Advent Prep Day 5

Are you ready?

Advent starts on Sunday, November 29th!

We’ve been prepping for it all week- thinking about how we are going to approach this year.

  • Prepping physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
  • Forming some new traditions.
  • Sowing seeds of celebration when your kids are in survival mode.
  • Taking some time to grieve and celebrate at the same time.

It’s time to dive in!

What’s in the book?

  • Each week day, you’ll receive a tip to help you and your kiddos thrive this season. I’ve included a few of them this week in our Advent Prep!
  • Plus read a short Biblical application to feed and nourish you soul.
  • On the weekends, read a longer lesson – Joseph, Mary, Wisemen, Jesus (in that order).
  • Bonus – I’ve included a tip for December 26th.

A Professional opinion

Adoptive families have unique challenges, which often become magnified during the holidays. Kathleen’s experience as an adoptive mother has enabled her to provide an insightful perspective that many other adoptive families can relate too. She does this in a way that also incorporates specific scripture that connects very well to the concept of adoption. This spiritual connection can help families reflect on the adoption story of Christ, as a way to help their family bond and form traditions through their own adoption stories. Parents will be able to read along on a day to day basis and reflect on their own experiences, while reading encouraging words from a fellow adoptive parent. The tips that Kathleen suggests offers comfort for adoptive families as they learn how to best navigate through the holiday season in ways that fit the specific needs of their child and their family as a whole. 

Molly McCartney, Adoption Therapist and Adoptive Parent

For All Families

Although I wrote 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas for adoptive/foster/kids with capital letter syndromes, considering the events of 2020, all families would benefit. All kids have been traumatized by the losses this year – not seeing friends, family, events canceled, (fill in the blank).

Grab the book here!

Advent Prep Day 4

It’s Thanksgiving today and your celebration probably looks different this year. Maybe you don’t FEEL like celebrating. Many of us have loved ones in the hospital (and not necessarily COVID related), who are dying and/or some other difficult circumstances. I’m not trying to bring you down emotionally. If these things are happening in your life, they existed before I wrote the words. It’s okay to grieve the loss of the traditional celebration and admit you’re struggling.

Stuffing Your Feelings instead of the turkey

I’m a feeling stuffer. I’m getting better at recognizing the fact that I do and actually feeling the feelings. It’s no fun sometimes. I’d rather stuff and be numb. It’s not healthy. It can cause physical symptoms and conditions. As I write this, I’m pretty emotionally exhausted. I worked out this morning for about 18 minutes and I was done. I contemplated taking a nap at 8:30 am and thought, what is wrong with me? Then I thought about the conversation I had with my hubby earlier about my mother-in-law being in the hospital, my aunt in hospice, a friend whose brother died, and the all craziness going on. BOOM. I acknowledged my grief, prayed, made some coffee and sat down to write this. Those situations haven’t changed and I’m still tired, but acknowledging it and praying is much better than stuffing it! What does this have to do with Advent Prep?

Don’t expect the Christmas season to be free of hardships.

A dear friend of mine died  around Christmas time. I won’t make this tip about it. The grief is fresh and private and yet I rejoice that she no longer suffers.

* * *

None of us knows the day or the hour when hardships or struggles will strike.

* * *

At this time last year, I was running around with a heart monitor strapped to my chest and wires trailing out of my yoga pants, thanks to some heart issues. My eldest son, Damian,  fell and broke his elbow at work so we traipsed from doctor to specialist trying to get a good picture of what was going on inside his arm. I got home and jumped into son Hunter’s car to be whisked to the cardiologists and rip off the monitor before they locked the doors. (Wonder what the reading looked like that last hour). Not what I planned to be doing during the countdown to Christmas.

* * *

The truth is- life happens during the Christmas season. We cannot put sickness on hold or plan not to have any tragedies. Struggles are not scheduled on your calendar app. 

Struggling and Rejoicing

The circumstances of the birth of our savior were probably not the Christmas that Mary and Joseph had envisioned. Fleeing to Egypt shortly after was probably not on their agenda either. Yet, they rejoiced. They celebrated. Mary pondered all of these things. There were gifts and songs sung by angels. There was great joy!

“Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.”- Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

We parents must learn to rejoice and struggle at the same time for our children’s sake. We must teach them to cope and rejoice in the midst of circumstances. We can rejoice in one thing and grieve another at the same time. Nobody is asking us to ignore grief or pain. We don’t ask our children to either. We can rejoice in Christmas in the midst of pain. Hardships happen even at Christmas.

*Part of this article is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas.

Advent Prep Day 3

When your kids are in Survival mode

Maybe you have been following along with the Advent Prep and you’re thinking, lady, you don’t understand, my kids are in survival mode. Actually, I get it. The reason I wrote 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas is because my kiddos were in survival mode. It started as a blog series and I got so much great feedback from adoptive/foster parents I decided to flesh it out and turn it into a book.

When Jerry and I adopted a sibling group of four from Poland, the holidays took on a new bent. Kids from hard places often do not know the meaning of celebration. We have to teach them and be patient while they sit on the sidelines or hide under the table. We parents must gently coax the child from darkness into the light without overwhelming them at the same time. It’s like walking a tightrope with no pole in the middle of a crowded mall during Christmas season. The slightest noise or smell can set these kids off and then everything is out of kilter.

My friend Molly McCartney, Adoption Therapist and Adoptive Parent said this of the book:

25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas, is a unique tool to help adoptive families throughout the busy and often hectic holiday season, especially as it focuses on specific needs that children impacted by trauma can experience.

I’m not telling you this to sell you a book, although I think it would be super helpful to you if you are raising kids who have experienced trauma. Even if your kiddos didn’t come home through foster care or adoption, the circumstances this year have been traumatic for all kiddos. That’s why I think this Advent Devotional is more important this year for all families than it ever has been.

How can you celebrate when a kid is having a meltdown?

This is a question I hear from parents often. Maybe last year you tried singing a Christmas carol every night and one kiddo sat in a corner and sulked. Or you said, “Let’s make cookies!” and some kids complained so you didn’t do it. Or you offered fun suggestions and the kids groaned so you went to your room and got under the covers and said, “Forget it!” I get it. Been there myself.

Ghost of Christmas Future

May I be your ghost of Christmas Future for a moment? If you don’t choose to do the fill in the blank (with a game, cookie making, Christmas carol, or other), guess what will happen in your future? Years from now ghosts of Christmas past will haunt your family with the vacuous vacuum of silence.

What about doing the things mentioned above anyway? What will happen then? I can tell you from my own experience. The kiddos who “didn’twantto” who “satinthecorner” or “didn’tsingthecarols” remember the past fondly. They remember the events as if they were enjoyable! Some of them joke about their stubbornness or tell stories about how great such and such was.

An example of this – a few years ago, Hubby and I took our youngest shopping about an hour and half away from our home at a large shopping complex. We went to multiple stores and ended the day with dinner out before the drive home. This was the kiddo who didn’t like going out period, holiday or no. He didn’t like Christmas shopping at all. On the way home, he said,”This was a great day. It reminds me of the Christmas shopping trips you took us on to buy gifts for each other. It was really fun.” Both hubby and I looked back at our nineteen year old son and thought -WHAT?! So, just a gentle reminder from the Ghost of Christmas Future – whatever it is, do it anyway. Adjust it to fit the special needs of your kiddos, but do it. Don’t wait for perfect conditions or everyone to be on board!

He who watches the wind [waiting for all conditions to be perfect] will not sow [seed], and he who looks at the clouds will not reap [a harvest].

Ecclesiastes 11:4

Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle with your hands in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening planting will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:6

Grab your copy of 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas by clicking on the photo1

Advent Prep Day 2

Yesterday, I gave you a lot of homework. How did you do? Did you begin to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

What we can control

There may be a lot of things out of our control this year, but there are some things we can control. Our attitude. Our habit of celebration. Our planning events that build memories for our children!

In 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas, I share this tip:

Tip 14 – Start a tradition.

“Make sure the good ground of your home includes an abundance of laughter, parties, celebrations, presents, candles, Christmas trees, gifts, surprises, rocky road ice cream, jokes, backyard picnics,….” 

-Bill Carmichael, Seven Habits of a Healthy Home

The truth is we each have traditions whether we choose them or just participate in them by default. We say to our spouses, “But, my mom did it this way.” The traditions are seared into our minds so deeply that we consider them dates on a calendar instead of choices.

Choose a New Tradition

This is a great year to choose a new tradition! If you can’t do everything the way you did it last year or the way your mom did it, it’s okay. You have the power to choose. You have the power to practice the habit of celebration.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Read a Christmas book together. My family loves The Family Under the Bridge.
  • Sing a Christmas Carol every day.
  • Do a Christmas Craft. (I’m decorating some old sleds and making some mason jar lid wreaths).
  • Take a winter nature hike and then have hot chocolate.
  • Sit by the fireplace and tell stories of your Christmases growing up.
  • Put on some Christmas music and sing at the top of your lungs.

The beginning of a tradition now is a pocket full of memories later.

Christmas is a time for rebuilding the walls around your family and creating some new memories for you and your child.

Then [Ezra] told them, Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.

– Nehemiah 8:10

It’s a good thing to celebrate. Eat the cookies. Drink the hot chocolate. Don’t be grieved and depressed. The joy of the Lord is our strength and stronghold.

Advent Prep Day 1

Today we’re embarking on a journey together to prepare for Advent!

Let’s focus on preparing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Physically

Physically – Do you have an advent wreath and candles or some other way you celebrate? Maybe a journal and Bible? A Devotional for the kiddos?

Mentally

Mentally – Take a few minutes sometime today and think about Advent Seasons you have really enjoyed. Think of some ways you can build some new memories this year.

Emotionally

Emotionally – It’s okay to grieve the fact that this year is different. It sometimes seems we have entered and alternate universe. Life is still happening. We can enjoy aspects of it despite the circumstances.

Spiritually

Rejoice and pray.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

Phil. 4: 4-8

I know this is a long set of verses, but take the time to read them more than once! Rejoice. The Lord is near. He hears your prayers. He will guard your hearts and your minds.