By Lisa Hamel
It’s that time of year again. When we are supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy. Joy to the world. Peace on earth and thank the Lord when January finally arrives! The holidays are wonderful. As moms we are the executive producers of our kids’ lives-their forever memories-and it can feel like a privilege but also a pressure. There is an intensity to the holiday time that I think we all feel. That’s because the holidays are amplifiers of both joy and pain. When the pressure of parenting meets the pain of the past, we can easily lose our peace.
Last year, on December 13th, we were told that my dad had three to six months to live. My parents live with us. We are very close. This was also two days before my son’s birthday. As the Christmas lights twinkled and carols played in the background, we wept together. That night, my dad fell and broke his hip. This meant that we spent a great deal of the holidays in the hospital waiting for surgery, hosting family from out of town and trying to make my dad comfortable in a rehab facility….all knowing that he wasn’t really going to get better on this side of heaven. Needless to say it was NOT peaceful. So as we move forward in our first holiday season without him, I am trying to be intentional about how we grieve and how we remember what matters.
1. Say “No” to the crazy! I have to say “no.” There are unending amounts of concerts, plays, parades and parties that we are turning down this year. We will still have a tree but we will do without the perfect Christmas card. We are trying to make room in our schedule to mourn and to rejoice in the cherished memories that we have. We’ve found that there are ALWAYS things we can do at the last minute if everyone in our family has the energy and desire to do it.
2. Pursue Peace. Peace is not a guaranteed, default feeling. God’s Word repeatedly tells us to seek peace and pursue it. It means we have to be intentional about getting our hearts set on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:15 says: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” One of the best ways we can find peace is to daily be thankful. At ThriveToday.org Chris and Jen Coursey have a great exercise that couples or even families can do together:
- 3 things I’m thankful for in my day.
- 3 Things I’m thankful for about (you/a family member.)
- 3 things I’m thankful for about God.
This exercise will keep you grounded and it will even change your brain chemistry!! I have found that I sleep better at night and each moment carries a more beautiful weight when I practice this form of gratitude.
3. Stay Relational. No matter what you think you “have” to do during the holiday season, I promise there is nothing more important than staying relational with your people and with our God. Your family will survive without perfect Christmas cookies. They can still have joy and peace without an amazing concert with flying angels or a personal Santa. So many parts of the holidays are wonderful and I don’t mean to dismiss them all, just choose carefully. The enemy wants nothing more than to distract us during this time of year. Isn’t it odd that the time of year that is suppose to be the most peaceful has become the most stressful?? Let’s take back the reigns and allow the Prince of Peace to truly reign in our mortal bodies. The beautiful weight of the “Holy-Days” will leave bigger memories if we stay connected to Immanuel-God with us. He’s always with us but we often can’t hear him above the din of this time of year. In order to stay relational, a lot of us need breaks. Just a few minutes to quiet and take a deep breath. Hosting family or traveling can cause a lot of stress to your body. I know you wish it didn’t, but it is what it is. Ask for help and listen to your body and your needs.
I don’t have an earthly father here anymore, but he is in heaven rejoicing with the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Though this season will be colored by pain, I think it will be a richer remembrance of what Jesus did for us. And we will let the other stuff go because this Good News of peace on earth really means something to us. God made a way for us to be with Him forever. He is my Wonderful Counselor as I learn to say “no.”
• He is the Mighty God who provided salvation through a baby
• He is the Everlasting Father who my Dad now sees face to face
• He is the Prince of Peace who can help me pursue peace in the craziness
• He is Immanuel - God with us - so we can stay relational and walk in His power no matter our pain or joy during this intense time
So say “no” to the crazy and say “yes” to peace and relationships. If we can do this Moms, God can use even the holidays to heal us.
Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!