Nov 04

Getting Ready for Advent and Christmas!

Recently Intermountain sent hundreds of letters to our faith-based supporters. These letters thank you for your prayers and supporting Healing Through Healthy Relationships, as well as invite the opportunity to give in 2020 if you have not already done so. Perhaps you and your congregation have not had an opportunity yet this year to be a part of bringing hope and healing through healthy relationship?

CFC-logo

As a thank you for your faithful support, I would also like to make available to you and your church free Advent children’s object lessons! While written primarily for a Children’s Sermon format, these object lessons could be used in a Sunday school setting, youth group, or even as sermon illustrations! Though written as a companion and a resource to couple with change cans, none of the lessons are dependent on Change for Children (CFC) participation! Our desire is that they would be a gift to you and a thank you for your support. If you choose to dovetail CFC into these lessons, it’s as simple as contacting us and requesting our prayer cards or setting a goal of numbers of cans returned by Christmas!

Click here for the FREE Advent object lessons: http://www.intermountainministry.org/object-lessons-for-advent-cfc-2020/

In my twenty-four years in children and youth ministry, the object lessons I have used for children’s sermon times have been a very effective way of communicating the truth of God’s Word.  Many of the adults in the congregation would tell me they preferred my children’s sermons to my “regular” sermons!  Jesus taught in object lessons and word pictures, too, so it should be no surprise to us that this method is highly effective—surely Jesus knew what he was doing and set an example for us to follow!

These lessons have been carefully crafted around the stories of the Advent season (Revised Common Lectionary, Year B) and how the message of God’s love for us in Jesus impacts our hearts and lives. I hope this resource blesses you, saves you time in preparation, and makes your workload a little lighter. So, enjoy these lessons, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you and build a stronger relationship between the chaplain’s ministry at Intermountain and the good work you are doing in your church and community.

Sep 24

Compliance VS Alliance

In Matthew 21:23-32, we have a very interesting exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees. In this passage we see just how brilliant Jesus was in understanding the motives of those who were in opposition to his teaching, and how he was able to compassionately address the issues underlying their opposition. The Pharisees had built a relationship with God, and God’s grace expressed to them, around a reasonable belief that God had certain expectations for behavior. And, they argued, that if you wanted to stay in God’s “good graces,” you needed to abide by the rules—obey the Law. Jesus saw how law-obedience had taken the place of a repentant heart yearning for relationship with the Creator.

Here’s the passage in its entirety:

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

I love how Jesus handles his confrontation, because the truths he employs are those used in the common therapeutic approach of trying to work with clients by forming an alliance rather than compliance.

Compliance VS Alliance. It asks the following question:

Is a relationship better built on getting you to comply with my demands (expressed obedience, which is externally focused, easily measureable and observable) or in building an alliance (a union formed for mutual benefit, working towards common goals, agreement on tasks, and the development of a personal bond made up of reciprocal positive feelings… trust, caring, respect)?

It’s alliance, right? Working together toward mutually agreed upon goals which builds a relational bond of trust and care.

Now…

Does this match up with the story Jesus tells… the parable of the two sons? The story seems to focus on commending compliance: doing what the Father in the story has asked.

Here’s the recap: Dad asks for his boys to go work in the vineyard, first one and then the other. The first son, he immediately says “No” and then repents and does what is asked. The second son says “Yes” initially, but then never does what he was asked.

Not every parable gets an interpretation or a framing for meaning like this one, but fortunately, we see what Jesus was trying to get at in the closing lines of this passage:

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Jesus is, for the sake of argument, willing to accept the Pharisees assumptions about how one achieves a gracious position of right relationship with God… through obedience and compliance to God’s Law.

So, he tells this brief story of the two sons… and the punchline is that it is the son who repents and heads out to the vineyard is the one who does what the Father has asked. So, the Pharisees agree with Jesus: obedience isn’t about mentally or verbally agreeing to do what God the Father asks. This is not obedience… it is for show. It’s posturing. We can almost hear this son later, imagining him explaining to his father, “I was going to get to it… something came up.”

The openly defiant and disobedient son is the one who repents and ends up doing what the Father wants. It’s clear: God values repentance more than our best excuses.

Repentance signifies a changed heart and a desire for relationship. It’s about reunification with someone who has invited you into an alliance: a mutually beneficial relationship in which both parties can feel joy, acceptance, and belonging.

Compliance is about keeping accounts and balancing control in personal interactions. It’s the enemy of trust, because each party is always worried about how the balance of power is going to shift and preparing for the next potential confrontation.

Every day, Intermountain is working with children, teens, and adults to help them see that there is a better way to “do relationship.” We often speak of “healing through healthy relationships” for this reason. Thank you for your support of this work, and consider today how you might put the truth of seeking alliance, not just compliance, in your most significant relationships.

Jul 16

Do you get our Intermountain Moments newsletter?

Every month we send out the latest information to stay connected to the mission and ministry of Intermountain, highlighting stories from around the organization. We highlight the chaplain’s ministry within Residential so you can see the impact that your mission support of the ministry makes!

Chaplain Chris Haughee participates in a panel discussion on trauma and resilience in the foster care system

There are regular links to free resources, videos that can be shared with your congregation and ministry networks, and ideas to bring your partnership with Intermountain to the next level of engagement. It is inspirational and challenging, and arrives once a month to your inbox.

But… you have to be subscribed! Send us your email address and we’d be happy to include you every month in the ongoing story of bringing healing through healthy relationships! If you’d like an idea as to what an Intermountain Moments email looks like, simply click the link to a PDF copy of the July 2020 edition:

http://www.intermountainministry.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/IM-Moments-July-2020.pdf

May 05

Viewing disruption as an opportunity for development: a lesson in resilience by Daniel Champer, LCPC

Two of the kindest eyes I’ve ever met resided squarely between a healthy set of laugh lines and due south from a shock of silver hair. His name was Pete, and he lived beside my family of rough-and-tumble boys who would have been much better suited for a cow pasture. Our suburban backyard resembled something out of the movie Sandlot and stood in stark contrast to his perfectly manicured cottage garden. My brother and I affectionately refer to this formative time as the “summer of the home run.” Unfortunately for Pete, his yard stood directly beyond our home run fence.

It was 1998 and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were battling for the home run title in the papers, while Daniel, Peter, and Jonathan were battling for the home run title of the backyard. It was getting late in the summer and our home run numbers weren’t quite keeping up with those of the professionals. So, in an act of pubescent wisdom, we opted for harder balls and bigger bats.

The pitch was perfect. And I don’t know if I was a little late with my swing or Jonathan peppered me a little outside, but it cleared the right field fence faster than my “oh yeah” could turn to “oh sh#%.” You see, Pete’s garden paradise was left field. Pete’s house was right field. To my horrified ears, the sound of the hard baseball smacking Pete’s meticulously maintained siding could be heard on Mars. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. I had just moved into the home run lead yet all I could think about was how my life was going to be over the second my father got home.

And then, in painfully slow motion, a clump of silver emerged from a thicket of blueberry bushes not too far from the scene of the crime. A mass of fabric slowly unfurled to form a pair of khakis and a button-down flannel shirt. I was acutely aware of the pruning shears in the grizzled right hand. As they shuffled around the corner of the house to inspect the damage, I was too terrified to move.

Pete glanced at the frozen baseball players and he glanced at the house. And slowly, he started to laugh. He turned towards us with those smile lines fully pronounced and his crooked thumb stuck up in the air. “Great hit bub, you guys are getting pretty good.” That’s all he said. And then as if by magic, he disappeared back into his blueberry bushes.

This moment changed my life.

You see, at this time in my development I believed we were all destined to be products of our environment. If something negative happened, you were to react in a negative way. If someone in a position of authority spoke something into your life, you behaved in such a way to manifest that destiny. The 20 second interaction with Pete and his crooked green thumb initiated 20 plus years of attitude adjustment.

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. I view it as the learned ability to see opportunity in the midst of adversity. Regardless of the chosen definition, the concept of resilience begins with a choice. We can choose to form a curse word or a smile.

As we all collectively huddle inside of homes with those whom we name family, it is easy to jump to a scenario in which our houses are being pelted with COVID-19 filled baseballs. I constantly hear the words fear, uncertainty, irritation, impatience, and others of their ilk zooming through the atmosphere. But I would challenge us to focus on one word.

Opportunity.

I currently spend much of my day planted in front of a computer screen with an oft stinky, always wiggly toddler perched on my lap intent on inserting herself into the business of the day. My toenails are pink, and I have been instructed as to the “right way” to play Princess Tea Party more times than I can count by an assertive 6-year-old. Much of my body is grass stained and my allergies are ridiculous as I attempt to keep up with our four-year-old version of a cross between Princess Diana and Attila the Hun. I have a perpetual headache and my job has required me to make very difficult decisions. My routine is disrupted and my life has been changed.

And I refuse to see this as a detriment.

I will never again have the opportunity to build relationships with my family in such an integrated way throughout the course of my workday. I am receiving the gift of free time as my 1-hour daily commute has been reduced to the time it takes me to turn off my computer. My addiction to busyness has been temporarily slowed by external forces beyond my control and as a result I feel more rested than I have in a very long time.

These are but a few of the examples of opportunities which I have been blessed with during this unique time. We are all being afforded the incredible opportunity to learn resilience. Every one of us is confronted with this choice and tension hundreds of times every day. And like any skill, you will only improve if you practice.

The development of a skill requires focus and intention. People rarely achieve milestones accidentally and prodigies are rare. Contact with the undesired outcome must be limited and redirected through supportive relationship. The beautiful paradox of resilience is you will undoubtedly fail at times in its pursuit. However, you are then immediately afforded another chance to try again.

And so, I challenge you to practice resilience. I challenge you to seek out opportunity. While we cannot change the current circumstances of our world, we can change the way we react.

My interactions with Pete helped to change my life. If you adopt his attitude, you can change yours.

Mar 26

Intermountain Moment: Stacey’s Safe Space

Recently, one of our cottage therapists gave an assignment to Stacey, a young girl in her care. She asked Stacey to draw a picture of her “safe space.” This had the potential to be a very difficult assignment, as Stacey had endured a significant amount of adversity and relational turbulence in her life.

However, after a year of Intermountain’s intensive residential care focusing on building healthier relationships, Stacey’s therapist felt she was ready to engage the assignment with hope rather than fear. Stacey’s “safe space” was defined to her as anywhere she felt protected, calm, and happy.

Stacey is now starting to feel safe

Stacey returned to her next session with her therapist, having drawn a picture of her residential cottage and included a note with her drawing which said, “Home is starting to be a safe space for me.”

Stacey’s challenge, in the time she remains in Intermountain’s care, is to transfer the skills she has learned in her cottage to her home. For now, her “safe space” is in the care of the amazing and dedicated cottage staff at Intermountain, and this care and safety has cultivated hope within her young heart. A hope she can return home and feel safe there, as well.

Stacey’s “homework” from therapy, where she drew Bridger Cottage at Intermountain as her “safe space” and then added, “Home is starting to be safe for me.”

Intermountain’s transformative approach of meeting a child where they are—developmentally and relationally—through sound clinical work and consistent, empathetic responses to difficult behaviors shows children and their families Hope & Healing are possible. Many like Stacey have found their “safe space” because of Intermountain. Thank you for supporting this life-changing mission.

Click HERE for a bulletin insert that shares Stacey’s story

Mar 04

Blaine’s “Words of Wisdom”

After spending over a year in our residential treatment program, riding the regular ups and downs of a young man working through significant mental health and relationship issues, Blaine found himself standing before his treatment team, his family, and his peers. He was surrounded by well wishing, shared favorite moments from his time at Intermountain, and hope everyone had for his future as he rejoined his family back home. This was his “graduation ceremony,” of sorts… and while each team or cottage in residential services does this a little differently, most often the graduating child is given a chance to share their words of wisdom with the remaining children in care. Blaine made the most of this opportunity – here is a summary of what he said:

“First, be honest. Be honest with yourself and about why you are here. Be honest with the staff. Share your feelings. Being anything other than honest won’t help you. It didn’t help me. When I started to be honest with what was going on for me, I started to get better.

Second, be nice. None of us want to be here. We’d rather be home. I’m going home and you’ll get there, too. But, for now, this is who you are living with. These are the staff taking care of you. Be nice to them. Be nice to yourself. When someone does something dumb or mean, just be nice. Be nice even when it’s hard.

(above) Blaine is ready to head home after treatment

Third, I’d say you need to have hope. Hope you’ll get done with treatment. Hope you’ll get home eventually. Hope kept me going… well, that and reading (note: his young man had a small library in his room and would read whenever he got the chance!). So, whatever you do, have hope.

Fourth, help one another. This is kinda like what I said about being nice, but goes with it. Work together when you can. It will be more fun if you can help one another. We each have had bad days here, and you have helped me, and I hope I have helped you. So, keep helping one another.

Lastly, I’d say you should be a friend. I didn’t have any friends when I came here. I don’t really have many friends at home. Making friends can be hard, so don’t make it hard on someone who is trying to be your friend. Be a friend. It can just be that you like doing one thing together. Everyone doesn’t have to be your best friend, but be a friend when you can. Some of you I just liked being silly with. Some of you I can be serious with. I like having friends. So, be a friend.”

So take a page from Blaine’s words of wisdom! Be honest. Be Nice. Have hope. Help one another. Be a friend.
I hope the children were listening to these wise words… I certainly was. I hope you will listen, too.

Intermountain brings Hope & Healing to over 1,200 children just like Blaine every day. With God’s grace, Intermountain’s highly-trained staff lead these children to become more resilient, capable, and confident – this not only allows them to return home, but also to be successful in their transitions. Thank you for supporting the work of Intermountain. If you would like to learn how you can help our Hope & Healing continue please reach out: (406)457-4850 or chrish@intermountain.org.

Blessings,

Chaplain Chris Haughee

Click HERE to share this story with your congregation as a bulletin insert

Feb 27

Melt our hearts, Lord!

As we begin the season of Lent, and slowly make our way towards longer and warmer days, I was touched by this pastoral prayer from one of our partners in ministry. What you will read below is a slight adaptation of that prayer by Pastor Steve Hundley, of Mission Valley Presbyterian Church. You have his permission to use it in your own services, should you choose.

“We come to You, O Lord,

at a time when much of our valley

has been gripped by snow and cold –

when roads have been clogged

and winds have been strong

and some have struggled to keep warm.

Let the coldness of this season

raise the question

of our own spiritual temperatures.

Has our relationship to You been frozen and stiff?

Are the ways of our hearts clogged by snowdrifts of apathy and indifference?

Do the lines of communication between us sag and break beneath the iciness of neglect or doubt?

Send now a warming trend into our lives.

Let there be a melting of our hearts,

and a surrender to Your will and Your Way.

Grant that the icicles of pride and loneliness

may fall from our hearts,

and that the heat of Your love and grace

may break up the ice floes that have kept us apart.

Transform us into centers of warmth

that will radiate Your presence

into the cold-hearted world around us.

Show us how to be Your light,

like the warmth of the sun, warming the earth.

Grant peace to those who are anxious

and renewal to those who are tired.

Instill in our nation a longing

and a desire for the common good.

Grow in us a desire to do the good we can

for those you place on our hearts,

for those Intermountain serves and the children, youth

and families seeking hope and healing.

Let Christ come and touch us now

so that all our problems may be small ones,

dwarfed in the magnitude and beauty

of His presence.

For in Christ there is no coldness,

but eternal springtime. Amen.”

Feb 06

A battle with anxiety is one you can win! by Pastor Anna Viehland

Recently, I preached on John 1. I talked about what it meant for God to become a human being.

In my sermon, I talked about a very difficult period of my life that I rarely bring up. Between my late teens and third year of college I was very ill. My stomach seemed to launch a full-scale mutiny against the rest of my body. When I would try to eat, I’d immediately become nauseated. My throat would clench up, I would break into a sweat, and I’d spend the rest of the day feeling like I’d swallowed a pound of lead. I spent many late nights crying because my abdominal pain made it impossible to sleep. To make matters worse, my inability to eat gave me splitting headaches and debilitating fatigue. I lost almost 30 lbs…and I was small to begin with.

No one could tell me what was wrong with me. I underwent all kinds of tests, special diets, and blood draws. Some doctors wrote me off completely. My stomach hurt, but I was young. I still managed to get good grades, dance, and pursue music. I couldn’t be THAT sick, could I? I looked okay on the outside. I’m sure people assumed I was just petite. I was a dancer and was told I had the “perfect body” for it. People openly envied my slim frame. But I was miserable. I didn’t care about being thin. I just wanted to feel normal and feel okay again.

Eventually, we found the culprit: the anxiety disorder that I’d been battling for years. Scientists have long studied the connection between the brain and the gut. Both are extremely sensitive to stress and the chemicals that our bodies release when we’re nervous or scared. When a person suffers from anxiety, they’re always nervous and scared, even when there isn’t an obvious reason to be afraid. So it’s not uncommon for anxiety sufferers to have severe stomach problems with no apparent cause. I was put on medication and started regular therapy sessions. I put on weight. I started to feel more like myself again.

I learned a lot from those years. I learned how absolutely whack society’s standards for beauty are. It’s completely ridiculous that people envied my emaciated body when I would’ve traded it all for the ability to eat a cheeseburger without throwing up. I learned how difficult it is to have a chronic illness and be continually dismissed by medical professionals, particularly as a woman.

But I also learned about things that matter. There are times when I’m uncomfortable with the way my body looks these days. I get nervous when my jeans fit a little tighter than they used to. I do need to start treating my body better, which includes eating healthier and exercising. But on the days that I look in the mirror and hate myself, I look back at who I used to be. I look at that little girl. I look at the valleys under her collarbones and the bags under her eyes. The ribs that my family used to joke about playing like a xylophone (lovingly, I promise). I remember the hopelessness in her hungry eyes. And I remember how she prayed to be where I am today. There is more to life than how I look. Being healthy, being happy, and being able to do the things I love to do with the people I love—and being able to be the best Anna I can be to my family, friends, and congregations—are so much more important than the size of my waist.

Most of all, I learned what I shared with my congregation this evening. I learned what it meant for God to take on human form. Being sick taught me that having a body is very hard. For even the healthiest among us, having a body means enduring a great deal of pain. And yet…we’ve just spent an entire season celebrating the fact that God took on a body. A frail, vulnerable, human body. Why on earth would God actively choose to take on flesh and all of the drama that comes with it?

Because God loves us. Recklessly, unendingly, and regardless of whether or not we deserve it. God does not only love us through our trials and tribulations but understands them. Jesus subjected himself to things like fear, anger, sadness, and loss. He subjected himself to physical pain, to abuse, agony and death–all of the things that make having a body difficult. He didn’t have to…but he DID. I think back to how it felt being sick–how I sat up at night holding my stomach asking where God was, and why I was here, alone and suffering. Jesus gets it. Jesus became human, suffered, and died, because he cares about that scared, sick girl crying herself to sleep every night, and everyone like her. When we are suffering–in mind, spirit, or body–God is with us.

Treatment has helped me immensely but I still struggle. Anxiety is a lifelong battle, particularly combined with other mental health issues. It is painful and it is isolating. It still gives me a nervous stomach, sleepless nights, and bad headaches on occasion. But I know that I’m not alone. I never was. I never will be. And you aren’t alone either.

Biography

Anna Viehland is a pastor and divides her time between Helena United Methodist Ministries and Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran church in Townsend, MT. Originally from Florida, she moved to the Big Sky state in May of 2019 after marrying her husband, Daniel. In her spare time, she likes to read, sing, play the piano, ski, and spend time with her pets–two cats, Henry and Marilla, and a border collie mix, Auggie.

Jan 30

Free Lenten Object Lessons!

In over twenty years in children and youth ministry, the object lessons I have used for children’s sermon times have been a very effective way of communicating the truth of God’s Word.  Many of the adults in the congregation would tell me they preferred my children’s sermons to my “regular” sermons!  Jesus taught in object lessons and word pictures, too, so it should be no surprise to us that this method is highly effective—surely Jesus knew what he was doing and set an example for us to follow!

These lessons have been carefully crafted around the stories of the Lenten season (Revised Common Lectionary Readings- Year A), how the Easter story impacts our hearts and lives, and the ways in which your church can connect to the ministry of Intermountain. I hope this resource blesses you, saves you time in preparation, and makes your workload a little lighter. It is my hope that our relationship will truly be a partnership of mutual benefit. As Intermountain’s chaplain, I want to be a resource to you and an encouragement in your work with children and families.

If you want to pair these lessons with a Change for Children can drive which will benefit the children and families that Intermountain serves, please reach out to me at 406-457-4850 or chrish@intermountain.org

Dec 05

Flashback Thursday: Managing holiday expectations

CLICK HERE FOR A BULLETIN INSERT ABOUT MANAGING HOLIDAY EXPECTATIONS

 

While far from ideal, my childhood provided me with great memories of the holidays. I recall special days of decorating cookies with my Aunt Shirley, sharing a bowl of homemade Chex mix with my Grandpa Haughee while watching football, candlelight services at church, and special meals where family came together. We were a firmly entrenched middle-class American family, and one of the few times of excess and celebration centered around the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seemed a time when it was “all about the kids,” and being a kid, therefore, was pretty great.

Through my adolescence and young adult years, music and movies took a significant role in shaping my images of the holidays. I still love to crank up Bing Crosby’s Christmas album, and watch the Christmas classics when they come on TV. One of the best parts of moving from the Pacific Northwest to Montana a decade ago was that I could sing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” with an expectation that my “dream” will actually come true! I love the lights and the decorations, and can honestly say that the holidays are my favorite time of year. This is despite the fact that they are also the hardest time of the year for me. Try as I might, my holidays don’t look like they do in the movies.

Only as an adult can we appreciate the stress that the holidays must have brought our own parents. It is as if, through our own experience as parents and adults, we can look back on those memories of childhood with a clarity we didn’t have then. Behind the bows and lights, and hidden in the dark corners where the candlelight didn’t reach, there were all the stresses and hurt I feel now as an adult. I am sure my parents were missing their loved ones that had passed, just as I miss my mother who passed away this year. The running around from school program to church service to the mall for Christmas shopping undoubtedly tempered their enthusiasm for our celebrations. There were substance abuse issues, strained marriages heading to divorce, and dire health diagnoses that existed throughout my childhood that were as ever-present as our family gathered to share meals and make memories.

By Produnis - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45731820

By Produnis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45731820

That’s why my expectations of the holidays, shaped by the movies to conclude with a happy ending despite any difficulty, leave me confused and always a little melancholy as an adult. Intellectually, I recognize how silly it is to mourn the loss of an ideal holiday that never truly existed, but my heart longs for that happy ending and saccharine sweet Hollywood storyline. So, what should we do when we are stressed out, disappointed, or depressed at the prospect of the holidays with no sign of immediate relief? I have a few suggestions that have proven helpful for me.

  • First, name false expectations out loud. Sometimes just speaking the words, “I can’t have a great Christmas unless [fill in the blank]!” helps you see how silly it is. Our joy shouldn’t hang on the outcome of the weather, our family’s gratitude, or getting that item on our Christmas list. Joy comes from within, not without. Take a deep breath. It will be okay, and okay is good enough.
  • Secondly, manage moments and take time for people, not tasks. Some of the greatest moments during the holidays can be found in chance encounters. If you rush around getting tasks done, you’ll miss these moments of joy. Plan for connection with people, realizing that being together is what’s important—whether it’s over a store-bought cookie or one you spent six hours baking in your kitchen. It’s about being fully present at your child’s concert or performance, not capturing it for Instagram or other social media.
  • Third, get outside yourself by serving. When our holidays are about our experience and how we feel about them, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. But, if we look for opportunities to serve someone else and brighten their day, lightening their load, we shift our gaze from our expectations to another’s need. It just may tap us into a deeper reality behind the holidays, especially as we celebrate the birth of the one who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

Lastly, if you take good care of yourself as a parent or caregiver this holiday season, you’ll be better equipped to provide that wonderful holiday you want for yourself and your family. Your children will thank you for it, and they will appreciate the tradition you build around a more balanced and relationally-focused holiday more than any present you could buy them.

Blessings,

Chaplain Chris Haughee

Older posts «