Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Giveaway

Check out this great New Year's Giveaway at Branch of Wisdom
Most of the giveaway is open through Jan. 12, but there is one part of it that ends this evening (the Old Schoolhouse Magazine subscription), so you might want to hop on over there and check it out quickly if you're interested!

Upon the Eve of a New Year

Come December 31, Americans all over the country vow to make some small and some great changes in their lives for the New Year. Many of these vows involve becoming a better person, becoming healthier, being a better parent, you get the idea.

Well, last night my wonderful husband and I sat down after the kids were in bed, and we reflected on the year 2009. We had many wonderful blessings, and we had made many great changes in our family life. However, as we reflected over this past year we also realized several specific areas in our lives that we had neglected or fallen short in.

Thus, the purpose of this post. We decided to set some very specific goals for this next year for each and everyone of us. I won't list my husband's goals, because those are not mine to state, but here are some of mine:
1. Lose 20 pounds by March when JA and I take a week vacation to attend a Weekend to Remember in Colorado Springs. This goal involves exercising consistently and keeping a very strict food diary

2. I want to spend more time consistently in prayer and Bible Study

3. I want to read one book every two weeks for a minimum of two books a month. These are books that we have in our home library -- not fiction story books, but books that will help encourage me in my spiritual walk, ministry, parenting, and marriage.

4. No more flying by the seat of my pants in cooking meals. I plan to write out a detailed menu at the beginning of each month including breakfast, lunch and dinner to ensure that we are eating healthy and balanced meals (and using up the items I buy and keep in my pantry).

5. Along with better discipline of my health, I also want to have a better discipline in my home and family. I am setting a goal to spend individual time each day with each of my children. Now, this may only be fifteen minutes with each child alone, but with four children, I can't spend an hour at a time with each one.

We have established some goals for Kara
1. Consistent practice of her violin
2. Weekly cook something for her 4-H project
3. Read one book a day out loud
4. Learn to wash dishes
5. Stop sucking her thumb
6. Character Quality to Work on: Kindness
7. Our Prayer: She will grow in her walk with Christ and decide to get baptized

Lydia's Goals are:
1. Learn to read
2. Learn to count to 50
3. Stop sucking her thumb
4. Learn to clean the kitchen floor
5. Character Quality to Work on: Self-Control
6. Our Prayer: She will accept Christ as her Savior
Andy's Goals are:
1. Learn to count to 50
2. Learn to vacuum
3. Character Quality to Work on: Contentment
4. Our Prayer: He will accept Christ as his Savior

Ezekiel's Goals are:
1. Learn to Walk
2. Learn to Talk
3. Character Quality to Work on: Learn to say please and thank you and have a joyful spirit and
not demanding.
4. Our Prayer: He will continue to develop properly

Please take a moment to leave a comment and share whether or not you make New Year's Resolutions; and if you do, what is one of your resolutions for the year 2010

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - A Year of Blessings

As I reflect on this past year, I see so many areas where God has blessed us.1. The biggest and most obvious blessing was our being able to travel as a family to go visit JA's mom in Uganda. When we first began planning the trip we had only planned for JA, Ezekiel and myself to go. Praise the Lord for His gracious provision in allowing us to take all four children with us.
2. Another blessing came with Ezekiel's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. With this diagnosis, we have been able to get him the therapy he has needed, and he went from being a nine month old who could not sit or roll over to now being a 16 month old who is crawling all over the house and climbing the stairs -- desperately making his will known. We are seeing a lot of progress towards his ability to walk and we are excited and praying that within the next month or two he will be walking and running to keep up with Andy, Kara, and Lydia.3. We have been able to spend more quality time together as a family. We have started a new tradition on Sunday nights after church where we gather in the living room, watch a movie together and eat popcorn and m&m's. The kids love it and have reduced the amount of begging the give us to watch movie's throughout the week and they wait for Sunday's. We are hoping that come summer we will be able to purchase a large tent and spend our Sunday evening family campout some where else when the weather permits.4. As a family, we have become more and more aware of our need to be wise stewards of what God has given us. Back in June, I began couponing and have had the blessing of being a better steward in making our finances stretch further.

5. A bountiful harvest from our garden.6. I had an opportunity to get away for a weekend with my dear friend Lynette and we attended a Ladies Retreat. This is the second year we have attended a ladies retreat together, and I am already excited for next year's retreat as we head to Fort Worth, Texas in October for the True Women Conference.

7. Eight wonderful years of marriage to my husband.

8. Deepening relationship with the Lord, and the wisdom God gave us to schedule our days so we could teach our kids how to have their personal devotions and we can learn together in our Family Devotional time.

9. The Salvation of my Eldest Daughter, Kara, and the softening and understanding we are beginning to see in Lydia and Andy.

10. Activities my kids have been able to get involved with that have helped get us out into the community -- Children's theatre in the spring, t-ball in the summer, and Library Storyhour in the fall.

These are just a few of the multiple blessings God has given to us. Please take a moment to share with me some of the blessings you have received over this past year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary My Love

Eight Years Ago Today

Wow, Eight years has gone quickly by. So much has happened over the past eight years. When I took my marriage counseling class, I remember my teacher saying that every seven years of a marriage, a couple experiences something that can break their marriage. Looking back over the past eight years I don't know what that major transition was -- maybe leaving Northland with no place to go, living with my parents for five months in a three bedroom house with nine people, trying to juggle a family, work, and education. I don't know. All I know is that over the past eight years, God has been very good and gracious to us as a couple. He has blessed us greatly and taken our family from two to six. We are still wonderfully and happily married. There is no big secret to our marriage other than when we married we agreed to remove a certain D_______ word from our vocabulary. So, no matter what struggles and trials come through the next 20,30,40,50 + years of our life together, we will work through them together with God's strength, mercy, love, and grace to bring us out on the other side as happily married newlyweds.

Happy Anniversary Jennings Andy Hall, III

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Greatest Season

I love Christmas! I love the decorations, I love the cheerful countenances of the people around me, I love the fabulous sales at stores, I love getting presents, I love singing Christmas Caroles, I love visiting the nursing homes, I love all the yummy goodies we bake at Christmas. I love just about everything there is about Christmas (except the freezing cold weather!). But the greatest reason I love Christmas is because of the most precious gift I have ever received. Over 2000 years ago, my Creator looked down upon this wicked sinful earth and decided it was the time to send a redeemer. So he allowed a humble woman to give birth to HIS precious son - Jesus Christ. This young woman had the opportunity to raise the Messiah -- the one who has the power to redeem us all. My mind still struggles to comprehend how God could be willing to leave His palace in Heaven and confine himself to the body of a mortal man. Jesus was still God and yet He became man. He suffered through the changes and development that each of my children have to go through. He felt pain when he got hit by a rock or when His teeth came in. He felt what it was like to be hungry. And yet, he CHOSE to suffer in this life and He CHOSE to die a painful death so that I could experience freedom and life. None of this makes sense to me other than to know that GOD LOVED ME enough to do this. How can I do anything less than to show my thankfulness to Him by teaching my children of God's love.

While I love Christmas, I am enjoying passing down to my children the reason for Christmas. Oh, we talk about Santa and how Santa is not real but is based on the life of a real man who gave everything to help children. We have fun watching Christmas cartoons about rudolph and angels and Santa Clause, they have even enjoyed giving and receiving Christmas presents. But, my prayer is that as my children grow and someday move out on their own with their own families, that they will keep the truth of Christmas in the heart and will not only celebrate what Christmas is today, but that every day of every year they will celebrate that first Christmas that took place so long ago in a stable in the midst of a busy town with only the angels and the Shepherds to know the glory of that wonderful night.

Merry Christmas from JA and Tracy Hall
Kara, Ezekiel, Andy, and Lydia

To see photo's from our Christmas, please click here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Swagbucks Post

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time is flying quickly by

Wow, it's hard to believe that we have already been in Uganda for over a week. We only have a week and a half left. Today I am taking a break from being out and about with the kids. They are beginning to get grumpy and whine, so we are staying at the house to see if we can recoup and return to good and joyful attitudes :)

This week has been a very busy week. Monday afternoon we went to go visit Stanley's father, and he gave Kara, Lydia, and Andy each a chicken. The kids also helped to pick oranges so we have enjoyed eating green oranges (they are ripe, they just don't turn orange). Also on Monday, we took a walk around the property and Mom showed us the banana orchard with lots of pineapple plants. We also walked past some orange trees. JA told Andy that these were orange trees, and Andy's first response was "No Daddy, those trees are green" He though JA was talking about the color of the trees :) The property also has a few Elephant Coconut trees, mango trees, and a garden that the kids have planted casaba, potatoes, and egg plant (probably some other things also, but I didn't know what they were).

Tuesday was a relatively quiet day. The kids spent a lot of time playing with their new friends, and I went to the supermarket with mom to get some dry milk and a lot more water. Our family of six goes through about 10 - 11 liters of water a day. I didn't realize we drank that much water until we started drinking out of bottles. Then, Tuesday night we attended devotions with the children at the property.

Wednesday morning, JA was gone from the house at 7:30 since he was speaking in chapel. After JA returned, Kara and I took some meat over to the property to get it started in the crock pot for supper, then we walked with Beatrice to the market. I must say that I am very proud and surprised at Kara. We walked an hour in the heat just to get to the market, and she did not complain. We had emptied her backpack, and once I bought the potatoes and carrots for dinner she was eager to have them placed in her backpack. I think Kara enjoyed the market, and she took a lot of pictures (I can't upload any more pictures until later b/c we have to go to the radio station to upload). Then we stopped at the supermarket and each of us bought a soda which we had to drink there since we have to return the bottles (it doesn't make much sense to me, but that's what they do). Then as we got ready to head home, we met what Beatrice called a crazy man probably from prison. He was asking me for sunscreen. I don't know why since the Ugandans don't burn, so maybe he was a little crazy.

We spent the afternoon resting, and then we went back to the property for dinner with mom. At five o'clock we attended prayer meeting. I was not able to pick Pastor Milton's English last night, but the sermon by Dad Dwire (the missionary we are staying with) was very good. We came home, and we were all in bed by 8:00. I think if we were back home and going to bed at 8:00 I would think we had gone crazy.

That brings us up to today where my kids are currently resting, and I have been preparing to speak to the ladies on Monday. Please be in prayer for Monday afternoon. I do want the Lord to use me as I minister to these women and share what God has been teaching me this past year. This will also be my first time speaking through an interpreter, so please pray that I will be able to speak slowly and remember to pause after each phrase and sentence.

JA is preparing to go visit a village with mom tonight. I know most of you who read my blog are currently sleeping, so have a good night --I'm going to go get ready to fix lunch now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Works of God Monday

Wow, God has been so good and gracious to us. We safely arrived in Uganda on Wednesday, and while we had a morning of illness among a couple of the kids, we are all healthy.

I am continually amazed at what an awesome God we serve. We have been planning this trip for years (never really sure it would ever happen as our family continued to increase in size). Yet, here we are with two more weeks to interact with the people and minister.

I am thankful for how God has given the kids the ability to adjust to the climate, the traveling, and even the lack of sleep without a whole lot of fussing and whining.

I count it such a privilege to be able to have a taste of my childhood dream of being a missionary to Africa. While that has not been my dream in quite some years I feel blessed to know that God answered my prayer as a little girl to send me to Africa.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Travel through Jinja

Today was quite a day of travel. I have to say it seems like we have been traveling for days just to get here to Soroti. We left Kampala at about 10:00 this morning and traveled up to Jinja where we saw the source of the Nile. As full as our truck was, it was quite empty compared to the Taxi's and trucks we passed with people hanging out every which way. Andy sat on Mamayi Stanley's lap (Uncle Stanley since mom has taken him in as a son). Kara sat in the middle, and Lydia say on JA's lap.
I don't have a picture, but Ezekiel rode on my lap for the entire trip. He did surprisingly well and slept most of the day. I even took a couple of catnap's in the truck as my internal clock is not yet on this new schedule.We stopped in Jinja for lunch and took a few minutes to visit the Nile river and see the source of the river where Lake Victoria empties into the Nile River.The source begins just on the other side of the island in the picture above.

And for all of you who know I enjoy a good cup of tea every now and again, we passed a few different tea plantations on our way up to Soroti. Below is the picture of the plantation as we drove past.
Tonight I was given a great honor. Stanley asked me to play the part of an Auntie in his introduction ceremony tomorrow. Unfortunately I am not able to since mom's Gomez (a traditional African style dress) does not fit me -- a requirement for the ceremony. I will be content with taking pictures and video taping parts of it. Depending on what time we get back tomorrow night I will try to update.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Greetings from Kampala, Uganda, East Africa

Wow, I can hardly believe that we left Kansas on Monday. I hardly even know what day it is today. This has been a very eventful and exciting week for our family.The first leg of our journey (after driving to Kansas City) started off with spending 1 hour and 45 minutes just checking in at the counter (not standing in line -- let me just say DON"T fly American Airlines). The kids had a fabulous time on the first flight from Kansas City to Chicago. We had a rush when we got off the plane to get to our next gate as they were already making the final boarding call when we stepped off the plane. Quite the rush :) Well, we made it on time and then sat on the tarmac for another hour with computer issues -- I guess we didn't need to hurry as fast as we thought!The nine hour flight from Chicago to London was also not to bad. The kids did great -- especially Lydia and Andy since they slept most of the way. Kara didn't sleep much but she did well, as did Ezekiel. He only fussed a little wanting to get down and explore.We had a great 10 hour layover in London. The kids enjoyed all the new books and toys that Tata had bought for them to play with. Ezekiel LOVED the opportunity to get down and crawl and get out his energy since he'd been strapped in for all of Monday and Monday night.

Our last flight from London to Entebbe also went well. Lydia and Ezekiel were asleep before we even ascended into the air, and Kara shortly after. I was even able to get about four or five hours of sleep on the eight hour flight.

We had no difficulty getting through customs and all of our bags arrived :) Three gentlemen met us at the airport and transported us to Kampala where we have spent the last two nights with Paul and Amanda Hudson and their family. The kids have enjoyed playing with their children, and last night we attended service at Gospel Light Baptist Church. (Right now I am watching a gecko crawling around our bedroom walls -- If I can get a good picture of him, I'll try to post it).

This morning we awoke after a wonderful nights sleep and had our first discovery of the difficulty of the travel on the kids -- Lydia was throwing up. About an hour later, Andy joined her in the sick room. After spending the morning throwing up they both took a nap, and praise the Lord, they seem to be healthy now. They were even feeling well enough for us to go out to dinner at a restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria.
The kids enjoyed looking over the balcony at Lake Victoria and the city of Kampala.

The restaurant was fabulous! I had the most wonderful Tilapia fresh from Lake Victoria. The kids split a fish and chips, and they were eager for more.We had a wonderful waitress who really enjoyed Ezekiel.

After eating mom took us to go visit another missionary family the Wallace family. We had a wonderful visit with them, and now have the children in bed since we have an early start tomorrow to drive to Soroti (a six hour drive and hopefully a stop in Jinja -- the source of the Nile -- on the way).

To see more photos of our first two days visit here

Monday, October 12, 2009

Works of God Monday

Well, I have several things I can praise God for. We had a wonderful ladies luncheon a week ago, and the other big thing is that today we leave for Uganda. God has provided for our entire family to take a trip to go visit TaTa.

I will try to update while we are gone, but can guarantee nothing. Thank you all for your prayers.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Family Fun

We greatly enjoy our family. We have started a new family tradition of having family camp outs on Sunday nights. Since we don't have a tent large enough for our family to sleep comfortably (and it's a little cool outside right now), we are having our camp outs in the living room, but hopefully next spring we'll be able to get a larger tent and find someplace local where we can take the family and our dog with us to camp out.

September Parades

September is the month for celebrations in our community. We have two local parades we were able to attend and the children had a blast. The first parade, Kara was able to ride in and throw candy. The second parade the kids enjoyed working together to collect as much candy as they could. Kara keeps telling everyone that she is going to share the candy with the boys and girls in Uganda when we leave next week.Ezekiel and I were waiting for the parade to begin.

Kara running out to collect the candy while Andy faithfully holds the bag. I'm not quite sure what Lydia's job was.
The kids loved all the bouncy inflatables at both parades.
I just had to show you Ezekiel loves eating the bounty from the garden -- especially the red tomatoes. We had to keep him blocked from entering the kitchen until I had my tomatoes canned because he kept going after them. I was continuously finding him eating my tomatoes.
Kara in her first parade. You can see her in the front corner of the wagon.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Children's Museum

After the girls first violin lesson this year, we took the afternoon and took the kids to the children's museum. They had a blast as you can see below.
Ezekiel playing in the house we built

Kara building a house
Lydia and Andy helping to build the house
Andy our little tree frog
Lydia a little monkey