“He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

What Hallmark Christmas Movies and Heartlifting Have in Common

Returning to the ARCHIVES of 2018 for this special Christmas Message

Hello and Merry Christmas 2022, Heartlifter. It’s been a minute since I’ve written, but it’s a quiet Christmas here, as our family celebrated early in October while in Kansas for little Isaac Kane’s birth.

I was reflecting on Christmases past and came across this blog post from 2018. I had to smile because so many new streaming channels are showing Christmas movies, too. I haven’t kept a tally, because there have been too many. I have at least 20 on my DVR.

I’ll be watching Christmas movies far into the new year.

I wanted to return to the archives to share this story about Amelia in one of my favorite Christmas movies from 2018. Amelia is a heartlifter. She has an epiphany about her family of origin.

She says, “This isn’t my feud but I feel like I’ve been in the middle of it my whole life.”


Wherever you find yourself this Christmas holiday, I pray that you find the courage and strength, and boldness to stand up to your family as Amelia did. It isn’t easy and you will feel like you want to pack your bags and run, but…maybe take a moment, catch your breath, and then use your voice. I believe God will help you and as a result, healing will happen.

Know I am praying for you.

Christmas Movies and Heartlifting

At first, I was pretty annoyed by Hallmark, Lifetime, and Freeform playing Christmas movies the week of Thanksgiving. And, then, just a few days post-Thanksgiving, I was hooked. Together, they produce a whopping 55 movies. Hallmark even has an app, Countdown to Christmas, that offers a Christmas Movie Checklist.

And, yes, I downloaded it on my phone, and as of today, I have personally watched 19 of those 55.

No judgment. Please.

I know. They are highly predictable and pretty sappy, but really easy on the nerves. No violence. No swearing. No promiscuity. Only mugs of hot cocoa, homemade cookies, fake snow, and of course, a final kiss under the very staged sprig of mistletoe. Ahhhh, all is right with the world.

Surprising and Heartlifting

A couple of movies in, a very strong theme emerges…nothing is more important than emotional and relational health within marriage and family relationships.

At the top of my list is Return to Christmas Creek.

Protagonist and Heartlifter, Amelia Rhodes, returns to her childhood home, Christmas Creek, and shines her light and love on everyone in her sphere of influence. Her radiant presence addresses a deep-seated family heart rift. With grace, honesty, and a whole lot of wisdom, Amelia ultimately helps her father and uncle move through the three phases of The Heartlift Method: reflect, reframe, and re-author.

Yes, she really does. Watch and see her manage this family conflict with expertise and excellence:

  1. Amelia matures into a young woman desirous of reuniting with her Uncle, knowing this will infuriate her parents. Because she was so young when this family grievance/grudge happened, she doesn’t understand and wants nothing more than for her parents and Uncle to reconcile.
  2. She has the courage to go visit her Uncle, keeping her travel plans from her parents. Yet, they find out where she is and are very unhappy.
  3. Her parents show up at the Uncle’s “lodge,”—i.e., “the family lodge,” which is at the core of the division.
  4. At an early Christmas dinner, she practices healthy assertiveness (YAY!) and calls the two brothers to maturity (DOUBLE YAY!)

One brother makes a comment that “triggers” the other brother. The decades-long grudge re-emerges and hurtful words are spoken.

She speaks, “Will you both please stop!”

Her father confronts her secrecy and makes his displeasure with her quite obvious.

In tears, she speaks her truth, “I had a right to come home. Uncle Harry is my uncle. This isn’t my feud but I feel I’ve been in the middle of it my entire life. I’m tired of it. If we don’t have each other, then what do we have? Look at us. We’re all adults, yet acting like children.”

She then runs upstairs to her room and begins packing.

“This is why I never come home for Christmas,” she cries, sharing her plight with her newfound boyfriend.

He urges, “You don’t have to leave.”

With suitcases in tow, Amelia heads to the door.

“I’ll never be able to fix this,” she says, closing the door behind her.

Amelia, the Heartlifter, Sets a Beautiful Example

I was “AMEN-ing” out loud during Amelia’s journey. Fiction, yes, but oh, so very true. I have lived it, listened to clients share their family rift stories, and caught the tears of many women as they prayed for relational healing within their families.

Maybe you can relate to Amelia’s plight. Maybe you’ve been involved in a family/parent feud that “isn’t your feud, yet you feel you’ve been involved in it your whole life.”

I’m pretty sure I did this to my three children. Involved them in family feuds they weren’t even a part of, yet because they were in my home, had no way to escape from them.

Some “feuds” are “forced separations” or “mental boundary” situations. You have to draw the line if someone “unhealthy” or “toxic” continually ruins the holiday celebration. I understand and validate you’re taking those actions.

But some “feuds” need to be confronted, addressed, and yes, talked about.

In a healthy way. Amelia rocked the way she handled this family’s feud. She approached it with courage, wisdom, and love and made sure she had the support of friends. She didn’t yell, swear, belittle, or demean anyone.

Bravo, Amelia. May we all learn from you?

How are you doing?

Today, I share this because I care for you. How are you doing, my friend? Are you frustrated, fearful, frazzled, and sharing Amelia’s, “I’ll never be able to fix this,” feeling? I’m here because:

  • I want to check in and let you know I’m praying for you and yours during this time of year.
  • I want to challenge you, as I’ve challenged myself. Is there a relationship or situation in my life where I AM acting like a child? Remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
  • I want to invite you to “do the heart work” and get the help you need to mature into your God-breathed identity.
  • Are you doing your heart work and it is still hard? I want to remind you that YOU ARE A HEARTLIFTER, a woman committed to the three-fold cord of emotional health: a healthy sense of self, healthy behavior patterns, and healthy communication skills. Stay with and pray through and healing WILL COME.
  • I want you to live, eat and breathe your God-created identity. Know that you have the emotional health tools to confront, address, and talk to “family members” who might need a good talking to.

Heartlifting Training for the Holiday

Above all else, I want to help you take care of YOUR heart. Here are a few ways for you to do that:

  1. Listen to Today’s Heartlift with Janell as we talk all about “A Woman’s Greatest Gift.” Subscribe and tune in to very helpful teachings on our three-fold cord of emotional health.
  2. Meet me over at StrongerEveryDay,  on Facebook: This is our private FB community group where we talk all things emotional health and well-being AND spiritual authenticity.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter, Today’s Heartlift, and receive a weekly dose of emotional health and spiritual authenticity TOOLS AND INSPIRATION.
  4. Finally, order your very own copy of Stronger Every Day: 9 Tools for an Emotionally Healthy You.

Fill out the info below, and I'll send you a link to download the PDF interactive guide, "Why Am I So Angry?" I believe that if you put in the hard work + intentional application of these principles + spiritual fortitude into this healing practice, you will move into a far more meaningful life.

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