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What's New:

  • Empowered To Change: Our 2020 group is finally open for registration! If you have ever wanted to work directly with me – this is your chance! We only have 25 spots per class. Go to leslievernick.com/change to learn more.

Are Your Holiday Traditions Wrecking Your Holiday?

By Leslie Vernick

I used to go all out for the holiday season decorating, cooking, and making homemade gifts. I’d send out cards with yearly letters and photos, make videos for the grandparents, and shop for unique and well thought out presents. By Christmas Eve I felt exhausted and crabby but I was determined to make Christmas feel like Christmas. I wanted my children to cherish those special family memories.

Each year I insisted that we go together as a family to find the perfect 12 foot Christmas tree, chop it down and then spend the next couple of days decorating it with homemade ornaments. One year, I videoed our family tree hunting/chopping/decorating adventure for the grandparents to enjoy. After previewing the video I was too embarrassed to send it. The tree looked beautiful but the parents in the video (my husband and I) yelled a lot at the children in the video to behave while the children constantly whined and complained. They didn’t want to trek through the woods looking for the perfect tree or even decorate it. The next Christmas we gave up that tradition and bought an artificial tree.

Don’t get me wrong, family traditions are important, but I have found now that my kids are all grown up that the simplest ones were the most meaningful. For example, my husband always cooks the same breakfast on Christmas morning. He’s been doing it for 40 years and now, even when my children have homes of their own, they look forward to Dad’s eggs benedict.

A green pickle ornament takes a minute to hide on the decorated artificial tree, but my grown children and now grandchildren fight to find it. Whoever spots it first receives a special monetary gift.

Our Christmas Eve tradition began by accident. We invited some of our non-churched friends to accompany us to our Christmas Eve service and then go out to dinner, never dreaming that no restaurants would be open on Christmas Eve. After making frantic phone calls, we finally found a Chinese restaurant open and while living in Pennsylvania, our family still went to this same Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve with our good friends.

Families thrive on shared memories and rituals. These traditions don’t need to be elaborate or expensive but serve an important function. They create a culture that defines your family and the best traditions generate a feeling of togetherness, warmth, fun and goodwill.

If you’re worrying about how you’re going to get it all done (before the magic day) and you’re trying to do everything to make everyone happy, then you’re missing the point of having traditions. Take my advice and make some changes. It’s not too late to:

Stop the craziness. Ladies, this means you because most of the time we are the ones who stress out trying to make everyone happy and make sure things happen. The end result is that we feel frazzled with a heap of tangled emotions. We’re overwhelmed, exhausted, angry and guilty. Trust me, I know!

Simplify. Cut the excess and you will discover that your family can have more fun and better memories when the grown-ups in charge feel calm and relaxed. Sit down with your spouse (or not) and reevaluate what’s truly important to your family. Do you really need to bake a homemade cake for Jesus’ birthday on Christmas Eve? Practice saying No to more things so that you are free to say Yes and enjoy the things that really matter.

Save some time just for you. I know, I know, you’ve heard it before but the truth is you cannot give to others when you are overdrawn yourself. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, it’s essential. Don’t neglect the basics. Sleep, take time to savor the peaceful, joy-filled moments that are unique to this season, and spend time basking in the warmth of God’s Presence. Sarah Young wisely writes in her devotional, Jesus Calling, “Let my Presence override everything you experience.”

Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change this holiday season? That’s my desire. How about you? Let’s invite the Presence of Christ to be with us, in us, and to work through us for this season and in the coming New Year.


Discovering Joy in Philippians, Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament

by Pam Farrel & Jean E. Jones, Karla Dornacher

Discovering Joy in Philippians

If difficult days have ever left you discouraged, this interactive 11-week journey will help you engage creatively with God’s Word and establish habits that lead to greater joy and peace.

“…that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament

Experience the Old Testament as Never Before. Take a journey to discover all God has planned since before the foundation of the earth. You’ll never grow tired of studying Scripture with this innovative and immersive Bible study experience. Through compelling instruction and motivational devotions, it reveals God’s redemptive plan from the beginning of creation.

Two winners will be selected – one for each book- in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy” by Leslie Vernick are Lourdes A. and Cindy D.


Upcoming Events

Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

March 26th and 27th 2020
Dallas, Texas

Finding Comfort in God

Question: I’m not sure how to pose this as a question, exactly. I’ve come to the realization that I’ve bought an awful lot of relationship books – even Christian relationship books – that are basically about how to do what you need to do to make your relationship look like you want it to look.

And I’ve realized that ultimately, the focus is always about establishing my kingdom and not God’s. Many of the things I want are good things and things the Bible says should be a part of marriage. But what if my spouse, for reasons I may never know or he may never overcome, is just broken in ways that most hit me at my own brokenness? How do I know when to grieve and accept that part of suffering in marriage may be God’s will for me and when I’m asking too much or too little of my husband?

What does it mean, in a practical sense, to be comforted by God? How do I become satisfied in Him so that I can be more gracious (even, or especially, when I need to set a boundary) toward my husband?

Answer: Your question is one every married person needs to ask themselves because in every marriage, there are seasons of dryness, unhappiness, and discontent. It might be that our spouse isn’t hearing us well, doesn’t meet our needs in the way we’d like him/her to, or is destructive, being deceitful, abusive, controlling, or unfaithful.

The hurt, disappointment, and anger we feel can either motivate us to try harder to get what we want from our marriage, turn to another human being to satisfy us, become despairing and depressed, or that pain can turn us toward God to cling to him in a deeper way.

Interestingly, studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicate that the highest rates for depression for both men and women are among those who are separated and divorced as well as those with high conflict marriages.

So what is the answer?

Here is What People are Saying About Empowered to Change.

“I Learned some valuable lessons. Knowing Core Values (who I am) is different than my fickle feelings and thoughts is huge for me. Avoiding ‘what if' thinking and ‘worse case scenario disease' will also be helpful to me. Difference between acknowledging and accepting is good for me to know. I acknowledged the problems 10 years ago, but have only moved closer to accepting in last year. Being responsible for my well-being is new to me. Giving up hope of change in my husband has come very slowly. Grieving currently as this is sinking in. Class helped me see a lot of things. Trusting God to work it all ‘into' me. I pray it will move me forward. I need hope for me and kids.”

~ Graduate of Empowered To Change


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States