Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Thoughts on Letting Our Children Mock the Devil

My original post on the subject of Halloween and can be read here. This is kind of a follow-up.

The blog posts and articles one can read on the subject of the Christian and Halloween are seemingly endless.  There is one opinion on the subject that I have found fascinating and puzzling.  Adherents to this opinion may say something like this:

"We let our children celebrate Halloween, because what we are showing by dressing up as ghouls and goblins is that this is a way we can mock the devil, show him that we aren't afraid of him or evil.   Death is longer scary because Christ has been victorious over the grave and the devil is going DOWN."

Interestingly enough, it seems like these are the same articles which are linked to by those, in other posts, in which they claim "Now we would never let our children dress up as anything scary" and "we don't get into all the gravestone's and skeletons in the yard and all that spooky stuff".

So I'm not really sure which it is: a) we dress up as scary things to mock the devil and scariness or b)we don't dress up as scary things because it's, well, scary

But in regard to the idea that Halloween was originally a Christian holiday, begun in times past with the purpose of dressing up in costumes to jeer at the devil and tell him he doesn't scare us (not sure where the trick-or-treating comes into this theory), here are my thoughts.

Many of the articles on Christian Halloween cite two quotes from Martin Luther and Thomas More by C.S. Lewis at the introduction to his famous work The Screwtape Letters.  The quotes are,

"The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." -Martin Luther


"The devil…the prowde spirite…cannot endure to be mocked." -Thomas More

However, the context of these quotes was not of children dressing up like devils and jeering at the devil.  Martin Luther was beleaguered in his life by continuous reflection on and overwhelming guilt over his sins. This is one reason he wanted to be a monk, and the main reason that led to his pilgrimage to Rome and to his famous stand at the Diet of Worms where he would not deny, among other things, that forgivingness is a free gift of grace and cannot be earned or bought.

Later in life, Luther was known for his wit and cheerfulness and at one of his many famous "Table Talks" he explained one way he would drive away the Devil when he was so intensely harassed about his sin.  One biographer provides the context of the above quote:

Doctor Luther said that when he couldn’t get rid of the devil with Holy Scripture and serious language, he had often expelled him by tart remarks and crazy jokes. And when he [the devil] tried to burden his [Luther’s] conscience, he would often tell him, “Devil, I’ve been doing it in my pants, have you smelled it and added this to your list of all my sins?” Again, he told him, “My dear Devil, should the Blood of Christ shed for my sins not have been enough, please do pray to God for me.” ... For he is a proud spirit, and cannot bear scorn.

Similarly, More is quoted from his A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulacion, in which he says, particularly in explaining how to handle the "pestilent fancies" of suicide,

Some folk have been clearly rid of such pestilent fancies with very full contempt of them, making a cross upon their hearts and bidding the devil avaunt. And sometimes they laugh him to scorn too, and then turn their mind unto some other matter. And when the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath given that temptation quite over. And this he doth not only because the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked, but also lest, with much tempting the man to the sin to which he could not in conclusion bring him, he should much increase his merit.

So, putting those two quotes in context, I fail to see how they are a benediction on the practice of costumed tots celebrating Halloween, however they may celebrate it.

On the other hand, in the little book of Jude, wedged between the letters of John and the Revelation, we have Jude's interesting comment regarding the spiritual authority to refute the devil.

But when the archangel, Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you." -verse 9

In explaining this verse, Matthew Henry says

It is said, he durst not bring, etc. Why durst he not? Not that he was afraid of the devil, but he believed God would be offended if, in such a dispute, he went that way to work; he thought it below him to engage in a trial of skill with the great enemy of God and man which of them should out-scold or out-rail the other: a memorandum to all disputants, never to bring railing accusations into their disputes. Truth needs no supports from falsehood or scurrility…He would not stand disputing with the devil, nor enter into a particular debate about the merits of that special cause.

So, my thoughts on that whole explanation of why Halloween is "actually" Christian: it's actually not.

Martin Luther may have gotten relief from his very real and very personal attacks on the surety of his salvation by crying out at the devil and ridiculing his claims of persisting guilt. But this tactic seems to have been utilized after he responded to these personal attacks with Scripture and not simply for the fun of jeering at Satan.

Michael the archangel refused to engage the devil with taunts or fun-making. Christ himself refuted the devil with Scripture and in the end simply said be gone Satan! If neither Christ nor his archangel taunt the devil, why should we, and why should our kids?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Family Management Solution (for now anyway)

Chore Time Woes

Chore time at our house usually turns into me barking orders and what's-taking-so-longs and threats of no swimming, no teevee, and no food.  So I looked through all of my favorite Pinterest and other-mommy-blog ideas and came up with one that is working so far at my house.  It's colorful enough to keep the kids interested, versatile enough to keep me interested, and cheap enough to keep hubby interested.

In addition to chore time troubles, we suffer from "CanIPlayYourPhoneItis" and while our chores were going undone, our phones batteries were draining as Angry Birds Star Wars and Littlest Pet Shop stole lots of our brain time.  So I also put together a little system to help us out with managing our technology time.

Both are included in this little Power Point that you can print off and change up to fit your own family's needs.

For Chore Time, I printed out a chart for each chore-capable child and taped it to the fridge.  Then I cut out little chore stars and glued them to circle magnets I'd bought a while back at Michaels.  Each morning (or whenever I decide it's time to dispel the tendency towards summer laziness I am too quickly passing on to my offspring) I put three or four stars on the "to-do" side of the chart and when the children finish each one, they can come move that star to the "Done" side. I try to keep it even with fun stuff (open the curtains, get the mail) and boring, time consuming stuff (clean your room, put toys away).  They can do these chores in any order they wish, as long as they get it done. All TV and promises for swimming or phone-playing are suspended until all of their chores are in the done pile. Usually it doesn't take too long.  Usually.

The benefits of this system so far have been that the kids see an end in sight for their chore time and aren't just finishing one thing and having no idea what they'll have to do after that.  And, related, it takes away the seeming-capriciousness of my task assigning.


Another problem we've been dealing with is too much asking to play on our iPhones.  Admittedly, one of the main impetii (my word) for dealing with this problem is so that I would have more time to play my iPhone.  But also, I don't want the cherubs wasting hours (I know, it's terrible) playing addicting (albeit great for hand-eye coordination) 99c apps.

Thus the second little system. Right above our new chore charts, I have put three little folders.  Each Sunday morning I put 8 tickets in each folder. These tickets are good for 30 minutes of tune-out time on an iPhone or computer.  They get 8 per week. They can use them up as quickly as they want to (within reason) but when they're gone, they're gone until the next Sunday.  Saturday night, if there are any left, they get paid 25c apiece for them.  So far, my littlest addict has averaged about 25c per week and my not-as-addicted child earns about $1.50 per week for the time she doesn't spend playing on my phone.

**I'm having trouble loading the ppt into the blog, so if you leave your email address in the comments section, I'll email it to you**

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Bend: Slowly but surely

Every time we go to the Bend (which is almost every day now!) there is something new our wonder-workers have done. Just recently, they completed re-doing the porch and putting some final touches on the floors.
The wrought-iron porch posts and galvanized pipe railing was replaced with wood. Also, the rotting wood on the windows was replaced and primed.
These are original floors!  Just sanded, stained, and polyurethaned.

Here is the new not-scary kitchen.  It's hard to believe it's the same place I dared not enter 6 months ago.

These are mostly original cabinets.  On the left is a broom closet where the old water heater and breaker box used to be.  On the right beside the stove are the cabinets that once were above the stove where the wall used to be.  We spray- painted the old hinges black (they were antique brassish) and found these poly pulls and drawer handles at Lowe's.  They remind me of the hardware in the kitchen where I grew up.

The kitchen and bath underwent the greatest transformations.  We found this hexagonal tile at and the sink and cabinet at Lowe's.  So happy with how it turned out. Buddy did an excellent job laying out the tile.  I think it keeps the look of the bath true to the house's time-period.  I love this White Raisin color from Sherwin Williams.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Bend: Outside

Now that the weather has begun to dry up a little and we don't have to wear our muck boots everywhere we walk (though we do keep them handy in the back of the swagger wagon, just in case), I took some time to take a few pictures outside last week.  It was almost at sunset on a cloudy day so the lighting isn't very good.  But here are a few of the outside details.

This is that oak tree I mentioned in an earlier post.  Believe it or not, I can't seem to back off far enough from it to get it all in one picture.  This picture makes it look smaller than it is. But this is the view of it from the back yard of the house.
This is a closer-up of the outhouse.  The door has come off and is  on the ground in front.  The white box inside is the potty seat, with two holes.  Maybe that was for the ladies who never want to go alone.  :)

This is the back of the house.  It is very shady because it has entirely too many Sweet Gum trees in the yard.  The plan is to have all of the Sweet Gums cut down (anyone need any firewood?) and just leave the oaks and a few pines. Hopefully that will bring some sunshine in so we don't have green slime growing on the back of the house.

The old pump house.  I haven't ventured in here yet to see if the pump, etc. are still there. Kenneth has tentative plans to use it to store his beekeeping equipment.  Since there will be no room in the house, I think that's a swell idea.

This bloomed up in the middle of the yard a few weeks ago.  Mimi has identified it as an Amaryllis.  I have identified it as gorgeous.

Last week Papaw (Kenneth's dad) made the kids a tire swing and brought it up to hang from one of the oak branches.  It was an instant hit.  With kids and mom too.  Every yard needs a good tire swing, and this one's a winner.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Bend: Color Wonder

I don't know who invented paint, but they were brilliant.  It is hard to believe such a simple thing can make such a huge difference.  For our paint colors, we chose a pallet in the HGTV line at Sherwin Williams.  The colors are Outerbanks, Copen Blue, White Raisin, and Creamy White.  We are so happy with how they turned out and the great (and FAST!) job the painters did.  Good work, guys!
Here is the living room painted with Outer banks.  Also, the knew ceiling fan installed by electricians Kenny and Kenneth Thomas.

Kitchen in Copen Blue with track lighting from Lowes.

The original kitchen did not have a dishwasher (gasp!) so we had to take out more cabinets to make room for one there beside the sink.  Where that little short water heater and the breaker box were, Buddy built me broom closet. They also took down the board that ran between the upper cabinets to let in more light from that window. 

They did a good job reusing and recycling the cabinetry.  This wall didn't have any lower cabinets, just the uppers that were removed. So I'm not sure where those used to be, but now they are beside where the range will be.

Yay, Pantry!!

This is the laundry room. The same laundry room that had the asbestos siding and the mildewy ceiling.  When they took down the asbestos siding, this awesome tongue-and-groove siding was behind it.

Washer/dryer hookups.

The hallway painted Outerbanks.  That hole in the ceiling is the intake for the AC system. No more window units and space heaters.  (I'm going to miss the heaters---kind of hard to cozy up to a ceiling vent).

The color in this picture looks really funny, but it's the only picture I have of the bathroom at this stage, so I'm posting it anyway.

New light fixtrures.

This is the hall bedroom with it's Outerbanks paint and ceiling fan. I apologize for not being an expert photographer.  These are all snapped with my iPhone and sometimes the lighting leaves much to be desired.  

Back bedroom.  At this point the floors had been sanded and sealed, but not completely finished.  That will wait until most of the other work is done.

Master Bedroom in Outerbanks.

Hallway looking back towards the living room.
Thanks for looking!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Bend: Begin Again

 Now that all the walls were down and our little house had been stripped down to its bare bones, we were able to start fresh.  I think that our sad story was really a blessing in disguise, because now the walls and ceilings are so straight and fresh and new.  Our contractor for this project is Kane Overstreet Construction.  The brawn and unbelievable talents (and patience) of his crew, especially master carpenter Buddy, are amazing.  Whenever I say, "we did" in this post, what I mean is "they did". And they have done an awesome, awesome job.

We were pleased with the decision to take out half the wall between the living room and kitchen.  It was an adventure finding appliances that would fit and our dear contractors have been so patient through our many decisions and re-decisions.  They are storing up crowns in heaven.

One decision was where to put the fridge.  The original place was on that small wall between the pantry (left) and laundry room (right).  But I didn't want the refrigerator to be stuck out into the already small kitchen.  So the second place was in that corner between the laundry room and cabinets, where the old water heater used to be.  But that would have required a New-Zealand made counter-depth refrigerator which was the ONLY one that was shallow enough and narrow enough to fit in that space. And it cost about half a zillion dollars.  The third option was in the corner cater-cornered (is that redundant?) to option 2.  But seeing as how Kenneth had moved the electrical and Carpenter Buddy had moved the ice-maker plumbing from option 1 to option 2 and back to option 1, AND because Buddy had taken down the upper cabinets to make room for a refrigerator and put them back up when we decided against option 2, I decided I better nix option 3.  So we are back to option 1, original location between the laundry and pantry.  

Another do-over was the half-wall.  The first height of the half-wall was about 4 inches lower than it is now.  We went to pick out appliances and no-one makes electric ranges with the knobs not on a really high thingy in the back.  So the oven would have come up above the wall height, so Buddy put the four inches back on top so we wouldn't have to special-order a range.

Here's Kenneth pulling up the rest of the yucky kitchen tile.  Since so many cabinets were torn down when the half-wall was made in the kitchen, I am so thankful for this little odd-closet-turned-cool-pantry.

Out with the old potty and sink, in with new wainscoting.

New walls and ceiling.

New walls and ceiling.

New closet walls and shelf.  Not sure where Kenneth will keep his clothes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Landscaping Before & After: Spring Photos

I totally missed taking pictures when the lavender azaleas and dogwoods were blooming, but here are some from this week of the other plants which have leafed out since the winter.
Hosta's on the North side of the house.

When these hydrangeas bloom I'll post pictures again.

White Encore Azaleas between the deck and cart house.

Variegated Liriope, Little Gem Magnolia, and Loropetalum.

The muscadines are leafing out.  I wonder if we'll have fruit this year. ??

Strawberries and blueberries.

Plum and Nectarine trees. These do have little bitty fruits on them. :)

Behind the cart house and the apple trees.