Even though the Holiday Season, is ideally supposed to be about Jesus, family time, and sharing meals & memories, for us as moms, it can end up being stressful! So how can we better prepare and plan ahead for these holidays, so we can actually focus on what matters? How can you and I find balance this holiday season? Taking a close look today at Mary and Martha in the Bible for the answer to finding a balance.
LISTEN TO THIS INTERVIEW AS A PODCAST HERE
LET ME INTRODUCE MY GUEST:
Jana Broughton is joining me today! She is a wife of 17 years to Thomas and a mama of two middle schoolers. She also runs her own online children’s boutique from home, and it’s called Little Langs. We’re going to learn a little bit more about that later. So without the holidays even considered, she’s already a busy woman that we can all relate to!
Mallory: Jana, I always like to ask this as my first question when I interview someone: How do you like to have your quiet time in this season of life?
Jana: That is a great question. I am a huge morning person, so I love to set my alarm before my kids get up, get a cup of coffee and just have a quiet house for a few minutes to myself before the crazy starts! Typically, I like to start with an app that is called Echo—it’s a prayer app and I love it! My pastor told us about it years ago, and I’ve used it ever since.
Basically, it just helps me not be an empty prayer warrior for people. I know that when I reach out and ask somebody to pray, it’s because I really believe in the power of prayer and I need them to be praying for me. So while I appreciate them saying a prayer right then, and I know I’ve done that for people too, but we all get busy and forget to continue praying for others many times. The Echo App kind allows me to enter in everything I’m praying for—and there’s people in situations that I’ve prayed over for years now, and the people have no idea. I haven’t ever told them. For my kids, for family, friends, etc. or whatever’s on my heart.
After my prayer time, I usually do a devotional I have, or if I’m involved in a Bible study (We’re currently in the Book of Daniel) then I will work of that. I feel like I’m a better mom when I have a little quiet time before the day gets started!
Mallory: Absolutely. I love the idea and simplicity of the Echo App, so stay intentional with our prayers! I know people ask all the time, “Hey, can you pray for me about this?” I usually say a quick prayer then like you mentioned and that is good, but to have something to keep reminding you to consistently pray for people specifically is a wonderful tool! Check out the ECHO App here. I have recently gotten this myself and it is really helpful!
Jana: It helps hold me accountable as a prayer warrior and keeps up with when prayers are answered.
Let’s Get to Our Topic: Finding Balance in the Holiday Season
Mallory: Let’s get started on our topic today: finding balance in the holidays, focusing on the passage from Luke 10:38-42:
"As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed. Or indeed, only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her."
Mallory: There are quite a few “Marys” referred to in the Bible, and around Christmas time we are usually focusing on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. But today, we’re going to be focusing on Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus. (You might remember him as the one that Jesus raised from the dead.) These 3 siblings were good friends with Jesus, seen on several accounts in the New Testament where they’re with Him. Martha is the oldest of the three and being the oldest, she likely felt the most pressure to be busy being a good host and serving everyone.
As we read, we find that Mary is just content as she can be sitting at the feet of Jesus and worshiping Him. So many times I have referred to this story when I need to be more like a Mary and less like a Martha in motherhood. Jana, as a mom, is your tendency to be more of a Martha or a Mary in this type of situation, when you are hosting, planning for the holidays, and so many things going on?
Jana: I think anyone that knows me, knows I am definitely a Martha in this situation! I’m always running around… working, vacuuming, picking up the houses etc. I know how I much work I do to get the house ready when our friends or family come over, so I can’t imagine how I would feel getting ready for Jesus to come over!!
But I do think a lot of us, and myself included, do have qualities of both Mary and Martha. I mean, both of these women loved Jesus and both were serving Him in different ways. The problem was that in Martha’s desire to serve, she was neglecting her guest. And so as I read this passage, I found it interesting that Jesus doesn’t blame her for being concerned about her chores. He was just asking her to set her priorities.
Mallory: Yeah, I agree. Especially in the holiday season, we are often times so busy with the planning, the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the wrapping, all these things…that I’m really convicted this holiday season, to be done with all of that, so I can sit around the table with my family. I want to be able to sit around the dinner table, read the Christmas story or watch everyone open every present, and not be worried about the trash or the mess that can be cleaned up later!
Mallory: I can remember when I first got married and first had kids, it was really stressful! Slowly but surely I’ve been working on it, but I’m sure moms can identify with this pressure of a long to-do list taking over what’s really important!
Jana: Yes for sure! My husband and I always laugh, because I love watching his face when the kids open their gifts as much as theirs, because he has no idea what we got them either! Moms, we’re the ones usually doing all of the shopping, wrapping, etc…right?! So it takes a conscious effort to slow down and to really be in the moment.
Mallory: Absolutely. So when we see Martha get frustrated in this story, Jesus is gentle and clear with her, and He says that Mary is doing the more important of the two. It’s not that Martha’s doing anything wrong or bad, it’s just that the more important thing is to focus on Jesus.
Being busy during this season, is really an unavoidable thing for us as moms, but over time, what are some things we could do to plan ahead? Especially while the kids are still in school before Thanksgiving or Christmas break, do you have suggestions that would help make life easier once the kids are out of school and things get crazy?!
Jana: I find for me, the more organized I am, the happier I am, which ultimately sets the tone of our home. My mom has always told me that as a mom you set the tone and the mood for your entire family. And if you think about that, you really do! That’s a lot of pressure, I know, but the more organized I can be, whether it’s big things throughout the year or just weekly planning ahead with meals…
I like to look at my calendar in small pieces at a time. Seeing when we have practices, church activities, holiday parties, etc. and make a plan for dinners and family time in advance. I don’t want 5:00pm to roll around and not have a plan, because things get chaotic and our family time will get sacrificed….and you spend WAY too much $$ on food then too eating out 24/7! (CHECK OUT JANA & MAL’S 8 SIMPLE RECIPES HERE FOR THE CROCK POT OR FREEZER AND GREAT FOR THE HOLIDAYS!)
And when I’m out running errands, especially if you have kids in school, go ahead and think ahead about birthday parties or Christmas presents. I’ve been buying our Christmas gifts for months already…If I’m out and see something, I just try to go ahead and buy it. I actually make a note in my phone. I have a folder and it’s secretly hidden so my kids can’t find it. Because if I buy it, oftentimes I will forget if I don’t write it down….and then you end up buying more than you need last minute. I have the list organized by person, and I know exactly what I have for each person and who I still need to buy for. These keeps me less stressed and more purposeful in my shopping around the holidays.
I also try to have all Christmas gifts wrapped while the kids are still in school, because my son’s birthday is right after Thanksgiving. So I feel like for us, I found that I like to put up the tree the weekend before Thanksgiving. And my husband always makes fun of me and says I skip holidays. But it’s not that I skip holidays, I just really know that once Thanksgiving hits we’re out of town usually, then my son’s birthday and Christmas comes soon after. You can let the holiday season get so busy that it becomes a whirlwind, and if you don’t watch it, you will miss that time to really be intentional with your family and with Jesus!
Mallory: Yeah, I agree. We’re very similar—I keep a note on my phone too that’s locked with all my Christmas gift shopping too. Because it’s not just the kids we have to think about, we have to buy in-laws, parents, siblings, friends, teachers, co-workers, etc. So it’s really nice to shop ahead because most people, including myself, cannot afford to buy all of that in December!
Jana: I know…It’s so expensive!
Mallory: That’s a great suggestion to shop and wrap gradually. Then also with the weekly meal planning is great, because when things are crazy in the holidays with bigger family meals and parties, etc. In light of that, Jana and I have complied a PDF of 8 simple and easy recipes great for the holidays that are crock pot or freezer friendly! CHECK THAT OUT HERE! So if you could make your desserts ahead of time or have your meat done in the crock pot all day, then you wouldn’t have to stress out as much over some of these holidays. Just a little freebie that we wanted to give that might help you this season. (CHECK OUT JANA & MAL’S 8 SIMPLE RECIPES HERE FOR THE CROCK POT OR FREEZER AND GREAT FOR THE HOLIDAYS!)
Mallory: Another question that I have for you, Jana, is, owning your own business at home and being a mom, how have you failed or how have you succeeded in learning to turn off work or other things that you have going on so that you can be present with your kids? How have you failed at it in the past? Or what have you learned it takes to succeed and be intentional?
Jana: You know, I love this question. I wish I could say that I had succeeded at this all throughout motherhood, but I haven’t. There was a time in my life, I started my own business 10 years ago, but while I was starting it, I was also working in pharmaceutical sales. At the time I had a one-year-old and a newborn, because my kids are 14 months apart — because we’re crazy! 🙂 So I do feel like that was, as I look back, just a super busy time in my life, that I would say I failed at shutting things off and being with my kids many times.and finding purpose in that.
I will say the turning point for me is really when my kids got in elementary school. I think that moms with kids in elementary school and middle school will understand…when you open up that window to get eight hours a day, that is huge for me! And before that, I feel like it was a constant struggle when they were little. I would have to get up early before the kids woke up and stay up late after they went to bed, because I wanted to be with them, but at the same time I was working all the time, right? Behind the scenes. Whereas now, I really feel like I have eight good hours where I know how I like my day to flow and I try to prioritize. Okay, I like to start my day with quiet time. And then my husband takes the kids to school, and I like to exercise. And after that I have my list of jobs to fill for work and errands to run. Sometimes I get it all done and sometimes I don’t…
But I’ve also come to this point in my life where I realize that at three o’clock, my real job starts with my kids and being a mom and being there for them. And my kids are almost 13 and 14, they’re in seventh and eighth grade. Tom and I talk about this a lot, that my window with them is small. I mean, you’re talking four or five years and they’re gone out on their own. So when you look at it that way, I feel like it’s really easy for me to shut everything else off. Because once they get in the car, I really don’t take work calls or anything else….that’s when some of my best conversations happen with them in the car or at dinner.
I just find, I often remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there will be things that will always be there for me to do tomorrow…
Mallory: That’s so great! And so healthy. I love what you said, “when they get in the car, my real job starts.” Because yes, the other job brings you income and it brings you things that your family needs and is important…..but nothing compared to impressionable time with your kids…to share Jesus with them and invest in their lives!
Repeatedly it says in Proverbs, that in order to be wise, you cannot be lazy. (I’m obviously not quoting it here—I’m saying it in my own words.) So there’s something to being a Martha, but also being a Mary, having that balance of being able to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer, spending time with him, but also to getting your stuff done ahead of time, so that you’re able to sit and be with your family and have that time with the Lord like we’re talking about for the holidays.
Mallory: Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m glad to have you!
Jana: Thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed it!
Mallory: I shared earlier in the beginning that you own a children’s clothing boutique called Little Langs. She has some really cute things! Jana, will you please share with the moms how they can find you on social media and your website?
Jana: Sure. Our website is littlelangs.com and we have a really active Facebook VIP group, where we do a lot of daily sales and $15 tees and really cute things. The name of the group is Little Langs VIP. We are also on Instagram. Also, I thought I would offer a 25% off promotion for everyone reading or listening today, if they want to go order something. Use the promo code Faithful31Moms at checkout.
Mallory: Perfect. I love that!
BE SURE NOT TO MISS THIS!
To further what we have discussed about preparing ahead of time so you can be present with your family, but also really keep the focus on Jesus—I wanted to share something that you may have already seen on our social media this month. We are starting December 1st, a 25 day online Bible Study called The 25 Days of Anticipation, to keep the focus on Jesus this Christmas and great to do with your kids as well. SIGN UP FOR THAT HERE!
I’m going to be doing this online study alongside of you and you’re welcome to email me (email@example.com) or comment about things that the Lord is teaching you and your family!
If you haven’t subscribed to our podcast so you can be updated with the new episodes, like this one, please do that today and follow me on Instagram to catch all the latest!