Focus on the Family Broadcast

Celebrating Advent as a Family

Celebrating Advent as a Family

When the Christmas season rolls around, we often place expectations that it will be “the best Christmas ever,” but we end up disappointed, stressed out and exhausted. Josh and Christi Straub urge us all to remember the true meaning of the Advent season, offering ways to sidestep the stress by being fully present with family and reflecting on the joy of the season.
Original Air Date: November 28, 2022

Woman #1: One Christmas tradition that I had as a kid was to FaceTime my uncle and aunt after we got our presents. And we would use that as an opportunity to talk to them about what we got and then like, have other conversations surrounding that. And it was a really fun time just getting to catch up with my family.

Woman #2: My favorite Christmas tradition as a kid was getting tamales on Christmas Eve and eating it with my family.

Man #1: My favorite Christmas tradition as a kid was whenever we would make prime rib. Usually it’s like a turkey or ham or something, but we always made prime rib, and it was just fantastic.

Man #2: My favorite Christmas tradition was that when I was little, my family, we used to watch A Christmas Story every single Christmas Eve.

John Fuller: Well, we hope you have some great memories from the past and some favorite traditions you’re looking forward this holiday season. If not, uh, stay tuned. We have a few ideas of our own that you might wanna try this Christmas. Uh, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and thanks for joining us.

Jim Daly: Well, John, the Daly household. We love Christmas. It’s so much fun. Everything just seems to change, you know? The whole vibe-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … at Christmas time. And Jean, oh, is she into Christmas. Decorates. You know, the boys and I, we bring down all the decorations from the attic. That’s our contribution. (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

John: (laughs) And then she places it all?

Jim: But it’s like, it’s like-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … 25 boxes of stuff.

John: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: I mean, that … Yeah, this is a production, you know? And she does all the decorating. We offer, but she just loves doing it and she just gets into it. And I know there are so many traditions that people have. Now I just learned this year of a little tradition that I was unaware of. That’s how good my boys were at keeping this hidden.

John: Uh-oh.

Jim: But, you know, we do the secret gifts at night, you know, late Christmas Eve wrapping all these … I mean, I remember bicycles at two in the morning.

John: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: Somehow these boys of mine would get up after we’d gone to bed at 1:00, 2:00 in the morning and they’d go down and peek and peel back the wrapper of the gifts and take a look at what … And I didn’t learn this until like last year.

John: Oh my goodness.

Jim: They’re in their 20s.

John: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: They’re in their early 20s. They kept this such a good-

John: I can see them going down-

Jim: … secret.

John: … as little ninjas and opening everything up.

Jim: Yeah. There’s something … That anticipation. And of course, I’m not gonna get mad at them. I get it. I did it. Jean is the exact opposite. She wants that anticipation.

John: Mm.

Jim: If she could have it her way she wouldn’t open Christmas presents until Christmas night.

John: Oh. Just becau-

Jim: You ever met somebody like that?

John: Well, (laughs) no, I have not.

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: I mean, she goes-

John: Apart from Jean.

Jim: “Can we just wait a couple more hours before we open our gifts?” Like what are you talking about?

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: And so anyway, the boys … It was really funny and they confessed finally so I’m sure their s- their spirits are clear now. (laughs)

John: I know. It’s a lighter seasonal raid.

Jim: But what a fun time to talk about Christmas, the advent season. And that was the other thing. We didn’t do one advent calendar. We did two. One in the morning and one at night.

John: Mm.

Jim: And we had the hidden boxes that, you know, the boys would go and get their little goody out of.

John: Yup.

Jim: And just so much fun and I’m looking forward to talking about this today.

John: Yeah, and there are so many, uh, uh, of us as Christian families. We wanna put the emphasis on Jesus during this season and-

Jim: There’s a good idea. (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

John: Well, it’s woven throughout and I’m really glad that we have an opportunity to kinda slow down before the big rush here and, uh, and get our perspectives right. And our guests are gonna help us do that, um, as we have Dr. Josh and Christie Straub here. Um, they are back with us. They’re authors, speakers and co-founders of Famous at Home. Uh, that’s an organization in which they train leaders in emotional intelligence and they promote healthy families. And they’ve been here before. Uh, they’re here this time with their three young children and, uh, we’re so glad that they’re in the gallery watching through the glass there.

Jim: Yeah. They are cutie pies by the way.

John: They are. Yeah. It’s been fun to get to know them. Uh, Josh and Christie have a book called 25 Days of the Christmas Story: An Advent Family Experience, and we’ve copies of that here at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or give us a call.

Jim: Josh and Christie, welcome back.

Dr. Josh Straub:  Uh, thanks for having us.

Christie Straub: Thank you guys. We love…

Josh:  We always love being here.

Jim: It’s so good to see yeah. It’s so much fun. Okay, I kinda let our Daly tradition out of the bag which again, I just learned a year ago.

Josh: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: Actually it was a tradition. What’s, uh, one of your family traditions?

Josh:  Well, I’m just a little nervous ’cause our three kids are sitting in the gallery. They’re gonna pick up-

Jim: Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about that. (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Josh:  … this new tradition.

Jim: Yeah, sorry. Whoops. We better edit this whole thing.

Christie: Don’t get ideas.

Josh: So that was one of those, uh, oh, yeah. It’s so funny.

Jim: You know what? Jean’s gonna mention that tonight.

Josh:  Yeah. (laughs)

Christie: Yeah. (laughs)

Jim: “Didn’t you know the kids were sitting and listening?” Like whoops.

Josh:  So funny. No, we, we … You know, for us it- it’s fun. We, we … You know, one of the things that we’re getting to do, you know … I love the season. So my dad and I used to hang Christmas lights up the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when it was that we would hang Christmas … So you were talking about Jean and the way she loves to decorate-

Jim: Oh yeah.

Josh:  … and get lost in it. I l- I get lost not in the inside, but the outside. And I’m not like Clark Griswold or anything but-

Jim: Are you serious?

Josh:  But I just-

Jim: You’re one of those guys?

Christie: He loves it.

Josh:  I just enjoy it.

Jim: Oh, that’s awesome. I wish I had an ounce of that.

Josh: (laughs)

Christie: Yeah.

John: (laughs)

Josh:  But it was fun this year. My daughter, Kennedy, she just has taken hold of that-

Jim: Oh.

Josh:  … and wants to do it with me.

Jim: That’s great.

Josh:  And so it kinda takes me back to me doing it with my dad. Except here’s the thing. It’s not the day after Thanksgiving anymore. It’s like the day after Halloween now, right?

Jim: (laughs)

Josh:  That, that’s when we start decorating for Christmas, so-

Jim: It does move that fast.

Christie: It does.

Jim: I remember T- T- you know, when Trent was big enough I’d have him climb the roof. (laughs) I know someone’s gonna write-

Christie: (laughs)

Josh: (laughs)

Jim: “You put your child at risk.”

Josh: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: No, he was quite capable. Far better at it than me.

Christie: Very safe, yeah-

Jim: Hanging up lights and, you know-

Christie: The leg system. (laughs)

Jim: It … But it became a bit of a thing. “Hey, you missed a spot.” “Well, you come up and do it.”

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Josh:  Oh my gosh. That was my dad and I.

Jim: “Okay, forget it.” Of course not.

Josh:  It was the same thing. My dad and I probably had more chaos and, and tension between putting Christmas lights up. And … But, but there was a connection. It’s, it still brings you together. It’s-

Christie: Yeah.

Josh:  … memories when you do stuff like that together.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah, that’s so true.

Josh:  Yeah.

Jim: Christie, how ’bout you? What’s a favorite thing?

Christie: I think like when I look back at my childhood, it was the birthday party for Jesus.

Jim: Mm.

Christie: That was the thing that finally made things click for me. That it was like everything was red and green at Christmas. That made no sense to me.

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Christie: Like it felt … And … But we talked about Jesus’s birth. And then one year I don’t know where this came from but my mom was just like, “We’re having a birthday party for Jesus,” where it was like balloons and cake-

Jim: Wow.

Christie: … and like an actual normal birthday like we did. And it was something about that as a kid. I still remember where it clicked. And so we’ve done that with our kids ever since they were teeny and I don’t know. It’s been something that has just been … Like this birthday party for Jesus, it’s like an actual reminder of Him coming as this … And we celebrate it every year. And it feels like he’s part of the family.

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: ‘Cause that’s how we celebrate our family’s birthdays.

Jim: It’s a great way to remind us about what it’s all about.

Christie: Right.

Jim: I mean we get lost in all that, don’t we?

Christie: Yes. Yeah.

Jim: And we, we … I mean you could really do Christmas without even realizing what we’re truly celebrating.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: Probably half the culture doesn’t even get it.

Christie: Yeah.

Josh:  But yet it’s something about the lights and the, and the, and the spirit of Christmas. And, you know, we talk about the spirit of Christmas and the joy and all that. People go throughout Christmas without even talking about Jesus and yet they’re drawn to Christmas. So what, what is it that draws them to Christmas? And I think that’s for us what has been the thing for … We have wanted to instill in our kids is what is the true meaning and what-

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  Even, even where were the Christmas sto- … where has the Christmas story gotten twisted? Where … What’s not Biblically accurate. What has been culturally added to the Christmas story that we wanna make sure is Biblically accurate, that our kids are understanding who Jesus is, what that time was about and … Anyway, that’s where the-

Jim: I think that’s great.

Josh:  … 25 days of the Christmas Story came about.

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  Is I just …. I wanted to look at the characters and, and look at, man, what does it mean and, and this joy of Christmas. Like it is joy, it’s true joy. It is a m-

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  It … I mean, Isaiah prophesied it 800 years before it ever even happened that God would be with us.

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  God with us and-

Jim: God deliver us, right?

Christie: Yeah.

Josh:  Deliver us and yeah.

Jim: So I mean that’s … Yeah, we’re gonna unpack that as we move along here quickly but, um, before we get there let’s talk about expectations. I mean, we gotta talk about-

Josh:  Ooh.

Jim: … all the things that pull us down at Christmas, right?

Josh:  Mm.

Jim: And you had a, a statement that really caught my attention. “Expectations are premeditated resentment.”

Christie: Ain’t that good? (laughs)

Jim: That’s really good.

Christie: I … And that’s what … What is it? Originality is forgetting who you got it from. We actually know where we got that from is Bill and Laura Lucky, our dear friends. But they have said that in the context of, you know, even in relationships. Expectations are premeditated resentment. But I think-

Jim: How does that come out of Christmas?

Christie: Well, think about how heavy we put expectation on even just Josh saying, the joy of Christmas. I mean Hallmark just runs these movies like 24/7 as if it’s like this blissful experience. And here we are as moms and dads bearing the burden of trying to meet those expectations for our kids and for ourselves. Like I think-

Jim: Not to mention the in-laws. (laughs)

Christie: Yeah. (laughs) Yeah. Not ex- extended family and all the things that you’re expected to do. And I mean think of … If your kids are involved in schools and plays and all the, you know, gifts and the cookies you have to bring on this day. Like there’s just so much added weight. And I think we get so, um, burdened by trying to put in all these different inputs into our family, which are great. All these joy adders where we think we’ll be.

And yet somehow … I don’t know if it’s just us, but, uh, somehow you get to the end and the backside of this season and you’re tired and you feel worn out and you … There’s almost this sadness of like, ugh, it just wasn’t what we expected it was gonna be or we want it to be.

Jim: How do you go in then with a healthier expectation? What should you do to-

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: … say to yourself, “Okay, you know, I- I’m gonna take this a little differently this year?”

Christie: I think it’s concept of like inhaling and exhaling, right? We need it to stay alive. But we inhale all these experiences and things for our kids. We take ’em to see Santa. We … Or whatever. You know-

Jim: (laughs)

Christie: All these traditions we do. We go around and see the lights. We, we go to all the Christmas plays. All the things we think are so great and they are, but when we’re constantly just inputting like inhale, inhale, inhale, we get worn out. And so we need to make these moments for exhale where you’re able to just be-

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: … as a family in your home. And that’s where, you know, to do some of these devotions or these times togethers where you’re just asking questions and you’re sitting around the dinner table. It allows you to truly exhale where you can process the feelings of the day, of … or the week. You can process these experiences that you’ve had. And that’s where you really start to come back, I think, into this state of contentment where you’re grateful.

Jim: Yeah, a healthy place.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: No, that’s really good. And I think, you know, expectations, w- we talk a lot about that in marriage and parenting and they can really harm you because they … If they’re too high, you end up with resentment-

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: … and bitterness.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s not good fruit.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: That’s not what the Lord wants. And certainly our experience at celebrating his birthday. (laughs)

Christie: Exactly. Yeah.

Josh:  Yeah.

Jim: It’s like, “What are you doing at my birthday party? Why are you doing that?”

Christie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Um, but let’s talk about some of those fa- family dynamics. We’ve alluded to it-

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: … but let’s talk about Uncle Bob.

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: So Uncle Bob, whoever that might be in whomever’s life that might be, uh, you know, they’re coming to dinner and it never goes well with this extended family member and they’re the-

Christie: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … curmudgeon of the day and wh- what do you do with that?

Josh:  Yeah, I think-

Jim: And that’s beyond e- e- (laughs) lowering your expectations-

Josh:  Well-

Jim: … to zero.

Josh:  Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Josh:  Well, I think it, it, it varies depending on what’s actually happening. You know, I think ultimately if you know that you’re gonna be having dinner with Uncle Bob, the expectation has to be … Wh- … I think a lot of times we enter these situations that, that, “Oh, it’s gonna well this time, it’s gonna go well,” and we increase our expectation. But then what ends up happening is, is it, it, it crashes and burns, but we have nothing to refill ourselves. And I think one of the things we have to attention to … And this even goes whether you’re introverted or extroverted. I’m an introvert meaning I, I, I get my energy from being by myself. If we have people over to our house and I’m not paying attention to that and we’re having people over on a consistent basis and I’m not exhaling as Christie said, my Christmas is gonna be exhausting. Whereas if I can have a reasonable expectation about who I’m gonna be around and how draining that will be-

Jim: Huh.

Josh:  … I can then plan an exhaling moment maybe the next day or that evening or whatever that looks like so that I can give. And, and maybe you’re planning your exhale right before it so that you can properly enter into that relationship with Uncle Bob and-

Jim: (laughs)

Josh:  … give without expecting anything from Uncle Bob.

Jim: Right.

Josh:  That, that you’re entering into it with a realistic expectation of what’s gonna happen and you’ve entered into it with an exhale and you’re exiting it with an exhale.

Christie: Mm-hmm.

Josh:  And I think there’s an opportunity then for you to truly be a light to Uncle Bob-

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  … rather than having Uncle Bob frustrate you to the point that it ruins your entire Christmas.

Jim: Let me ask you this question, ’cause Jean, uh, favors your disposition of introversion and that and, and in that context, how do you exhale? I mean, I’m thinking of the introverts that y- y- they hear what you’re saying but what’s a practical tool-

Josh:  Yeah.

Jim: … to do an exhale? What does that look like after the fourth Christmas party this week?

Josh:  Yeah, no, for us, like we have to be intentional. I have to be intention about making sure that we have time with just our family.

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  Just my kids and my wife.

Jim: That’s how you can replenish. Yeah.

Josh:  Absolutely. Or that I’m planning a date night with just Christie. Or that I’m also planning just me-time. You know-

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  … we practice a Sabbath on, on Saturdays. That’s when we practice it as a family. And we have specific times where we try to let each other get out, but we have to schedule it. You have to schedule-

Jim: Yeah, sure.

Josh:  … so that she gets some alone time, I get some alone time. But then it’s also in your … So, so you have your weekly rhythms but then also your daily rhythms. Set up your daily rhythms in such a way that you’re breathing. You know, when we left to fly here yesterday, we, we had to leave as a family by 7:00 AM. Well, I got up at 5:00 AM so that I could get 30 to 45 minutes just alone doing time with the Lord, just sitting and breathing, having a cup of coffee, because I knew once the kid- … If I waited ’til the kids and everybody were up, it … I was just … I wasn’t gonna be on.

Jim: Right.

Josh:  I needed to have a d- I have to have a daily rhythm that allows me the space to be able to give and pour out without being frustrated or grumbling and complaining and that type of thing.

Jim: Christie, in that regard, I mean moms, uh, getting space is always the problem.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: And getting time to replenish.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: And most moms listening to this are going, “Oh, that’s really great that Josh gets to get that time.”

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: “Way to go, Christie.”

Christie: Theoretically. Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Josh:  She gets it too.

Jim: But I love this.

Christie: I do.

Jim: Because I, I understand that in the morning, like Christmas morning-

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: … you’re up earlier than the kids.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: That’s amazing. (laughs)

Christie: Well, and I’ve tried … It’s … That, honestly, has been the one rhy- … We call them rhythms. Routine. Whatever you wanna call it; that has probably brought me back to life the most. And when I talk about just those early years of parenting. I mean they just take everything from you. And I think that’s just the sacrifice-

Jim: And that’s okay.

Christie: … of motherhood, yes.

Jim: It’s the period of time you’re in. The season.

Christie: Yes, exactly. And I think there’s like a monastic beauty to that where it’s like you are truly serving God just like a monk would, fully, completely. Like day in and day out.

Jim: Given.

Christie: Yeah, when it’s … When you’re asked and called, you go. But there’s comes a place where there is some margin for … And you have to have that inh- that exhale (laughs) for yourself. And so I did … I started setting my alarm to wake up at 5:30. I don’t wake up at 5:00. That’s just … I don’t know. That’s another level of…

Jim: Okay, 5:30.

Christie: 5:30.

Jim: Let’s go with 5:30.

Josh: (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Christie: 5:30 sounds a little better. It was just at least doable. And I … Just to have that time and I sit in front of the Christmas tree and I just have my Bible and my journal.

Jim: That’s great.

Christie: And there’s something about it that allows you to just … It does. You process the day.

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: The b- … You process your feelings. And I think even in those moments is when I was able to start to order my life where I wasn’t; like you said, the four Christmas parties this week. I wasn’t saying yes to the four Christmas parties that week, ’cause I know my limits, I know my husband’s limits. I even know my children’s limits. Like each of them have their own personalities. And I think so many of us like are dealing with behavior issues around this time of year, ’cause the kids are tired.

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: They’re genuinely worn out just like we are. (laughs) And they need that s- break too. And so to be able to say … I always remember I had a mentor that just said, “I have something on.” And that might be that we’re just sitting around as a family that night.

Jim: Yeah. You don’t have to explain it even-

Christie: You have-

Jim: … but, “I got something on at that time.”

Christie: You- you’re not … “I have something on.” They don’t need to know, you know, “Oh, I’m sorry. We have this, or …” I think we over-explain. And I’ve always … was told that children explain when adults declare. And so as adults we can just declare, “I have something on.” You don’t have to go into all this explaining of feeling guilty that you’re saying no to something. And I think that’s a freedom we all need to hear, especially this time of year.

Jim: I like that.

John: And it might be that you’re feeling like, “I, I do need somebody but I don’t know who.” Uh, Focus on the Family has caring Christian counselor and, uh, we’re a phone call away. Call and we’ll schedule a time for one of those counselors to give you a call back. They’ll, uh, connect with you, they’ll listen, they’ll pray with you, they’ll offer resources and maybe somebody in your own area to speak with. Again, we’re a phone call away. 800, the letter A and the word, FAMILY.

Jim: So you’ve written this great book. 25 Days of the Christmas Story. We’ve kinda laid some amazing groundwork, I think, about what Christmas is about-

Christie: Mm.

Jim: … and what to be attentive to and let’s get into the content of the book itself. Uh, for example, you describe a, a sensory experience that involves a blindfold. How d- how does that help us and help our kids? I thought this was great.

Josh: (laughs)

Jim: I wish I woulda known this years ago.

Josh:  Yeah, well, one-

Jim: May not work in the ’20s.

Christie: (laughs)

Josh:  Yeah. (laughs) Right.

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  We wanted to create, um … And, and the subtitle was An Advent Family Experience. We wanted to create an experience for families where it’s not just reading a devotional and going to bed, but there’s activities in the book that bring you and your family together.

Jim: Oh, that’s great.

Josh:  And also realistically helping the child learn, your children learn what it is that … the lesson they’re learning in that process but experience it. And so one of the activities in, in … And we walk through 25 days. There’s 25 different characters or p- uh pieces, whether it’s a place, whether it’s gold, frankincense, myrrh. There’s 25 different characters throughout, if you will. Uh, and, and then each one of those characters has a lesson or a character trait.

And in that process we have a, um, a family experience. And one of the family experiences is, as you said, you, you, you blindfold your children and you lead them certain places and you ask them after you lead them to each place, “Do you trust me?” And, and you’re leading them, for example … You start-

Christie: And they can say no. (laughs)

Josh:  Yeah, they can say no.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. (laughs)

Josh:  And they can, they can-

Christie: They can say no.

Jim: Not in our house.

Josh:  Yeah, they, they have the-

Jim: “We’re doing this and we’re doing it now.” (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Josh:  You know, and, and we lead them into, you know, you lead them into the bathroom and-

Jim: (laughs)

Josh:  … and you, and you turn the water on and you put … you say, “Okay, put your hands out,” and then they … you wash their hands, right? And, a-

Jim: And that’s before dinner. This is great before dinner.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Josh:  Yeah, yeah, right, right. Well, and that’s the whole point is … And then you take ’em out and, and, and you, and you have ’em sniff something and, and maybe a smell of a candle or that type of thing. And you take ’em to sensory places where you’re saying, “Do you …” And, and the whole point of the exercise is to lead them to things that are good. You know, something that smells good, washing their hands. And then ultimately it would be after you’ve baked maybe some Christmas cookies or something and you say, “Open your mouth. Do you trust me?” And you put their favorite Christmas cookie or whatever it is in their mouth. And the whole point of that is to … You know, it, it really talks about, you know … I believe that one is, is under King David but it’s really talking about how so many of these prophets, so many of these kings, so many of these leaders leading up to Jesus, you know, for 400 years were waiting for the Messiah and it was all about trust. They couldn’t see what was ahead of them but they trusted in the God of the universe. And so it’s like we’re walking ahead. We can’t see what’s ahead but we trust Him that He’s gonna do good works in our lives and that He’s carrying out the good for the world and redeeming the world. And, and so it’s little exercises like that, that allow us to be able to say-

Jim: That is good. It’s so good.

Josh:  To connect back to those people.

Jim: Yeah, I like that building trust concept. Now, the malicious dad. Let me just tell ya. You’re trying to build trust, right?

Josh: (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Josh:  That’s exactly, that’s exactly-

Jim: You, you don’t give them a spoonful of oregano or something.

Josh: (laughs) Yeah.

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: Okay. So you- I know. I’m already there. Like, “You gotta open.” I’m gonna have so much fun with this.

Josh: But that, that-

Jim: Don’t abuse that.

Christie: (laughs)

Josh:  That you do, that you do with your wife. (laughs)

Jim: Yeah, right. (laughs)

John: Yes. Exactly. (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Josh:  See how it pans out for your Christmas presents.

Jim: Tabasco sauce. You know, “Oh, do you trust me?”

Josh:  Yeah. (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: “Do you trust me?” A- another one you did that I thought was really good is on fear and, you know, these are just great lessons for young people. Uh, what, what was your fear approach with advent?

Christie: Well, you think of fear … We r- You use the concept of fire, right? Fear is something that if we allow, if you like this match, you put it in … Look at these beautiful trees around us. Here, you light it-

Jim: In the pictures. (laughs)

Christie: Yes. If you light it, I mean, we can literally start a forest fire. I mean, it can spread that like that. And fear is something, if we don’t get con- under control quickly it will spread. But it is something that is, it is within our control. And I even remember like Isaiah’s The Very First Day and I remember that activity specifically because it was in 2020 when we first did this with our kids and it was during one time when the world was shut down. And in that activity we talk about Emmanuel. It’s God with us, right? Because Isaiah, he was the one who prophesied and called him, “He will be called Emmanuel.” Meaning God with us. Well, what does that actually mean? And so for the … We have them draw this picture of a time where they felt afraid. If they felt … Or sad. And so you have them draw a picture. And it’s really … As parents to watch your kids actually draw something that … I mean, they were called that was I … Really scary. Or it was really sad.

And f- for our kids they actually drew the same thing. It was we weren’t able to see family. My family is all in Canada, we were in the US and we couldn’t get to them.

Jim: Ah.

Christie: They couldn’t see us. And we had been, you know, separated-

Jim: Right.

Christie: … for all this time. And they just drew this picture of … And they were scared. And then in the exercise we had them actually draw Jesus in the picture where they actually see that He really was with us. And how did we experience Him with us? Now that we actually have him, l- God with us. And so they draw this picture of Jesus in it and then write hope on it. And we had ’em on our fridge. And I just recall … To be able to, A, sit with them in those sad moments … ‘Cause the kids don’t always tell us that stuff, you know? They don’t actually often say out loud how impactful something has been to them.

Jim: Right. Yeah.

Christie: And I think, you know, we all walked through that season, new, (laughs) not knowing what this was and so to actually spend the time to hear from our kids how they were processing that. But then to see the hope in them. As we all just sort of talked about like that was hard for us too. And just to see the hope that like we don’t know what that’s gonna look like, guys but really like Jesus is with us even in this very lonely Christmas. And, um-

Jim: Oh, that’s good.

Christie: There was a rist- … I think again, going back to that concept of exhale where it just allows you to just talk about the real stuff, but the stuff that … I mean, that’s what he came for.

Josh:  Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  And the other beautiful piece about it is this is just a great way to begin to give your kids an experience-

Jim: Yeah.

Josh:  … and to start teaching them how is God actually showing up in your life? What does that actually look like? When you pray for something where do you see Him?

Christie: Mm-hmm.

Josh:  And start helping them see where God is in their lives and the signs that He is around, that He is alive, that He is with them. And that’s … That was the hope in writing this book.

Jim: I think it’s so good. I mean a- again, we didn’t have that insight. We did the regular, straight advent, you know, and then, “Let’s go open the door and see what gift is in there.” You know? That kind of thing. But this is so much better, ’cause it’s so much deeper.

Josh:  Oh, thank you.

Jim: I love that. Um, you also cover, uh, stories, uh, out of scripture that may be a little less known. I … Uh, one that catches me is about Anna.

Christie: Yeah.

Josh:  Ah.

Jim: And I only realized this ’cause just yesterday I was reading the Christmas story out of Luke 2 and Anna-

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: … is mentioned in there.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: Daughter of Phanuel.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: I could give you the whole (laughs) lineage now.

Christie: Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:  Yeah. (laughs) Yeah.

Jim: But what was so unique about Anna? What, what, what does she bring to the story?

Christie: I love Anna. It’s funny you said … I love Anna. I mean-

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: And she was a prophetess which I thought was even j- interesting in her title and she basically gave her life in service. Like she’s … was at the temple day and night praying.

Jim: She was 84 at that time.

Christie: Yeah. And c-

Jim: I mean, they said.

Christie: And she was believing that she would see the Messiah and to … Can you imagine? I mean, just the waiting. The patience that took. (laughs) And the-

Josh:  Talk about advent.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. Right. (laughs)

Josh:  Yeah. Like waiting of the coming of-

Christie: Like w- the w-

Jim: Years.

Christie: Years of just praying like and just giving your whole life at the temple, day in and day out. And then Jesus and Mary and Joseph walk in one day. I mean, can you imagine that day? And she just … She knew. She was the first one to say, “There He is. The … Uh, the Messiah that we have been waiting for.”

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: And just … I remember in that exercise talking about just i- asking kids like “How was that for you? Patience? What … Can you … Like let’s think of a time-

Jim: (laughs)

Christie: … that you waited poorly because let’s be honest, we’ve all waited real poorly.” (laughs)

Jim: Like don’t unwrap your Christmas gifts.

Christie: Yeah. (laughs)

Josh:  Yeah. (laughs)

Christie: Um, like, and then-

Jim: Just as an example.

Christie: … like the DMV.

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Josh:  Yeah. Yeah.

Christie: Uh, let’s see. Let’s put in that whole term.

Jim: Okay.

Christie: Or even just waiting on promises of God in your life.

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: You know, where you’re like, “God, I really believed that you were gonna come through and I’m still waiting.” Like it’s hard. It’s hard to wait. But to actually give those real-life examples where these kids feel what it’s like to wait. And I don’t … Not a lot of us do patience well.

Jim: Yeah.

Christie: But she did.

Josh:  Yes.

Christie: And she was rewarded for it.

Jim: Yeah, that’s such a great picture, again. And it’s right there. Everybody at Christmas should be reading Luke Chapter two.

Christie: Yeah.

Jim: Just read the whole chapter. It is the Christmas story.

Christie: Yeah.

Josh:  Mm.

Jim: I mean, it’s so beautiful. Josh and Christie, this is really good and I, I sincerely mean that. I wish we had this book when our boys were-

Christie: Mm.

Jim: … the age of your kids right now, ’cause I think, uh, Jean definitely (laughs) would’ve picked it up.

Josh:  Yeah. (laughs)

Christie: (laughs)

Jim: And it would’ve been the third advent that we would do.

Christie: Yeah. (laughs)

Jim: But this would’ve been first in our heart-

Josh:  Mm.

Christie: Mm.

Jim: … ’cause I love the, the practical nature of it and just the way you’re teaching the kids the right things.

Josh:  Mm.

25:03Jim: And, uh, I hope everybody would wanna get a copy of this, especially if you’re a grandparent. Get it for your adult children, for your grandkids.

Christie: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And certainly, if you’re a parent, let’s put it into play. Let’s teach our kids the right things about the advent season. 25 Days of the Christmas Story. And so often what we do here is why not jump in and do ministry with us here at Focus? Make a gift of any amount and we’ll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you. And we often say if you can’t afford it, we want your kids to know about the Lord so just get a hold of us and we’ll, we’ll, we’ll send it to you and we’ll trust others will cover the cost of that.

John: Mm. And don’t forget that we’re right in the middle of our matching gift campaign where some generous friends have agreed to match your donation that you make to Focus on the Family which means your giving will be effectively doubled, uh, to help us strengthen more marriages and equip more parents and give more families hope in the days and months ahead. When you give to Focus it’s a win, win, win for everyone, so please, donate today when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Josh and Christie, again, thanks for being with us. This has been so much fun and very, very fruitful. Thank you.

John: Mm.

Christie: We love you guys. Thank you.

Josh:  Thank you for having us.

John: Well, coming up tomorrow we’ll hear some important lessons about forgiveness from Dr. Timothy Keller.

Preview:

Dr. Timothy Keller: If you think God’s forgiven you but you can’t forgive other people, I’m not sure you have asked for God’s forgiveness. I’m not sure you’ve repented because if you repent, you, you know you’re a sinner and if you can’t forgive then you can say, “Oh, God’s forgiven me. I don’t know that he has.”

End of Preview

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

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25 Days of the Christmas Story: An Advent Family Experience

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Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you!