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  1. A fun family Christmas tradition we have is making lasagna on Christmas eve! We are doing chocolate advents and reading a chapter of Luke in the Bible each day…..and love Ella Fitzgerald Christmas music. I’d love to learn how to encourage teens to read their Bible, how to build bonds and play less video games??? Thank you!!

  2. Favorite playlist right now for Christmas: Phil Wickhams Christmas album 🙂

    And I’d love to hear any wisdom on the 8-11 year old life. Where they’re not super tiny anymore, and they’re not preteen. But definitely their own human in a new way.

  3. Hannah Yoder says:

    Hi Monica! I’m always so excited to read your weekly emails! You’re coffee date emails are a special treat.

    My grandma gave me a beautiful porcelain advent wreath several years ago. I enjoy finding a simple family devotion, usually a freebie download on the internet, that we do as a family and read each Sunday. My seven year old is reading now and it’s fun to listen to him sound out the words as he reads. And since there is fire involved with lighting the candles, my boys get extra excited about that 😆

    I think my favorite advent devotion I’ve read thus far is Ann Voskamps book 1,000 Gifts. Her poet writing speaks to my nostalgic nature. I listen to your podcasts with Ruth Cho Simons and ordered her book advent book after I listened. Such a good podcasts and it has me focusing more this year on the joy after Christmas also. I am enjoying the book very much!

    I would love to bear anything your fine fellows have to say on honoring parents even when it’s not easy. I think your Levi and my Jax, who will be 12 next month could be fast friends!

    I’ve just loved your podcasts so much recently, and always, and I look forward to listening to more!! Thank for all of the Kingdom work that you do!

  4. Teresa Eskew says:

    We had so many traditions growing up. Making homemade italian biscotti and ravioli for Christmas dinner. My great Grandmother always had an open house Christmas eve party and ALLL of our many relatives showed up. We would spend the week prior prepping food and decorations for the big party. Christmas music was always a must during the prep times.

  5. Teresa Eskew says:

    We had so many traditions growing up. Making homemade italian biscotti and ravioli for Christmas dinner. My great Grandmother always had an open house Christmas eve party and ALLL of our many relatives showed up. We would spend the week prior prepping food and decorations for the big party. Christmas music was always a must during the prep times.

  6. Lacie Tidwelll says:

    1. Our family attends a Christmas Eve service at church and end the evening watching A Christmas Story (over and over).

    3. I’d love to hear how Christian teens handle peer pressure relating to drinking, dating, sex, etc.

    I listen to your podcasts and enjoy your weekly emails!

  7. 1. Praying before putting our Christmas tree ornaments on the tree. We give thanks to God for all of His blessings in every season.

    2. We are currently doing the Jesse Tree advent and Star Wars Lego advent.

    3. Was there a specific moment/event/person that made God real to your boys?

  8. I am an email subscriber 🙂 I’d love to hear your boys talk more about their relationship with you. As a mom of teenage boys, I want to make sure we are building a relationship that we will both enjoy as they become adults.

  9. 1. Decorating the tree with our family while sipping eggnog and listening to Christmas music. We also have a collection of books that only come out at Christmas time — it’s so fun to see my bigger boys (teenagers!) pick up books from childhood and live that small boy Christmas magic ✨☺️

    2. Don’t have a favorite.

    3. What your boys think about how you talked to them about relationships/girls/sex, kissing, all the things.

  10. Kristin Baker says:

    Christmas tradition: Advent study
    Every year I try to change it up to keep it interesting yet focused. This year I purchased Lindt chocolate advent calendars from Costco as a reward for daily reading in Uncovering Mercies at the Manger (not consumed website). They have a junior version for my 9y/o and teen versions for my teens 🙂 It is great discussion in the evenings. We started right after Thanksgiving to prepare for the Dec nights we might have to skip. So far, everyone is loving this year’s advent study.

    Topics from your boys: Maybe this has been covered already (apologies if it has), first relationships with girls—everything from “asking her out”, to hanging out, to break up. Navigate that journey and what did you learn or take away from that experience. Anything you wish you would have done differently? Also, what other books/authors have you or are you enjoying (fiction, just for fun).

  11. Sarah Moore says:

    Tradition: Carried o er from my childhood, each of my boys gets to pick out any ornament of their choice each year. (So far we’ve got a sparkly candy cane, a giant popsicle and one that says Happy Birthday Jesus). It’s always interesting to see what their little minds gravitate towards.

    2. We’ve been listening to Treehouse Schoolhouse “A Connected Christmas” especially Mary Did You Know on repeat since Thanksgiving! 🤗

    3. I’d like for your boys to share how we as parents can help grow or hurt their bonds with their siblings! Also, how to be the cool Mom that they always come back to! 🙂

  12. I love your new podcast name! Looking forward to listening every Wednesday!
    1.One tradition we have in our family is decorating our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We try to buy an ornament every year from our vacation spot so it brings up great memories while decorating.
    2. We have an Advent calendar and my son puts a charm in each day.
    3.I would love to hear your sons speak about how they keep God in their lives daily.

  13. Amanda Johnson says:

    Hey I’m a subscriber and a hard core boy mom fan! Congratulations on your new book and brand!
    I’d love to hear some on marriage and how to show a united front even if you didn’t agree. And the value of your husband and your mutual respect has thought your boys to respect you as well.

    Traditions- when we decorate the tree my husband has this assortment of silly Christmas songs from chipmunks, all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth or hippopotamus for Christmas etc! So fun!

  14. Brittany Janicki says:

    Love these chats!

    My favorite holiday tradition started when I was little. Each year there was a different “Santa” that would pass out the presents to everyone. Growing up in a large family (7 kids) it sort of made us slow down and enjoy. We do this with our children now too. Plus, we added that we don’t leave our house on Christmas, any family members are allowed to come over, but I enjoy sitting in my Jammies and watching our children play with their gifts all day. All the other holidays we’re usually going house to house but this is one I won’t.

    We started a “Names of Jesus” advent calendar that we have been loving. And we also do a nativity scene advent calendar, that started the first year my daughter was born. We love it! And the kids are so excited to put baby Jesus in!

    I would love for your boys to answer “how they handle faith and friendship?”

    Also, already an email subscriber 🙂

  15. Hi Monica,

    I loved this post, and it has been so much fun getting to become part of your “community!”

    1. As a mom of young boys my husband and I are in the process of creating our own Christmas traditions with our family unit as well as passing on traditions we grew up with! Personally, I love tradition so its so hard to narrow it down, so I’ll give my favorite tradition we’ve each brought to our family unit.

    My husband’s family spend some time growing up in the Netherlands, so they celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5th, and we now get to celebrate that with our boys by giving them each small gifts to start off the holiday season. Of course as they get older we’ll be able to dive more into the story of Sinterklass and why we do it, but I think its great exposure to other cultures!

    On a not so worldly note, something that my family does that I get to bring to our unit is making Christmas cookies (a tradition that many have of course) but ours have morphed into creating “ugly” or “weird” colors or designs! Something fun that inevitably gets everyone covered in icing!

    2. Christmas playlist – sadly we are not very unique in this area, and stick to “Christmas hits” on pandora!

    3. YES! I would love to hear from your boys in the subject of discipline (at all ages) – I would love to know how you and your husband handled the subject (which I’m sure if I keep hunting there is already a podcast or blog on the subject) but I would love to know what they remember about learning how to test the boundaries of what they could and couldn’t do and how your rules (or lack-there-of!) shaped them!

  16. Hi Monica. This low-key introvert thoroughly enjoys soaking up your love & exuberance for Jesus, your family, & life in general. — 1) A long-lasting tradition of ours is going out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve. — 2) This year we are reading Paul Tripp’s “Come Let Us Adore Him” December devotional. Only 4 days in and we are having deep conversations with our 14yo son. — 3) I discovered Josh Snodgrass on YouTube (long playlist/no ads) the other day. He plays guitar beautifully. He can also be found on other music streaming services. — 4) It may have already been covered, but discussion on how best to encourage a teen suddenly “too tired” to attend church on Sundays. — And oh, yes, I’m an email subscriber. ☺️

    1. Hi Jamie!! I love your comment (Chinese food on Christmas Eve — I love it! — Reminds me of a Christmas Story :))
      I will def. check out “Come Let us Adore Him”!
      Look for episode 175 on my podcast as my son Josiah responds to someone’s question about a teen who doesn’t want to go to church. I was a bit surprised by his answer and now I quote him often on this topic. Big hugs to you!

  17. Hey Monica! I love the new name- congrats! One of my family traditions is to make Cardamon Braid bread. It was my first year making it myself and I felt so proud of the accomplishment. Needless to say, my family devoured it quickly. I am loving the She Reads Truth Advent playlist on Spotify. This season has been harder for me this year. However, it reminds me of the longing for hope that we are supposed to be reminded of. For your sons, I would love to know their thoughts on how a parent can best cultivate an open relationship where he feels comfortable talking to their parent about hard topics/events going on in their life. Also, how a parent can beat support their son/daughter.

    Thank you for all the light you and your family bring!

    1. this is all so good!! Thank you. And I’ve never made cardoon Braid bread but maybe this year I’ll try it. I’d need to make a lot though, because I know my kids will also devour it! 🙂 Big hugs and prayers for a sweet season. (love your heart!)

  18. My favorite holiday tradition is going to look at Christmas lights as a family. There is one place that I used to go as a child, then took my daughter and have now taken my grandchildren so that one is extra special to me

  19. Christina says:

    One Christmas tradition we have is going with my parents and siblings and their families to cut down a Christmas tree! Snow, rain, or shine! It can be pretty chilly in Michigan. (One year, we still had frozen snow on the branches after a night in the garage and our carpet got all wet!) We get out there the weekend of Thanksgiving and find our fav. Then we go have yummy soups and my brother’s house to warm up and enjoy! The boys look forward to it every year to start off Christmas!

    Would you kids be willing to talk about how they decided “What they want to be when they grow up”?

    Thanks for your ministry!💕 Merry Christmas!🎄

    1. Christina says:

      Also- I love being an email subscriber!

    2. I love all of this! and a snowy December sounds dreamy to us!! 🙂 Great Q for my boys, thank you!! xo

  20. Robin Gold says:

    Our favorite Christmas tradition is loading up the van, packing up some hot cocoa, and driving the neighborhood to see Christmas lights. We have a few favorite homes that we make sure to visit year after year. And sometimes we find some really special surprises.

  21. Favorite Xmas tradition is making Xmas cookies! I love Bing Crosby for music but love Pomplamouse’s Winter Wishes album even more. If love to hear you chat with Jen Oshman of the “All Things” podcast. Finally, I am an email subscriber!

    Mele Kalikimaka!!!!

    1. So fun! I’ll have to check out Pomplamouse’s Wintger Wishes! 🙂 And I’ll also look into Jen Oshman,. Thank you so much!

  22. Melissa Nagel says:

    Our favorite Christmas tradition is lighting candles for Advent and our favorite Advent Study is She Reads Truth.

  23. Amanda Sreedharan says:

    Hi Monica!! I actually grew up doing Jotham’s journey & me & my brothers loved it!…this year I’m trying a new tradition with the kids…they are called Advent blocks…(https://goodkind.shop)….& there are little blocks with pictures that correspond to a Bible story & you read a different story every day! The kids love it so far! Great to get new ideas from other moms !

    1. Thank you Amanda! I will definitely check that out and share it! Big hugs and Mele Kalikimaka!

  24. Amanda Sreedharan says:

    Hi Monica!! I actually grew up doing Jotham’s journey & me & my brothers loved it!…this year I’m trying a new tradition with the kids…they are called Advent blocks…(https://goodkind.shop)….& there are little blocks with pictures that correspond to a Bible story & you read a different story every day! The kids love it so far!

  25. Debbie Whitesel says:

    Tradition: my husband and I give our grandchildren and children a new ornament and Christmas pajamas at Thanksgiving, so they have the whole month of December to enjoy!
    Topic for discussion: as parents how do we take a stand when 2 of our adult children are having issues with one another. It’s heart breaking to witness, but trying to keep the middle ground has been difficult!
    Email subscriber!

  26. Morgan Dommert says:

    I love our annual gingerbread house making. It started when my husband and I were dating in high school and it’s continued on.
    I’ve been enjoying Unwrapping the Names of Jesus.
    A question I have is what was/is the most helpful thing for them to do when they are angry about something? I want to teach my boys a good outlet to direct their anger instead of blowing up.

  27. We have a tradition of going through FamilyLife’s What God Wants for Christmas the week leading up to Christmas. Even though my kids are getting older, they still love doing this together before going to bed each night!
    Another tradition we have is that each year we give each child a special ornament and date it. That way they’ll each have an ornament collection when they one day have a Christmas tree of their own!

    1. Rebecca Altman says:

      I forgot to mention I’m an email subscriber.😊

  28. 1) A favorite tradition is out homemade sugar cookie recipe and we have a countdown box with little doors on it-it hold the advent ornaments and little events-read a Christmas story, make sugar cookies, get the tree, decorate the tree, Christmas party, play a board game, watch a Christmas movie etc.

    2) We love the Jesse tree advent with the ornaments and verses. 🙂

    3) My kids are still at home. But, my oldest just left for the Army. 😍 My question is how to lead and guide but not be overbearing. Also growing emotional, socially, and spirituality mature kids.

  29. 1. I live in Texas and for the last several Christmas Eves we eat Tamales- it’s a Texas thing and I love and look forward to Mexican food!!

    2. I have Ruth’s new book for this year and am excited to go through it.

    3. My oldest son is 11 and I would love advice on how to motivate him to take his schoolwork seriously. We homeschool, and it is hard to be both mom and teacher and always keep inspiring excellence. I’d like to hear what your boys have to say.

    I enjoy your weekly emails.

    Merry Christmas!

  30. Christina says:

    We love Jotham as well!

    Look forward to hearing the interview with your boys. Any pointers from them about how mom can communicate with them well as they get older…

    Definitely an email subscriber!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Christina! I always love hearing from you (I know you’ve followed faithfully for years, bless you!). Great topic for my boys, I made a note! 🙂

  31. Answer#1
    My family tradition is making pizzA with homemade thin crust. My inlaws started the tradition about 47 yrs ago while they’re away with the airforce (and didn’t have much money). Now they both passed, I would like to continue the tradition and pass it on to my son
    We do whatever Advent devotional I can put my hand on that year.
    Would love to hear how your boys handle peer-pressure. I know you boys home-schooled and didn’t have that exposure much or do/did they get any peer-pressure from friends or within themselves?
    And I am an email subscriber. Thank you for the chance!

  32. I am answering #1
    My family tradition is making tamales as a family. We gather around the kitchen table and talk and laugh as we make dozens of tamales.
    I am a email subscriber also.
    A question for your sons to answer is how they handle social media.

  33. I am answering #1
    My family tradition is making tamales as a family. We gather around the kitchen table and talk and laugh as we make dozens of tamales.
    I am a email subscriber also.

  34. 1. A tradition I love is pouring some hot chocolate and driving around looking at the Christmas lights in our neighborhood while listening to Christmas music. It feels like we are in another world, giving a moment to breathe and experience a little peace.

    2. A book I love reading during Advent is Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall. It is a wonderful reminder to cut back on the unnecessary things that distract us during this season, and to focus on the real reason that we are celebrating. It talks a lot about managing expectations, which is a struggle for me.

    3. I would love advice from your boys on how to help my sons (ages 8, 9, & 11) to manage their expectations during Christmas. Whether it is experiences that we participate in or gifts they receive, they don’t always know how to be discreetly disappointed when something doesn’t go as expected. Is there something I can do differently to help set them up for success in this area?

    *I’m an e-mail subscriber!

    Thanks so much!! Can’t wait to get your new book!

  35. One tradition I love is that we always watch White Christmas together. My family growing up did as well, so continuing it with my family now is fun and meaningful and allows me to feel connected to my family even though I don’t live near them.

    We’re doing Unwrapping the Greatest Gift for our Jesse Tree devotional this year. We’ve done it in the past and then took a break for a few years, and are back to using it again this year.

    I’m not sure what question I’d ask your sons…perhaps just what they would say has been the single most impactful thing you and your husband have done as their parents to point them towards a consistent walk with Jesus? Not that there is a major formula or one special thing, but it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on it and compare answers since kids are all so different.

    I’m an email subscriber.

  36. Hummm. Three questions to ponder over one cup of coffee. Well, my boys always wait for their Mimi to come to town to decorate our tree. It’s their special time and our tradition. I get the tree up and the dang lights working. Only one strain worked this year. I won the war though and got 1400 lights on it before she arrived. Both in the summers of 2020 and 2021 we almost lost her, so we do all we can to keep this tradition.
    Not sure we have a playlist, but we have some favorites. Dominic the donkey is a fav cause it’s funny. I always loved Susie Snowflake because I was her in the 3rd grade play. Snow wand and all. Honestly, we love it all and listen to the Christmas channel as soon as it starts.
    Finally, topic of interests could be so many. You have done a wonderful job covering things. Have we discussed the pressures of playing sports, having fun, and the battle of perfection? What about handling bullying to your child and how to help them address it? We unfortunately experienced this already (physical) and I was so glad our son knew he could come to us and we would help him handle the situation. I’m also grateful the principal of our small Catholic school was amazing at addressing it all.
    Still working my way on the course (purchased last year). Time is a minimum with two young boys, full time job and a disease keeping me on my toes.
    Merry Christmas and best wishes for a fun filled holiday.

  37. One of our favorite traditions is picking an experience to do as a family during the Christmas season in lieu of big gifts. We still fill stockings for them, but we’ve found that the memories of a family experience are so much more special than just another material item.

    I’d love to hear from your boys when their faith began to become their own and not just borrowed from you and your husband. I know that can happen on a different timeline for everyone. Thanks, Monica!

  38. I love getting your emails, esp the coffee dates!

    Now that my son is older, he helps me set up the Christmas tree and I love it! My OCD kicks in when he helps placing the ornaments but it’s really sweet so I try to leave most of the clumps ha!
    We started using the Read, Ask, Go last year after I saw you post about it. We love the time after dinner where we read through it. My son always asks about it and reminds us to do it so it’s awesome to see him want to hear of Jesus’ coming.

    One thing I’d love to hear from your boys is what were key points of parenting that helped them to see Jesus whenever you and your husband disciplined them. Was it gentle words, was it consistency, etc. the balance of Law & Grace is tough sometimes!