Seen & Heard: Bad Christians

wpid-PhotoGrid_1386953889858.jpg

This Christmas has been an odd one for us. We haven’t broken out an advent book, haven’t lit a candle. We set up a tree in our living room, threw a bunch of ornaments on it, discussed at great lengths what star to put on top and called it Christmas. There have been no trips to look at lights, or to any festive places.

I suppose we aren’t very christiany Christians.  Certainly a pastor and his family must live more spiritually than this?

Last night, the kids and I watched Bedtime Stories. Tony asked how it was later in the evening. I told him it had crude humor, “You know, so that’s always funny.” I rolled my eyes as I said it, remembering the reason I didn’t let the kids see this movie in the theaters.  He asked, “Were there a lot of people slipping and falling down like Home Alone?”  “No. There was a guy named Butt-kiss. They loved that.”  We don’t do this.  There are countless children’s movies my kids have not seen. Last night, they watched Bedtime Stories. There. I said it.

I think they’re going to be ok. I really, really do.

We haven’t done anything Christmasy and we’re watching movies with crude humor. Great.

My friend asked me about children’s bibles yesterday, what’s on your bookshelf? We’ve read all of ours. Umm… The Action Bible? We had the Lego bible but it talks about rape and kids way to young were asking about that so we put that away. We have children’s books on Augustine and great leaders of the faith… surely that counts for something?

I used to be so strict, so careful. I haven’t lost that, but now that I’m the ripe old age of 33, I’ve loosened up a bit. You know how the babies in the family are always allowed to do more than everyone else ever was? Yeah, I think we’re there. I don’t plan on watching more crude humor, but if my 3 year old says Santa is bringing her a candy, I don’t sit her down and give her a good talking to.  She plays with Barbies. I know, it’s wild around here.

There hasn’t been a strong feeling of Christmas cheer, but there’s been something else. There’s been a distinct feel of family, relationship, connection.  We’ve had friends and family in, we’ve talked, laughed, shared life together. My friend showed up at my door the other day and a few days later, I sat down in her kitchen. We laughed, we talked, we shared hardships. The other night, I had the opportunity to go out for dessert with a group of women very special to me. Another group of believers talked and guided me through a difficult test in my life. The kids, all of them, have been hanging out together. Meeting each other in the halls, in bedrooms, on swingsets and spending time together.  There’s been laughing. Lots of laughing.

I had the opportunity to sit down to talk for 2 hours with my 14 year old the other night.  He just kept talking, sharing his heart, his dreams. I just kept staring straight into his eyes, asking questions, smiling, laughing.  What’s more merry than that?

We’ve been praying for people. People who are visiting our home, people we hear about, people we care about.

We actually filled up an Operation Christmas Child box this year! Two of them! That is an accomplishment for this family! 🙂

That’s 13 days of real life in December in our household, it’s not much, but God is here, alive and moving among us.

Happy Friday!  or Merry Christmas if that makes you feel better! 🙂

Redeeming Halloween

We all agree that community is important, meeting your neighbors and living on mission are vital to our christian walk. One of the times the rub of society and Christianity hits is during the holidays. Halloween is can be an especially difficult one to navigate as a christian family. Our family has tackled this issue together with much prayer and thought and this post is the story of our conclusion.

We decided to use this holiday as an opportunity to live on mission at home. What better way to engage your neighbors than the day they are ALL walking up to your door and engaging with you? Why not utilize this opportunity to spend some time with them? The trick is to provide a space they and their children will want to stay at for an extended period of time.

My daughter put it best in an essay she wrote on why our family should celebrate Halloween:

Instead of ignoring this holiday for ghosts and demons, a good alternative is to leap at the opportunity and meet people and invite them to church.” Katie Ann Huy

Here is a simple step by step project you can do with your family or a group of friends. The skill level is easy, the impact level is limitless.

SOME ITEMS NEEDED:

  • Boxes
  • Small balls
  • Nerf Guns
  • Plastic cups to shoot down
  • Ping Pong Balls
  • Small bowls
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Styrofoam cups

STEP ONE:
Have a brainstorm meeting. The goal is to have people there for longer than just ringing the doorbell so plan some simple games for them to play in your driveway. The prizes: CANDY!

2012-10-30 20.19.32

STEP TWO:
Make signs and games. We made signs that said “Free Hot Chocolate” and also signs for each game. We also made simple (VERY SIMPLE) games that looked cheesy, but the families LOVED them. We had a Ping Pong Toss, Pumpkin Dart (Nerf guns shooting at large orange cups), and an Angry Birds Throw.

wpid-20121030_105119.jpg

STEP THREE:
Make coffee and hot chocolate and set it all up! We set up a TV with It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown playing in a loop, an EZ-up with lights on it, our games and also a table with hot chocolate, coffee and invites it our church.

20121031_185138

STEP FOUR:
Have a great time! We received so many compliments for having coffee, I was shocked how far that small gesture went. The families (and some big kids too!) loved the games and many, many people stood around talking and enjoying the evening together. They even called their friends to come over and join in!

YOU CAN DO THIS! This is a great way to reach and meet your community, spend time with your family and redeem the holiday.  You can see our pictures from last year here and here. If you decide to do this, send me pictures and tell me all about it!

“My family has decided to have a harvest festival at our house on Halloween night to engage the community. This is a great opportunity because lots of people are coming right to our door. When people come to our house it will be a great time to meet them and invite them to church. ” An excerpt from an essay by Katie Ann

There is just s…

There is just something wonderful about cousins. The little ones who giggle at your little jokes, the older ones that let you be a big kid, the babies who give you their adorable chubby smiles when you kiss their little feet.

Go and read Katie Ann’s sweet post about her cousins. She’s in Colorado visiting some of them right now. 

Cousins are Memorable

The Family Worship Experiment

FAMILYWORSHIP

It is certainly trendy in the crowds I run in to do all sorts of “old” things.  In my homeschool circles I am taught that older books, written from a first person perspective, are better for children than text books written by professionals with an agenda to fulfill. In the church we are looking back to old things like catechism and creeds. Old is in. At least in my crowds.

One thing that keeps popping up in blogs I read and catalogs I peruse is this idea of Family Worship.  Is “Family Worship” just family devotions with an old name? hmm. I don’t know. But what I do know is that sometimes God moves me through books and sometimes I read something and it just pierces me and makes sense and I can’t wait to do it.  This happened with Elisabeth Elliot and morning prayer. After reading that she woke up at 4am every morning with a blanket and a journal and just prayed, I HAD to do it.  I have been successful at this off and on since I read that, but by far, some of my sweetest times with God have been in the morning hours of 5 and 6am in this Elisabeth Elliot inspired prayer.

Enter Family Worship.  I’ve been mulling over it for a while, Tony and I often tell people in premarital counseling that we DON’T do family devotions. We think they CAN be good, but we have preferred a more natural approach and flow of life where we pray as things come up and speak of God’s word often and it is natural and normal for all involved. And that is true.

But then I started reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer and the section on Family Worship just struck me. I MUST DO THIS!

“For Christians the beginning of the day should not be burdened and haunted by the various kinds of concerns they face during the working day. The Lord stands above the new day, for God has made it. All the darkness and confusion of the night with its dreams gives way to the clear light of Jesus Christ and his awakening Word. All restlessness, all impurity, all worry and anxiety flee before him. Therefore, in the early morning hours of the day may our many thoughts and our many idle words be silent, and may the first thought and the first word belong to the one to whom our whole life belongs. [38]“ Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5: 14).”Bonhoeffer, Dietrich

“Scripture reading, song, and prayer should be part of daily morning worship together. Daily morning worship will take as many different forms as there are communities. That is the way it is bound to be. When a community living together includes children, it needs a different sort of daily worship than a community of seminarians. 15 It is by no means healthy when one becomes like the other, when, for example, a brotherhood of seminarians is content with a form of family daily worship for children. However, the word of Scripture, the hymns of the church, and the prayer of the community should form a part of every daily worship that they share together.” Bonhoeffer, Dietrich

I read a blog that said do 10 minutes of family worship everyday instead of 45 minutes on Monday and none on Tuesday.

So we tried it today.  We called all the kids into our room, they piled on our bed and we read Psalm 1. We sang a song and we prayed for our day.  It was that simple and the kids didn’t sing, but they didn’t leave either. 🙂

I thought about waiting to see if this was going to stick, if it was going to be a habit before telling you about it… But that wouldn’t be real, that wouldn’t be sharing what God is stirring in my heart and our household. So, today we did Family Worship. It must have a place in the schedule if it is going to happen around here and so it has taken the 7:15 slot. We will do family worship and then the kids will dress and be ready for breakfast at 8 as usual.

I’ll tell you how it goes tomorrow. 🙂

Articles I skimmed:

Leading Family Worship (Desiring God)

The What, When and How of Family Worship (TGC)

A Simple Guide to Family Worship