Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Would Jesus dress up for Halloween?

Ok.  Here I go! What is the deal with Halloween?

I have always loved Halloween.  I get totally into dressing up.  My family has always dressed in theme.   For example, a circus theme, shark attack, farmer, cowboys and Indians, robots, peter pan... I love to get super creative and plan out the costumes.  My mom is an incredible seamstress, and she has made all of our costumes.  She even made a great shark costume for the boys from scratch.  Amazing!

My husband has been a great sport in my Halloween madness.  I made him wear an Elvis costume one year!  Ever since we were pregnant with our first, we have dressed up together.  (BTW, we were the baker and the bun in the oven).

Since we have had kids, we started hosting a Halloween party at our house.  Costumes are a MUST.  The kids go trick or treating, while the grown up sit by the fire eating chili.  It is always fun! Some years I have created games and crafts for the kids, best costume awards and creative sweet treats.  Safe family fun!

This year is a little different. This year I have felt a little more convicted.  I have scaled back.  I did not put out all of our decorations, I did not go over board with our costumes.  I even bought some of our costumes this year, which I hardly EVER do.

Why is this year different?  This Halloween I have been trying to figure out the "WHY" behind the costumes, candy and decorations.  Why has Halloween been so much apart of our Fall celebrations?  Is it biblical?  Would Jesus dress up in a costume and go trick or treating?  What is the harm in participating in the great candy hunt?  Does it make me less "Godly" if I enjoy putting on a costume?

So I reflected...
Our kids have a place in the playroom devoted to dressing up.  They love to wear fireman's hat, Spiderman, pirate clothes, and space suits.  Sometimes they put on all of the costumes at once.  They play super heroes, and "save the day".  In August they go around the house hunting bad guys to save the princess.  In July my boys can be found in their pirate hats steering their ship.  In  January they are running around wearing capes.  Not just on October 31st.

Why does October 31 have such an impact on what they wear, when they are playing dress up through out the year.  October 31 is just another fun day to dress up, I mean come on, even the grown ups participate.  What kid wouldn't love it?

As for me and my family, after careful prayer and conversations, my husband and I have decided to continue to celebrate.  We like the playfulness that Halloween brings.  We enjoy creating new memories with our boys.  We like to participate in dressing up with our kids.  We do however, limit what they can wear and keep each costume modest and age appropriate.  We do not allow our boys to wear masks.  We do not allow them to wear scary or violent costumes.  We talk to them about the things that they may see on Halloween, the scary, scandalous, and inappropriate.  
I have researched the origins of Halloween, I have seen through history where groups have turned it into a pagan celebration.  It was originally practiced as a day to prepare for the cold, dark winter months.  (Have you researched the origins of saying "God bless you" when you sneeze?  What about Christmas trees?  Google it.)  We have decided that for our family the way we celebrate Halloween does not alter our relationship with Christ.  We surround ourselves with friends that have our same beliefs, and we teach our children to live a life that is glorifying to God.  

So, to answer my question.  Would Jesus dress up for Halloween? I'm still not sure, but, probably not... But Jesus did hang out with the undesirables, the lepers, and the mentally ill.  Did His example on how to love change lives?  Yes! Can we be His example every where?  Yes!  Even wearing costumes....

Disclaimer....I know for some of you Halloween is a hot topic.  These are decisions my family has made.  Every year, we may have to stop and reflect again.  I am not defending Halloween.  I am simply suggesting that you evaluate for your family the "why" of Halloween.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dirty, Washed, Folded, Put Away

I do not like to put clothes away.  I will wash, dry, fold and then, that's it.  Our clean clothes sit in the basket for days, maybe even a week.   Or if I am motivated to actually sort the clean clothes, they then stay in piles on our bed, on top of the dresser or on the floor.  Hanging up clothes, forget about it! That's why we have a chair in our bedroom, right? They can lay in piles on the chair for weeks.  This drives my husband CRAZY!  I try to do better each time.  I like having my clothes in the drawer and on hangers, I just don't like doing it.  If only there was a machine invented...

Wouldn't it be AWESOME to throw dirty clothes in the washer, then the same machine dries them, then folds them, then puts them on hangers.  That would be the best.  I would pay good money to have my socks sorted, matched and put away! My poor family never has matching socks to wear, literally  never!

Why stop at laundry?  Why can't the dirty dishes get from the sink to the dishwasher to the cabinet.  I mean, really? Why do we even need plates?

Life can make messes.  I have three little boys and everyday is messy.  Every day there are Lego's all over the floor, super hero costumes hanging on the banister and monster trucks strewn about.  We've even had toothpaste hand prints on the wall. Don't even get me started on the baby powder explosion in the play room.  (I can't make this stuff up, folks!)

I am going to be honest.  I do not always keep myself "clean" in the dirty situations.  I yell, I get frustrated, I cry, I wanna pull my hair out.  I want to blame other people for my misfortunes.  I want to criticize when I am the one that needs to reflect.  I don't confront when needed, because I want to keep the peace.  I will take the blame to keep someone else happy.  The messy grown up stuff in life is hard.  No one said that growing up was easy, I just don't want to always act like a grown up.  Why can't a 33 year old have a tantrum in the middle of Target because they don't have my size?! Why can't I break the rules and go through the 20 items or less line at Walmart with a buggy full of stuff?!

Why can't someone invent a machine that can take all of OUR dirty?  Wouldn't it be great to throw all of our anger, anxiety, temper, depression, fears, worries into a big machine that took it all away?  All of the dirty would be washed, dried, folded and put away neatly in our drawers.  We would be cleansed of  all of the things that hold us down.  All of the things that crowd our hearts and minds would be washed clean.  We would come out on the other side 'smelling like roses'. 

Sometimes the process is not desirable.  Feelings get hurt, and hard life changing decisions have to be made.  The process is what we learn from.  The process is when God can change and grow us.  It is often the time when we are at the end of ourselves, so God can pick up the pieces and help us get to the clean other side.

 JESUS is our machine!  He is the one that will cleanse us and make us white as snow.  He is the one that will wash away our sins, press us into His purpose and fold us inside His presence.  I love that our God is a God that forgives, grows, and carries us along the way.  

Check out this link! Great song! Jesus Paid it all!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Love, Loss and Faithfulness

Today is a day of remembrance. A day of mourning.  A day of gratitude.  Today is a remembrance day for miscarriage and loss of pregnancy. And here is my story...

My husband and I were married for almost three years when we decided to start having children.  We already had the obligatory dog, so we thought, why not start trying to have a baby.  We were thrilled when the pregnancy test came back positive.  We told everybody; family, friends, even my class full of second graders. We were so overjoyed with love for this little baby.  We bought baby clothes, toys and a jogging stroller. 

Then it happened... I started bleeding. I was 12 weeks pregnant and the heart beat stopped.  Even now, 8 years later I am still mourning the loss of that first child.  We never thought this could happen to us.  At the time, we did not know any one who had experienced the loss of a miscarriage.  To say the least, we were devastated.  I asked God why he would take such a precious gift away from us. We were good people, went to church, lived our life genuinely, and Christ like.  Why would he 'punish' us? 

After a few months we decided to try again. Again we were overjoyed with the positive pregnancy test.  We prayed, we cried, we laughed.  We told our family and only our closest friends.   Although, we were very cautious. So much so that I didn't eat lunch meat for fear of bacteria, I gave up coffee, I limited sweets.  Whatever the baby books said do, I did.  After nine hard months our beautiful baby boy was born.  (His delivery is a whole other post).  We felt God had reward us.  We finally had a little trophy bundled up in blue!

When our little guy was 7 months old, we decided to start trying again.  I wanted 4-5 kiddos, and we wanted them close in age.  

I had another miscarriage. 
We tried again, again another miscarriage.  
I had an ectopic pregnancy. 
We tried once again, and again another miscarriage.  

At this point I was very bitter.  I was angry at God.  Why did we have to go through this?  Lots of my friends were getting pregnant and having babies, why couldn't I?  It was so hard for me to attend baby showers.  It was hard for me to feel happy for my friends.  I made harsh comments to my pregnant friends.  That is when God again stepped in.  Enough was enough.  I needed counseling. 

 I learned alot about myself through my counseling.  I learned a lot about God's character, and His forgiving nature.  I consumed scripture, and devoured God's presence.  I became content with God's plan for our family.  I learned that I was not broken.  That is what I thought, that if I couldn't have kids, then my body was broken.  

God is always good.  I know now, that if I hadn't humbled myself  I would not have opened my eyes to adoption.  I had to realize that adoption is not a confession of a broken body, but a profession of faith.  God showed up in a big way! My husband and I adopted our second son in 2009.  God literally hand picked him out for us and placed him perfectly in our family.  

While adjusting to a life with a three year old and a new born, we did not think about having any more kids.  We were completely happy and content with our family of four.  But God wasn't done.  When our second was only 3 months old we found out I was pregnant! (God answered our pray of having our kids close together).  They are 11 months apart, born in the same year!  God always answers our prayers.  He always has a plan.  It brings me great joy knowing that back in 2005 when we had our first miscarriage that God knew about our precious boys.  

Miscarriage and pregnancy loss is heart breaking.  I went into a very dark period.  Through out the years I have experienced 4 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy.  Through out the years I have also always experienced God's faithfulness and love.  He is good all of the time! I pray that if you are going through this same loss that you seek help.  Seek out a friend who has been through it, seek a counseling service.  But above all else, SEEK GOD! He has you in His great big hands, holding, loving, and guiding you.  Always protecting you and placing you in His big plans.  For me, I find peace in knowing that I have 5 babies waiting for me to hold them in heaven! I wanted 4-5 babies, God gave me 8!! His plans are always bigger and better!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spreading PB and Joy: My mini mission trip

Spreading PB and Joy: My mini mission trip: Today I am going on a mission trip. I am  packing my bags.  I have my suitcase open.  I am throwing in movies, nebulizers, Tylenol, and lots...

My mini mission trip

Today I am going on a mission trip. I am  packing my bags.  I have my suitcase open.  I am throwing in movies, nebulizers, Tylenol, and lots of coffee.  I am packing pajamas, vitamins, and juice.  I am taking  toy cars and fruit, maybe even popcorn. Customs is no problem on this trip.  Wait...  This doesn't sound like a mission trip to you?  I am not going to a foreign country.  I do not need hiking boots or a sleeping bag.  I don't even need my passport.   I am however,  going to pray without ceasing.  I am going to lay hands on others and pray for healing and grace.  I will fully rely on God to get me through this trip.  

I have been to Peru on a mission trip.  The travel time is almost 24 hours.  We took a plane, a bus, and a van just to get to the starting point of our trek.  We hiked the Andes mountains and handed bibles to the Quechua people.  People who have never heard the gospel were able to see Jesus in us.  We showed the "Jesus Film" in their native language, and shared our testimonies.  It is a hard trip.  We hiked 7-10 miles a day.  Rocky, steep elevations.  Narrow paths.  At night we stayed in tents in the villages.  In the morning we would have frost on the outside of the tents.  It is hard, but totally worth it.  The experience of literally walking with Jesus is more than I can put into words.  I was overcome with emotions almost everyday.  The spiritual strength that God granted me was amazing!  Not only did we show Jesus to others, Jesus revealed himself to me in ways I didn't expect.  He gave me physical strength to get through the trek.  He gave me mental strength to handle seeing the things on our path.  Most importantly I allowed God to use me and guide me.   

I have gone to Peru twice.  Each time I come home,  I crave the feeling of Gods presence.  I want to feel Him.   Truly feel Him.  I will admit that in Peru I need him more.  Here at home I am overloaded with conveniences and comforts that cloud my heart.  I have to seek Him more here in the comforts of my home.  

Today is different.  Today I vow that this will be my mission trip.  After all, isn't this my everyday mission field.

You see, my littles are sick.  I haven't had a full nights sleep in four nights.  Walker has had night terrors.  He is congested, coughing and running a fever.  Carter woke up with croup, hacky, barky cough.  He was up every half hour last night.  When he wasn't up, Walker was.  I have a sore throat...

 This is my mommy mission field.  I am going to fully rely on God.  If I don't then I will fall.  I am going to let God light my path.  If I don't I will fall to darkness.  I am going to pray over my sweet babies, and allow God to take care of them.  I am going to LET GOD, BE GOD.  Today is my mini mission trip.  I pray that it doesn't just last today, that everyday is my mini mission trip.  I pray that I don't get bogged down by the everyday life, that I can feel the presence of God in my daily life.  

I pray that you take that vow today as well.  LET GOD, BE GOD in your life today and everyday.  See and feel the presence of God!!!