Saturday, October 30, 2010

should Christians celebrate halloween?

this question has been plaguing me for many years, namely since i've had children. as a Christian, i always want to walk in the ways established by God, doing as He requires Christians to do, and not as i want...or doing as i want, so long as it's according to His will.

but i have to admit, i have never reached a conclusive, decisive or even satisfactory answer, even though i've researched the question and potential answers many times. so it's left me sort of scrambling last minute to decide what to do concerning the celebration of holidays, namely halloween.

why am i confused only about the celebration of halloween?

well for me, i can't even fully answer that question without confusing, or even contradicting, myself. the only thing about the holiday that i can really put my finger on that would keep the question alive of whether or not Christians (and moreso--my family and i) should celebrate halloween is that fact that i always feel something eerily sinister about the holiday when it comes around.

but that's all that i get. this odd feeling that there's something about halloween that i shouldn't be celebrating. i've had this feeling since i was young (about 7) or so, i think it stemmed from the fact that halloween always frightened me in one way or another as a child (i remember being the mad hatter from alice in wonderland--a scary childhood story in and of itself but more on that another day--and i was terrified of the costume. and then my mom dressed me up as a cinderella one year and when i looked at the eye holes in the mask i freaked out because it was so scary looking). but regardless of why or how the feeling came to be an innate part of me is irrelevant, the point is, it's there and it's never left. but even still, i can't figure out why as an adult i am still so murky on the answer to this question.

add this (the fact that i really don't know why i should or shouldn't be celebrating halloween) to the fact that the girls' school always celebrates it in a harmless and even fun way, and i'm stuck every year begrudgingly celebrating halloween with my children...even if just by giving out candy to the neighborhood children.

so i decided to end the confusion once and for all this year (after i've already determined that my children will not celebrate halloween--but not for reasons one might think--they're actually on punishment, so i was able to use that as the "excuse", but i'm even questioning the correctness of my motive and actions in this case too) by researching and finding answers to the question from different sources.

one of my favorite sites answers the question this way, and explains the origins of halloween here, and good old fashioned wiki says this about the origins of halloween.

now while according to everything i've read, the ultimate decision of whether or not to celebrate halloween is left up to the individual, there were some key points that stood out to me that made my thoughts concerning the question a bit easier:

"The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks."

"Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[6] Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual."

*i have to take note here...the whole bonfire ritual sounds like a mimicing of the animal sacrifices done in the Old Testament*

"Another common practice was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink."

"Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain,[19] although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy."

with that being said, and the fact that the Bible is specifically against divination, inviting spirits (demons) within one's environment, and casting/psychics/witchcraft/sorcery/etc., and all of these things are in some way, shape or form associated with halloween, i believe that i am correct in the belief that i should NOT be celebrating halloween.

and i don't believe that i need to "replace" halloween with a celebration of another type. for me, i'd rather my family just avoid the whole scenario altogether.

now this is just my belief, i say that every Christian should come to the conclusion of whether or not to celebrate halloween by reading the information available on the topic and then consulting with God on the final matter.

gee, that was easier than it's ever been in the past.

now that i've answered this question which has been hounding me for quite some time, the best action to take with my children is just explain to them why we don't celebrate it anymore, and then simply not celebrate it. for the last few years, i haven't allowed my children to go to school for the halloween celebration, but i think it's time to get a tad bit stricter on the reasons why.

i suppose it won't be that easy, but that's my final answer and i'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"mommy, my belly button is coming out of it's hole! if i'm not careful, it's gonna to fall all the way out and i'm gonna lose it!"~ my 4 year old

"i LOVE black marriage!"

ok, from the title of my post alone, you'll probably figure out that i'm black, or my husband is black, or both of us...if you don't already know.

that's a great thing (to be black and all), and i indeed am black and proud, and nappy and happy and all of that...but i have to admit, i found it a bit odd when many of the congratulations on my marriage were pre or pro ceeded with "i love black marriage!"

ok. well, in this day and age, i personally love ANY genuine, God-led, love lined and committed marriage, black, white or other (these days, even if someone doesn't believe in God but has the other qualities in their marriage i'm happy)...but some people at least only really love marriage when it's between two black people it seems.

when i was engaged to my ex, i never got complaints on our pending marriage, but no one was saying how they couldn't wait for us to tie the knot...and certainly no one ever mentioned the color of our skin as being a huge reason why they loved the idea of us getting married.

my ex isn't black though--he's puerto rican and german. mixed.

technically, my husband isn't black either. he's puerto rican and black. mixed. now, many people don't know that about my husband, so it's no wonder they just assume him to be 100% "black with really good hair."

and they let that be known all day and evening at our wedding reception. and it was funny in a "haha" kind of way, but not in a "guffaw!" kind of way. and after about three hours or so of hearing it, it ceased being funny at all and i found myself wanting to ask, "what does being black have to do with us being married? can't you be happy for us without always reminding us that we're an allegedly 100% black couple (with no 100% black children thank you very much--all of our children are mixed)?"

ok. i know i'm in stone age times with that mentality according to some. i mean, i suppose i understand the sentiment because black marriage is a dying breed in this country and blah blah blah, but i still wanted to ask people anyway, just for the heck of it. but really, i don't believe BLACK marriage is a dying breed, i believe MARRIAGE is a dying breed, and GODLY marriage is on the endangered species list. skin color be damned.

had he (or i) not been black, would many of our guests have still "LOVED" us getting married?

i'm pretty sure a good portion would've, but it still makes me question the other whatever percentage of guests who were there...methinks they wouldn't have been so happy had my husband been any other race except black, and i wonder what would they say if they were to find out that he's not as black as they think he is?

which led me and my wandering mind to other questions...why is "black" marriage such a dying breed these days? are marriages between other same race non-blacks thriving and surviving? why is it such a huge celebration when black people get married to other black people, but not so much so when interracial couples get married? i mean, don't hate on the non-black partner for grabbing up some black love right?

heck, my philosophy is get in where you fit in, regardless of race. if your mate treats you the way you should be treated, never no mind skin color, culture, or height/weight. in this world, finding a good person to marry is a goldmine in and of itself. don't ruin the chance by getting all superpicky (especially if you ain't got that much to offer yourself)...

i'd honestly rather marry outside of my race and have all the great things a good, healthy marriage has to offer versus marrying within my race and being miserable just for the cause of doing my part to "save black marriage". i'm not accusing black marriages of being miserable or upholding interracial/non-black marriages as being the "saviors" of the marriage realm. but what i am saying is, for a minute there, it seemed to me as if some people expect black people to marry black people at all costs, even if it's going to be an obvious failure down the line.

it never dawned on me a single time before, during or after my marriage ceremony that i did something good for the black community by marrying at least halfway within my race (until i was mercilessly reminded of it at our reception). it dawned on me that i did something good for my relationship with God, my family and myself by marrying a good man for the right reasons before, during and after my marriage ceremony. that was all i thought about the whole time, God, my husband, my children, myself, and our families becoming one...race played no role in my special day.

and i can't really say that i would have had it any other way.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"but you don't believe in God!"

today i was perusing my facebook friend's status messages, and came across someone who is on my list that was lamenting that someone "supposedly close" to her remarked that she "didn't believe in God" during a conversation, and how that really made her feel worse than she's already feeling.

well, my first thought was, "well you don't believe in God as far as i know." but because the topic was sensitive and people were swarming around her post like bees, bobbing their heads in agreement with her lamentations and telling her that "God loves us all and you too, and you'll be fine" and the usual hodgepodge of politically correct garbage, i simply didn't say anything...but moved on to another status update.

now, i may be a bitch here because i've been just mean these past few days, but for the life of me, i can't see why she was so hurt over someone telling her that truth when in fact, as i said before...she indeed does not believe in God.

a little background to make this story clearer. the woman in question lost her mom about a month ago pretty unexpectedly, and she's been struggling with her mother's death. so now, i suppose to help her sort out her feelings, she suddenly believes in God wholeheartedly, or is needing God to believe in because she feels like she has lost a good portion of her life with the death of her mother, or something along those lines.

but i still can't understand why she was so upset at the comment that she received. i mean, especially since this is the same woman who has mocked the worship of Christians, the philosophy of true Christians, and our goals in this life. i distinctly remember 2 discussions i had with her in which she used secular logic to compare worshipping God and believing in Jesus to "worshipping an apple or whatever your heart desires" and another where she mocked those who forgave others for trangressions, and the words of Jesus on forgiveness concerning forgiveness, saying it's basically a copout from facing our weaknesses, and that any person who truly forgave is a weak minded being.

now that her mother is passed and moved on, she is suddenly trying to read the Bible and "get clarity and peace" concerning her loss. typically human, and typically secular. mean? i'm not so sure. true? definitely.

this reminds me of the addage, "no one needs God until He's all that they have left."

for some odd reason, i cannot wrap my head around her anguish at that comment the friend told her, that she doesn't believe in God. i must be missing a point here? why was it such a low blow to say that? sounds like the truth to me. i mean, should Christians not speak the truth in every situation? she didn't say that the other woman was rude or condenscending when she said it, so i can't assume that she was. i don't know what her tone/intent was with the words, or even the whole situation surrounding and leading up to and beyond those words that were spoken. but given what i do know, i am absolutely stumped.

now this is the daughter of my mother's best friend who died. she and i are the same age and as far as i know, played in the same playpen as little girls...but because we are so fundamentally different as adults, i don't converse with her much. she is no stranger to me however, my older sisters and mom consider her and her family to be our family. granted, i am not that close to them as a family unit, but i do have a knowledge there that goes a bit beyond facebook statuses. and usually her words would just roll off my back, but this is something that for some reason has stuck itself into my brain and i can't shake it loose, as i just can't understand it.

i am going through the responses she's given and received since that inital comment, looking for a straw to grasp to understand this situation better, but so far i am honestly confused. this woman is really emitting a believable pained response to what she was told it seems. and the more i read, the more i am prompted to break up the pity party by asking, "well DO you believe in God?" but then that would seem to cause a bigger problem.

now i am in no way, shape or form downplaying the pain she must be going through because of her mother's death...i can't fathom it and i cannot relate to it as i have not lost my own mother. so i don't want to give that impression. but i just don't understand that how a basically self proclaimed atheist can feel pain at being reminded that they don't believe in God when they are in a painful/helpless situation? i would think they wouldn't even turn to God, since to them, He doesn't exist? it makes me wonder, were they discussing how God can help her get through the pain, and the convo went wrong?

this also makes me wonder, in however long from now, when her healing over her mother's death has begun, will she once again mock those of us who truly do believe in God?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

what does a baby need?

when i found out i was expecting my fourth daughter, i was excited and humbled, thankful and hopeful, but i also was a tad bit anxious. the economy is rough and my husband lost his steady work for unsteady work as he was laid off. being frugal, it was a no brainer that i would take that route with the baby...i mean we have a small home anyway so going overboard would only add to the stress of our situation, not make me feel like i've amassed a bunch of great baby items.

so frugal i decided that i would be, and frugal i was.

into about my 3rd week of making up my mind how i would supply the baby with what she needs, i came across a woman in my freecycle group who shared with me the story of how her daughter was going to give her own baby up for adoption because "she didnt have what a baby needs". now it was no coincidence that i ran into this woman on my list, who's daughter i also knew. the year before the daughter had given me 2 huge trashbags full of baby boy clothes that she had collected from her local church for my nephews pending birth...and also shared with me that she was pregnant but had decided to adopt her baby out to a family (sans any explination and i didn't ask). now the story was complete, and as i went back into my home, happy that the mom convinced her daughter to keep her baby and that God would supply the baby's needs (and that He did), i was also distraught that a mother would give her baby up for adoption SIMPLY because she didn't have "what a baby needs", whatever that is. it prompted me to ask myself...what does a baby need anyway?

i even googled the question. and the most basic answer i got went something like, "most infants need a safe place to sleep, adequate clothing, diapers, and food upon coming home from the hospital as well as a carseat for the ride home in a car." it didn't mention anything about swings, diaper genies, baby walkers, high chairs...those glossy extras that most of us seem to equate with being effective, "good" parents deserving of keeping our own blessings from God. after thinking about it some more, i decided to be the first parent i know of to get everything my baby needs (or as much as possible) without purchasing a single item. i mean, not even purchasing through a consignment shop, thrift store, or my all favorite place to purchase items, ebay. i said to myself, "i am going to see just how hard it is to get what a baby needs on a tiny, basically non-existent income, which means spending as little as possible, and nothing if possible at all."

so started my 5 month long project. using freecycle, craigslist, word of mouth, the people i knew and facebook, i went on my quest to find everything my baby needs without spending money.

i'll admit, sometimes i was tempted to go out and purchase items because i felt that i wouldn't get them before the baby was born, but each time, right before i could actually gather up my pennies to purchase the item, someone was put in my path who gave me the item for free. i wound up with ALOT of free baby items, each one in EXCELLENT/GENTLY USED or NEW condition. not a single thing was given to me looking like it had been regularly used or even used at all:

this bassinet is #1 of 1 and was a piece that i absolutely abhorred, but it was listed on craigslist, and i figured i'd need SOMETHING safe and clean for baby to sleep in, so i took it. it's made of real cherry wood and the mattress is a great quality. it came with rockers (pictured), but one broke and i decided to junk them both because they weren't sturdy or safe, thus effectively turning this into a very large, very roomy moses basket of sorts, without all the wicker lol. it's propped up on a large, sturdy coffee table that we don't use, and our bed is right next to it so i can reach over and pick her up easily. i must admit, it has since grown on me. i don't have a retail value, but i am sure it was over 150.00, as the wood is real cherry and i was told it's a designer piece (something was imprinted on the rockers but they're gone--i didn't pay much attention).

this is a gap pocketbook, which i have turned into a gap baby bag. it's perfect for putting baby things in, is stylish and sturdy, and has pockets that will fit bottles perfectly! it was given to me brand new and unused by a freecycler, the price tag said 40.00.

this is the exact same safety 1st tub i wanted to get for the baby, given to me by a great freecycler (the one who gave me bassinet #2 of 2). i had one long ago with my oldest daughter and it really is a neat, comfortable and safe baby tub. i recommend it. retail value is 20.00 new.

this mobile was given to me from a freecyler (the pillow too) hangs from the ceiling! how adorable. i believe the retail value was 30.00, there was a pricetag on the box that was hard to read...and it's an item that was sold in a different country, everything on the box was written in what looked to be chinese.

these bottles were purchased with a free gift card from target for creating a baby registry with them. retail value is 20.00 for everything you see here. i am breastfeeding and these bottles are great transitions from breast to bottle and back again. and since breastmilk is free, that's one less thing i'll have to purchase for baby (formula). all i do not have to date is a breastpump, but i bet i come across one...right now a pump is not mandatory, as it's not advised to use one until 4-6 weeks after milk has regulated and baby has latched on and is feeding well.

this stroller actually came to me in two parts that "just happened" to match perfectly! a freecycler gave me the frame part, retail 69.00 new. the carseat itself was being washed so that's why the whole thing isn't assembled. it's a safe seat too, retail value between 84.00 and 130.00 new, given to me by my sister-in law.

this carseat was a gift to me, brand new. i only included it because it also fits the stroller frame pictured above! so i got 2 carseats...this seat's purchase price was 83.00, brand new.

this is a baby bjorn city baby carrier, original in black. it was given to me by a freecycler, retail value 80.00 new.

this boppy pillow was given to me by the same freecyler, who really was happy that i am breastfeeding lol. the slipcovers can be replaced for 13.00 each. this item retails new for 35.00.

this bassinet was #2 of 2 that i received from a freecycler. she also gave me a bag of little girl items, brand new. this bassinet retails for 129.00 new. the only thing that's missing is the mobile piece, which doesn't matter. what newborn looks at mobiles? plus, i got the mobile above anyway from great freecycler (who also gave me baby's bunting and about 7 sleepers for free):

these items weren't all that i received. i had a small get together in which people brought items for the baby. i don't label it a baby shower because it was just supposed to be a party where the hubby and i met with some friends and enjoyed dinner before the baby came, but after much prompting that we just "turn it into" a baby shower, we told people they could bring a gift IF THEY'D LIKE. from that party, we got diapers, baby wipes, more clothing, and socks, hats and booties. most of the clothing booty i received is pictured in my first picture, but that isn't all that i received. and everything you see in any picture i have on this post was given to me for goods or money was exchanged for me to get the items. not shown that i received for free also are:

a graco baby swing, excellent condition

a seashell pregnancy body pillow (has saved me many a night)

baskets for storing baby items/essentials

more diapers


breastmilk storage totes

binky holders


so with all of the efforts combined from myself and generous people around me, i was blessed abundantly with everything a baby needs (God is AWESOME)...and my total cost out of pocket was 15.00. and the only reason i even spent 15.00 was because i came across a cute little set that i "had to have", but i didn't NEED it. i had everything she needed way before i purchased the items i purchased.

so my conclusion: it is indeed possible to get everything a baby needs to come home and have a very comfortable, healthy and safe first year of life, even if finances and this economy seem to dictate otherwise.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

maybe baby?

well, since this is the year of surprises (ended one relationship, got into another one, got married, etc. etc.)...i guess it won't be the wrong time to let another cat out of the bag...

i'm pregnant!

and not only that...but i'm like beyond pregnant. so far along i'm almost due. next month to be exact (stay tuned for an interesting story and pictures on how i'm preparing for her arrival).

no, this wasn't a case of "i didn't know i was pregnant..." i truly did know i was pregnant. from the very first weeks actually. i just decided not to tell anyone for various reasons, but mainly to keep my own stress level down to a minimum as much as humanly possible.

now onto the really fun part...

it's another girl! so far we have a name picked for her, kinda. actually we do, and while some people are still getting used to it (including my husband), i love it because it means, "the Lord has heard me"...and answered me.

i have to admit, He's also straightened out alot of the mess i've been in the last 12 months. and i'm happy about that because i want to bring home our newest addition with as much peace and joy as i have inside of me. i finally feel like i'm where i not only should be, but where i want to be after a long time of being confused and unsure of myself.
and that is a huge relief, because i am really getting excited over the fact that in a few short weeks, i'll be mom to not three, but four beautiful little girls. :0)