Before you read this week's newsletter, I want you to watch this video. Team Hoyt is the father-son team of Rick and Dick Hoyt. They run marathons together because growing up it was always Rick's dream to run a marathon, so his father helped his dream come true.
Watch the video HERE>>
It will make you grateful for all the blessings you have in your life.
Going Home for the Holidays
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by Ellyn Davis
We often have friends ask us to pray for them before they celebrate holidays with relatives. For many, holidays are stressful times when family tensions flare up and family members misunderstand and lash out at one another. Even worse, Christians who want so badly to be good examples are often drawn into patterns of ungodly behavior and leave the family gathering ashamed and feeling like any future opportunity to witness to loved ones has been ruined.
We have found it very effective to do the following before going home for the holidays.
There are four specific areas that need to be addressed in prayer.
First, pray that God will protect you from the influences of your past. Families have usually worked out relational patterns over decades and know exactly how to "push one another's buttons." Words, actions, expressions, and situations can be like switches that set old habit patterns into motion.
Second, ask God to show you the significant ungodly relational patterns operating in your family. Once you see them as habit patterns, you don't have to take personally what the family says or does to you. As long as you are taking things personally, you will tend to interact in ways that defend and justify yourself. Don't be surprised if, when you ask to see your family's ungodly relational patterns, God shows you that you are perpetuating similar patterns in your own home.
Third, pray that God will let you see your family from His perspective. We usually have hidden agendas when we go home for a visit—agendas like saving everyone, or changing them, or talking them into seeing our point of view, or showing them the error of their ways, or demonstrating that Christianity is what’s missing in their lives. When we come with these agendas, we tend to relate to our relatives as ministry targets instead of as people Jesus loved enough to die for, just like they are. God may only be interested in us honoring and serving our loved ones, nothing more for now.
Fourth, ask God to show you specific ways you can demonstrate love, honor, gratitude and service to your relatives. In the past we have found it very effective to present a slide show, scrapbook, story, or song that shows specific ways we are grateful to the relatives who are assembled.
Recognize that wherever we go we carry Christ with us.
This means that a lot of the reaction we get from family members may have nothing to do with us personally. It may be the kingdom of darkness reacting to the presence of the Kingdom of Light. We can respond to these reactions with kindness when we realize they have nothing to do with us. And we can even be joyful that the reactions occurred, because it means that the Christ in us is affecting those around us.
Prepare for the visit.
Instruct your children in the way you want them to behave. Focus on specific things they are to do or not do based on past experiences with relatives. You may even want to have "rehearsals" of situations that are likely to arise. Remember, your family may not be as blessed by your children as you are. In fact, few people are blessed by someone else’s children, particularly elderly people who have grown unaccustomed to the noise and activity of having children in the house.
Bring food, bedding or other items necessary to keep your relatives from feeling presumed upon. Plan to assume more than your fair share of the cooking, cleaning, and other work involved in a family gathering (and prepare yourself and the children to work with a good attitude).
If, in the past, relatives have wanted to play , show videos, or engage in activities that you do not want your children to be a part of, be sure to pack wholesome or activities so you can present creative alternatives to what other relatives may suggest. Let your children understand beforehand that they may not be allowed to participate in some of the family activities.
Some activities we’ve found that everyone from 9 years old and up seems to enjoy are Rummikub,, charades and flashlight tag at night. But also be prepared to be a good sport if the rest of the family decides it wants to go ahead with an activity you are not particularly pleased about. You don’t have the right to decide how things should be done in anyone’s home but your own.
Make an attitude adjustment.
Remember, we are ourselves sinners saved by grace. The only difference between us and our unsaved relatives is we have accepted the Lord's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ and allowed Him to influence how we should live.
Also, if our relatives are Christians but do not share our convictions about home schooling, family planning, political action, or whatever, we must remember that God has put certain convictions in our hearts not because we are better than our relatives, but because God is loving and gracious. Having certain convictions does not make us "right" and them "wrong," it just makes our values different from theirs.
Elderly relatives may be particularly skeptical of your beliefs because they have lived long enough to see many newfound "convictions" come and go. We cannot attend a family gathering with a "holier than thou" or a "more enlightened than thou" attitude and expect a hearty welcome.
Make sure you go with a clear conscience.
Are you harboring resentment, unforgiveness, or hatred toward a family member? Do you need to ask forgiveness from an offended relative? Have you ever fully reconciled with your parents? You can't expect your visit to be pleasant if you are guilty of contributing to strained relationships.
Trust God to keep your children from harm.
God is better able to keep our children pure than we are. At family gatherings children will often see, hear, or take part in things you do not allow at home. Of course you will try to monitor your children's interactions with others and gently redirect conversations and activities, but a certain amount of worldliness may be unavoidable.
If you really want to know and love your relatives, you must take them as they are. Relax. Your children won’t be permanently damaged by a “taste” of the world, and it allows them to learn to treat other people like human beings, warts and all.
Realize that your parents may still treat you like you’re eighteen.
This is a common experience for people who moved away from their families as late teens or young adults and haven’t lived close to them since. When you go back to your family home, your parents will tend to reassume their parenting role and treat you like the eighteen year old you were when you left home for college. This doesn’t mean your parents have refused to acknowledge you’re now an adult, and it doesn’t mean you’re still as irresponsible as you probably were when you were eighteen. It’s just a common family dynamic, so accept it as that and don’t feel like you have to prove that you actually are now a responsible adult. (And be willing to consider that maybe you aren't as responsible an adult as you could be.)
Leave things cleaner than you found them.
A family gathering can generate an astounding amount of garbage, dirty dishes, soiled linens, and clutter. Be sure that you clean up after yourself and your children while you’re there, and don’t leave bags of trash, piles of dirty linens or dishes, unmade beds or any other cleaning up for your family to deal with after you’re gone.
And please, if you have children in diapers, either find a way to dispose of the dirty diapers during your visit (not in the kitchen or bathroom trash cans) or bag them up and haul them off with you when you leave. No one else should ever have to deal with your children’s dirty diapers.
Thank God that you have a family.
Many people have no relatives to visit, no grandparents for their children, no parents or brothers and sisters who understand a side of them no one else can. Pray for your family. Express your gratitude to them. Become aware of their needs and make an effort to meet them.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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