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Reducing Drama in Your Relationships (Part 1 of 2)

Reducing Drama in Your Relationships (Part 1 of 2)

In a discussion based on their book Overwhelmed, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory explain how you can find peace when dealing with people who are "crisis creators" or who overwhelm you with their personality. Our guests discuss setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, relying on God, and more. (Part 1 of 2)

Opening:

Excerpt:

Kathi Lipp: As November and December land on me, I realize, you know, my family – we have these points that are stressful. And then I’m not as good as I think I am when it comes to all the cooking and all of that kind of stuff. And why isn’t anybody helping me, even though I didn’t ask anybody to help me? And it – the overwhelm can get to every area, and you feel like, “Not only am I failing, but I’m in this boat alone.”

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well you can hear the desperation in Kathi Lipp’s voice as she shares that perspective. And she’s with us today, along with Cheri Gregory, to help you deal with stress this holiday season. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Hey, John, this can be one of the most joyful times of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Uh, many listening, you have wonderful relationships with your family, maybe some of the extended family not so much. But, uh, for others, this is a time of year that brings in a lot of anxiety as you’re spending more and more time with, uh, you know, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s. And we want to help you navigate that in a better way, hopefully in a more Christ-like way. That’s the goal. Uh, you know, we’re here at Focus on the Family, standing with you. We want to put resources into your hands, even to the point of providing some counseling if you need that. And it’s okay; don’t be embarrassed. Call us if you need help because this is a real stressful time of year.

John: Yeah, and our guests are gonna help us navigate that, as you said, Jim. Uh, they are Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. They have together, uh, written a great book called Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity. And, uh, this is a good time of year to do that – to just do a check to make sure you’re strong going into the holidays.

Body:

Jim: Ladies, welcome back to Focus on the Family.

Kathi: Thanks so much for having us again.

Cheri Gregory: It’s great to be here.

Jim: Okay, now you have this book titled Overwhelmed. How many people, particularly women, think, “Oh, a book is overwhelming to me”?

(LAUGHTER)

John: Hadn’t thought about it.

Jim: Yeah, “You’re gonna make me read about how to not be overwhelmed.” So the busy person, how do they digest this?

Kathi: Well, I think there’s a couple of different ways. I think that you can just go to the chapter that applies to you.

Jim: Oh, that’s good.

Kathi: Yeah. So if you’re saying, “I’m not overwhelmed by this, but this is killing me,” then go to that chapter. And then I think broadcasts like this are exactly where you start to get into the conversation. And then the book just gives you the tools and techniques to really live it out.

Jim: Yeah, and that’s – that’s a good thing.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: Now, Cheri, do you think, uh, you know, with the holidays – Christmas, uh, Thanksgiving, all of it right here – can you actually not feel overwhelmed?

Cheri: I think it’s absolutely possible. And Kathi knows that I’m the Scrooge of the two of us. I tend to be a little more higher anxiety, I’m more easily overwhelmed. But I think when you have a strategy, when you have a plan and when you can be at least somewhat flexible with your expectations.

Jim: Okay.

Cheri: Because I think a lot of our overwhelm comes from having really high expectations, and then there’s reality.

Jim: Well, you two – and what’s so fun is watching you as friends because you’ve been here together before. And even off mike, it’s just fun to hear the way you both process life. And for the person that may not feel overwhelmed – I – I don’t feel like I get that overwhelmed. But I maybe…

Kathi: Thank you, Husband.

Jim: No, I might be deceiving myself.

Kathi: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I’m not giving myself a compliment. You know, sometimes you live in self-deception. But…

Kathi: We just need to get Jean in here…

Cheri: Yeah.

Kathi: …To see what’s really going on.

Jim: Well, there’s got to be one person that lives in an overwhelmed state.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: But it – what does it feel like – that’s what I’m driving at – for that woman that’s feeling stressed out with the holidays upon her and all the expectations, like you mentioned, Cheri, that, you know, “I got to cook perfectly. I got to prepare perfectly. I’ve got to host perfectly”? I’m already feeling people going, “No, stop talking about it.”

Cheri: I think, especially for the holidays, what overwhelms me the most is this sense that I’ve got to keep everybody happy…

Jim: Mmm.

Cheri: …And that it’s…

Jim: Wow.

Cheri: …All up to me for everybody to have the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas or what – you know, whatever the holiday is. And so two things happen. First of all, there’s more people because we tend to gather together, so I have more people to keep happy.

Jim: So if this is your normal operation, you can do it one-on-one, maybe…

Cheri: Yes.

Jim: …two-on-one. But when you have 15…

Cheri: Oh, yes.

Jim: …It becomes overwhelming.

Cheri: I can keep a small handful of people pretty happy.

Jim: Yeah.

Cheri: I shouldn’t be trying, but I often can’t do that.

Jim: It’s okay. That’s how God wired you.

Cheri: But you multiply – you multiply that by more people, and suddenly I’m spread too thin. But the other thing that happens during the holidays is I forget self-care. And so I’m staying up too late, and I’m not drinking enough water, I’m not watching my nutrition, I’m not exercising, I’m not getting my rest. And all of that starts compounding. I’m keeping everybody else happy, but I’m not taking good care of myself.

Jim: Okay, Cheri, I need to ask you this though – in this moment of stress, have you ever snapped at your husband?

Cheri: Have I ever not snapped at somebody?

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I’m just wondering. I’m just curious.

Cheri: Well, I – yeah. But then the problem, of course, is that the solution that my husband has is, “Well, then just don’t do all this stuff.” And then comes the, “Well, you just don’t understand!”

Jim: I think I’m – I’m feeling like that’s a good idea.

Cheri: Mmhmm.

Kathi: Well, and you were talking about self-care. I would say the other thing that happens in the holidays is our normal routine…

Cheri: Oh…

Kathi: …Gets so interrupted.

Cheri: …Yes.

Kathi: So, like, when Cheri and I might normally be checking in – you know, how you doing? Checking in with our friendships – during the holidays, it’s harder to do that because we’re so concentrated on our family and the people that we’re expected to take care of, so we can’t talk down the crazy for each other.

Jim: Talk down the…

Kathi: And, you know…

Jim: …The crazy.

Kathi: …And I think when it comes to the holidays to say “Okay, we’ve got this crazy relative coming, or this situation is always going to blow up,” to be able to say to a friend, “Hey, would you pray for me? Hey, I know you have this situation with your blank-in-law, too.”

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: “Give me some tools to deal with it.”

Jim: There has to be somebody, though, that doesn’t even have that friend. So how do you go about developing, you know, some friends that you can actually be honest with? And, really, the benefit of it is that many people are experiencing the same kind of stress.

Kathi: Absolutely.

Jim: We just don’t – you know, we don’t put it on our social media page.

Kathi: Right. So I think, instead of finding the friend, the key is to be the friend…

Jim: Huh. That’s good.

Kathi: …And to be the safe person that you can say, “I’m having this bad circumstance,” you know, and hearing what they have to say. And just say – if you don’t have any answers, it’s okay not to have answers. It’s oh – but to say, “I will pray for you. Let me know when your mother-in-law, brother-in-law, whoever is causing you the crazy is coming into town, and I will be praying that entire hour.” And to be that friend for somebody – and that’s how you can connect with people to be able to share some of your own angst, as well.

Jim: Yeah. Now, uh, you have created a quiz that can help women to identify if they are the overwhelmed person. I think it’s probably self-evident, and we’ll have that online for people to take. Thank you for letting us do that. Does a person really not know they’re overwhelmed?

Cheri: I think there’s different kinds of overwhelm. But the thing that we find with the women who’ve read Overwhelmed is so many of them think that, um, the problem is them – like, there’s something wrong with them or…

Jim: If they’re overwhelmed?

Cheri: If they’re overwhelmed.

Jim: Yeah.

Cheri: Or that they’re – “It’s just me. I’m just stupid. Everybody else can handle everything. Everybody else got the manual for life, and…”

(LAUGHTER)

Cheri: “…I didn’t get it.” But what we found, in doing the research for Overwhelmed is it’s not that we’re overwhelmed because we’re stupid. We’re feeling stupid because we’re overwhelmed. And so to find something that – like that out, like, “It’s not my fault, it is – there’s something I can do about it,” and you know, following some strategies to lessen the overwhelm…

Jim: Yeah.

Cheri: …We actually can get back to a place of normal.

Jim: You know, it’s interesting – we can often mention Martha and Mary in a very cutting way. I mean, I think I’ve done it if I think about it. You know, if someone in my family is working hard and, you know, kind of grumbling about it…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …I say, “Hey, why are you acting like Martha?”

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: It’s not a compliment.

Kathi: No.

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: No. In fact, you know, you look at Mary – why did Mary get to sit at the feet of Jesus? Because somebody else was taking care of business.

Jim: Somebody was cooking.

Kathi: Absolutely. And we think about it this way, as well – you know, when we think about the overwhelm during the holidays, I think what we think is, “I should be that Mary who’s able to sit at the feet.” Every – what we think is, “This should be easier.” And we think it’s easy for everybody else. This should be easier. I love my family. You know, we have a couple of problem people. Maybe I’m the problem person sometimes, but this should be easier. And what we need to do is normalize that these holiday gatherings, getting together with the people we love, always brings some additional stress and to plan for that and say, “It’s okay,” but to know we’re not crazy for feeling stressed out.

Jim: Okay, so I hear what you’re saying in terms of identify triggers…

Cheri: Mmhmm.

Jim: …Right? Basically?

Kathi: Absolutely.

Jim: For the holidays, you do tend to get everybody co-mingling, people that, within the family…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …Extended family that you might – you might not say, “Hey, let’s spend time together…”

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …For whatever reason. So in some ways, it’s a great spiritual exercise. I’m sure the Lord is pleased when He orchestrates ways to put you with people who irritate you.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: Why? Be – so you can grow, right?

Kathi: Right.

Jim: I mean…

Kathi: Absolutely.

Jim: …That’s part of it.

Kathi: I think, also, though, to go in with some ground rules.

Jim: How does that work?

Kathi: Okay, so my family – we’ve got extended family with, let’s just say a varied assortment of political, spiritual, sociological beliefs.

Jim: Okay.

Kathi: And so there are certain topics that if we bring up – if somebody brings up, it is not going to be good for a relationship. And I have to realize nobody’s gonna help me change my mind, and I’m not gonna help change anybody else’s mind over the turkey dinner. So Roger and I have an agreement that if that happens, we shut it down. And we have said at family gatherings, “We do not speak of this at this table. If you…”

Jim: Oh.

Kathi: “…Want to set up another time to have a conversation, we would love to engage you.”

Jim: That’s good. You just say it.

Kathi: We just say it. We have an agreement. My husband loves peace. And I also want to love the people around my table more. And it make – they make it very hard sometimes. And so to be able to say, “Hey, we just don’t talk about that during – at this holiday gathering, but there are other times I would love to sit down with you and have coffee and discuss it.”

Jim: You know, this sounds very good hypothetically, but I need a real life experience.

Kathi: Oh, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: Okay, so I will tell you. Recently, we were visiting my husband’s family. And we have very different political views. And we’ve said it before: “Hey, we are not going to discuss X, Y and Z at the table.” Well, regardless, somebody always – you know, there’s that person that’s the instigator. And as soon as that happened, I said, “I thought we had had an agreement that we weren’t gonna talk about that, so I’m gonna excuse myself because I can’t be here for this conversation.” And I got up in the middle of the restaurant, and I excused myself. Because here’s the end thing I want to get to: I want to still be able to sit across from you and love you. And when you are constantly poking and prodding and trying to get a reaction out of me, I get to choose whether I engage or not. You don’t get to control that for me. And the best way for me to do that is say, “Hey, I thought we had an agreement. It’s not working out how we said it was going to. I need to excuse myself.”

Jim: Yeah.

John: I like the idea of ground rules. And maybe we can explore that a little bit more. Let me just say this is Focus on the Family. Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory are our guests today, and your host is Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And we’ll invite you to get a free download or a CD of our conversation and the book, of course, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call 1-800-232-6459 – 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Well, let’s put a hypothetical out there, and you guys can respond to it. But, uh, let’s say a woman’s listening, and she struggles with her in-laws, uh, because of that difference of worldview, whatever it might be. But her husband thinks they’re great. This is so much fun to have the family over. We love spending time together, and we laugh well together. Uh, let’s expand the tips a little beyond the ground rule of not talking about that issue – maybe it’s politics. You know how always say politics and religion. But, um, what would be some of the other ground rules?

Kathi: Well, I’ll give one right off is to schedule time just for your husband to be with his family.

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: I – seriously. When…

Jim: I like that. Go miniature golfing.

Kathi: Yeah. Do – do something to say, you know, when I am in that situation, I will say, “You know what? I’m gonna go spend four hours, and I’m going to go write or read something, or I’m just going to go take a walk.” Because here’s the thing – my husband has the relationship with his family. And they’re – he’s used to, you know, their family systems and all of that. And my ultimate goal always is to love them better. That’s my goal. And sometimes loving them better is saying, “You know what? I’m gonna take some time just for myself.” And to schedule in that self-care helps so much…

John: Mmhmm.

Kathi: …In a tough situation. I also – I have made the ground rule of we stay in a hotel.

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: We just stay in a hotel because I just need a break.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: And so to do this – my goal, again, is to love them better. So how do I do that? And if I’m just sitting there biting my fingers so that I don’t say anything to offend anybody, I understand I’m a better person to participate when I’ve had adequate sleep, when I’ve had adequate time to myself, all of those good things.

Jim: You know, there’s a couple of, uh, lessons in what you’re saying. And Cheri, I’d love to hear, you know, your in-law experiences. Uh, you’re not gonna hear any of ours.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: John and I aren’t going there. But, uh, you’re saying work on yourself – you know, your…

Kathi: You’re the only…

Jim: …Attitude…

Kathi: …Person you can control.

Jim: Right. You can’t change other people’s…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …Perspectives…

Kathi: No.

Jim: …And all that. And that’s a good thing. That’s really a Christian truth. That’s…

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: Following Christ is all about looking at your own log…

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: …In your eye before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Cheri: Well, and what…

Jim: So – yeah.

Cheri: What I see being so important here is the level of intentionality. And these decisions aren’t being made the day before Thanksgiving. These decisions are being made a month or two or three in advance, so that there’s time to execute them.

Jim: Well, elaborate on the decision-making. What does that look like? Like, you and your husband are saying what?

Cheri: Okay, well in my case – I was talk – referring to Kathi’s decisions – all that’s happening…

Jim: Let’s talk about Kathi’s decisions.

Cheri: Absolutely.

Jim: Go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: Absolutely.

Jim: What…

Kathi: Everybody else does.

Jim: Tell me about…

John: Just be quite and we’ll talk.

Jim: …Kathi and her husband Roger’s conversation.

Cheri: For me, it ends up being a little bit more internal because my overwhelm tends to be, “Okay, this year, he better not say the kind of thing he normally says.” And so I try to, like, mentally control other people or steer the conversation so the conversation doesn’t go someplace that ends up being hurtful to me. And what I finally had to realize is I cannot control other people. I know, I know…

(LAUGHTER)

Cheri: …Crazy as it sounds. I’ve tried every way there is. And so what I’ve learned – for example, I have a habit of reaching out to other people by being transparent and vulnerable. So I’ll share a weakness. I’ll share something that I failed at. And I expect that they’re gonna return that. That’s how we’re gonna bond together. But there are certain family members, I’ve discovered, they take advantage of that. And so then they’ll turn the conversation, and I feel bashed on.

Jim: Right.

Cheri: And I finally realized, “No, I need to quit choosing vulnerable things, and I need to start talking about the weather.” I need to have a list ahead of time of very safe topics, and then I just need to listen…

Jim: Yeah.

Cheri: …And ask questions and listen and not be as self-revealing. Because for me, that’s what was always very overwhelming.

Jim: And I’m sure, for you, that feels shallow then.

Cheri: It does.

Jim: I can hear…

Cheri: Oh, my goodness.

Jim: …Jean and I having that discussion…

Cheri: Yeah.

Jim: …Too that, “Okay, now it doesn’t feel like we’re connecting.”

Cheri: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s a disappointment.

Cheri: It is, but it’s also an opportunity to listen and learn and not insist on doing things my way.

John: Now, I want to go back to something you said, Kathi.

Kathi: Yeah.

John: And both of you probably have some insights on this. For the woman who’s, um, saying, “Well, I like the idea of loving my family better, but getting away or staying in a hotel, that’s gonna bring shame and judgment on me because I’m not part of the game, I’m not part of the party.” What’s her issue? How do you get over that?

Kathi: So what I’ve had to do is say, you know, every family comes up with their own set of rules. And I get to participate in making the rules for our family. Uh, these are not things that are handed down to me. I am a grown woman, and I get to participate in what’s going to be best not just for me but for my husband and for my kids as well. And sometimes – you know, we hate to say it, but sometimes our kids need to be protected from other people in the family, from unkind words, from judgments, from “Why doesn’t he go out and play with the other kids? Why is he always reading a book?” Those kind of things, we have to be the mama bear and say, “You know what? We love you. We want to have a relationship with you. You don’t get to comment on my child. That’s just not one of the things that you get to do.” And so this is all – I know it sounds very self-protecting. But here’s the thing – it’s allowed me to have the relationships that I can.

And you know, biblically, it – what we need to do is we need to love as far as we are able. As far as it is up to me, I need to be at peace with everybody. And I have discovered the best way to be at peace is not to be selfish. When I’m with people, I am with them. I don’t have my phone out. I’m looking them in the eye. I’m saying, “Tell me about this activity you’re doing. I want to hear about the Bible study you’re at.” I want to fully engage. But I also know my own limits. And so I want to make sure that my family is well-protected, taken care of. And I want to miss my relatives so I can see them again.

Jim: It’s true there are people who confrontation does not come easily.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: I mean, probably more than half of the population…

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: …Fit into that category…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …Christian, non-Christian.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: So how do you get up the energy? Cheri, you may fit that. I don’t know. But how do you get up the, uh, ability, the…

John: Courage.

Jim: …Will, the courage to say, “Okay, we’re gonna set boundaries?” Because it’s hard for some people…

Cheri: Well, and I…

Jim: …Especially within the family.

Kathi: Yeah.

Cheri: It’s also really difficult when you’ve done it one way for a long time, and you recognize it’s not working. One of the things I – I recognized was I had a belief that since I’d always done it a certain way, we just had to keep doing it that way, like we couldn’t change. And so deciding to say, you know, we – we used to do this, but we’ve decided to do it this way now, or we tried this, it’s not working, and so we’re gonna make this decision now – but I think it all comes back to expectations. Every family expects different things. Like, when my husband came to our family for the first time, there was no stuffing because I’m middle – part Middle Eastern, and so our Thanksgiving is all Middle Eastern food. There’s no stuffing or mashed potatoes with gravy. And, you know, for him, that was terrible.

Jim: Them are fighting words right there.

Cheri: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

Cheri: You know, he thought that was terrible. And so if we can see all of this as – much of this is a matter of preference. Whether you stay at the family home or you stay in a hotel, I don’t believe that’s biblical. You know…

Jim: Yeah.

Cheri: …That’s something we get to choose and to say, “You know, we’ve stayed with you in the past. This year, we’re staying in a hotel.” There doesn’t need to be a discussion after that unless…

Jim: Right, it’s not a negotiation.

Cheri: …You participate in it. Yeah.

Kathi: And I think it’s expectations and time. When you’re telling mother-in-law the night before…

Cheri: Oh, no.

Jim: Yeah.

Cheri: No, no.

Kathi: “…We’re staying in a hotel,” that’s wrong. Because I feel like that’s…

Cheri: No, no, no.

Kathi: …Disrespectful…

Cheri: Very much.

Kathi: …To her expectations. But when we say, you know, this Thanksgiving, “Hey, next Thanksgiving, we’re gonna need to do things a little differently” – whatever that is – that gives people time to adjust, to wrap their brains around it and be respectful of the family that they are a part of.

Jim: Right. So given Thanksgiving’s just around the corner…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …Maybe this year…

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: …Suck it up.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: Get through it.

Kathi: This year…

(LAUGHTER)

Kathi: This year is triage.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: And – but for Christmas, we can come up with contingency plans. And so the first conversation is – if you’re married, the first conversation is to have with your spouse.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: …And so – to be in agreement there and to say, “What is best for us as a family and for a family as a whole?” Because, really, what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to honor everybody the best you can.

John: And you got to position that properly as a unified front.

Kathi: Yes.

John: It’s not gonna be the husband says, “Well, Jane didn’t want to stay with you…”

Kathi: Exactly.

Cheri: Yes.

John: “…So we got a hotel.”

Kathi: Oh, yes. Hear it loud.

Jim: Now, I think people are leaning in and listening to this because we’re talking real-life situations…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …Here.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: And we can all Pinterest our faith and say…

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: …Everything’s fine. But for the most part, you know, there are the uncles, the aunts, the in-laws, et cetera. Where’s God in all this though? I really want to hear a clear kind of message that this is what God wants from you.

Kathi: Well, I really do believe that our chief concern is to be at peace with everybody, as far as we are able to make that happen. And so it’s not about fighting for our rights necessarily. When we’re in a family, we have to lay down some of those rights. It’s saying, “How do I honor everybody? And how do I show my love for God has transformed me…”

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: “…And I’m able to love well?” And so I come from a family where not everybody is a Christian and where, for some of them, Christianity is hard to see because they feel that they’ve been mistreated by – or people they love have been mistreated by Christians before. You know, that’s their perception. I don’t know whether it’s reality or a truth. But I need to be the person that says, for me, Christianity is about God’s love, and it doesn’t stop just with other Christians. It is God’s love transforming the world. So I lay down my rights in many ways. I only pick them up for the things that I think are important and that will move the family…

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: …Forward.

Jim: Kathi, uh, I’m aware of your history – family history with Roger. You’re…

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: …A blended family. Uh…

Kathi: Oh, we are blended, yes.

Jim: …Probably 30-40 percent of the Christian community…

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: …Would identify with that as well.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: And I want to be mindful of – there’s lots of reasons it happened.

Kathi: Absolutely.

Jim: So let’s not go to the judgment thing, everybody. But – but in that context, what can you do to see that – understand the complexity of it?

Kathi: So my husband is an engineer. And one of the things that he was told early on is that when you’re developing something as an engineer, you can have it better, cheaper, faster – pick two out of three. You’re never going to have a product that is better, cheaper and faster. When it comes to blended families – and let’s also talk about in-laws and things like that. I feel like you have – there are three things. You can celebrate on the day, you can, um, have everybody there, you can be – have people be happy about it – pick two out of three.

Jim: Okay, that’s good.

Kathi: So what we’ve chosen, for the most part, is we do not celebrate on Christmas. We do not necessarily celebrate on Thanksgiving. Every once in a while, it kind of works out that. But we have a child who’s married and has her in-laws. We have, you know, other original, biological parents that are celebrating. And so we want to be the home that it’s easy to land in, that it’s comfortable. We’re not saying, “Well, it’s not Christmas because it’s not the 25th, um, you’ve broken our hearts because you’re not here on the day.” We want to be the place where they come, they get filled out, uh, they know that love lives at our house. And we’re gonna laugh, and we’re gonna eat great food. But it doesn’t happen – have to happen on the day. And also, if somebody’s not able to make it, we say, “You know what? We’re so sad because we are going to miss you, but we understand your life is bigger than just our family. Let’s pick another time, and let’s do dinner together.”

Jim: No, that’s all good. We often call on the day. We’ll call our siblings…

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: …You know, if they aren’t able to make it. So…

Kathi: Right.

Jim: …That’s a lot of fun. Hey, Kathi and Cheri, this is great. More questions around the corner though. I want to stick with it and come back tomorrow and pick the conversation up and talk about a bit more of the complications that we face here at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and these holiday periods. Can we do it?

Kathi: Please.

Cheri: Absolutely.

Closing:

Jim: Let’s do it. I do have one other question for you. But let me turn to the listener. Um, these Christmas holidays can be so difficult. And I know for many of you – even depression – this is that time of year when people can be overwhelmed for whatever reason. It may not even be just the in-law issue or the extended family issue. There’s lots of reasons that people are sad during this time of year. We’re here for you. We have caring Christian counselors to talk with you, help you and, if necessary, even refer you to a Christian counselor in your area. And, uh, we want you to take advantage of that. You know, supporters of the ministry have provided enough resources to do that. So don’t be embarrassed. Call us.

John: Our number is 800-232-6459 – 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Online, you can find a copy of the book by Cheri and Kathi called Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity. This book is gonna be helpful during the entire holiday season as well as just plain old everyday life. So donate today generously and get your copy at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: You know, John, I don’t think we’ve mentioned this, but every month, about 4,000 calls are handled by the counseling team. And I – again, I just think that’s an amazing resource here. If you can help us be part of the team that underwrites that, we would appreciate it. We need to be able to pay for it so we can help people in the name of Christ. And one of the ways we do that, which I think is a win-win-win-win – that is get the resource by Kathi and Cheri – Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Sanity – through Focus on the Family. And then we put those resources right into work to save marriages, save the life of a baby. I mean, why not? If any retailer can match that, gladly go to them. But if you can, uh, help us here at Focus, your donation goes so far.

John: It really does, and when you make a monthly pledge or a one-time gift to the ministry of Focus on the Family of any amount, we’ll send a copy of Overwhelmed as our way of encouraging you, putting this great resource in your hands and saying thank you for joining the support team. Again, our number: 800-232-6459 or online, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Okay, that last question is for that person feeling overwhelmed. They’ve listened. They want to build that highway to great relationships at the holiday season. What can I do today?

Kathi: I – I think having the conversation early and saying – and also looking at what can I do? What is it that I can do in order to make peace more present in my holiday? Uh, I think part of it is getting your heart prepped and saying, “God, I’m praying myself in the holidays, and recognizing that this is hard for everybody.” And it’s okay. It’s okay to say this is hard for me, and I want to make this a great holiday for my family but also want to make sure that I can take care of myself on the other side. And I want God to be honored. When I think about this, I think about I want people around me to see a difference in me because I have the living God inside of me – and that people can see that difference because I love well because of who loves me.

John: And that is the fulfillment of that verse in Romans that you’ve referred to a couple of times in Romans 12. Well, thanks again to our guests. And thank you for listening. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, uh, we’re grateful that you tuned into Focus on the Family and hope you’ll be back again next time, as we continue the conversation, and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Overwhelmed

Receive the book Overwhelmed for your donation of any amount! Plus, receive member-exclusive benefits when you make a recurring gift today. Your monthly support helps families thrive.

Recent Episodes

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How I Found God Through My Abortion Journey (Part 2 of 2)

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How I Found God Through My Abortion Journey (Part 1 of 2)

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Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

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Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

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Kim Meeder

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Rhonda Stoppe

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

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

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Pastor Kevin Thompson

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Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

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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

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Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

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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 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!