Over the next couple of weeks I’ll have a couple of friends share some of their family holiday traditions with you. I hope you enjoy and I would love to hear some of your traditions as well!

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Some of the cutest pictures we have of our four children are in their Halloween costumes as babies and toddlers. Except we didn’t call them “Halloween” costumes…they were Fall Festival costumes.  The traditional activity of Trick or Treating on Halloween was not how we were going to spend October 31st.  There was no way we were going to let our precious lambs have visions of zombies, ghosts, witches or any representation of death, doom or pagan ritual. We did not want to introduce those images to their little eyes, so we made a very informed, proactive decision, which is just a fancy way of saying we avoided our neighborhood for the evening! We set out candy and a note of welcome and off we went to enjoy our friends and their positive costume wearing kiddos.

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We fled to the comfort of our church with other like minded parents, ate a free hot dog, played carnival games and came home with the finest candy the church budget could buy. For years, this is what we did and for those years, it worked for our family. Those years were full of fun, laughter and minimal effort.

But God interrupted. Isn’t that how a lot of shifts in focus and perspective happen?

But. God.

He gave us fresh eyes and a sure direction when it came to how we wanted to orient our life. We began to see our neighborhood as our mission field and as the place God had placed our family for this time, for a purpose. We began to see our lives through the lenses of how Jesus lived His perfect life.  He lived WITH people and invited them to be apart of His mission on Earth.  For us, everything shifted and changed as our paradigm of being a family on mission solidified.

We examined Halloween and thought, when else do we have our neighbors coming to us?  As we thought through it, our excitement built and a new tradition began. Halloween was no longer about dressing up our kids and leaving our home empty, but was an opportunity to meet and bless our neighbors.  We started out with a fire pit, sitting at the end of our driveway, handing out candy and actually engaging every person who came to our home. From there, the tradition grew from not to just our family, but many around us.

Now on Halloween, we gather other families, and pick a neighborhood that has a lot of traffic. We set out a bounce house, grill hotdogs, prepare hot chocolate and light up the fire pit.  Then we pray for the opportunity to get to know our neighbors and connect with them.  We have been able to meet new people each and every year and built relationships with the goal of not just sharing about Jesus, but showing the love He has for them.  The beauty of this simple tradition is that it is not just a Stew Family yearly event, but a tradition for countless families who look for the bounce house and free hot chocolate. What a joy it has been to watch our kids help the toddlers into the bounce house, hand out hot chocolate and see a holiday as a way to serve the world around them. I invite you to be in your neighborhood and see those who come to your home, as a way to be SALT and LIGHT.

How does your family spend Halloween?

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Kelly and her husband, Jason, have four children and are recent southern transplants figuring out all things California. Kelly spends most of her days writing for a monthly magazine, avoiding laundry and sitting in the eternal car line.  You can find Kelly sharing about their life, adoption and being a family on mission at kellystewart.org.

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