While simplifying your holiday season, take time for relationships to thrive, not just survive the holidays. Keep those relationships balanced with your holiday planning. People ARE more important than things at this time of year. Here are some relationship principles using one of the familiar words of the holiday as an easy to apply acrostic:
C enter your heart on the true, deeper meaning of the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year’s.) This will help everyone become easier to get along with because the heart of the holiday will remain intact.
H ear what your friends and family are voicing as their stress, and listen carefully to them—a gift that will lower their stress.
R each out as a family to help others in order to keep the proper perspective on what is really important in life.
I nvest in memories, not material goods. Make time for family baking, tree decorating, or board games.
S peak your love in words. The best gift you can give is for a person to hear their value and worth from your lips.
T ake time for romance. The greatest gift you can give your spouse, children, and friends is a happy home.
M ake time to reach out to extended family. Visit or call grandparents, aunts, and uncles. If possible, use modern technology like a Webcam to connect.
A ssume nothing; ask those who are celebrating with you what their expectations are, and communicate the plan clearly so people feel informed.
S tay flexible. Don’t be a Christmas Scrooge, ordering family around. Instead slow the pace, gather consensus, and give options so that you create an environment of connecting and sharing.
! Exclaim your joy with music, memories and by making the most of all your relationships!
Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers, and authors of more than forty-five books, including best-selling Men Are like Waffles, Women Are like Spaghetti.
I often give Christmas messages for women’s ministries, and one is entitled “Christmas Joy”. Joy is the beautiful result of Christ coming at Christmas.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10)
In my book, LOL with God, (co-authored Dawn Wilson) we chronicle just a few of the over 350 verses that speak to joy:
1 Chronicles 16:27—“Strength and joy [are] in his dwelling place.” (Dwell with God and find joy!)
Job 33:26—“He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy.” (Pray, and joy will be reignited.)
Psalm 5:11—“Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.” (Hide your heart in God, and joy will erupt in song.)
Psalm 35:27—“May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.’” (Rejoice in God’s righteousness, and justice and joy will return.)
Psalm 71:23—“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I, whom you have redeemed.” (Worship God for his redeeming love, and joy will naturally evolve.)
Psalm 92:4—“You make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.” (Review the goodness of God, and joy will fill your mind and roll off your lips.)
Psalm 118:15—“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’” (Review God’s victories, and joy will accompany the rerun of love.)
Psalm 145:7—“They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (Throw a party to celebrate God’s provision, and joy will be the centerpiece of your life.)
Proverbs 21:15—“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous.” (Do the right thing, and joy will stick.)
Jeremiah 15:16—“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (Get into God’s Word—joy is there!)
Which one of these pathways to joy can you take this holiday to hold on to joy?
CHRISTMAS! The word evokes many feelings, depending on our experiences. For some, Christmas is a happy time, filled with beautiful memories and joyful expectations. For others, Christmas is a depressing time, a season one wants “to get over with” as quickly as possible because of bad memories associated with this time of year.
Having ministered to people for many years, I have come to the conclusion that depressing memories at Christmas time are most often related to problems of unforgiveness. Hurts from the past become more pronounced during the Christmas season, but the reason those hurts still affect us is that we have not let go of the bitterness associated with them. In short, we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us.
Why do most people have such a difficult time forgiving? I believe the main reason is that they do not understand what forgiveness really means. If you are one of those people, what follows may help you:
LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT:
Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook.
Forgiveness is NOT condoning evil.
Forgiven is NOT being a doormat.
Forgiveness is NOT having to trust again the person who hurt you.
Forgiveness is NOT a feeling.
Forgiveness is NOT an option.
NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS:
Forgiveness IS taking the person who hurt you off of your hook and placing him on God’s hook, then praying that God will have mercy on him.
Forgiveness IS acknowledging that evil was done but choosing to bear the consequences of that evil without retaliation.
Forgiveness IS taking charge of your emotions.
Forgiveness IS setting boundaries with the person who hurt you, even refusing temporary or permanent interaction with that person, if necessary. An example would be a wife who is being beaten by her husband.
Forgiveness IS a decision.
Forgiveness IS obedience to God’s commandment to forgive.
No matter how badly you have been hurt, choose to forgive. It’s the best thing you can do for your own well-being. Unforgiveness chains you emotionally to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness breaks that chain and sets you free.
What better time is there than the Christmas season to forgive those who have hurt us? The very essence of Christmas is the truth that God forgave humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Who are we not to forgive when God has forgiven us?
So this Christmas, forgive! But don’t just forgive. Ask to be forgiven. As the Word of God tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us need not only to forgive but also to be forgiven. And as long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to forgive or to be forgiven.
For a heartwarming, compelling story on the power of forgiveness, you may wish to read my new novella entitled A Christmas Homecoming. It is available in electronic format for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. To view the beautiful book trailer of A Christmas Homecoming, click here. Last, but not least, may you forge happy memories this Christmas season as the power of forgiveness sets you free!
Reprinted by permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio.
Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest work of fiction is a trilogy set in 19th-century Sicily and titled The Italian Chronicles. MaryAnn and her husband Dom reside in New Jersey. They are the blessed parents of two adult daughters and the grandparents of six rambunctious grandchildren. In her spare time, MaryAnn loves to paint in acrylics and oils.
It’s a busy season full of wonder, miracles, and–let’s be honest–at least a little stress! Gift cards are an easy option when we’ve run out of ideas or energy, but how about the gift of literature? After all, a book is like a present that you get to open again and again, right?
Here are two new titles that have recently released from our CAN authors!
Care to put a little mystery and suspense in your holiday shopping? Try Pendant, a new
release from M L Hamilton.
A field trip gone awry. A student gone missing.
Haunted by her student’s disappearance for more than a decade, Elaine finally stumbles
onto a vital clue–and discovers someone is desperate to keep the truth hidden. When her life is threatened, she allows the one person she trusts to whisk her away to safety in Texas. But assuming a false identity and hiding among the quirky residents of a retirement home is not what she had in mind. Now, Elaine must solve the mystery from afar, as soon as she figures out if her friends is keeping her from danger…or keeping her from the truth.
The newest book release of Kathy Collard Miller is Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. Her goal is to inspire Christian women to seek God’s glory with purified motives. Included are biblical principles, inspiring stories, and discussion questions.
I love after-Christmas sales! Wrapping paper, ornaments, and Christmas cards are available at greatly-reduced prices.
One year while buying groceries in a super-store, I steered my cart to the Christmas aisle—just out of curiosity. And there it was—a beautiful, hand-painted ceramic nativity set on display at seventy-five percent off!
Several boxed sets were on a shelf, so I took one and placed it on the bottom rack of my cart. When I got home, I left the box intact and slid it in my Christmas closet.
The winter months came and went, as did spring, summer, and fall. Soon it was December and I began unpacking my Christmas closet to decorate our home. That’s when I found it again—the box with the nativity set I had forgotten.
I opened the box and gently lifted each piece. I arranged the scene on the marble-top sideboard in the foyer, so it would be the first Christmas item people would see as they walked in the door.
Forgetting about the nativity set in my closet reminded me how easy it is to forget the real meaning of Christmas. Decorating, shopping, entertaining, and baking cookies jump to the forefront as Jesus remains in the background.
This Christmas I want to keep Jesus front and center. I want people to see Jesus in me when they enter my home.
I know this phrase has become cliché, but I still love to hear it.
Jesus is the reason for the season.
Crystal Bowman is a best-selling and award-winning author of over 100 books for children. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine. She is co-author of Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps?
On Christmas Eve, Iceland celebrates the national tradition of Jólabókaflóð, the “Christmas Book Flood.
That evening, Icelanders anticipate and enjoy exchanging books. After they open and admire their books, family members retire to their individual beds and read themselves to sleep.
This literary tradition traces back to World War II, when the government restricted currency and imported gifts. In contrast, Icelanders enjoyed a flux of money because of the war. Fortunately, restrictions on imported paper remained lenient and books burgeoned as the country’s most popular gift for Christmas.
Fast forward to today and the holiday-reading tradition virtually supports the book-publishing industry. According to Kristjan B. Jonasson, former president of the Iceland Publishers Association, explained, “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”
This Christmas, I had the joy of speaking at many women’s teas and Christmas events. My message was on “Christmas Light” and it is based on our family’s Christmas Advent Wreath and Dinner and Dialogue tradition. We use Isaiah 9:6 as the center of our celebration and conversation because it is the center of the hope and light we all enjoy because of Christ’s birth.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”
This Christmas, which name of Christ are you leaning on? Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father or Prince of Peace?
Those same four names can lead us to creative ways to bless back those who have been a blessing to us during the past year. In doing so, we reflect the light of God’s love.
For with you is the fountain of life; in yourlight do we see light (Psalms 36:9)
For those who have blessed you, not just personally, but professionally, let’s look at 4 simple ways you can boomerang back some of the blessings that have been extended to you:
Wonderful Counselor: Give those who supported you a little support too. Send them a book (video, conference scholarship, a meeting with a mentor or counselor, a day away at a conference grounds for solace) that equips them for an upcoming important event in their life (marriage, birth of a child, care for a parent), or comforts or lends wisdom for a struggle he or she might be working through (that they may have shared with you).
This can be a fun way to express your creativity too. For example, we often give our book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, and wrap it in a pasta bowl with spaghetti noodles, waffle iron with waffle mix and the utensils needed to cook these up. On occasion I have a friend in ministry close enough to send a fun gift to– like our Red Hot Monogamy book wrapped in a set of sheets, or in a basket of fun “hot items” like Red Hot candy, hot tamales, a gift card to a Mexican food café, or a collections of hot sauce bottles.
Mighty God: Offer to pray them through a difficult situation or circumstance. Send Bible verses, prayers, or a Bible gift item with a verse they can hang their heart on to have hope. My friend, Lisa Copen, of Gutsy Goodness, has an invisible illness that keeps her in daily pain, yet she runs Rest Ministries to help others in pain and she also creates beautiful messages of hope on necklaces. During a difficult season in my life, God led me to Neh. 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Today, I wear that phrase to encourage me on a necklace Lisa made for me.
Everlasting Father: Good dads make life just a little bit easier. Perhaps your gift can help lighten the load or ease the work of someone who has eased your load. Options can include gift cards, but you can also add your logo (or theirs) to tools that people need for work as a small reminder that you care: usb drive, coffee mugs, water glasses, sticky note holders, coasters, desk accessories are all items we have received and given. (Often your local Christian bookstore is a great place to find unique gift items with some deeper scriptural meaning– and it is a terrific way to thank your bookstore with your business!) For example, to go along with my book Becoming a Brave New Woman, I was able to purchase a coffee mug with a verse on courage on it to give to some brave women who had helped me be brave.
Prince of Peace: One of the best gifts you can give a leader is to enrich their own walk with God. You might give them a beautiful book mark, a new Bible, or a new devotional. The year A Couple’s Journey with God book was released, some of our friends got a copy of that devotional with some travel items like luggage tags, flight ticket holder and passport cover. Our book Devotions for Men on the Go and Devotions for Women on the Go have been given with items to keep those friends “on the go”: coffee gift card, coffee thermos or dark chocolate espresso bean candy; gas fuel card; or cute key chain or fitness item.
To gain creativity, think of your life, and a walk a mile in your own shoes and ask, “What would make my life easier, stronger or better?” Make a list of those items, then put on your friend’s tennies or heels and walk through their life asking that same question. Chances are the circle of their life and the circle of yours will over lap and there may be items in your world or the books and resources of other author friends you know that could bless those around your ministry.
Text Message: “A frnd lvs @ al tms.*
* “A friend loves at all times . . .” Proverbs 17:17 NIV
My friend, Dawn Wilson, and I, wrote a book called LOL with God: Messages of Hope and Healing for Women. It is a unique devotional that has a humorous story on one page and a daily devotional on the other, and the theme through the book is “text messages” between you and God. In one of these devotionals, Dawn shared who is in her friendship circle, and at the Christmas season, as I looked at the type of friends any leader, any person, needs, I dovetailed the Christmas story into the styles of friends to see what else we could learn about how friends help accomplish important goals. Here are my thoughts:
“An Irish Bride for Christmas” novella in The Christmas Brides Collection. A man who recently lost his brother and sister-in-law in a tragic accident fights for custody of his niece.
About the author: Vickie McDonough is the best selling author of more than 30 books and novellas. Her awards include the Book Sellers Best, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and she’s an 8-time finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards.