Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The White Christmas

photos by Dad

The Whirlwind of Christmas

This was actually taken over Thanksgiving break.
Stress relief after an afternoon of family photos!

This was part of the crowd we had over
for our first annual cookie decorating party!

In our Christmas pajamas!

Christmas afternoon at the Hickles' house
was full of singing and music of all varieties!

Photos from the Fall

I know I haven't been posting many pictures lately, but here are some from this past fall.

On our trip out to Colorado for David and Emily's wedding, our good friend Carl encouraged Abby and me to climb the sign. We did, and it was SO cool!! Mum didn't want to though.

A trip to Mark's grandparents' farm yielded some fun photo opportunities.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Defined

Christmas Eve is here, and I'm sure many of you are off to see Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Christmas is one of the best times of the year for spending time with family. Traditions abound, and so much love is shared - I know how much I always enjoy spending time with my siblings and parents this time of year.

But recently, I was thinking about Jesus (after all, Christmas is about Him, right?) and His response to family. Remember this passage from Luke?

"Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.' He replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'" [8:19-21]

I think we often read this with subtle shock, as Jesus seems to totally set aside his mother and brothers. Were they really that unimportant, that he wouldn't give them any kind of special treatment at all? I think though, that Jesus is here just blowing open our definition of family. While family is fantastic, I think we often have a tendency, especially around Christmas, to narrow our view of who "counts" as family. But if we truly desire to live like Jesus did, we'll have to expand our definition as well.

Family is defined as "those who hear God's word and put it into practice." In the Hall household, extended relatives have often been far away during the holidays, so I think we kind of fell into this broader definition of family by default. We have many "adopted" Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents and Cousins who we've spent our holidays with. Just today, our house was full of friends, decorating cookies, and we had dinner with our most recent adopted Grandparents, Jan and Gary.

Even Jesus shared His first Christmas with people who weren't blood relatives. The shepherds and the wisemen heard God's word (from the angels, and the star and prophecies), and put it into practice by seeking for the baby. Can you imagine Mary's discomfort? With all the worrying we do about getting the house clean for company. . . she had just had a baby. In a stable, no less. Not exactly a setting you want "non-family" people to see you in. And yet, going back to what Jesus said, they are family.

I think this challenges us to let go of our narrow definition of family, and the stress that comes with it - cleaning frenzies and putting on our "perfect" behavior. Who can we include as "family" this year? And how can we change our hearts, so we can focus more on loving them as family, rather than impressing them?

Hold My Heart - Tenth Avenue North

How long must I pray, must I pray to You
How long must I wait, must I wait for You
How long 'till I see Your face
See You shining through

I'm on my knees
Begging You to notice me
I'm on my knees
Father, will You turn to me?

One tear in the driving rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the Maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?

One life is all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Would You come close and hold my heart?

I've been so afraid, afraid to close my eyes
So much can slip away before I say goodbye
But if there's no other way
I'm done asking why

'Cause I'm on my knees
Begging You to turn to me
I'm on my knees
Father, will You run to me?

So many questions without answers
Your promises remain
I can't see but I'll take my chances
To hear You call my name
To hear You call my name

One tear in the dropping rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the Maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?

One life is all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Would You come close and hold my heart?

Hold my heart
Could You hold my heart?
Hold my heart

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Argyle. It's In.

I hope you like the new look. I was thinking about someone special and his interest in argyle, so this is for him. :) Let me show you some of my favorite items in argyle:

The Classic Sweater Vest

Comfy Socks

And most importantly, Babies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Sad

This post on another blog really hit home for me when I read it several days ago. I think the hardest times in life are when you don't have people you feel like you can tell the sad to. It's those times that you learn to spend your entire day at the side of the Savior, whispering to Him your secret fears, sadness, and hurt. As Scripture tells us, Jesus is one familiar with suffering - in Him we can always find a listening ear.

Today, I want to challenge you to be that friend for someone in your life. Undoubtedly, you are surrounded by people who need a friend to tell the sad to. Strive to develop that kind of friendship someone so you are there for them when the really hard times come.

On another note, I am home for 3.5 weeks. This is a glorious thing, but it didn't soak in entirely until Family Band tonight - makes me feel right at home to be with family and dear friends all at once.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Flakes Keep Falling on My Head. . .

We got our first snow up here in the northern lands of Kville. I would go take pictures for you, but let me give you a gander at the temperatures we've had:

Yesterday morning: 4 degrees, feels like -11
This morning: 1 degree, feels like -13

So, it's beautiful. Just take my word for it. ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


But every house where Love abides,
And Friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home-sweet-home:
For there the heart can rest.

by Henry Van Dyke

Only 1 week until I am home again!

Friday, December 3, 2010


It's officially winter up here in Kirksville. Coats, hats, scarves, and the occasional ear muffs are making an appearance, and we even had our first snow! I have been celebrating by drinking at least two mugs of tea a day, and curling up in my comfy chair with a blanket and sketch book whenever I can.

God works in strange ways. Take winter, for example. I mean, the cold weather and wind really aren't very fun at all. Nobody likes that - am I right? And yet, some of the most beautiful parts of God's creation can't be seen if it doesn't get at least below freezing. Frozen waterfalls, snowy mountains, and ice covered trees. . . even if you don't like cold, you have to admit that the resulting phenomenons of nature are breathtaking.

I hate the cold though. And I hate the feeling of being trapped in a situation you can't understand or reason through, and you can't seem to escape from. The only way to keep going on is to remember how beautiful the snow is - and, to remember that God will bring that beauty, in time. Keep trusting, as you wait.