October 31, 2013

Why or Why not...that is the question for today.

Ok...I was NOT planning on blogging today. I mean, this is one of those few days of the year that gets pretty much everyone's feathers in a ruffle.  However, all the blog posts being shared about "why Christians should do Halloween" or "why Christians shouldn't do Halloween"...every single one of them is getting on my very last nerve. These are personal family decisions. Let's allow EACH family make their own decision & NOT tell people who aren't asking, why or why not they should or should not celebrate Halloween. If someone asks you, what your family is doing, by all means share, share your reasons why or why not & then allow them to make their choice-NO JUDGEMENT either way!

Since I'm now talking about it, I may as well share our journey in relation to Halloween.  20 yrs ago when we started this journey of parent hood, We chose to NOT celebrate Halloween when our son was little, but we did NOT advertise it everywhere NOR did we try to make people feel bad for either choice. (I am aware Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Blogs did not exist! Yet, we still did not go "preach" what to do/not to do.)

You see, I grew up trick or treating & my husband did not. WE (together) made the best choice for our family, which was to not celebrate, decorate, trick or treat, dress up, et all.
There were many reasons, the biggest of which was what Halloween represents, yes we can choose to NOT look or decorate evil....however, if you look around the theme at MOST places, it is dark, desolate, death & destruction.  (Have you browsed the Halloween aisle recently? There is very little innocence, light & life found there; if at all.) When I was growing up, my parents were particular about our costumes-gruesome & gore were NOT allowed! The power of darkness is very real in the world today & we were not fooling around with that! I remember fondly being C3PO & Batman.............oops, sorry got to waxing nostalgic there :)
Secondly, We lived out in the boondocks of Amish country, so opportunities to actually go were limited & it was a no-brainer that our Amish neighbors were not going to leave a light on for us. We wanted to respect our neighbors beliefs too (ya know, Jesus did talk about this....love your neighbors as yourself, treat others the way you want to be treated.) If we wanted respect from our neighbors, then respecting our neighbors was important to us. When I trick or treated growing up, my parents took us in our immediate block & then we went to my grandparents homes & their few neighbors...safety was of utmost importance even back then. When our son was growing up, my parents lived in VA-um...too far to go for sure & my in-laws did not celebrate Halloween in their little neighborhood, so going there wasn't an option either. (I did not tell them what to do either! It was their choice-and not right/wrong in my opinion. We chose to honor their choice.)
When our son was in Preschool, they did celebrate Halloween & we DID allow him to participate. What was wonderful about that-it allowed us to be creative AND it was THEMED day...favorite storybook character & the like. NO scary costumes or decorations were allowed-NONE! (I think we may have had black cat decor) We also played "dress up" other days of the year at home, at preschool, etc. Then upon entering primary school, he attended a Christian school AND he had ample opportunity to dress up during the school year, so Halloween wasn't a "necessity" in our lives. If we wanted candy, we went to the store & bought some.
As he got older, our church began creating a "bright spot" in a local neighbor on their trick or treat night. Our son, then in Middle School or High School, wanted to trick or treat with friends in addition to helping with the event (it was NOT unusual to see that age out and about in that neighborhood), so we discussed it & he chose his costumes wisely & creatively-utilizing the "tools" of discernment we had taught him over the years. Macgyver, Firefly (the movie) & my favorite Stickman (made with black clothes & glow sticks) were some of his costumes of choice-nothing dark, sinister, scary, or disturbing. And again...thankful for many reasons.

One of which was reiterated on "The Steve Harvey Show" today. It was playing in the background while I was writing this post. One mom wanted her husband to join her in dressing up for Halloween with their 3 young children. (I say young...oldest was probably 9-ish). So the staff of the show decided to help them out :)  They were the Munsters...a "not so scary" costume choice one would think...until dad came out & lef this two youngest children not only looking scared to death of dad & clinging to mom, but sobbing...tears streaming down their faces in fear of this "scary" man. Even their oldest child, did not go near dad.
That is where my biggest struggle with Halloween comes from...the PURPOSE of Halloween in general is to scare the crap out of people...I know NOT everyone has that purpose, but I ask again, Have you browsed the Halloween aisle recently...how much innocence, light & life do you see in those aisles? I don't see much at all & what I do find takes a whole lot of digging through the dark to find.

I share our journey, not to tell you "why Christians should do Halloween" or "why Christians should not do Halloween", because that is NOT my job. (and you can see that our journey was all over the place depending on the environment & time of life, each of which we prayerfully considered. It may look willy nilly-but it was not!) I share our journey, to let you know that it is ok to choose what you choose just be sure you are listening to God prompts daily. If you have a check in your spirit about participating...then don't. If you have a check in your spirit about not participating...then maybe rethink turning that light on & truly being a light in your neighborhood.

But most importantly, as a Christian whatever you choose to do for your family, CHOOSE WISELY.
...stop making other families feel guilty for the choice they are making for their family.
...stop "shaming" each other for their choice (some of the blog post titles, just make me want to cry!)
...start acting more like Jesus in how you live your life-EVERYDAY & with EVERY choice.
...start listening to the Holy Spirit's direction. If you have a check in your conscience...stop & listen to it.
...get into to the Word & read how Jesus lived-EVERYDAY & in EVERY way.

Phew, for not planning to write, that sure got long didn't it? I will leave you with this final thought: This is the day the Lord has made & I will rejoice and be glad in it. (not Halloween...just the 24 hrs that is a day. any day) Enjoy these 24 hours however you choose...honor God!

October 23, 2013

What am I "delighting" in?

'Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.' (Psalm 37:4 ESV). 

I often wonder what delighting myself in the Lord looks like...I often picture a child in utter amazement over something new, that look of sheer unabashed joy on their face, so perhaps it means this....'One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.'(Psalm 27:4 ESV). 

Oftentimes, this verse becomes part of "prosperity gospel" teachings. Teachings where we are told, if you do this...God will do that...you know the verses..."ask & it shall be given to you...", "if you ask anything in My name...", "if you have faith..." And the list goes on. I believe too often we take these verses out of context & think I will have more money, a better home, etc. we think in terms of 'things' when we think of the "desires of your heart."

I think the more I decide to delight in the Lord, to sit in utter awe of who He is & what He's done for lil ole me; the more the desires of my heart line up with His desires for me. And His desires go far beyond blessing me with 'things' or position. His desires are not my fleshly hearts desires...if I am delighting myself in the Lord so He will give me my hearts desire....my desires are definitely not His desires. 

So, before choosing to turn our backs on the Lord because "He isn't giving me what my heart wants"; perhaps we need to look a bit closer at a few things, the hard things in our own lives that maybe we'd rather just push under the rug & cast blame elsewhere...
1. Our motive in spending time with God. Why do we set aside time with Him? Is it because we treasure the relationship or is it so we can get something from Him?
2. Where we place our value... "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also"? or to put it another way, what does our calendar reflect as our value?
3. Are my desires more selfish or selfless?
4. Is this truly God's best for me at this time?

And lastly, if you are a parent (or had a parent 😉), do you give your child everything they ask for? If your child's hearts desire was to eat candy 24/7/365, would you allow it? Why/why not? I would not, because it would harm them, maybe not in those first moments; but eventually an all candy diet would cause them harm not good. As a parent, you know this...you can see the harmful implications down the road; so you say 'no, my dear child you may not have your hearts desire because this one will bring you harm.' Why do you tell them no? Because you love them and want the best for them, right?

Would you want your child to turn their back on you because of this? Of course not. The same is true for our Father in heaven. Not everything we want is 'good'. It may look good in the moment, but God sees the implications down the road & He does know best. So He says, 'no, my dear child you may not have your hearts desire because this one will bring you harm.' And yet, sometimes we push forward anyway...forcing our way, & just like the child who sneaks all that candy ends up with a belly ache, we end up in a 'pickle'. 

Who is at fault for the belly-ache? ____________ Who then is responsible for the 'pickle'? ___________

The more i truly delight in the Lord....the more my hearts desires will line up with His. I hope you will take some time to ponder today with me....what am I delighting in today?