How To Enjoy A Stress Free Holiday Season

The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year. Spending time with family, the weather, the different parties and events, the simple slow down times of sipping hot chocolate and more! However, sometimes they can be the most stressful time of year! There are events and expectations and all kinds of circumstances and relationships that can lead to a stressful holiday, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

We want to encourage you and challenge you to avoid some of the pit falls of the holiday season so that you can enjoy it! And not just enjoy but also be aware of your ministry to others during the holidays. We hope this episode encourages you this holiday season!

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– Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

– Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

– And today we’re gonna share how to enjoy a stress-free holiday season.

– Thank you so much for joining us this week and we’re really excited to jump into today’s episode.

– Yeah, before we get started, as usual want to invite you to subscribe to our channel so you get notified every time we upload a new episode. So it’s that time of the year where holidays are coming up, we got Thanksgiving, we got Christmas.

– Lots of family stuff going on.

– Yeah, family time, we got Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Some people see those as holidays. -Yeah.

– They’re spending holidays. So we just thought we’d share some tips on how to have a stress-free holiday. So why don’t you give tip number one and then we’ll just run through these?

– Okay. Okay, so the first tip is make sure to plan, when you have everyone over at your house, to do a recipe for dinner that you’ve never done before. And it’s really special if you only give yourself the exact amount of time to get it done.

– Like a super complicated Pinterest recipe.

– Super complicated, pictures perfect.

– It’s like 10 courses, dessert, three turkeys, brisket. Like everything, right?

– And tell everyone don’t worry about bringing anything, just make sure you put all that burden and pressure on yourself just so that you can wow ’em, you know?

– Yeah. Number two. That’s a good one. Number two is remember that if you don’t provide a perfect, perfect holiday event that everyone’s gonna realize that you actually don’t love them.

– Sad.

– Like if you don’t just put it all together perfectly, when you realize that, it’ll help you just to do it right so that you get every single thing right and it’s just super special. So that’s number two. Just to have a stress-free holiday. What’s number three?

– So the third one is keep really high expectations up because if you keep high expectations up on how everything will go, then you’re usually more motivated and more excited about that specific day.

– Yeah, like so high that you like need like a step-up stool to get to the top shelf of expectations, right?

– Yeah, totally.

– Yeah, those are the special ones to meet your expectations.

– Yeah, at the end of the year where all the expectations just like, it’s like the power expectation.

– Yeah, like how this is gonna go is gonna set the tone for all of the next year.

– All next year. Yeah, exactly.

– The fourth tip is don’t shop online because shopping online is too easy because then you can just wait for it, it comes in the mail and you-

– It’s boring. You can’t like touch the gifts.

– Yeah, you want to go like the day before, you know, Christmas or-

– On a weekend.

– Yeah, right when everyone’s going because that way you can do with other people. It’s more communal. And everyone’s looking for the same things so it makes the shopping experience just much more eventful.

– Yeah, and all the traffic to get there, right? I mean, all the red brake lights. That’s what I have in my mind when-

– And that’s time so you just really contemplate how those expectations you just talked about are gonna get fulfilled.

– Yeah, when I think of holidays, I think of lights, you know, colorful lights. I think of those red tail lights and like traffic jams and lots of long lines and it’s just fun, it’s fun to be remembering how that is a significant part of shopping.

– Yeah, that’s awesome, we have to come more. What’s the next one?

– So the next one kind of goes along with shopping on the weekends during the holiday season but it’s make sure that you get everyone in your family the gifts that they want.

– And friends and extended family because they all, there’s also something they all need, right.

– Yeah, get everyone everything that they want and if you do it that way, you won’t miss anyone and you won’t hurt anyone’s feeling by not getting them what they wanted. So just be real specific and get ’em what they want.

– Yeah, and then that goes to the the last tip is because you’re getting everything everyone wants, just put it on credit. That way you don’t have to worry about not having the money now.

– Right, right, worry about it next year.

– Yeah, you can worry about it next year. Like it’s-

– Stress-free holiday now.

– Yeah. So of course we’re kidding. We do this every once in a while, we give these fake tips. This is a typical holiday I would imagine.

– It’s funny.

– But I think that these six tips we gave should be thrown out.

– Because they don’t work really.

– No, they do the opposite.

– This is we’re used to, this is what we’re accustomed to, this is what happens, but it doesn’t provide that stress-free-

– And I don’t know about our listeners but this has been, not the credit part, but this has been our lives of like hey, if I get so-and-so one thing, do I have to also get these three people something? Like if I don’t get them and then I get them something, are they gonna realize that I didn’t and we just have like all of our emotions wrapped up in like what we’re getting for someone or how we’re preparing an evening or having the most epic recipe.

– Yeah. And well, I know we were joking about that but I think sometimes we do want to impress people and we want to make sure that they don’t have to worry about anything so we put all that pressure on ourselves and we don’t usually give ourselves enough time and the other people will miss out on, you know, I don’t know, sharing in that blessing of-

– Well, so thinking about the food thing. For this year, I’m currently, I’m gonna be smoking a turkey for the first time ever. And so I kind of have some high expectations for myself.

– For yourself, yeah.

– Yeah, I’m like, oh, I want this to be the best turkey ever. I’m like looking up like special recipes. And so I just need to have some really level expectations of like okay, like what’s our back-up plan if I fail at this turkey?

– Well, as you’re talking, I’m thinking okay, and I also have-

– Frozen hamburgers.

– Yeah, no, that’s not gonna fly. Okay, but check it out. So I was just thinking as you’re talking about expectations and specifically smoking this turkey because you smoking even chicken in the past, I’m sitting there going okay, the sides are done, when is it gonna be ready?

– So I have to time this better.

– Yeah, so you’re gonna have to time it really good so that my expectations are met, please.

– Okay. -I’m just kidding. No, but I should probably lower my expectations as well on that one.

– And know that to get it perfect, it might take a little bit longer to get it just right. Anyways we did the funny tips, these atypical sort of advice that no one would ever give you but we all kind of walk it in some form or fashion.

– We all do it anyways.

– But what we want to do is we actually want to walk through just some higher level tips to actually lower the stress. Because these holidays that the world and society has put so much weight on don’t actually have to be weighty. They could be very enjoyable and very peaceful and not stressful.

– Yeah. So before we jump into those real tips, because we’re talking about the holiday season, I thought it would be fun to just share with our listeners, you know, maybe some of our favorite memories growing up from our childhood. We can give some of that perspective of like what does a child think about these holidays coming up?

– Yeah, cuz when we were kids, we didn’t think about all of the work or energy that went into it putting it together.

– Right, we just enjoyed it.

– We just, yeah, we had fun. So you asked me before we started this episode, you know, what is one of my favorite holiday memories? And I sighed because I’m like, man, I’m really bad at the nostalgia stuff because-

– Oh, remembering.

– Yeah, remembering it. But I just think like I don’t remember most presents I ever got. I actually maybe remember one present. I remember all the presents I didn’t get.

– The boots.

– The boots. I remember like that side of that stuff but I mostly remember going and being around family. Like I remember being excited every time we’d go to my grandparents house and all of my cousins and all of my uncles and everyone was there. And I also remember like loving that there was a lot of food. Like it didn’t matter what it was actually, there was one thing. As long as there is candied yams. -That is probably still our favorite part.

– That’s literally my favorite part of this season, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Oh, that and eggnog.

– Oh, eggnog for sure.

– That’s kind of like the only tradition I have in my life is like I have to drink eggnog. And it can’t be mixed with anything. It just has to be pure, thick, delicious.

– A good brand of eggnog.

– Yeah, local eggnog. So like yeah, when we’re thinking about all the things that now that we’re adults might bring us stress, when we were kids the things that we enjoyed about the holidays.

– It was people and food, I feel like the majority.

– Yeah, gifts, and like just it was the things that we don’t think about now necessarily. We don’t remember as kids all the things that made it maybe difficult or heavy or we didn’t think about money back then, we didn’t think about time or work or all these things that now we think about. So it’s a good perspective to think like, oh, well, you know, what our kids experience isn’t necessarily what we experience. But we can make them experience it good or bad in the way we think about it. What was one of your favorite experiences growing up with the holidays?

– Yeah. I would say it was spending time with family and even just running around doing things together was really enjoyable and just seeing the decorations, so whether we were driving or walking in a neighborhood where there was Christmas lights.

– Oh yeah. You family still does that.

– Yeah, we still do that. We love that.

– Christmas light drives.

– Yeah, we really love that. But just spending time together, I really feel like that was stand out to me. My stepdad and I, we’ll still joke about going Christmas shopping and we’d get all, every kid would have a cart and we’d sit on the back of the last person’s cart and do like a train through the store. You guys ever do that?

– Oh, no.

– Oh, that was really fun for us.

– There’s only ever two of us.

– Oh, right, we have a little bit bigger family so that was really fun. And then the food. Just you know, always knowing that we were gonna go and we’re gonna either make it together or eat it together. You know, all of those things were stand out to me.

– That’s good. So there’s some common themes on just the simple things that we remember, not the complicated hard things necessarily.

– Oh, and Christmas Eves service. Like going to church, we all dressed up. It was the one day a year that we all dressed up in our nicest outfits and did our hair and there was always a little bit of chaos surrounding it. We got to get there on time. But doing like candlelight service, that was always something that I look forward to.

– Something that you started when we got married, or when we had Elliot I should say, was always opening a gift the night before.

– Oh yeah. Sorry, I just can’t wait. -Yeah, but that’s what your family’s always done.

– We’ve always just enjoyed that.

– And not me. My family wouldn’t let me open them until like after every single person was up, after everyone was showered, after we had breakfast, after the house was clean, after. It’s like noon, we’re like opening presents. It wasn’t that late.

– Yeah, can’t make kids wait that long. Well, another reason, I don’t know if you know this, why I like opening gifts early too is because growing up, my parents were divorced and so we had split holidays where I would spend Christmas Eve with my mom, Christmas Day with my dad, and so I kind of did get gifts on both days and so I liked getting them early too.

– But you liked spending time with the people more probably.

– Yeah, yeah.

– So why don’t we talk about some tips? Cuz I’m sure everyone that’s listening has similar things that they think about, similar experiences, and we’re all gonna be different in little nuances but I think overall there’s a universal way that we can be in any types of events to be more stress if you have peace, to view these holidays more soberly and enjoy them more. So why don’t we talk through some tips that all of our listeners can walk through in their own marriage and practice and start to implement and talk about, and maybe everyone will have a very peaceful simple holiday season.

– Yeah, well, I think just the the overall tip that I want to mention first was making sure that your heart is right, you know, going into the season. But like that requires you to be intentional every day, to kind of do a heart check and say where am I, what am I thinking about, what’s going on, and going before the Lord and if you have expectations or you have hopes and you have specific things that you hope would happen during this time, giving them to him and saying hey, God, could this happen? And just laying it before him. And if it doesn’t, be okay with that.

– Yeah. So that’s a good starting point, just checking our hearts. We learned that in the Bible that it’s good to examine ourselves, where we’re at with all of this stuff, what’s our expectations, what’s our perceptions do we have, dispositions towards things? Me, I personally have always had a disposition of and people have called me Scrooge.

– You don’t want to be forced to celebrate.

– I don’t like feeling manipulated into like all year round, not a single person thinks anything of me if I don’t get him a gift. But I feel like this season like Christmas season, all of a sudden I feel like, well, certain people, are they gonna feel a certain way if I don’t get them something and I just, I don’t like the way that feels. Now I’ve had to adjust a lot of my own heart and overall thinking. But yeah, that’s been my disposition. I don’t know if it was just the way I was raised or just my natural way of being of not liking to being told what to do by society, by commercials. And your disposition has been that it’s a special sacred time and there’s always like we have to have a Christmas tree and we have to, like you see like an experience that makes you feel a certain way.

– Yeah, I like to enjoy all the little things and, but almost to the point where I’m not flexible with giving things up if it doesn’t happen or getting upset.

– Right, because the advice you just gave of evaluating here. You’ve never, not never, but you don’t usually stop and say okay, all these things that I love about this season, I’m gonna hand them to you Lord and like what do you want to change in me? Is there something you want me to recognize about myself? Instead of just controlling it and being like I want it to be this way. Which on my end, I’m like throw it all out, I won’t do any of it. I think I even asked this year, I was like are we doing a Christmas tree this year?

– So with them listening and hearing how we’re so kind of opposite in this area, I wonder if they think we fight over the holiday season.

– Sometimes.

– We do. It happens.

– Which is why we’re talking about this stuff.

– And that’s why it’s so important to check our hearts. That’s why I wanted to start with that one because all these tips that we’re gonna talk about right now go back to this one thing that’s your heart and your heart matters, so okay, so. Okay, so number one is communicate. So being able to, I feel like we, every time we do a tip list, we start out with communicate but it’s so important.

– Yeah and most people don’t know how to communicate. Like how do I share that I’m not interested in getting a Christmas tree when I know for a fact you absolutely 100% want a Christmas tree? And that’s where like in their situations, they’re gonna have something maybe similar where one person has a certain idea or way of wanting to do it and the other person has another one. I might not be able to come to you and say hey, can we evaluate this year whether we want to do that or not? Because I might be afraid that you’re gonna be broken or hurt or like how could you not want to do? That’s what we always have done.

– But it’s not right for you to not say anything just because there’s eggshells all around me and you don’t want to crack them, so. So not only do we need to give each other room to communicate but then we have to communicate.

– Yeah. And without an agenda of like I’m gonna communicate because that’s exactly what I want. Especially if it’s not that big of a deal. But it could be this year I don’t think it’s wise for us to spend money on the Christmas tree and that’s my reasoning behind it. Maybe we’re just so busy with other things that we’re not going to go cut one down or we’re not gonna be able to afford one because, man, they’re expensive if you don’t go cut one yourself. And a lot of people can’t cut themselves. And that’s just one example but. So a few things to communicate about is feelings, like how you explain like what your feelings about the holidays and these specific events and with certain people coming and how you might, maybe you’re like hey, so-and-so’s coming over and actually I have some anxiety about it because of these few reasons. How can you help me navigate this or how should I be thinking about this? So that I can then encourage you or vice versa in the Word of God, in prayer to be preparing our hearts. Maybe we need to change plans. So feelings about the whole thing.

– Yeah, potential plans, communicating. Like kind of like what you mentioned, this is what we have tentatively on the calendar and just giving your spouse a heads up of like this is what we’ve already committed to, this what we’ve said yes to, this is the family that’s gonna be in town, this is how we’re gonna roll it out.

– Yeah. Family values, this is the big one, going back to the heart thing. Asking ourselves, communicating with each other like what do we actually value as a family? Is it getting lots of gifts, like we just want to make this like an all out or is it like we want to be simpler, we want to teach more intrinsic things. We want to just teach just being together, reading together, listening to certain songs together, singing together, learning something new together, serving together. Like what are our values and how can we wrap everything else around our values and what do we need to get rid of that are kind of ancillary to our values? Like oh, we don’t need to do those things or that we’re doing for another motive and it doesn’t really fit into what we are as a family or what we want to teach our children, right? Like just one example would be like let’s say if it comes to gifts. Instead of everyone getting five gifts, maybe, and we’ve done this before, like one little tiny gift and like one learning gift and one gift that they really want. Or one gift or just a dollar amount that we want to spend. Some people, and we’ve talked about this even, do like a give and get. Like hey, you’re gonna get a gift but is there something that you want to give to someone else and how-

– Your siblings, yeah.

– So practicing those things like what are our values as a family? And then the last one, it would be expectations on all of these things.

– You have to identify what those are before you can communicate them, so this goes back to checking your heart and thinking and considering about how you want this holiday season to be and then sitting down with your spouse and communicating that.

– Yeah, so lots of communication about all these things and continual communication.

– Yeah, and I think the key to this type of communication, especially if you want a stress-free holiday is to communicate with humility leading your heart.

– Yeah. And asking the Lord like you said in the beginning, what his heart is for the holiday.

– Yeah, yeah, don’t skip over what he wants for you.

– Yeah, are we just like kind of gonna do our own thing or are we gonna actually say okay, Lord, what do you want to happen?

– Because if you do it that way, then he’s at the center of all of it, right?

– Yeah. And he could even pull out of us something that he wants to change in us about the way we view it or the things that we want or don’t want.

– Yeah, and oftentimes when you keep God at the center of your relationship like that, what I’ve known from experience is that it can even change your heart or perspective towards your spouse. Like if if you guys aren’t in agreeance over how many gifts are gonna be given or what family is gonna come over or whether you’re gonna get that Christmas tree or not, instead of arguing about it, God actually changes your heart or changes their heart on the matter so that you guys can be in unity and enjoy that season.

– That’s good. So the next thing we want to talk about, we just talked about expectations but now we’re going to go into expectations. So just the idea of letting go, being flexible, and having very light expectations. Because again, these days are just days. Like yes, they have some meaning to them, yes they’re they’re an opportunity to celebrate something like the birth of our Lord, you know, those kinds of things, but they are just another day. The Bible doesn’t give us directives on how to do these holidays and that we need to be observing them. These are actually not biblical ideas at all. We celebrate biblical things during them but they’re not necessary, they’re not required, they’re not a thing that the Christian must do to be a Christian. So just having that mentality of like okay, my expectation is this is another day and we’re gonna celebrate Jesus and we’re gonna celebrate Thanksgiving. But are our expectations above and beyond what they need to be? Are we setting too high of expectations or are we being real and saying okay, Lord, like I want to be so like low on my expectation. Not low. I use the word light because it’s not low expectations.

– It’s not like you don’t have to have expectations. You can have expectations, you’re just saying they don’t need to be so lofty that they’re almost unattainable. Because the problem with that is, let’s just be real for a minute, if you had these high expectations and let’s say your kids get sick or your husband’s running late or whatever, how is that gonna dictate your attitude or are you gonna lash out, are you gonna be frustrated, are you gonna stomp around the house? And I’m using this because I’ve done it before. I’m just recognizing like why expectations can be so dangerous in someone’s heart when they’re not met.

– Well, and then asking ourselves where the expectations are coming from. So our expectations usually come from one of two places, external forces or internal ones. Is it an expectation that I put on myself for this holiday like oh, I want everyone to know that I’ve got it all together, that this is gonna be amazing, that they’re gonna all be taken care of by me either as the husband or the wife, like whatever their expectations are internally. Or is it external? Oh, my in-laws are coming and they’re gonna be expecting an extravaganza, they’re gonna be expecting me to have it all together, and there’s lots of other reasons. My friends or my social media accounts, like what they see from my family.

– But even then like even though those are external places, that still comes from an internal place because those people might not even be thinking what you think they’re thinking.

– That’s true. There are all these expectations that we have, they’re internal motivations of like oh, I don’t want to look this way or that way or I do want to look this way or that way. And those aren’t good things. Those are so unhealthy and they’re dangerous and we do it in many, many, many areas but they often rear their ugly head in a season of heightened expectation and respond, and things that are drawing us.

– Yeah and I think that’s where the chaos comes from. A large chunk of it, the stress comes during the holiday seasons from these expectations.

– Yeah, well, and we have to remember that, like I was just saying, these holidays are not things that the Bible’s insist you did and called us to remember. Like the Bible tells us to remember the Lord’s Supper and to remember what Christ did, right?

– Yeah, are we even doing that?

– Yeah, like which is a good thing to implement, like hey, we should do this with our family as a tradition. But these holidays, man, the world has been so good at impressing on us necessity for things. Like oh, if you don’t participate to this extent, oh, you’re not a good person or you’re not a good Christian or you’re not, you know, you must not love, you know. But that’s wrong. Like I hate commercials because they, something I didn’t need, now all of a sudden I need it. Right, and they make you, that’s what marketing is about. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing but how it influences us and how we drive, you know, making our house look a certain way and the presents and all the things that we don’t just lay on ourselves but then the society and the world lays on us also to participate in. We actually can think differently about it. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing to us, it doesn’t have to be a big heavy. And I know people are gonna be like well, what’s the big deal about Christmas, I like celebrating it. I’m not saying don’t celebrate things. I’m saying understand where a lot of our drive and motivation comes from and oftentimes it’s from internal insecurities or expectations and external forces pulling you along and saying this is what you must do and how you must think and what you must be. Again this goes back to my Scrooginess that people have called out. Like I just don’t like feeling like one day a year is the day of gift-giving and that’s how we celebrate. Right? My thought is like well, if you love people, aren’t you gonna like give them gifts in all different forms throughout their whole life? And like your life is gonna want to serve them and love them and be generous to them? And what’s funny is the Bible tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those that persecute us, so we have this idea of like giving to those who don’t even deserve to be given to by us. And it’s just, I’m kind of ranting now but having just the right expectations and this just goes into the next thing we’re going to talk about is having a sober mind as a family about the holidays, which is everything I’m getting to right now. You know, the fact that we may be able to celebrate any day in relative health, with food, with our loved ones, is a humongous blessing.

– Yeah, and we should recognize that. We should be thanking God for that and honoring him and showing him our appreciation for even the simplest of things that he’s already given to us.

– Yeah, I think about that scripture in Proverbs that says a house full of feasting and yet with strife is not as good as a house full of peace with a little food. Like you can have this huge feast and all the presents and everything beautiful.

– And all the family drama that goes with it.

– And all the drama and frustrations and anger and fights and bitterness and all the weird stuff that goes on, and that’s not good. I don’t want any of that. I’d rather have like a few morsels on the table and we’re all loving each other and talking about the Lord and serving others and we’re healthy, you know? And that, like praise the Lord. You know, so a sober mind. How often do you do you think that way? Cuz like this season just makes us think about a lot of other things.

– Yeah, I’ll be honest, I get really distracted by what you mentioned earlier which is expectations and like how I view a certain day or week or entire season should go and the things that I want to do, the things I want to teach my kids, the experiences I want to have. You know, some of my expectations and I don’t know if those listening will agree or can relate to, but some of my expectations come from wanting to recreate my own childhood or things that I thought were really fun and-

– To give to our kids.

– To give to our kids and to share those memories with them or build new ones around those ideas or experiences, which isn’t a bad thing at all but sometimes I’m so consumed with that that I do miss out on these other really important things like just being thankful for all the simple things that God’s already given to us.

– Yeah. Well, and then like you mentioned something about recreating or creating new traditions and which traditions can be good in a home, as long as we’re not like relying on traditions, but you know, I was thinking like sometimes we look at other people’s lives and like look at the traditions they’ve got and like oh, that’s so special. And doesn’t mean we can’t glean from other families and like oh, I’d love to implement something like that. But then we again, we put something on our shoulders, and be like oh, unless we do that, we’re failing our children somehow or-

– Or this isn’t the holiday that I wanted.

– Yeah and I just, I don’t think that’s a very sober way of looking at any day of our life. You know, I’m worrying about tomorrow when today’s got enough worries of its own, right? And I feel like the best family traditions, the healthiest traditions, especially ones that are wrapped in the gospel and in the Bible and knowing God, come naturally as we serve God and seek Him and as his desires come out of us because what happens is generosity, right? We start training that because that becomes, that’s a part of what we are because God’s generous, we love to be generous, so instead of about getting, it’s about giving and that just becomes a tradition in our home naturally. What are some other ways that we can think soberly about this season?

– Well, we say it all the time but it’s walking in the spirit and intentionally walking in the spirit during these times. That’s really gonna keep the stress and chaos and conflict out of the home.

– Yeah. I would say, and the reason we bring up so much, I actually believe that the core of being a Christian outside of believing in God, in Christ, and him crucified, right, is walking in the spirit. Because when you walk in the spirit, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. And against such things there is no law. It says like when you walk that way, you’re walking in perfect harmony with God, right? And so no matter what’s going on in the world, in our home for the holidays, if we’re walking in the spirit, it’s a good thing. Our kids are gonna glean from that, it’s the best gift we can give to our children. It’s the best gift we can give to our spouse. It’s the best gift we can give to our neighbors. And the reason I always go back to this, it calls it fruit. The fruit isn’t for the benefit of the tree, it’s for the benefit of the eater, right? So if I’m the tree and I bear fruit, then everyone around me gets to eat the good fruit. You know, you get to enjoy my peace and my patience and my kindness and my goodness and my gentleness and my faithfulness and self-control. Those are all things that are good. Now they benefit me too of course but the purpose is everyone around me. So I feel like to think soberly like you said, walking in the spirit.

– Yeah. So going on to the next one would be no day’s actually about us anyway. So I think sometimes when we set those expectations, it’s all about us. When we try and plan and prepare and cram so much into the holiday season and we do everything we can, spin in circles to try and make it happen, we’re doing it because we’re trying to fulfill something, our own desire, and we have to remember that it’s not about us. It’s about the people that you’re engaging with, it’s about the kids that you want to experience these memories with, it’s about the people at the store who are trying to check out all these other customers.

– And dealing with angry people and frustrations and-

– If we’re only focused on ourselves, we’re gonna miss every opportunity that God has for us to do ministry, to love, and to reflect his light in their life.

– Yeah and again it’s not even just about others, it’s about Christ. Like what light are we being in the world during a season like this or are we just looking like everyone else? Are we also frustrated because that one thing I wanted or the line was so long or the traffic or whatever it is?

– Yeah, don’t huff and puff your way through the holidays because-

– Or being frustrated because you can’t afford certain things or because, like there’s that other spectrum of like maybe not be able to accomplish or do or participate in what you want. And still remembering it’s not about any of that stuff. It’s about Christ and are we being a light in this world?

– Yeah, this will also help in if you experience a family conflict like with aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpa, other siblings, other adults, like people who should be able to walk in maturity and just figure things out. We’re not perfect and our flesh wants to fight sometimes, so if we were to just stop and realize that none of these days, this whole season, this whole life that we have is not about us, when we hit that wall or conflict with other people, other family members, if we walk in this and we remember that it’s not about us, then we’re usually more giving or serving to that other person and we can make things work, we can make it happen. And then you’re being an example of God’s love and light to them and hopefully they’ll change too.

– Yeah, which is the point of this life as a believer. It’s a point of a marriage after God is to be a light in the world. And so the last little point I want to, I threw this one on about having a sober mind is, and we talked about this in the finance episode we did, do not put stuff on credit.

– No.

– If you can’t afford it, just don’t get it. Change your expectations. Like no one’s gonna hate you, right? Hopefully. But I promise you’re not gonna regret not putting stuff on credit.

– Yeah or find another way to be, like if you really wanted to get someone a gift, be more thoughtful in like writing them a personal note, letter, or something on really nice paper. I mean, there’s other ways around gift-giving without money.

– And letting them know that you love them. Yeah, so that was just a quick one. Don’t put things on credit. Don’t fall into that temptation. Just avoid it.

– Yeah, and if you are tempted, especially to fulfill like maybe your children and getting them a lot of gifts because when you were a child, you didn’t get a lot of gifts, sometimes people wrestle with that. I would just think like your child’s not gonna not like you or not love you because when they were younger, you didn’t get them everything that they ever wanted. In fact, they’ll probably, like we just shared about our favorite memories, they’ll remember the time that you spent with them.

– Yeah. And they won’t know what you don’t get them, so that’s a good thing. Let’s go into the last part, this is the most important part. And it goes along with what we were talking about before the credit thing about remembering it’s not about us.

– Yeah, that you have a ministry, your marriage has a ministry, the whole family has a ministry that God wants to do through you and I feel like during the holiday season there is so many opportunities to minister to other people and to just be that light in their lives.

– Yeah, God’s antidote to our natural state of selfishness, because our natural fleshly state is to preserve ourself, and to serve ourself, and to feed ourself, and to bless ourself, and to love ourself, is to love and bless others. Is to turn things outward. And so use this season with your family as a marriage after God to bless and serve other people. That looks so many different ways. We have a few ideas. One of them we’ve done every year for the last 10 years, a long time. It’s called Operation Christmas Child. And it’s you get a shoebox and you fill it with some little goodies and what they do is they send them all over the world. And you can actually, if you do it right, they’ll track it and say where your box went. And it goes to a child and every single child gets the gospel and they get prayed for and loved on by people that are giving these gifts. And not only are they getting a box of gifts that you gave them, they’re getting the gospel.

– And this is a great one to do with your family or just your community, your church community, and just spend that time together talking about these kids that are gonna receive these gifts.

– Praying for them.

– Praying for them, teaching your children why it’s good to be generous and I don’t know, we’ve really, really loved doing this.

– Yeah and so that’s a fun one. We’re gonna do it this year with our church, we do it every year. And so that’s one way. What’s another way?

– So another one is be in prayer for your friends and family. So kind of like you said, praying for those kids that are gonna receive those boxes, make sure that you’re praying for other people who are in your life and just love on them in that way.

– Yeah, practice with your kids. So we train with our children, we say hey Elliot, who do you wanna pray for? We’ll give him ideas. You wanna pray for your friend? You wanna pray for your grandma? You want to pray for? And just be praying for those that don’t know the Lord and pray for salvation for them, pray that God reveals himself to them and that Christians are brought around them to minister to them and love on them. Pray that you have an opportunity as a family to do that and have that be a core message, a core event, not just on the holiday but throughout the holidays, like every day. And then practice doing it all throughout the year. But use this as a season to specifically say hey, let’s be praying for grandma and grandpa. They’re coming out, they’re gonna be around us, let’s pray that we can be good examples and let’s pray we can love on them and make them feel loved and blessed. So making prayer a main part of this season.

– That’s good. So another one, we’ve talked a lot about food on this episode, but it’s inviting people who you know don’t have a lot of family around or maybe don’t have any plans or maybe they’re in need and inviting them over for a nice meal.

– To join your family, yeah. And make something for them and get them a gift and let them be a part and participate. Especially if you have friends that don’t have family that are nearby, maybe they’re gonna be alone. Don’t let anyone be alone.

– Especially I was just thinking we have experienced this because we’ve traveled and we’ve been in places that-

– When it was just us.

– We didn’t have family around, when it was just us, and even now a lot of our family lives in California, we’re in Oregon, and so we’ve done the Friendsgiving thing when our family didn’t come in. I don’t know, I just think it’s such a loving way to share the gospel with someone. I mean, we’ve felt loved by it, we’ve experienced God’s love and his truth come through this so.

– Yeah, so use hospitality as a gift you can give to others. Inviting them into your home, into your apartment, to be a part of what God’s doing in your life. So the last thing is just, and we kind of had hit on this a lot.

– Well, and as you do these things that we’re talking about as far as blessing people, you’ll fulfill this role.

– Yeah, just use this holiday season as a very intentional time to teach your children and yourselves. To be honest, I need to be reminded of this stuff and taught it and practice it. To be generous and giving and to have hearts of service. So do your neighbors need anything? Is there any way you can bless them? Maybe you can bring them groceries. Maybe it’s like baking them a pie and bringing them a card. So using this season to be very intentional about teaching our children, ourselves, about generosity, about service, and about being outward focused. And I think that’s the best way to get our minds off of ourselves, to get our minds off of our own anxieties and stress and worries about this season and what it might mean, and make it about other people. You know? And doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it and have our own things. I’m just saying the main focus and just how do we operate as a marriage after God. And I think those things are the best way to have a stress-free holiday season.

– Yeah, and it’s what we all want, like we all desire to be able to enjoy this time of year and spend it with our families. And so I think that one of the reasons why we wanted to just talk about this today is to encourage you guys to check your hearts, talk about it, talk about your expectations, talk about the things that you hope to do or the family that’s gonna be in town, and just pray. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray with your spouse about all of it, pray with your kids for other people, find ways to be generous. I mean, all these things that we talked about, like Aaron said, it’s to get our hearts right before God and right with each other and I think that if we do that, it does eliminate so much of that stress and chaos.

– It brings peace from God into our lives. And so as we come to a close, I just want to ask you to sit down with your spouse and as a couple ask God, God, what do you want for us this holiday? What do you want to use our family for as a marriage after God? And so we love you guys and we thank you for joining us and we’ll see you next week. Did you enjoy today’s show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

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