Halloween

So I’m not sure if I should even begin this discussion, but I trust we can all be respectful and sensitive to others’ thoughts and opinions.

What are your thoughts about Halloween?

As Christians, what is our role to play and what should we be teaching our children?

Do we ignore the holiday altogether?

Ban it from our homes?

Redeem it?

Or simply take part in it?

What have you decided to do with your family, and what are your reasons behind that decision?  How do you explain your thoughts to your children and do they have friends who are making different choices?

I have Muslim and Jehovah’s Witness friends who will take no part in Halloween on any level, even going as far as to turn off all lights and refuse to answer the door.  I have Christian friends who don’t think twice about letting their children participate in Halloween by trick or treating, dressing up and attending Halloween parties.  I have Christian friends who simply ignore the holiday altogether, which actually works quite well if you live in a rural area and your children are surrounded mainly by friends and family who choose to do the same.  That is the way I experienced Halloween as a child.  Do you carve pumpkins or hand out candy to your neighbour children?

There are churches and families who plan alternative activities such as Fall celebrations and Bible character dress up parties.  There are people who hand out candy with scripture verses, Christian kids’ tracts and other things in attempt to reach kids in a small way with the gospel on a night when they’re flocking to our doors.

In our town the hospital’s long-term care facility opens it’s doors to the public and kids can come enjoy trick or treating, games and snacks with the elderly and disabled people in a warm, safe and dry environment, which I think is an ingenious idea!

This year my husband and I have decided to shift our children’s focus off themselves for the evening and onto others by collecting for the local food bank while still enjoying the fun of going from house to house together and yes, most likely receiving bucketfuls of candy.  We’ve chosen not to dress up, but certainly don’t believe this is the only way to handle Halloween effectively.  We’re also working with a situation where our children have trick or treated in the past and enjoyed it, are surrounded by children and families celebrating Halloween and get lots of encouragement from school to participate in what most kids rank as a favourite holiday.

What about teenagers and young adults’ Halloween parties?  Haunted houses?

When trying to do research on the origins of Halloween it was a frustrating experience at best trying to decipher fact from fiction.  Do the origins of this holiday hundreds of years ago affect your decisions today?  In the melting pot of traditions we experience here in North America is it worth trying to figure out where they all came from and how they got jumbled into what we now know as Halloween?  It can be quite the horrifying experience to read about and witness some of the darker traditions associated with Halloween.  At the same time, it can be quite confusing once one is actually confronted with the reality of excited little children on your doorstep, all smiles and eager, dancing eyes.

“Trick or treat!”

“Do you like my costume?”

“Am I scary?!”

“Argh!”

I have fond memories of a story called “The Pumpkin Patch Parable” as a child that took all the dark images of evil spirits lurking and scary looking pumpkin faces scaring them away out of the Jack-o-Lantern tradition.  My daughter had a great time the other day scooping all the slimy, slippery seeds out of a pumpkin at school with her friends and together they planned two triangle eyes, a triangle nose and a scary mouth…because scary things are pretty funny when you’re 6!

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts as long as you’re prepared to be open to others’ thoughts as well 🙂  Like most things, I think this is an area we all need to heed the Spirit’s guidance personally but I’m sure we could learn a lot by sharing our experiences together.

Have a great October 31st! 🙂

AF

 

 

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Let it Snow

It’s snowing outside! 🙂

First snowfall of the season on October 31.

This girl is happy.

In fact…this morning has been just about perfect.  My husband didn’t have to leave for work until 9:00, so we slept in.

Woke up to big, beautiful flakes of snow falling outside the window,

the girls happily playing downstairs by the fire,

and a warm kiss beside me.

Ah.

Fluffy slippers,

all of us meandering through breakfast and morning routines together

and then rushing the girls out the door at the last minute because…surprise…we’re late!

Checked out the Christmas sales starting in the flyers,

lit some candles,

and turned on the Christmas songs

all as the flurries continued to fall.

My daughters prayed for snow, so they were delighted to bundle up in their winter coats, mittens and hats this morning and go out into the cold.

What about you?

Are you ready for the Christmas season creeping up on us?  What do you love about the next two months?  Don’t tell me what you hate, because those are all listed off thousands of times every year and we really don’t need to review those! 🙂

Some side notes…

We’re heading out tonight on our “alternative to Halloween” activity…collecting food for the local food bank.

We’ll walk the streets with all the ghosts, princesses, zombies and fairies until we’re too cold,

our wagon is full of canned soup

or Daddy shuts us down,

and then we’ll go warm up with some pizza!

It’s an early to bed night here since tomorrow is a BIG day.  We’re going to go visit the girls’ foster families for the very first time since placement four months ago.  I’m excited, but nervous and trying to prepare for the emotional disruptions next week is likely to bring.  It’s 2 steps forward and 1.9 steps backward as we stumble through this maze called attachment together.

To be honest, I’ve been having a rough few weeks.  It’s just such hard work some days, and the stakes are so high.  So much depends on me and half the time I don’t have a clue what’s really going on.  Our mornings are shaky at best, and one wrong move on my part can send us all spiralling into anxiety, fear, anger and power struggles.  I try to do it on my own too often.  I let myself fall into the easy, muddy ruts that bring us all down.

Too tired.

Too grumpy.

Too overwhelmed.

Too busy.

But good friends and God reminded me this week that I am called to so much more than this.  There is a power available for me if I will only submit my heart to the path it takes to get there.  I must be willing to let go of my irritation, my pride, my fear and my frown.  One step in front of the other, I can choose to be the kind of woman He longs for me to be.  Not perfect, but eager to serve.  Not superwoman, but flexible and cheerful even when mittens are lost and the night was too short.  Three quarters of the battle is won when I kick that big stubborn will of mine into gear!  I know better than to let myself off the hook too easily because I know just how much I can really change with a positive attitude and a heart ready to bow to the Spirit’s gentle nudges.  That decision on Wednesday made the last half of this week so much better than the first!

It’s still snowing! 🙂  Better pull out those layers for tonight.

Cheers!

AF

 

 

A Child’s Faith

“Mommy, I prayed and said sorry to God for my selfish heart.”

This while I am still stewing over our rough morning. While I am letting anger stir my heart and ruffle my spirits; while I am scrubbing with swift, firm strokes and avoiding her eyes.

At these words I had to stop. I turned to look at her.

Her eyes had lost the stubborn, pouting expression of earlier and now were clear, bright and eager to connect with me.

My heart skipped a beat, and I was immediately humbled. She had reached the point of repentance before I did. She had recognized her failures and reached out her hands for grace. Why was I, the one entrusted to teach her, still stumbling around in my muddy sins? What makes me so reluctant to come before my Saviour with humility and eager longing for his grace?

I have learned so much from these children God has entrusted to me. I know now, why Jesus spoke of a child’s faith. My daughters are so eager to believe! They are so in love with the Jesus they have just met. They are concerned about others, asking… “Does she have God in her heart?”

When they first heard about Jesus death on a cross for us they grieved in a way I have not experienced in a very long time. They love to pray and easily give credit to God for the good things that happen in their lives. They are in awe of the stories in the Bible. They often comment that they are so glad they have come here so that they could learn about God.

Those moments remind me why we’re here and why we chose to adopt our daughters.

But I always imagined myself teaching and instructing them, and though that certainly is a part of it I was completely unprepared for the questions they ask, the prayers they pray, the startling insights and the humility they bring to our discussions.

They are so eager to learn!

I never expected to witness such beautiful faith in my children. I expected to spend years teaching them without seeing a lot of evidence they were truly embracing my faith. Instead, I am in awe as I see that they already have their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that He is present and real in their lives. They have asked Him into their hearts and I truly believe He is dwelling there…teaching, convicting, loving and guiding. This is only the beginning of their journey with their Saviour but I pray that they will never lose the vibrancy they display right now. I hope that they, unlike me, will be eager to reach out in humble repentance for His grace. I hope they will always be in awe of how big and awesome He is!

And today, humbled by my daughter’s words, I am led by a child closer to my Father’s heart.

Thank you, Jesus.

Songs of my Life

I have always loved music.

The times when my heart is too full to find a way to speak, I can usually find a song that cracks that wall and brings a lump to my throat.

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

Sometimes it’s the lyrics,

sometimes it’s the music,

sometimes it’s the beat.

Some people have comfort food.

I have comfort music.

I don’t necessarily have a favourite genre. I enjoy a variety of styles and flavours.

There are songs that always, always dissolve me to tears…and there are songs that will make me smile and laugh all alone in my car on the worst of days. If you were to examine my favourites you would probably laugh out loud at the oddity of them being on the same list.

There are songs that take me back to a specific time and place…sometimes it was a random moment of happiness and other times it was a moment of searing pain where God came to me.  Through the haunting melody, through the steady beat, through the soaring harmonies, chords, lyrics and breaths.  I could go back and bookmark my entire life with songs.

I am so thankful God gave humans the ability to create music; to be able to weave together the threads of our souls and express it in so many different ways is an absolutely mesmerizing gift!  More than that, I am thankful God chooses to come to me through music so many times. To gently soothe the aches, to nudge me into joy, to remind me of truth and to invite me to worship all that He is. Artists take the most beautiful, painful and important aspects of life and translate them to music because they know there will be many more people who will connect with their experiences.

Someday I will write them all down…that list of a thousand songs that walked me through my life from as far back as I can remember.

AF

When Things Aren’t Fine…

I called a friend the other week.

This friend has walked this path I’m walking…adoption, change, testing, fear and insecurity…before me.

This was her advice.

“Learn to be OK with things not being OK.”

And she has modeled it beautifully.

I needed to hear that.

I needed to be reminded what success really is.  Not everything being ok, but wading through the trenches that will lead us to security, trust and a forever together.  My girls don’t need to be acting like everything is ok right now, because it isn’t.  They are grieving, they are struggling to believe, and they are fighting against all the messages their brains want to tell them.

That’s ok.

“I am not telling you that it is going to be easy, but that it will be worth it.”

-Unknown

My job is not to make it all go away…to run my hands over it until it’s smooth as silk.  Instead, I need to be willing to walk them through the hard questions and feelings.  I need to be willing to hurt a bit alongside them as I admit I cannot fix it all.  The goal is not to attain perfection to someone else’s eye, but instead to meet my children’s needs.

“Things aren’t the same & that’s fine.”

-Unknown

I was looking too hard for a solution to make it all go away.

We still struggle to navigate the little ins and outs of each day and try to find ways to make this time easier.  There are special scarves tucked around anxious faces, special stones in a backpack pocket, special songs, special baths, special crackers and special cuddle times.  There are important phrases, important moments, important stories and important prayers.  We read books, talk to people, ask for help and sometimes just make a giant mess of things.

But a huge relief sweeps over me when I remind myself…it’s ok for things not to be ok.

Every day I beg God for wisdom to know how to love my daughters in the way they need to be loved right now, and then the strength to do it.

“When it feels like everything is falling apart, God is usually putting it all back together.”

-Unknown

Right now I need to focus on what my kids need, not on how all their messy stuff is coming out.  When there are tears, anger, overwhelming sadness, defiance or ridiculous insecurity…what is the real message?

“You can’t punish grief.”

-Lisa Highfield

I’d love to just breeze on by sometimes and pretend it’s just what it looks like…but we all know in reality things are rarely as they seem.  Of course…the tricky part is still figuring out when those moments are that it is exactly what it seems!

The bottom line is…right now my 8 and 5 year old are struggling with BIG emotions that would challenge anyone, so much grace is needed both for them and for myself.  It can be devastating to face my own failures when the stakes are so high.  I want so much to do this well.

I stumbled across this verse and it made me smile.

“She is clothed in

DIGNITY

and

STRENGTH

and she

LAUGHS

without fear of the future.”

Proverbs 31:25

“Learn to be ok with things not being ok.  Remember…every moment you pour into their lives now, is one moment closer to security.”

Thank you.

We will make it!

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” 

-Unknown

Go Team Freeman 🙂