Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Believer's Response to Halloween


Once September is over, I get this churning in my stomach.  October is next & that is my least favorite month of the whole year because of Halloween.
I have tried for years to figure out what I believe is the right way for my family to respond to Halloween.  Honestly, I hate it.  I hate everything about it. The scary creatures, ridiculous house decorations and creepy shows that come on TV.  I start dreading this time of year as soon as I start seeing the stores stock up on candy.
 When I was little it wasn't that big of a deal.  You didn't have to worry about your babies getting scared in the stores by the creepy stuff hanging around.  Our neighbors didn't put tomb stones in their front yard that screamed when you walked by.  It has definitely changed and is getting worse.
Click here to read how the Washington Post reported this change.
Up until a few years ago we lived out in the country miles from the main road.  On Halloween, I wouldn't even mention it & it would be just a normal day for us.  We would sometimes decorate our house for Fall by putting pumpkins on the porch and hanging our favorite scarecrow on the front door.  My wooden set of Pilgrims would be nicely placed on the table in the entry way.  We were focusing on Thanksgiving & most of the time the kids didn't even realize it was Halloween.  Then about a year and a half ago we moved into town.  Now I had trick or treaters to deal with.  I didn't want my kids going out and I didn't want the neighbor kids coming over.  The problem is, our house is one of the main hang outs on the street.  Everyone wants to be at our house, so they had all told my kids they were coming for tons of candy.  I had to think fast & figure out what we were to do.  Should we hide in our house with the lights off or what?  Maybe we could go somewhere.  No that wouldn't work because everyone will be dressed up & it might scare my little ones.  When all else fails...PRAY!
I prayed about it, talked to my husband & we agreed that we were not going to hide in our house.  God had placed us in a neighborhood full of lost people and kids who were living in very disfunctional homes.  How could we react in a way to this holiday that would honor God and in a small way share the gospel with all of these people coming to our door?  We decided to hand out tracts.
I want our family to be a witness to those we live around & the biggest way we can do that is by the way we treat them.  If we hid in our house on Halloween our message would not be a welcoming one to them.  If we hide in our house on a regular basis and do not get to know our neighbors what does that say to them?  I don't want my life to send a message that says, "I will only talk & associate with those who share my beliefs."  That is so far away from the message of grace and love that Jesus came to teach.  I'm so glad that he didn't only hang out with those who believed he was the Messiah.  His message would not have spread & that was his mission; to teach us to love each other and love God with all our might.  A fruit of my love for Christ is my deep desire to share his love with others in whatever way I can.  Even if it means passing out candy at Halloween to children.  I don't see this as celebrating Halloween.  We are not decorating, nor involved with the creepy traditions that come with Halloween.
I know that some who will read this will not agree.  That is o'k, you don't have to agree.  Knowing the history of Halloween helped to make some decisions, but more importantly, knowing what scriptures teach about reaching out to the lost helped even more.

John MacArtur has written a fantastic article describing how Christians can respond to Halloween and the history behind it.

Read Christians and Halloween



Blessings!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Reformation Day

luther
October 31st is Reformation Day for Christians.  On this day in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church.  These were his protest against the indulgences of the Catholic church.  He didn't believe that you could bargain or buy your way into heaven and this is what the Catholic church was teaching.  They were taking advantage of the people and Martin Luther had had enough.
Martin Luther was a German monk in Erfurt, Germany.  He was totally dedicated to his God and in his service.  He would starve himself and spent hours on his cell floor, arms stretched out in a cross confessing his sins and seeking Gods forgiveness, but still he never found peace in his heart.  He tried to be perfect and earn his salvation, but it wasn't until the rector of the Augustinian order explained salvation to him did he begin to understand that his salvation was a free gift from God through his faith in Jesus Christ.  He told him that God was not angry with him for his sin, but that he loved him.  He then sent him to the university in Erfurt to become a priest and to teach.
Luther enjoyed his life as a priest and was thrilled when he was sent to Rome on business.  But Rome was not as holy as Luther expected it to be.  The monks openly ridiculed the saints, jokes were made of the sacraments by the priests.  But even in Rome Martin did not lose his faith in God.  But now, he had some doubt about the church authority.  He went home and began to study God's Word with a passion that he had never experienced before.  Over time in his studies he began to realize that the scriptures did not teach that one earned their salvation by good works.  He realized that salvation only came by believing in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  All that the church was teaching was not what the scriptures he was reading.  He began to teach what he was learning at the University and this really caused sparks to fly.
To make a really long story short (which you can go here to read more), the church kicked Martin Luther out and he had to hide for several years.  It was during this time that other priest began to question the Catholic church's teaching and began to uprise.  Many lost their life, others escaped.  While Martin was in hiding he began to translate the Latin Bible into German.  He believed that anybody should be able to read and study the scriptures themselves.
Martin Luthers' boldness to stand and fight for truth marked the beginning of the Reformation Church also known as the Protestant church.  Martin Luther paved the way for other reformers to come in and carry on the work of teaching other about the grace of God.  Works are not what get you into Heaven, it is only God's grace.
Martin Luther was also known for his hymns.  The most popular hymn that he is still remembered for is also called the Battle Hymn of the Reformation or better known as A Mighty Fortress is our God (you can also listen at this link) Here is Steve Green singing on You Tube.  This hymn is my favorite of all the hymns!
So why is any of this important? Who really cares about a man who rebelled against the Catholic church over 400 years ago?  I think that as parents it is really important for us to pass on to our kids our Christian heritage and knowing about people like Martin Luther is an important in our christian history.  You better appreciate the sacrifices made by these men.  Learning how God used people even 400 years ago to spread his love and teach his grace helps us to understand that he can use us also.
Teach your kids the message of Luther, God does not change!  His Grace is forever and his love is abundant.
Here are a few websites to use with your kids to teach them about Martin Luther and the Reformation.
~ Love to Learn
~ Reformation Activities
~ Reformation Day resources (scroll all the way down the page)
~ More History on Luther
~ Read Luthers writings, hymns and learn about other reformers
Some of our favorite books on this are:
 "Martin Luther, The German Monk who changed the World" (Heroes of Faith & Courage series) by; Ben Alex.
Also, "Martin Luther, A Man Who Changed the World"


10 Ways to Love Your Man

Today is Monday(what is left of it).


Monday, for me, is more than just the beginning of a new week. It is date night for me and my husband Scott. Several years ago we knew that we had to do something to make time for just us. Living in a house with 10 kids makes it almost impossible to have a conversation with out someone interrupting you. Our date nights are simple; cheap dinner, walk around a book store or other store(not spending money unless we need to), sit in McDonalds sharing a soda & fries while we talk about whatever we want to talk about. Sometimes we go to a movie, but most times we don't.

It is so important that your husband knows that he is priority in your life. He was your husband before he was their father.

Here are a few things I have learned about loving my man;

1. Start your day in prayer for your man. Pray blessings of wisdom, discernment and protection on him. Ask God what your husband needs from you.
2. Tell him you love him everyday.
3. Tell him you are proud of him everyday.(this means as much if not more than "I love you")
4. Hug & cuddle everyday. Don't be afraid to hug & kiss in front of your kids. They need to see their parents love each other. Just don't get carried away. My son often tells us, "Get a room!" when we kiss.
5. Kiss everyday
6. Walk him to his car in the morning when he is leaving for work.
7. Email him or call him to see how his day is going.
8. If you can, put on a clean shirt & comb your hair before he comes home. I try to change my shirt since I usually have yuck all over it. But many times my husband walks in before I am expecting him. That is always a great surprise.
9. Meet him at the door with a kiss & another hug...if possible. I have a hard time catching him.  The kids usually beat me to him.
10. Cook dinners that he likes as often as you can, not just for you & the kids. Lunch time is when I fix things that the kids like. Dinner is for him.

These are simple, not very time consuming and can make a difference.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Need Thee Every Hour

Often, when I feel lost in my day I think of the great old hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour." I have sung it to my babies at night when they were fighting sleep and I wanted to sleep. I have cried and sung it at the same time when I was fighting depression. I have prayed it when I just didn't know what else to pray. It has always brought comfort to me.

  Here is the story of Annie Hawks and the great hymn of worship that she wrote.

Annie Hawks wrote:

One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,” were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me.

After writ­ing the lyr­ics, Hawks gave them to her pas­tor, Ro­bert Low­ry, who add­ed the tune and re­frain. The hymn was first pub­lished at the Na­tion­al Bap­tist Sun­day School Con­ven­tion in Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio, in 1872. Some years lat­er, af­ter the death of her hus­band, Hawks wrote:

I did not un­der­stand at first why this hymn had touched the great throb­bing heart of hu­man­i­ty. It was not un­til long af­ter, when the sha­dow fell over my way, the sha­dow of a great loss, that I un­der­stood some­thing of the com­fort­ing pow­er in the words which I had been per­mit­ted to give out to others in my hour of sweet se­ren­i­ty and peace.

I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

Refrain

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

Refrain

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

Refrain

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

Refrain

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou bless├Ęd Son.

Refrain



Monday, October 12, 2009

Decreasing for His Purpose

For years I have enjoyed reading the devotional written by Oswald Chambers titled, My Utmost for His Highest.  Below is a devotional that can be found on this website.

Decreasing for His Purpose

If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a "friend of the bridegroom" (John 3:29  ). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, "This person should not have to experience this difficulty." Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, "You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him."
Beware of rejoicing with someone over the wrong thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. ". . . the friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease" ( John 3:29-30  ). This was spoken with joy, not with sadness-at last they were to see the Bridegroom! And John said this was his joy. It represents a stepping aside, an absolute removal of the servant, never to be thought of again.
Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34  ).

For Oswald Chamber's complete library, click here

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review: Prelude to a Blog

Blogging has taken the internet by storm, growing to be the most popular way to share your convictions, stories or family updates.  I began blogging about our family in 2005 and it has come a long way since then.  Now you see people of all ages and types blogging about just about anything.


In a Prelude to a Blog, SisterLisa, of the blog, HomeSpun Life, explains to parents how to help their children get off to a good and safe start in the world of blogging.  She gives very detailed and careful instructions as how to start a blog.

I found that this was not just helpful in helping my children start a blog, but also for me as a blogger.  Her instructions were clear, precise and very informative. I learned a lot about blogging from reading her book.

This book is very practical and helpful for the new blogger who is wanting to take their blog to the next level. She has screen shots included that help in explaining in creating links.

She concludes her book with a pledge to "Blog with Grace". 

I highly recommend that you purchase her eBook, Prelude to a Blog.  She has it available as a download on her blog, HomeSpun Life  for $6.95.


5 Minute Chocolate Cake - better recipe

I received an email this morning from a fellow chocolate addict.  It was the recipe for a 5 minute chocolate cake that you cook in a coffee mug in your microwave!  Oh my goodness!  So, I had to share it with you.  I also found a mug you could buy with the recipe on it!  This obviously is not a new thing.

So here we go!

The recipe is easy.

Ingredients:
  4tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons baking cocoa
A pinch of salt
  3tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoon oil

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, but not really)
Microwave safe cup





Spray your cup with cooking spray, just enough to coat the cup. In a bowl, mix together all your ingredients and stir well. Now pour this batter into your cup.

 
 












Put the cup in the microwave and cook it on full power for 3 minutes. Depending on the power of your microwave, and your altitude (go figure) you may have to cook the cake longer. Only cook in additional 15 second intervals, because an overcooked cake is no good, and it's even worse because you're microwaving it. 


Your cake should be nice & fluffy.  Now you are ready to serve it.  Here are a few idea's I found that you can do with your cake.

Sprinkle some powder sugar on the top.










Top with some cherry or strawberry pie filling. 








 I also think that adding some chocolate syrup on top would make is extra chocolaty!  Yum!

This would make a great gift.  Take all of the dry ingredients measured out and put them into a food safe bag.  Print out on a card the directions with a list of the remainder of ingredients needed (egg,milk, vanilla extract & oil) .  Attach the card to a ribbon and tie around the top of the baggie.  Place the baggie in the coffee mug.
There ya go!  An inexpensive, yet really cool gift for someone.





Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Decorating for Fall



Before September is even over we begin to see Fall decorations in the stores.  Actually, I saw some already on clearance in one particular store in July!  October marks the beginning of "holiday season" for the stores.

For our family is it just October. We do not celebrate Halloween in our family, but I do love decorating for Fall.  We leave all the spookies out & enjoy treating our home to a little extra care as we pull out our Fall decorations.

I especially love to decorate with the "fruits of the season".  Pumpkins, gourds, corn, etc...can be found as decorations, centerpieces or front porch treasures.

I found some new decorating ideas on the Better Homes and Garden's website that I hope we can try this year.  These idea's use pumpkins of all kinds.  You don't have to make a pumpkin scary, you can make it fun and welcoming with just a little bit of creativity.


 Stack pumpkins of all sizes on top of each other & paint your house number on them.  Makes for a simple & very fun front porch decoration.


Hollow out a gourd or pumpkin and put Mum's or other Fall type flowers in it.  What a great center piece for a table!


This looks so fun!  Here are the instructions for creating Polka Dot Pumpkins.  Your kids can help you do this one.



Instead of painting scary faces, paint fun designs on a pumpkin.

These are simple, but fun ways to decorate your home for the Fall season. I know that when my home begins to take on the look of Fall then usually my cooking does to.  Hopefully next week I will share with you some of my favorite Fall recipes.  You will find out that I have a thing for pumpkins.  I like them as decorations & as a meal.  So stay tuned!