Archive for christmas

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “It all Goes Back in the Box”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, fUN, God' Love, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Laughter, love, Making Wise Choices, pornography, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Board games“Beyond our greatest fear and struggles lies our greatest power.” That is a Heidi-ism I have expounded on in my presentation to audiences for many years. Through each of my struggles God has unleashed greater power in me to help me embrace more freedom and greater clarity to focus on what is good and has meaningful value. Hence the reason for my blog being silent for several weeks. Two weeks ago I buried my sweet mother who loved God with all her heart soul and mind. During the time of your final days on earth I gave myself permission to withdraw from all social media and focus on that which I believed to be the most important event in my life; being at the beside of my mother.

During her final days on earth as I sat and held my mother’s hand, I experienced many long silent hours that gave me time to reflect all that is good and important in my life. Also during her last 6 weeks in Hospice House, our family had to box up all her belongings and empty her beautiful living accommodations because she would never return to all that was familiar and meaningful to her. Why am I telling you all this on a marriage blog? “We have to realize that all our material wealth, accomplishments, successes and stuff all end up in a box. In our families and marriages, we must have discernment as to what is really important in our lives.”

With Christmas just around the corner we are consumed with trying to find the right present so that we can see the expressions of joy and exultation on our loved ones faces. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. God created us for pleasure and the bible tells us that God wants us to enjoy the abundant life. But not when it costs us our soul and our marriages.
• Not when we work too many hours and are away from our families so that we can afford those things that are beyond our income and budget.
• In Canada the average person has expenses that exceed 64% of their income.
• Not when the credit cards are all maxed out and we lay awake at night wondering how we will make the next payment.
• Not when we impose expectations on our spouses to provide us with those expensive things that we think will bring us happiness.
• Not when we buy stuff because of a sense of entitlement or simply that we think we want it.
• Not when we demand things that we cannot afford and we end up in ugly arguments that leave us feeling diminished and angry.
• Not when it causes power struggles and destroys the harmony in our marriages.
The fact remains that one day everything we have will go back into a box.

When my children were growing up we loved to play the board game of LIFE. It was fun to throw the dice and eventually buy a house, car and fill it all up with a wife, children and lots of great stuff. Of course there is always a winner, but whether you won or lost, the game was folded up and it all went back into the box. That’s the reality of LIFE.

We boxed up all of my mother’s precious well cared for clothes, furniture and some simple jewelry. Today they are sitting in boxes in my basement. But what really mattered in my mother’s life was not the stuff left in the boxes; it was the time and experiences we enjoyed as a family, the laughter, the stories, meals and wisdom and love shared graciously and abundantly.

This Christmas season, and throughout the year, what will it take for you to be able to find your greatest power to help you embrace freedom and joy in the events and experiences that will have lasting value? My husband Jack and I do not give each other Christmas presents. Instead we focus on providing experiences throughout the year that will give us lasting memories that will give us joy and continue to reside in our hearts. Let’s help each other to be diligent and intentionally focus on those things in our marriages and families that will bring us joy beyond the Christmas season and not end up in a meaningless box.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Skipping Christmas-Saving Tension

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other with tags , , , , on December 1, 2012 by hmclaughlin

*temp*Five years ago my husband Jack and I “skipped Christmas”.  Quite simply, we wanted to know what it felt like to let go of all the Christmas expectations and self imposed tension.  What would a Christmas season be like without waiting in lines, looking for parking spots, finding the perfect gift and feeling exhausted from fulfilling all the traditions and obligations that are supposedly inflicted on us? 

 Just last week I was in a Christmas decoration aisle in a huge department store, buying ribbon for our office party. A young couple was pushing a shopping cart down the aisle and in the middle of an argument. I could see the tension and frustration on her face and the anger in her voice: “This is not just for me you know; this is for OUR Christmas. I am just trying to make it a nice Christmas for OUR family.” Sadly I saw the vacant look in the man’s eyes and I could see he just didn’t get this “Christmas thing.”

 I wish I could l have grabbed them by the shoulders and told them what my I, as a woman, learned about simplifying and enjoying the Christmas season. Here is what I learned the year we “skipped Christmas”:

1.         We have to realize we cram a year’s worth of shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and entertaining into about 30 days. Realize how impossible this is to do is without tension.

2.         Many women, including myself, feel guilt ridden and responsible for creating the perfect story book Christmas.  The kind we see on magazine covers, TV commercials and then pulling it together like it happened in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Do whatever it takes to get rid of that guilt and those expectations.

3.         We don’t HAVE to send out Christmas cards. Our family now sends out a “Happy New Year” letter toward the end of January when life has settled into a more relaxed and manageable routine.

4.         We don’t HAVE to spend a lot of money on the perfect gift. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t need another new thing that might end up in a cupboard or drawer. We decided as a family to give to organizations that really need our support. The greatest gift we can give each other in this crazy busy life is the “gift of time.” The grandchildren still get presents but make it simple and not exorbitantly priced. Send the extra money to children who really need it.

 5.        Sit down and ask your husband what type of things he would like to do to make Christmas meaningful for him. If he’s not interested in doing all “that stuff”, don’t load yourself with all the self-imposed expectations of creating the story book Christmas. The tension is not worth it.

6.         Simplify the baking. Instead of 10-12 different items, chose 1 or 2 items your family really likes and get the children involved in the baking. Make it fun not stressful.

7.         Pack your Christmas decorations away each year so that the following year it is easy to set them up. For example, I label my containers “kitchen-foyer-dining room table” etc. When I bring the container up from the basement, I open it and plunk these items exactly where they belong. If you need to buy new decorations; buy them AFTER Christmas when they are 70% off the last sale price and there are no long line ups.

8.         It is more important to have harmony and love in our marriage and homes, than to buy into this new marketing scheme called “The Holidays.”

It has been a harsh reality for me to see that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; yet we don’t invite Jesus to His own birthday party. When I see the Christmas season through this perspective, it hurts my heart to see what I am doing to commercialize this Holy Christmas Season. I need to do whatever I can to stop this insanity.