Do you enter every holiday wanting it to be meaningful, only to find that it feels chaotic with no direction?
We set New Year’s goals we can’t keep, struggle to love or be loved on Valentine’s Day, and find it hard to celebrate the risen Jesus when we are searching for the perfect Easter dress. Our summer and back-to-school seasons are whirlwinds, even as adults; we aren’t quite sure what to do with Halloween as Christians; and we feel less than grateful at Thanksgiving because it is sometimes full of complicated people. Even Christmas becomes a challenge, as celebrating Jesus gets lost behind twinkling lights and a mountain of gifts.
Holidays are meant to be more than chaos with glimpses of grace; they are meant to draw us closer to God and one another. We want all the whimsy and joy the holidays held when we were children, before life crowded it out. We want the holidays to reflect our love for Jesus and reveal the grace that has been lavished on us, but life is so busy that setting a game plan just doesn’t happen.
No more. It’s time to stop trying to survive the holidays or over indulge the whimsy, and instead live in the abundant life God called us to live.Sacred Holidays is part book and part resource: meant to help you avoid what has tripped you up in the past and give you insights, tips, and tools to make your holidays less chaotic and more about loving Jesus and others.
Don’t let your holidays be marked by regret, whirlwinds, or survival mindset. Let’s celebrate every holiday together purposefully and worshipfully–loving Jesus and others well in every moment.
|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 18 Years|
About the Author
Becky Kiser is intent that women would fall in love with God’s Word, then feel equipped and empowered to live it out. She believes that women can live out their own wild story, just like the ones we see of God’s chosen in His Word, as they love Jesus and love people. She is the founder and CEO of Sacred Holidays—a ministry dedicated to helping women find less chaos and more Jesus during holidays through Bible study, community, resources, and lots of fun! She is determined to help women keep all the whimsy of the holidays, but help make them sacred—holy and set apart. Becky has a background in marketing and ministry, and is a certified Myers-Briggs life coach, bringing each of those experiences into her writing. Becky and her husband, Chris, live in Houston, TX with their three girls.
Read an Excerpt
REGRETS, BETTER WAYS, AND BABY STEPS
This is the beginning of a new way for you — a new season of making holidays more sacred — holy and set apart. You should be really proud of yourself that you are taking the time to learn about this and actually making some changes. It's worth it; I can promise you that right now. This will not be easy, but, friend, it is so worth it and you can do this.
How many times have we talked to older women and heard, "I wish I would've done or known that when I was your age"? Let's learn from the women who are ahead of us and choose a different way, the one they wish they would've chosen (the one that still isn't too late for you, if you would consider yourself to be the older woman). We can choose this way when we are twenty-two, thirty-six, forty-four, fifty-nine, sixty-seven, and older. We are never too old for this! Let's not live a life of wishing we would've done something. Starting today, let's live the life we were meant to live — free from regrets and taking one baby step at a time toward a better way!
Holidays have become this imbalanced juxtaposition of chaos and whimsy. We are stressed by the shopping and thrilled by the look on the faces of the ones we spoiled. We are exhausted by the parties yet so excited to get all dressed up to celebrate the day or the person. We are easily irritated by our families and absolutely smitten at the same time. We hate ourselves for eating more than we should yet cannot get enough home cooking and treats. And we're torn between our love for all things whimsical and our deep desire to celebrate Jesus in each of the holidays.
The last one is the hardest, wouldn't you agree? We love Jesus and want to follow Him, yet we struggle to make the holidays about Him. We are stuck doing things the way they've always been done. We are stuck celebrating just as the world celebrates. We are stuck celebrating the way our family has always done it before or the way pictureperfect posts on social media have told us to over the years. The idea of something new, even something sacred, feels a bit overwhelming.
We all have regrets when it comes to the holidays, and oftentimes it's the shame of these regrets that keeps us from thinking we are even capable of a better way.
My biggest regret during all the holidays is how I inevitably default to the thirteen-year-old version of myself. When it was New Year's, I used to set big (and unrealistic) goals for myself, resolutions that lasted all of a week. On Valentine's Day, I was more concerned about who was showing me love than loving others (and chocolate, really it's about the chocolate). During Easter, it seemed to be more about the dress (priorities!). Summer can be a whirl of trying to have as much fun as possible. Halloween feels like a slightly rebellious thing to participate in as a Christian. Thanksgiving is the physical proof I turned thirteen when I'm surrounded by every member of my family. Christmas, while a celebration of Jesus' coming, can easily be overshadowed by wish lists and events. And my birthday never quite seems to measure up to the expectation in my head.
I'm a mess. We all are. We feel like we should have it all figured out by now and don't understand why we don't.
What Regrets Surround These Holidays?
Ask your Father to remind you of holiday-related regrets. Give yourself time to really process this today. Then, remember that this is your book, your resource for years and years to come. So come back to this page each year and you can add to the list below. The reason why we want to name the regrets is because we want to clearly and specifically identify the things we do not want to continue. There is no shame in naming it. (Tip: be general only when it's referring to someone else. Sometimes it's best to just use the first letter of a name or a place, to keep this page confidential.)
LENT AND EASTER:
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY (INCLUDING YOUR BIRTHDAY AND OTHERS):
We women are masters at staying in shame longer than we should, but shame has never been ours to carry. I'm a total word nerd and absolutely love the dictionary (and translation dictionaries). Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines shame as "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. A condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. Something that brings censure or reproach; something to be regretted."
We just made a long list of regrets, which can tempt us to fall right back into that trap of shame, leading to guilt. We are vastly aware of our shortcomings. Holidays are so sweet and so magical in so many contexts, but we have so many regrets. So we settle into shame and believe there is no better way.
Before we move on to a better way of approaching the holidays, we must clearly identify what is true and what is a lie. What is true is all the things you listed above. We all have regrets about past holidays — wishing that certain elements were different. Identifying each one helps us learn. But the lie becomes evident when we take on shame, which isn't from your Father in heaven. John 8:44 speaks into this concept, "He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
The father of lies, Satan, slithers right up next to the list of regrets we just processed and tells you, "Things will never change." He leads you to believe you will never get this right. He reminds you of others who have it all together (at least on their social media feed) and puts you in your place. He even tells you what a failure you are for not worshiping Jesus more during the holidays — holidays that are supposed to be about Him. He is the one who puts fear in us around holidays like Halloween or Christmas, causing more fear of the world than a love for others. Being a follower of Jesus in this day is so very complicated, and the enemy is taking every opportunity to slither up next to us and whisper lies in our ears, just as he did to Eve in the garden (Gen. 3).
When we look at our list of regrets above, we can listen to one of two voices: the voice of truth or the voice of lies. Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I come that they may have life and have it abundantly." I love how The Message translation by Eugene Peterson words this verse, "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."
Yes! Isn't this what you want, my friend? Isn't this why you picked up this book? You believe there is a better way. You believe there must be a way "more and better than you ever dreamed of."
A New and Better Way
Just as we listed our regrets about the holidays, I want you to make a new and "better way" list. This list depicts what could be — and dreams about what you wish and hope would happen during the holidays. Don't over-spiritualize this either. Keep the traditions and cultural whimsy that are good and life-giving. Then ask your Father what might be a better way.
LENT AND EASTER:
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY (INCLUDING YOUR BIRTHDAY AND OTHERS):
I wish I could sit across from you now and hear these dreams God is creating in you. I know our tendency is to buffer our dreams just in case they don't come about. Here is what I want to encourage you to do, sweet friend: dream without the safety net. Abundant life in Jesus, as we defined earlier, is "more and better than they (that's you!) ever dreamed."
One of my favorite verses in all the Scriptures is the reality check that He is God and we are not, that is found in Isaiah 55:8–9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts your thoughts." Our Father takes such delight in our dreams and our faith. The reason why I love dreaming and planning is because it's part of the first steps of faith; it's our acknowledgment that there is actually a better way.
Then our Father takes it from there. He took Noah's first step and used him to build an ark. He took Moses — yes, the fearful-and-afraid-to-speak Moses — and used him to free the Israelites and part an entire sea. He used Esther, from the least favored lineage, to change a king's mind and save her people. He used David, the smallest of all his brothers, to kill the giant Goliath and become a king after God's own heart. He used John, a common fisherman, to be His most beloved disciple and be an elder to the early church for decades. He used Paul, a former persecutor and murderer of Christians, to be a major leader for the first followers of Jesus and writer of much of the New Testament letters.
We invite God into the dreams we hold in open hands, as we walk into each of these holidays asking and expecting Him to bring about a better way — one that is so much greater than anything we could ever imagine. We take the first steps, and He leads the path.
As I talk to women about making holidays sacred, I see it in their eyes: to change course feels so very overwhelming. Where do you even start? You start in one place and you pick one thing.
I'm an extremist, so I really struggle with this whole baby-step concept. I'm that person who is either 5 percent or 155 percent in. My closest friends and family know to never play a practical joke on me because I don't know how to respond without taking my reciprocal practical joke too far. It's one of the biggest pet peeves about myself, and most hilarious quirks. I have a really hard time with the whole "slow and steady wins the race" mentality.
So when I decided to change course with holidays many years ago, it was a little overwhelming, which kept me from doing anything. Actually, Pinterest kept me from doing anything because they had one million suggestions about everything. It took one search of the word Advent on Pinterest for me to quickly resolve to keeping things just as they had always been. And on that Christmas Eve, as I stood there with so many regrets, I knew I missed what was best because I stayed in ignorance, giving in to all-things overwhelming.
Let's not waste another year because these first steps seem too hard.
The very best thing you can do is "baby step" this process. I recommend that you choose one to three things each year and implement that. Get a strong foundation around that tradition and see how it works for you, then the next year implement the following thing. We will walk together through each of the holidays; plus you will create additional references to use for years to come. So all those awesome ideas you hear from others or see on Pinterest, if it inspires without making you crazy, you can jot those down in this book.
Doesn't that sound like a relief? Pressure is off, my friend.
Except there are a few of you who are stubborn and want all the change now. I get it; remember, I'm a fellow extremist. For any woman who has ever gone on a diet (which is most all of us), we know this — you can't lose all the weight on the first day. You can't even lose all the weight in the first month. Those who do lose weight quickly, typically gain most, all, or more back just as quickly because nothing really changed. Those who keep it off are the ones who slowly learned how to change their habits. We are also doing slow, committed change. I know that's not at all what you want to hear, but I wanted to lay all the cards on the table now. We can imagine that by the time we've turned the last page of this book that everything will be better. That we will have magically transformed holidays. I want to say I wish that was true, but I won't. The work is the refining part and it's the beautiful part of the journey too ... even if it just so happens to be the most annoying part.
When I started working toward losing weight with my nutritionist, Amber, do you know how we started? That's right, one baby step at a time. Week one my goal was to start eating breakfast. I mean, how silly is that? I'm a grown woman — it should be assumed that I can handle eating breakfast. It shouldn't have to be an assignment that includes talking to a nutritionist for an hour and taking an entire week to work on. That is shame, and we already addressed shameful thoughts. So for a week I focused on breakfast. We made a list of three go-to healthy breakfast options. I committed to eat before my kids woke up, since that was one of my issues was not eating until all kids were up, taken care off, off to school, or down for naps. I put myself last and forgot about the basics. Shame kept me from realizing this. Do you know what week two homework was? To start my day with hot tea, instead of three cups of coffee. Ugh, I know. I almost stopped this whole thing. We talked through the benefits of starting your day with hot tea first. So I do that now; I start my day with hot tea, then breakfast, and then I have coffee. She knows that coffee is one of the great loves of my life and that wasn't something I was going to give up, so we kept it. Each week we continued doing one thing and because of that, I'm still doing it all these months later. This hasn't been an extreme change, but a gradual one.
This, my sweet friend, is what I want you to consider doing. It will feel painfully slow at first. However, in five years, ten years, and decades from now when you've reset your entire holiday culture for yourself, your family, and, likely, much of your community, you will be glad you took baby steps instead of sprinted and quit.
Just like my nutritionist let me keep the things I loved, like coffee, I want you to do the same — keep the parts you love, take out the parts that aren't healthy, and add in the things that would make it a "better way." Making holidays more sacred doesn't mean we become one of those Christians. You know the type, and we will talk more about them at the end of the book.
FEAR NOT, FOR I HAVE
To close out this chapter, I want you to read Isaiah 43, keeping in mind everything we've discussed: your regrets, His better way, and the baby steps you are about to take. This chapter in the Bible is one of the most life-giving chapters for me and I hope it wildly encourages you. Don't skip this part; take the time to slowly read through it.
As you read, ask your Father to heal the regrets, silence the shame of the enemy, show you a better way, give you the courage and faith to take the next baby steps, and for an increased trust that He will lead you and that He is able. I'm going to encourage you often to write in this book to make it the most awesome holiday resource you've ever had.
Read through this Scripture once and just hear it.
Then read it again and circle all the references of God (His name or reference to Him in any context).
Then read it one last time and underline all the actions He has done, is doing, or will do (for example, in verse 1 you would underline the words "created" and "formed").
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears! All the nations gather together, and the peoples assemble. Who among them can declare this, and show us the former things? Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right, and let them hear and say, It is true. "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and I am God. Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?" Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "For your sake I send to Babylon and bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice. I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King." Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise." (Isa. 43:1–21)(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Sacred Holidays"
Copyright © 2018 Becky Kiser.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Book (became it's different than other books you've read) 1
Part 1 Less Chaos, More Jesus (Read Now)
Chapter 1 Regrets, Better Ways, and Baby Steps 13
Chapter 2 Social Experiments and All Things Whimsy 27
Part 2 Holidays (Read 30-60 Days before Holiday)
Chapter 3 New Year's 39
Chapter 4 Valentine's Day 57
Chapter 5 Lent and Easter 69
Chapter 6 Summer 85
Chapter 7 Halloween 101
Chapter 8 Thanksgiving 115
Chapter 9 Advent and Christmas 125
Chapter 10 Happy Birthday 147
Part 3 Common Struggles (Read as Needed)
Chapter 11 How to Not Be THAT Christian 159
Chapter 12 Realistic Expectations 171
Chapter 13 Conflict, Drama, and All the Feels 181
Chapter 14 Budgets and Generosity 197
Chapter 15 Schedules and Plans 209
Chapter 16 Grief 217
Chapter 17 Santa and the Easter Bunny 229
Chapter 18 P.S.: Be Yourself and Be with Others 237