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