The predicted rain started around 2 am on Christmas Eve. Strong and steady as expected, the sound woke me up with its welcome presence after a summer of drought. The rain’s steady cadence was as melodic as the Christmas piano CD that had soothed me to sleep. Although a white Christmas would be nice, the rain was a fine substitute.


Suddenly I remembered a potential issue the rain might create for our new building. Eighteen hours before, our contractor had reminded us of a known roof leak during our walk-through to create a punch list of details to address as the massive renovation neared completion. He suggested we put a bucket there in case the roofer didn’t get back to fix it before the holiday weekend. I had such good intentions, but at 2 am the day before Christmas, I realized I hadn’t followed through.


Sure enough, when I got to the building a few hours later, I found enormous puddles of water several places. One had been recently repaired and others were waiting attention. I was prepared with sacks of old towels and a shop vac was on standby if needed.


For three hours I sopped and mopped and rubbed dry the newly polished concrete floors. I squeegeed the new carpet and created an impressive matrix of containers to catch the leaks. (Plastic storage bins are super handy. As a bonus DIY tip, elevate them on Styrofoam cups to help the carpet dry.)


Surprisingly, I felt enormous joy instead of aggravation. The gift of a new building for Bethesda Workshops is all I could possibly want for Christmas. It’s the gift of a lifetime. The best. Present. Ever! It far surpasses even the pony I got for my 10th birthday or the shiny red Pinto when I was in college.


After 20 years of ministry in borrowed venues (admittedly much more comfortable than a borrowed manger), Bethesda Workshops has its own home! In the early morning Christmas Eve quiet of our new building, I sang and danced and cried and prayed while I mopped. I laughed at the absurdity of relishing the gift of puddles. They are our puddles, after all, and I am immensely grateful.


I’m thankful, too, for the winding and sometimes broken road that led to this home. I think of other visionaries who joined in this quest to provide a place of healing. I am mindful of clinicians who built the program in the early years and of those leading groups today who have honed and deepened the excellence of our work. I picture all those behind the scenes who handle the myriad administrative details that are critical to our success, and the prayer warriors and financial supporters who sustain us. I am especially grateful for my husband David, who has been the silent, largely unseen servant for me and the ministry.


Bethesda Workshops has also received enormous gifts from the Woodmont Hills Church, which supported the birth of this program in 1997 and has continued that commitment throughout the years, particularly by the donation of free space. The two legacy donors who made this building a reality by their challenge gift and building loan stand on the shoulders of the Christians who make up the family of God at Woodmont Hills.


This year the most holy part of the season for me came early Christmas Eve morning on my hands and knees on a wet floor. God’s surprising, amazing gifts are everywhere.


Marnie C. Ferree