I remember it being one of my favorite games to play as a kid.
Yesterday, I alluded to a holiday I invented: FALL EXTRAVAGANZA!
Fall Extravaganza began the year Rene and I started dating, so this year was our 3rd annual celebration.
Fall extravaganza can happen on any weekend between October – Thanksgiving. The goal of Fall Extravaganza is to do as many festive and fall things in one weekend as are humanly possible! Each year can look very different (which I think is makes it a lot of fun!). We have gone to a corn maze, visited a pumpkin patch, eaten lots of fall treats, and played games with friends.
I made Creamy Pumpkin Pasta from Mom Advice – A few notes: I used the smallest amount of pumpkin that they recommended. This gave the pasta a slight pumpkin flavor without being overwhelming and strange for a main dish. I also used Italian seasoned sausage.
Hot Spiced Apple Cider from the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking which had an unexpected ingredient, oranges! I loved this twist on a classic recipe and it was a crockpot recipe… major bonus points!
I also made Pumpkin Pie for dessert (I wish I had some secret ingredient to make me rich or at least write a blog post about but I don’t…=) I use the recipe on the back of the Libby Pumpkin Puree can – its so good!)
Ok…if you’re not drooling over our yummy dinner, you may be wondering “Do you carve pumpkins?” Yesterday you gave us a very passionate post about Why I don’t Celebrate Halloween….how can you carve a pumpkin?
Carved pumpkins aren’t scary (unless you carve a scary design or accidently let it decay on your front porch) – which can happen quickly in the humidity of Texas. Today I carried our decaying pumpkin to the trash less than a week after getting it…gross!!!
It is also why I don’t fundamentally have a problem with other traditions associated with Halloween, such as dressing in a costume, as long it isn’t scary or inappropriate or handing out candy to kids.
My main point yesterday was that Halloween in our American culture has become for many people (not everyone) a time where they display in yards, stores, schools and communities bloody decorations and people watch movies/tv that are grotesque in nature which fosters an environment ripe for fear – especially in those Jesus calls us to protect – children.
I have chosen to never promote or share anything with children or people that could welcome fear and evil into their life.
The blog post yesterday received 400% more traffic than I usually get. I think this shows that many believers (like me) are really wrestling through how to approach this holiday which is completely pagan in its roots, but that is widely celebrated in our country.
My biggest encouragement to every believer is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit what He is saying for your family to do every year.
We are in a battle: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12)
But we also don’t have to be in fear of the evil that permeates our world: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of sound mind!” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. “ (1 John 4:4)
Jesus also said: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
This is definitely a time of year when I am asking Him to help me know how to practically live out those verses, in my home, in my community and with the people in my neighborhood.
This year He said to open the doors of our house and to embrace the opportunity to connect with our neighbors and people in our city I may never otherwise have a chance to meet. At this point we don’t have any children living in our home and so I don’t have to worry about exposing my children to costumes that come to the door that are vulgar or sexually provocative. God may tell us to do something different when we do have children in our house.
But for this year, our porch light will be on and we will be passing out highly desirable sugary treats along with tracts that are specifically designed for Halloween time. We found these tracts at Mardel (our Christian bookstore) and I really like them because they are specifically made for children and address fear and how Christ saves us from fear.
I am praying:
– For opportunities and boldness to share about Jesus.
– That every person would feel the tangible presence and love of Jesus from the second they step into our yard.
– Protection over our home: “Jesus, you are the only one who has power and authority over our house and property, because we are the owners of this property and Rene and I have submitted our lives to You. In the name of Jesus I command anything that has or will come to our property or home that doesn’t bow to the name of Jesus, to go to the foot of the cross and not return.”
I thought this article, a reader shared with me, 5 Practical Ways to be Missional on Halloween by Brian Mc Cormack gave some great ideas on how to love others on Halloween.
I also loved the ideas our readers shared. This was one of my favorite ideas from a reader yesterday, “I wanted to share something that my good friends do – to redeem the night so to speak. They do take their kids trick-or-treating in their neighborhood but they also set up a “refueling station” for their neighbors. It is one night when the community is out and it is easy to connect with those who live on the same street. In their drive way they have coffee/cocoa, a fire pit, and fellowship plus they usually set out a bin for donations to bless homeless families.”
I love the great conversation and ideas that so many have shared about how to love Jesus and others well during Halloween! I would love to hear more thoughts and ideas from anyone else!!!!
I am not a scrooge or a Grinch or a weird fanatic (although you may think so by the title of this article or by the end of it…and that’s ok..)
I am not even particularly concerned with cavities caused by too much sugar in small children
You can ask my husband…he knows about my slight holiday obsession. During our first year of marriage whenever I would mention that a holiday was approaching – he would take a deep breath and ask “do you expect a gift for that holiday?” and “do you celebrate that holiday?” ( I think secretly hoping my answer was NO!)
He knows, that holidays are a big deal to me – and that at times I have been known to manufacture my own holidays – if only for an excuse to eat good food, connect with others and forget about the cares of life.
Tomorrow I am going to tell you about the best holiday I ever invented: Fall Extravaganza!!! What is Fall Extravaganza? I can’t wait to tell you about this epic holiday…tomorrow!!!!!
To me a holiday should bring joy and hope into our lives, it should provide opportunities to reflect on the most important things in life, most of all I desire holidays to draw me closer to God. What are holidays about to you?
If Halloween was only about carving happy pumpkin faces, dressing up little munchkins in fuzzy animal costumes and going door to door saying “trick or treat” I wouldn’t have a problem.
But there is so much more that surrounds the holiday in our culture that causes my issue with Halloween:
I find it ironic and disturbing that in our American culture where news reports and social commentators condemn scenes of mass genocide and murder (which should be condemned!) that in the same nation we allow scenes of death and decapitation to cover our front yards, public areas and even our school corridors.
2 years ago I substituted in public schools for primarily kindergartners. 5 year olds, innocent children who still take naps, need snacks and cry because they miss their Moms. In the hallways where these 5 year olds walked to the cafeteria, the gym, library were displays that featured bloody ligaments, frightening masks and creepy scenes portraying decay and death.
We don’t allow weapons at school, but we are ok, with images of the grim reaper displayed on the walls.
I didn’t just find this to be true at one elementary school, these displays were rampant across an entire community. A community where most people would claim to believe in God, be a good Christian and go to church every Sunday. I am not saying that people are not saved if they celebrate Halloween. But I am commenting that even amongst those in the Christian community there is a often a collective blind eye to what we are inviting into our neighborhoods, schools, and homes when we celebrate Halloween.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Images of de captated heads, the grim reaper with a sheath in hand ready for destruction, bloody costumes are not appropriate for children, period. And they are not appropriate for ME!
Phillipians 4:8-9 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I can’t think of how any kind of bloody, grotesque or scary Halloween display, movie, image or costume could fall into the pure or lovely category.
I can’t put it in there – so even if as an adult I could rationalize “that stuff doesn’t affect me” – God says to not even think about it.
Whether you have children or not you are responsible to protect the innocence and purity of children. You don’t know who is driving by your house, walking into your home or viewing pictures of your Halloween costume on facebook or instagram.
God is fierce and clear about the protective heart He has over children and their innocence. He is also very clear about our role in protecting children.
After Jesus answers the question about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven by placing a little child on His lap (Matthew 18:1-5) He then says:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Jesus is not neutral on this issue (protecting children’s innocence) – He is extremely blunt…it would be better for you TO DIE a painful death than for you to cause a child to stumble. Whoa…that is intense…ok…take a few deep breaths.
How is celebrating Halloween causing a little one to stumble? You are inviting fear into their lives.
I have worked with kids in a lot of different capacities: children’s pastor, substitute teacher, nanny, and camp counselor. Kids struggle with fear, because kids are human – and humans struggle with fear.
When you allow decorations that are scary and grotesque to cover your home, watch movies or tv shows about vampires or the walking dead, when you take your child to a haunted house to “get scared….” you are inviting fear and his close relatives death and evil into your house….pulling out your recliner for them to sit on and offering them cream and sugar with their coffee.
I don’t think most people are aware of what they are giving partnership to when they watch horror films or set up inflatable witches in their front yard.
I believe most Americans just think they are celebrating another holiday – and to them it’s the same as turkey carving or setting out cookies for Santa…but its not!
So how do we respond to Halloween, in a culture that seems to be embracing the celebration of the gory parts of Halloween more and more? Lock ourselves in our bedroom and try to pretend its not happening? Dress up like a vampire to make ourselves culturally relevant? We are going to look at some practical ways we can respond to Halloween as believers – TOMORROW!
Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts on Halloween. Do you celebrate Halloween, why or why not? Parents of children how do you approach Halloween?
Soon that thought pounded in my head and shriveled its way into my heart until what was first a passing thought become a consistent theme inside me… whenever I walked through her door.
It happened again that week, I walked into another friend’s home…and the same thought re-verberated through my soul, “her kitchen is so much nicer than mine” and in an instant a torrent of other thoughts and emotions overwhelmed me –
“Why, does she get a better kitchen than me?” “What have they done to deserve this? I think I deserve the nicer kitchen…I’m older, I’ve gone through more, I’ve worked harder.”
My ridiculous tantrum grew into my head, until I had a cataloged, alphabetized list of why I deserved a nicer kitchen than both my friends. My list grew for a week, until the Holy Spirit convicted me.
To soothe my insecurity I had begun to build an airtight case for why I deserved what they had.
It had happened so quickly, this funnel cloud of comparison, shame, insecurity and judgment. My funnel cloud could have quickly become a destructive tornado, sweeping in to suck up the vulnerability, encouragement and life which had been growing in our friendship.
I wanted to stop it, but how did one thought turn into a potential destructive disaster? It happened when I began to believe the lie of the enemy: that I didn’t have enough.
I realized how ridiculous that lie was, I certainly have more than enough.
The fact that my husband and I even own a home, much less live in one puts us in a very small category of people in the world.
We may have laminate countertops, 90’s orange oak and mismatched appliances – but its ours, and we are living in abundance – by the sheer fact that we need a fridge and pantry to hold all our food.
Comparison can quickly can bring destruction and division in our relationships if we aren’t vigilant in guarding against it. During the 2 weeks when I was wrestling with kitchen comparison, it was causing division in my heart with my friends.
Every time I walked into their kitchens instead of focusing on our conversation or developing our friendship I was focused on granite countertops and their un- orange cabinets.
When I look back on that, I am so sad that I wasted any time or emotional energy comparing my kitchen with theirs instead of investing in our friendship.
I needed to set things right with my friends, although they had no idea what was going on in my heart and my mind, so one afternoon I told both of them that I had compared my kitchen to theirs, been jealous of what they had and that I was so sorry.
I told them I never wanted comparison to be in our friendship and I asked their forgiveness. They completely forgave me.
Honestly, from that moment on, I didn’t even struggle with comparison whenever I walked into their gorgeous kitchens.
When we bring what is in the dark (in this case my ugly case of comparison and jealousy) into the light (my repenting for my wrong) the enemy loses his power over us.
It was a very humbling conversation to bring up, because I had realized at that point how petty and ridiculous my thought process had been – but that’s ok…I need humility, I need authentic friendship and I need freedom much more than pride and granite countertops.
I love this bloggers perspective on her kitchen and comparison over at Organizing Homelife, it really convicted and challenged me as I was wrestling through similar thoughts!
I would love to hear your feedback! Have you struggled with comparison? Why do you think it is so easy to start playing the “comparison game?”
Megan B. you are the WINNER! You will be receiving an email from me asking for your address if you want a paper copy, or else I will send you the e -book version. Congratulations!
You may have noticed things have been relatively quiet on the blog this week. I have been sick the past 2 weeks and after pushing very hard last week, in spite of being sick, I have been trying to lay low this week and kick this sinus nastiness! Hopefully by next week we will be back into our normal groove. Thanks for understanding and being the best readers EVER!
We just had an epic two day garage sale last weekend. It was the first time I had ever hosted my own garage sale. I was so thankful for all your comments about how to have a successful garage sale, and I used many of your tips.
Our garage sale had items from 3 families and our grand total of profits was around $600! We were so excited. Of course I would rather not figure out my hourly wage, because we definitely put in several loooonnnggg days, sorting, pricing, setting up and selling – but it brought my heart a lot of joy to know that not only were we de-cluttering our house but we were making some money on our clutter.
Here are my top 5 tips from my garage sale experience.
- Tag Team It – I can’t imagine undertaking this garage sale without a few friends who also contributed their items and helped with all the preliminary work, set up/tear down and spent long and sweaty hours waiting in the garage for customers. I would definitely have lost my resolve for day #2 without garage sale buddies. Another bonus to having a multi – family garage sale is that you have more items to advertise in your Craigslist post.
- Use Color Coding – I was so excited to find price stickers that were pre-priced. We bought some at Lowes and at Target in 3 different colors. One of my garage sale buddies happened to have flouresecent paper the same color as the tags, so every family got a certain color to price their items. I had pink stickers, then when customers checked out with an item with a pink sticker that price would be written on the pink paper, if the customer had an item with a green sticker the price was written on the green paper. This way it was visually simple for us when we were checking out customers who bought items from different sellers.
- If you build it, they will come….EARLY! I was warned hard core garage salers will show up early, I just didn’t think they would show up when I was showing up…ha, ha….as in when I was opening my garage door and moving the first item onto the lawn. We had at least 3 customers show up 1 hour early. I asked them if there was anything specific they were looking for, and then politely but firmly told them they would need to come back when we opened. On Friday we opened at 8 a.m. and had people checking out as early as 7:30. On Saturday we opened at 7 a.m. hoping to beat the crowd, and we definitely beat them, since we didn’t have our first customer until about 8:30 a.m. Anyone else have this happen?
4. Weather Back up Plan – Living in South Texas, I didn’t give any thought to a rain out plan…. ooooppps….about an hour into our garage sale on Friday morning the rain started coming, and we had about 2 hours where it came and went, and came and went. Since our garage sale was more of a lawn sale, I started to panic a little. Fortunately, we had some large painting plastic drop cloths which we were able to use to cover and uncover, and cover and uncover about 5 times that morning. Good thing I am from Washington state!…a little rain can’t scare this Northwest girl, no matter how unexpected.
- Look for opportunities to bless! Throughout the 2 days my garage sale buddy and I both felt different moments where the Holy Spirit was prompting our hearts to give certain customers a good deal or accept their offer without haggling. These were people I have never seen before, I didn’t know their stories or if they were in need, or maybe just needed an unexpected blessing. But I know that although it was sometimes a little painful for my flesh to give my stuff away when I didn’t really know why, we made some people’s days and were obedient, and that was a lot more important than our final profit number.
I would love to hear from my garage sale pros if you can relate to my experience at all? Any unexpected adventures – such as rain on a 100 degree day?
Happy Columbus Day! I hope this finds you enjoying a day off, and if you don’t have the day off I hope your day is filled with unexpected sweetness….One way your day could get a lot sweeter is if you WIN!!!!!!!!
Please comment by tonight at midnight for a chance to win this book, that can help you connect to God in fresh ways!To Win: Comment below with the answers to these questions taken from Part 4 of Why I Spend Time with Jesus.
1. How do I best learn and retain information, whether in school, job training ect…? By moving, doing, saying, hearing, or seeing? Or some combination of these learning styles?
2. What activities do I enjoy doing? These are the kinds of activities you do naturally without anyone requiring you to do it. Where do I enjoy going? These are the kind of places you feel free to be yourself.
I am so excited for today! This afternoon, I am going to be marking all my garage sale items with brightly colored stickers. I am not sure why this is so exciting to me…? maybe because I don’t get to play with stickers much anymore?
I am REALLY EXCITED to share with you the fabulous giveaway we are having today…keep reading to find out what it is!
I want to take a few moments to talk about a few practical ways you can structure or not structure your time with Jesus so it is AWESOME!
Think about these 2 questions:
I have been praying over this series for weeks, and asking the Lord that every person who reads it would become hungry for more of Jesus! Whether you have never said one word to Him or have spent your whole life studying Him and talking to Him, the amazing thing is that there is ALWAYS MORE!
I want to encourage and challenge you, to ask Him to make you hungry for more of Him. Then commit to spending a certain time amount with Him EVERYDAY and PLAN A TIME to do so! If you are just beginning (how exciting =) then start with a realistic goal, I would suggest between 15-20 minutes of time everyday. Did you set a goal? Tell me about it in the comments below!
Today we are going to talk about overcoming some obstacles you may encounter on your journey and share with you some of my favorite resources for spending time with Jesus!
Today is the second part of my personal story explaining why spending time with Jesus is my most important priority. Here is the First Part if you missed it!
I began rather formally. Imitating prayers and vocabulary that sounded safe and dignified. The good thing about committing to praying for 30 minutes everyday is that you can only keep up a stiff format for about 5 minutes, until either you give up…or you start talking like yourself.
After I finished asking God for what I thought I should, world peace, good grades, safety for my family, I started to tell Him about what I was thinking and feeling. I told Him who my crush was and what I was dreading about the day. I told Him all my secrets.