Leslie Vernick
 December 9, 2014                                                                                   
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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 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, Howard always cooks the same breakfast on Christmas morning. He’s been doing it for 32 years and now, even though 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 still 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-church 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 27 years later, our family still goes 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.  

My Husband Is Chronically Complaining And Often In A Bad Mood.


Question: My husband is chronically complaining and often in a bad mood. He finds something wrong with everything and frequently has a pity party for himself. I don’t know how to help him or even how to live with him in a godly way. I don’t want him to ruin the holidays for our children – again! What can I do?


Answer: It is extremely difficult to live with a negative person. Your husband may be experiencing depression and you may want to invite him to take a depression test on-line. I have one on my free resource page.
However, some people are just habitually negative and don’t understand how miserable they are making themselves as well as the toxic effect they have on others. Bad moods and negative attitudes are contagious like the flu and you will need to do some things to protect yourself and your children from catching it.

You ask if there is something you can do to help him? The answer is yes and no. Yes, if he wants help with his negativity and sees it as his problem. No, if he doesn’t see it as his problem and blames you or the world for everything that doesn’t go the way he thinks it should.You might try talking with him about his negativity, but I suspect you’ve tried that already with more negative results. We all are somewhat blind to our shortcomings, and this is true for a negative person as well.

However, another approach would be to help him see what his negative outlook costs him. When someone is chronically negative they are miserable, but what the negative person doesn’t grasp is that it’s not his life that’s the main problem. It’s his internal attitude. It’s the way he habitually thinks about life and responds when he doesn’t get what he wants or what he feels he deserves.

When nothing is right on the inside, then nothing can be right on the outside.  (Tweet this!)

No one thinks or feels positively in every situation nor is it always beneficial. But what our mind and emotions habitually dwell on directly affects our mood, our attitude and our behavior. When we regularly brood on things that we don’t like or that are wrong, painful, negative or hurtful, we can’t feel happy. It’s impossible. The psalmist cried out, “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught” (Psalm 55:2).

Constantly complaining and comparing one’s lot in life to others more fortunate causes us to feel upset and unhappy. God has hardwired our thoughts to be influenced by our feelings and our emotions are directly impacted by the thoughts we think. Dallas Willard, in his excellent book on spiritual formation, Renovation of the Heart said, “If we allow certain negative thoughts to obsess us, then their associated feelings can enslave and blind us—that is, take over our ability to think and perceive.”

It’s important that you not take responsibility for his feelings or try to cater to his bad moods. That will just make you and the children feel like you’re walking on eggshells and reinforce the lie that somehow you and everyone else is responsible to make him happy. When he vomits his negativity on you, do your best to shake it off as quickly as possible. Don’t retaliate. Don’t brood. And don’t get caught in your own pity party that feels gypped because you’re married to this kind of man.Distance yourself from him when he’s in this state so there is no secondary gain for him. If he doesn’t want to participate in something, do it without him. By doing this, you’re not punishing him, but helping yourself not “catch” his bad mood, as well as giving him an opportunity to see that even when things don’t go as you want them to, we all have a choice in how we respond.

I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of my book, Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy, which will help you uncover the obstacles to your own happiness as well as how to learn to be a happier person
Connect With Me
Are Your Holiday Traditions Wrecking Your Holiday?
Accepting Coaching Waitlist Applications
Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
The Emotionally Destructive Relationship Study Guide and Leaders Guide CD by Leslie Vernick – 5 Winners!
My Husband Is Chronically Complaining And Often In A Bad Mood?
For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below:


Coaching Programs

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The  Emotionally Destructive Relationship – With Study Guide and Leaders Guide (CD)

by Leslie Vernick

Leslie Vernick has witnessed the devastating effects of emotional abuse. Many, including many in the church, have not addressed this form of destruction in families and relationships because it is difficult to talk about. With godly guidance and practical experience, Vernick offers an empathetic approach to recognizing an emotionally destructive relationship and addresses the symptoms and the damage with biblical tools.
This practical and thorough resource will help countless individuals, families, and churches view abuse from God’s perspective and understand how vital it is for victims to embrace His freedom from the physical, emotional, spiritual, and generational effect of emotional destructive relationships.

“Leslie I'm doing your study with women at my church. It's such a blessing!! Many are finding answers and healing. When finished with this round I'm going to start another one! Very powerful!! Thank you for letting God use you in such a mighty way for His kingdom. Thank you for being transparent and honest as you share.


Many Blessings!
Brenda H.

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


The Winners of The Stress Cure  by Linda Evans Sheperd  are Vikki A. and Jill W.


January 1- 2, 2015
Tuscorora Conference Center Singles Retreat and Conference
Mt. Bethel – PA
January 12-16, 2015
Keep Leslie in prayer as she speaks to church leaders about emotional abuse at Havana Seminary in Cuba. Pray for her to be effective and bold.
March 6, 2015
First Friday Event
SouthLake, TX
“Your teaching was so helpful. Almost a month after the event, women are still quoting you, talking about ways they were challenged to change. You are an engaging speaker, easy to listen to and we especially appreciated your real life examples.
Grounding your work biblically and using many scriptures in your talks has given us much to think about and go back and reference over time.  Thanks again for your commitment to ministry and for sharing with us.”

– Robin J.

Ogletown Baptist Church

Women’s Ministry Team


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