Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving

pine cone turkey thanksgivingWhat a wonderful time of year, Thanksgiving! I believe no matter where you are in life, or what is going on in your life, you have something to be thankful for. God is always at work in us. He wants to shower you with His love, so that your cup can overflow with His blessings. Thanksgiving is an attitude, you must choose whether or not to be thankful. Sometimes it's a daily thing, a constant reminder you need to give yourself. Giving thanks should not be confined to the holiday that comes just once a year, but it should be every day. You need to find out for yourself what God is doing in your life, and look for His touch on things. I guarantee if you just look for Him, you will find Him. He will not hide from you. He will run to you with His arms wide open, ready to receive you. Test Him and see.

We celebrated 3 very special, very different Thanksgiving meals as a family this year. Our first one took place the week before Thanksgiving. We were invited to join our kids for a turkey lunch at school. Gabriel's class worked really hard on a short play that they performed for us. Gabe did an excellent job of remembering all his lines, and he spoke very loudly and clearly.





Titus and Zech really enjoyed snapping pictures of me and Ariel eating!



Our next Thanksgiving meal took place at our church. We all joined together to eat, and celebrate what God has done in our lives. Before the food was dished out, we all gathered together to watch a short video to see what God has been doing personally in our lives. It's always very inspirational to watch!

My favorite part of the video was seeing a very excited Zech say, "Puzzles!" and then seeing Gabriel say, "I'm thankful for God, for my family, and for my classmates!"




And our last Thanksgiving meal took place at my sister, Stefanie's house. She cooked the turkey for us, and even had three little children spend the night with her. It's always a favorite part of Thanksgiving for my children to wake up and help prepare the turkey, so this was their opportunity to still be involved.


Zechariah said the blessing over our food!


Titus always carves the turkey for us! He does a great job!

One of the benefits of having our Thanksgiving at Stefanie's house, we got to have lots of fun with the foosball table. The kids really enjoyed playing against their father, and playing on his team.

Our favorite tradition for Thanksgving day is to sit down as a family, and take turns explaining in detail what God has been doing in us this past year, and through us. We have lots of laughs, several happy tears, and an amazing time of just being a family. It usually takes us a few hours before we've all had our own opportunity to share our heartfelt thanks. This is a tradition that shows a great example of the close family we are. It's our chance to share our troubles, our joys, and our hearts with God and each other.

Thank you God for todayIn 2010 I thank God that…

Amanda• I'm thankful to God that I heard on the radio several months ago about the 30 day challenge of writing down 3 things God did for you each day. It has changed my perspective. I'm able to always find something good in even the worst of days.

• I’m thankful God has provided for all our needs far in advance when we don't even know that we will need it. Months ago I referred a friend to our dentist and the exact week that I was testing God and giving money in the offering, He gave it back to me in the exact same amount in the form of a Target gift card. The gift card was from the dentist because of my referral. God knew the exact day that I would need that reassurance of His provision.

• I’m thankful for God taking care of my family. We may be down to one car, but we at least have transportation. When the blue car broke down and died, I talked with Titus about selling it so we could have some money for Christmas, and then the next day I mentioned it to my dad, and neither seemed to think it would happen. The very next morning, a stranger knocked on my door and asked if we’d be willing to sell that little blue station wagon. There was NO for sale sign on the car. A week later we had the money in our hands.

• I’m so thankful that I started my own blog. It has given me an opportunity to share personal things with people on a level I never could have done in the past. I feel like God has given me messages that need to be shared, and the blog has been an outlet for me to do that. I’m so glad I get to share my heart with so many people, and maybe God can speak to them through me. In the 7 months that I’ve had the blog, it has been viewed over 1600 times! I pray that God can use me every day!

• I’m most thankful to God for my family. On my blog, I have a sticker that says, “Life is beautiful”. It’s only been in the recent years that I can truly say that from the bottom of my heart. My life is so beautiful and it’s because of my husband and children. I never could have picked out a man who fits so perfectly with me. God knew better than any dream man I could have come up with. Titus is always there for me. He is someone I can lean on when times are tough, and he spoils me every day with his love and time. My children are such blessings from God. Every time I was pregnant, God gave me the desire of my heart. I wanted a baby girl so badly, and I got Ariel. Then I wanted a boy, and God sent me Gabriel. Zechariah has been exactly what I needed too. God knows us better than we know ourselves. How can we not trust Him?

• Last year, I really struggled with my friendships and kept praying that God would send me a true friend, someone who I could count on and share my heart with, someone who was a mother just like me. This year, God answered my prayer and brought me my friend I needed all the way from Mexico. Even distance does not mean anything to God, He is bigger than any limitations we might put on Him.


Titus• I’m thankful for my wife. My wife has been really nice to me. She's given me rides to lots of places and she's been there for me. So I'm really thankful for her.

• For God’s protection over Zech this year with the number of head injuries he’s had. It's cool because it could have been really big things but it wasn’t.

• I’m thankful for the abnormal opportunities at work. There have been a couple of times that I’ve had the opportunity to do extra things that aren’t normally allowed or common practice. I’ve had a pet project that I’ve been working on that is going to be a cost saving thing to my boss. Without this project it would cost the state a large amount of money, and they have accepted my project.

• I’m thankful for all the financial blessings that God has given us. HP gave a pay cut last year, and this week they have talked about reinstating the money. I don't think that it affected us at all. We were still able to do a lot of things that we wanted to do.

• I’m thankful for the time I get to spend with Gabriel. He reminds me of myself in the past. He reminds me of both the good and the bad.


Zechariah
• I like dinosaur puzzles.

• I like to play laptop.

• Jesus, for my food, for my friends.

• my friend Mark

• God gave me Jesus.


Debbie• Learning the Immanuel prayer, I have found, especially this year that I have such a wonderful family. I have an amazing relationship with each member of my family.

• I’m extremely thankful that I still get to have bible study with Ariel and Mikaela and now with Gabe. It sure is a blast. I love that we get to go to lots of different places and I love the enthusiasm they have for it. They are really learning. It’s great to be a grandma that gets to do that, instead of living hours away.

• I’m very thankful that I get to take sign language. I almost didn’t get to take the class because she lost my phone number. It’s been a dream of mine to take it and learn it. I’m going to keep taking it until I can be fluent in it.

• I’m thankful for the Bible. In particular, Psalm 86, in the Message. I wanted to claim that verse for the prayer ministry. “Train me, GOD, to walk straight; then I'll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.” Another line God spoke to me for the prayer ministry, “May my heart and mind be joined in truth, all the lies destroyed by You.” This last year has been very difficult, and God has spoken to me personally through another part of this chapter in Psalm, “But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on, save your dear, dear child!” There is a lot of power in the eyes. You can speak to their spirit, and draw out the things that they need to pray about. God looks us in the eye and gives us the strength to go on. When I'm upset I come here and read this. You, God, put me back on my feet. It's a very powerful scripture!

• I’m extremely thankful to God for the way that He made each of my kids and grandkids, husband, son-in-law, and future son-in-law and daughter-in-law. Each of you is very inspiring to me. Stefanie is an inspiration in the way she seeks out God, and grabs a hold of God and lives it out. For Shaun I love that when you were a little boy you were creative and your friends would always look up to you. And now you do all these videos, and I want to stand up and say, “My son did that!” And you try to do what God would want you to do. I love that Amanda is able to write again. You used to blow me away in high school and to see you pursing that again is great. You are a wonderful mom and you are a very courageous person now. You’ve had a breakthrough. I love seeing Titus with music. Titus may be a quiet guy, but he always has an answer sitting in church. I like to see how his mind works, and God gives him insight. Mikaela is growing into a beautiful chatty smart woman. We have smarty pants Ariel. She goes after everything in life with her whole heart and enjoys everything she does. Gabe is amazing with all his maze books. And writing all the books with stories. He sees God in all different places, like on someone’s head. And Zech is becoming a little boy who knows how to talk. He’s very smart. He’s so fun to watch and listen to now. My husband is pursuing his healing even though it’s really really hard for him. This time of year is incredibly difficult. I’m very proud of him and he is working on his healing and he hasn’t taken a break. He has become a very nice husband. He has been very good to me and for me. I know that his healing is right around the corner.


Stefanie• In 2010 I am thankful to God that He exceeds my expectations. I wanted to move out and live in the dorms, but I didn't think it would be as much fun as it is right now. I was expecting awesome, but not this awesome.

• In 2010 I am thankful for God’s provision. I will have made it through my sophomore year in college and still not owe any money. Trying to do it on my own, I still wouldn’t be able to afford it. Because of God’s blessings in my life, I’m able to live debt free.

• I’m thankful that God has provided me with a job the last two years. He’s given me responsibility that I didn’t expect and raises. When we moved into the new Daddy Cakes, my boss said I would get a raise if we did well there. They gave me a raise that was just enough to buy groceries, something I hadn’t budgeted for when I wanted to move out, and I got my first paycheck with the raise when I needed to buy the groceries the first time.

• I’m grateful to God for His passionate pursuit of me. He shows me every year that He is my one true love. He always is in pursuit of me and always desires time with me. God's timing is perfect, and someday He is going to blow me away with His plan. He chases after me and never stops loving me. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

• I’m also thankful for my family. I’ve seen firsthand how broken the relationships people can have with their families. I love spending time with you, and it's amazing how God knows what you need. I love that I get a awesome relationship with my nieces and nephews.


Ariel• I'm thankful for my family including Valentine. Because I love them.

• I'm thankful that Valentine survived having a cold. She was freezing after our shower, and God helped her. We thought she was going to die, so we prayed and she was okay.

• I’m thankful for Mrs. Booth because she’s a really good teacher. I always get the best teachers.

• I’m thankful for church and my friends because I really like going to church and worshiping God and learning about Him and having fun with my friends.

• I’m thankful for Bible study and kids prayer. I get to spend time with Grandma and Mikaela and I like to learn about God and Jesus.

• I’m thankful that I prayed in tongues at camp.


Gabriel• I am thankful for the laptop because I am so good at Super Mario and I already defeated the third boss, and that was so awesome.

• I’m thankful for Spidery because I like Webkinz. Then I went on to Warcraft, Super Mario and now Zelda.

• I’m thankful for my friends, family, and God. It’s because I love them.

• I’m glad that I have medicine to make me feel better.

• I’m thankful for all of my family and even the relatives


Shaun• I’m thankful that God has not allowed me to stay the same. He’s allowed me to change and grow closer to Him.

• I’m thankful that He continues to provide a job, and I was able to get a raise, not in the normal way. I got a 5 percent raise, and Steve got a 15 percent raise that he said he didn’t need. So he's giving me part of his raise.

• I’m thankful for the time that I get to spend with Mikaela, and that she enjoys spending time with me.

• I’m thankful for all the different concerts that I’ve gone to. Not to be just entertained, but challenged and comforted. Some good ones were with Switchfoot, Fly Leaf, and Tenth Avenue North.

• I’m thankful for the opportunity to work on video, and different things I’m able to do to help other people, and to be creative in things. Jeremiah 29: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you.” I’m looking forward to what He has for me and what He’s going to do through me.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

If you remember, earlier this month Gabriel took a field trip to Rees Fruit Farm. Each of the kids was able to choose a pumpkin, and were told that it was the perfect size for a pumpkin pie. I kinda laughed it off when the tour guide told the kids to make sure to tell their parents this when they went home. I am not known for a love of cooking. But I promised Gabriel we would make a pie out of it, and I try my best to never break a promise. This Saturday, I rose to the challenge of making pumpkin pie from scratch, and I was so proud when the pie actually turned out!

If you've never cooked a pumpkin before, it is quite a fun experience. You start by cutting the pumpkin open, and scraping and scooping out all the seeds and goop inside. It's very gross, but must be done. I tried to use my ice cream scoop, but it ended up that a regular spoon worked just as well. You can save the seeds to plant later, or add a little salt and bake them in the oven. A very tasty snack! After you've gotten all the goop scraped out, you can cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces so they fit inside a ovenproof container (with a lid). Set your oven temp to 350º, and cook for between 45 and 90 minutes. My oven cooked the pumpkin after about 50 minutes. You can test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see if it's soft. Once it's cooked, it practically falls out of the skin in fairly large chunks.

fresh cooked pumpkinWith a hand blender, I pureed the pumpkin in just 2 or 3 minutes. You may freeze this to use later in a pie filling, or it's ready to use right now. I'm told fresh pumpkin tastes so much better in a pie than canned, however this is my first pumpkin pie I've ever made, so I really can't be a good judge. I thought it was wonderful! Just in case you looked at the picture below, and thought it was still chunky, this picture was taken before I pureed it.


Pictured below is all that is left of Gabriel's pumpkin. He cried when he saw it, and said, "I didn't even get to say goodbye. I'm going to miss that pumpkin." He was so funny. He slept with his pumpkin each night, and even carried it to church one time because he just loved it so much and he would miss it if he left it at home. It was only in a moment of weakness, that he threw me the pumpkin and said "Fine! Make a pie out of it" So he was keeping his promise to me too, by letting me cook the pumpkin.

oven baked pumpkin Now for the pie crust. This is only my second time making a pie. I really am not a cook at all. My first pie I made was a couple months ago, and it was a peach pie. I had to make the pie crust 2 times then, because the first just didn't turn out. Yes, it went into the trash can, and I started over. And the second one, I still wasn't extremely happy with the result. This was a new pie crust recipe that I tried, and I really thought it turned out good.

Flakey Pie Crust
1.5 cups flour
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/6 cup cold shortening ( a useful conversion: 1/6 cup = 2 tbs + 2 tsp)
1/3 cup cold butter
1/4 cup cold water

Mix all ingredients except for water. Don't make it too smooth or uniform. Little pea sized granules makes a flakey crust. After it's mixed, sprinkle in the water, just enough to make it stick together.

Roll out the dough to an even thickness, about an inch or two wider than your pie pan. A trick I found after I threw away my first crust I made last time, put the dough between two pieces of wax paper before rolling it out. You may need to lightly flour the wax paper too. This made it much easier to be able to pick it up and place it in the pan. And if it breaks, you can easily fix it. As you can see from the picture, mine is far from perfect looking.
Pumpkin Pie


1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 large eggs
3 cups pumpkin
1.5 cans (12oz) evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix well all ingredients. Then you just pour into your pie crust. I had a little bit extra and added it to a small baking dish. Don't worry if the mixture is really runny, it will firm up. Bake the pie at 425º for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350º and bake another 45 to 60 minutes. You can test the pie by inserting a clean knife into the center to check if it comes out clean.
This recipe made a wonderful, heavenly pumpkin pie. I have managed in a few days time to eat almost the entire thing by myself. I maybe gained a few extra pounds, but it has been worth it. Pumpkin pie is one of my very favorite desserts from this time of year. Normally, I run to the store and buy a $3 pumpkin pie from Wal-Mart, however now that I've made it from scratch, I don't see how I'll ever be able to go back. I will, however, probably just use canned pumpkin the next time, since pie pumpkins are a little hard to come by in the stores now.

pumpkin pie from scratch
It was so delicious!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Halloween is to Us

Halloween, for some, has always been an uncomfortable topic. Should I celebrate it? How should I celebrate? What should I tell my kids? What are people going to think about me? Every year I go through different emotions, and end up spending time in prayer. I look to God for my answers for everything in life. Sometimes the answers just stay the same, but this year things were a little bit different.

In the past, when it's time for the kids to walk in the Halloween parade, or spend time in their classroom celebrating Halloween, I have chosen to take my kids out of school. It was never a discussion. I just did it, and tried to explain my reasoning to them. Both Ariel and Gabe have been very understanding, and I've been proud of them for it. Last year Gabriel was in kindergarten, and it was his first opportunity to participate. He was never bothered to see Ariel leave school a little early on that day in the previous years. But when it came time for him to go home, I watched as he dragged his backpack down the long hallway, with tears in his eyes, as he felt like he was really missing out on something. My heart broke as I knew it was because of my decision that I felt like I needed to follow. When God tells you something, there's no question about whether or not to obey. You just must. But sometimes it can be very very hard to do what you think is right.

This year, as the days were getting closer to the holiday, I dreaded what I knew was going to be a difficult day. It's one thing to be obedient when it's easy, it's another thing to do it when you know it's causing someone you love pain. As I was praying about what to do and say with the kids, God told me I just needed to trust Him. This year was going to be different. My kids had both gotten a little older, and wiser. They both love God with all their hearts, and want to follow what He has for their lives. It's such a privilege for me to see this acted out.

God's answer was to let them choose. I have chosen to follow what He wanted for me, and I needed to give my kids over to Him. Sometimes it's so easy as a parent to be controlling over your kids lives, and it can be very difficult to let them live out their own decisions. I explained to Ariel and Gabe that this year, Halloween at school was going to be completely up to them. They know how I feel about it, and what I believe God wants me to do. But this time they needed to choose what they should do about it.

I told them two things. "First, because of what I believe God has said to me personally about Halloween, I cannot go to your parade, and I will not be at your school parties."

And the second thing I said,"I will only allow you to make the final decision if I know that you have honestly taken time and talked with Jesus. If I think that you are just making the decision all on your own, I will instead do it for you. But if I see that you are sincerely talking with Jesus, and really willing to listen to what He has to say, then it will be completely up to you and Jesus. I trust you both."

Ariel has always been my child that stands up for what she believes in. She's very respectful about it, but she has always taken a stand against Halloween, in more ways then I've ever asked of her. When she was in kindergarten, she talked with the teacher privately and explained that she does not like ghosts and cannot do the alphabet page for Grizelda Green who glides with ghosts in her garden. Each year she has taken a different stand, and chosen not to do certain art projects if they have been ghost or witches. I've never brought this up with her, it's all been of her own choosing. So when she informed me right then and there that she had talked with Jesus and she knew she was supposed to stay home with me, I knew I could trust her answer.

Gabriel has been my child who is uncertain. He has a strong desire to do what he thinks is right, but then he has a different side of him that tempts him, like all of us struggle with. He likes to think and talk and write about things like ghost or witches, but then he could be in a grocery store and pretend to be blinded by the yuckiness of everything before him. You never really know what is going to be in his mind. I believe he tries to stay away from that type of stuff, but he's easily tempted with it all. He likes to write stories about ghosts that are so so so so so so so so scary. I knew this was going to be a tough choice for him, and I wanted to make absolutely sure that he had the discussion with Jesus. When I first gave this choice to him, he immediately ran into his bedroom, grabbed his Spiderman suit and proceeded to jump up and down. The choice was already made, he was definitely going to be in that parade this year. He told me he just didn't want to dress up like something yucky, like a ghost or witch. I told him that would be fine, as long as he asked Jesus what he thought. He got rather quiet after that, and put the costume back in his room. I didn't ask him for a few weeks about the decision.

I waited until a few days before the party was set to take place, and asked Gabe if he'd remembered to have that conversation with Jesus yet. It was early in the morning, and he was sitting at the table eating his breakfast. He stopped, turned his head one way, then turned it back the other, as if he was listening for something. He did this repeatedly, with a smile on his face, and then he began to nod his head up and down. I asked him if he had his answer. He was still very serious looking and said, "Does Jesus talk to you inside your head?" I told him that, yes, that is how I always hear His voice, or sometimes I might just feel His voice. He got this big grin on his face and said, "Jesus told me I'm supposed to go with you."

I figured the true test would be when it came time for Gabe to actually leave school, and fully realize that he was going to miss out on his Halloween parade and party. I certainly wasn't going to try to talk him out of his decision, but I knew the path was still going to be a little shaky. I had told the children we would take our normal trip to McDonald's for lunch, then on to the pumpkin patch. They both left for school very excited about the field trip we would be taking later in the day.

When I got to the school, I was very impressed that the secretary knew immediately what clipboard to hand me. Normally when you take your child out at lunch time on this day, you're going to be bringing them back dressed up for the parade. There is a special orange Halloween clipboard you have to sign them out on. I didn't even have to say it this year. She remembered from the years past, and said, "You're taking them home for the day, right?" It may seem like a really small thing, but I felt so proud of my decision, and proud of my children making that same decision. The secretary may not understand why we do it, but she knows we do it.

As she prepared to call Gabe's name to have him sent home for the day, I braced myself, waiting and watching to see what his response would be. Would he really be a man of his word? Or would I spend the next few hours listening to his heartache? He didn't keep me waiting for too long, Gabe came running down the hall to me, with a smile that spread from ear to ear. He was so excited that he even forgot to grab his backpack and had to head back to the class for it.

God is so good! You may feel like you're giving your children up to God, entrusting them in His care, but then He gives them right back to you. The freedom in that is wonderful!

fall drawing by kid
These are some festive pictures the kids made to decorate our house with this fall.




Gabriel had a wonderful time jumping in the hay!



Another tradition we have after we take a trip to the pumpkin patch, we work on a special craft that we hand out to the trick or treaters that stop by our house. Each year we give out candy and come up with a picture magnet to go with it. We always think up clever sayings talking about Jesus and we add a Bible verse. The kids love to work on these.

When Ariel was in kindergarten we made a pumpkin that said, "Jesus Loves You. He picked you from the pumpkin patch." "You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you to be his own special treasure from all the nations of the earth." Deuteronomy 14:2

When Ariel was in 1st grade we had a picture of a spider that said, "When a spider comes your way..." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, and everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track." Proverbs 3:5-6

When Ariel was in 2nd grade, we had a picture of Noah in his ark, with a rainbow that said, "A promise of God's Love" "I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my promise with you and with all the earth." Genesis 9:13 We had a Noah's ark party this year, and handed these out to the party guests.

When Ariel was in 3rd grade, and Gabe in kindergarten we had a picture of a skeleton kneeling down at a cross that said, "Jesus Loves You all the Way Down to Your Bones!" "It is clear to us, friends that God not only LOVES YOU VERY MUCH but has also put his hand on you for SOMETHING SPECIAL." 1 Thessalonians 1:4

And this year, our project was the most fun because it required more than just coloring. We were able to cut, and glue, and draw these cute scarecrow suckers. The kids had so much fun putting them together!

scarecrow suckers I will not be afraid bible verse
Psalm 118:6 scarecrow suckers It was a very successful day, that at the end we could all be proud because we did what we thought God was telling us to do. Those are the best kinds of days to have!


When Halloween does come around, we have our own party. It's usually the first time we will break out the Christmas movies. We like to sit around eating lots of candy, drinking our special hot apple cider, and sometimes we bob for apples, or carve a pumpkin with a lesson of God's love.

caramel popcorn We made some fresh caramel popcorn to enjoy with our Christmas movie. We love it!


This is our first time we decided not to bob for the apples. Instead we hung them by a string, which is equally as difficult.



Gabe was so funny to watch. He has a little bit of a disadvantage by having no front teeth.

"Halloween: Is it for Real?" By Harold Myra is a children's book I read when I was younger. It had a big impact on me, and I decided to read the story to my kids for the first time this year. It's about a family who is discovering for the first time where the holiday came from. They go to a haunted house at an amusement park and a conversation starts with their father who explains to them about Halloween, and then he goes on to talk about the Christians trying to change the holiday into one of joy, called All Saints day.

My children sat very quietly and listened very attentively to the story. When the book was done, we had a question and answer time which resulted in some very good discussion. We were able to have a wonderful talk about Jesus and the power of His name. It was a very memorable time for our family.

I thought I would include the few pages out of the book, that lead to some interesting questions from my children.

"How'd it start?" Todd asked, "Where'd all the witches and goblins come from?"

"It all started long ago-- even back before Christ was born," Dad explained. "In what is now Britain and France, people called the Celts observed the end of summer with pagan rites. They believed a lord of death sent evil spirits into animals, who then roamed around all winter playing terrible tricks on people. To escape you had to wear a disguise so that the evil spirits would think you were one of them."

"Weird," Michelle said. "Is that how the idea of wearing scary costumes got started?"

"Sure. And the pranks kids play now copy those of the ancient evil spirits. The Celtic priest-called Druids- offered sacrifices to the gods, and the people built huge bonfires on the hilltops."

"Sounds like fun," Greg said.

"Actually, more fear than fun! They lighted bonfires to frighten the spirits away. They even killed people in their rituals. It wasn't just toasting marshmallows and shouting 'Boo!'"

"Is that what Halloween means, then? Horrible evening or something?" Michelle asked.

"Just the opposite," Dad said. "Centuries later, Christians came along and tried to change the holiday from a festival of fear to one of joy. October 31 eventually became All Hallow's Eve."

"What's that mean?" Todd asked.

"It's a beautiful idea! 'All Hallows' means 'all holies,' or 'all the saints'-"

"You mean those guys with beards and halos?" Todd interrupted.

"Not exactly. This is the beautiful part. The Bible says every true Christian is a saint. We celebrate ALL saints. That means if you had a brother or sister or grandparent who loved God and died, you'd remember that person. You'd celebrate the joy those loved ones are experiencing in heaven and remember the good times you had with them when they were alive."

Halloween: is it for real? by Harold Myra

One of our favorite parts of the evening is when the trick or treaters stop by our house. We are normally blessed with less than a dozen or so. And I do mean blessed. There have been years in the past when we have had to pray those people to our house. The kids get so excited about giving out their gifts each year, that it's hard to see the disappointment on their faces when no one shows up, or only two or three kids come.

This year after we gave our scarecrow to a couple of children, the mom came up to the house, and wanted to thank me for the very nice gift and work we put into it. As she stood there she read a few words on the page, and said, "and you're giving away Jesus too. Thank you so much!" It made my day, and the whole evening worth it to hear those kind words from her.

I pray that as you finish reading this very long blog post, you will have understood my reason behind sharing. It's not at all really even about Halloween. I pray that you understand that very clearly here. The point is, in all areas of our lives we will have things that come up where it's not always clear to us what we should personally do about it. There is not always a clear right or wrong thing to do, the only part that is clear to us, is that we need to be continually seeking what God's will is for OUR lives. We need to make sure we are always including Him in our decisions, and putting what He wants for us first, before our own desires. I challenge you to try to find one area in your life where you can include God, and then sincerely seek what He is asking for you to do. The results are always well worth it!

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