Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Redeemed

I swear to you, if Eliana asks me one more time "how long until Halloween?" I might just duct tape the calendar to her forehead. We have counted the days, looked on the calendar and yet she still feels the need to ask several times a day.

I find it irritating that Halloween is so controversial in the Christian community. As if THAT is the "hill to die on". A holiday where children celebrate by playing pretend and eating candy evokes such a strong emotion and ends up making Christians look like petty idiots. World poverty? The orphan crisis? No sir, it's a 5 year old dressed like Mickey and Snickers that we get all up in arms about.

In our family we handle Halloween differently than many people do. I am a firm believer that some of our reactions to things we don't agree with often stem from fear driven by a lack of knowledge. In our house, we talk about Halloween a long time ago. How the Celtic people of long ago celebrated there new year on November 1st along with the end of harvest. The Celtics knew winter was a long, hard time of year a long time ago, and this made them afraid. They also believed that spirits came back from the dead and caused trouble. To our girls we explain that we don't believe this anymore. We know God is in control and that when people die, their spirts go to heaven to be with Jesus, so we don't have to be afraid.

In our house, Halloween is used to celebrate fall. We celebrate that God has set us free from the fear that the people long ago used to live with, because we know truth. We talk about how winter is still very hard for some families and how we can help them to not be afraid. We donate canned food to the food pantry and take jackets we don't need to the shelters for those who might. We don't dress in scary costumes because we know better and wouldn't want to scare anyone who doesn't. We meet our neighbors, celebrate fall with the street festival and by decorating pumpkins at our local library. We build community by handing out candy and chatting with the parents of trick-or-treaters.

For a group of people who have been set free from fear by love and redemption, sometimes us Christians sure act like a bunch of scaredy cats. We think that if we dress up, people won't see Jesus in us and we won't be recognized as different, as if the costume was what was holding us back. We are afraid that if we let our children see the darkness in the world, the truth of love won't be strong enough to combat it. We act as if we don't give evil it's fair respect, that it might just sneak in and snuff the light of Love straight from our children's hearts.

But not our family. I won't teach my children that we need to be afraid, I will teach them to be more than conquerors. I will teach them truth, how love overcomes fear, and how we can celebrate being redeemed from what used to scare us.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Babysitting Instructions

I am a mediocre homeschooler. I don't have a time of day when we put on our "school hat" and sit and do worksheets. I consider making pancakes math for the day. We are reading Charlotte's Web together and that is vocabulary. Science is usually when we google something, often pictures of what new baby is looking like today. Or when we find an exceptional worm in the back yard and Eliana wonders why she can see through him so we grab our magnifying glass. We do practice handwriting but I have yet to do anything about the face Eliana is confusing b,d and p,q, she will figure it out.

The other day Eliana informed me that she was the mom and I was the babysitter. She was going out for a nice dinner with her friends and it was just for grown-ups and it was my job to watch the babies. She then handed me my babysitting instructions.

Just in case you don't read 5 year old, let me write it in "grown up":
Be home at 1o
at first
feed them
Dinner
then clean up
Then put on
pjs
Then read
then put to
bed

I love her spelling, it is so much like mine. I love that she chose to write this by herself instead of doing a worksheet of some type. I guess I am not screwing her up too much. Maybe we will make it through this home schooling thing after all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our House

It occured to me that I have never posted pictures of our house. Or at least not the inside. Sorry for the random order, I put them in a normal order and blogger shuffled them all around. So you are starting in our upstairs hallway.

To the left goes downstairs and the stairway to the right goes up to the attic and guest room.
This is Eliana and Addilyn's bedroom. Not a great picture. Bigger than there room in Colorado with lots of floor room to play and almost NO closest. Not great for two little girls with a TON of dresses.
Our room. Also not much closet space. I use under the bed roller drawers for some of my stuff and you can see a closet rack for Matt to the right for Matt's stuff.
Annabelle's room. Very tiny but somehow just right for her. A very large closet to the right of the rocker that we use for...well...everything. Linnins, extra bathrooms stuff, nice dishes, it all ends up in that closet because it is the ONLY closet.
This is the view from the front door if you look right. Stairs to upstairs bedrooms.
Kitchen. One day I will own a gourmet kitchen, but it won't be at this house. By-fold doors at the end left are to the laundry room and downstairs bathroom.
Living room. This is the view from the front door looking left, the stairs are behind me. Don't mind the basket of laundry, we can pretend it isn't usually there, but I am always doing laundry.
Family room. Door to the left goes into front entryway. Door to the right goes into dinning room. Most of the toys live here. Fireplace isn't working, which makes me sad.
Dinning room, more toys. Door to the left goes into the kitchen and to the right into the family room. Another door to the far right goes into the living room. And that is our house. Except I forgot to take pictures of the guest room and attic. I will get on that, it should only take me another couple of months.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Octoberfest

A few weekends ago we decided to celebrate like the Germans and ring in the fall with Oktoberfest! We drove up the Palisades parkway, enjoying the view, into New York and to Bear Mountain State park. The day was cool, but beautiful. The park was full. The beer was good (so I hear) and the German Food was...well Germans are not exactly known for there food, now are they. A great day was had by all.
Matt with his "who drank my beer?!" face.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dear Women's Ministry

I didn't write this, not sure who did, but it totally captures how I feel.

Dear Women's Ministry:

The world can give me cute cupcake designs and decorating tips, scrapbooking parties, casserole recipes, and other ways to pass the time. But truly, with my respect and love, may I be honest? If I wanted to learn how to decorate cupcakes, I would take a class in it. If I wanted to be educated on strategies for decorating my home inexpensively from Winners, I would just, you know, go toWinners. Or Pinterest.


But I'm here with you tonight because I want what the world cannot give me. We're choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics, and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up. We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community. We're trying really hard--after all, we keep showing up to your lady events, and we leave feeling just a bit empty. It's just more of the same every time.


The women of our world aren't looking for a safe place to cry about housework and ooh-and-ahhh over centerpieces. We're not all mothers, some of us work outside the home, some of us have kids, and others don't or won't or can't. Is womanhood only about wifehood and motherhood? What about those among us that are not wives and mothers? We're not all in the same season of life.


We are - or should be - diverse image bearers of a Divine God. We need Jesus. We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travelers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus--not to the sale at the mall.


You know what I would have liked tonight instead of decorating tips or a new recipe? I would have liked to pray together. I would have liked the women of the church to share their stories or wisdom with one another, no more celebrity speakers, please just hand the microphone to that lady over there that brought the apples. I would love to wrestle with some questions that don't have a one-paragraph answer in your study guide. I would like to do a Bible study that does not have pink or flowers on the cover. I would have liked to sign up to bring a meal for our elderly or drop off some clothes for a new baby or be informed about issues in our city where we can make space for God. I would like to organize and prioritize, to rabble-rouse and disturb the peace of the rest of the world on behalf of justice, truth, beauty, and love. I'd love to hear the prophetic voice of women in our church.


Please, may we be the place to detox from the world - its values, its entertainment, its priorities, its focus on appearances and materialism and consumerism?


So here is my suggestion: Please stop treating women's ministry like a Safe Club for the Little Ladies to Play Church. We are smart. We are brave. We want to change the world. We run marathons to benefit our sisters, not so that we can lose weight. We have more to offer to the church than our mad decorating skills. I look around, and I can see that these women can offer strategic leadership, wisdom, counsel, and even, yes, teaching. We want to give and serve and make a difference. We want to be challenged. We want to read books and talk politics, theology, and current events. We want to wrestle through our theology. We want to listen to each other. We want to worship, we want to intercede for our sisters and weep with those who weep, rejoice with those that rejoice, to create life and art and justice with intention.

Let's be a community of women, gathered together to live more whole-heartedly, to sharpen, challenge, love, and inspire one another to then scatter back out to our worlds bearing the mandate to be women that love. Idelette McVicker wrote:

Let us RISE to the questions of our time.
Let us SPEAK to the injustices in our world.
Let us MOVE the mountains of fear and intimidation.
Let us SHOUT down the walls that separate and divide.
Let us FILL the Earth with the fragrance of Love.
Let us be women who Love.

Thanks,

Christian Women

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friends

Friends. We had a lot of them in Colorado. Mommy friends. Family friends. Friends who are related to us. We were never in want of company, someone to head to the park with, camp with, go on an adventure or just try the new fro yo place. Friends were one of the many reasons it was so hard to leave Colorado.

I generally don't have a hard time making friends, or at least acquaintances. In Jersey I have found it a little harder. First of all, many if not most families are two income, meaning moms are not availible during the day. Even MOPS groups meet in the evening. This leaves me and the nanny's at the parks in day time hours. I have nothing against nanny's, having been one, but I don't speak Russian. Or Spanish.

The other day I felt as if I stumbled into an episode of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" as I was waiting for Eliana to finish her class at the library. A group of women, thickly accented, discussing things that were just not really part of my life. From manicures to wanting there daughters cheer leading coaches to work them harder to days spent at Asian spas, our lives just didn't look much alike.

Despite the slim pickins' we have managed to make some meaningful connections. Brian and Amy and their two daughters often accompany us on weekend adventures. Tia and her two kids know all the best places to go and are always up for fun.

But I miss my Colorado friends, my family and my sisters. I hate that we are missing my favorite time of year in a beautiful state. I am not unhappy, just realizing that sometimes you don't know how good you had it until you don't.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Surprise

Blogger is being stupid so I haven't been able to up load this video, so here is the link instead. Forgive Annabelle, she is hollering "I see, I see, I see!" because she wants to see the picture on the camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU3GSwtUqRI

Monday, October 3, 2011

Woman

I wasn't going to blog about this. It somehow feels deeply personal, though it isn't really. It isn't yet a complete thought in my head, it is still messy and scrambled. Writing sometimes helps...and sometimes doesn't. Consider yourself warned!

My dad has this great "mission statement" for his life. He works hours on getting the meaning right, to sum up what he believes into a great statement that encapsulates his life. I love the order of that, the neatness, the ability to bring every other choice under this one statement. I have yet to be able to achieve the same.

First, a little bit of theology. This is my thoughts, and I am in no way saying it is "truth" or that you must subscribe to what I think, but I feel a little clarification is necessary before I move on. God created man in His own image. But He didn't stop there, he went on to create woman too, also in his image. He made us different, yet both in HIS image. There is something divine in femininity. I believe one of the ways I am in the image of God is I am created to be a life giver.

In the very root of who I am is the role of woman, a reflection of the divine. Weather or not a woman is also a mother, in the very core of who she is, she is able to give life. God did that, gave us this amazing roll in humanity that men will never truly be able to understand. I believe it speaks to more than reproduction.

I have lately been caught up in the idea of God as love. So often I feel like the idea of love is misconstrewed in our culture as something that is fuzzy and feel good, when that simplicity is not at all who God is. Some how I feel like saying "God is the life giver" brings a little more clarity to His character.

Giving life is painful. It requires giving of yourself to a level so deep it requires healing. God did that, out of love, for us. As women, we do that. From birthing children to working hard to build a loving relationship with our husband, we give life and it causes us pain. When we choose to put others needs before ours, we pour life into a relationship, our love costs.

This isn't a call out to all women to martyrdom. There is nothing life giving about a "woe is me" attitude or self sacrifice for the sake of "holiness". It is a call to live a life bigger than avoiding being uncomfortable. Do your choices honor the very root of who you were created to be as a reflection of Gods life giving nature? Do my words breathe life into my relationships? Do I cultivate a home environment that encourages love or do I cause conflict?

I may or may not ever come up with a great life mission statement, but if I did it would have to reflect who I believe I was created to be, a reflection of my creator.