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10.30.2012

Why I Celebrate Halloween

Halloween is one of those things that, if you've grown up in the church, you might feel conflicted about celebrating. It's kind of like homeschooling - people feel very strongly about their views on it. If you have a different opinion, in some places, it's uncomfortable to voice it.

When I was young I didn't know any different. I liked getting candy and dressing up. Except for that one time that I didn't have a costume and ended up being Mary the mother of Jesus with a blue towel over my head. Other than my embarrassment of that last minute costume, Halloween was pretty fun.

When I was an adult I met people who refused to celebrate, or in some cases acknowledge, Halloween. They had really good, really holy reasons. Feeling convicted, we would avoid being at home on Halloween night so that we didn't have to be bothered to hand out candy, and by so doing, align ourselves with the darkness of the night. I was even convinced I shouldn't carve jack-o-lanterns because it had a dark connotation. I had issues with legalism, not wanting to make God unhappy. I didn't quite understand that He is more concerned about my heart than whether I carve a pumpkin and place a candle in it.

But then one Halloween evening as we were avoiding trick-or-treaters by driving around town, I had a change of heart. I saw homes with their porch lights glowing in the dark night, inviting children to ring their doorbells. I knew that someone inside was waiting. And as soon as the door bell would ring I knew that they would get up from their seat to open the door. They would probably smile at the kids and kindly admire the costumes, even if it was a blue towel draped at the last minute over a little head. Then they would hand out treats that they'd gone out and bought just for this purpose.

I thought to myself,

"What a wonderful little tradition this is. 
What other night of the year can you knock on someone's door 
- even a complete stranger 's -
 and expect to get a smile and a treat from them
Maybe even have a little conversation with them. 
What a great way to interact with your neighbors!"


I realized that night that, although there are some yucky things about Halloween that I really do not like, there are some pretty good things too. Things like imagination, generosity, and neighborliness. Maybe there is balance. Dressing up and handing out the candy is not the same as all that other yucky stuff. 

The first year we lived in Ohio we rented a home in a neighborhood that did Halloween on steroids. Every house was decked out in spiderwebs and black lights. People from all over town would come to our neighborhood to trick-or-treat there. I wasn't thrilled about this. I wasn't anti-Halloween, but I didn't want to celebrate it either. I tolerated it.

One of the homes in the neighborhood had carnival games in the front yard with a sign saying that the games and treats were sponsored by a church down the street. It occurred to me that this church was going to where the kids and their parents were. The kids were in the neighborhoods, not parking lots. This church was handing out free hot dogs and candy to everyone, regardless of whether they were little witches or little Winnie-the-Poohs. It struck me that they were, in a small but engaging way, showing the love of Jesus to children and their parents. Anyone who trick-or-treated in that neighborhood was invited to that church to meet Jesus. They redeemed Halloween. A chance for redemption is a cause for celebration. I decided then to embrace this redemption celebration at Halloween each year.

A couple years later, now in a different neighborhood, I went trick-or-treating with Spiderman, Princess Jasmine, and a tiny little lion. As we went through the neighborhood, I noticed that almost all of the homes whose cars went to church on Sundays had their porch lights off. It made me a little bit sad that they were missing out on the neighborliness and generosity - the redemption - of the night.

Since then I've made a point to have someone at home on Halloween night, to be neighborly. It's a great opportunity to talk to my neighbors who come by with their kids. I like to dress up to give the kids - and the parents with them - a smile along with their treat. I play Halloween songs and fire up the fog machine. I hope they leave our doorstep knowing that the people in this house are friendly. I hope that as I open the door for each kid, it's one step closer to opening a door towards a relationship with my neighbors. I want them to know that we are engaging, not stand-offish. Especially if they see our car going to church on Sunday mornings. 

I want to celebrate Halloween with neighborliness and generosity, and by doing so, redeem it.


10.26.2012

<< my week in review: 10/19-25

InstaFriday
It's instant fun.


Okay, so the big news this week is that my son's football team made it to the 8th grade championship game by winning last Saturday's playoff game. 


Sarah immediately went to work making signs for the Championship game on Friday night.


(Somehow I missed this one of Sarah and Kaitlin at the 9th grade game from last week, so I'm just throwing it in this week's review:)


My beautiful girls.

Speaking of beautiful, after I wrote my post on beauty and my letter to my daughters, I went to Hobby Lobby to look for birthday party supplies and found this:


I just had to have it. Hobby Lobby can be dangerous like that.


In the morning sometimes I have a quiet God Time, and other times I get to share my God Time with Sarah. Then it's not so quiet. But I love sharing it with her, helping her find verses and talking with her about them.


I love this girl! I love getting texts from her.

I loved this particular text so much that I posted it on Facebook. That night my son asks me, only half seriously, why I haven't posted a text from him onto Facebook. He knows that our text exchanges are mostly "are you here yet? / yes. out front." 

I told him that he needed to send me a text that is worthy of being posted on Facebook. 

Within seconds, I get the following text from John: "Mom, what's for dinner?"

Such a funny boy.


The other big thing that happened this week is my birthday, I turned 41.

It's not really a big thing, it's not even a milestone year, but it was a milestone birthday. (I wrote about why it's a milestone here.)

I decided to throw myself a birthday party at work. So that I wouldn't have to work [too hard] on my birthday. But mostly to make my residents smile. I love doing things to make them smile.

I spent most of my week getting ready to party with my seniors.


Sarah helped me make some games for my birthday party. 


Wednesday night I was busy baking cupcakes and putting together goodie bags for the party.


And in the middle of cupcakes and goodie bags, Sarah wanted to have a tea party. So we did. With orange juice and British accents. It was the best tea party I've ever been a part of.


Breakfast in bed.


I wore a tiara to work. The residents got a kick out of that. I got a kick out of their smiles.

I pulled out my real camera for the party...





We played a couple games and then there was some special music. They enjoyed that. And I enjoyed giving them a party.

JD and the kids had a very nice dinner for me when I came home from work. They even used serving dishes for the food! I felt pretty special. I'm serious. Because we usually just serve from the pots and pans unless there's company. Why dirty more dishes?

Good job, honey. I wish I'd gotten a photo of it.


I love my new orange purse. I guess I posted my color hunt for orange a little too soon.

I discovered this week that a camera phone is as good as a registry. 

A perennial problem that I have is to not know what I want when someone asks me for gift ideas. Yet, when I am in the store I am constantly thinking, O I would love to have [this]. But I do not get it because I really don't need it.

So while I was at Target one day this week, I took my camera phone out and snapped things that I'd like but wouldn't get for myself (except for the watch, I needed that). That orange purse was one of the things I snapped a photo of.



Finally, I've been in 1 Peter 3 this week. This struck me this morning:


Jesus is over everything and everyone. He's in control. 

It's good to remember that.

I'm @annebickle on Instagram if you'd like to follow me. I'd like to follow you, too.

If you have a minute, and if you are inclined to pray, please say a prayer for Jeanett, who hosts this link up. Her daughter is getting some tests done to determine whether to have brain surgery or not. Jeanett has a lot on her mommy plate. You can read about it at her blog: www.liferearranged.com

life rearranged 
a link up with Jeannett
at life.rearranged.

10.25.2012

My Milestone Celebration


For my birthday this year I decided to throw myself a birthday party. I don't often do this, you know, throw myself a party. I feel a little silly about doing it. I did it for my golden birthday when I turned 25, but other than that, I've had pretty low key birthdays. I guess I don't like all the attention. Or, maybe, I don't mind attention that makes me feel loved, but it also makes me feel awkward when people turn their attention towards me. My neck gets blotchy. So I usually avoid attention. That being said, I usually avoid throwing parties where I am the center of attention.

But this year, I decided to go ahead and throw myself a party.

This birthday is a milestone year for me, even though it was last year I turned forty.

As I approached forty, I would read statuses of my Facebook friends as they came to their milestone day. Some of them marked it with an epic bash. I wanted to have an epic bash with friends and then post photos of us smiling together. See, I have friends.

I read a local newspaper columnist's account of her fortieth birthday party, a huge affair in which she was amazed by how many wonderful friends she had. I wanted that. Friends, mostly, but a bash too. I imagined that I, too, could have a milestone day involving lots of laughter. And possibly skydiving and feather boas.

The closer I got to forty, though, the sadder I felt. I felt alone. My fortieth birthday marked the one year anniversary of one of the hardest, most difficult times of my life.

For the entire year before I turned forty I was in quite a bit of pain. Actually I'd been in pain for several years, but this particular pain was not easily covered up. That in itself was painful. Shameful. That year I had to dig deep to uncover the pain that I'd buried. Unearthing pain is a good thing because then the wounds can be healed. But it is a painful thing to unearth pain.

As I approached that milestone birthday, not only did I not want attention because of my blotchy neck, I didn't want attention at all. I could not imagine anyone wanting to celebrate me. I did not want to celebrate me. My condemner was strong in my ears.

But this year, as I turn forty-one, I've decided to celebrate. There is plenty of reason to celebrate. Grace and mercy! Love! New life!

There is still pain, but now there is hope. And hope is cause for celebration. It's a milestone.

So I'm throwing myself a milestone 41st birthday party at work. The building I manage is independent living, but the seniors there are still kind of a captive audience, I guess, so it's a safe party for me. No one is going to be too busy to come. See, I have friends. And, since it's my job to get their attention every once in awhile, I'm not too concerned about my blotchy neck.

Although it's my birthday party, it's really a party for them. I love to give them parties, to give them something to look forward to and to enjoy. My birthday is just an excuse to do it. Plus, it means I get to have some fun at work on my birthday instead of having to do paperwork. Two birds, one stone.

No longer an anniversary of pain, but a celebration of new life and hope. My milestone celebration.

---------

Bonus Feature:
If you've ever watched a movie on DVD with me, you know I like bonus features. Now here's a bonus feature for you:

A little trivia quiz about my birthday.

This quiz is one of the games I have for the seniors at the party. Since it's "my birthday party" I figured it would be fun for them to learn some trivia about my birth day. Now you can learn it too.

linking up with Casey
for
what is on my heart

10.24.2012

O is for Orange

I have a friend who went on a color hunt for green.
I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to do a hunt of my own.
Color Your World's color for October is orange, so I decided to hunt for orange.

I found some.
Orange is all around my house and in my camera roll.


O is for Orange. 
Orange is for October.


Orange is the candle. It glows even though unlit.


Orange are the clementines that fill our fruit bowl.


Orange is the curtain that frames my view outside.
It doesn't quite cover the dirty window itself, though, I see.


Orange is the seat that blazes bright in the afternoon sunlight.


Orange is the heart with the message that somebody loves me shoe much.


Orange are the mountain majesties that remind me of a favorite memory.


Orange is the sky, a beautiful backdrop for a baseball game. 


Orange is the book, a gift from a tenant cleaning out his sculptor-father's things. 


Orange is the sunscreen that protects my skin.


Orange is on the butterfly wing that reminds me of transformation.
["No butterflies were harmed in the making of the necklace," the tag said.]


Orange is the blanket thrown on my couch. It covers me as I read in the early morning.


Orange is the cap of the bottle that hydrates my little athletes.


Orange is the cord that brings power to far places.


Orange are the barrels that line the highway and keep the traffic cautious.


Orange is the tree that signals winter coming.


Orange is the kitty jack-o-lantern that glows on my counter now, and on my doorstep later.


Orange is the leaf in my path. 

O how it brightens my day to see orange.

O is for Orange.
Orange is for October.


a monthly link party hosted by:

jennifer @ 
studio jru
jen @ i believe in love
stephanie @ beyond words designs
meghan @ meghan tucker

10.22.2012

Instructions for the End of the World: Pray. Love. Share.



"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
1 Peter 4:7-9


When I was reading that passage recently, Peter's instructions struck me in their context. I like to sometimes put myself in the shoes of the people reading the letter. It helps me to understand things better or in a different way.

Like, what if I received a letter like this:
Dear Anne,
I am writing to tell you something very important: the end of the world is coming! I have some instructions for you and it is really important that you follow them since we don't have much time left.
First, you need to pray like there's no tomorrow. To do that, you'll need to be clear minded and have self-control. Second, love people really well because love makes you willing to forgive others - and others willing to forgive you. Finally, share your home and your stuff and your meals with others. And, for Pete's sake, do it without complaining. 
Much love,
Peter

It's the end of the world as we know it and he wants me to invite people over for dinner? What about the instructions on what to stock up on? Where to go? Who to trust? How to plan for emergencies? There's none of that. It's pretty much: Pray. Love. Share. As if those are the most important things and the other things are just periphery. 

And, that's just it. Those other things are just periphery because they won't last. Prayer, love and hospitality have eternal value. It is sound advice, when the end of the world is near, to focus on what will survive after the end.

I want to be better at offering hospitality. Not entertaining necessarily, though I do enjoy that, but I want to be better at sharing my life with others, meeting physical and emotional/spiritual needs. Not just theirs, but mine as well, because it does my heart good to share myself. 

In a way, I guess this blog is me doing that in a way, sharing my life with anyone who takes the time to read it. If I could serve a cup of your favorite beverage while you read this, I would. And then we'd talk about all sorts of stuff, sharing with each other. And that'd be really cool. 

But I need to do it offline, too, which is a little harder because I can't edit myself as easily. I have so many excuses... my busy schedule, my insecurities, my fear of rejection, my house projects, my messy floors. But, with the end of the world coming, those excuses seem pretty hollow in comparison to the urgency with which I ought to pray, love and share.


10.19.2012

<< my week in review: 10/12-18

InstaFriday
Making ordinary moments extraordinary.

My sister commented last week that she likes my week in review posts because it makes the ordinary extraordinary. I agree. Somehow when I look back on the pictures of the week, I find that the ordinary things that happened maybe weren't so ordinary after all.

So, this week I am going all jumbo photo with my extraordinary ordinary.

Something not so ordinary this last week?

My daughter had a birthday.


As per our family tradition, the birthday person gets breakfast in bed. 

(Except for daddy, he does not like breakfast in bed.) 



Aunt Betty made a wonderfully deliciously chocolaty birthday cake.

We sing both Happy Birthday & Lang zal ze leven, the Dutch birthday song, a reminder of the time my family lived in Amsterdam when I was 14. 

I only recently found out that there is a female and a male version of the song and all these years we've been singing the female version to everyone, regardless of gender. 


Kaitlin's birthday meal request: A Mystery Dinner!

Someone on Instagram asked me to explain the above photo, so here is how we do Mystery Dinners:
The dinner is served in four courses with four utensils, one utensil per course. 
Everyone has to choose in which order they want to eat their courses and with what utensil. 
The Menu is in code, though, and that's the mystery.
The courses we were given to choose from were: LOL, IDK, JK, and ROTFL. The utensils we chose from were: a spike, a serve, a volley and a tip. These were appropriate code names for our volleyball playing, texting birthday girl, but the code names could be anything, really, as long as it isn't what it actually is. 
And then the first course comes out and the fun begins:


Here's what I chose:
First course: IDK / a serve = salad with a knife.
Second course: LOL / a volley = cake with a fork.
Third course: JK / a tip = spaghetti with a spoon.
Fourth course: ROTFL / a spike = soup with a napkin.

After Kaitlin opened her presents, my mom brought out some birthday presents for me.

I didn't expect that. She'll be gone over my birthday, so she wanted to give me mine now.


I've never owned an electric griddle. I was so excited to get one. No more warped griddle that doesn't cook the pancakes evenly. 

My waffle maker went kaput. Now I have a new one. One that flips!

Thanks, Mom. You are awesomeness!

It's movie night! Time for popcorn.


Come to think of it, I think my mom gave me this popcorn popper, too.

What would I do without her?

I certainly wouldn't be making popcorn as often.


The nice thing about rain in the fall is that I get to wear my plaid rain boots. They make me happy.

But when it rains on game day, and I have to sit out in the cold and wet, that is not so much fun.

Especially when I forget my umbrella and have to make do with a tarp.


"And this is love, that a mom would sit in the cold rain to watch her daughter play soccer." 

Or something like that.

Fortunately it stopped raining by the time I got to the football game.


Still it was muddy. Some of the boys slid in a big mud puddle after the game. They'd probably been waiting all game to do that. 

I looked at John and, with the mother-son telepathy we have, said Don't you even think about it!

He didn't. Good boy.


There's John at quarterback. During the game (but not on this play) he scored on a long run for a touchdown, which is different than if he had scored on a keeper.

I found that out because I texted JD to update him on the game (he was away coaching the 9th grade team) and I said it was a keeper

A keeper, I guess, is usually short yardage.

So, even though he kept the ball and ran with it, it's not a keeper.

Another thing I have found out is that you always say the higher score first, even if it's the visiting team's and they're listed second as you are reading the scoreboard top to bottom or left to right.

These are very important things to know if you ever have to update your husband on plays and scores. 

Especially if he happens to be a football coach.

Just so you know.

I also frequently get football plays enthusiastically explained to me using salt and pepper shakers and anything else available. 

It's like having a foreign ritual explained to me with condiments, but in a foreign language.

I love it. It makes me smile on the inside every time.

Speaking of football...


I may not know what 'Cover 2' is, but I beat the football coach in our fantasy match-up.

I'm near the bottom of our league's standings, but this game is the one game I really wanted to win. 

Is it wrong that I downloaded the ESPN Fantasy Football app just so that I could get that screen shot and post it?


Got Milkshake Mustache? Sarah really, really wanted to make a milkshake.

Milk + a frozen banana = thumbs up!

Milk + loosely screwed mixer = messy counter.


If you come over to my house any day of the week this is probably what you will see.

I hate socks. I am considering just getting rid of individual sock drawers and instead having a community sock basket in the hallway. 

If anyone wants socks, they go to the sock basket and find two socks that may or may not match.


Kaitlin and I went out to a coffee shop and had a little Mother / Daughter time. I showed her my post on beauty and the letter to my daughters that I posted this week. 

We've been discussing beauty lately. She doesn't like to talk about it, so I wrote about it. So much of me in that post. It meant a lot to be able to talk to her about it.

We also talked about making good choices. Social media can be fun, but we need to be careful with it. Especially what we choose to let come across our feeds.

We talked about how what we hear or watch or read affects what we think and how we talk and how we behave. 

With social media these days, there's some bad stuff that can come across our feeds when we follow something or someone who isn't careful about what they do or say or post. 

That's why it's so important to make sure we look at and listen to and read good things. Phil. 4:8

"I want to read the bible more," she said, "but I don't like reading."

"You read texts," I offered. 

"Yeah. I wish God had a phone," she sighed. "Then he could text me."

"I wish he had a phone too!" 

We laughed about that.

Parenting in this age of social media is crazy. Ultimately you gotta hope your kids have good heads and make good decisions. And pray!


The varsity game was on Wednesday this week. It was ugly. We lost bad. 

But they looked great in their pink socks. 

It was striking, actually, to see them all in their pink socks on the sidelines. And the coaches all in pink hats. 

It makes me happy to think that a bunch of rough and tough image football guys will put on pink to honor the cause of breast cancer.

We lost my husband's sister to breast cancer earlier this year. 


The kids and JD have been wearing pink shoe laces during their games this October to remember her.

It seems like a small gesture, but since losing her, even little gestures mean a lot.



The Century 9th grade team only had 28 boys come out, but they went 7-1. This photo is them thanking their parents at the end of the game, their only loss. 

After every game they'd all get together like this and yell "THANK YOU PARENTS!" 

They're some good kids. And they have a great coach, I think.

I can't tell you how happy I am that the football season is almost over!

I'm @annebickle on Instagram if you want to follow me.

life rearranged
a link party with Jeannett at Life.Rearranged.

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