Scott and I found that keeping our rich spiritual heritage in the centre of family life was a constant challenge. Through mistakes and successes, we found that the simple statement "you get what you plan for" rang true. The following experiment illustrates the power of priorities. We call it our...

Gather the following materials and illustrate this truth for yourself and then for you family.


  • a pint glass jar
  • 1 cup of shelled sunflower seeds
  • 7 whole walnuts (in shell)


  • The sunflower seeds represent all of LIFE that comes to us in the "dailies."
  • The walnuts represent what we want at the core of our celebrations.
  • A totally full jar of the walnuts and sunflowers seeds (no gaps), represents a life full of the values we hold dear.

1. Pour the cup of sunflower seeds into the jar representing the "dailies of life". As you do so, name the things that keep you from celebrating in the way you would like. Not enough time, not enough money, busyness, we need to invite too many relatives for Christmas, not in charge of family gatherings, we're always moving, Valentine's day is a hassle, ETC. ETC.

2. Add the walnuts one by one. Let each one represent the type of celebrations you would love to have . . . Keeping the Christ in Christmas, not having as much emphasis on the gifts as on the Giver of all good things, teaching the meaning of Bible truth in fun ways . . . not cramming all our celebrations (whatever the holiday) into one day and being exhausted when it is done . . . OOPS. No more walnuts will fit. Yet the jar still has empty spaces

This illustrates what our family holidays were like - always leaving emptiness and holes where we wanted fullness and meaning. We wanted to celebrate different but how??

Just as in any area of our life . . . we need to plan for results. Planning, preparing, and anticipating are all necessary for our celebrations to truly reinforce our beliefs. Celebrating this way lets us step out from the ordinary days into celebrations that honor God and deepen and reinforce our beliefs.

3. Dump everything out. Let's begin again.

4. This time we are going to add the walnuts first. Add one walnut for each of the statements below:

When we plan for what we want we can have...

  • A Christmas that keeps Jesus at the centre and not just in the manger under the tree.
  • An Easter that keeps our focus on Jesus' great love and not the Easter baskets.
  • A Valentines Day that doesn't leave us longing for romantic love but teaches about true love.
  • Thanksgiving that leaves us truly grateful, not just stuffed with turkey and surrounded by dirty dishes.
  • Fall celebrations that teach us about the faith of saints gone on before us, so we learn to honor godly lives and not death.
  • Time to build character into our kids lives instead of merely hoping it will be "caught."
  • Church events that would deepen their relationship with God and not just think it is all for adults.

5. Now begin to pour in the sunflower seeds that represent all of life - the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows, the busy days and quiet ones . . . all fall around the celebrations we've planned. This builds stability. Every part of our life, should point our family and friends hearts to our Saviour.

As in the words of Michael Card, we pray each of us will learn:
To hear with my heart
To see with my soul
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold
To trust in a way that I cannot see
That's what faith must be.

Scott and Sondra
on their 25th anniversary

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 145:7

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