Last night I was privileged to be a part of  a very important meeting.  The mood was serious and each person at the table had an agenda that they were trying to press. Often the job of the meeting moderator, a job that I fulfilled, is to simply find common ground that everyone at the table can agree on. This is easier said than done but with enough time and energy can typically be achieved. There was a great deal at stake but I think that we came out OK. This was the annual Stalnecker family Christmas meeting.

Each year our family sits down together to plan the weeks in the month of December that lead up to Christmas.  Each person in the family, regardless of age, has an opportunity to share what they would like to do and then, in a very democratic fashion, we vote on our favorites. I am inclined to use Everett’s vote as the “swing” since, as a two year old, he will vote with me every time. For the most part though, we do try to work everyone’s Christmas activities into the agenda for the coming weeks.

While I understand that Christmas is foremost an opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior and to lift up God, a fact that we work deliberately to teach our children, this season does present some very unique family activity opportunities.  In an attempt to make the most of these opportunities we have a family meeting so that we are able to enjoy the time together.  Having a meeting accomplishes the following:

1. Everyone in the family has the opportunity to be a part of the planning process and tell what they would like to do.

2. We are able to set specific dates to activities so that time does not pass while we say, “We will do that later.”

3. Laying out a plan gives everyone something to look forward to.

4. We are able to make deliberate, meaningful family memories.

5. Much of the inherent stress of the season is removed because we have a plan.

We must not forget that Christmas is first and foremost about celebrating the birth of our Savior and Redeemer.  I look forward to the many opportunities over the next few weeks that we will have to do exactly that.  I am thankful as well that there will be special opportunities to spend time with my family and make some great memories.

The meeting was tough, and the personalities were tougher, but I am confident that the planning will all pay off in the end.

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Executive Director of the Mighty Oaks Foundation which is dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat. While growing up Jeremy’s only goal was to leave home and join the Marine Corps. This dream was finally realized with an active duty commission in 1999 which opened the door to serve as a Marine Infantry Officer during the opening days of the war in Iraq. One month after returning from Iraq, Jeremy entered full-time ministry and eventually accepted a senior pastor role. He later accepted a full-time position with the Mighty Oaks Foundation which brought together his ministry and military experience in a way that allows him to minister to hurting veterans, service members and their families. Along with his wife and their four children, Jeremy works to reach the hurting and provide healing found in Christ.

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