Archive for the 'Holidays' Category



Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us and not we ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
~Psalm 100

Happy Thanksgiving!

(I’ll be back next week with Part 3 of my Journal Entry series)

Halloween

Years ago, in the distant past, when I was a young girl, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to go trick or treating on Halloween. I fretted ab0ut growing up and not being able to do it any more, because it wasn’t a thing “grown-ups” did. I loved running around in the dark from house to house, especially when one of the houses was “spooky”. I loved the wind, the dark scary shapes, the huge orange orb of a full moon. Oh what a sacrifice that was going to be, not to be able to do that. In fact, I thought, maybe I would never give it up!

Later, as a Christian and mother, and Sunday school teacher, I hosted Halloween parties at our house for the Sunday school kids and their friends. They dressed up, dunked for apples and played other games, ate pizza and then I and some other moms escorted them about the neighborhood so they could run in the dark from house to house and enjoy the scary effects some of the neighbors devised. (Too scary in some cases — one man, dressed as a gorilla with glowing eyes, came to the door to hand out candy and my son wasn’t having a thing to do with that… WAY too scary for him at his very young age.)

It was a time to get together, dress up, play games, carve pumpkins and run about in the night geting candy. Harmless. We all knew what we believed with regard to the spiritual realm and it wasn’t like we were worshiping the devil or anything. It was just a fun, cultural thing….

And yet…

And yet as the years have passed my acceptance became ambivalence and lately, the ambivalence is turning to active dislike.

I read an article the other day that  Halloween is now the second biggest holiday celebration — in terms of money making —  in this country, second only to Christmas. (There’s something disturbing about that juxtaposition.) When I went looking, I couldn’t find that particular article, but turned up another, written today (Sunday, Oct 30) that cites the National Retail Association as their source for this same claim. According to Neilson research, we’ll buy about 600 million pounds of candy for this day, and spend even more decorating our homes and buying/making costumes.

People say we love Halloween so much because we’re still kids inside. Because we love to dress up. Because it’s a time to be together, something to do as a family. As a neighborhood.

Others say everyone loves to be scared.  Sorry, no. I detest being scared. I detest having horrid, bloody images burned into my brain that will float around with me for years. Which is why I won’t go near the chain saw massacre haunted house things. But those are huge money makers as well.

Yes, I did say above that I liked spooky houses, but that’s fake spider webs with fake spiders in them, grinning jack-o-lanterns, shadows, fake bats, spooky ridiculous music, and glowing eyes that are electric and not set in the skull of some powerful predator slowly stalking me. In other words, it’s really fake-scary. I like pretending something is scary. I have no use at all for things that are really scary.

Fear is a sin. Anxiety is a sin. So is being terrified. Yet we have as the second biggest money maker, a holiday that celebrates fear. Or is it fake fear?

And yet… for all the scary stuff, kids get candy. And, at the same time, they learn gradually that all this scary stuff… zombies, witches, monsters, vampires, devils, demons, evil spells, evil powers, mummies, ghosts… aren’t real. That all that supernatural evil stuff is just silly, harmless stuff.

Well, I don’t believe in ghosts or vampires or zombies, but I do believe there are witches and evil, clever, powerful supernatural beings at work in this world. The Bible says there are:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of this wickenss in the heavenly places (atmosphere).”  ~ Eph 6:12

Halloween makes all that seem silly and ridiculous. Satan is reduced to an absurd figure with horns, a forked tail and red skin, who roams about in a red cape with a pitchfork. Witches run about with long noses and pointed black hats. Everyone laughs and has fun. Kids get candy.

It reminds me of the post I did on Hopi religious ceremonies for the kids, where every time the kachina shows up, the kids get the equivalent of candy. Thus they come to associate the kachina with gifts and good things and pleasure. So Halloween, I think, moves kids to associate demons and dark forces and witches and vampires and even death as not real, and also, as fun, as something pleasant and tasty.

And there’s just something off about that. When I think about us as believers in Christ being royal priests, being in union with the God of the universe, children of God, beneficiaries of His grace and created to be the means by which God would solve a great battle waged against him by evil angelic beings… it doesn’t seem right to engage in a holiday that seems deliberately crafted to meld the real with the make believe, and wrap it all in the guaze of fun and togetherness and the Pavlovian reward of … candy!

Not that I’m going to go on any anti-Halloween crusade. I just don’t like it. But I think I may have some legitmate reasons for feeling as I do.

UPDATE: While dinking around on the internet after posting this, I came across this blog from a former Wiccan, now Christian who wrote a series on the origins of Halloween in Samhain, a Celtic religious end of harvest festival. Very interesting. You can read Part 1 HERE.  There are three parts and they’re all quite interesting, especially where she points out the counterfeits with Christianity.

A Christmas Tradition

When I was growing up, and to this day, my family had a Christmas tradition that was unusual. I say that because when asked what we did “on Christmas” there was always a degree of shock in the asker when the answer was, “we spent all day opening packages.”

Maybe people thought we had SOOO many gifts it took us all day to get through them, but that wasn’t/isn’t the case. We didn’t have a big family — mother, stepdad, sister and me — we had a ritual. A couple of them actually.

The first was Christmas eve where we had lasagne for dinner and then arranged packages around the tree. When all was in the most “artistic” arrangement, we turned off the lights except for candles and tree lights, got some egg nog and sat listening to Christmas music and looking at the beautiful tree. Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Andy Williams’s Christmas album and more recently, Narada’s Medieval type music created a delicious “Christmasy” feeling. Mostly we just looked and sipped and listened and didn’t do too much talking.

All of that, I understand now, are typically introverted pleasures. We were soaking up all the stimuli — tastes, smells, colors, lights, the glory of the tree in the darkness, each individual ornament (and most were unique), the music, the holly berry scent of the candles, maybe a warm blanket…

Next morning we came out, looked at it all and then began our second ritual. One person would be designated the package distributor and each person would receive a gift to open. Then one by one we went around the circle, each opening in turn, noting the paper, ribbon tag, carefully unwrapping the gift in almost the same order it had been wrapped and finally opening the box to reveal the gift within. At which point considerable conversation would ensue, regarding the story of acquiring the gift, or why it was wanted, or other such things, some related and some not… This was not forced on any of our parts. We liked to draw it out and drink it in. To savor and enjoy all aspects of the process.

After a couple of “rounds” we’d go make breakfast and eat it. Then back to finish up the remainder of the packages. By then it was early afternoon and time to start dinner.

Given what I’ve seen in movies as well as what seems to have been the holiday modus operandi for most people who I’ve come in contact with is to rip into the gifts in a wild frenzy all at once, the whole thing over in half an hour.

That seemed so terribly unsatisfying to us, but our way certainly did seem to be “weird.” We’ve continued a reduced version of it into adulthood, though my husband being one of those who, growing up in a family with 8 kids, came from the ripping frenzy tradition had some adjusting to do. He has been tremendously gracious in adapting and taking part in the full spirit of the thing (though at times he does grow drowsy!). Anyway, he reported similar responses from people when they asked and he told them how we did it — weird!

Then, a few weeks ago I opened a book call Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, the same day I’d received it from Amazon to read this in the Introduction:

“I was number nine out of ten bright, creative, and mostly LOUD kids. My dad, an eccentric genius, had wall-sized speakers in the living room that blared out classical music. When the family sang together, we sang five-part harmonies of the uncompromising Handel’s Messiah. On Christmas Eve, we had a talent show and family service, and later tore into our presents all at once, paper and ribbons flying everywhere and voices crisscrossing the room shouting out “thank you!” and “just what I wanted!” These are happy memories, because there was a part for each of us. But instead of ripping paper and shouting, I sat in my corner with my pile of gifts and handled each as a treasure, slowly and carefully opening them, preserving the paper and lingering in the delight of discovery…..”

Whoa! I was absolutely astounded. There it was. Just what we did, without all the flying paper and yelling!

She went on…

“However, when there were no gifts to open and everyone was competing for airtime, I felt invisible and became overstimulated and anxious. My anxiety was not about the pressure to socialize; there were more than enough bodies to take care of that. I became anxious because I couldn’t think, and, without my own mind, I felt like I was disintegrating. My solution was to retreat to my room and write. In my solitude I could regain contact with myself and become solid again.”

Thankfully I didn’t grow up with nine siblings, but I have certainly felt this sense of being unable to think, especially recently where I’ve had so many things demanding my attention. But the retreating to my room to write and imagine stories… Yes! I couldn’t wait to get home from school and do that. She goes on to say she wrote science fiction (ditto) and developed secret codes (ditto) to share with her sister (I shared with a friend)… the entire introduction continued in this vein, highlighting things about myself I knew existed but had never really recognized as part of introversion. Nor had it ever occurred to me that there were reasons why I was always exhausted after social interactions, even those I enjoyed,  and that it wasn’t because I was bad, or defective or just plain ornery, but part of how God made me to be.

I have been so excited to read both this book and the other one I ordered, The Introvert Advantage, and I hope to share a bit of what I’ve learned from them both this week. The challenge will be to distill the most important bits from the wealth of things I could say about it all.

So Blessed, So Thankful

Things I am Thankful For:

My Lord and Savior
His work on the Cross so I could be free
The Gospel
Eternal life
The Word of God
My pastor, Robert McLaughlin, and his faithful teaching
Rebound (If we confess our sins He is faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness)
The fact that “there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.”

Living in America!
Freedom…
…And the soldiers who’ve sacrified to provide and defend it
Roads and highways
My Jeep
The American medical system
Airplanes
Fighter jets and warthogs (and living under their flight paths)
The Internet
Email and blogs
People who email me!
People who read my blog!

My house
Living in Tucson, Arizona
Sunny days
Rainy days
Windy days

Thunderheads!

Daily Bible Class
The filling of the Holy Spirit
God’s tailor made plan for my life
The pattern for it set by my Lord
Being a New Creature, set free from the power of the flesh
Trials and difficulties, for they give me the opportunity to trust God under suffering — something I can never do in heaven
Obnoxious people, for they give me the opportunity to apply God’s love and forgiveness.
Living in the End times, for it gives me the opportunity to see God’s word validated as foretold events unfold before our eyes.

Comfortable clothes
Royal Family Friends
Long, deep, doctrinal conversations
Good health, and the ability to exercise
The gift to write and readers who respond to it
Having six published books and the opportunity to write a seventh

Quigley! What a magnificent creature he is!

Turkey and dressing
Stamping and card making
Receiving the peace that passes understanding, even if only sporadically
Autumn walks
Bible conferences
Soft sheets
A good book
Music and singing

Arizona sunsets

Thanksgiving dinner leftovers
Chocolate chip Cookies!
Molasses cookies
Christmas cookies

Knowing He will never leave me nor forsake me
Knowing that my Lord controls history and all will unfold according to His purpose regardless of how things might appear
Knowing I am His bride, His jewel, the apple of His eye

Rebound

Peace

Contentment

Purpose

So blessed, so thankful

I hope you’ll take the time over this holiday to reflect on the myriad of ways that God has blessed and provided.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Freedom Through Military Victory

November 11, 2009  Veteran’s Day

TO THE NATION — WHAT IS THE PRICE OF FREEDOM?
Written by ROBERT B. THIEME, JR., pastor of Berachah Church from 1950-2003

Belligerent nations wield military force not to defend their sovereignty but to vanquish and enslave other nations. Is resistance to such aggression worth the price of young men marching to war? Each generation must decide. If a nation wishes to perpetuate and inviolate the priceless privileges and blessings of independence, warfare is inevitable.

Every generation must face the refinement of war. Freedom is bought and paid for by the blood of individuals who set a higher value on their liberty than on life itself. If one generation is not prepared mentally and Spiritually to defend such values, if enough individuals in a national entity reject the principle of freedom through military victory, liberty languishes.

Despite man’s zealous efforts to achieve freedom through peaceful means, wars will continue until the end of human history when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, reigns on earth for one thousand years. (Isa 9:6; cf., Ecc 3:8; Mic 4:1-3; Mar 13:7; Rev 20:4) For man to presume that he can accomplish what only Jesus Christ can accomplish in the Millennium is a total disregard for the Scriptures and the height of arrogance. Jesus Himself declared the certainty of war.

“And you will be hearing of wars [Armed conflict] and rumors of wars; [Cold war’s] see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, [A part of history] but that is not yet the end. [Of the Tribulation] For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. (Mat_24:6-7)

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up. . . . A time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecc_3:3-8)

—————-

Karen, here: Thanks to all who have served and sacrificed for the freedoms I enjoy daily — to come and go, to live my life, pursue it as I choose, and most of all, to enjoy the freedom of gathering with other Believers to study God’s word without having to hide or lie or worry that we might be beaten or cast in prison for it, or our houses burned because of it.

Independence Day

Driving home from the Y today, I was listening to Chris Baker, in for Glenn Beck on the radio, saying that he wasn’t in the mood for celebrating Independence Day because to him we are already sliding down the slippery slope to subjugation, tyranny and dependence.  I see it, too and it saddens me, so I thought I’d post a collection of things this year that seem significant.

First is a quote from Colonel R. B. Thieme, Jr, in his book,  Follow the Colors:

“The American War for Independence, erroneously known as the Revolutionary War, was not a revolution but a fight against tyranny based on the principles of the rights of the individual to protect his life, liberty and property…”

This is from the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And the following are selected Amendments from the Bill of Rights (emphasis mine):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Amendments 1, 2, 4, 9 and 10. I think in our day every one of these is being bent and challenged, if not outright broken. But it’s good to be reminded of the freedom our Constitution has guaranteed us for the last 230 years or so.

Given the hooplah about Michael Jackson’s death, the hold of the cult of celebrity has on our culture, particularly our young people, (I noted that a poll on top celebrity in the world named Barak Obama as #1, the first time a US President has ever held that position), given the sorry state of our nation’s public schooling, where not only discipline, self-control and the principle of self-induced misery (or suffering the consequences of one’s own bad decisions) have gone out with logic, reason, and the actual facts of history… was it that good of an idea to lower the vote to 18???

Maybe it wouldn’t matter. I kind of think it wouldn’t. The ailment our great nation suffers is not the result of people being too young, but people being too self-absorbed, too obsessed with their comforts, pleasures, games and personal goals to understand the actual issues or even wish to.


Categories

My Online Church

Visit my Old Blog Here:

Music I’m Writing To

Transformers (Revenge of the Fallen) Soundtrack - Steve Jablonsky


%d bloggers like this: