Episode 63 with your Hosts & Family.


Unlock Joy This Season

How do you walk in a joy that lasts long after Christmas Season? Dave and Scott are joined by their wives, Kristy and Darla, and Pastors Wendell and Lynda Vinson to share Christmas memories of fun foods and traditions celebrated by their families while reminding us how generosity is connected to the joy of this season. Even if this is a difficult season in your life, they encourage you to let Jesus carry the weight and celebrate who God has called you to be this Christmas.


Merry Christmas from Your Hosts

We are here to see the influence of your life increase to change your world and to change the world. And of course, this time of the year, we wanna wish you a very Merry Christmas. The angels said it on that first Christmas joy to the world, and we love there to be a joyous influence from your life to give joy to others. You have to have joy inside your own heart. So how’s your joy level today. And we have with us, some of the most joyous people that I know on the planet, we have the co-founders of CityServe. We have Wendell and Linda Vinson from Bakersfield, California. We have Dave and Kristy Donaldson out in California as well. Sweet darling joy. My wife is right beside me. So we’ve got you covered coast to coast, but just remember in this Christmas season, the wise wisdom comes from the east. As we talk to our friends on the west coast, it’s a great joy to be with you guys, and we are glad to be together just talking about Christmas.

Favorite Treats and Traditions

And maybe you could just say a hello and, and tell our friends favorite Christmas food that you have that you enjoy this time of year.
Well, is there an, all of the above box?
How do you stay so thin if it’s all of the above?
Yeah, right. Well my mom had many gifts, but cooking was not one of ’em. And, and we liked to joke that most of the time she would use a smoke alarm as the timer and and my sister carried on that tradition. Her husband asked her where where she wanted to go for their anniversary. And she said, I like to go somewhere where we’ve never gone before. And he said, okay, how about the kitchen? So my mom didn’t have a the gift of cooking, but she can make an amazing yam dish. And it was more like marshmallows floating on the ocean. So, you know, a lot of sauce but incredible flavor.

Kristy. Yes. I you know, and you mentioned food, I thought of popcorn right away. And I remember many childhood events at our little local church celebrating Christmas Eve, and each of us would get a sack of an apple, an orange and a pop popcorn ball that was either red or green. Do you remember those? They were together with sugar, corn syrup. So I never forgot that. And it was, it just was heartwarming. And to have the community come to my little local church I love that memory and I love popcorn balls.
Yeah. It’s so beautiful. Wendell, Linda, you know, we I think I’m like Dave, I like it all, but I’m a, I enjoy the Christmas desserts. They’re just incredible. And Linda does a great job. My mom does a great job with making them so I I’m their tester. They, they let me test to all the Christmas desserts. I also really enjoy because we live in central California here and AG community, and lots of wonderful folks who make tamales and they just bring tamales to their pastor. And I just thank them and we enjoy them and they have a big tamales competition with you encourage the people to it tithe on their yes. Yes, they do. They tithe on their tamales. Absolutely. It’s biblical.

Yes. That’s great. For me, it would be fruit salad for one simple reason. And that is because on Thanksgiving and on Christmas are the two only times that my husband is found in the kitchen and he is the sous chef of chopping all the fresh fruit. We have lots of fresh fruit in the valley here, and he’s my fruit chopper for a fruit salad carrying on the tradition that his mother used to make.
And I still have all my fingers.
Yes, Good.
Sweet darling Joy. What’s your favorite?
So when I was a girl growing up my dad in his lifetime, his family was Italian. And so for Christmas Eve, we always had a tradition of having a Hoagie, which is basically an Italian of, and my dad was a master at making those, and that was our special evening meal that we had together was a Hoagie. And so an Italian Hoy is what we make every year for Christmas Eve. Our children come over and now of course, I’m the one who is teaching them how to make those so that they can carry on the tradition. So we like to have that Italian hoagie and then it’s topped off. Afterwards we have a a hot fudge sundae that’s topped with peanut M&Ms. And so we enjoy that Sunday while we are watching a special little DVD of a video by Max Lucado. No, is that one by Max Lucado. I think it is called you are special. And so that’s one of our traditions that we have with our family.

Beautiful. And I love Liz’s Pumpkin Roll. We get it at Thanksgiving, which we’ve just had, and I ate more than my share of it.and we get it again at Christmas and I look forward to it and I try to hide it away to make sure I get the right proportion of pumpkin log, but everybody has some traditions in this season. And it’s a, a great, a time of joy. When to let you’re a pastor, we have the reason for the season that is Christ. And then we have all of the American materialism. How do people keep centered on what the true meaning of this season is? And walk through this season with joy that comes really from the Lord?

Slowing Down

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think Scott, it’s just incredibly important. You know, it gets really busy for everybody during this time of the year. We liked to encourage people to slow down. We, we used to make Christmas really hard around our house. We had so much going in on it was so busy and so filled with activity and, you know, we’ve more recently tried to just make it more simple and to slow it down some and to enjoy the people that God has placed in our lives and to take time to reflect together the goodness of the Lord and the faithfulness of the Lord to us and his gift to us in Jesus Christ. So we’re real advocates for, you know, slowing down and making it simple and enjoying your family and keeping our eyes on Jesus and encouraging people to do the same.

Jesus: Still the Reason

Yeah. David, Kristy, we’re in the season of, of advent. And are there some spiritual practices that you guys do to emphasize the, the life of Jesus in our, our families?

Yes. In fact one of the greatest stories that I love in the Christ, my story in Luke is when the shepherds were out in the field and how this unexpected event that was universal and amazing the angels came to the shepherds and declared the glory of God that the Christ child had been born. I love that. And in verse chapter two, verse 13, it says suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared saying glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace. And we can look around us and say, is there really peace? There is so much going on. That’s the opposite that we see, but yet the angels declared the truth of heaven that we have today as well, His peace. And then in Ephesians, it says for he himself, Christ is our peace. And that’s the answer to peace. Finding peace is looking to Christ and he’s promised peace that can rule our hearts that can guide us. And it transcends the world’s definition of peace.

That’s good. How about the Vinson home traditions that you follow things that you enjoy together that really emphasize our spiritual growth. And really, as people are listening, you have to have something to overflow with. So what is it that you guys are trying to overflow with this Christmas and what kind of practices or traditions help you to do that?

I think for me as a child Christmas Eve was always a family time. It was a favorite time that we had a meal and my dad would gather everyone around and open his Bible and he would read the Christmas story and it was always a special time. And then as we became senior pastors and we started the tradition of Christmas Eve services a little bit hard me to give up the tradition of having the meal, having all of that. But as an adult understanding, it has now become, you know, at first I was just a little like, Hey, that’s, that’s our, our family time that we’re, we’re going somewhere. We’re, we’re out of our home. And it ended up being the most precious time of the year is the Christmas Eve services that we have at the church gathering with church family gathering around and the carols and the devotion and the candlelight and everything. It becomes a time to center in on. Yes, it is about Jesus. It’s, it’s not about a meal. It’s not about presence. It’s not about any of that, but really it is about taking a moment to stop and reflect, be with your church, family and hug people and just reflect that Jesus is what it’s about.

That’s so good. It’s like the relationship that was in your family. You’ve just expanded it to the greater spiritual family that you’re leading and caring for there in California. And it it’s the same thing. You just pushed it out in a, a more generous way. And Dave city serve is known for its its generosity. And this is a season of generosity. How do you think generosity is connected with the joy of, of this season?

Yeah, first of all, if I could share a little story and lesson I’ve learned from my grandmother because when I think of this time of year it’s hard not to think of her and her impact and how she was always in the moment E but when things didn’t go so well I remember we had all of our family together and she was a great cook conversely to my mother. And she we smelled some smoke in the kitchen and she had broiled the Turkey. And so we opened up the oven and it looked like a catcher’s mask. I mean, it was just all bone. And so I think we went out for burgers instead, but just seeing how she would turn moments like that into really laughter joy and memorable moments.

I remember we didn’t have a Christmas tree and my mom loved Christmas tree, especially a flocked Christmas tree. And so our uncle grabbed a ladder and took limbs from our tree outside the home and taped it to this ladder to create a Christmas, this tree, and then whipping whipped cream all over it. So it is great until the aunts started marching in and but my grandmother she just helped my mom really see that into really a fun moment to sit around this debacle, love a tree and, and to really focus on what mattered most. And that was Jesus dying on the cross and living a, a life for us to model and being together as a family and for City Serve, you know, what we have seen midst of this pandemic is that there is a movement of compassion and kindness. That’s much greater than this virus that continues to spread throughout our nation around the world. And this is being done through the local church. And I mean, you think about it, Scott seven over 17 million food boxes, alone, all distributed through the local church. And in many cases, we were able to talk with people about what they’re going through and to pray with them. And it’s just been really miraculous. What has happened.

Episode 63 Quote: If we will trust Him, even in the midst of hardship, there can be a deep and abiding joy that comes form the presence of the Lord.

Joy to the World

It’s been a great joy and our, our Christmas at our house, we have two trees. We have a, a Charlie Brown tree that we’ve had for how many years, 36 years, 36 years that Darla’s tried to throw out many times, but I rallied the troops and it goes up in our family room. And then Darla’s show tree. What’s the difference between those two trees, babe,
The one in the family room is eclectic. It has every child’s homemade or meant that they ever made hanging from the limbs. And you know, we live in Florida and it’s an artificial tree. And so we store it in the attic and it’s so hot in the attic that the branches have all kind of melded together and like, it has no fluff to it anymore. So we’ve gotta put lots of tents along that tree. And imagine our we’ve been here for 25 years. And so for 25 years of kids projects, they’re all covering the tree. And then of course, mine in the living room is just pretty.

It’s the one that comes out of the catalog. And you may be having a, a catalog Christmas if you’re listening or you be having a Charlie brown Christmas, but there still is a joy in this season. We stalked at the beginning, how the angels appeared and just said joy to the world, Psalm 16, 11 says that it’s the presence of the Lord that brings joy. Pastor we, how can we encourage people to walk in a spirit of joy maybe while things aren’t going so well around them?

Yeah. You know, this week my grandson was having surgery seven years old and I couldn’t be in the pre-op room with him, but I FaceTimed him to pray for him. And he could tell pretty quickly that I, you know, was kind of sad. And he turned his mommy while I was talking to him and he said, is Papa sad? And then she said, well, he’s a little bit sad. And then he said Papa don’t worry. It’s almost Christmas time. And I thought, as I left and was just driving down the road, it was in my heart. You know, he was saying basically that Christmas fixes everything. And I think about Isaiah’s words and Isaiah nine six, when Isaiah says for unto us, a child is born unto us, a son is given, and he says, these words and the government will be up on his shoulder and you shall call his name, wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace.

But that, that verse and the government will be up on his shoulder. I think about that. Because sometimes we feel like we’re carrying the weight of the world. And in reality, he invites us to cast all of our cares on him. He’ll do the heavy lifting if we’ll let him. And you know, I would say to anybody watching today, it’s, it’s Christmas time. We’re celebrating the savior that has come and the heavy lifting he will do. And if we will trust him and cast our cares upon him, even in the midst of hardship, there can be a deep and abiding joy that comes from the presence of the Lord and the strength of the Lord to be our, to be our, our God in these times

Such good words. And I, I really hope that people listen and are encouraged. And I love that image that you just talked about, how that Jesus does the heavy be lifting. That’s so good. And he’s lifting your grandson up. Of course, we’ll be keeping your family in prayer and keeping the Donaldsons up in prayer. And, and really our extended family here at the influencers podcast and the city serve family. As we all kind of work together to see good things come out of this season and knowing that God comes every circumstance and he works things together for our good and for his glory. And when we can’t see the things that he is weaving together, he’s still weaving something good. And for someone listening, it could be a very difficult season. Some people experience dark thoughts, even depression during this year. And we would like to just maybe say a word of encouragement to you and pray a prayer of God’s holy spirit to come and be a comforter to you. I wonder Linda, if you could like just say a word of encouragement to someone that maybe going through a deep valley and then just pray for our friends that are wa listening to the influencers podcast today.

Episode 63 Quote: He will do the heavy lifting, if we let Him.

Closing Encouragement

Sure. I’ve been thinking a lot about Gabriel coming to Mary and announcing this was what’s gonna happen. That Mary you’ve been chosen and that’s, that’s great. And, and we celebrate that and Mary sang a song, be it unto me. And we sometimes can get trapped into the announcement of the call of God on our lives or what God has called us to do. And there’s a lot of life that happened in the nine months


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