The season meant for celebrating God’s gift of salvation in his Son can so easily be marred when we lose track of that meaning.
Finding the perfect gifts, budgeting for them, arranging for travel, planning holiday meals, and keeping your waistline in check can quickly get overwhelming– to say nothing of all the potential family drama or emotional baggage!
For couples and families, there is yet another block to stumble over at the holidays: traveling from house to house in order to see, and satisfy, every single family member.
Many well-meaning families try their best not to leave out anyone on both sides of the extended family, but it really adds up. Before you know it, you’ve got an itinerary of three, four, five, or more houses to visit and dozens of gifts to give, and Christmas Day becomes an endurance trial for you, your spouse, and your children to survive.
In a thoughtful post for her Sparrows And Lily blog, Lindsey Maestas described her experience running the Christmas gauntlet of visiting five houses, sinking tons of money into gifts for 19 kids, 10 siblings and 3 White Elephant parties, and spending the “most wonderful time of the year” feeling stressed, frazzled, and exhausted.
“I remember the day like it was yesterday. Our son Sutton was 1-1/2 years old and we rushed home a ridiculous number of times to pick up food and gifts to take to the next house. And then the next house. And then the next.”
On their final trip home that day, Maestas’ exhausted husband told her he had grown to despise the holidays, which he had once loved, which only fed into her stress, leaving both of them feeling miserable at the close of their son’s first Christmas.
“When we finally came home for the night, it was completely dark. Sutton’s toys were piled up, untouched, in the corner. He didn’t get to open or play with anything that day and he was passed out by the time we got home.”
“Our house was a disaster because I had rushed to cook and bake everything for each house and didn’t have time to clean before we left,” she added.
It was in that moment, surrounded by the reality that her own home had been neglected during their holiday odyssey, that Maestas learned the crucial lesson of setting healthy boundaries “in order to invest and nourish this little family we have created — even during the holidays.”
In God’s design plans for marriage given in Genesis, however, He gives us the simple truth that sets us free from the holiday bondage of trying to please every member of every part of every family:
“Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
While it is still foundational to remember to seek to love and serve others at Christmastime and all through the year, Maestas declares that you “don’t want to create strife or forfeit our family principles to people-please or to simply fulfill society’s standard of what Christmas is supposed to look like.”
Giving gifts, decorating, cooking and baking, and spending time with family at Christmas can be such a wonderful blessing. It’s when you try to do it all and spread yourself impossibly thin that you become too busy, stressed, and exhausted to be a blessing to others, let alone guard yourself from sins of anger and resentment.
So, this season, don’t be afraid to get creative with your schedule. Split the holiday up into several days if you must visit several homes, or else don’t be afraid to simply say, “not this year,” and find another way to bless the home you can’t visit.
Don’t abuse your budget and put your own little family in potential financial danger for the sake of fulfilling our materialistic culture’s expectation of giving a gift to everyone in your family (which will likely wind up on a thrift store shelf in 6 months, if we’re honest).
“When you and your spouse are at one another’s throats because you have to put on a false smile for your in-laws who you swear have it out for you,” Maestas contends, “you are sacrificing the health of the one you were intended to cling to for the family that you were intended to separate from after you said, ‘I do.’”
Instead, let your whole year be Christmas. Demonstrate that you love your extended family in all seasons, so that they know missing one holiday dinner isn’t a reflection of how much you truly love them. Don’t try to fit a year’s worth of love and connection into one single day.
Instead, Maestas encourages you to honor God and cleave to your own family this year.
“Take it slow. Simply do your best to love and serve those around you without allowing pressure or obligation to consume you.”
“And most importantly, spread true joy and the love of Jesus with those you come across. It might even be a lot easier this time around because you’ll be rested enough to do so.”
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Argentine Photographer Captures INCREDIBLE Image of Christ-Like Cloud
It cannot be denied that our world is in the midst of turmoil unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. From Birmingham to Beijing, we are seeing unprecedented poverty, crime, hate, violence, war, famine….you name it. Combine these issues with a mainstream media who is salivating at the chance to rile us up for ratings and money, and the world becomes a downright scary place. Where do we turn when the world seems to shun us? For some, the answers lie in the bottom of a bottle. For others, it’s self-harm or outward violence. For many, however, their faith is their rock. They turn to the religious world for answers to the questions that plague us today, and, often, they discover signs of encouragement. Such is the case today in Argentina. Monica Aramayo was in San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina when she noticed the holy figure shining through the thick clouds Social media user Mariela Romano said: “The Lord will soon come for us all and we should be ready. While another said: “Thanks for the image that allows us to keep on our path and have a better hope for tomorrow.” The photo has to be seen to be believed. https://twitter.com/faithdefender/status/1128809009153097728 The pose and grand scale of the image has reminded many observers of the famous Christ The Redeemer statue in Brazil. https://twitter.com/OtravelAI/status/1082513665700507648 And while the cloud formation certainly isn’t going to change the minds of the unfaithful, it does provide us all with a reminder that we are loved, and we must remain harmonious with one another on this turbulent little space rock.
Former Pope Blames ‘Swingin’ Sixties’ for Catholic Church’s Cesspool of Pedophilia
The Catholic Church is again attempting to blame their rampant pedophilia on the outside world.
The high pontiffs of the Catholic Church would make fantastic dodgeball players. Given just how well they’ve avoided taking the blame for, or properly reacting to, the disturbing prevalence of pedophilia among their ranks, there is little doubt that these purposefully-ignorant would be able to dodge just about anything. The problem is obtuse, obvious, and ostensibly disgusting. There are literally thousands upon thousands of young children who have been sexualized by Catholic priests over the course of several decades in all corners of the globe. The problem is not isolated at all, and the only common factor between these horrific crimes is that they occurred at the hands of the Catholic Church. If the entire world got sick from eating a certain food, we would stop eating that food. In the case of the Catholic Church, the children of the world are being undeniably harmed by their religious leaders in habitual and systemic acts of pedophilia, yet the leaders at The Vatican continue to ignore and obfuscate the truth. Now, one former Pope is even blaming the cultural revolution of the 1960’s for the issue. Emeritus Pope Benedict has emerged from his cone of silence to offer a personal analysis of the clerical sex abuse crisis, citing the sexual revolution, a corruption of moral theology, and the formation of “homosexual cliques” in seminaries as causes of the problem. Benedict says that he felt compelled to contribute to a response to the present situation “since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis,” and so penned his reflections, obtaining the present pope’s blessing to make them public. In his new, 6,000-word bombshell essay, the former pope turns his gaze toward societal forces outside the Church as well as…
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