Q&A with Becky Kiser
Author of Sacred Holidays
What inspired you to write Sacred Holidays under the same name of your organization?
Our people wanted a resource with everything in one place. Pinterest is awesome but, let’s be honest, it is crazy overwhelming, and we are all about less chaos and more Jesus. So I wanted to simplify things for our people and put all the things for all the holidays in one place. I stuck with the ministry name because it explains what’s in the book best. Sacred means holy and set apart and that’s what this book is all about—making our holidays holy, all about Jesus, and set apart, intentionally planning for all things spiritual and whimsical.
Can you share a bit about why you founded Sacred Holidays?
I always struggled to stay consistent with the Lord during the holidays. Traveling, busy calendars, spending, and all the things, always took priority. I found myself standing there singing “Silent Night” on a Christmas Eve service thinking, “I’ve totally missed it.” Easter was the same; it had become so much more about egg hunts, the perfect dress, and a full table, than really celebrating that Jesus was alive. I didn’t want this for myself any longer, so I started to be more intentional.
It didn’t take long to realize that many other friends and women felt the same way. In fact, I realized it was a very consistent thread for women to dip in their walk with the Lord during the holidays. So nearly four years ago I started writing the first Advent Bible study simply so my friends and I had something to focus our hearts during the holidays. It’s evolved from there to help women connect with the Lord during Lent (the days leading up to Easter), and then engaging them throughout the entire year—the holidays and all the days in between.
How is the book structured, and how do you hope it is used?
This book is part book and part resource. It’s meant for portions to be read right away, and the rest as needed. It’s your go-to resource book before and during each holiday.
It’s broken up into three parts:
- Part 1 (read right away): The challenge—to choose a more sacred way that is still filled with all the joy and whimsy of your childhood traditions. And the reminder to take baby steps.
- Part 2 (read 30-60 days before each holiday): Every holiday has its own chapter filled with a personal charge and a short insight on its historical and spiritual context (Ever wonder if Christians who celebrate Halloween are really celebrating a pagan holiday? We tell you!), and then we give you lots of ideas to help your holiday be holy plus plenty of ideas to make your holiday set apart to experience all the fun and whimsy the holidays should hold. All the ideas are geared toward women regardless of what stage of life they are in. Then we also include some ideas for those with kids in their lives—aunts, moms, grandmas, teachers, etc. Finally, each chapter has space to journal what’s worked, what didn’t work, and other ideas the reader hears from others, making this book your go-to resource each year.
- Part 3 (read as needed): The final section is there to help women through the common struggles that come with many of the holidays. Chapters include:
- How to NOT Be That Christian
- Realistic Expectations
- Conflict, Drama, and All The Feels
- Budgets and Generosity
- Schedules and Plans
- Santa and the Easter Bunny
What holidays do you cover in the book?
I cover all the main holidays:
- New Years
- Valentine’s Day
- Lent and Easter
- Advent and Christmas
- Happy Birthday
Obviously some of the holidays are technically spiritually based, but we wanted to help show women that all the holidays we are already celebrating can be made sacred—holy and set apart. We can all choose #LessChaosMoreJesus at Christmas and on our birthdays.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? What about your family’s favorites?
This is an impossible question for someone who is obsessed with holidays!
Some of my personal favorite traditions:
Lent and Easter: This season is such a deeply personal one to me and choosing to focus on it, even though my denomination doesn’t typically guide you through it, has been incredibly impactful. Going through the Lent Bible study we release at Sacred Holidays and using Lent candles help focus my heart.
New Year: Setting a word for the year has been a game changer for me!
Some of my favorite traditions with my family:
Halloween: People always think this is funny, but it’s one of my favorites to share with others. We go all out. The way I see it is it’s the one time of year my neighbors are knocking on my door and walking around wanting to talk! So I’m going to seize the moment. We fill up our driveway with fun—we’ve rented an inflatable, had a s’mores station, and I always try to have the best candy!
Birthdays: We don’t go big at Christmas for giving gifts to our kiddos because we focus on different things then, but birthdays we go over the top with focusing on whoever is the birthday person—not just with gifts but with it being all about celebrating them. One of my favorite moments is at each meal that day and at their party, we invite whoever is there to share their favorite thing about that person. Also, birthday week is a real thing in our house.
How do you hope women grow by using Sacred Holidays?
I hope women take baby steps to having the holidays they wished they had. As adults, holidays can be a bit of a bummer—the whimsy of our childhood gone and the chaos of our lives is a bit of whirlwind. We love the holidays but we also feel a little dissatisfied by them if we are being honest. I want women to know it doesn’t have to be that way. They can be even more whimsical now as we fix our eyes on Jesus, and they can be a total blast too! I hope women feel like they’ve taken a giant breath of fresh air after reading each chapter and then feel inspired and equipped to choose more Jesus and less chaos that next holiday, one baby step at a time.
What one change could women make to celebrate holidays in a way that matters? What about families?
For women individually, which is something we hardly consider—regardless of our life situation, we are always thinking of others—I hope each woman finds her way through each holiday before she leads those around her to a more sacred way.
Say “no” more. No can be the most powerful thing for a woman. No to the party. No the mother or mother-in-law. No to Target (ha!). No to the insecure lies swirling in her head. No to unrealistic expectations. No.
For families, I’m going to cheat and give you two because there are most often two very different camps:
To the “way too spiritual” family: Chill out. Yes, let’s make all of life about pursuing, loving and celebrating Jesus. But let’s not forget that we are not commissioned to raise little Christian robots; we are charged to make disciples, followers, of Jesus. So let’s show them the way—let’s fill our tables with people, let’s love others well, let’s celebrate, let’s go walk alongside others. Most moms ask what they can do for their kids, and the answer is simple: show them what it looks like to love and follow Jesus as you love others along the way.
To the “means well but misses it” family: Try harder. I say this with so much love and grace because I am this family. We always come up short. What I’ve learned is we can find lots of little ways. Having a sacred holiday doesn’t mean we have ten-hour family devotions each night, it means we are intentional to teach our kids a more meaningful way. And if that is my litmus, I realize we’ve not come up quite as short as I judge myself.
How are women missing out on the intentionality of holidays in not just Christmas and Easter, but in other holidays as well? Give a couple of examples.
I think there are a few major things that prevent us from being intentional with all the holidays. We think we are too busy to do one more thing. True, we all have the same amount of hours in our day and we are not a victim to our schedule. We have to choose this, and it’s not that hard. That’s why we set up the book the way we did—an easy-to-reference book a month or two before each holiday.
We don’t know how to do it any different. Whether it’s that our family doesn’t welcome change, we don’t want to lose the traditions, or Pinterest overwhelms us, we are a bit lost on what to do. In Sacred Holidays we simplify it for you—giving you all our favorite traditions and ideas, and then providing you with space to include yours.
We simply aren’t spending time with Jesus any more. Our culture is getting further and further from knowing how to connect with Jesus through prayer and studying His Word. It feels overwhelming. We are so easily distracted by to-do lists, Instagram feeds, and just one more episode to binge watch on Netflix. Our attention is constantly being enticed other places.
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