936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I didn’t spend all of my childhood Halloweens at fall festivals… only some of them.
In my earliest years, I trick-or-treated around our neighborhood. I’ll never forget my mom’s face as the yellow skirt of a dress handmade by my grandma slipped over my dark hair and fair skin. Mom dabbed bright red lipstick on my lips, and a little bit on my cheeks. I’d been called “Snow White” by friends and strangers, but the dress confirmed it, I looked like a mini Disney princess.
I soon followed my parents along our suburban sidewalk and they taught me how to look for illuminated porch lights and gently knock on our neighbors’ front doors. The thrill of wide smiles, generous compliments, and handfuls of candy filled my plastic pumpkin bucket in more ways than one. The memories still warm my heart.
Several years into elementary school, our Halloween routine changed.
I still wore a costume the first year – a white bed sheet wrapped around me and a soft linen draped over my head turned me into a female Bible character. But instead of neighbors offering me candy, it was senior citizens volunteering at our church. I still remember how odd it was to see them in jeans and white tennis shoes, not their “Sunday best” suit and ties and floral-print dresses.
With big smiles on their faces, they welcomed me into festive stations full of fake leaves and hay bales. Each encouraged me to participate in their activity – whether it was coloring or crafts, or playing games like pumpkin ring toss. The cider was warm and the cookies were fresh in the fellowship hall.
Halloween was still a fun night.
When I became a pre-teen, I grew discontent with church events and insisted my parents let me celebrate Halloween traditionally with my friends from school. I could tell they didn’t love the idea, but we found ways to agree on everything from costumes to neighborhood safety.
As I grew older and stronger in my faith, I began to understand why Halloween can be such a polarizing topic in the church community.
And now as a Christian parent, I’ve reflected upon it more and faced even harder questions:
In a holiday where festivities appear to mirror darkness more than light, how should believers act? How does the already-difficult balance of being “in the world, not of the world” play out on a holiday famous for ghosts, witches, demons and monsters? Why does it take Halloween for us to open our doors and meet our neighbors? Is there a way to embrace some, but not all, of Halloween’s traditions? Is it wrong to enjoy scary content? Is it safe to accept candy from strangers these days?
Is there a right or wrong answer for approaching this popular holiday? If so – where can I find it?
Just like the day I became a parent and realized there wasn’t a universal, “right” way to handle feedings, sleep schedules and discipline, I’ve found that same reality exists for many societal and cultural issues.
From screen time to Santa, some families in my community, inside and outside of the church, approach hard decisions with shared convictions. And others don’t.
Some feel strongly about participating in trunk-or-treat or Christian-based fall events in lieu of a “traditional” Halloween. Others view the holiday through a lens of missional living and use Halloween to connect with neighbors.
Although having flexible viewpoints on some issue can be healthy, it doesn’t make inevitable questions go away: “Who is right? What should I do?”
In these situations, I’ve found that we must approach them in a similar way to how we handle other controversial topics impacting our families in the body of Christ:
1. We Pray: We ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and to guide us to what’s best for our family. We open God’s Word and ask for Scripture to become a “lamp to our feet and a light for our path,” (Psalm 119:105). We discern where and how God’s leading us, and we resolve to be lights to the world.
2. We Serve: Whether we’re opening our trunks or our front doors, we choose to be inclusive, and we serve others. We don’t judge or condemn people if they celebrate differently, but we humbly look for ways to share Christ’s love on an evening ripe with opportunity.
3. We Invest: Holidays are special occasions where we can get creative, make new memories, or even start new traditions! We keep investing our pennies and spend intentional time with our kids.
Whether they’re all dressed up in costumes and collecting candy around the neighborhood, or they’re playing games and eating snacks with church family, trust me – kids will remember Halloween not because of what they did or where they went, but because they felt so dearly loved.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!