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Celebrating Advent as a Family

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2022 5:00 am

Celebrating Advent as a Family

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 28, 2022 5:00 am

When the Christmas season rolls around, we often place expectations that it will be “the best Christmas ever,” but we end up disappointed, stressed out and exhausted. Josh and Christi Straub urge us all to remember the true meaning of the Advent season, offering ways to sidestep the stress by being fully present with family and reflecting on the joy of the season.


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I remember just getting, like, really panicky, like, no, I have to figure this out right now because my son's going to come home from school in like two hours and I have to know what to say. When Holly's son was considering suicide, she called a focus on the family counselor. All those years I'd been listening to focus, I was thinking about how they were like that practical guide for me. That was sound advice I could get from them. I didn't really know where else to turn.

I'm Jim Daly. Working together, we can rescue hurting parents like Holly and give families hope. We need the truth that Focus on the Family brings into our minds and into our homes.

We need that if we're going to raise up the next generation of believers to walk in obedience and to walk in the truth that God loves us. Donate today at focusonthefamily.com slash hope and your gift will be doubled. One Christmas tradition that I had as a kid was to FaceTime my uncle and aunt after we got our presents and we would use that as an opportunity to talk to them about what we got and then, like, have other conversations surrounding that. It was a really fun time just getting to catch up with my family. My favorite Christmas tradition as a kid was getting tamales on Christmas Eve and eating them with my family. My favorite Christmas tradition as a kid was whenever we would make prime rib.

Usually it's like a turkey or a ham or something, but we always made prime rib and it was just fantastic. My favorite Christmas tradition was that when I was little, my family, we used to watch A Christmas Story every single Christmas Eve. Well, we hope you have some great memories from the past and some favorite traditions you're looking forward to this holiday season.

If not, stay tuned. We have a few ideas of our own that you might want to try this Christmas. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and thanks for joining us. Well, John, the Daly household, we love Christmas.

It's so much fun. Everything just seems to change, you know, the whole vibe at Christmas time. And Jean, oh, is she into Christmas decorates, you know, the boys and I, we bring down all the decorations from the attic.

That's our contribution. It's like 25 boxes of stuff. I mean, this is a production, you know, and she does all the decorating we offer, but she just loves doing it and she just gets into it. And I know there are so many traditions that people have now. I just learned this year of a little tradition that I was unaware of. That's how good my boys were at keeping this hidden. But, you know, we do the secret gifts at night, you know, late Christmas Eve, wrapping all these. I mean, I remember bicycles at two in the morning. Somehow these boys of mine would get up after we'd gone to bed at one, two in the morning and they'd go down and peek, peel back the wrapper of the gifts and take a look at. And I didn't learn this until like last year. They're in their 20s.

They're in their early 20s. They kept this such a good secret. I see them going down as little ninjas and open everything up. There's something that anticipation, and of course I'm not going to get mad at them. I get it.

I did it. Jean is the exact opposite. She wants that anticipation. If she could have it her way, she wouldn't open Christmas presents until Christmas night. You ever met somebody like that?

No, I have not. I mean, she goes, can we just wait a couple more hours before we open our gifts? Like, what are you talking about? And so anyway, the boys, it was really funny and they confessed finally. So I'm sure their spirits are clear now. It's a lighter season already. But what a fun time to talk about Christmas, the Advent season. That was the other thing.

We didn't do one Advent calendar. We did two, one in the morning and one at night. And we had the hidden boxes that the boys would go and get their little goody out of.

Just so much fun. I'm looking forward to talking about this today. Yeah, and there are so many of us as Christian families who want to put the emphasis on Jesus during this season. There's a good idea.

Well, it's woven throughout and I'm really glad that we have an opportunity to kind of slow down before the big rush here and get our perspectives right. And our guests are going to help us do that as we have Dr. Josh and Christy Straub here. They're back with us. They're authors, speakers and co-founders of Famous at Home.

That's an organization in which they train leaders in emotional intelligence and they promote healthy families. And they've been here before. They're here this time with their three young children and we're so glad that they're in the gallery watching through the glass there. They are cutie pies, by the way.

They are. Yeah, it's been fun to get to know them. Josh and Christy have a book called 25 Days of the Christmas Story, an Advent Family Experience. And we've got copies of that here at the website.

You'll find the details in the show notes or give us a call. Josh and Christy, welcome back. Thanks for having us. Thank you guys. It's so good to see you. Yeah, it's so much fun. OK, I kind of let our daily tradition out of the bag, which, again, I just learned a year ago actually was a tradition.

What's one of your family traditions? Well, I'm just a little nervous because our three kids are sitting in the gallery. Oh, I'm sorry. They're going to pick up this new tradition. I didn't even think about that.

Sorry, whoops. We better edit this whole thing. So that was one of those. You know what? Jean's going to mention that tonight. Didn't you know the kids were sitting, listening?

So funny. No, we we you know, for us, it's fun. We you know, one of the things that we're getting ready to do, you know, I love the season. So my dad and I used to hang Christmas lights up the day after Thanksgiving.

That's when it was that we would hang Christmas. So you were talking about Jean and the way she loves to decorate and get lost in it. I get lost not in the inside, but the outside. And I'm not like Clark Griswold or anything. Are you serious? You're one of those guys? I just enjoy it. Oh, that's awesome.

I wish I had an ounce of that. But it was fun this year. My daughter Kennedy, she just has taken hold of that and wants to do it with me.

And so it kind of takes me back to me doing it with my dad, except here's the thing. It's not the day after Thanksgiving anymore. It's like the day after Halloween now, right? That's when we start decorating for Christmas.

It does move that fast. I remember, you know, when Trent was big enough, I'd have him climb the roof. I know someone's going to write, you put your child at risk. No, he was quite capable, far better out of me hanging up lights. And, you know, it became a bit of a thing. Hey, you missed a spot.

Well, you come up and do it. Oh my gosh, that was my dad and I. Okay, forget it. It was the same thing. My dad and I probably had more chaos and tension between putting Christmas lights up. But there was a connection. It still brings you together. It's memories when you do stuff like that together.

Yeah, that's so true. Christy, how about you? What's a favorite thing? I think like when I look back at my childhood, it was the birthday party for Jesus. That was the thing that finally made things click for me. That it was like everything was red and green at Christmas.

It didn't make any sense to me. But we talked about Jesus' birth. And then one year, I don't know where this came from, but my mom was just like, we're having a birthday party for Jesus. Where it was like balloons and cake and like an actual normal birthday like we had.

And there was something about that as a kid, I still remember where it clicked. And so we've done that with our kids ever since they were teeny. And I don't know, it's been something that has just been like this birthday party for Jesus. An actual reminder of him coming. And we celebrate it every year.

And it feels like he's part of the family. Because that's how we celebrate our family's birthdays. It's a great way to remind us about what it's all about. I mean, we get lost in all that, don't we? I mean, you could really do Christmas without even realizing what we're truly celebrating.

Probably half the culture doesn't even get it. But yet it's something about the lights and the spirit of Christmas. And you know, we talk about the spirit of Christmas and the joy and all that. People go throughout Christmas without even talking about Jesus and yet they're drawn to Christmas. What is it that draws them to Christmas?

And I think that's, for us, what has been the thing we have wanted to instill in our kids is what is the true meaning? And even where has the Christmas story gotten twisted? What's not biblically accurate? What has been culturally added to the Christmas story that we want to make sure is biblically accurate? That our kids are understanding who Jesus is, what that time was about? And anyway, that's where the 25 days of the Christmas story came about.

I wanted to look at the characters and look at, man, what does it mean? And this joy of Christmas, it is joy. It's true joy. I mean, Isaiah prophesied it 800 years before it ever even happened that God would be with us. God with us. Deliver us, right? Deliver us. I mean, we're going to unpack that as we move along here quickly. But before we get there, let's talk about expectations.

I mean, we've got to talk about all the things that pull us down at Christmas, right? And you had a statement that really caught my attention. Expectations are premeditated resentment. Isn't that good? That's really good.

And that's what, what is it? Originality is forgetting who you got it from? We actually know where we got that from.

It was Bill and Lori Lokey, our dear friends. But they have said that in the context of, you know, even in relationships. Expectations are premeditated resentment. How does that come out at Christmas? Well, think about how heavy we put expectation on, even as Josh saying, the joy of Christmas.

I mean, Hallmark just runs these movies like 24-7 as if it's like this blissful experience. And here we are as moms and dads bearing the burden of trying to meet those expectations for our kids and for ourselves. Not to mention the in-laws. Extended family and all the things that you're expected to do. And I mean, think of if your kids are involved in schools and plays and all the, you know, gifts and the cookies you have to bring on this day. Like there's just so much added weight. And I think we get so burdened by trying to put in all these different inputs into our family, which are great.

All these joy adders or we think will be. And yet somehow, I don't know if it's just us, but somehow you get to the end and the backside of the season and you're tired and you feel worn out. And there's almost this sadness of like, it just wasn't what we expected it was going to be. How do you go in then with a healthier expectation?

What should you do to say to yourself, OK, I'm going to take this a little differently this year? I think it's concept of like inhaling and exhaling, right? We need it to stay alive. But we inhale all these experiences and things for our kids. We take them to see Santa or whatever, you know, all these traditions we do. We go around and see the lights. We go to all the Christmas plays, all the things we think are so great.

And they are. But when we're constantly just inputting, like inhale, inhale, inhale, we get worn out. And so we need to make these moments for exhale where you're able to just be as a family in your home. And that's where, you know, to do some of these devotions or these times together where you're just asking questions and you're sitting around the dinner table.

It allows you to truly exhale where you can process the feelings of the day or the week. You can process these experience that you've had. And that's where you really start to come back, I think, into this state of contentment where you're grateful.

Yeah, that's really good. And I think, you know, expectations. We talk a lot about that in marriage and parenting. And they can really harm you because if they're too high, you end up with resentment and bitterness. And that's not good fruit.

That's not what the Lord wants. And certainly our experience is celebrating his birthday. It's like, what are you doing at my birthday party?

Why are you doing that? But let's talk about some of those family dynamics. We've alluded to it, but let's talk about Uncle Bob. So Uncle Bob, whoever that might be and whomever's life that might be, you know, they're coming to dinner and it never goes well with this extended family member.

And they're the curmudgeon of the day. And what do you do with that? I mean, that's beyond lowering your expectations to zero. It varies depending on what's actually happening. You know, I think ultimately, if you know that you're going to be having dinner with Uncle Bob, the expectation has to be. I think a lot of times we enter these situations that, oh, it's going to go well this time. It's going to go well and we increase our expectation. But then what ends up happening is, is it crashes and burns.

But we have nothing to refill ourselves. And I think one of the things we have to pay attention to, and this even goes whether you're introverted or extroverted. I'm an introvert, meaning I get my energy from being by myself. If we have people over to our house and I'm not paying attention to that and we're having people over on a consistent basis and I'm not exhaling, as Christy said, my Christmas is going to be exhausting. Whereas if I can have a reasonable expectation about who I'm going to be around and how draining that will be, I can then plan an exhaling moment maybe the next day or that evening or whatever that looks like so that I can give. And maybe you're planning your exhale right before it so that you can properly enter into that relationship with Uncle Bob and give without expecting anything from Uncle Bob. That you're entering into it with a realistic expectation of what's going to happen. And you've entered into it with an exhale and you're exiting it with an exhale. And I think there's an opportunity then for you to truly be a light to Uncle Bob rather than having Uncle Bob frustrate you to the point that it ruins your entire Christmas. Let me ask you this question because Jean favors your disposition of introversion in that. And in that context, how do you exhale?

I'm thinking of the introverts that they hear what you're saying, but what's a practical tool to do an exhale? What does that look like after the fourth Christmas party this week? Yeah, no, for us like we have to be intentional. I have to be intentional about making sure that we have time with just our family. Just my kids and my wife.

That's how you can replenish. Absolutely. Or that I'm planning a date night with just Christy. Or that I'm also planning just me time. You know, we practice a Sabbath on Saturdays. That's when we practice it as a family and we have specific times where we try to let each other get out.

But we have to schedule it. You have to schedule so that she gets some alone time, I get some alone time. But then it's also in your, so you have your weekly rhythms, but then also your daily rhythm. Set up your daily rhythms in such a way that you're breathing. You know, when we left to fly here yesterday, we had to leave as a family by 7 a.m. Well, I got up at 5 a.m. so that I could get 30 to 45 minutes just alone doing time with the Lord, just sitting and breathing, having a cup of coffee because I knew once the kid, if I waited till the kids and everybody were up, I was just, I wasn't going to be on.

Right. I needed to have, I have to have a daily rhythm that allows me the space to be able to give and pour out without being frustrated or grumbling and complaining and that type of thing. Christy, in that regard, I mean, moms getting space is always the problem and getting time to replenish. And most moms listening to this are going, oh, that's really great that Josh gets to get that time. Way to go, Christy.

Theoretically. Yeah, but I love this because I understand that in the morning, like Christmas morning, you're up earlier than the kids. That's amazing. And I've tried, that honestly has been the one, we call them rhythms, routine, whatever you want to call it, that has probably brought me back to life the most. And when I talk about just those early years of parenting, I mean, they just take everything from you. And I think that's just the sacrifice of motherhood.

And that's okay. That's the period of time you're in, the season. Exactly. And I think there's like a monastic beauty to that where it's like you are truly serving God just like a monk would fully, completely, like day in and day out. Yeah. When you're asked and called, you go.

But there comes a place where there is some margin and you have to have that exhale for yourself. And so I did, I started setting my alarm to wake up at five thirty. I don't wake up at five. That's just, I don't know.

That's another level of holy. Okay, five thirty. Let's go with five thirty. Five thirty sounds a little better.

It was just at least doable. And I just to have that time, I sit in front of the Christmas tree and I just have my Bible in my journal. And there's something about it that allows you to just, it does. You process the day. You process your feelings. And I think even in those moments is when I was able to start to order my life where I wasn't, like you said, the four Christmas parties this week. I wasn't saying yes to the four Christmas parties that week because I know my limits. I know my husband's limits.

I even know my children's limits. Like each of them have their own personalities. And I think so many of us like are dealing with behavior issues around this time of year because the kids are tired. They're genuinely worn out just like we are.

And they need that break too. And so to be able to say, I always remember I had a mentor that just said, I have something on. And that might be that we're just sitting around as a family that night. You don't have to explain it even. You have, you're not, I have something on. They don't need to know, you know, I'm sorry we have this or I think we over explain. And I've always was told that children explain when adults declare. And so as adults we can just declare, I have something on. You don't have to go into all this explaining of feeling guilty that you're saying no to something. And I think that's a freedom we all need to hear, especially this time of year.

I like that. And it might be that you're feeling like I do need somebody, but I don't know who. So focus on the family as caring Christian counselors. And we're a phone call away call and we'll schedule a time for one of those counselors to give you a call back. They'll connect with you. They'll listen. They'll pray with you.

They'll offer resources and maybe somebody in your own area to speak with. Again, we're a phone call away, 800, the letter A and the word family. So you've written this great book, 25 Days of the Christmas Story. We've kind of laid some amazing groundwork, I think, about what Christmas is about and what to be attentive to. And let's get into the content of the book itself.

For example, you describe a sensory experience that involves a blindfold. How does that help us and help our kids? I thought this was great. I wish I would have known this years ago. Yeah.

We work in the 20s. Yeah. We wanted to create in the subtitle is an Advent family experience. We wanted to create an experience for families where it's not just reading a devotional and going to bed, but there's activities in the book that bring you and your family together.

That's great. And also a realistically helping the child learn. Your children learn what it is that the lesson they're learning in that process, but experience it. And so one of the activities and we walk through 25 days, there's 25 different characters or pieces, whether it's a place, whether it's gold, frankincense. There's 25 different characters throughout, if you will.

And in each one of those characters has a lesson or a character trait. And in that process, we have a family experience. And one of the family experiences is, as you said, you blindfold your children and you lead them certain places. And you ask them after you lead them to each place, do you trust me? And you're leading them, for example. And they can say no.

Yeah, they can say no. Not in our house. We're doing this and we're doing it now. And we lead them into the bathroom. And you turn the water on and you say, okay, put your hands out. And then you wash their hands, right? And that's before dinner. This is great before dinner. Yeah, right.

Well, and that's the whole point is. And then you take them out and you have them sniff something and maybe a smell of a candle or that type of thing. And you take them to sensory places where you're saying do you.

And the whole point of the exercise is to lead them to things that are good. You know, something that smells good, washing their hands. And then ultimately, it would be after you have baked maybe some Christmas cookies or something. And you say, open your mouth. Do you trust me?

And you put their favorite Christmas cookie or whatever it is in their mouth. And the whole point of that is to, you know, it really talks about, you know, I believe that one is under King David. But it's really talking about how so many of these prophets, so many of these kings, so many of these leaders leading up to Jesus. You know, for 400 years, we're waiting for the Messiah. And it was all about trust.

They couldn't see what was ahead of them, but they trusted in the God of the universe. And so it's like we're walking ahead. We can't see what's ahead, but we trust him that he's going to do good works in our lives.

And he's carrying out the good for the world and redeeming the world. And so it's little exercises like that that allow us to be able to connect back to those people. Yeah, I like that building trust concept. Now, the malicious dad, let me just tell you, you're trying to build trust. That's exactly, that's exactly.

You don't give them a spoonful of oregano or something, OK? I know, I'm already there like, oh, man, I would have so much fun with that. But don't abuse that. That you do with your wife.

See how it hands up for your Christmas presents. Oh, do you trust me? Do you trust me? Another one you did that I thought was really good is on fear.

And, you know, these are just great lessons for young people. What was your fear approach with Advent? Well, you think of fear, we use the concept of fire, right? Fear is something that if we allow, if you light this match, you put it in, look at these beautiful trees around us here. You light it.

Yes. If you light it, I mean, we can literally start a forest fire. I mean, it can spread like that. And fear is something if we don't get under control quickly, it will spread.

But it is something that is, it is within our control. And I even remember it like Isaiah is the very first day and I remember that activity specifically because it was in 2020 when we first did this with our kids. And it was during one time when the world was shut down. And in that activity, we talk about Immanuel as God with us, right?

Because Isaiah, he was the one who prophesied and called him, he will be called Immanuel, meaning God with us. What does that actually mean? And so we have them draw this picture of a time where they felt afraid if they felt or sad. And so you have them draw a picture. And it's really as parents to watch your kids actually draw something that, I mean, they were called that was really scary or it was really sad. And for our kids, they actually drew the same thing. It was we weren't able to see family.

My family's all in Canada. We were in the U.S. and we couldn't get to them. They couldn't see us.

And we had been separated for all this time. And they just drew this picture of they were scared. And then in the exercise, we have them actually draw Jesus in the picture where they actually see that he really was with us. And how did we experience him with us now that we actually have him, God with us? And so they draw this picture of Jesus in it and then write hope on it.

And we had him on our fridge. And I just recall to be able to sit with them in those sad moments because their kids don't always tell us that stuff. You know, they don't actually often say out loud how impactful something has been to them. And I think, you know, we all walk through that season new, not knowing what this was. And so to actually spend the time to hear from our kids how they were processing that. But then to see the hope in them as we all just sort of talked about, like, that was hard for us, too. And just to see the hope that, like, we don't know what that's going to look like, guys. But really, like, Jesus is with us, even in this very lonely Christmas. And those are just, I think, again, going back to that concept of exhale where it just allows you to just talk about the real stuff. But the stuff that, I mean, that's what he came for. The other beautiful piece about it is this is just a great way to begin to give your kids an experience and to start teaching them how is God actually showing up in your life? What does that actually look like?

When you pray for something, where do you see him and start helping them see where God is in their lives and the signs that he is around, that he is alive, that he is with them? And that was the hope in writing this book. I think it's so good. I mean, again, we didn't have that insight. We did the regular straight advent, you know, now let's go open the door and see what gift is in there, you know, that kind of thing. But this is so much better because it's so much deeper. Oh, thank you.

I love that. You also cover stories out of Scripture that may be a little less known. One that catches me is about Anna. I only realize this because just yesterday I was reading the Christmas story out of Luke 2, and Anna is mentioned in there, daughter of Phineel.

I could give you the whole lineage now. But what was so unique about Anna? What did she bring to the story?

It's funny you say that. I love Anna. And she was a prophetess, which I thought was even interesting in her title, and she basically gave her life in service. Like she was at the temple day and night praying.

She was 84 at that time. And she was believing that she would see the Messiah. And can you imagine, I mean, just the waiting, the patience that took. Talk about Advent.

Yeah. The waiting of the coming. Years. Years of just praying and just giving your whole life at the temple day in and day out, and then Jesus and Mary and Joseph walk in one day. I mean, can you imagine that day? And she just, she knew.

She was the first one to say, there he is, the Messiah that we have been waiting for. And just, I remember in that exercise talking about just asking kids, like, how was that for patience? Can you, like, let's think of a time that you waited poorly, because let's be honest, we've all waited real poorly. Like don't unwrap your Christmas gifts. Just as an example. Like the DMV. Let's see.

Let's put it not altered. Or even just waiting on promises of God in your life. You know, where you're like, God, I really believed that you were going to come through and I'm still waiting. Like, it's hard. It's hard to wait. But to actually give those real life examples where kids feel what it's like to wait. I don't, not a lot of us do patience well, but she did. And she was rewarded for it.

Yeah. It's such a great picture again. And it's right there. Everybody at Christmas should be reading Luke chapter two. Just read the whole chapter. It is the Christmas story. I mean, it's so beautiful.

Josh and Christy, this is really good. And I sincerely mean that. I wish we had this book when our boys were the age of your kids right now. Because I think Jean definitely would have picked that. And it would have been the third Advent that we would do.

But this would have been first in our heart. Because I love the practical nature of it. And just the way you're teaching the kids the right things.

And I hope everybody would want to get a copy of this. Especially if you're a grandparent, get it for your adult children, for your grandkids. And certainly if you're a parent, let's put it into play. Let's teach our kids the right things about the Advent season.

25 days of the Christmas story. And so often what we do here is why not jump in and do ministry with us here at Focus. Make a gift of any amount and we'll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you. And we often say, if you can't afford it, we want your kids to know about the Lord. So just get ahold of us and we'll send it to you and we'll trust others. We'll cover the cost of that. Donate as you can when you call 800 the letter A in the word family. Or stop by our website.

The details are in the show notes. And remember when you get in touch, we do have caring Christian counselors available to you if you need to talk with somebody. Josh and Christy, again, thanks for being with us. This has been so much fun and very, very fruitful. Thank you.

We love you guys. Thank you. Well, coming up tomorrow, we'll hear some important lessons about forgiveness from Dr. Timothy Keller. If you think God's forgiven you but you can't forgive other people, I'm not sure you have asked for God's forgiveness. I'm not sure you've repented because if you repent, you know you're a sinner. And if you can't forgive, then you can say, oh, God's forgiven me.

I don't know that he has. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. I've received some great tools from the counselors that have changed my life and my marriage. To begin the journey of finding health, go to HopeRestored.com today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-28 05:05:47 / 2022-11-28 05:19:10 / 13

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