Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas 2008

Here is the Hall Family's annual letter - for the first time, being sent out and posted before Christmas! Enjoy catching up with the whole family!


Nice Piece of Art - FM Static

I've tried not to let anyone in until now
I guess conversations never allow and I've been feeling like I'm on some sort of merry-go-round
And I know, I know, yeah I know, I know
And I've tried not to let anyone in until now
It took time for me to figure it out and when I feel like I'm complacent with my head in the clouds
And I know, I know, yeah I know, I know

And every time I wonder what's real you make me feel...

You make me feel like a lavender sweater
When I'm caught in bad weather,
In my Volkswagon Jetta
You make me feel like a complete work of art
When I'm just falling apart
A really nice piece of art

And I've tried not to let anyone in until now
Misunderstandings are an easy way out and I've been feeling all this pressure just to figure it out
And I know, don't know, yeah I know, don't know
And I know if I can stay strong I can make it and try harder when I just can't take it
And when everything around me feels so broken and jaded
And I know, I know, yeah I know, I know

But every time I wonder what's real you make me feel...

You make me feel like a lavender sweater
When I'm caught in bad weather
In my Volkswagon Jetta
You make me feel like a complete work of art
When I'm just falling apart
A really nice piece of art

It's kinda of warped, but it's picking up slowly
I don't know, but I can if you'll show me
I guess sometimes it takes more than just fake conversations
To feel like I know that
It's kinda hard when I'm planning for something
To get across this whole without jumping
I guess sometimes it takes more than just false information
To find out who we are

You make me feel like a lavender sweater
when I'm caught in bad weather
In my Volkswagon Jetta
You make me feel like a complete work of art
When I'm just falling apart
A really nice piece of art

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Season of Advent

You know, I thought that surely, after turning 17, I knew all there was to know in this world. Today, I was proven wrong. Today, I learned something new. I am still not sure how I feel about this discovery that I am not all-knowing. . .but while I am pondering that, let me share with you my lesson today. (By the way, it is going to be pretty long, but there is some good stuff in here, so try to stick with it. )

Do you celebrate Advent? Do you even know what it is? I thought that all Christians celebrated Advent, but today I discovered that it's really only celebrated by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches. I was shocked! For me, Advent is juts as much a part of Christmas as the tree or nativity set. So here I have a little lesson for all of you non-Lutherans in the mystical "Ways of the Lutheran Church."

Before I explain Advent, I should tell you a little something about the Church Year. I took this from a Q&A section on the Missouri Synod Lutheran website (wait, Lutherans know about internet? no way!):
"Advent begins the church year because the church year begins where Jesus' earthly life began--in the Old Testament prophecies of his incarnation. After Advent comes Christmas, which is about his birth; then Epiphany, about his miracles and ministry; then Lent, about his Calvary-bound mission; then Easter, about his resurrection and the sending of the apostles; and then Ascension (40 days after Easter) and Pentecost, with the sending of the Holy Spirit.The first half of the church year highlights the life of Christ. The second half teachings of Christ. The parables and miracles play a big part here. That's the church year in a nutshell, and it should help reveal how Advent fits into "the big picture."

So right now, we are part way through the season of Advent. The word Advent comes from a Latin word which means "coming." Advent then, is the time of waiting and preparation for the coming of our Lord. It focuses on the past, present, and future: 1.) the past, through recognition of the waiting of the Hebrews for their Messiah, 2.) the present, as we prepare our hearts each and every Christmas, keeping our focus on this great gift we have recieved, and 3.) the future, bringing to mind the waiting we do even today, as we expectantly look for the Second Coming of our Lord.

Being Lutheran, we celebrate Advent with much gusto. For many people, this simply means a midweek service (which for some reason has always included a soup supper. . . can you say "tradition?"), which they attend as a matter of course, and slightly longer Sunday morning services, because the acolyte has to light the Advent candles. Oh yes, and the altar vestments, and Pastor's mantle thing-y change from red to purple.

But for our family, and many families around the world, it is so much more! What do we personally do for Advent? First, we have an Advent calendar, which young and old alike can enjoy. You may have seen these, or perhaps you even have one of your own. Generally, they depicted a nativity scene, covered with little windows. Each window has a number, all the way up to 24. Each day of Advent, a new window is opened. Often they have a verse that refers to something in the story of Christmas, building up to the last day, and the arrival of Christ.

Now this is certainly fun, but my favorite part of Advent is the wreath. It contains five candles; four standing in a circle around a center one. Each Sunday of Advent, a new candle is lit, with the fifth one being lit on Christmas Eve (or Christmas Day, depending on your family/church). Three of the outside candles are purple, for the royalty of the coming King. One is pink, and (through some deeply mysterious Lutheran logic) this candle is used to represent rejoicing. Here is a picture of one, without the center candle.

Generally, each candle is used to represent some aspect of the Christmas story. It changes from church to church and family to family, but we like to say that the first week is the prophecy or hope candle, focusing on the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Christ. The second reminds us of John the Baptist, and has been called the preparation candle. This speaks to us as we each also "prepare the way" for the King to enter our own hearts. The third candle, which is pink (remember, pink = rejoicing?) is the shepherd or joy candle, which brings to mind the overwhelming joy the shepherd felt as they were brought the message of Christ's birth. Oh that we would share their joy each and every day! Fourth is the peace, or angel candle, which reminds us of the peace of God, which is with us as we wait even today for His Second Coming. Lastly, the Christ Candle, white for the purity of that little baby who was laid in the manger.

So there you have it, the story of Advent. It's not just another one of those crazy liturgical traditions, recognized only by dead or dying churches as a matter of tradition. (Oh, you certainly weren't thinking anything like that, now were you?) Far from it. . . it is a beautiful season, in which we are reminded to prepare ourselves as we wait for the celebration of our Savior's birth, and his Second Coming. This Advent season, let's prepare for Christmas not only by putting up lights, rushing around buying and wrapping presents, or decorating Christmas cookies (although these things are certainly fun and worth-while endeavors) -- but let's also celebrate by stopping to think of just what we are celebrating.

A joyous third Sunday of Advent to you and your family!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh the Woe!

Oh the Woe of being sick!
The feeling that surely, surely
Your stomach really would feel better
If it were not on the inside.

Oh the Woe of being sick!
The knowledge that truly, truly
Your head will not blow into as many pieces
As it is currently threatening to.

Oh the Woe of being sick!
The moaning, and groaning,
And hacking, and coughing.
The clearing of throats, and the blowing of noses,
Which echoes across the sanctuary
So early each Sunday morning.

But oh the Woe of being sick,
Which is so easily forgotten!
By the sipping of Seven-Up,
The nibbling of Saltine crackers,
And the coziness of sleeping in the afternoon.

The company of fellow sick ones,
Who are oh so eager to play games,
To cuddle,
And to bring the sick bucket when needed.

The End.

When I go to college, I most certainly am going to pack a "sick basket."
It will contain the following:
a 2 liter bottle of 7-up
a box of Saltines
several tea bags
an old, 1-gallon, plastic ice cream tub
a letter from Mom
several Tums (simply to remind me of my family, who believes that Tums are the answer to everything)
a deck of cards
a sleeping bag and pillow (so that I can sleep on the bathroom floor)

Rebekah Grace,
your slightly goofy,
and mostly feeling healthy again

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Royals to take on rival Lebanon

The Rolla Royals will play their first basketball games this Tuesday night, against their rival team, the Lebanon Rockets. Bring the whole family along for an fun- and action-packed evening!

The games will start at 6pm, with our Junior High Boys kicking off the action. The team is coached by Dan Hall, and what they lack in experience, they make up for with unlimited energy!

Next will be the girls game, starting as soon as the first game is finished (around 7 pm). Coached by Gary Applegate, Walter Williams, and Camie Edwards, this team hopes to beat the Lady Rockets in what will undoubtedly prove to be a very physical and aggresive game. (Can you say "jump ball!" ?)

Our Varsity Boys will wrap up the evening with a game right after the girls, starting around 8 pm. We don't have much of an idea what the competition is like, but with only 7 players (and one injured and another fighting sickness), the Royals will have to give everything they have out there. Their coaches - returning Coach Bill Hickle, and the new assistant coach James Quittschreiber.

Tuesday, December 9th
Rolla Junior High Gym (the corner of Soest and Forum)
JH Boys vs. Lebanon . . . 6pm
Girls vs. Lebanon . . . 7pm
Varsity Boys vs. Lebanon . . . 8pm

Contact RollaRoyals@gmail.com with questions, or more information. See you there!

Official score-keeper, uniform hander-outer, proud big sister, and screaming fan :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Jumbled Mess

Hi everyone!

I pray that you had a blessed Thanksgiving weekend, and are beginning to catch that Christmas Spirit that wafts through the households of families everywhere at this time of year! I need to apologize, once again. I'm afraid the past several post are quite out of chronological order - I have not yet figured out how to changed the time/date of the posting or to change the order for those times when I decide to catch up on my blog all at once! I need to work on that. So I hope you can simply enjoy the photos and not get too confused by everything!

This Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful, wasn't it? It was nice to have the reminder to give thanks. So many times these days, I find myself spending the majority of my prayer time either confessing or petitioning God. (Or arguing with Him. . . not something I would highly reccomend.) Far too often, I forget to focus on adoration, worship, praise, and Thanksgiving. I took the opportunity this year to think back on the many years of blessings He has lavished upon me.

The one thing I kept coming back to this Thanksgiving was the characteristic of God that we call Love. It shows itself in this - that regardless of how we act, of how often we fail on our end of things, He welcomes us into His arms. He knew the enormity of our sins even before He sent Jesus to us, and yet He sent Him anyways - His only Son - to die a horrid and painful death for a wretch such as me. It's a love that can't truly be understood by our frail, human minds, but is so beautiful to see when we catch even just a glimpse of it. It's what pulls us through those days of darkest despair, and what warms our hearts in those moments of utter joy.

His Love has been shown to me personally in so many ways. Relationships has been a huge way this past Summer and Fall. As the stress and anxiety of a busy life and uncertainty about the future close in, there is always someone there for me. Whether it be my parents, and our long, late night discussions about the meaning of life. . . or my friends, who so patiently sit by and listen to me whine in self-pity, then lovingly and gently point me back to God . . . or God Himself, who beckons me to come and lay my head on His shoulder, leave my cares and worries behind, and entrust myself fully to His care. . . or my brothers and sisters, always good for fun and a hard, wet-your-pants time of laughter. . . or that kindred spirit of mine who graciously forgives my failings . . . or My Jesus, My Father, My Friend.
He loves me. He loves you. Let's be thankful, shall we?

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us . . . "
I John 4: 10-12, 16-17a
~Rebekah Grace

Thanksgiving Open House

Dad and I have always loved Thanksgiving. It is most certainly our favorite Holiday, for it stands alone as one that has not been marred by the commercialism of this world we live in. And yet, no one else seems to share this great care for such a special day. No, Christmas decor and songs begin surfacing mid-November at many homes, and much, much earlier at stores throughout America. Thanksgiving is seen as either the beginning of an on-going month of over-eating, or the day before the real shopping begins.

So this year, we decided to '"spread the love" and do the un-thought of -- celebrate Thanksgiving even after the holiday had already passed! Shock of all shocks! Sunday afternoon, several families came over and enjoyed a potluck, and time spent with friends. While it wasn't overtly "Thanksgiving-ish," it was still nice to have a chance to get-together without the commercialism of a "Christmas Party." Here are some pictures of us. . . I failed at photo taking that evening, so most of them are out of focus, crooked, to bright, etc. Please forgive me.
The fun began with a rousing game of Spoons. After one genius piled all the spoons directly on top of each other for one round, we all came out of it with scratched hands. You can't really tell at all with this photo, but Ashley's hand was quite beat up. That aside, I think she should be a hand-model. Agreed? ;)

The "Girls' Side." Note the obligatory space between Mark and Kelsey.

The "Guys' Side." I am not certain what is going on here, although I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that some of them were cheating throughout the game. And enjoying it immensely.

Then we braved the outdoors to head over to the shed for some more games. Snow had accumulated on the trampoline, and Abby and I got each other sufficiently wet. Here she is, barefoot in the snow.

Ping-pong in the Shed. That was short-lived, as the heater was not working and it was snowing outside, making it quite cold!

The lovely Kelsey Q2.
After eating, we went back downstairs and played Apples-to-Apples. Around the circle, we had: Sydni Kaden, Sarah Hickle, Rachel Hickle, Sonja Hazell . . .
. . . Kelsey Q2, Abby, Alida Hazell, Corey Q2 . . .
. . . Zeke . . .
. . . Jordan Kaden, Nathan Hickle, Sarah Hazell . . .
. . . Mark Hickle. . .
. . . .Dylan Applegate . . .

. . . Me, and Rebekah Applegate. We were on a team and this was our hand. :)

Decision Making. . .

Which to play?
Skyler Kaden and Isaac, dressing up!

After Apples-to-Apples, we played several games of Murder in the Dark. I believe we were about 2 out of 6 when it came to successful games. :) "Does this look like the face of a murderer?"

And here are some faces of friends. . . Corey.
Brett Stickler

Fall Retreat '08

Whispering Winds Bible Camp is the place to be if you want to spend a weekend freezing alongside great friends! That is most certainly what we did, from Friday night through till Sunday afternoon. It was quite fun, although I am still working on thawing out. Here are a few pictures from our time there.

The Great Signing of the Books - there were some interesting quotes this year.

The Rolla-ish Group.

His Shirt! It worked!

Andy's Art. Which Mark kindly informed us was sinful.

Ashley Riefer and Andy. Signing books, the introverted way. (Just kidding, I love these kids.)

A prank on Mark's truck. Yes, that is gum and vaseline. Yes, it did eventually come off.

Devotion time. . . ish. Don't ask.

Some of the lovely AR girls. Sara, Abbie, Hannah B., Natalie

Hannah Sue! xoxox.

Early Morning - I went out at about 6:30 am, after taking a shower, and my hair froze while I was taking these photos. The lense of the camera begin to fog up as well. . .

Our group. . .
Front Row: Natalie, Abbie, Ashley, Hannah Sue, Me, Nathan, Samis, Sara, Julie, Hannah B.
Back Row: Brett, Ben (my head is obscuring his face), Andy, Mark,
Isaac (? I think that's who is is), Joel, Colin, Zach

Christmas Parade . . . ish

Last night, the kids participated in a Christmas Parade in the city (town, village?) of Sullivan. They are in a home-school band there, and have quite enjoyed learning new instruments. Here are some photos which I stole from our dear friends the Nisbetts, without permission. They know where I live, and are more than welcome to come over and reprimand me for it. :) Mark, Nathan, Sarah, and Rachel Hickle, Me, Abby, Zeke and Isaac, all drove up together early so that the kids could line-up (Sarah and Rachel are also in the band). Our parents came together and arrived as the parade was actually starting. The kids did great, considering how cold it was!

Here are the younger kiddos, dressed as Snowmen, and riding on the float. Nathanael Nisbett, Isaac, and Anna Nisbett. Isaac was overjoyed to be able to participate, great thanks to Mrs. Kay.
The lovely Hickle girls, Rachel and Sarah.

Abby, very indignant that the picture has been taken, but still excellent on her trumpet. I am so proud of her, and how far she has come since they started several months ago!

Zeke on the bass drum (far right). An outside instrument if I ever heard one. An outside instrument which is currently residing inside our home.

Mark and I, shortly before we decided the car was much warmer.
(How is it that I look so much colder than he does?)
Nathan was also with us, but was. . .otherwise detained. . . at this exact moment. ;)

The Birthday That Never Ends. . .

I have a confession to make -- I had a birthday. It was quite a Mournful Occassion. One more year of my life has officially passed. Sigh. Aside from the ponderous Thoughts my birthday brought, and the great Sorrow it laid upon my inner most being, it was really quite fun.

The whole thing really started on Friday, the first day of our Fall Retreat, and nearly a whole week before my birthday. My dear friends from Arkansas - Julie, Hannah B. Hannah Sue, Natalie, Abbie, and Sara -- brought me a cake with peanut butter frosting! Although much of this beautiful cake ended up on the face of Joel Winzer and the truck of Mark Hickle, I did get to enjoy several scrumptious servings. They had even prepared, bringing along candles, matches, and some creative birthday songs/dances. We did not get a picture of the cake in all its Glory, but did get one of it spread over Joel's face and Mark's truck:

Then I spent the weekend hanging out with great friends -- my brother Andy, the other young men from Rolla, Melissa, the Arkansas Girls, Samis, and, most especially, my friend Ashley. We shared a set of bunk beds, and spent a lot of time doing what girls do -- talking. :) It was a great birthday Gift. (See the post titled "Fall Retreat '08" for pictures)

The fun and games continued on Tuesday, November 25th, when I got to spend the morning hanging out with my Spectacular friend Alida. I recieved my first official birthday Gift . . . it was unwrapped, but that just tells you what great friends we are. :) I also got to have lunch with another good friend that day, and catch up on the Happenings of life. That event was dampened only slightly by the fact that I left my take-home box on the counter after paying for lunch, but brightened again by a Hug.

Wednesday, I met with a group from my speech class and we worked on our final speech project. That had absolutely nothing to do with my birthday . . . except that we met at Panera Bread and I treated myself to a Caramel Coffee Drink of sorts. Yumm! I got to chill with my friend Zephan that afternoon -- literally. We went to the park and ate lunch by the lake. It was great to talk about life, and hear more about what God has been doing in his life up in Columbia where he is going to school.

The actual day then arrived with Gusto -- it amazed me that the President had declared a National Holiday on my birthday! Quite exciting. We had the Robertsons over to celebrate Thanksgiving, and all of us managed to over-eat quite nicely. A rousing game of Balderdash followed, in which everyone graciously allowed me to win, as it was my birthday. :) Then I had several birthday phone calls, and gifts from the family. Here is Elizabeth, trying to help me out a bit with those.

Saturday, Colin hobbled over on his crutches, and he, Andy, and I watched a movie out in the Shed. Again, not really related to my birthday in any way, but fun none-the-less. I also received birthday Gifts from both my grandparents in the mail that day, which was such fun.

And the last event that I felt blessed to enjoy in the this never-ending birthday was a Thanksgiving Open House we hosted on Sunday afternoon. Friends, food, fun, games. . .what more could one ask for? (See post titled "Thanksgiving Open House" for pictures)

All in all, I feel blessed to have such a beautiful group of friends and family who made my birthday special. A thousand thank-yous to everyone . . . what would a birthday be without Others? Now, all there is left to do is step away from the Denial, and move into the stage of Acceptance about this new Age I have reached. Sigh.