Hijacked Holidays

Right now I’m wondering if it is too late to purchase those cruise tickets for the holidays!

After the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, trimming the tree, and listening to the last minute “Oh, by the way, Mom, I forgot to tell you I am really hoping you got me ____________ for Christmas!” Along with trying for the fifth time to get all my twenty-somethings in the same place at the same time for Christmas dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, or any day the last week of December…

I’ve given up this year!!!

That cruise is sounding better by the minute.
I feel kind of like the bride who at the last week before her wedding is ready to elope!

Several years ago the movie, Christmas with the Kranks, based on the book Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham, kept me laughing through the Christmas season. My oldest, just then a senior in high school, was several years away from making his own decisions about going elsewhere for Christmas. Oh, sure, there was the going back and forth between our house and his girlfriend’s at the time, but then it was easy to work through timing of Christmas day. After all, teenage boys are ready to eat as many meals as possible in one day and still have room for extra dessert!

I remember watching the movie and reading the book, which catapulted me into the Christmas spirit, without having any idea of the emotion behind the laughter. The book was humorous…the movie borderline ridiculous…so I thought!

As I sit here contemplating this Christmas season, I now understand the desire to create joy for the holidays! Fun, festive, and lively would keep my emotions at bay. Something like a cruise could get me focused on something different other than my reality. I’m wrapped up in wanting Christmas to be a family affair, traditions that we’ve always had, everyone in the same place at the same time, and, of course, wanting the “significant other” that they’ve chosen to spend the holiday with to be someone worthy of giving up our family Christmas for.

I’m ready to do anything to lift my spirits from the realization that no matter what I want for the holidays…I am not in control! I will not get what I want!!

Even though it is difficult, I’m choosing to respect my twenty-somethings’ wishes. I’m choosing not to guilt them into doing things the way I would prefer…all in one place at the same time. I’m giving them choice to be here or not on their terms. For the first year in more than a decade since my first started dating, I’ve set a time to open presents as a family and they can choose whether they are going to be part of the festivities.

I’m realizing that there comes a point where traditions need to be flexible and change will occur. I’m choosing to embrace the change this year without whining to those that are pulling away. I’m promising myself to keep my tongue in check…

Ephesians 4:29

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

My twenty-somethings need to spread their wings. They need to learn to make difficult choices without the guilt. And the truth is…

I need to let go!

It is time for my husband and I to keep the traditions our children will allow us to maintain and create new ones that will help us remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…

This holiday season, God is transitioning my thinking! In the past, Christmas has always centered around our children, teaching them about the Christ child, showing them the love that He has shared with us. He’s showing me that here…our work is coming to completion.

This year, God has given us friends to minister with in the moving of our kids into their own adulthood. We’re two families at the same stage of life…transitioning to show others the love that Christ has shared with us. We are actively choosing to spend the day with families who are less fortunate serving a Christmas meal. He’s teaching me to extend that love out into the world, by giving of myself.

Yes, the cruise sounds like fun…and I certainly wish we could maintain the tradition of family Christmas together…but I’m choosing to find the joy in this phase of life change.

Dare you to find the joy this Christmas season.

Double dare you to join us in sharing it outside of family.

Learning to let go in a big way this holiday season.

“Let go…and let God.”


Emotional Relationships—Ready to Ignite!

I didn’t blog Friday…and that’s probably a good thing.

Oh, I had my blog written in my head. But the more I mulled it over, the more I realized that my emotion was getting in the way of truth.

I had even given voice to my frustration to my husband the night before. Being a good listener, he empathized with what was happening to me. He agreed…it wasn’t fair.

The anger came tumbling out…

“How dare these people I love take more and more of me…I feel used up by them!”

“Why does my twenty-something make choices that don’t line up with what we taught them. And then it is Mom who has to come to the rescue. Don’t they realize how embarrassed I am by their behavior? Don’t they consider how I feel? Do they even take into consideration that my time and resources aren’t something I owe them?”

Then there was the friend who made a decision that hurt terribly! No thought to how I would feel in the circumstances she was putting me in. “I do so much for her!”

Those emotions of the week continued to trigger a barrage of “woe is me” feelings.

Like the feeling from unresolved conflict with a brother who chooses to avoid rather than deal with the situation…

Like the memory from childhood where my family ignored my feelings and let me suffer…alone.

And before I knew it…I was having my own pity party.

I’ve learned to no longer take action when my emotions are raw from anger…hurt…and sadness.

Typically, when I get to this point I start having a dialog with myself. I’m sure you can relate — the logic versus emotion conversation where I finally can get my brain to focus on finding truth. What would scripture say about this situation? Should I hold my tongue or speak truth in love? To simplify…what would Jesus do? Or more specifically, what would Jesus have me do?

Sometimes my emotions are strong…they run deep…but luckily, in addition to going to scripture and having dialog with God who gives me strength in these situations, He has blessed me with a wise friend. She knows me well and is willing to walk beside me giving me outside, non-emotional perspective that allows me to think. She helps me to put truth to my emotion.

Friday was no different. My friend was there, ready to provide prospective. “If you take that action, what do you think will happen to the relationship? What other options could you take?” Then the final question… “What does God want you to learn from this situation?”


If I truly believe that God works all things together for our good, (Romans 8:28), then what is He trying to teach me here? How does He want me to grow through this situation?

As I continue to ponder all the emotion, scripture, and my friend’s questions, I remember Jesus’ words to Peter…

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Duh… the world doesn’t revolve around me.

Hopefully my reaction to my twenty-something’s behavior will show a maturity that comes from my walk with Him. My friend may have done something that upset me, but I need to understand that she has been under a lot of stress. She didn’t intentionally try to hurt me. My brother is on a spiritual journey just like I am and I need to extend him grace for where he is. And in my role as a wife, a daughter, or even an acquaintance, I need to allow others to do and say things without being ready to detonate the emotional bomb sending shrapnel to whoever is in my line of fire.

Dare you to learn what triggers your emotions to ignite.

Double dare you to share with us what steps you take to move your emotion to a logical conclusion.

Learning that it is up to me to control my emotions.

“Let go…and let God.”


Matthew 18:21-22 in the new King James version of the Bible reads: Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? U


Caution! Kids Coming Home from College!!

I can’t wait ’til the kids come home from college!! That means the true festivities can begin! Putting up the tree together, making cookies, conversations around the dinner table, and hearing all about their world!

Sometimes I think they are as excited as I am. It means that finals are over and the pressure is off for a few weeks. Yeah! No more studying and no more tests! A true break from their stressed out world.

The first week or so are usually great! I let them sleep in for a few days, knowing they are tired from the chaotic world they live in.

They’re content to spend time talking and just hanging out with the family…

But then it happens.

Once the Christmas preparations are over…

Once the presents are unwrapped …

Once they’ve caught up on sleep and they’ve talked us through their life on campus…

Boredom sets in.

And tension between the siblings starts getting more pronounced.

Sometimes they find contentment in trying to reconnect with high school friends…sometimes they do not…

They typically start living in our home, like they live in their dorm room…forgetting about the “rules for picking up after themselves.”

And with anxious anticipation, they’re ready to leave…wishing it was time to go back to their college routine…wanting to regain their independence!

Unfortunately, sometimes we think that won’t come soon enough.


How do we create an environment that will last through our college kid’s entire break? So when they leave, it is with memories of good times and anticipation of the next time they get to come home?

GRACE…lots of GRACE!

And setting of expectations.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. Ephesians 4: 29

Several years ago, one of my sons had just returned to college for the last semester of his senior year. By then, I’d experienced several Christmas breaks where he just wanted to be back at school…back to his independent world…and this one had been no different.

And two weeks into the semester, he was back, sitting on my couch for what I knew would be a long road. His world had turned upside down in the matter of a few minutes with a shattered foot, surgery, and a long recovery. No graduation…no friends…no life…and very little to look forward to. He couldn’t work, he couldn’t drive, he couldn’t pick up after himself, and his friends from high school years were all long gone. His world became one of isolation with only family.

And because of his circumstances, I was able to extend Grace…lots of Grace!

It dawned on me that I could either look at this as an invasion to my world…woe is me.


I could look at this as an opportunity to build an adult relationship with a son who was stuck in a place where he didn’t necessarily want to be.

And we had a conversation…

“Son, I know this will be a difficult time for you. I know that you want to be back at school living an independent life with your friends and the world you’ve created. I also know that I’m used to a level of independence since you no longer live here.”

“I also know that this is a season and that it will be hard for all of us.”

“There are going to be times, when you are going to get on my nerves and I won’t handle it well. There are going to be times when everyone in this house gets on your nerves, and you won’t handle it well. But we are going to work through the conflict. We’re going to talk through our feelings. And we are all going to get through this together. Your total independence is coming and I want us to both be working toward the same goal.”

“When you leave this house, son, I want to leave here with fond memories and not memories of strife. When you leave here, I want us to still be friends.”

“You and I have the same goal…your independence!”

As parents, we need to encourage our children’s independence. We certainly don’t want them living in our basement for the rest of their lives.:)

DARE YOU this holiday season to extend GRACE.

DOUBLE DARE YOU to post how you deal with the holiday boredom conflict.

Still learning how to extend His grace to my kids.

“Let go…and let God!”


Electronic Christmas

If your house is anything like mine, you’ve already gotten the Christmas Wish List from your tweens and teens! The tradition of telling Santa what they want has now been squarely transferred to us and with every carpool conversation comes, “I hope I get ___________!” (Insert the latest electronic gadget here).

And just like our heavenly father who wants to shower good gifts on us, we want to shower gifts on our children.

“It’s Christmas! He’ll be so surprised! I can’t wait to see the look on his face!”  

“It’s the only thing she wants this year!  I have to get it.”

“Jessica’s parents have already bought her one, so I feel like we need to get one for Lindsay.”

And the list of lies goes on?

“What? List of lies? What’s wrong with getting our kids what they want for Christmas?”


But as parents, we need to be thinking ahead of what our kids will DO with those electronic gadgets! 

Now, please don’t misunderstand me here. In our house, we have LOTS of electronic gadgets. Yes, we have gaming systems…and cell phones…and hand held computers. But my challenge to you is…given your kid’s age…maturity…predisposition for doing the wrong thing…THINK BEFORE YOU BUY.

What do I mean by that?

Matthew 7:11 says…

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Notice that the verse says that we “being evil”…

Our kids do stupid stuff…there is an “evilness” in all of us…even those cute little faces!

And there are apps for phones, and cameras, and internet accessibility that some tweens and teens are just not ready to handle.

“Does that mean you shouldn’t make the purchase?”

Not necessarily…

The real question is…”Are you giving a gift for your child to use as they desire because it is theirs?”

Or…”Are you willing to give the gift of responsibility to teach your tween or teen how to handle them appropriately?”

Have you thought about the boundaries that will need to be put around the device?

DARE YOU to think about giving your kid the gift the gift “that is good” rather than the gift that they want.

DOUBLE DARE YOU to share what boundaries you will put on your kid’s electronic Christmas this year.

Learning to take the potential negative impact to build positive character in my teens.

“Let go…and let God”


Holiday Craze?

This morning is my new reality. The craziness of Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone and now it’s time to regroup. Do I freeze the leftover turkey, or have leftovers yet again?!? Do I really want the next holiday to come? Maybe I’ll sneak in a nap this afternoon…or at least sit down with that book I’ve been hoping to read.

But then my reality hit.

As I got up this morning, the first words out of my teen’s mouth to me were, “Don’t forget, Mom, it’s CyberMonday!”

But I want to forget…

I haven’t recouped from Thanksgiving yet!! How can I even begin to think about Christmas just a few weeks away?

We had dinner with out-of-town relatives who came in after the holiday this year…

And we talked about Christmas Cards that were already stamped to go out in today’s mail.

And we talked about how all the Christmas Shopping was already done. Not wrapped…but bought.

And we talked about the plans already in motion for Christmas.

AND I SAT THERE FEELING LIKE A FAILURE!!! Like I was in the middle of a holiday hangover and people were still ready to party on…

And I’ve decided to do something a little different this year.

Tonight at dinner, with immediate family only, we’re putting together a “family” Christmas calendar. We’re going to talk about the most important family tradition to each of us…and we are going to schedule it on the calendar…and order tickets…or plan to purchase whatever we need for the event. We’re going to look at all those typically “expected” holiday commitments, and see if we really want to attend them…or respectfully decline.

As wives and mothers, I encourage you to set the stage for this year’s Christmas season. It seems like we’re on the docket to “make it all happen” each and every year. What kind of atmosphere are we trying to create? What meaningful reminders of what the season is truly about can we weave into each activity?

I’d be willing to bet that what you want this year is a simpler, less stressful holiday, while maintaining some sense of family tradition. Remember the true reason for the holiday.

Isaiah 19:14

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father


Today’s dare is simple:

DARE YOU to share and encourage each other. What do you do to keep the holidays simple? What do you do to minimize the stress? How do you grow traditions in your family, while respecting each individual’s idea of what the holiday should be?

Hoping to emulate the Prince of Peace this holiday season!

“Let go…and let God.”