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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Embracing Grace, Fun, and Family This Holiday Season

Embracing Grace, Fun, and Family This Holiday Season

Becky Kiser and Jean Daly offer practical suggestions for filling your family’s holiday season with peace, joy, faith, and fun.
Original Air Date: November 12, 2020

(“Jingle Bells” playing)

John Fuller: Well, maybe you’re excited to hear Christmas music or you think it’s too early. Um, we are only a couple of weeks away from Thanksgiving here in the U.S., so today on Focus on the Family, we’re going to give you some ideas for approaching the holiday season with some grace, some fun and some focus on God and your family. Your host is Focus on the Family president, Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Okay, John. So, the world kind of breaks into two halves. We’ve got the dog people and the cat people. But there’s another test.

John: It’s a very chaotic and – yeah.

Jim: This is another test. And that is Christmas music before Thanksgiving or after Thanksgiving.

Mrs. Becky Kiser: Mm-hmm.

John: Well, I am, uh – I am definitely an after Thanksgiving person married to a pre-Thanksgiving person. True story.

Mrs. Jean Daly: Mmm.

Becky: (Laughter).

Jim: Isn’t that – opposites attract. It’s amazing.

Jean: Yes.

John: October – October 1st of this year Dena was listening to Christmas music.

Becky: Wow.

Jean: (Laughter).

John: And so, I am by virtue of having a desire to have a happy marriage, a pre-Thanksgiving guy.

Becky: (Laughter).

Jim: You moved to pre.

Jean: Yes.

John: Totally.

Jim: Okay. Well, I think Jean and I are in the same boat.

John: (Laughter) You think?

Jim: It’s so good to have Jean here to verify my statements. Jean…

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: …What are you? Are you on the pre-Thanksgiving music side or the after Thanksgiving side?

Jean: I am after Thanksgiving, but, I mean, I secretly do enjoy if I’m shopping and I hear the Christmas music in October.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: You’re okay with it?

(CROSSTALK)

Jean: Yes.

Jim: ‘Cause you’re typically a purist, so I’m…

Jean: I know.

Jim: …Pleased that you’re – you know, you’re expanding with wisdom.

Jean: I know. I know. But I won’t listen to it in my car until after Thanksgiving.

Becky: (Laughter).

John: Okay. There you go.

Jim: Well, we’re going to have a great discussion today about sacred holidays and what you can do. We have a wonderful guest – two wonderful guests to talk about this. But, you know, sometimes it’s hard and there’s a lot that goes into this, but, uh, Becky Kiser is with us today and she has written a wonderful book called Sacred Holidays. And that’ll be the point of our discussion.

John: It really will be great to unpack this. There’s so much stress associated with the holidays…

Becky: Yes,

John: …So much you have to get right. And Becky is a great person to talk about this. She is the founder and CEO of Sacred Holidays, which is a ministry dedicated to helping women find less chaos and more Jesus during the holidays.

Jim: Everybody just said, “Yay!”

(LAUGHTER)

John: Yeah. Indeed. And I think husbands want our wives to experience that as well.

Jim: Yes. We want happy wives.

Becky: Uh-huh.

John: So, uh – so look for the book Sacred Holidays at our website. And, uh, that’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And, uh, Jim, you mentioned Becky is married to Chris and they have three young girls ages 5 to 10.

Jim: Oh, man, Becky, welcome to Focus.

Becky: Thank you.

Jim: You’re right in the zone. (Laughter)

Becky: Right in the zone. Yes. All the kids.

Jim: So, how do you have time to be here. (Laughter)

Becky: Right? I made time. Because after six months of being quarantined together, my husband and I are like, “We can leave the house…”

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: “…For six days without them. Yes!” Yes.

John: Woo-hoo!

Jim: Who’s got the kids?

Becky: My mother-in-law who is like…

Jim: Aw.

Becky: …Mary Poppins amazing.

Jean: Aw.

Jim: Mary Poppins. That’s wonderful.

Becky: So, they are having more fun with her than they would have if I was home.

Jim: Well, it is good to have you.

Becky: Thank you.

Jim: And, of course, always good to have you, Jean.

Becky: Yes.

Jean: Well, it’s always good being here. Thank you.

Jim: Yeah. All right, Becky, you haven’t always enjoyed the holidays. I think so many women are going to relate to this because we’re going to get to some of the, I think, spiritual and emotional…

Becky: Right. Yeah.

Jim: …Components to the holidays. In fact, you say that Thanksgiving and Christmas used to make you revert to your 13-year-old self.

Becky: (Laughter) Yes. Yes.

Jim: I like that, but did you mean in a positive way…?

Becky: No!

Jim: …Or no so positive?

Becky: No, a hundred percent in a negative way that even – it started in college when I first realized. I would go home for Christmas break, just expecting it to be exciting and fun and realizing for whatever reason, when I’m around my family and the same traditions, I revert back to the 13-year-old version myself that’s not so positive and great to be around.

Jim: That’s called triggers by the way.

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: Yes, totally – totally would get triggered. And – and then I noticed it when I was 26 and when I was 30 and when I was 35. You know, like it just kept – it didn’t stop. And so, I wanted it to be different for myself as well as for my kids, because we all – like you said at the beginning, that husbands are nodding their head. And I will often have husbands say, “I bought the book for my wife.”

Jim: (Laughter).

Becky: …Or kids bought it for their mom because women, naturally, we want it to be so special we go crazy.

Jim: But let me ask you to the – you know, the person that’s wondering, okay, what are my triggers?

John: Hmm.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: What were a couple of examples of these triggers for you? Just – yeah.

Becky: That’s a – I – you know, I don’t even know if it’s just being in a same environment of your childhood. As I got older, it’d be the financial triggers. It would be having to tote my little, bitty kids to my in-laws and my parents. Chris and I both come from divorced homes, so as – we’d call it the “Texas Tour” going to four houses in a week during Christmas. Just those stressors…

Jean: Yes.

Jim: Yeah.

Becky: …Make you go crazy.

Jean: Mm-hmm.

Becky: And then if you’re hosting it, it’s no longer as an adult, quite as fun as it was when you were a kid because you, especially as women – what’s on the meal plan? Who’s getting presents? Who’s wrapping presents?

Jim: You’re doing it all.

Jean: Oh, yeah.

Becky: How do we make it fun for everyone else but us?

Jim: Yes.

Jean: Yes.

John: Jean you look tired just listening to her.

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: Yes!

Jean: Yes! Yes, I can relate.

Jim: I was going to ask you – what – well, you know, there’s this, uh – is that resonating?

Jean: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. And it’s, um, just that idea that we feel like we have to make it so perfect and textbook and ah!

Becky: Yes.

Jim: Okay, let me – let me hit these trigger words – shame and regret.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: Is that part of it? Do you feel shame at times that it’s not as perfect as you want it to be or…?

Becky: Regret, maybe, for me. I don’t know about shame. I think comparison would be the bigger, like, root for maybe me, especially in a social media world. But, yeah, regret or envy of other people’s holidays. And then working hard to try to make it like everyone’s best picture they had on Instagram (laughter) that day.

Jim: Yeah, but it is so true, though. We get distracted. And, in fact, Jean, I love, uh, something that, you know, you were aware of. It was Thanksgiving, I think, and it was all kind of imploding in on you. And, uh (laughter)…

Jean: Yes.

Jim: …I’m waiting for to just jump out there…

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: …If you can tell.

Jean: Yes. Yes.

Jim: And, uh, what happened?

Jean: There was one particular Thanksgiving that I was – we were hosting your family.

Jim: Yay!

Becky: (Laughter).

Jean: And – and the boys were very young. And Jim always played football on Thanksgiving morning.

Jim: It’s the – it’s the turkey bowl. I just want to say I played that until I was 52.

Jean: Yes.

Jim: (Laughter).

Becky: Well, done.

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah, right.

Jean: And where boys were young and I was hosting his family, I was resenting that he wasn’t home in the morning helping me.

Jim: And all the ladies are saying, “You – you go, girl, you should be resentful.” (Laughter)

Jean: And I wanted everything to be perfect for his family. And I can remember the boys were napping and his family was having so much fun; they were enjoying each other. They’re laughing. And I was irritated that they were being so loud with their frivolity that they were going to wake my boys and upset their nap schedule.

Becky: Yes. Yes.

Jean: And then, uh, we had a couple of nephews and  they came over and were three hours late and I was really upset about that. And then to top it off, my homemade rolls weren’t rising. And I remember I was, like, ready to explode. I – I was going to crumple on the floor in tears. And that night I felt the Holy Spirit impress on me specifically with our nephews, you know, “If that had been your little brother that came so late, would you be angry?” And I thought, well, no. I adore him. He can do no wrong. And I really felt the Holy Spirit impress on me, “Well, that’s how I feel about your nephews.”

John: Hmm.

Becky: Hmm.

Jean: And I realized I just missed it.

Becky: Yeah.

Jean: I was so into the perfection of the day, of my idea of what it should look like, and the homemade pumpkin pies that weren’t setting and I missed it. And I was angry, and I was tired, and I didn’t enjoy it. And I really changed after that day. I’ve really learned to embrace the relationships. And plus, it was absurd. Jim’s family is so easy and they’re so fun and…

Jim: But they are a little late.

(LAUGHTER)

Jean: And it doesn’t matter! I don’t home make anything anymore. I don’t. I – I make the turkey and I don’t even know if that counts.

(LAUGHTER)

Jean: And I – I…

Jim: It’s good!

Jean: … Thank you. I so look forward to it now and enjoy the people.

Becky: Yeah. Good.

Jim: Becky, this is exactly the point of your book, right?

Becky: Totally.

Jim: This is what you’re getting to the heart of.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: So how – how – Dr. Celebration, how do you look at this?

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: Well, I think that speaks into the shame a lot of women struggle with of they overreact. And, Jean, in that situation, you paused and listened to the Spirit and adjusted. But I think sometimes we’re so busy we don’t do that. And the Biblical story I talk to women about a lot during this is the very popular story of Mary and Martha. And sometimes Martha is the villain of the story…

Jean: (Laughter) Right.

Becky: …But we forget Martha is the one that invited Jesus into the home. And so, I just want – if you’re the woman who is struggling with shame of oh, I’m getting this all wrong, remember, you’re the one that has invited Him into your holidays. But Jesus then said, to Martha, He was like – “Why is she not helping me?”

Jean: (Laughter) Right.

Becky: Which we all do like Jean has shared…

Jim: With the dishes!

Jean: Right!

Becky: Yes, with all the things.

Jean: Yes.

Becky: That we can then listen to Jesus speak to us just as you listened to the Spirit speak to you and just say, “Martha. Martha. You are anxious and distracted about many things. One thing is necessary.” And so, that’s where any holiday the one thing that’s necessary is that we as women focus a little bit less on all the people, which is so good, and we take the flight attendant’s advice and instead of putting the mask on, not just our children, but our husband, and our grandparents, and our cousins, and nieces and  neighbors and teachers and all the things and instead say, “Okay, I need to breathe in fresh oxygen in life because I have more to offer my kids if I am actually following Jesus than if I just tried to brainwash them to follow Jesus, but they never see Mom do it themselves.”

Jim: Wow. That’s powerful. That statement.

Jean: That is powerful.

Jim: Becky, you encourage parents to not put too much emphasis on the kids.

Becky: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: That’s what you’re talking about. I think that’s an easy thing to do, especially if your childhood was lean.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: I was guilty of that.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: I’ve been guilty that because, you know, we didn’t have money to go to amusement parks and do things, so I’ve probably overdone that. I’m looking at Jean for affirmation…

(LAUGHTER)

Jean: Probably. Me too.

Jim: …Or consternation. But, uh, you really encourage parents to pull back a little.

Becky: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Don’t overdo it when it comes to presents with the kids and things like that.

Becky: Right. Yeah. And that – that’s just our culture is like more – and we feel like we need it and we want to give our kids the very best. So, there’s nothing wrong if you have that desire, like I want to just spoil them and do all of this. But, again, it goes back to what is Christmas is about for you and your family? And so, ask yourself, ask your husband, “What do we want this to be about?” And for us, we realized – my husband and I realized – we don’t want it to be about them getting everything. Now, we still stuff the stockings and we still have presents galore and we have all the things. But we scale it way back. They get a handful of presents and we try to teach them instead of building their own Christmas wish list – they have a birthday wish list, but they make wish lists of what do they want to give instead of what do they want to receive. So, when people ask them on the street, “What are you hoping Santa brings you from Christmas?” They look at me like bug eyed, like, what do I say?

Jim: (Laughter).

Becky: And I’m like, “What are some things that you would like to get? But tell them what you want to give Grammy this year. Tell them what you want to give Daddy.”

Jean: I love that. I love that.

Jim: Oh, that’s good.

Becky: And just shifting that conversation of let’s make it a – Jesus came as the greatest Gift we ever have, so we want to give to other people this time of year. It’s not, like, about receiving everything. Birthdays are for receiving. Christmas is for celebrating that He came.

Jim: That’s good.

Jean: That’s – that’s great.

Jim: Hey, you touched on this, but I want more elaboration from you, Becky, on the birthday celebration, because I love that idea. I mean, everybody gets a birthday party.

Becky: Right.

Jim: And you have done this now at Christmas because of Jesus’s birthday party.

Becky: Yes. Yeah.

Jim: What does that look like?

Becky: So, yeah, celebrating, doing a happy birthday Jesus party, you can do – we did this a lot when all my kids were super young – where you make a cake and you light a candle. One year my daughter even just like wrote up a whole list of like her most 100 favorite things about Jesus.

Jean: Aw.

Becky: And that is not to, like, say we are the perfect family because I have another daughter that’s like, “I want nothing to do with that.” You know, so…

(LAUGHER)

Becky: …So do not think we are the perfect family. But there’s times where you’re gonna get markers of we’re doing this right. And they love Christmas so much that, I mean, I told y’all before the show of it finally hit 88 degrees in Texas and they’re like, “It’s finally Christmas!”

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: And so, they – I was afraid that if I shifted the perspective from what I grew up with, that Christmas would no longer be whimsical for them. And it is just as whimsical by shifting the perspective – or the focus off of them and putting out on what matters. So, birthdays is when we go all out for them, but for Christmas we try to do where we do celebrate Jesus’s birth, we find our own meaning. We, um, just celebrate His focus, reading the story, reenacting this story and just shift – imperfectly. I say in the book all the time, baby steps. Like, women are going to want to go all in and do the 25 things they find in the book or on Pinterest.

Jean; (Laughter).

Becky: And every year add one thing. So, maybe this year the – your one thing is an advent study for yourself.

Jim: You know, I had never thought about it this way. But, you know, this is the celebration of Jesus’s birth. It’s just like human beings to say, “Hey, Lord, we’ll give You a gift, but I’m going to get a gift, too.”

Becky: Uh-huh.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I mean, that’s…

Becky: I’m going to get 20 gifts, actually.

Jim: Yeah, I’m going to get 20 and we’ll give you a birthday cake.

Becky: Yeah. Right.

John: We’ll give you a cake.

Jim: Isn’t that funny?

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: That’s humanity at the core.

Becky: Yes. A hundred percent.

John: Our guest today on Focus on the Family is Becky Kiser. And we’re so glad to have her here sharing some ideas from her book called Sacred Holidays. She has a ministry by the same name, and we’re so glad to have that book available. It’s 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Becky, I think a lot of wives and moms are going to lean into this next question, and that is – you were at a candlelight service at Christmas. You’re just feeling kind of blank. You weren’t into it and you weren’t feeling the presence of the Lord because of all the stuff…

Becky: Yes.

Jim: …That you were having to do. I think so many women can appreciate that and understand that. They know exactly what I’m saying. How did you recognize that? And then how did you get a grip on that and say, “Okay. Come on. Shake off this feeling”?

Becky: Yeah. Yeah. That was that first Christmas that I told you when I had a young baby and I was at my mother-in-law’s church. And as we all have done a hundred times where we’re holding the candles, singing “Silent Night” and I’m holding it and I’m listening to the words and I’m realizing – and tears just start streaming down my face – I’ve missed it. Like, I’ve missed the whole point of all of this. But, man, the presents are wrapped, and things look great and all of our outfits are coordinated for the pictures (laughter), you know. And…

Jean: Yes.

Jim: And let me say and you’re also probably getting praise for all that, too.

Becky: All of it, right? Like…

Jim: “Oh, this is amazing, Becky.”

Jean: Sure. Sure.

Becky: We have done all that we could do that is approved by all the people. But, internally, I had missed focusing on Jesus. I had definitely skipped my time with the Lord so that I could wrap presents to late at night or planned things out or travel more. And so, that was the trajectory where things changed for me and that’s where I started taking baby steps. And I was like, what is advent? I’d never really heard of it in the denomination I was a part of. And so, I started looking for Bible studies and resources that could help me focus on God’s word during this time to lean into the Christmas narrative, which is so amazing, but we only study it one Sunday a year usually.

Jim: Yeah, no, and it’s so true. I’m thinking of some advice for the husbands because we’ve talked a lot about the ladies right now. But, uh, you know, 10 o’clock the night before Christmas morning and your wife says, “I picked up that bicycle that needs to be put together.”

(LAUGHTER)

Jean: Oh! Oh, are you referring to personal experience?

Jim: I – I can’t recall that ever happening.

(CROSSTALK)

Jim: I can’t…

John: I – I remember you had a friend.

Jim: No, it was a friend. It was friend. No, I think that did happen one year. I thought, wow, Jean’s just done a great job and then she laid it on me like at 10 o’clock.

Becky: There you go.

Jim: And I am not a night person. I was out. I think I put the handlebars where the seat should go and everything else…

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: Nice.

Jim: …But, um, how – how do we get the husbands help where it’s needed? And then any advice for the husbands not to have a bad attitude about this?

Becky: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think it’s the same advice for the husbands as it is for the wives of it’s shifting your perspective. And shifting your perspective from what matters to you, which maybe I’m tired after a long day at work. I’m going to sit here. And instead see your wife, as I’m sure y’all talk about all the time of serve your wife and love her and ask her, “Hey, there’s a lot more on your plate right now. You have all the normal stuff, but now you got the holiday stuff, too. What can I help with? When…”

Jim: Yeah, that is so good – ugh!

Jean: (Laughter).

Becky: It’s – but hard. It’s hard. And, wives, I think, just humbly ask your husband, “Hey, I need your help.” Like, sometimes we put the burden on ourselves that we have to do it all and that we’re not being a helpful wife if we’re not doing it all and instead asking.

John: And, Becky, I – I – earlier you said you and Chris hadn’t really discussed some of this. How often do you think it is that couples have separate expectations, but don’t talk about it?

Jean: Oh.

Becky: Um, I would say all the time.

Jean; All the time!

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: Right. It’s obvious.

Becky: Every time.

Jean: Yes. 99.9%.

John: Well, yes, thank you. Captain Obvious here.

Jim: (Laughter).

Beck: One of the things that was super helpful for us that we started doing several years ago is we will sit down before the holidays and we’ll layout expectations.

Jim: Oh, that’s a great idea.

Becky: And so, even down to, okay – this – we’re going to be around this family member and I know this family member is either emotionally hard for you to be around or stresses you out or they’re always gonna be late and how are we going to handle that?

Jim: That’s great.

Jean: That’s great.

Becky: And a counselor gave me that advice of when you shift your perspective for other people, it changes. And so, there was one family member that was really hard for me and I just disappointed every time, right? And she said, “What if you just expected this person to always be that way?” And that doesn’t mean we don’t have hope and faith that God can change the circumstance.

Jim: But lower the bar.

Jean: Yes. Yes.

Becky: But we lower the bar to reality of I’m just going to expect that they’re going to be who they’ve always been. Pray and hope that it changes. And when that happened, my relationship with that person changed completely because I was no longer disappointed, but I could love and accept them for who they are.

Jean: Yes.

Becky: Never perfect, but, again, that’s why it’s so important to sit down with your spouse and talk through even down to like, okay, I know I need my hour in the morning to study God’s word and to pray. Where am I going to get that when we go to your mom’s house? When we go to my parents’ house? And preplanning. Just – it’s an hour long couple date at home over a good cup of coffee to lay out all your expectations.

John: That’s great.

Jean: That’s great.

Jim: That is a really good – that’s the idea. That’s worth listening to the program right there.

Becky: Yes. Done! (Laughter)

Jim: Let me also – this was a fun one. Uh, you know, because Christmas, we think, especially, if things are tight – and I think this Christmas, a lot of families, things are going to be tight. And you do the dollar store runaway and you had some fun experiences. I was giggling when I was reading the material.

Becky: Right. So fun. So, as I said before, we come from divorced homes so you can imagine the amount of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins is many. And we have three girls. And so, to – for them to each by presents for all of those, we would be bankrupt.

(LAUGHTER)

Jean: Right. Right.

Jim: Pretty much.

Becky: We just don’t have that kind of money. And so, one year, I don’t remember where we got the idea from, but we were like, let’s just take our daughter to the dollar store. And we made a list. At the time she couldn’t read. So, printed off a picture of each grandparent, and aunt, and uncle, and cousin, and we do not control it at all. What we control is that every item is a dollar because we’ve taken them to a place where things are only a dollar.

Jean: Yes.

Jim: Yeah, right. But what did grandpa’s get? Just as a insight – yeah.

Becky: Yes, so the best thing was my grandpa that year got, um, a Women’s World Crossword Puzzle.

(LAUGHTER)

Becky: Um, so it’s been as funny from that to two years ago, my father-in-law had cancer and that – the next Christmas one girl got him a hairbrush, another got him a Barbie hairspray and…

Jean: Oh, my goodness.

Becky: …The – they’re are using – learning how to give gifts in a really thoughtful way without me being…

Jean: It’s wonderful.

Becky: …Like, “Oh, that’s $20 we can’t afford and I’m sorry, no.” And they’re learning how to be generous…
Jean: It’s wonderful.

Jim: Yeah.

Becky: …In a way that works within our budget. (Laughter)

Jim: No, that is so good. And I – and it’s great not to – here’s the error we often make as parents. We try to correct it ahead of time, right?

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: “Oh – oh, don’t buy that.”

Becky: Yes.

Jim: And you’re not you’re not doing that.

Becky: We can handle it then, because for three girls and all the family was still under a hundred dollars for all of it. Now, wrapping all those presents is a whole ‘nother thing.

(LAUGHTER)

John: That was another (unintelligible).

Jean: That’s why gift bags were invented. Gift bags

Becky: Gift bags. Yes.

Jim: And tissue paper.

(LAUGHTER)

Jean: Yes. Yes.

Jim: All right, there is also a heavy side to the holidays.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, loneliness spikes, depression spikes – those kinds of things – along with all the celebration and that – it maybe the intensity of both just goes up. And, Becky, I understand you recently dealt with that when your grandpa passed away.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: Describe how that put can put a damper on the holidays.

Becky: Yeah. Well, it’ll probably impossible for me to talk about it without crying. (emotion) But I experienced grief for the first time last Thanksgiving because my grandpa was just the rock of our family. He was…

Jim: Yeah.

Jean: Mm-hmm.

Becky: We all have one of those in our family usually where they just hold it together. And I was really close to him and he passed away. And it was the first time where I had an empty chair – thank you. It’s the first time – passed me a tissue.

Jim: Yeah.

Becky: Where I had an empty chair at Thanksgiving and I just remember being crushed by it. And I had – I’d actually written a grief chapter before I’d experienced a deep level of grief because so many people deal with it. And, man, in 2020, we all have dealt with trauma…

Jean: Yes.

Becky: …Whether it’s losing someone to COVID, losing someone just because life happens.

Jim: Right.

Becky: Or, um, divorce, or sickness and diagnosis, and serious financial issues for people. It has been a hard and heavy year for all of us. So, we’re all going to have a level of grief this year. And what I learned and one of the things in the book that and I as I asked other people for advice, is just to give grief a permission, a seat at the table. And so, it’s saying when I walk into the house and I see his chair empty, that I can just be sad (emotion) and my husband knows, okay. I’m going to take the girls outside and let you have your moment just to grieve that he’s not there. But also just to give yourself permission that in the same moment you can laugh when everybody’s dancing to “White Christmas” and doing all the funny things and it’s giving grief a seat at the table and saying, “There’s space for it.” Because I think as Christians, we all say, “I just need to be fine. Like, I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. Praise Jesus.” And there’s this misperception that we can’t not be okay at Christmas time…

Jim: Right, and…

Jean: Mm-hmm.

Becky: …Because it is a lack of faith.

Jim: Well, and in so many ways, it honors him and his memory.

Becky: Totally. Totally.

Jim: Because, man, it’s a hole in your heart.

Becky: Yes. Yeah.

Jean: Yes.

Jim: And that’s okay. I mean…

Becky: Yes and Jesus grieved, and we can grieve as well. It’s okay.

Jim: Yeah. Absolutely. Jean, in that context, you have the story of your mom. I mean, we had that tradition of being at your mom and dad’s all those years and your dad passed away. And, you know, not long ago your mom passed away and things changed. How have you dealt with that?

Jean: Yeah. So, my mom hosted Christmas every single year of her adult life. And like your grandpa, you know, she was the Christmas rock and she passed away four months before Christmas. And I thought it would be nice – we still had my parents’ home for my siblings and all of our families to meet for Christmas again at my parents’ house. And I used my mom’s Christmas decorations and decorated the house. I didn’t home make anything.

Becky: (Laughter) Different generations.

Jean: None of us did like my mom would have, but, uh, that was okay. And, I mean, it was beautiful. It was bittersweet.

Becky: Right.

Jean: And – and we were able to grieve and laugh and enjoy it. And then then the next Christmas, I realized, you know, we needed a – a different tradition and we were able to meet at a – a neutral location. I invited my siblings and – and we changed it. We – um, and actually we met up until Christmas Eve because my brother and his wife were going to spend it with her family. So, we – you know, we really changed it. And we did a white elephant gift that was new – gift exchange. And it was fun and different. And – and I still, though, I bought a little two foot high Christmas tree and I brought my mom’s lights…

Becky: Oh!

Jean: …And I – I put them at the base of the trees.

Becky: So sweet.

Jean: So, we still acknowledged that my parents weren’t there and our brother who’s gone and just made it different.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim: Well, and – and I think the beauty of it is you – you know, new traditions are born out of the painful traditions that…

Becky: Right. Right.

Jim: …You know, were – you’ve known since a child, really. And like you said this year of the pandemic and everything else happening…

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: …Many people are probably gonna have to find new traditions for all kinds of reasons.

Jean: Yes.

Becky: Yeah.

Jim: Becky, as we close here – we’re right at the end. And I want you to touch on your idea of not being that Christian, because I think it – again, it’s such a right move to talk about Christ. And – and I – the question is, you know, obviously, what do you mean by that to not be that Christian?

Becky: Right. Yeah. So, in that book, I have the eight holiday chapters, but then I have six, um, common struggle chapters. And one of those is not being that Christian. And that is the two camps of those who completely disregarded it, because they don’t know how to do it, and those who overdo it too much. And so, how did not be that Christian is again, let’s sit down for 30 minutes with a journal, a piece of paper, and ask the Lord what where have I gotten off? Like, am I in the camp where I’m missing Jesus? Or am I in the camp where I’m, like, making it maybe a little too over spiritual and I’m missing living, and life, and loving people. And so, where I would say is sit down and evaluate that and then focus your – your heart. Like, what is your relationship like with the Lord and where can you move forward on that? And as you are in Scripture, as – whether you’re doing an advent study or whether you’re – whatever – if your church is doing something, when you’re doing those things, your heart’s going to shift. If you’re not focused on all the other things and you’re in God’s word in your brain, you’re gonna find the white – right way, because God leads us into the right path when we put our eyes on Him.

Jim: That’s right. Well, Becky and Jean, this has been really encouraging. A lot more fun than I thought, I must admit.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I was coming in thinking, “Sacred holidays. Here we go, John.”

Becky: Oh, no!

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: But this really has been good.

John: Yeah.
Jim: It’s been full of great wisdom, Becky and Jean, that you both have learned and how you’ve applied it. So, thank you for being with us.

Becky: Thank you so much for having me.

Jim: And let me just turn to the listener. I want to highly recommend Sacred Holidays.

Becky: Thank you.

Jim: I think, uh, Becky, laid out so nicely what the book’s about, what she’s trying to accomplish. It’s one of those tools I think, uh, you’ll really benefit from and I hope you’ll get a copy here from Focus on the Family.

John: And, of course, it’s not just limited to Christmas and Thanksgiving. As Becky said, it’s got a number of holidays in there. So, look for your copy of Sacred Holidays by Becky Kiser at our website. And uh, that’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY

Jim: And of course, John, if folks can make a gift to help us with the ministry here, we’ll send you a copy of Becky’s great book as our way of saying thank you.

John: Yeah, we especially need your support at this time of year. And, uh, if you’re part of the support team, thank you. If you haven’t yet joined, now’s a great time to hear from you. And again, our number is 800-A-FAMILY.

Jim: Becky and Jean, again, thanks for being with us.

Becky: Thank you.

Jean: Thank you. It was a pleasure and – and I hope for all the listeners that we can all focus on relationships and Christ in this season.

Jim: Yeah. Good word.

Becky: Lend ourselves some grace in pursuing Jesus.

John: Yeah, well said. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for 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

Cover image of Becky Kiser's book "Sacred Holidays"

Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus

Receive Becky Kiser's book Sacred Holidays for your donation of any amount!

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Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

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

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

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

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

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

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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!