Making the Time
Making the Time
As we approach the holiday season it seems we become busier. There are parties, school concerts, family gatherings, hanging of lights and decorations, performances, and our normal schedules still exist. Have you ever had the thought, “if I can just make it through to the New Year then I can breathe?” For many of us this time of year can feel like a whirlwind and we often feel like we haven’t been able to just stop and breathe.
If you find yourself in that place, know you aren’t alone. We get it. But we shouldn’t stay there. We must be speaking into the lives our families as we guide and disciple them even when we are busy. As we enter into this holiday season, make the most of the time that you have together. Use the shopping trips, the family dinners, the trimming of the tree, and the spontaneous trips to look at Christmas lights as opportunities to speak truth and love into one another’s lives.
We wanted to offer you a look into each of our lives and how we intentionally make time within our families. Our prayer is that this offers you new ideas and encouragement into how you can love and care for one another, while also pointing one another to Jesus.
Growing up, the holidays were incredibly busy. With five kids, a couple of pets, lots of extended family, and all the normal day-to-day activities, I am still blown away by how my parents managed to balance everything and make it look like everything was relatively normal. I can explicitly remember running around on errands with my mom during the holidays and seeing the massive to-do list in her hands. We would run from shop to shop, go to the grocery store, and make sure we hadn’t missed anything. But throughout the running around I remember my mom taking the time to connect with me. She would ask how I was doing at school, she would ask how I was enjoying youth group, what I was excited about this coming year, and what gift I was most excited to give this year. Those conversations, and the occasional hot chocolate from the local coffee shop, are forever engrained in my mind.
My dad would always get us together on Christmas morning and read the Christmas story with us. It was awesome! Watching my dad open his Bible and read to us, and then he would briefly share why Jesus is the greatest gift and how all the gifts under the tree would never compare. But our giving of gifts was a reminder, a representation of God’s love for us, and our opportunity to share that with one another.
Elise and I love the holidays. It is time for us to unplug and spend time just with one another. We intentionally set aside one holiday a year to just to be together, her and I, so that our family unit can focus on each other. During those moments we intentionally disengage from our phones, laptops, and tablets to be with each other. We turn on Christmas music, dance while we decorate the tree, share what we are thankful for, reflect on the past year, and pray over the one to come. Those are moments we cherish deeply and look forward to each year. I think one thing families can always incorporate are questions about what they have seen God do, how they are desiring to grow with Jesus, and ask themselves how they can engage their spheres of influence in the upcoming year.
Some of the best times I remember growing up revolved around my family being together a lot more during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, there were special foods, desserts, movie nights with popcorn, and a fire in the wood stove, but it was more than that. What I see now is that these were very spiritually formative times. It was during these special planned and unplanned moments when dad, mom, and grandparents shared about their life.
At Thanksgiving, rather than saying something we were thankful for as the food got cold, we would talk and share stories. I loved hearing how dad grew up, experienced God, and what his desires were for us kids. I rarely got a glimpse of what it was like for mom as she grew up, but around Thanksgiving and Christmas we got to see a little behind the curtain. When Christmas came, the spiritual side of our family development took place beyond the special services at church. I can say now, because I did not realize it at the time, that I loved the plans they made to be together and share with their kids. Yes, some of it was while watching a cheesy slide show of days gone by, but the pride and sparkle in my parents’ eyes as they explained the pictures and shared stories about their spiritual journey have stayed with me.
My challenge to you is to make the time, in advance, to be together as a family for more than movie nights or with special food. As parents, share what God has done, and is doing, in you right now. Cast vision for your kids to be disciples of Jesus. Put down the phones and be eyeball to eyeball in conversation. It could be over special food traditions, a cheesy slide show, or while putting together a puzzle. If you need to start something new, go for it! Your kids want to hear from you. It is worth it and they will appreciate it…someday.
I am always thankful for the holiday seasons because of the intentional time I get to spend with family and friends. As much hustle and frantic cleaning that happens before each get together, the time I get to spend with family is worth all the craziness beforehand. As my family has continued to grow and become older, I have appreciated the way our conversations and care for one another have changed. We are more purposeful about what we talk about and the questions we ask. My sweetest memories are when all my family is together laughing and choosing to spend our time together.
Right after Thanksgiving, my family hunts together. My entire life hunting has been such a big deal that all my cousins, uncle, brother, dad, and grandfather spend the first two days of rifle season hunting together. My favorite time during the day is lunch because we all tell stories from the morning and encourage one another. My dad and I have had some of the most impactful conversations. We talk life goals, where we’re headed in life, and what matters the most, all the while sharing in laughter.
As we’re going into the holiday season I intend to slow down and unplug as I spend time with my friends and family. I want them to know that I care for them and that they matter to me. I want to be purposeful in helping my mom in prepping for Thanksgiving by being willing to do whatever she asks. When I’m with all my family I plan to ask more questions about what’s going on in their lives and to listen well when they respond. At its simplest, I want them to see Jesus through me.
How can you also show your friends and family Jesus while you’re with them this season?
Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas,
Nick, Craig, and Kamda