When You Have the Christmas Grumps


overcoming moodiness at Christmas

Stop touching my stuff!

Five seconds later…

Stop touching me!

Five seconds later…

Stop looking at me! Your EYES are touching me!

Five seconds later…

Stop breathing in the same room as me! 

Happy holidays, right? Fa la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaa! It’s amazing how quickly the beauty of family bonding time can sour into family grump time. And it’s not just the kids who turn into grumps—Grinchiness can attack us all, no matter our age or stage in life. We can get irritated with roommates, spouses, extended family, annoying pets…

Every Christmas, my family relies upon the passage I call Old Faithful, a.k.a. Philippians 2. It has seen us through many a grumpy moment on holidays, vacations, and—well, even on regular old days when we have descended into selfish funks.

If you feel the Christmas Grumps descending upon you or your family, try pulling out Philippians 2:1–16 and having a little chat—first with yourself, then with your family. I’m abbreviating it a bit here, but the whole passage is life-saving:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness . . . .

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. –Philippians 2:1–7, 14–16 

The way of Christ is humility, sacrifice, and selflessness! Putting others’ needs before our own. Forgetting what we want and what would make our holidays great, and putting others’ needs first. Choosing gratitude over discontent, speaking thanks instead of complaint. When we become selfless, a funny thing happens: We get happier! We have more fun! We find joy in the midst of chaos and stress! Isn’t it amazing how wise God’s ways are? Our heavenly Father—our Designer—knows how we function best…and he made us to give! We thrive when we serve.

(Ahem. I hereby interrupt this blog post for a Public Service Announcement addressed to those of you who never stop: Please do not read this and think, “I should run myself ragged serving others this Christmas.” If that is you, please read Have a ‘Mary’ Christmas: More Sitting, Less Stressing! End of PSA announcement.)


Want more ideas for bringing Christ into the chaos of daily life?  Sign up for my newsletter here and you’ll receive a free download: 7 two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with your family! 


Kevin and I read Philippians 2 with our family all the time (in fact, we discussed it for the umpteenth time yesterday). With young kids, try reading this passage in the New Living Translation; it’s a little easier to comprehend. After we read, we like to give our kids lots of practical, specific examples to “hang” these scriptures on. We encourage them to think about things like, “How can I make my sister happy today?” and “What game would my brother like to play today?” and “What if I let everyone else choose which cookie they want before me?” (In our house, volunteering to be the last cookie-chooser would be a sacrifice of saint-like proportions.)

Here’s to defeating the spirits of Scrooge and Grinch and Grump, and having a holly-jolly Christmas through the Spirit of Christ!


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Have a “Mary” Christmas: More Sitting, Less Stressing

Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness

 

 

 

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When You Need More Grace in Your Holidays


How to find grace this Christmas

When my daughter Avery Grace was six, she turned her big brown eyes up at me and asked, “Why does Santa check his list twice?” She paused, then said, “Wait, I know. Is it because anyone can change?” I stood dumbstruck for a moment, awed that such little-girl cuteness could offer such old-soul wisdom.

Anyone can change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately—how it’s so much bigger than we think. How it can cover everything and make us new over and over again. In late October my mother and I had the privilege of spending a weekend with 800 wonderful women in the Midwest, talking about “Overflowing Grace.” And earlier that month, I spent a Saturday afternoon with 200 vibrant ladies in West Palm Beach, Florida, seeking God’s kindness and grace in our waiting seasons—along the way we found quite a few laughs and tears. (Scroll down to see pictures and to find information about speaking availability in 2018—next year’s calendar is filling up fast!)

How are you doing with grace lately? It’s hard, right? We want to accept it, we ache to feel it. . . but so many times, we walk around still haunted by guilt. And when we’re dogged by guilt ourselves, we show less grace to others, a painful cycle. This holiday season, I pray you experience God’s grace more fully—and share it more generously.

Here are three simple ways to experience more grace this December (and always!):

How to find grace this Christmas

-Have an encouraging devotional time with your family. So many times we focus our family devotional times on areas where our families need to grow, highlighting our weaknesses—not this time! Your only goal in this devotional is to encourage your kids like crazy. Go around the room and be as specific as you can with each child, praising them for who they are—what you love and like in their personality and character; all the ways you enjoy and admire them—and also tell them specific ways you have seen them serve or grow or give. Kevin and I had a devotional time like this with our kids a few months ago, and it was wonderful.

-Take time to notice God’s encouragements to you—His small graces—each day. Pay closer attention to his small gifts and kindnesses. They are always there, those gentle signs that say, “I’m here and I care,” but we rarely slow down long enough to notice and appreciate them. Did He give you peace when you were anxious? Did He prompt a friend to send you a reassuring text message just after you prayed for encouragement? Did He help you find your lost keys? Try writing down three ways God showed you kindness at the end of every day—I bet you’ll have a hard time stopping at just three!

-Share some of the grace God has given you. Write a card, share a meal, give a gift. Or offer grace of the forgiveness kind, forgiving someone who has hurt you even though they don’t fully “get” how much you hurt. (Can any of us fully “get” how much our sin has hurt Jesus?!) We all know it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)—Jesus taught us that—but something beautiful happens in our hearts when we give grace. Giving grace softens us, humbles us, and opens us up. The more we give grace, the better we are able to receive it from others. Try it. . .you’ll see what I mean!

I wish you a grace-filled, joy-filled holiday season!

xoxo,

Elizabeth


If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

My newslettersign up here to receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to do around the breakfast table with your family!

Have a Mary Christmas (More Sitting, Less Stressing!)

Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness (a rather unfortunate Christmas story)

By This Time Next Year (our family’s Christmas miracle story)

My new book, When God Says, “Wait”

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind


My 2018 speaking calendar is filling up fast!

I only have a few speaking slots left for this winter/spring (only one date left in January/February; March is full; April and May have a few openings), so please contact me ASAP if you’d like me to come visit your church or group! I’d love to meet you in person. You can find a list of speaking topics here

Here are a few pictures from October’s events, “Grace Overflowing” and “When God Says ‘Wait'”:


Contact me about speaking here.

Sign up for my newsletter and receive your free gift, 7 Days of Two-Minute Devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids!

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How to Help Preschoolers Handle Their Feelings


How to help preschoolers handle their feelings

So let’s talk preschoolers.

They’re delightful one minute, demonic the next. One moment their mantra is “By Myself”; the next they are the helpless baby again. One of the most important things we have to do for our two-, three-, and four-year-olds is help them develop emotional self-control. They have to learn to handle disappointment, frustration, and delayed gratification—all of the feelings—without flipping out (ahem, screaming, kicking, hitting, falling on the floor in a writhing heap).

Emotional self-control is not something kids achieve after a one-time punishment or conversation, and kids don’t just automatically “grow into it” without guidance—it’s one of those things they only develop with consistent, patient help from us. Which means that we, the parent, must also learn a whole new level of patience and emotional self-control, ha! 

How to Handle Temper Tantrums

So if you’ve got a three-year-old in the throes of throwing him- or herself on the floor screaming every time they don’t get their way…keep working on it. Be firm and consistent every time they shout, or flop on the floor, or hit, or stomp their foot—if they realize that tantrums NEVER achieve what they want, over time they’ll give up the tactic. But don’t just discourage tantrums; encourage patience and self-control (encourage them with praise, reward, etc.). Try equipping your child with simple strategies to help them get control of wild feelings (count to ten and breathe; go sit in the other room for a minute and calm down; squeeze your hands together).

How to help preschoolers handle their feelings

But we can’t just deal with them in the crisis moment—if we want to see real growth, we have to take it deeper. In calm moments, talk to them about patience, sharing, being calm, about explaining their feelings in words rather than acting them out, about good and bad ways to deal with big feelings. Teach them, in simple terms, about the deeper, heart-level concepts of patience, not always getting your way, being unselfish and loving, and not being mean to others. Use simple scriptures to reinforce these principles. Preschoolers are smart, and they really do understand when we talk to them about these things—we just have to catch them in the right moment. They often “get it” in their heads, but then we have to help their feelings and self-control mature and catch up. (And watch “Daniel Tiger” together—seriously, that show and its little songs help!)

If we hang in there, our preschool days will be more delightful than demonic, and one day, this crazy emotional roller coaster ride will flatten out…at least until the preteen years…but that’s another post another day.

I recently spoke about helping kids with whining on Facebook Live—you can watch the recording here!

Where is God when life gets hard…and…what to do when kids whine!

Nai-post ni Elizabeth Laing Thompson, Writer at LizzyLife noong Miyerkules, Marso 22, 2017


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When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind


A Devotion to Help Kids Understand God’s Love


teaching kids about God's love

Need a family devotion to help your kids understand God’s love for them? This devotion is simple, brief, and meaningful, and is appropriate for kids of all ages. (Confession: I totally cried when we did this devo with our kids. )

Start by reading Zephaniah 3:17—I love the old NIV version (NIV 1984):

“The Lord your God is with you,

     He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

   He will quiet you with his love,

   He will rejoice over you with singing.”

(This is where the waterworks started for me. I just can’t. It’s so beautiful. So overwhelming. So comforting. It sets my heart to singing every time.)

Explain to your kids that God takes great delight in them. Just as Mommy and Daddy put them to bed each night with a song, so God, our Heavenly Father, sings over us. Then tell each child one thing in their character that brings God great delight—be as specific as you can be. For example, with our four kids, we shared:

Kid 1: Your compassion, kindness, and concern for others’ feelings

Kid 2: Your soft heart towards God, the way you are always seeking Him

Kid 3: Your amazing patience and kindness to your younger sister, even when she drives you crazy

Kid 4: Your deeply loving spirit—you give affection so generously to others, and make us all feel loved

Talks like this are a wonderful way to encourage our kids and show them the height and depth and breadth of God’s astounding, mind-boggling, often undeserved but absolutely devoted love for all of us.

This image is taken from my new Instagram account, @elizabethlaingthompson, where I am posting scriptures, encouragement, and humorous thoughts to help you through your waiting journey. I’d love to see you on Instagram!


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A Simple Bible Study to Build Your Kids’ Faith


a simple faith-building Bible study to do with kids of any age

Want a simple family devotion that will build your kids’ faith (and your own)? This makes a great family devotion for Christmastime, but of course you could do it any time of year.

Start by reading Isaiah 9:1–7. (Try reading the New Living Translation version if you have younger kids—it’s a little easier to understand. I’m quoting the NIV here.)

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

You might need to take a minute to give a BRIEF, basic, broad-strokes explanation of the meaning of the passage after you read—it is an earful. Our 9- and 10-year-olds grasped it pretty well on their own; the 8-year-old was a little confused and needed more explanation. We explained that this was written during a difficult time for the nation of Israel, and it was meant to comfort God’s people by predicting the end of fighting and war. This passage tells us that a special child would be born to save God’s people.

Once you’ve clarified the meaning, ask: Who do you think this scripture is talking about? Our kids immediately shouted, “Jesus!” From there, ask why they think it’s about Jesus. (Details you can draw out: Jesus came from Galilee; he was a special child even when he was first born; he brought us peace with God through his death; he now reigns over God’s kingdom. If your kids’ attention span allows it (ours didn’t!), you can briefly touch on how Jesus was a wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and prince of peace.

Hold that thought…

Next read Isaiah 7:14: 

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Again, ask: Who is this talking about? Why do you think that? Take a few moments to draw out the connections in this verse to Jesus’ birth. Even if they don’t understand the word “virgin,” most kids already understand that Jesus’ mother, Mary, wasn’t married, and it was impossible for her to be pregnant, but she got pregnant anyway. Jesus’ birth was a miracle. Kids also understand that Jesus was a special baby from the beginning, and that his birth was a sign of God’s love for us.

Hold that thought again…

Then ask them: When do you think these passages in Isaiah were written—before or after Jesus was born? 

Here’s the part where you blow their minds (and maybe your own, too): These words were written hundreds of years before Jesus was born! (Without getting too technical here, scholars date these chapters in Isaiah to somewhere between the 500s and 700s BC!) These passages are prophecies, telling us what God had planned for the future. Isn’t God amazing? He knows everything! He can plan things many, many years before they ever happen. Scriptures like this strengthen our faith in God, Jesus, and the Bible. They show us how powerful God is, and that the Bible is true.

Simple devotions like this are powerful because they expose our kids to basic apologetics, and give them strong, concrete evidence for their faith besides just “take my word for it; believe it because I tell you to.” Devotions like this also introduce kids to the Old Testament prophets, and help them make connections between all the different parts of God’s story.

If you try this devotion out with your family, I’d love to hear how it went! Feel free to post in the comments below!

Want more family devotion ideas? You might try 5 Bible Stories Boys Love13 Scriptures to Read with Your Daughter, and Teaching Kids to “Go the Extra Mile.”  I also post new devotion ideas on Facebook. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to my quarterly newsletter, and you’ll receive a free download: 7 two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids!


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