Happiness in the Holiday Season

We’re entering the season of joy…the time of year filled with family, feasting, and friends!  As wives and mothers, sometimes the holiday season brings a whole additional workload to our lives that can make it difficult to find joy in a season that is designed to bring feelings of happiness, gratefulness, and goodwill.  In reality, though, it often overwhelms us with the additional responsibilities of planning, cooking, entertaining, and giving generously, all the while keeping up with our typical full load of responsibilities.  It’s a bit of a conundrum we may find ourselves in!  For me personally, I hold convictions that mean I don’t believe in religiously celebrating some of these holidays, further complicating the issue.  In these days of Pinterest moms, superwoman expectations, and at time where we have an influx of information of what to do and how to do it, how can we measure up?

The truth is that we can’t!  Statistically, this is the time of year where people most struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.  While I hope this is none of you, if you are experiencing any of these things, please, seek professional help immediately.  There is hope!  The reality is that society paints a picture of impossible standards and if we’re trying to meet the expectations of everyone else, we’ll feel like we’re letting everyone down.  The solution?  Change what we expect of ourselves and don’t concern ourselves with pleasing everyone else, either.

A good first step is to decide what is most meaningful to us as individuals and what is meaningful to our family.  This doesn’t apply to to our extended families!  Often, extended family is where the pressure comes from, so leave them out of the mix.  What is it about this season that you believe builds a better family, a better society, and what is it that strengthens your faith (no matter your religious belief system)?  These are the core issues that we should know about ourselves.  If you don’t know, take a little time to explore these thoughts and decide for yourself what’s truly important to you!  Don’t just “go with the flow” anymore…we don’t have time for these things.

Another thing to decide for yourself is if your traditions hold value.  What is their cultural relevance in your family and in today’s society?  Maybe your traditions are meaningful because your entire family looks forward to doing them together.  Maybe they hold religious or educational value.  Maybe your traditions are simply meaningful because they bring you back to your childhood.  If you find yourself searching and searching for something of value…maybe it’s time to ditch those traditions.

Once you decide what’s important to you as an individual family unit, recognizing that doing away with some traditions that you realize are not meaningful may be confusing to extended family members.  Change is never easy.  All you can do is try to be graceful and explain to them why you’re changing things and what meaning that holds for you.  It’s not up to you to convince them to accept the change.  This is an area where you might just see the “ugly” come out in some people because they don’t like you messing with their traditions, but it’s up to them to accept or not accept.  On the other hand, you might see others that want to join you in changing their ways too, if they can see the value in what you’re doing!  Of course, it’s always best to try not to create division, so if you can find ways to make the changes you see fit without controversy, then by all means do so!  Be understanding and kind, but be firm when you decide to make a change.

If making changes to your family traditions does cause conflict with family and friends, it can be helpful to prioritize.  Decide what things are absolutely non-compromising issues that you can’t bend on.  Decide what things you are willing to meet them in the middle on.  And lastly, decide what things you’re willing to do to show them love and compassion even if they aren’t returning the favor.  Maybe this means joining in a treasured family meal but then leaving for other parts of the day’s traditions.  Whatever it is, remember that you do still love your friends and family even if they might not be as understanding as you’d like about some things that are very important to you and try not to over-analyze their motivations.  And as I’ve learned over the years, they often come to accept the changes and will even be willing to compromise with you in ways eventually.  Baby steps!  Just remember to stay true to your hearts desires and values over your obligations to those outside your immediate family.  If the issues are within your immediate family, this is a topic for discussion another day!

In my experience, there are several phases that we go through when we decide we want to implement major overhauls to our traditions.  We typically start out zealous.  We want everyone to know what we’re doing and why and we fully expect that they’ll naturally just want to join in the fun as well!  But then that doesn’t happen, so next, we experience frustration…frustration with our loved ones for not going along with us, frustration that we’re having to blaze a trail alone, frustration that it’s often not going to be everything we dreamed when we’re doing something that’s counter-cultural.  Later, frustration often leads us into losing hope.  “Am I ever going to have someone who understands and will be with us on this journey?”  This is where so many give up.  The truth is that your friends and family might never come to see value in your way of doing things.  If you can stay strong here and continue to build meaning with your immediate family and accept that “Even if it’s just us, it’s okay!”, as the years go by, those new traditions (or less traditions, or whatever your change was) will become your way of life and you’ll feel less and less ostracized by those who are less accepting of your differences.  Finally, you’ll reach a point of balance.  You’ll learn contentment and joy even in being different.  You’ll experience so much satisfaction from staying true to your values and you’ll experience new-found confidence the next time you face a challenge.  You’ll know in your heart that it’s okay to make a change and to be different and you’ll be happy in your choice.

We personally made these changes in our lives about 13 years ago and it hasn’t always been easy.  We essentially changed religious traditions and therefore, wanted to make a changes to the holidays that we observed.  We took a little look at the traditions of our faith and decided what to keep and what to throw out.  We threw out a LOT!  At the beginning, we really only kept the bare minimum because it was a little overwhelming.  As time has gone on, we’ve added a few new things in that we love, but even at that, we’ve learned our lesson and haven’t even adopted all the traditions of our new faith.  If we don’t feel it’s beneficial, it doesn’t stay.  At the beginning, our extended family has been angry with us, told us how much we’ll regret, lectured us, and persisted in not respecting our new traditions with respect to our children.  We’ve been at this long enough that they’ve slowly come around to accepting that it’s okay if we live our lives a little differently than them and that it isn’t harming them in the least.  They’ve learned to be respectful.  We’ve always tried to be compromising wherever we can to show our sensitivity and understanding toward what’s important to them and now that we’ve been around the mountain and back again, things are great!  We look forward to a holiday season where mutual respect is at the forefront and everyone can be joyful with each other again.

Sometimes we’re called to make significant changes in our personal lives and it isn’t always easy!  If you’re over-taxed or having feelings of, “Why are we even doing this?”…maybe it’s time to take a second look and make a change.  Even if the only change you seek is to cut back or get rid of the materialism, it will be well worth the effort.  Change doesn’t happen haphazardly and it will require dedication, but don’t let our culture determine how you live your life…know your values and live by them and don’t let others bully you into not making the changes you seek.  Life’s just to short to put off changes that bring such rich rewards!

♥ Trish


Please share your own stories of your own experiences making changes in your family traditions.  Your story will inspire others!




Why We Chose Unity

This journey I have been on for the past 7 years has been all over the place.  Initially I felt disillusioned and somewhere between frustrated and angry that the truth had been hidden from me for most of my life.  Next came the shear joy of my new found Truth.  Learning, learning, learning.  Meeting new people who were in the same place.  Oh, the sweet fellowship!  The search for knowledge and Truth soon became an obsession and it seemed every stone I turned uncovered more pagan words, pagan practices, pagan history… the journey began to be more worrisome and less fun.  The calendar was wrong, but which one was right?  Every holiday was pagan.  The sweet celebrations lost their sweetness.  I began doubting everything.  Where does one stop?

I have come to the conclusion that it really all boils down to FAITH.  What will we choose to put our faith in?  People ask me how to KNOW that Scripture is true.  It is simply faith.  There is no way for anyone to know.  History books are written by the victors.  Our media tells false versions of what is happening.  Everywhere we turn we are lied to.  We can’t trust what we SEE or HEAR.  It’s no wonder there is so much suicide, rebellious young people, confusion.  The tester is at work.  So we must CHOOSE to have faith.  We can have faith in Scripture, that it has stood the test of time.  That is has been proven by history and archaeology and by how it is congruent.  And if we have faith in Scripture, then we can have faith in the ONE Whom Scripture speaks about.  Some will choose to have faith in a religion, or in themselves, or in the systems of this world.  As for me, I choose YHWH and His Word.

Ah, but I digress. The point of this post was to say that after all of that questioning and doubting and study, I have come to the point (full circle) that I am going to follow the traditional calendar for the Feasts.  Do I think it is correct?  Probably not.  Do I think some other calendar is correct?  I think that none of them are and it probably is not even possible to find a correct calendar until Messiah comes.  If I had to choose one, it would be the Enoch calendar, but at this time, I feel that UNITY is what we need.  Looking at this from the other side, I see this one celebrating on that day and that one celebrating on this day and we are not in harmony.  We are not enjoying the sweet fellowship of all celebrating TOGETHER.  Not that someone is wrong for choosing one calendar over another, but we are MISSING OUT!  The Father sees our hearts and our desires to obey and I really believe THAT is what He desires.  A pure, obedient JOYFUL heart!  … food for thought =)

A Prayer for Ephraim and Manasseh

Eagle above oceanThis period of time preceding Yom Kippur is traditionally a period of introspection, reconciliation and repentance before the King, so that we may enter the new year as a bride without spot or blemish, having already dealt with our own sins, and without holding on to bitterness or resentment toward others.  With that in mind, I found a thoughtprovoking and soul searching prayer at Torah Driven Life . com that I wanted to share with you all.  Won’t you pray this with me?

A Prayer for the Days of Awe (Adapted from Daniel 9:4-19 and Psalm 80)

O YHWH, the great and awesome Elohim, Who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love You and keep Your commandments: we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, and have turned aside from Your commandments and from Your ordinances; neither have we listened to Your servants the prophets, that spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

To You, O Yah, belongs righteousness; but to us belongs open shame, as at this day; to the men of Ephraim, to those who live as foreigners in a foreign land, and to all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries to which You have driven them, because they dealt treacherously with You. O YHWH, to us belongs open shame, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.

To YHWH our Elohim belongs compassion and forgiveness; for we have rebelled against Him; neither have we listened to the voice of YHWH our Elohim, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

All Israel has transgressed Your Torah, and has turned aside, so as not to listen to Your voice; and so there has been poured out upon us the curse and the oath that is written in the Torah of Moses the servant of El; for we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His Word, which He spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil.

As it is written in the Torah of Moses, all this evil is come upon us; yet have we not sought the favor of YHWH our Elohim, that we might turn from our iniquities, and have discernment in Your truth. And so YHWH has watched over the evil, and brought it upon us; for YHWH our Elohim is righteous in all His works which He has done, and we have not listened to His voice.

And now, O YHWH our Elohim, that has brought Your people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and has made Your name renown, as at this day: we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

O Yah according to all Your righteousness, let Your anger and Your fury, I pray You, be turned away from us.

Now therefore, O our El, listen to the prayer of Your servants, and to our supplications, and cause Your face to shine upon us, for Yah’s sake.

O our El, incline Your ear, and hear; open Your eyes, and behold; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great compassion.

O YHWH, hear; O Yah, forgive; O Yah, attend and do, and do not defer; for Your own sake, O our El, because Your name is called upon Your people.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You that lead Joseph like a flock; You that are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth! Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your might, and come to save us.

O Elohim, restore us, and cause Your face to shine; and we shall be saved.

O YHWH Elohim of hosts, how long will You be angry against the prayer of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in large measure. You make us a strife to our neighbors; and our enemies mock as they please.

O Elohim of hosts, restore us, and cause Your face to shine; and we shall be saved. You plucked up a vine out of Egypt; and You drove out the nations, and planted it. You cleared a place before it, and it took deep root, and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shadow, and the mighty cedars with its boughs. She sent out her branches to the sea, and her shoots to the River.

Why have You broken down her fences, so that all they that pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood ravages it, and that which moves in the field feeds on it.

O Elohim of hosts, return, we beseech You; look from heaven, and behold, and be mindful of this vine, and of the stock which Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.

Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. So shall we not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your name.

O YHWH, Elohim of hosts, restore us; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved.

It’s Feast Time!

Today marks the beginning of the Fall Feasts and my favorite time of year!  Yom Teruah means the Day of Trumpets, or some call it Rosh Hoshana signifying the beginning of the year based on Creation.  In Judaism there are several beginnings of the year for varying reasons.

The only things Scripture clearly asks us to do on this day are to blow the shofar, rest, and meet with others.  It is not like the weekly Sabbath though; on this day food can be prepared, so it’s a great celebration!

Many believe that Messiah will return one year on the Day of Trumpets and it seems like every year there is someone trying to prove that “this will be the year” based on this or that.

10 days from now is Yom Kippur which is a very sober day, so the countdown between today and that day is considered the Days of Awe or Days of Repentance.  It is a time of reflection and deep consideration.

There is one place in town that is closed on Sabbath and all the Feasts of Yah found in Scripture.  He has honored that place and brought blessings upon them.

Does your family celebrate the Fall Feasts?  If so, what do you do to make it memorable and special?  Post in the comments… we would love to hear from you!


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