In January we hope to return to the holiday condo for a few weeks. After that we have no plan. God willing our house will have a roof and we can move into our little spot in the basement.

I would like to say that we have learned only to be grateful for a bed but I confess I want to put a nail in a wall. I want to move a table across the floor and not worry if I am scratching the table or the floor. I want to paint. I want to rest my weary head, not only on my own sheets, not only on my own bed, but on my own sheets on my own bed on my own floor in my own house.

The moving van that brought us to Montana was filled with building supplies for house that was not rebuilt to be used for our house that is being built. Our being-built house has a foundation and it is partially framed. It has stairs and two holes for garage doors. It has holes for windows. It has a floor you can walk around on. I work to bring the house to fruition but each day is a revelation. Each day is one step closer to being home for next Christmas.

dog running through what will be a hall in snow covered house construction site

This is my hall, I know it is.