Posts tagged barbara rainey

How a Christmas ornament led my son to Christ



Like any Christian parent, I can relate to the words of the apostle John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

Everything I might wish for my kids in this life—education, love, financial security, job satisfaction, health—pales in comparison to our prayer that they believe the gospel and be saved.

MitchellFamily

Jim and Lisa Mitchell, Grace and Evan

So when my daughter Grace received Christ at a young age, I rejoiced. I also found myself thinking ahead to when my son Evan might do the same.

“Will he believe at an early age, too, or will he resist the gospel for a long time?” I wondered.  “What if he chooses a different path, a difficult path?”  “What if he never believes?” That thought scared me.

Salvation is God’s job, but I knew I had an important role to play as Evan’s father, and I didn’t want to blow it.

I also knew that my son is very different than his sister. Grace is outgoing and decisive. She prayed and received Christ as her Savior and Lord on her own and confidently informed us after the fact.

Evan, on the other hand, has a tender heart. He says “I love you” more than the rest of our family combined. “I love you, mommy. I love you, daddy. I love you, Grace,” he often says. I worried that tender Evan might feel pressure from me to pray a certain prayer or believe a certain way, and comply out of a desire to please. So Lisa and I agreed to just wait on God’s timing and to try not to lay any stumbling block.

The names of Christ

Then, last Thanksgiving, after many months of praying together over Evan’s bed at night as he slept, Lisa and I began to sense that God might be working in him. Approaching his eighth birthday, Evan started reading his Bible on his own and praying with us during family devotions. I remember when he proudly told me that he had actually sung the worship songs with the other kids at church that Sunday—a very big deal for a boy like Evan.

That’s when we decided to use the new Adorenaments® resource—a set of ornaments created by Barbara Rainey and FamilyLife. Evan loves decorating the tree, so it seemed like a good fit. We took our time, working through the booklet together as a family over the course of several days. As the kids hung an ornament—each representing a name of Christ—on the tree, we would learn together about that name and discuss how that could impact our family.

Immanuel, God with us.  “What an awesome thought to have God with us!”

Prince of Peace.  “Wow, doesn’t our home need to feel God’s peace more often?”

Wonderful Counselor.  “Let’s ask for God’s counsel right now together.”

And so forth.  Each Christmas ornament was a new family discussion about Jesus.

And when we came to the Savior ornament, God’s Spirit did something wonderful and miraculous.

As Lisa laid down with Evan for bedtime that night, his soft little voice expressed a desire to pray and receive Christ. After asking a few questions Lisa knew this was the moment we had prayed for and waited for. She prayed with him and then sent him to tell his daddy. That night I had the chance to talk with Evan about Jesus and to pray with him to the Savior.

After he eventually fell asleep I thought about the final words from the devotional earlier that night, “Hallelujah! What a savior.”

What a Savior indeed.

Broadcasts for men (and their wives)



Recently the FamilyLife Today radio program featured a solid week of broadcasts about Stepping Up to Manhood.  On the first three days Dennis Rainey spoke to men, and on the final two days Barbara Rainey told women five right and five wrong ways to help their husbands step up.

These powerful broadcasts for men (and their wives) are worth listening to.  Here are the titles, descriptions, and links:

Broadcasts for men - Dennis Rainey - FamilyLife TodayThe Power of a Father’s InfluenceThere is confusion today about the meaning of manhood. Dennis calls men to step up and be real men — strong, purposeful, and spiritual. Hear Dennis tell how a father’s influence can be the compass that points a boy to true masculinity.

Defining the Search for ManhoodThere’s something in a man that inspires him to be a warrior. Hear Dennis encourage men to give their sons a vision of manhood.

Taking the Journey Up the Steps to ManhoodDennis talks about the four steps that need to be applied to help a boy develop into a man.

Broadcasts for men - Barbara Rainey - FamilyLife TodayBarbara Shares “The Wrong Way” Women Can Help – Barbara Rainey, talks frankly to women about the five things that hinder manly development.

Barbara Shares “The Right Way” Women Can Help – Barbara gives wives five suggestions for encouraging their husbands toward manhood.

An orphan’s plea



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Davion Only has been in and out of foster homes his entire life, but has always wanted a family.  “I just want people to love me for who I am and to grab me and keep me in their house and love me no matter what,” he says.

He learned that his birth mother was in prison when she gave birth to him, and she recently died.  He told his caseworker that he wanted to make a plea at a church for someone to adopt him.  “I’ll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”

So recently he found himself in front of the congregation at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla. ”My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born,” he said. “I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

The response to the Davion’s plea has been overwhelming. His story went viral on Twitter, and was picked up by newspapers, magazines, and television shows around the world.  He appeared on The View. Thousands have inquired about adopting him.

When I read this story, I thought, Maybe this is what it takes.  Maybe we need to allow foster kids who want to speak, like Davion, to do so in our churches. Maybe their faces and voices will inspire the Christian community to finally step up and begin to address the needs of more than 100,000 children in our foster care system who need a family and could be adopted.

Davion Only stepped up. What would happen if men in thousands of churches across America stepped up and addressed this issue?

This November is Adoption Awareness Month. Why not ask if there are foster care children in your community who can be adopted and inquire if there is a child who would be willing to take the risk of sharing his need for a family? Then take the foster child to your church, give him or her a microphone and let him ask, “Would someone adopt me and give me a family?” And of course, if the child doesn’t feel comfortable making such a plea, ask if you could be the voice for that child.

Does our God believe in adoption? He does and it’s a good thing … it’s why He sent His Son to die on our behalf, so that we might be forgiven from the penalty of our sins. God will adopt us if we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

God believes in adoption and so should we. He hears the orphan’s plea.

By the way, Barbara and I adopted one of our six children — and we don’t know which one.

If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to help orphans, go to hopefororphans.org to explore their many resources.

Managing anger in teenagers: lessons from experience



It’s so important in a family to get a handle on anger.

Have you ever had a scene like this in your home?

Two of our teenagers were asked to clean the kitchen together. Over the next 45 minutes, I came back in to inspect their work three times.

The first time they were arguing about who had done the most. I asked them kindly to keep on working. The next time they were bickering about who had to sweep the floor. I calmed their emotions and encouraged them to finish the job.

Finally, after I had inspected their halfhearted work, the two gave me the lame excuse that they didn’t know what a clean kitchen should look like!

familylife men stepping up anger management

That did it. This normally unflappable dad flipped. The anger that I had controlled during the prior visits erupted and spewed out like lava. I went on a tirade about how they were disrespectful and disobedient. I picked up a box of Kleenex and, in unsanctified rage, flung the box near their feet. Hard! I whirled around, stormed out of the kitchen, and stomped out the front door, slamming it shut.

Standing there on our front porch, with my blood pressure higher than the stock market, two profound thoughts dawned on me. First, It’s very cold out here. Why am I standing here freezing and they are inside warm as toast? I’m the father, the one who is paying for this house and supposedly in charge!

The second thought settled in like the cold and pierced me to the bone. My anger has got the best of me, and I’m acting like a foolish child.

I don’t recall how long I stayed outside, nor do I recall the exact words of the apology to my children that followed. I do recall coming to an important realization: If I am going to help these children grow up emotionally and know how to appropriately express their anger, then I’ve got to finish the process of growing up, too.

God never said we shouldn’t get angry. God did say to not let anger spoil and turn into sin — a trap. The Bible cautions, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quickly tempered exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). And, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Anger was never intended to be an emotion that we hold onto for more than minutes or at most, hours. That’s why the Scriptures warn us, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). It’s nearly impossible to rest with an anger alarm ringing, as all of us have found out more often than we’d like to admit.

Ross Campbell wrote in How to Really Love Your Teenager, “We are instructed in Scripture to ‘train up a child in the way he should go,’ to educate him ‘according to his life requirements’ (Proverbs 22:6, KJV and MLB). One of the most important areas in which a teenager needs training is how to handle anger. Anger is normal and occurs in every human being. The problem is not the anger itself but in managing anger in teenagers. This is where most people have problems.”(1)

We must admit there is no subject or emotion in our family that has perplexed us more or made us feel more like novice parents (and failures, at times) than helping our children deal with their anger. And part of the reason is that often when they are angry, we get angry, too.

It’s so important in a family to get a handle on anger. H. Paul Gabriel, M.D., wrote in Anticipating Adolescence: “It becomes critical in adolescence that your children have the feeling that you, too, will listen to them carefully, that they can trust you to think about what they have to say, that you might have a true disagreement with them without getting angry with them. Without that feeling, they simply won’t have the necessary trust to turn to you with the serious issues of adolescence.”(2)

Reaching clear convictions on this topic is a crucial step to achieving a spiritually and emotionally healthy family.

Every family needs a plentiful supply of good anger. Note the emphasis on good. By that, I mean that when anger inevitably comes, we should recognize it, understand the cause, and deal with it properly. We shouldn’t stuff it inside ourselves like a sleeping bag tightly packed into a knapsack. And we shouldn’t fling it on others like confetti.

God created anger to be an asset, but it gets misused and twisted in a fallen world. In basic terms, anger is an emotional alarm that sounds a warning when something is wrong. Only a fool would hear a smoke alarm clanging in the middle of the night and stay in bed to enjoy the interesting tones of the alarm. No, the wise man gets out of bed to see what’s wrong. Yet when the anger alarm sounds, too often we sit and stew instead of turning it off and finding out what’s wrong.

Unfortunately, most families — Dad, Mom, and children — don’t know how to keep good anger from fermenting into spoiled anger. And then when a family has an adolescent or two, the anger issue can take on new dimensions and managing anger in teenagers is nearly a full time job.

We need to look no farther than Jesus to see that anger is an acceptable emotion. A number of times Jesus showed strong feelings of anger. Perhaps the most memorable was the day he tipped over the tables of the moneychangers and chased them out of the temple (see Mark 11:15). Additionally, throughout the Scripture, we find that God is described as an angry God who exhibits a righteous anger at man’s rebelliousness. The problem is that most of us don’t know what to do with appropriate anger when we feel it. We need to grow up and become mature in our expression of this Divine emotion, following the example of Christ.

1) Ross Campbell, M.D., How to Really Love Your Teenager (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor, 1993), p.65.

2) H. Paul Gabriel, M.D. and Robert Wool, Anticipating Adolescence (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p.24.

 

Adapted from Parenting Today’s Adolescent: Helping Your Child Avoid the Traps of the Preteen and Teen Years. Copyright 1998 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.

6 gifts you can give your spouse to help overcome fear



At our house, we have experienced plenty of failures, both great and small. For years, a meal without a spill was nothing short of miraculous. The milk may have gone shooting across the supper table or formed a lazy river that cascaded over the edge, splattering onto the floor. We’ve seen some classic spills: two simultaneously, four at one sitting, and one glass of chilled apple juice that spilled perfectly into Dennis’s shoe (while he was wearing it). Our favorite phrase for the children became, “It’s okay. Everybody makes mistakes.”

One evening, I (Dennis) spilled my drink during dinner. A little hand patted my arm, and Rebecca (then a five-year-old) reassuringly said, “It’s okay, Dad. Everybody makes mistakes.”

It’s comforting to know that we are not alone in our failures. Others, too, have needed and claimed God’s forgiveness when they failed. King David failed through his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Peter failed by denying Christ. Thomas doubted. Saul (Paul) assisted in the murder of Stephen.

Yet none of these lives represented total failure. Each of these men sought forgiveness. They didn’t give up. They kept on. They left a track record of faithfulness in spite of personal foul-ups.

Giving your spouse the freedom from fear of failure

Men Stepping Up blog -http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefgrunig/ Freedom

What is the solution for the fear of failure? How do you encourage a partner whose feelings of failure are triggered by the most insignificant of circumstances? We have found that one of the most powerful principles in building one another’s self-esteem is: Give your mate the freedom to fail.

When you give your mate the freedom to fail, you begin to remove the pressure to perform for acceptance. You free your mate to overcome fear and to take risks and try again. You free her to excel. Failure then becomes a tutor, not a judge. In the presence of freedom, we learn from failures instead of being intimidated by them. In the absence of condemnation, confidence in how God can use you mounts.

If you would like to give your mate the freedom to fail, we recommend six gifts you can give that will begin to release her and help her in overcoming fear. Keep in mind that you, too, will possibly fail by taking back some of these gifts. That’s okay. Failure is a part of learning for both of you.

1. The Gift of Compassion

Every person’s life has a context. During her childhood, your mate may not have experienced a relationship in which she had freedom to fail. Perhaps her “failures” taught her to expect rejection, disapproval, and anger from those in authority. She may have learned to feel that rejection is the natural consequence of failure.

Parents, coaches, teachers, peers, boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, and other significant people gave her a personal heritage of either success or failure. The more you fully grasp the context of your mate’s journey to adulthood and express compassion for where your mate has been, the more freedom your mate will feel to admit failures to you.

Whatever her background, your mate needs your compassionate, consistent, and tireless belief in her. Talk about the context of her life and together gain understanding of past mistakes as well as present ones. Don’t leave your mate alone to deal with her failures. Tell her that you are unlike those who have rejected her; your commitment is unwavering and your love is consistent, despite her imperfections. In this climate of compassion and patience, she will begin to feel free to take risks and to fail without fear of rejection.

2. The Gift of Continual Affirmation

Years ago, I (Barbara) drove to the grocery store and accidentally backed our van into a couple’s newly painted Camaro, denting it slightly. I felt so foolish, and my apologies didn’t make the dent go away. Understandably, the car’s owners were not happy and insisted on calling the county sheriff’s office.

I called Dennis, and as I waited for him to arrive, I wondered what he would think and say. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be upset with me, but I speculated for a while.

When he joined me at the store, he assured me that everything would be fine — that in the end it didn’t really matter. We both knew I had made a mistake, and it would have accomplished nothing for him to drive home a moral lesson or give me some driving tips. I needed to experience his approval, and I needed to know he wasn’t angry with me. He affirmed me, and I felt like pieces of a puzzle coming together.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” One of our favorite verses, 1 Peter 4:8, says it best: “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Continuous, ongoing, unbroken approval in the face of many mistakes and failures of life will build your mate’s self-esteem to overcome fear and failure.

3. The Gift of Perspective

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” As partners in the pilgrimage of life, we are responsible to speak the truth to one another in order to help balance our perspective of failure.

Understanding the truth of God’s sovereign rule — that He is in control — brings an eternal view to your mate’s mistakes. The promise of Romans 8:28 — “God causes all things to work together for good” — beautifully illustrates His absolute supremacy. These words offer comfort, reminding us that nothing is wasted in His economy. God can use even our mistakes and failures. Encourage your mate to believe God and, as a couple, ask Him to use your failures for good.

4. The Gift of Disassociation

Most people don’t realize they can fail and not be a failure. They have not learned to separate their worth as persons from their performance. Many find it difficult to have their ideas, work, or accomplishments criticized. They feel that others are criticizing and rejecting who they are, not just what they have done.

A teacher told one mother that her son was not a good student. “He can’t learn,” said the teacher. “He’ll never amount to much.” But the mother chose to believe in her son rather than listening to the voice of this “authority.” As a result, that young man grew up in a home of loving acceptance, secure in the knowledge that he was a person of value.

In spite of all this, he continued to fail. In fact, he failed ten thousand times on one project before he, Thomas Alva Edison, perfected the electric light bulb. His close association with failure caused Edison to comment, “I failed my way to success.” His mother’s belief in him was the human fuel for his inventive spirit.

How can you help your mate learn to fail without feeling like a failure? Try not to discuss a problem in your marriage or family with accusing words such as, “You never …” or, “Your ideas are always …” Those kinds of extreme statements verbally link your mate with her performance, insinuating that she is a failure. Instead, use your words with discernment to help her see the distinction between her person-hood and her performance.

When you discuss issues with your mate, begin by expressing your commitment and loyalty to her as a person. Then give your mate the benefit of the doubt. Remove the accusing edge by saying, “I may be wrong, but did you …” or “I feel that …” or “It would help me a lot if you would … (fill the car with gas, balance the checkbook, pick up your socks, etc.).”

Tell her the truth: She is loved by you, esteemed and valued by God, gifted, and yet limited. Call to mind her past accomplishments. Most importantly, help your mate separate herself from her failures. Focus on her as a person, too, not just on her performance. When your mate knows how to handle failure without being a failure, she truly has the freedom to fail.

5. The Gift of Encouraging Decisive Living

Many times in life, we fail not because we make the wrong decision but because we make no decision at all. Seeking safety and security, we escape to the seemingly trouble-free world of procrastination and indecision. Never venturing out of our protective covering of indecision, we avoid risking a wrong decision that might end in failure. We decide not to decide.

You can strengthen your mate by helping her understand that a risk-free life is also a potentially boring and selfish life. By eliminating risk, we eliminate many pleasures, too. Security and safety are not found in hiding from reality and responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true. Failure ultimately looms on the horizon for the person who avoids the decision-making process. She is riding a fence with both feet firmly planted in midair — there is little stability.

6. The Gift of Forgiveness

The effects of failure can be disarmed through the miracle of forgiveness. Pure and free, forgiveness gives us something we often don’t deserve. This is how God relates to us as His children. He gives us love when we deserve punishment. Forgiveness says, “I choose to accept you fully, just as you are, and I will neither reject you nor remind you of your failures.”

Forgive your mate when her error has affected you. Urge her to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive herself, if necessary. The act of forgiveness opens the door to healing.

Paul has some good advice: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” He also writes, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Whatever the situation, mistakes carry a price tag. The price can be extra work, suffering, financial expense — or all three. Perhaps your mate’s failure caused you to be late, which you hate. Maybe her failure cost her a bonus, which you were counting on to buy a new loveseat. Because of your partnership in marriage, your mate’s mistakes and failures will affect you to some degree. When you forgive your mate’s failures, you give up your right to punish. Forgiveness is an act of the will — a deliberate choice that means you will not retaliate when you feel the other person has wronged you. True forgiveness doesn’t throw your mate’s failures up to her or use them to hurt her.

The gift of forgiveness is not just in giving forgiveness, but in asking for it when you’re wrong. Whether you’re 90 percent in the wrong or only 10 percent, asking for forgiveness takes the logs out of the fire. Verbalize it. Be specific. And don’t fudge. Some people try to weasel out of their responsibility so they won’t have to admit they were wrong. But in doing so, they miss the benefits of forgiveness.

Forgiveness stands with the open arms of a loving relationship ready to embrace. It is illogical for your mate to resist such an aggressive love. By removing the fear of rejection, you give your mate renewed hope to keep trying without fear of failure.

Excerpted from Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. ©1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Keep Christ the center of Christmas



Keep Christ the center of Christmas

 

Pounds of turkey have been consumed and are still to be eaten in who knows what kind of concoction.  Christmas songs are probably playing around the house.  Black Friday shoppers are still sleeping and will arise in time for dinner.  Plans to decorate your home with lights and newly purchased or cut trees are in process of being executed.  It’s Christmas again.  For many of us, this is the holiday that we most look forward to celebrating.

But in this culture it’s become increasingly difficult to keep Christ the center of Christmas.  Materialistic desires abound.  Focus on gifts and holiday gatherings take our mind off of the significance of this day/season.  In an increasingly hostile nation, displays focusing on the Christ of Christmas are under fire, especially if they are on public property.  But trying to strip Jesus from Christmas will never work.  Why?  Because of who this holiday is about.

So how do we keep Christ the center of Christmas in our home? There are no magic formulas.  What it takes is an intentional fortitude on the part of mom and dad to plan activities and moments that point to Jesus Christ during this month.  We’ve taken an excerpt from a FamilyLife Today program from November 28, 2011, where Dennis and Barbara shared some of the things they did as they raised their six children to capture their kids’ minds and help them keep Christ the center of Christmas in their home.

Barbara, you really had an agenda for about a four-week period between the end of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was to capture the kids’ imagination and point them in a spiritual direction.

Barbara: Absolutely. I did not want Christmas in our house to be four weeks of “What I’m going to get?” and “What I get to open?” and “What’s in it for me?” We worked really hard to focus on the real reason for Christmas and to talk about that. We also helped the kids think about what they could give and what they could do for others.

Dennis: What Barbara’s talking about, being focused on what you’re giving another person, was even implemented on Christmas morning when we exchanged presents. Instead of going and picking the present that’s addressed to you, you’d go pick a present that you had given —

Barbara:  Yes, that you’d gotten for somebody else.

Dennis:  And hand-deliver it. And then that person opened that present.

Barbara: And then it was their turn to to give.

Dennis: Right. And so it was focused on not “What am I receiving?” but —

Barbara: “What am I giving?”

Dennis: Again, it’s back to the spiritual significance that Christ came and dwelt among us. And that really is God’s greatest gift to us.

What were some of the things that you did to try to tone down the noise of the culture and turn up the spiritual emphasis of the holiday?

Barbara: In addition to the whole gift-giving thing … I really worked at playing hymns about Christmas, songs that talk about Christ and Him coming to earth. We didn’t play very many “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Frosty the Snowman” secular kinds of songs around the Christmas holiday.

And then we always made a big deal of putting out the Nativity scene. I wanted that to be the focal point for our kids, more important than decorating the tree. We always put it in a prominent place so that it was kind of the center. Even though the tree was larger, the Nativity was in a more important place.

Dennis: On Christmas Eve we’d have the special meal that the girls and I prepared. It started out to kind of be a one-man show with a little group of toddlers hanging around, but as the girls became young ladies, they really helped with that Christmas Eve dinner.

We turned it into a feast. At the end of the feast, we’d read about the coming of Christ and His birth in Bethlehem. I always thought that was really important, to open the Bible and begin to read the story about the Savior and who began to seek Him out — the wise men, the shepherds — and talk about that as a family.

WGWFC - Keep Christ the center of Christmas

You were talking about a Nativity scene. A few years back FamilyLife put together a Christmas resource [with a Nativity] designed for families. In the last few months, you’ve been involved in a project here, Barbara, to give that resource a little bit of a makeover. What was the objective behind the new version of What God Wants for Christmas®?

Barbara: Well, a couple of things. There’s a portion of a poem to read for each character in the Nativity scene, and it talks about who that character is, what that character’s place was in the grand scheme of things, and it tells the story of the Nativity in a creative way.

And in the new updated version there’s an audio CD that has the poem, and it’s sort of acted out — I guess that would be the best way to say it — with different voices playing the different parts of the characters in the Nativity. So you can do this as a family, but then the kids can listen to the story over and over again on their own.

Because moms are busy, and I know moms are busy because I remember how crazy it was for me at Christmas to try to pull off anything that was meaningful. I had a zillion things going on all the time. And as much as I wanted to do things that were meaningful, it was always a challenge to get it into the schedule, to get everybody together, and to plow through and do it.  So I’m excited about the CD because if all else fails and you can’t sit down and read the book, your kids can listen to it. They can hear the story of the Nativity.

How would you use What God Wants for Christmas if you had toddlers and teenagers running around the same house together?

Barbara: I would probably have my older kids read the story, and I would probably be refereeing the younger ones as they anxiously wait to open the boxes (the resource includes packages for the kids to open, in conjunction with the story). This is a resource that a family with wide age ranges of kids can use because it’s designed for younger kids to understand, but the words and the poem are intriguing enough that teenagers will be fascinated to listen to it because it’s not a little kid’s story. It’s a grown-up story.

Dennis: I just want to take some of the pressure off of moms and dads or grandparents who may be listening and thinking about implementing this into their Christmas tradition. Reduce your expectations, especially if the children are under the age of 5 or 6. I just remember that some of these traditions that we did were absolute chaos.

Barbara: It was not Norman Rockwell.

Dennis: It wasn’t. There weren’t all these children sitting with their hands in their laps, smiling wonderfully as you read the story and as you pulled the figurines out. I mean, they may be throwing the figurines at each other, or arguing, or fighting over who gets to open the box.

Barbara: Probably arguing and fighting over whose turn it is.

Dennis: Yes. No doubt about it. I would just say, it doesn’t have to be perfect. To execute this, you just need to do it. You just need to keep pressing into it. And when there’s spilled hot chocolate, or tea, or whatever you have as you read this, don’t worry about it. Just keep a sense of humor and keep moving.

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What are some things you’ve done in your family that have helped keep your focus on CHRIST during Christmas?

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