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.

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

What I have learned from school

Here I am in my office wondering how many oatmeal creme pies I can eat before turning into one. Now, I’ll need a new helper day snack for Micah’s class because I have officially eaten too many of them. (Don’t tell Autumn Calabrese, she wouldn’t understand.) What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Micah will likely never find out unless I publish a book about this time in our lives when I used to hide and binge on creme pie cookies.

This new season of school was like going from my slow and steady pace of staying at home all day every day with five little kids, to voluntarily going through one of those old fashioned wringer washers. Between kindergarten and preschool, drop offs and pickups equaled about 3 hours  driving time before one o’clock. Once home, the kids would go nuts while I silently watch the clock count down to “quiet time.” (This is my new version of nap time because I am hopelessly dependent upon those two hour naps and I have discovered the travesty of my kids outgrowing them.)

Although we have five children, they didn’t come one at a time while we acclimated to parenthood. Rather, our first three stormed into our lives in eleven months. For the first time in six years, I am at home with just two and oh how I love these precious hours! Yesterday we read Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches and What Was I Scared Of? (my personal favorite) twice each. Pure bliss.

As the youngest in my family I have often heard the theory and even been accused of the youngest being the favorite. However, it occurred to me this year that the youngest are not favored in a family. They are simply on the receiving end of parents who are waking up to the fact that this family is growing up and will soon be gone. The youngest are around to experience the polished, parenting methods we did not yet have with our first.  It appears like parents favor the youngest but truly, it’s simply a shift of perspective that affects our behavior. By the time our youngest children cruised onto the scene, I had only begun to learn which battles are not worth fighting.

For example: every night Esther used to want to wear her princess dress to bed, and it was a fight  to get her into her pajamas nearly every night. Now, Ruthie wants to live in her Rapunzel dress day and night and I simply don’t care if she does. I realize now what seemed so important in principle earlier, is really not a big deal. In the end my relationship with them supersedes any costume-pajama combo they may come up with. And really – there is such a short window in our lives when we can dress up as a princess every. single. day. Or Captain America if you are my like my boys.

So here’s a toast to this new season and all that I will be learning. This parenthood thing is a refining fire, and it can be easy to focus on the ashes, but more and more I see the strength and beauty of what remains. God has shaped and strengthened me through these little people. It amazes me the impact such a tiny person can have. After all, “A person is a person no matter how small.”

 

 

 

I said “yes”

There is a time and a season for everything. For me, summer is the time for “Yes.” For example:

Mommy, can I have a popcicle? -YES

Mommy, can we stay in our bathing suits all day? -YES

Mommy, can I play in the rain? -YES

You can imagine my answer when Esther said, “Mommy, can we have a kitten?” … That’s how Cupcake entered our lives today. What can I say? It’s summer.

We are not an animal rescue farm, but years ago I made a commitment. With Jesus being the Author of Life, it is my personal conviction to fight for life when it is within my power. In an effort to raise up children who will also value and fight for every life no matter how small, I said yes.

And you know what? I’m not sorry. The look on my daughters face was more than enough justification for that yes. 

All day Esther has been bathing her, naming her, cuddling her, moving her from indoors to outdoors and all kinds of other locations. Eventually, I had to put my foot down and say, “Sorry honey, you cannot sleep with her.” Welcome to the family Cupcake. You are already loved.


Pray for them

The myriad of life-giving choices and decisions are as different as the colors in a sunrise.  Whether it is small, every day choices or big life decisions, lets pray over our loved ones that they will be a source of God’s living water to those around them.

Lord, I ask that (Name) would be given a heart of humility and love. Please do not let (Name) “become conceited, provoking [others], envying [others].” Rather, I pray that (Name) will be a constant source of your living water that is both refreshing and life giving to all who encounter (him/her). In your name I pray, amen.  – Galatians 5:26

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Chick-Fil-A

When it’s 5:30 and I am still on the road with still no dinner plan in sight, I’ll throw the kids into the car with me and go to Chick-Fil-A. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating, but I then I look in my rear view mirror and see them happily munching away. In my books, that’s a win. So, on this blog there is no shame for the nugget. Especially when it comes with sauce.

Just like riding a bike

This last week, on the fourth of July my oldest three learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels!

I honestly believe we were a little bit behind on this as parents, but these kids were SO ready. With just a few runs each, they took off like pros. The biggest struggle was learning how to start on their own, and how to push through their own disappointment when it took more work than they expected.

But I am so proud of my three musketeers! Now, every morning after breakfast I wait to find out who will say it first:

Who wants to go ride bikes with me?!

Tiny helmets and shoes on, they go flying out that back door as fast as their feet can carry them.

Of course, we’ve had to come up with some safety rules, like…

  1. Don’t drive your bike into anything including other bikes, fences, cars and animals. (Boys naturally try to crash into things I think it’s in their genetic makeup.)
  2. Yell “Coming up behind you!” before you pass someone.
  3. Don’t swerve when someone is passing.
  4. Don’t go near your sisters.
  5. Always wear shoes and helmets.

Rules for three new bikers probably looks different than a single rider.


Pray for Them

Letting go of control can be hard as a parent. As much as we want to see them succeed, it can be scary to cut the apron strings, or in our case, take off the training wheels. But, wisdom and understanding are both gifts from the Lord and are derived from experience self-learned or by watching others. At some point, you gotta let go and pray for wisdom and understanding.

Lord, let (Name) be blessed when (he/she) “finds wisdom, and [becomes] the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” In your name I pray, amen. – Proverbs 3:13-14

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Snacks

There are two times a day that are set in stone at our house. If we miss them, it isn’t pretty. It’s usually on a Saturday when I drop the ball because Brian is home and I’ve the freedom to focus elsewhere. About 10:30 he frantically looks at our screaming children and says, “What just happened?” And I answer, “It’s probably 10:30.” To which I get a blank stare… “Snack time, love. Did they have a snack yet?”

So here is our family favorites:

  • Cheese Sticks – full fat.
  • Graham Crackers (Daddy puts Nutella on them, mommy doesn’t. I guess you can see who the favorite is here.)
  • Baby Carrots and Hummus
  • Something leftover from breakfast like a biscuit or a pancake.
  • Bananas, apples or oranges

I would love to hear what you have in your cornucopia! We could all use some fresh ideas.

Fun fact: Between the 7 of us, we go through 16 bananas a week. They range between $0.50-.60 per banana. A budget friendly option.

 

“Pacemaker”

There are so many names I use to describe my roll as a mom. In the height of our baby days, I often referred to myself as the “Family Pack Mule.” With 5 kids born in 3.5 years, I spent my days loaded down with all kinds of paraphernalia.

“Me” in the baby stage.

Now, with school days around the corner and both Brian and I embarking on new ventures, I am realizing I have taken on a new role. As keeper of the schedule, it is now my job to be the “Family Pacemaker.”

Before Fall rushes upon us, I like to take time to step back and fit together the puzzle pieces of our future schedule. It is way too easy to become that crazy, busy family that never has time to cook a meal and eat it. Always zipping from one appointment to another, I am already noticing those uninterrupted conversations between Brian and I are more elusive than ever. Last night I found myself thinking about our future Fall schedule (at 11pm… of course).

Families have a rhythmic heartbeat and maintaining that healthy pulse creates a thriving environment for kids and parents alike. (Truth is, if we aren’t thriving neither are they.) Every family is different and runs to the beat of their own drum. You’ll have to find your own “family pulse.”

Personally, as I look to the upcoming season in our lives I am realizing that we will soon need to make some hard decisions about which commitments God has called us to.

If it isn’t life-giving, it is life-sapping.

Saying no can be hard, and leaving a commitment is even harder. It is the heart of a servant to see a need and want to fill it. But, we see God’s best work when we stick the plan He has for us, not the plans everyone else has for us.

So, here is a word of encouragement to the Pacemakers who are hard at work creating a healthy, life-giving foundation for our families: Find the heartbeat. If it’s too fast, be bold and slow it down. We all need flexibility and down time in our lives. Since we will not magically wake up to it, it is up to us to evaluate and make changes.


Pray for them

Know someone who needs to step out of “busy” and into the plans God has prepared for them? Let’s pray for clarity and discernment.

Father, I give you praise for all you will do in and through (Name). I pray according to “your eternal purpose that [you have] realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” that (Name) will, in Christ, “have boldness and access with confidence [the wisdom of God] through [his/her] faith in [Jesus].” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.   -Ephesians 3:11-12

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Brisket

This was so easy it made my fingers tingle. Put a 3 pound frozen brisket (or roast) into a dutch oven and add these ingredients on top:

  • 1 12 oz can of beer
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp chili paste (from the Asian isle)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pop the lid on top and put it into the oven. Set to 350 and let it roast for 3-4 hours. Check on it, cut into smaller pieces and let it roast for another hour. Once tender, shred and serve.