How To Celebrate On Halloween

pumpkin

It’s that time of year again- the time of year when stores are full of witches, monsters, and ghost costumes; houses are hung in spiderwebs; and skulls adorn every candy wrapper.  Have you ever noticed the suffocating darkness and heaviness that fills the air on Halloween night?

 

It’s no wonder, Halloween is a holiday dedicated to the evil.  It was a Celtic holiday and believed to be a time when the dead could come back into our world and destroy.  How did costumes get involved?  Well, the people would wear them to pacify the evil spirits.  Although a lot of society believes that Halloween is a harmless holiday in today’s world…it is still a night when the Dark Kingdom is honored and glorified.  Witches, demons, monsters, ghosts, and everything grotesque and opposite of pure and lovely is made to be harmless, imitated, and posted for all eyes to behold.  Those involved in occults use October 31 as a special time of worship.

It’s completely understandable why a lot of Christians stay away -as far as possible- from Halloween.  We lock ourselves up in our cozy little homes and pretend that it is just another normal evening.

 

BUT Ladies and Gentlemen- it is not another normal holiday!  And as unbelievable as it might sound, I wish Christians would celebrate on Halloween.

 

Before you send me away for Christian counseling since I obviously need it after that statement…let me explain.

When we, who are warriors of God’s Kingdom, look the other way on Halloween or ignore it; we are allowing the warriors of the Dark Kingdom to advance.  Maybe it does not seem like a big deal because we can’t always see physical and spiritual battles lost and what has been destroyed, but there is damage done nonetheless.

 

What can we do?

  • Well, first of all, we have to realize that Satan and his evil are truly a mighty force.  We do not have any idea how much power they have and use.

 

  • BUT- we need not despair or fear because God is ALWAYS and WILL ALWAYS be more powerful.  Without His protection and Spirit, we are helpless; but with His protection and Spirit, “we are more than conquerors”!

 

  • We need to explain to our children why we do not participate in Halloween traditions or decorate our houses in “harmless” black cats, skeletons, and bloody eyeballs.  Trying to ignore the issue will make our children all the more curious and may cause them to become involved in the evil because of where they received answers to their curiosity.

 

  • We can celebrate on Halloween that we have been saved and do not need to live in the darkness, fear, and evil that surrounds those on this night who do not know Jesus.

So how can we celebrate on Halloween, but yet, not celebrate Halloween?

  • For those who still trick or treat and come knocking at your door- have cute little bags of candy ready for them, but put a kid’s tract or Bible story book in along with the candy.  There are some amazing, powerful, yet fun little booklets that can speak God’s message into kiddos hearts.

 

  • Have a party at your house or church for the local neighbor children.  Tell them that you won’t be wearing costumes, but there will still be a lot of fun things to do anyways.  Have food, games, little favors/gifts for each child to take home, easy crafts (painting t-shirts is always fun), share why you don’t celebrate Halloween, and then before they leave pray and read a meaningful story or Bible lesson that captivates the kids.  You can even do bag skits on Bible stories from the Bible…that way the children can still get to dress up, but it is for God’s Kingdom instead of for the Dark Kingdom.  It will be a lot of work, but there will be amazing battles won in the lives of children who otherwise would have been on the side of the Evil One.  Our church did this one year, and the children loved it…but they also walked away with lessons engrained upon their hearts forever.  We also did something unusual and had two hallways- one was marked Heaven and the other was marked Hell.  The children could then choose which hallway to walk.  Heaven was bright and beautiful, but Hell was dark and ugly.  Those who reached the end of the Heaven hall received a lovely gift, but those who reached the end of the Hell hall either did not get a gift or were given a not-so-nice one.

 

  • Allow your children to decorate pumpkins with sayings like “Jesus Loves Me”, “Trust in the Lord”, “Jesus is the Light of the World”, “Your Word is a Lamp to my Feet”, “God is our Refuge and Strength”, “For God so Loved the World”….  Then fill your porches and doorways with your kiddos’ cute creations that shout out great messages to all who pass by.

 

  • Take time to kindly and sweetly tell those who wish you a “Happy Halloween” or wonder how you will be partying that you do not celebrate Halloween, but you do celebrate on Halloween that you are a child of God who has been saved from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  If said without a condescending, self-righteous attitude, those simple words could leave a profound impact.

 

  • Do not think that by fighting the Darkness, you have to learn all about it.  You do not have to research the land of witchcraft and ouiji boards to properly combat Satan and his army.  Evil has a way of laying traps that can snare even the strongest soldier of Light when he starts treading upon their grounds.  All that you need as your weapons are God’s Holy Spirit, prayer, God’s Word, and The Armor of God!

 

  • Most importantly—–pray!  When the disciples tried to combat powerful evil, but could not, Jesus replied that it could only be done through much prayer and fasting. [20And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.- Mark 9:20-29]
  • Ask God for spiritual, physical, and emotional protection for you, your family, and other Christians on a night when the Light is attacked by the Dark.  Ask God to show Himself powerful.  Ask Him to keep the innocent from falling prey to things that lead to only more and more evil.  Ask God how He wants you to share His light on one of the darkest nights.  Bring your family together in prayer as well.  Your children will always remember seeing the power in a warrior on his knees.

I would love to hear your ideas about how you celebrate as a Christian on Halloween!

Interactive Blog Series 2

“If Only Teachers Knew”

“If Only Students Knew”

Just as I promised, here comes another interactive blog series!  All of us at one time or another have been a student and/or a teacher.  For some of us, we forget or do not realize how it feels to be on the other side of the classroom.  So go ahead, share and listen…that is the purpose.

  • Perhaps there is something you wish you could tell teachers….
  • Perhaps there is something you wish you could tell students….
  • Perhaps there is something you wish you could tell teachers and students…

Here’s your chance.

The newness and excitement of school has worn off; so now is a perfect time to refresh ourselves.  And this does not just apply to those in the classroom; the term “teacher” applies to music instructors, counselors, professors, Sunday-School leaders, home-school mothers, or anyone else who is instructing another person (whether young or old) A student is anyone who has ever learned in a classroom, studied at home, attended college, took music lessons, sat in a Sunday-School class, been a camper at summer camp….  I think you get the point!

I would love your input and wisdom.  You can contact me through my “About” page at https://marjanitalarosa.wordpress.com/about/ or email me at marj@larosabooks.com.  Leave your name— or leave it anonymous, that is completely up to you.  Do make sure you clarify if you are addressing a teacher or a student however!  Deadline for your “teacher/student” nuggets of wisdom is October 28, 2014.

EXAMPLE-

To A Student:  We care about you- you have no idea of the sacrifices, costs, and time we put into making sure you learn.  We are not as mean as you think we are;)

To A Teacher:  Put some life and energy into what you are trying to teach us.  If you don’t act excited about it, neither will we!

I can’t wait to see what you’all have to say.  I’ll plan on sharing it with everyone else then on October 29 and November 3; so keep tuned!

eSSENTIAL AND eXCEPTIONAL eTIQUETTE

Yes, I’m back.  It seems like I was away for quite awhile; unfortunately life has a way of drowning out the things a person loves to do sometimes…such as blogging.  But I decided to jump from my boat and go diving to rescue my love from the bottom of the ocean (in other words, I’m letting the dishes go for right now and blogging instead=)

Every choir practice with the girls, I have a short devotional on something that relates to them.  This season we have been using the theme, “Becoming Daughters of a King”.  We have looked at different character aspects, but this last time I decided to switch it up a bit and talk about a practical, every-day subject- Basic Etiquette.

Awhile ago, I stumbled across a big red book called, The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Guide to Etiquette, which was written back in 1952.  I was amazed to read through chapter after chapter of simple things that make a world of difference.  How could a culture lose so much in only a few generations, I wondered.  Most individuals were polite (for the most part) and practiced basic manners a century ago.  Perhaps they did not value it enough, maybe they did not realize the importance of passing it on, possibly it was dropped when things such as “do your own thing, free love, go with the flow, if it feels good- do it” became a person’s philosophy, or perchance broken homes and abusive relationships helped to change society.

Whatever the cause, I quickly saw many things which needed corrected in my own actions and interactions.  I could not wait to share some “polite” jewels with my girls.  

It was almost hilarious to see expressions as I talked about certain things.  Eyebrows raised at words such as, “Always leave the best seat for those older and more honored than you.  Give up your seat if someone does not have one.  Don’t leave during a lecture/class/sermon unless it is an emergency.  Always eat a little bit of everything that a hostess has prepared (no matter how much you may dislike something)”.  Arguments burst forth at the part, “Children and young people should not be the first in food lines.  Do not begin eating until the hostess or those around you have begun.  Always ask to help the hostess with preparation and then do the dishes afterwards as a thank-you for the meal.”

No, not nearly all the girls disagreed or eye-rolled, but there still were a surprising amount who acted as if some of the basic etiquette practices were foreign to them.  And my choir girls are angels compared to most children in today’s society.  If you met those young ladies, you would instantly fall in love with them because they are respectful, caring, and well-kept eight to fourteen-year olds.  

But I can’t act like it is crazy that they need help on some points of etiquette because I, myself, have discovered quite a few areas in which I need work.

I’m not saying that a person has to become extreme about this issue.  Life would be zapped of all fun, enjoyment, and personality if we all had to walk around stern, rigid, and intent on making sure not a single point of politeness was missed.  I have seen a few people who live their lives this way.  They are not even enjoyable to be around because they are extremely guarded and cautious.  I’m always afraid that I’ll spill something or laugh too loudly and instantly offend them. 

Then there is the other extreme…the people who let it all “hang out”.  They sprawl across the couch, eating potato chips with their mouth hanging open as crumbles fall out, and then wipe the grease from their hands on the cushions.

Why is etiquette so important?  “Rude, insensitive behavior showcases not
only a lack of manners, but also a lack of respect for other people.  Practicing manners is a way of expressing love and consideration for others.  Showing honor and respect to those around us is a principle that should translate into every corner of our lives- from servers at restaurants and strangers at the mall to pastors and teachers sharing truth with us and our own family members in the privacy of our homes.”- Leslie Ludy

I also think that as Christians, we should especially exemplify politeness and practice etiquette.  We are ambassadors representing a pure, clean, love-encompassed Kingdom.  One would never realize that was the case if we are crude, sloppy, unkempt, and rude individuals.

I’m giving myself a challenge to try harder to think of others, to be more polite and mannerly, to be a Daughter of a King who is a worthy representative of her Father.  I’m leaving that challenge with you today as well.  In a culture that has little respect and almost zero manners, be something different and unique!

I gave a paper to each of the girls with this list.  Most of us practice the majority of points on the list, but there may be one or two things that catch your attention.  If nothing else, it is always good to brush up again on decorum and manners=)

  Most of the following notes were taken from The Lost Art of True Beauty and The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Guide to Etiquette

Conversation: 

  • look at people when they are talking
  • remember names
  • converse (don’t make the other person have a one-sided conversation)
  • introduce properly (elderly, women, and honored name is said first)
  • ask insightful questions
  • practice elegant speech
  • use proper names such as Mr., Mrs., Miss, Dr., etc…
  • don’t use crude humor or offensive language
  • don’t use fillers and slang
  • don’t belittle/gossip

Eating:

  • keep mouth closed when chewing
  • take small bites
  • don’t race through eating but don’t be the one on which everyone else is waiting
  • don’t talk with a full mouth
  • don’t grab- ask for it to be passed
  • keep elbows off the table
  • use proper utensils (work from outside to inside)
  • wait for proper cue to begin eating
  • don’t leave table until hostess dismisses
  • TIP customary amount to servers at restaurants
  • put napkin on lap
  • wipe mouth often and before taking drinks
  • take a little bit of everything and eat it
  • clean-up if you have an accident
  • use salt and pepper discreetly if must (although advised not to because of offending hostess)
  • check mouth in restroom after meals

As a Guest:

  • leave everything better than found (make bed, fold, arrange, clean down bathroom sinks, clean hair out of shower….)
  • respect others’ property—don’t use or touch something unless permission was given (instruments especially)
  • replace what is broken if you break something
  • do dishes for hostess
  • ask hostess how you may help
  • don’t ask for something unless it is an absolute need
  • always say thank-you
  • always leave a hostess gift
  • RSVP within time frame
  • always throw trash away
  • arrive punctually
  • don’t overstay

Home: 

  • respect your family, do your work and help with others’ chores as well
  • be respectful of sharing closet space/bedroom/personal property
  • keep time in the bathroom short and on schedule
  • use toothpaste neatly
  • clean down sinks, flush toilets, hang up towels and washcloths, pull shower curtain so it can air-dry
  • clean up after yourself, without having to be told
  • close doors and turn off lights behind you

Hospitality: 

  • invite others (include everyone not just the “cool” people),
  • think of your guests’ needs, don’t be afraid to give!
  • invite someone back after you were invited by them, don’t make them always do the inviting and hosting

Meetings/School/Church:

  • sit straight
  • no texting/drawing/etc…
  • don’t leave during session (always use restroom before and after)
  • pay attention (taking notes helps with this)
  • thank the speaker

Telephone:

  • answer with a polite and audible “hello, this is _______ speaking.”
  • take messages
  • don’t give personal info to strangers but still be friendly

Relating with others: 

  • don’t laugh/point/stare at those with handicaps-treat them like any other person
  • ignore others’ embarrassing accidents unless it is something with which you can help them
  • give up seat if there are not enough
  • compliment!
  • practice gift-giving!
  • visit friends in the hospital, attend funerals and weddings
  • don’t text or be on your phone when with others
  • be patient, be thankful, SMILE
  • move through crowds carefully/don’t bump into people
  • let someone with only one or two items checkout before you
  • if someone drops something-pick it up for them
  • obey signs (such as keep-out, private property, etc…)

Personal:

  • sit and stand straight- don’t slump
  • don’t whisper or yell when you talk
  • when you sneeze or cough- turn away from people and cover your mouth with sleeve
  • leave table if you have to blow nose or do it quietly
  • don’t drum fingers or make annoying noises
  • take showers, use deodorant, brush teeth, comb hair, watch for bad breath, take care of lint/dandruff

Money:

  • budget
  • share, don’t become a miser
  • tithe (at least 10%)
  • keep a savings

Technology:

  • don’t overshare
  • be considerate of other people’s privacy when you post pictures, locations, etc..
  • do not allow technology to come between personal relationships
  • be respectful of others’ time when chatting, emailing, or spending time on the phone
  • always ask yourself if what you are posting, visiting, or viewing will dishonor God and you as His ambassador

  Have fun practicing your manners today!