Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween is a Golden Time to Shine

by Sally Matheny

Dreams of the ultimate mother-load of candy
   It’s that time of year when kids’ eyes dilate and their palms sweat. Dreams of the ultimate, motherload of candy swirl in their minds until they’re dizzy with excitement. What possibly can be better than that? Parents, stay with me here. Halloween is a golden time for you to shine. Do you remember what it was like when you were a kid?

     Although, things were different back then. I don’t remember ever buying a costume at the store. On occasion, we did buy some of those cheap plastic masks you attach to your head with a rubber band. They made your face sweat from the carbon dioxide circulating underneath. If you didn’t pass out from the carbon dioxide, the rubber band eventually snapped in two sometime during the night. The masks made brief appearances to elicit candy and then they were usually tossed aside.

     My costumes were always homemade. The costumes my sister and I wore in the late sixties and early seventies would be taboo now, but they sure were popular back then. We dressed as hobos, gypsies, and fat people. It wasn’t that we were trying to be offensive—we just had to use what we had on hand—bandanas, old clothes, cheap jewelry, and pillows. Occasionally, if there wasn’t much time to prepare, an old sheet was thrown over our heads and two eye holes were cut out. That’s about as oogie-boogie as it got. We weren’t into zombies, vampires, and witches.

     If the stores sold the horror masks back then, as they do now, I sure didn’t see it. (Thanks, Mom)

     As I grew older, I became more aware of the dark side of Halloween and that did scare me. I respect people’s opinions about not doing anything on Halloween, not to acknowledge it in any form or fashion.

     However, our family considers Halloween a great time to shine the Light of Christ into the darkness.

Halloween is a great time to shine the Light of Christ
      A few ways we do that:

     We carve angels, crosses and the name of Jesus on our pumpkins.

     We attach Bible verses to the candy we give children. Sometimes we’ve given witness tracts or New Testaments with the candy.

     Our children never dress up in costumes that would scare another child or offend our Lord and Savior. Same thing goes for any decorations.

     We help with fall festivals at church each year. Our church’s fall event is called Hallow Him. Many people, who never enter our church on Sunday, come to this event.

     For the Trunk-or-Treat event (cars’ trunks are decorated and are filled with candy to give children), we decorate our vehicle in a way that tells something about the love of God. 

     It may seem challenging but there are tons of cool ideas you can get from the Bible. Once, I saw a van decorated as a whale. The trunk was opened like the mouth of the whale and inside sat a man dressed like Noah. Think of the opportunities he had to present the gospel when children asked him what he was doing inside that whale!

     Even if you don't dress up or decorate with a Biblical theme, you can still present something wholesome and light-hearted in contrast to the dark themes of evil.

     Christians, I challenge you. If you participate in events during the end of October, search for ways to be a Light.

     People will be out searching for free goodies. Many of those often search for treasure in all the wrong places. Time after time, they are left dissatisfied. The world offers tempting avenues to fulfillment—but just like candy—nothing lasts.

     Halloween is a golden time for you to shine a Light into the darkness. Guide people to something that will last forever. Give them the hope and truth of Jesus Christ.

     I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Winners of the 3rd Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest!

     Thanks to all of you who sent in photos via email, facebook, and other venues. I loved seeing all the smiling faces in those trees! Some of you perched low and some perched a little higher. Some were even hanging upside down!
     The number of entrants grows every year! We put all the names in a drawing and the winning names drawn were:

(drum roll)

Child: Sarah of Caroleen, N.C. (you'll receive your cool, outdoor toy very soon!)


Adult: Donna of Concord, NC ( You should receive your $5.00 Starbucks gift card in time to                                                                  tackle Monday morning with it.)

     Thanks everybody for participating. We'll do it again next year.
     Until then, keep climbing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Third Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest

by Sally Matheny

Climb-a-Tree (but not this one!)
For the past two years, I’ve hosted a Climb-a-Tree contest. It all began after reading a report that 1 out of 3 children have never climbed a tree. Are our children becoming too comfy on the couch? Or is it the parents? 

Maybe it's the fears of all the “what-ifs.” Don’t let worry keep you in a sanitized, cushioned bubble.   

Fun and adventure await you at the base of a tree—not to mention a slew of learning and confidence building opportunities.

I almost decided to forgo the contest this year until a friend’s child approached me and asked about the next tree-climbing contest. We don’t want to disappoint, so here’s the announcement for the third annual Climb-a-Tree contest!

Who: Parent-Supervised Children (ages 5 and up) and Parents

How to Enter:   Easy—send me a photo of your kids in a tree. List their first names only. They’ll be entered into the drawing for a prize.  The winner will be awarded a cool, outdoor toy based on the child’s age.

However, this year, I’m increasing the rewards.

For every teen and adult who is in a photo (in a tree!): Your name will be entered into a drawing for a $5.00 gift card from Starbucks. (Because I figure some of you want to get in on the fun, too.)

Deadline: Send me photos via this blog, or post them on my facebook page. All photos are due by 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, October 27, 2014.

If you don’t want to post a photo, but would like to enter the contest, just private message me and I’ll add your name to the drawing.

We’ll announce the winners on this blog on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.

Here are things to remember:

Be safe!

Avoid this.
Posion Ivy


                                                       And this.
Poison Oak

Use good judgement and you won't need this.

Take this challenge at your own risk. Follow the safe Guidelines for Tree Climbing.

Angry Phone Calls

I don’t want any of these.

Or these.


Having fun outdoors!

This is what we want to see! 

Be adventurous! Get outside and have fun together!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Family’s Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure

by Sally Matheny

The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour
      Imagine viewing the beauty of 14,000 acres of protected forestland, at 30-35 miles per hour, while clutching two, small handlebars. 

     It’s not bike riding.

     It’s zip lining—the fastest and steepest zip line in America—and it is a phenomenal adventure for the family.


     The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour located in Saluda, North Carolina provides 1,100 vertical feet of zip line, 3 tree-mendous (easy and smooth) rappels, and one fun, swinging sky bridge.

     My husband, known for his fear of heights, zipped the Gorge several months earlier with his co-workers. He loved it so much he wanted to treat our son, two daughters, and son-in-law to a day of zip lining. He also thought it would be good for me.

     Due to a recent health issue, I spent the summer learning physical therapy exercises for my feet and how to pace myself. I’m thankful for the progressive healing, but zip lining still sounded like a stretch for me. My walking compares to that of a chicken’s with a little less swag.

     Nonetheless, my husband had faith I could do it. Our girls were excited and eager for a fun challenge. However, our ten-year old redhead and our sweet son-in-law were quiet, deep thinkers en route to the zip line.

     I don’t know if it was the unusually cool weather or our nerves that made our knees joggle as our guides cinched up our harnesses.

     The heights didn’t concern me. It’s knowing there will be no opportunity to go to the bathroom for four hours. No medical condition exists, it’s just knowing there will not be a bathroom that makes me think I have to go. After three trips, ensuring there is nothing left in the bladder, I am ready to zip.

    Harnessed in and triple-tethered with carabiners to a steel cable, one has to feel safe, because “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Right?

     Right. The guides said we could trust the zip line. Although the weight limit to zip was 250 pounds, the cords construction could hold thousands of pounds.
My Family's Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure

     Our kind and patient tour guides give instructions. I understand them now, but I wonder if I’ll remember them when I'm speeding across treetops faster than a hummingbird.

     The excitement escalates as we line up at the first platform, which the guides call “The Fluffy Bunny.” Awww…who can be afraid of a fluffy bunny?

     Amazingly, the somewhat timid 10 yr. old is instructed to go first. He climbs on top of a tree stump. His knees bend, straighten, and bend again. He leans forward and back again. Still not off the stump, the family begins to cheer him on.

     “You got this. You can do it.”

     A second hesitation and suddenly he steps off the platform.

     A high pitched, whizzzzzzzzzzz….zip.

     There are no screaming or crashing sounds. The guide at the end radios the line is clear for the next person. Oh, good, he made it. What? It’s my turn? If the timid one can do it, surely this will be a breeze for me.

     You know that stump can be very deceiving. It appears to be 12-15 inches high but when you step up on it, it feels more like 20-25 inches.

    I’m clear to go. I bend my knees but my feet don’t move. Bend, straighten, bend, straighten. Oh, good grief. Why couldn’t they choose another adult to go first? I’m delaying everyone’s fun. Then, I hear the cheers.

     “You got this, Mom. You can do it.”

     Swaying for a moment, I finally just lean forward and step off. I am like that pig in the commercial who hangs his head out the window yelling, “Whee! Whee! Whee!”  I love it!

     By the time the whole family reunites on the second platform our knees are still shaking but our eyes are brighter and our smiles bigger. That is until the guides tell us the next zip is named “The Hawk that Ate the Fluffy Bunny.”

Zip Lining is exhilarating!
     We continue to root for each other and hug every tree together. With each zip, our apprehensions evaporate in the cool, fall air. Zip lining is exhilarating!

     Before we know it, three and half hours fly by. After eleven, fabulous zips, we arrive at the end of the tour.

     I hope our family is able to do this again. Zip lining is fun! It's also empowering. We squashed doubts and fears. Together, we learned how to soar.

     The hardest part? Leaning out and taking that first step of faith.

     The coolest part?  Even though it may be eighty feet off the ground, I trust the strong, narrow cable. And, even though I can’t see the next destination, I know it’s straight ahead. All I have to do is hold on, lean forward, and trust.

      Another amazing addition is the precious people I have encouraging me—those behind me, and those before me in my journey.

     Now, because of my experience, I can encourage you. Be strong and courageous. Gather your family and inspire them to stretch beyond their comfort zones.  Don't just tell, show them with God nothing is impossible.

Rappelling & Rejoicing
Post Note: I highly recommend The Gorge Zip Line in Saluda. The staff is very friendly and well trained. The zipping did not aggravate my health issues. You’ll need to determine what works for you. I didn't think it was a jarring experience due to the self-braking system. Nor are you on your feet for long periods. The only parts that were sore after the trip were my arms and hands from hanging on so tightly!

Congratulations to the Winner of Max Lucado's Children's Book!

Congratulations to the winner of Max Lucado's children's book, The Christmas Story for Children. 

Our winner is Melissa L. Williams! Melissa, I've contacted you by email requesting an address in order to mail you the book.

Thanks to all who entered. Check back for more book giveaways, soon!