Holiday traditions are the glue that keep families focused on each other even in the midst of changes. Who needs ham for Christmas Eve dinner when you can enjoy spaghetti and homemade biscuits? Why give typical gifts when you can pass a handmade squirrel around every year? Pies make great desserts for holiday meals, and another wonderful dessert is a store bought angel food Happy Birthday Jesus cake. Christmas Eve services are a meaningful time for families and faith community to come together, but my family always spends that time together enjoying leftovers from lunch and watching Hallmark Christmas specials.

The holidays are a bit different for me this year.  Adam and I now travel home with our English Bulldog Ryder, and so our traveling has become more eventful. I may resort to seeing if you can give a dog Dremamene to prevent car sickness. For the first time in four years, the Advent season will not be marked with Campbell University Divinity School weekly chapel services. I will miss the blessing of sitting still and worshipping in the midst of the busiest season of the church year. Also, this year was the first year I participated in the Black Friday Deal specials, and we were able to get all four of the items we went after in about two hours.

The Elf on the Shelf has become a new tradition for many families, and I look forward to seeing on Facebook what the Elf is up to this year. Other families enjoy purchasing a new ornament every year. What is your family’s favorite tradition?

Traditions can be stressful if you try to make them turn out perfectly. So this holiday season make time to enjoy those you love and be flexible enough to start some new traditions.


Much Needed Rest

Yesterday, I did not do anything related to any of my jobs, and at the end of the day, I felt exhausted. My body finally rested, my thoughts slowed down, and my heart took time to break. I cannot go six weeks again without taking a whole day off. The consequences of a rushed life are tough realities. I need to feel when I feel. Delaying processing emotions is not healthy.

Anxiety and depression are unwelcome companions that push me to get stuck in the patterns of my past. In undergrad, I struggled with anxiety and depression. Yes, even though I am a Christian, I had struggles that I did not want to mention at campus ministry Bible studies or mention in a Facebook status.

I hide behind the masks of wanting to be professional and wanting to set a good example, but today someone saw past the masks. I am thankful she took the time to check on me. I hope that more of us will take the time to look past the masks and be responsive to the pain of others. Be courageous, be vulnerable, and be real.

During this joyous time of year, your friend, your neighbor, your coworker, or anyone around you might be grieving, disappointed, or struggling. Open your eyes and see the needs around you!

After a day of rest and a day of worship, my spirits are renewed, my body is more rested, and I look forward to a week full of family, friends, and home cooked meals.

I am reminded of the command “to be still and know that God is God.” (Ps. 46:10) I urge you to take time to be still in God’s presence before you no longer recognize who you are.