It’s Christmas week! What joy! And what a lot going on, right?
As I was wrapping gifts this week while supervising Carly alone (Larry was out of town for work), I was tremendously thankful she kept herself content with her iPad for over an hour. It is rare for her to keep herself entertained for more than a couple of minutes at a time without hands-on attention.
This got me prayerfully remembering my friends who are also caregiving moms and dads with little room in their lives for Christmas details.
I was also remembering the season of life when young children kept me hopping all of December — and throughout the year — with what seemed like endless reliance on me. I have great empathy for people in that time of life. Wherever you are on the timeline of your family’s story, this is the most wonderful time of year, and a very difficult time of year. We need tools and support.
During our weekly Real Talk Connect group meetings for caregivers, we focus discussion on one Biblical principle that strengthens our families with health or disability-related challenges and extra caregiving needs. We always kick off a new cycle through those principles with this one: “God strengthens us when we celebrate each other and His faithfulness.”
That principle is a powerful, God supplied tool for all us. And here are a couple of verses the group has referenced when exploring our unique personal challenges and ways to cope:
Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
And let us consider how we can spur one another on to love and to good deeds.
Friends, let me state the obvious. We simply won’t get everything done this week that seems to need getting done. And, when we slow down to consider what we are doing, we know much of it won’t all matter in the grand scheme of life anyway.
If it is something that needs to be done, let us ask God to show us how to do it without strife — without inadvertently creating a negative memory. God wants us to give cheerfully, and He promises to help us do that (Isaiah 41:10, 2 Corinthians 9:7).
There are also times when God wants us to let some things go altogether (Matthew 11:28-30). Please hear the voice of Jesus inviting you to release a lot of things this coming week (maybe even as a lifestyle in 2023 and going forward).
So then what does really matter? David modeled this question in a fashion when he said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
More than anything this Christmas week, let’s ask Him to help us make memories that are truly worth celebrating.
I don’t want my husband or children to remember a stressed out, demanding, or perfectionistic mom when they think of Christmas. I also don’t want to carry guilt or hurt or pressure through this precious time. I want to live fully but freely and lightly. I celebrate well by leaning into Jesus’ call to take his easy yoke, and by making quick amends when I fall short. If I do make mistakes, I want my loved ones to remember my humble and kind recoveries. I want all of us to have increasing memories of sweet moments and simple traditions — but of peaceful, satisfying relationships most of all.
By the way, some of our family’s most celebrated traditions didn’t start out with an idea that we were going to create a tradition. We simply wanted to do something meaningful and fun together. One year, my daughters and I spent Christmas Eve making scones so we could put them in the oven first thing in the morning and enjoy them fresh for an easy, special breakfast on Christmas Day.
For several years, there was prolonged debates and teasing about when our gift opening should happen. Larry and I each grew up doing it differently. And several people in the family wanted to replicate the soonest schedule possible! A compromise was made to open just one gift on Christmas Eve and save the rest for Christmas morning. We all had great fun with that tradition for several years. I think the best part was hearing the actual debate replicated every year! Seriously, the kids and their dad had so much fun starting the whole decision-making processing from the start every year after Christmas Eve dinner. I believe the debate itself is the memory we celebrate more than the gifts or when we actually open them.
Things turn into a tradition when someone so fondly remembers something that they ask to have it repeated!
Ponder that with me.
How might we simply be intentional about finding sweet and simple ways to enjoy each other, if even for just a few minutes each day this week?
Do those things. Then prayerfully watch for God to work in those things as He knits your family and Him together in stronger ties of love, and in ways that your family will ask to have repeated in the future.
I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver advocate and author of popular books and Bible studies includingFinding Glory in the Thorns andJesus, Let’s Talk. Along with her husband Larry, Lisa co-founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit interdenominational organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa serves caregiving families as an ordained pastoral counselor and certified Christian temperament therapist with memberships in the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling and International Ministerial Fellowship. Lisa and Larry have three grown daughters. Their youngest, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome, lives at home with them in Minnesota.