Welcoming Place for Wounded Hearts website will be transitioning to a focus on monthly stories about my family and staying present and aware of what the Lord is doing among us here and now. Also coming soon will be a Substack bi-monthly posting focusing on building a readership for my book which is still in its infancy stages of getting published. Women in troubled or challenging romantic relationships will find comfort and hope from those postings. Link will be included here after the first posting.
Lucy was counting down the days. Liam was doing push-ups and sit-ups, pretending to be in basic training. Both were preparing for their big night of trick or treating. Enormous quantities of candy were purchased. Real pumpkins acquired. My kids raced through their dinner to throw on their friendly Halloween costumes.
This year, Liam was a proud desert storm soldier. I told him that he is responsible for protecting his family and the neighborhood from danger. He gave me a salute. Lucy was an elegant “Elsa of Frozen II.”
My family has not been a fan of the “scary” Halloween that secular culture celebrates. You will never find us going haunted housing “just for fun.” You will never find us watching horror movies. You will never find us covering our lawn with fake spider webs or spreading fake tombstones on the lawn with hovering ghosts and goblins. No thank you. You will never see a 20-foot-high human skeleton with an open jaw on my lawn who looks about to leap into the street and gobble up small children. Or a blow-up grim reaper. Or black pipes rigged on a roof made to look like spider’s legs and its prey wrapped in a cocoon hanging in front of an upstairs window. Or a smoke machine and a speaker pulsating with scary music. My neighbors up and down the street have all taken care of that.
Christmas decorations are more my thing. There may or may not be a blow-up manger scene in my yard by early-December.
Rather than all that fanfare in the front yard, I started my kids on the tradition of carving pumpkins. Yes it’s messy, and yes I have taught my kids how to safely use knives, but we actually enjoy cutting into the firm pumpkin flesh, digging through the sticky slime to pull out all the seeds, carving out the faces and roasting the seeds in the oven. Just before we began this year, Liam confidently declared, “Ok, time to watch the master at work!” Two minutes into seed digging, Lucy stared in horror at the pumpkin goo on her hands and declared, “I am going to wash my hands now. I’ve had enough!”
I also did what I could to keep the Holy in Halloween. This popped up in my Facebook feed the other day and I loved it. I so wish I could take credit for such cleverness.
Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin:
God picks you from the patch and brings you in (John 15:16)
Then he washes all the dirt off of you (II Corinthians 5:17)
He opens you up and scoops out all the yucky stuff and removes the seeds of doubt, fear, hate and greed (Romans 6:6)
He carves you a new smiling face (Psalm 71:23)
And he puts his light inside of you to shine for all the world to see (Matthew 5:16)
On the afternoon of trick or treating night, a friend of mine, who is a prayer warrior and devoted Christian, remarked that what she loves best about Halloween are the opportunities to talk to neighbors she wouldn’t normally talk to by going door to door. This coming from an extrovert, but her comment caused me to pause and consider my own mixed feelings about this commercially driven tradition.
The pious among us consider Halloween a celebration of evil and keep their lights off, which I completely understand. But it is indeed also an opportunity for the neighborhood to open their doors and shine those (exterior house) lights for all the kids (world) to see. And an opportunity to say thank you to one particular neighbor who also works as an assistant teacher in my kindergartner’s classroom.
As the sun sank, and stars shone, Hallow’s Eve two nights ago was calm and a chilly 39 degrees in West Des Moines. Coats covered some costumes, but children trudged along the wide sidewalks, their grownups not far behind, eagerly collecting candy from smiling elderly homeowners who stood in their well-lit doorways, admiring the costumes, allowing the kids to fish out their preferred sweet from a plethora of options. Bonfires roared in some driveways, including our own, and little ones crept close to the flames, warming themselves. An hour into the festivities, an orange globe of a full moon rose in the east. Laughter and chatter echoed up and down the streets. Silly jokes told, candy traded. This is part of how we build safe neighborhoods and communities.