This article was originally published in the December issue of HomeLife.
Christmas is the holiday I get the most questions about. Moms want to know how they can make this season more sacred—holy and set apart—for their kids.
You’ve seen things on social media and likely been overwhelmed by all the options that Pinterest offers you. You’ve tried a few things and nothing seemed to really “work,” so you stopped before you finished or vowed to never try that again. But because you’re an awesome mom you just can’t give up on trying to find the thing that will be a
shifter for your kids at Christmas.
You want all the wonder that the holidays bring but you also want your kids to truly resonate with the real purpose of this season: Celebrating the birth of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah.
I want to write an article for you that I would want to read as a mom of three young girls. I want the lists and the how-tos. I want to read about the “Top 3 Advent Devotionals To Do as a Family,” or the “10 Best Service Projects for the Whole Family at Christmas.” I’m a doer; I’ve always related a little bit more to Martha of the Mary-Martha-Lazarus household, Jesus’ friends who lived in Bethany.
Give me a list and I’ll hit it out of the park!
But when there isn’t a list or a clear formula to follow, then I feel a bit overwhelmed. Can you relate?
So today I’m going to give you my very best tip. As someone who has studied holidays for nearly five years and written an entire book on the topic, Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus, I consider myself a bit of an expert on these things.
However, the answer I’m about to give you is one that you may not expect. So I’m asking that you stick with me and read all the way to the end.
I can absolutely guarantee if you do this one thing you will have a sacred—holy (all about Jesus) and set apart (super intentional)—Christmas season. And if you knew something was 100 percent guaranteed, would you do it? Yes, of course you would! I would also offer you a money back guarantee, but what I’m suggesting is totally free.
So what is it? What’s the one thing that will shift your whole Christmas from being a whirlwind of events, over-spending on gifts, and crazy schedules among the sparkly lights, fun gatherings, and cozy moments?
What if this Christmas you didn’t intentionally do anything for your kids to have a sacred Christmas? What if this Christmas you focused on yourself?
At First, It May Seem Sacrilegious
I know, I know. Why would any good parent do this? Well, they would do it for the same reason that the flight attendant tells parents at the beginning of a flight to put on their own oxygen mask first in an emergency before helping their kids. For some reason, we forget this life-saving principle during all our other life moments.
Most moms I talk to struggle to consistently spend meaningful time with God. They don’t, however, struggle to make sure their kids are dressed with packed lunches in hand and transportation to every after-school activity. We may #momfail all the time, but the truth is we #momwin more than we’d ever share on social media. Just the fact that you’re investing time reading this article shows your commitment to a more intentional home life, and it also tells me that you’re an above-average mom.
I need you to hear that! You’re already an above-average mom, just as you are!
It’s amazing that you want to make these holidays have a deeper spiritual meaning for your kids. However, dear friend, we have to put our own oxygen masks on first, spiritually speaking.
So the number one piece of advice that will be the game changer for your holidays is to pursue a relationship with Jesus for yourself this year. Next year and all the years after that, we can build on this very necessary foundation. Grab a copy of Sacred Holidays and I’ll give you tons of ideas to build on your foundation. But this year, let’s take just this one baby step and do it really well.
And here is another promise for you: When you commit to make this holiday sacred for yourself, it will flow over to your kids and create a sacred Christmas for them. When you spend time with Jesus it affects everything else—your commitments, spending, attitude, and parenting.
So what does it look like for you to have a sacred Christmas? Here are a few first steps I’d take this year, as seen from the biblical examples given to us.
Help From Martha: Welcome Jesus
During the holidays, we all talk about how busy or crazy things are, as if we’re victims of our schedules. Sister, you’re in complete control of your calendar. You have the power and freedom to say yes or no to whatever you want.
Let’s look again at the story from Luke 10:38-42 about Mary and Martha. Martha may get a bad wrap in this story but both of their examples have something to teach us.
First, Martha let Jesus in. She welcomed Him into her home. So that is the first thing you can do — make space for Jesus. That might mean waking up earlier than you currently do, or it might mean staying up later. For me, when my kids were really little and all at home, it meant turning on a kids’ show and letting them know that I was spending time with Jesus in the other room.
Where can you make more space for Jesus? Put it on your calendar and set an alarm to keep you focused.
Don’t let the busyness of this season keep you from time with Jesus. Choose right now when you will spend time with Him. Don’t give yourself grace on not spending time with God this season because you’re busy. That’s not grace.
Help From Mary: Spend Time in His Word
Second, in this story, we see Mary, Martha’s sister, sitting at the Lord’s feet. Mind you, there was much to do, which Martha was sure to let her know about. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
Friend, let’s be more like Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching. Here are my best recommendations for ways to study God’s Word this Christmas.
- Be a part of a Bible study through your local church or community. Local studies are an amazing way to connect with like-minded women.
- Do an Advent (the days leading up to Christmas) Bible study. I’ve written two, with the help of other contributors, called For All: An Advent Study of the Christmas Story and He Is: An Advent Study on the Attributes of God.
- YouVersion (the Bible app) has many Bible reading plans to choose from. I wrote one that is a guide for using Advent candles.
- Or simply go to LifeWay.com and browse through the many awesome selections and see what else resonates with you in this season. LifeWay Women has a new Advent study this year, too!
There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this. The point is that we intentionally lean into Jesus, choosing to focus on Him more, sitting at His feet, and learning from Him.
Rid Yourself of Distractions and Busyness
Finally, we learn in John 10:40 that: “Martha was distracted by her many tasks.” And we already read that Jesus told her she was “worried and upset about many things” (v. 41). Not only that, Jesus said Martha’s name twice. In my mind, that’s like when we use our kids’ full names to let them know we mean business!
What would Jesus say to you today? Would He look at you sitting at His feet or would He say firmly, yet full of grace, Daughter, Daughter! You’re running around and so stressed about too many things. All I want for you to do this Christmas is to really celebrate Me by spending time with Me. I’d also like to imagine that He might also add, And I promise that your children will see you. I’ll show them the way to Me through you.
Yes, there are hundreds of things you could do to try to teach your kids about Jesus. But nothing will have a bigger and longer-lasting impact than them seeing you pursue Him. We don’t want to raise kids who never take the time to really love Jesus themselves. We want to raise kids to love the Lord and sit at His feet as they make disciples—both within their homes and in the world.
So this year, be a little selfish. It’s actually the most selfless thing you can do.
Becky Kiser is the founder and CEO of Sacred Holidays—a ministry dedicated to helping women find less chaos and more Jesus during holidays through Bible study, community, resources, and lots of fun! She is determined to help women keep all the whimsy of the holidays, but help make them sacred—holy and set apart. Becky and her husband, Chris, live in Houston, Texas, with their three girls.