Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to have the "Perfect" Christmas

Are you stressed about Christmas? Plan ahead, using the advice in this article, and you'll be able to enjoy the real meaning of CHRISTmas!

(This article appeared int he December issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Articles like this--encouraging, inspiring, and motivating to Christians--appear in every issue of the Nebraska Family Times. Subscribe to the paper and for only $20 you'll receive articles like this every month!)

How to Have the 'Perfect' Christmas

By Kimberly Chastain
"This year will be different. I vow I won't get stressed out over presents, parties, cards, Christmas plays, putting up the tree and decorating, and all the many other tasks of the season. I will remember the true meaning of Christmas."
Do you find that all the Christmas chores steal your joy?
"For unto us a child is born" - Aahh the miracle of birth. The true miracle of our Savior's birth. As Christian mothers we are doubly blessed to celebrate Christmas. We know the joy and pain of childbirth. We can imagine an exhausted Mary looking at her truly perfect, holy baby. 
 How can we recapture the joy and the simplicity of the first Christmas? Following are some suggestions for making this the "Perfect" Christmas
 1. Decide how you want your family to experience the true meaning of Christmas. Will you help another family with presents? Our family now has a tradition of doing Christmas boxes for Samaritan's Purse. Our children love picking out items for the box and praying for the child who receives their box.
 2. Prioritize what is most important to you. Maybe you can't do it all. You may choose not to send Christmas cards, but do a New Year's note.
 3.  Decide what parties you can and cannot attend. Sometimes as a family we may rarely be home in December. So much for family time.
 4.  If you have young children, remember how important, normal routine and sleep schedule are for younger children and you. Taking a cranky toddler shopping is not a good experience for anyone.
 5. Decide what traditions you want for your own nuclear family. Sometimes we are so busy going to extended families' homes we don't get to start our own family traditions. Try to have a leisurely Christmas morning with children enjoying their toys before rushing off to anywhere.
 6.  Start a tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Examples: creating a Happy Birthday Jesus cake, reading the Christmas story before opening presents, or children having their own child size Nativity set to play with and tell the Christmas story.
 7.  Set a limit on Christmas spending and stick to it. Don't celebrate Jesus' birth by being in debt in January.
 8.  Take time to pray and think about the most precious gift of all. Often our quiet times are the first to go when we get so busy. Using an Advent calendar with children will also help them focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
 9.  Be kind to yourself. You may not be able to do everything like your Mom did. Perhaps you can make slice-and-bake cookies with your children instead of homemade cookie dough. Your children will remember the fun of decorating cookies, not who made the cookie dough.
 10.  Remember that you are not superwoman and you can't do it all. Sit down with your husband and decide who can do what on your list. Children can help put stamps on Christmas cards. Be kind to yourself and rest in our Savior's loving arms.
 I don't know if you or I will have the "Perfect" Christmas, but we can make a conscious effort to focus on our Lord. Things will go wrong and we will get stressed, but we need to keep our eyes on Him. We need to show and teach our children that Christmas is not about Santa and receiving gifts. Christmas is about the ultimate gift that we can never repay.
 So, I wish you a "Perfect" Christmas with Christ' birth as your focus, and that you would be kind to yourself. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and experience the true joy of Christmas.
 Kimberly Chastain is a Professional Life Coach and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Kimberly is also the author of the ebook entitled, "Pearls of Encouragement for Christian Working Moms." She has a passion for working with Christian Working Moms to help them find satisfaction in all their many different roles. To find out more go to

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give the gift that gives Christian encouragement all year!

The Nebraska Family Times gives readers “inspiration, encouragement, and motivation” in their Christian walk, every month! For only $20 you (or someone you love) will receive 12 issues of the Nebraska Family Times, full of devotions, local features, and state and national news from a non-denominational Christian point of view.

The Nebraska Family Times is the perfect gift for anyone on your gift list—old or young, male or female, with or without Internet access or someone who still enjoys reading a “paper” newspaper.

When you give the Nebraska Family Times as a gift:
  • The gift recipient will receive a gift card indicating your gift
  • YOU will be entered into a drawing to win Christian books or CD’s or the grand prize of a Nook or Kindle e-reader
  • The Nebraska Family Times will donate a food item to the Columbus Rescue Mission/Living Water Rescue Mission (our goal is to donate 300 food items by December 16th!).
UPDATE: OFFER EXTENDED! Until noon on December 16th,  you can also purchase a copy of  the book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home, for ONLY $5! FREE shipping and handling included. ($5 offer good only with purchase of Nebraska Family Times.) Go to to read an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is.

ORDER TODAY! You’ll be giving a great gift, helping the Rescue Mission—and you’ll have a chance to win something for yourself, or to give as a gift.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Simple Steps to Solid Scripture Study"

The Bible is the BEST source for learning about God's plan, receiving His guidance, and discerning His plan for your life. But do you wonder how to study the Bible? Follow this link to find "Simple Steps to Solid Scripture Study." I've been following them for several months, reading the Old Testament. In January I plan to start reading the New Testament, following this plan. I've learned so much just following this plan--and I'm excited to read more every day. I hope you enjoy it too!

My next blog post will help you make the time to spend time with God every day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to have a parenting “do-over”
By Jill Savage

I remember when Mark and I took a parenting class and learned about expecting first time obedience from our kids. Our habit, up to that point, had been to count to three, or to threaten, or to get angry.

Now we had a different vision for our family and for discipline in our home. But how do you change mid-stream? How do you handle a change in expectations, discipline, or how you will handle things?

Mark and I have had to do this over the years when we’ve realized that we’ve either allowed something we shouldn’t, or haven’t parented well or consistently. We call a family meeting and talk to the kids about what we’ve realized or what we’re learning. We apologize for not being consistent or not handling certain situations well. And we set a new standard on how we as a family are going to act, behave, or handle situations in the future. We have found that this is a respectful way to change the direction the family is headed in and our kids have responded relatively well to it.

If you find yourself needing a parenting “do-over,” consider these strategies:

1) Tell your child/children of the upcoming change. One mom had allowed her daughter to sleep in her bed with her. When she realized this wasn’t healthy for her daughter or her marriage, she sat her daughter down and explained that “beginning tomorrow night, you will sleep in your own bed.” This gave her daughter a heads up and a time of adjustment.

2) Apologize to your kids, if needed. An apology isn’t a sign of weakness…in the parenting realm it’s a sign of strength. Your kids will understand that you make mistakes and that you know what to do to clean up your mistakes. When we sat down and explained to our kids about first time obedience, we apologized for not holding them to a higher standard that would serve them well in life (what boss wants to tell his employee to do something three times?)

3) Train to the new expectation. If your kids are old enough, do some role-playing to train them to the new standard. When we were teaching first time obedience, we did some pretending. I told them we were going to practice first time obedience with a happy response. I said, “In a minute, I’m going to ask you to bring me a specific toy. When I ask I want you to say ‘Yes mom!’ and bring it to me.” Then we made it into a game. We played that game for several days.

4) Give a grace period. When we introduced first-time obedience, we trained for several days and then we began our grace period. It was one week of having the new expectation in place, but if they responded inappropriately, they were reminded of the standard and told that after the grace week, they would receive a consequence for that kind of a response.

5) Be willing to be the parent. The standard is set, the training done, and the practice time is over. Now it’s time to stand firm on your new direction. Most parents find if they are consistent with communication, expectations, and accountability, they are able to move in the direction they desire to go.

If you’re dealing with teens, you probably won’t need the training, but the communication, grace period, and consistent accountability will do the trick.

Reprinted with permission. Jill Savage ( is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.o, an organization that encourages, educates, and equips every mom in every season of motherhood. She is the author of seven books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Real Moms…Real Jesus, My Heart’s at Home, and her newest release, Living with Less So Your Family Has More. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois. ---------------------------
See this article and more like it in the November issue of the Nebraska Family Times! The mission of the Nebraska Family Times is to "inspire, encourage, and motivate you in you Christian walk". If you would like to receive positive, encouraging articles and news from a Christian point of view, subscribe now! You'll be entered to win Christian books and CD's and a final drawing for a Nook or Kindle e-reader! Go to for more information.