How to Have a Holiday-Ready Heart by Cheri Gregory

How to Have a Holiday-Ready Heart by Cheri Gregory

You all know (and love) my coauthor and friend Cheri Gregory. What I love about Cheri is that while being one of the smartest human beings on the planet, she is always first and foremost concerned about the heart – not the head. In today’s post, she talks about how knowing who we are personality-wise can affect how we combat one of our biggest temptations this season – the need to buy.

Be sure to hop over to her blog for a chance to win our book The Cure for the Perfect Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver.

10-23-15 Gregory Cheri How to Have a Holiday Ready Heart image

“…be content with what you have, because God has said,

‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.”

(Hebrews 13:5b NIV)

Settling into my favorite chair, I smile and sigh.

I love my life.

Outside the window, a slight flutter catches my eye: a hummingbird. Delighted, I watch the little guy test the feeder options and settle on a favorite flower.

I have everything I could possibly need.

I look slowly around the living room, basking in abundant evidence of rich blessings:  shelving units overflowing with books, an over-stuffed couch covered with soft blankets and seafoam green pillows, two cats snoozing in sunbeams.

If I didn’t know better, I’d envy myself!

I giggle and, trying not to feel guilty for being so happy, begin sorting the day’s mail.

A catalog catches my eye.

I don’t need anything, but it’ll be fun to browse for just a quick sec.

Ten minutes, one Sharpie, and fifteen Post-It Notes later, I am a woman possessed. I have found, at long last, the exact kitchen gadgets I need in order to …

I’m at it again.

I glance around the room. Sure enough: my contentment has been replaced by a gnawing sense of need.

The bookshelves are cheap and ugly. The couch is old and stained. The cats ruin everything.

In my lap, more catalogs offer instant solutions to my home improvement problems, quick fixes for the many defects in my wardrobe, and …

I’m not going down this road again.

Bankruptcy no longer tarnishes my credit record, but its lessons are etched into my heart.

I’m still vulnerable.

A book I used to read to Annemarie and Jonathon when they were little comes to mind:  The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies.

I shake my head.

I still go from gratitude to gimmie in a heartbeat.

I get up, toss the catalogs in the recycling bin, and return to my chair.

As I watch the hummingbirds flit to and from the feeder, my contentment gradually makes a comeback.

Preparing Our Hearts for a Contented Christmas

During the holiday season, we are bombarded with a barrage of emails and billboards and sale flyers and TV advertisements that all scream, “You NEED this!”

But what we really need is internal fortitude to resist the external forces ganging up against us.

I’m not suggesting that buying things we need or want is inherently bad. Not by a long shot.

What I am suggesting is that we combat consumerism by intentionally choosing contentment. Here are a few how-to tips, customized for each personality:

1)  Expressive:
An Expressive’s #1 goal is to have fun. We buy a fabulous new outfit or tickets to a big event, thinking, “This is going to be so much fun!” But as the fun fades (as all fun does), we’re tempted to keep spending money to keep the fun coming.

But the key to fun isn’t funding: it’s learning to trade expectation for anticipation. Rather than getting caught up in how much fun an event is supposed to be (followed by disappointment when it isn’t), we can choose to anticipate and then find the fun in each one.

2)  Analytic:

This personality’s life goal is to achieve perfection. It’s so easy for her to get an image of a “picture perfect” holiday in her mind and think, “It isn’t truly Thanksgiving/Christmas unless the ______ (house, meal, tree, etc.) turns out just right!”

When perfection becomes our only conduit for contentment, disappointment is guaranteed: for ourselves and those who feel like they’ve let us down. Instead, we can choose to re-define “perfection” as “good enough” (no matter how much of an oxymoron that may seem to be!) and look for perfect moments to truly enjoy.

3)  Driver:

For Drivers, whose life goal is control, it’s very easy to treat the entire holiday season as one giant list, moving from one thing to the next: check, check, check. We had that last night, we have this today, and soon it’ll be tomorrow when we will… The danger in this approach is never being present in the moment.

Detaching contentment from achievement may require taking an eraser to the calendar. We may need to say, “No way. I can’t be fully present for every single one of these. I’m just going to be hopping and skipping and jumping but I’m never going to actually be there.” Slowing down and making space for relationships may feel less productive, but it’s what creates true contentment.

4)  Amiable:

The Amiable’s life goal is peace. Always. Between all people. This can be tough at the holidays. Put a bunch of people with different personalities together, add some travel, throw in gifts, mix with fatigue, and Peace on Earth is not an easy goal to achieve.

10-23-15 Gregory Cheri Book CoverIt helps to remind ourselves that sometimes the messiness, chaos, and even conflicts of life are normal. We can focus on being grateful for those who have gathered together, even when they aren’t getting along perfectly. Even when the people around us aren’t exactly peaceful, we can still choose contentment.







Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is The Cure for the Perfect Life.

You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Cheri’s blog. 10-23-15 Gregory Cheri Headshot

PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th, at

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. She is a frequent presenter at women’s retreats, parent groups, and educational conferences. She has contributed to or coauthored a dozen books, most with Kathi Lipp, including The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver and Clutter Free.

Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-seven years. She is “Mom” to Annemarie (24) and Jonathon (22), who are also opposite personalities. The Gregory family lives on the central California coast.

Cheri’s passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”  You can visit Cheri’s website and connect with her on Facebook.

The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness in Marriage

The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness in Marriage

Guest Blog from Suzanne Eller

1. You’ve been listening to many stories from women who struggle to forgive. How many women struggle with forgiveness in their marriages? TheUnburdenedHeart

Nearly 50% of the women who share their stories on my blog, or in person, say that their biggest struggle to forgive is in their marriage.

For many, it’s when a spouse is continually unkind, or says words that diminish her. In this instance, many women bear their soul and are told either to get out, to seek counsel, or to submit.

The first leaves a woman who desires to stay and work things out because she loves her husband and wants her marriage to succeed, with a heavier burden.

In the second, seeking counsel is wise advice, as long as it’s counsel that is skilled in helping a couple, with God’s help, find new ground in their marriage. Many times “counsel” can be someone who do not have those skills.

The third, to submit, is often shared without proper context. The word “submit” is thrown out without the beautiful framework of instructing husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church”. This is why wise counsel is key. Submission is respect, it’s great love, it’s working through the harder spots.


2. So, how do you begin to forgive in this instance?

It’s a blend of truth, grace, and confidence.

Truth is shared, perhaps in the setting of a counselor’s office, or perhaps in a moment where it’s not heated, after prayer and with love, and with the intent of working toward a healthier relationship.

Truth is coated with grace, knowing that we all fall short. It’s shared with wisdom and without accusation. And in some instances, it’s shared with healthy boundaries, not to punish, but to work toward the healthiest relationship possible. (A great book on boundaries that is both healthy and filled with wisdom is Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.)

Confidence comes from knowing that the Truth spoken in scripture is who you are. When I began to realize that the words spoken over me in my childhood were from a broken place in another person, it brought two things:

a) I began to see who I was to God. Words mattered, but His words carried greater weight.

b) It brought an element of compassion. This person wasn’t the enemy. The true enemy desires to rob a person of their worth, and value. Just as I was harmed by words, so was this person. It didn’t make what happened okay, but I stopped trying to fix another person (which is impossible) and began to see the greater picture, which allowed me to speak truth with grace, instead of speaking from a place of hurt and anger.


3. What about unfaithfulness?

A percentage of that 50% wrote in that they struggled to forgive because of unfaithfulness. I shared Carlie’s story, a woman whose husband left her after 29 years of marriage. In this case, the word forgive meant that God moved into the broken and raw places in Carlie left by her husband’s unfaithfulness.

He knew her. He knew her heart. She intentionally walked into a relationship with God during that painful time so that He could fill up her “temple”, residing in Her, healing her, moving in her to pray for him and even forgive, as much as was possible at that time, in those moments when she wanted nothing more than to take revenge, or lash out. In Carlie’s case, her husband went on with his new life, but she also had new life in Christ that filled her up in the harder months ahead. She was redefined in so many ways – single mom, single woman. But her role as God’s daughter was made that much more clear and concrete.

For those whose spouse asked for forgiveness and who desired to change, forgiving is key as you rebuild trust. But give yourself permission to be honest with your heavenly father, with the understanding that there is nothing in scripture that condones unfaithfulness. It’s not in God’s plan or His character. If He grieves over the fallen sparrow (Matt. 10:29), then He grieves over your marriage. He is big enough to handle your honesty while leading you to a new level of spiritual intimacy with Him and even tender vulnerability in your relationship with Him as you work through this harder aspect of forgiving.

At this moment, it may seem impossible to forgive on your own, but are you willing? That’s the only question that you need to answer. God is a Healer, and my prayer is that your marriage goes to a new place, but also that you sense God’s hand over you as you work through this difficult place, and that one day you look back and see His tender touch over you and your marriage. My prayer is also that you bring in wise counsel as you work through the past to find a stronger future.

Get the Book

Download chapter 1 or purchase your copy of The Unburdened Heart at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

About Suzie
Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author. She’s written six books, hundreds of articles, and writes devos with Encouragement for Today that reaches over 500,000 women. Suzie is a radio co-host with Luann Prater at Encouragement Cafe Joy FM. She encourages women through two Facebook communities reaching over 20,000 five days a week. She’s been featured on TV and radio such as Focus on the Family, Aspiring Women, 100 Huntley Street, KLOVE, MidDay Connection, The Harvest Show, and many others. Most importantly, she is a wife, mom, and “Gaga” to four beautiful grandbabies. Connect with Suzie at