Why We Don’t Celebrate Halloween

This is a question I am asked often so I decided to share before feelings on this subject run high in the Fall. As Christians, there are several reasons our family does not celebrate Halloween.

Light and Darkness

Every Fall I find myself sitting around a table discussing a shared love: God’s Word. New Christians and long time believers inevitably discuss Halloween. Always I watch the new believer sit in shock as someone speaks about their Halloween plans. The question always arises: “You celebrate Halloween? I thought Christians didn’t do that?” Nervous looks pass around the table as people feel called out. It’s a perfectly viable question. What friendship does light have with darkness? Can light and darkness come together one day a year to celebrate evil? The new believer tries to reconcile Halloween: evil, death, fear, murder, mutilation and sexual deviance with their new faith: God’s love, truth, redemption, gentleness, peace and light.

For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Satan? – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Discernment

It is no lie that discerning truth is becoming harder in today’s world. We live in a culture that celebrates the many shades of grey. Yet, it is my job as a Christian to discern light from darkness, truth from lie, good from evil and be the arrow that points people to God. Halloween asks me to build a friendship with the unholy that will hinder my discernment and befuddle my purpose.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9 … “[Priests] are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” – Ezekiel 44:23

Foothold or Stranglehold?

Satan plays dirty. We are warned not to give him a foothold in our life. He kicks us when we are down and I have seen how ruthlessly he goes after our children. We know he will always steal, kill and/or destroy. No way will I throw open the door to my family with Halloween decorations and horror movies. Fear is a high ranking spirit in the kingdom of darkness and the devastation is more subtle than most suspect. As Christians Brian and I are charged to guard our hearts and minds. As parents we are on the front lines when it comes to protecting the lives, hearts and minds of our children.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

FoMO

Speaking of fear, many participate in Halloween because they fear their kids will rebel later if they miss out. First, I do not live by a spirit of fear nor do I make my decisions out of fear. Some of the worst decisions sprout from FOMO or the “fear of missing out.” It is my goal to teach my children how to overcome this weakness of human nature and not be a slave to fear – of any kind. My kids love dressing up in costume. We have a huge bin of costumes they wear routinely. No missing out there. They also receive inordinate amounts of candy at what seems like every holiday that rolls around (much to my chagrin). No missing out there either. My children are not missing out. And when they are old enough to make these choices for themselves, every child will have a spirit that is honed with the sensitivity they need to discern.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ – Phillippians 1:9-10

A Witness for Christ

I have more honest conversations with people about why we do not celebrate Halloween than at any other time of year. It is the mark of Christ that separates us from the world. Frankly speaking, I find nothing in Halloween worthy of my time, honor, worship, attention, money or recognition. We believe in life, truth, hope, forgiveness, healing, deliverance and all things that are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and noble. We do things that ignite God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Sometimes it is hard for children to miss a party, but teaching them how to stand apart from the crowd is a powerful lesson I believe all children need. Christ will be their own decision, but in any circumstance they need not ever be a victim of group think. It is a powerful gift for a child to grow up knowing what it looks like to stand firm in convictions. If you seek an opportunity to be a witness to the love of God, I urge you to separate yourself from the world. Be ready with an answer when they ask why.

Honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:15-17 (emphasis added)

Planting Seeds

I have always loved flowers, and I would open a flower shop if it meant I didn’t need to work every holiday.

Today Grace, Ruth, Gabe and I planted some seeds. I prefer perennials because I love to see them grow and multiply each year. They are such a beautiful surprise when the chill of winter wears off and my flowers pop up.

So, today after homeschool – last week woo hoo!! – we trotted around the yard finding sunny spots where Daddy wouldn’t weed-eat them down. (It’s okay Babe, I forgive you for weed-eating my lilies of the valley.) In my head, I envision mounting a blue bird house and placing it in the middle of my Lupine patch. How fun!        …for the cats.

A little sun, soil, water, time and prayer will tell the tale. What was today’s choice seeds? Delphiniums and Lupines. They are similar, but the Lupine you see up top and the Delphiniums are depicted below. Personally, I like to buy the seeds because they are cheaper and we get to watch them grow. Besides, the process adds weight to our science lessons.

Random Thoughts with Leslie

New Phase

I cannot believe how this family has changed. I have a friend who just had a baby, and she made the comment “I know you are way past this stage, but I still think it’s fun to see.” Gosh! Am I? Have I crossed over that line, where I am officially past that baby stage? Seems surreal to think so. But I don’t know, I do still need concealer. And someone told me that you know the baby phase is over when you stop using concealer.

However, my two youngest turned 4 this month!! How did that happen? They are obsessed with princesses, unicorns and fluffy skirts of every kind. They start preschool in the Fall and are such big girls now. Looking back at this last year, when they were three, it has been my favorite so far. All the snuggles, all those moments that I got them to myself before they run off to school and life speeds up to a blur again.

Now that I think about it, life was a complete blur (hello name of my blog!) for so long. Five solid years full of: 3 cross-country moves, pregnancies, 5 babies being born, houses being bought and sold, jobs being changed, endless renovations. It’s really no wonder life didn’t slow down until we landed here and the older kids began school. I have a feeling this slower pace is what allowed me to cherish my time with them more. And in some ways I sense that our previous busy-ness prevented me from cherishing that 3-year old stage with the other kids. Sorry Esther, Gabriel and Micah.

New Schedule

Now, COVID19 has effected its own changes to life. My slower pace is even slower and if I were honest I may be enjoying this a little bit too much. But, I am an unapologetic, introverted homebody. My friends know it. I know it. My husband knows it. When life slammed to a halt 6 weeks ago I may have done a jig in my brain in terms of my own schedule being cleared. Well, I did after 3 weeks of adjusting to zero personal space.

I do miss my friends though. Not one to rely on social media, I miss their faces in real time. It is possible I may be guilty of popping my minivan trunk once a week in random parking lots and partaking in literal tailgate parties with a coffee in my hand. Stop your hateful thoughts. We stay 10 feet apart in open air. It’s a throw back to wagon days. Except we circle the vans instead.

Family Sports

What have we done to occupy ourselves? Taken a lot of walks in the woods. Until I lost half the kids and almost called the police. Apparently they are part homing pigeon. When I finally committed to calling in the authorities I found them pilfering through an intended Easter package on the front porch. Guess my lesson on “How to get home if you are lost in the woods: Landmarks” was better than I thought and they decided to put it into practice instead of waiting on their slower siblings. We haven’t been on a walk in the woods again, but we did get some pigs to occupy our old chicken coop and that has been it’s own sport of sorts.

Pencils

Homeschooling is for rock stars. It never ceases to amaze me how fast I can bring my children to tears over pencils. But really, I don’t want the pointy end waving around my face. I just don’t. And why do we use the wooden ones? Why not mechanical? Sharpening them has become one of those homeschool side hustles I need power tools for.

Small and Large Victories

And Gabe and Micah gave their hearts to the Lord! Esther, Gabriel and Micah were all baptized on Easter morning right here in our creek. So special. Best Easter ever. These days at home have been trying, but this up close and personal approach to life has opened so many doors to amazing conversations and life-changing decisions. Thank you Lord for this moment to refocus as a family.

Continued Changes due to Coronavirus

I cooked a lot before, now even more. It astounds me how much food the kids go through now that they are home all day long. Once or twice a week we support a locally owned business by ordering dinner. But since we are not allowed to go in, they deliver it curbside.

Spending more time together as a family means my community that was once outside these walls, is now entirely within these walls. This has brought us closer as a family physically and relationally, but exposed our weaknesses as well.

Since we do not go to church, we worship here in our living room. This week Gabriel accepted Christ into his heart. Esther and he are to be baptized this coming weekend – Easter weekend – in the creek. Obviously, it won’t be a big hullabaloo like before but I do think the intimacy makes it more special.

In some ways, life reminds me of our intense baby stage when my house was never clean, I rarely had time to work out or put makeup on, I lived in leggings and my mom-bun hair was washed every three or so days. It is was as uncomfortable then as it is now. However, I have become more familiar with each of my children. Strengths. Weaknesses. Preferences. I have also become more familiar with my own.

Part of me mourns the loss of time in the mornings with Grace and Ruth before they leave for school next year. Now I am fully occupied with homeschooling and they play by themselves. But, I am so grateful we are all healthy, home and together.

I really believe we will look back at this time in our lives to see this particular season of loss and disruption as a time when God pruned away our non-essentials and grew our faith, our love and our family. This is a call to fix our focus on things most important. It is a chance to know God as Provider, Prince of Peace, Healer, Comforter, and Friend. To know family as community.

I am choosing to dive in deep to this unprecedented time, when the world seems to have paused for a moment and the rush and race of life has slowed down on the home front. Praying for fresh strength to steward this season with wisdom and grace.

The Coronavirus is changing things

Outside Our Walls

It’s the beginning of April and the coronavirus has taken over the world. They have shut down schools, campuses, businesses, travel, churches. We are not allowed to meet in groups more than 10. A couple in the northeast was arrested for having a wedding. Funerals are not permitted. States have passed a “stay at home” order telling people they are not allowed to go out for non-essential things. Of course, we all define that a bit differently. Toilet paper has been missing from shelves for a month now. The CDC wants everyone to wear masks when they are in public. Doctors and hospitals have canceled “elective” surgeries (which apparently includes heart surgery?!). The stock market has plummeted. Gas is the same price it was when I got my drivers license and people get really excited about car rides.

At Home

My husband’s Reserves trips have been suspended until June. This, is a temporary respite I am grateful for as I miss him when he is gone. Since he also teaches at a local college two nights a week, he is now home more often in the evenings. This I love too. His day job as a contractor for the Department of Defense is considered “essential” to National Security so we are one of the few very blessed to be still working. Many in our tourist town are not sharing in this blessing.

We cannot go to church. We are not holding our MOPS meetings. I cannot connect with moms at school. We now do our Bible Study on a video app. Essentially, my sense of community has disappeared and everyone else’s has too.  Biblical Prayers Ministries has always been an online ministry, so that has been a source of stability in my schedule.

The kids are home from school full time. Their loving teachers post online videos. In the last week I have become a homeschooling mom. This, I always swore I would never do to my children. Not everyone is gifted in teaching children, and I am happy to salute those who are superstars in patience. However, we do what we must and I have decided to adapt to this new role and become more sensitive to my levels of patience.  I’ve no doubt the Lord has planned this as a growth spurt for me.

Usually, everyday I am grateful for the space we have living in the country. Now, it seems essential to our sanity. States have closed state and national parks to keep people from being in contact with each other and now more than ever I am thankful for the space.

While my husband personally knows people who have gotten the virus, it has yet to touch my acquaintances. At this point, in our area it seems all these changes are a prelude, like time has been suspended and we are waiting for the impact of this virus and the economy.

I pray God will grace us with the wisdom and strength to know how to love, serve and respond. Also, I pray God will grant divine revelation to the researchers, scientists, biochemists and health leaders who are seeking a cure for this virus.

Christmas at the Crouse House

Christmas is Brian and I’s favorite time of the year. It embraces all things we love about life and we live in the most festive town in the United States, which is perfect for my heart! Our traditions include baking shortbread and ginger cookies, cranberry bread, building fires and drinking the coffee we roasted. We go to as many festivities as we can. In the past 4 days the kids have attended three different Christmas programs and this morning I was needing that quiet moment at home.

Christmas for us begins the day after Thanksgiving. Brian and I take down all the Thanksgiving decor and start the set up for Christmas. The goal is to get it all done before Esther’s birthday, the 1st. The boys’ birthday is only 3 weeks before Esther’s (2019 saw them all age 6 for three weeks!)  so I try to help separate their birthday experiences with an official change of seasons. Now that the kids are older they love to help (we are still working on their understanding of the word “help”). Meaning they usually end up being sent outside to do “something.” Anything. Anything other than stomping on the Christmas lights as we untangle them in the floor. Of course once we are done we discover their handy work in the yard.

This morning I was freshly reminded of that something they did. My industrious kids “planted” trees this year at the front steps of our porch. Which means they broke the biggest branches they could off the pine trees in our yard, dug holes and stuck them in the ground. It looks like what you would expect when you put a 7 foot pine branch in a 6 inch deep hole. Embracing my first morning home all week I decided to re-purpose my new “trees.” This is something I have wanted to do at Christmas ever since we moved here and it was so fun. Thanks for inspiring the project kids!

I tied them together with twine and added cedar and pine cones that had fallen around the yard. I took me about an hour, but I was waiting on loads of laundry anyway. The girls helped me collect my cedar branches and had such fun playing dolls while I tied branches together in the floor. In the past we tried to keep a tree on the front porch, but the wind spoils our plans each year, so this year I focused on the door. Nothing like a country Christmas!

‘Tis the season!

Leslie

New Kitchen

At the beginning of this year, we renovated our kitchen and Brian joined a unit out in Colorado with the Air Force Reserves. It was a natural move since he was an AF officer for 9 years before we moved here to be closer to family.  Since the day bought our house, renovating the kitchen was a dream of mine. Originally built in 1979, and never updated, we still had orange and brown cornucopia wallpaper  on the walls. Coincidentally, the two events overlapped and Brian traveled quite a bit between his regular job and the reserves. Usually not a problem but this Spring had its own plans.

Eight weeks we worked on the kitchen and I couldn’t have asked for a better company to work with. I’ve done my share of renovations and it’s no small thing to have strange men in my house around my kids all day. This particular company was amazing from the owner to the subcontractors. No worries there.

The day before we tore the kitchen down to studs, I made 14 freezer meals that either fit into my crock pot or my counter top Oster oven- a brilliant wedding gift from my sister. (I had yet to discover the power of an Instant Pot.) Meals were, for the most part covered. The refrigerator was now in the garage which was packed with new appliances of every kind. My dish washing station moved to our master bathroom. It was a little more walking but I got used to it. Having the coffee pot by the crock pot always blew the circuit, so it also joined us in our bedroom.

During most of this time Brian was on short trips here and there, but gone enough to be mostly out of the decision making process. When home, he spent his time chopping wood for our wood burning furnace. It kept us warm as long a the pilot light stayed lit. With Brian gone, I spent the kids nap times hauling wood in from those fantastic piles Brian had made during his most recent stay at home. Which were always nearly gone before he got back. Only 3 more weeks until Spring.

Windows were delayed after a tornado hit the factory in Iowa, inviting a well-timed snow storm in the middle of February. Despite our best efforts to keep the winter out of the gaping open windows, my kids started getting sinus infections and then our furnace went out. Out as in, they made it special order in 1979 and the manufacturer doesn’t make any parts for it any more. Keeping our house warm enough for the kids to recover seemed impossible. Three weeks until Spring indeed.

March came with yellow daffodils and all the warmth promised. The renovation was  finished. Windows were (finally) installed, the coffee pot back in the kitchen, the garage reclaimed, the kids healthy again and Brian came home for a full three weeks with only one 2 week trip left to do in April. All was once again right with the world, what could possibly go wrong?

 

A Year of Change

Today is the first day of Fall, my favorite season and the change in schedule and weather has brought me back from my blogging sabbatical. This year has been so full of life and change sometimes its best to just be still and embrace it. Which is what I did. However, I do not wish to forget so I am going to start catching up! As I remind myself from time to time, life streaks by as a blur and it is the goal of this blog to remember all the little things that make it so perfect.

Here’s a quick recap since March, all of which I will post about soon:

  • Kitchen: We finished our kitchen! After an 8 week full on kitchen renovation, I am happy to say we survived and I have the pictures to prove it!
  • The Natural Disaster: At the end of April, while my husband was on a trip (of course!) we got about 8″ of rain which flooded not just our valley but our home too.  Let’s suffice it to say I now have a streak of white in my hair and I officially look like Anna from Frozen.
  • Girls Trip: My first girls trip to Nashville, TN for my birthday!
  • Potty Trained: Everyone, it happened. I don’t know how we made it here, but we are finally out of all diapers. Which is a huge accomplishment for anyone, even more so when you consider how many this house went through. Shall we say FREEDOM?
  • First Family Vacation: Okay. This post will be full of vulnerability and lessons learned because it was pretty much a nightmare. So – no, our pictures did not make it to social media. However, we may consider selling movie rights if anyone is interested. (Making lemonade here…)
  • Anniversary: 8 Years in August! This was a different year for us as a couple for several reasons. Mainly because, this season in life tends to be demanding. Brian and I saw growth here in 2019. Growth isn’t always pleasant, but if we want our marriage to be stronger and closer it is necessary to work through all the things this season threw at us.
  • Back to School: We made it. It is always a day of tears for me but gosh I am just so proud of these kiddos!

This is all for now. It’s more of a teaser for you and an outline for me! But, I am happy to say that I am back and excited to be actively posting again. I have missed you all! Besides, what better season for you and I to reunite in than the Pumpkin Spice season?

Question for my followers: How important are the recipes to you? Do you want them in the post? Should I simply add them to the home page menu? Remove completely? Please post your thoughts below, I love to hear from you! 

Leslie

Book Review: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker

Grace spends her life in a tight knit community surrounded by people she loves. Kind, generous and friendly her neighbors believe in each other and do whatever it takes to support their friends and family in their shared values. Even when it requires murder.

When her brother, Jamie,  begins to question the holy rules, the red rope and the boundary it represents Grace finds herself caught in the middle and unable to go back to the days before.

Ted Dekker and his daughter Rachelle Dekker team up to release a spine tingling book about the power of fear and the lives we choose because of it. In comparison, it ranks right along with Frank Peretti’s The Oath.  An excellent look into the levels of spiritual warfare and the impact it takes on our daily lives, with or without us knowing it. Fear and the crippling authority we choose to give it often masquerades as protection. It creeps in and binds the lives of the faithful as well as the lives of the unknowing.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope was engaging and even spine tingling. Definitely I recommend it, however for those of you whose husbands are out of town… maybe not reading it at bedtime (speaking of the power of fear!).  Would that we all would see the truth of God’s light in us and the call to live without fear. In perfect love – God’s perfect love – there is no fear. Only peace and joy. What a difference we would all make if we took this truth to heart and lived without a spirit fear.

Happy reading!

Leslie

Hello, Spring

Few things bring that quiet smile to my face than the wild daffodils that bloom by the hundreds in our woods. Washed down from forgotten homesteads of days gone by, these daffodils fill the woods with bursts of yellow issuing in the first signs of Spring.

Usually, on the first warm day we are home, I take the kids on an overdue walk through the woods where we pick as many flowers as we can and bring them back to the kitchen.

Walking through the woods hand in hand with my two year old girls, and keeping that mindful eye on my boys and Esther racing through the trees way ahead of me couldn’t make my heart sing more.

These are the sweet moments that will always be set apart in my mind as the years go by. The days when we came home with flowers, rocks and toads in our pockets.

Sometimes it’s way too easy for me to hide away inside working at my computer while the kids play; feeling too overwhelmed and behind on my checklist to stop and savor a fleeting moment.

It’s all about priorities though, isnt it? Choosing to take that break, hold that tiny hand, name the toad Jake. (Every toad is named Jake at our house, so just in case you meet one you’ll know it by name.)

Work is always there and rarely can I tell you the blur of what happened on what day. But those special walks in the woods picking daffodils, those I’ll remember years to come.

I encourage you to seize that moment and make that memory wherever you are at. Make as many as you can. They are the bread that fuels the ordinary and difficult days ahead. They are the joy set before you and the glory that trails behind.

Leslie