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!


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

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

My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When All You Want for Christmas Is a Baby

When You Need More Grace in Your Holidays

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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Prevent parenting burn-out, step 2: Silence your inner critic.


how to raise respectful children

I’m not doing enough.

I forgot to do a devotion this morning.

I’m not teaching my kids enough about God and the Bible every day.

My 5-year-old doesn’t know how to read yet.

I don’t feed my kids a perfect rainbow of organic vegetables.

I cook healthy food, but my kids don’t eat it; their favorite food is macaroni and cheese—the fake-cheese, preservative-full kind.

Whenever I see all those cute art projects that look so great on Pinterest, all I can think is, ‘That’s adorable, and maybe it would be fun and educational, but . . . I don’t really feel like making that mess in my house. Or spending all that money on art supplies. And what in the WORLD would the baby do while the other kids are sculpting vegetables in the style of Michelangelo?’

If anyone found out about all this, they’d kick me out of parenthood. I’m the Worst Mom Ever.

Sound familiar? Sometimes we see things other moms post on social media, about how they did some cool art project with their kids, or fed them all these perfect whole-food meals, and we sit there and think, “I’m the worst mom. Everyone else is doing this so much better than I am. God should fire me.”

But when I start thinking those things, I have to remind myself: I’m the only mom these kids have. I’m not perfect. But you know what? We laughed a lot today. We danced crazy dances today. And I think my kids like me the way I am. I think my husband likes me the way I am. I think God likes me the way I am. I’m not saying I shouldn’t try to learn from other people’s gifts, or that I won’t work to grow in my areas of weakness, but there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, so maybe we should stop trying to be perfect. I don’t care nearly so much about my kids learning to read early, or eating no sugar ever, or being well-rounded . . . as I care about loving them the best I can, and inspiring them to love God and know that he loves them, and me, even in our imperfection . . . If I do THOSE things well, then I’m doing a darn good job. I’m showing them grace, and they’re showing it back to me. And somehow, that’s going to be enough.

So tell your inner critic to be quiet. Grow where you need to grow, break out the art supplies and the healthy food cookbooks when you’re up for it, but ENJOY raising your kids in your own messy, disorganized, chocolate-eating, loving way. Quit taking this kid thing so seriously all the time. Live. Laugh. Love.

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