A week or so ago, I was chatting with a friend who expressed that she missed Lent.  I knew what she meant.  She was saying that she longed for a 'good reason' to give something up.  A strong motivation to exercise a deeper level of displine.  I knew what she meant because I have been feeling the same way.

The Advent season officially began yesterday, and I've been reading SO much about it.  Mostly because I'm always looking for ideas that will add to and enhance the worship experience at our church, but partly because I long for this year to be different.

I long for more meaning - or I should say, more recognition of The Meaning - this Christmas.

In my travels on the world wide web, most of what I come across is the type of thing I would expect, or have seen before.  But today I learned something new!  Have you ever heard of Nativity Fast?  It was mentioned in passing in an artcile I read and it so intrigued me that I looked further for more info.


If you read down in the wikipedia definitions, you'll see the rules of it our quite strict!  But here's a quote regarding the Nativity Fast that caused me to stop:

For most of us, we are anxious to get to the feast — we want the days to rush by. Our preparation usually consists of shopping and decorating, not to speak of the endless parties that we are invited to attend. Here is where the notion of waiting comes into play. We must discipline ourselves through self control and patience. We are to read the Scriptures, specifically the prophecies that speak of the coming of the Messiah. We are to turn our focus to a Godly way of life that calls for sacrificing and almsgiving (acts of mercy). Antiochian.org/1294

What can I do for the next 25 days that will enable me to be ready - in my heart and soul?  How can I practice this notion of waiting, of discipline? 

What will the Lord call me to give up in order to have the time, which seems to be in such shortage?

"Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you...
You will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy...
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory!"
Isaiah 60:1, 5a, & 19


building character

I have to share the most amazing website I've recently come across!  First, of course, you must know the backstory....

In the last while, I've been convicted about how and what I'm teaching my kids to live as followers of Jesus.  Two of the three have made professions of faith, but I wondered if I was giving them the right TOOLS for christian living - was I being a strong enough example, was I showing enough of Christ to them.....

I read in the Duggar book about the homeschooling material they use that also introduces the child to character traits of Jesus.  This lead me to (for the first time EVER) wonder about homeschooling - just to get this material!

Not 2 weeks later, this magazine appeared in my mailbox:

did you get it too?

On the inside of the front cover, there's an ad for a brand new website put out by Focus on the Family that was like an answer to my prayers!  CHECK IT OUT - it's an amazing resource for families with lessons, memory verses, fun ideas and charts to help build Christ-like character into the heart of a family!  It begins with a lesson and scripture study for mom and dad, so even those of us who don't 'have it all together' can learn with our children.  I was so thrilled and excited by this website that I emailed FOTF to tell them so.  I was even MORE thrilled when they replied and said they were encouraged by my comments and excited with me!

So the first character trait we downloaded the stuff for was contentment.  We decided that would be the best place to start given that the holiday season is rapidly approaching and the littles have already formulated their LONG lists of 'I want's.  The first night we tried some of it out, we began by asking our eldest to choose the verse that we should memorize as a family - the one she felt best applied to our situation.  Out of the list of 18 verses she chose Hebrews 13:5 (and I was pleased to see it wasn't the first one on the list...she really read them all and chose carefully!):
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and 
be content
with what you have,
because God has said, 'Never will I leave you;
 never will I forsake you.'" 

We took a family trip to Fargo/Minneapolis last weekend and spent some time talking about this verse and encouraging one another to practice and sow seeds of contentment.  It was such a blessed time!

But - and why exactly does there always seem to have to be a but? - today I found myself in the downward spiral of "I wish I had ______like _____" humph!

Praise God, the word "contentment" quickly blazed across my mind!  I'm a visual person, so I google-imaged the word contentement.  What a mish-mash of pictures!  I leafed through the pages of images until it struck me that none of these pictures spoke of contentment to me.  

I decided to look through my own photo albums intead.  The picture that lept out of the book at me was taken about 2 1/2 years ago in one of our favourite family places, Niagara Falls, ON.  This time we were there with my brother and his family (Teresa took this beloved shot!), but we spent many lovely Saturdays there just the 5 us.  Hand-in-hand, spending time together doing something we all loved.  This is when I feel most content.  This is why we took the weekend road trip to Fargo - to be together, with no distractions, no one vying for our attention or for an answer to this or that... This is one of the reasons we've considered missions to a far away place....

On the list of verses from the Kids of Integrity website is one that I think I'll have to put to memory on my own is this:

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Proverbs 14:30

Nothing anyone else has - not even the most lovely or wonderful thing - means more than the gift the Lord has given me of these 4 souls to love and be loved by.

thank you, Lord.


first things

Having a four year old in the house is an endless source of amusement.  The baby of our family is everything they say a person in that role should be - funny, easy-going, outgoing and creative.

One of the creative things she does almost daily is taking pictures.  She finds the digital camera and will take endless pictures.  This bothers my husband....something about 'what if she drops the camera and it breaks'....but I love it.  I love seeing what is meaningful to her, and how she sees the world around her. 

Most of all, I love her on-going study of self portraits.  Here's one of the bunch she took this morning:

Sometimes it's a close-up of a mouth or eye (and often a shot of her foot in her new red shoes), but this time, it was practicing expressions.  What does this face say to you?  It makes me smile because it's the face she gives me when she doubts what I say is true or she simply doesn't want to believe what I say is true!

After she showed me her array of pictures, I suggested to her that maybe she would be a photographer when she grows up.  I'm pretty sure she gave me that look, as in, "and why exactly would I want to do that?"  (I think it bothered her that I might be suggesting something other than her aspirations to be a fairy princess.)  The fact that this is something that she spends many hours a week on was beside the point.  How could that be any indication of what she cares most about?

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

Today this makes me think - the things I spend the most time on are the things I value most.

I desire to have my life be a reflection of my core beliefs about who I am in Christ and what He has called me to do.  This isn't done by talking about it (alone).  This is doing.  People around me and my kids will know what I value by how I spend my time.


talking on the phone?

surfing the web?

reading a magazine?

playing a game with them?

prioritizing time with my spouse?

prioritizing my time with the Lord?

These things are NOT in order of importance! ...and I don't think any of these things are bad... it's a question (for me) of what comes first.  Where is my treasure?  Where do I want it to be?  Is it evident by the reflection of my heart (aka - my deeds?)

"People may think their ways are pure,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do
and He will establish your plans."
Proverbs 16:2-3 

There's a verse in the song "Reign in Me"  that is my prayer for today:

Over every thought
Over every word
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
'cause You mean more to me than any earthly thing
So won't You reign in me again!



There were two of us and we were happy.
We started to talk about adding one more....
"Let's wait awhile", he suggested.
I may have pouted a little....
"If we try in the spring, you'll get the new 1 year maternity leave," he reminded.
Reluctantly, I agreed.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

Valentine's Day came and went.
A few weeks later, we finally decided to buy THE test.
We sat in shock for an hour.
followed by long stretches of pondering silence.

She was born on the 4th of November after a quick and loud delivery.
We held this priceless, pink bundle and wondered who she was and who she would become.

NINE years later.....
Abigail Elizabeth Anne Hall

She is a gift - an absolute delight.
Many people remark that she is destined for greatness...
Her kindergarten teacher wept when we took Abbey back to Canada with us...
She is warm and funny,  responsible and kind.
She is an excellent artist and a creative author.
When she grows up, she hopes to be a writer and a mother.

She's a pre-tween, we like to say, and that means she struggles with her share of
She doesn't take everything at face value and often needs proof.
I worry sometimes that this will hold her back in life,
but really I think it will propel her all the further.

We love her and pray God's best for her.
We pray that her love for the Lord will grow and grow - that she will use the many gifts He's given her to spread His love and the power of His salvation.

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have the power...to grasp 
how wide and how long
and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17b-19
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