Thursday, June 30, 2011


Anyone who lives in Jamaica can appreciate this post! Driving is crazy, pedestrian traffic along the road is massive, taxi's go at breakneck speed and pass in the most dangerous places. Dodging goats, cars, people, and taxi's is ....well... let's say hair raising! The depth of the potholes are amazing and one of the driving techniques is to dodge the holes at any cost! It doesn't matter if something is coming at you are not. Rain puddles are treated the same way. Learning to drive here could be the greatest risk taking experience in one's life!

With the driving brings another element...policeman. It didn't take us long to find the spots that will get a whole lot of attention!

One day Denny was driving to the college and nearly threw himself through the windshield when he saw what he thought was a real, live, breathing officer of the law!

When we drove into Kingston this week Renee and I got to see Den's friend!! Whoever created Mr.Policeman was really creative. I suppose when Mr.Policeman goes for his job performance review he will get a raise for a job well done!

Monday, June 20, 2011

the funny things you find.....

When we moved to Jamaica we brought all of the half used school notebooks from the kids previous years. We didn't know if the spiral bound ones would be easy to find in a developing nation. Renee has been in the Jamaican school system for 3 years and has used almost all of the recycled notebooks. So much so that the supply shelf looks kind of bare!

Being the student of all students she went into the closet to start her collection for September! She never gives learning a rest! I think that is a good thing. She pulled out a notebook that belonged to her brother. Opening the first few pages showed his drawing abilities, specifically his cartoon character drawing abilities! Wondering which school year this was, I flipped a few more pages to try to get an idea and came upon another treasure!

When we went to the children's parent/teacher conferences or school open house, I would always examine their desk and pull out a notebook to leave them a note. I would forget about it and one day later in the year, Ryan and Renee would come home and say "Hey Mom, thanks for the note!" Who knows, maybe they came upon it when they were feeling alone or having a tough day.

Seeing the artwork and the note would make me think it was one of Ryan's notebooks from Horace Mann Elementary School in Springfield, MO. When we moved to Missouri, Ryan went right into 5th grade. He went there for one year only and then moved to Carver Middle School. That was a long time ago! Today he is a college graduate! That notebook has been around for awhile! Funny the things that get recycled.

One of the difficulties in having children is not being able to recoup long ago days and actually having their hands in mine. Going to the playground, pool time, and moments in their lives when children do "children" things with mommy beside. Seeing the notebook has taken me back a few years!

I think I will add those pages to my scrapbook pile! Precious pages from long, long ago!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's a new season.....

Today is Father's Day. One of my favorite songs of all time reminds me of my dad. There are many reasons why I love my dad, but the greatest one is that he never rubbed my nose in wrong choices, wrong decisions, mistakes and all the negative things a kid does.
Once it was dealt with, it was over, not to be brought up again.

I wasn't a bad kid, just not a perfect kid. I wasn't a rebel rouser, just not a compliant child. I honor my dad today not just for who he is but for who he isn't.

My dad isn't a negative voice. My dad isn't a person prone to depression. My dad isn't lazy. My dad isn't a nitpicker. My dad isn't a man of unbelief. My dad isn't an angry man. My dad isn't impulsive. My dad isn't explosive. My dad isn't hateful.

When I was a kid I had terrific nightmares. The kind that would wake an entire household. I would always find myself in the hallway between the bedrooms. I would "come to" with the sound of my father's voice praying and pleading the blood of Jesus over my life. I became so dependent upon his prayers. When I became a young adult, the sound of my father's prayers soothed every crazy fear and dart the enemy would throw at me. Now that I am older, I am dependent upon his prayers......still. His prayers give me faith, they give me "a new season" hopefulness. His prayers encourage me to hold on, all negative things will cease.

My dad loves me. My dad loves Jesus. I love my dad. I love Jesus. I honor them both today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I left my heart.....

Funny thing.....I still find myself reliving our time in the states last month. I just can't get it out of my mind. It was a tremendous, uplifting, exciting, proud kind of month. Ryan's recital, VFCC Music Department chapel, Baccalaureate, Graduation, being in New England, Brooklyn Tab, Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. It was such a great time.

I heard a song in the Music Department Chapel that I had never heard before. It is so good. A guy's ensemble sang it. Gloria Gaither wrote it. I want to forever remember it. It is just one of those songs!

In 33 years of full time ministry we have experienced some real highs and some really, really low lows. Like everyone. It doesn't matter if you are in the ministry or not. If you are alive and breathing, you will experience crazy times. The rain falls. The sun shines. The clouds overtake. Hurricane winds blow. Floods drown. Fires burn. Rainbows appear. Earthquakes shake. This is life. This song reminds me that God takes us through all of it. The good and the bad. The pretty and the ugly. He is my "through it all" God. I am in His grip. I am safe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 do they do that?

On my trips to Africa I would see people carry things on their head much more than I see here in Jamaica, but you still see it, especially in the rural areas. Mandeville is not considered rural but even here in town you will see people with their heavy load.

It is interesting that you don't see the young or middle-age but always the older citizens with their head load....seriously how can they do that?

Yes I know about the cap that makes it easier but I have seen many people without the cap, how does their neck handle it? How do their shoulders feel? How does their back stay up straight?

I think this will always amaze me.

This makes me think of the scripture in Galatians, "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ." I wrote a sermon one time, making the difference between a burden and a load. The Greek word for "bear" is baztazo. It means to "to hold" or even to physically embrace. How can I physically embrace someone's burdens?

There is also a difference between burden and load. The load is the everyday stuff we all have to handle, like paying bills, feeling lonely, bad weather, the things everyone endures.

However a burden is different. Burdens are those unexpected things that get added to the everyday load. Like a tragic accident, loss of a job, death in the family, the things that come along suddenly and very unexpectedly.

Well, the sermon gives some how to's, but suffice it to say, whenever I see someone carrying their load I think of Galatians 6:2 and wonder how I am doing with carrying my own load and the burdens of others. Just a little something to think about.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Occupational Blessing.....

Today I am happy to be married to a Bible College professor! Maybe I will be happy tomorrow too!! One of the reasons is that we eat dinner together. Reports say that a family that eats dinner together most evenings, tend to communicate more and bond on a deeper level. Reports say that parents are more engaged with the children and I would add, parents are more engaged with the children. Shared meals bring an anchor to the house.

Denny and I both grew up in homes where meals were spent together so it is not an unusual thing for us to raise Ryan and Renee in the same way. Time magazine published a report (June 4,2006) that reads, "Kids who eat dinner with the parents are healthier, happier, and better students."

For some cultures, eating together is simply "being" together without talking and laughing and communicating verbally. Something that surprises our Jamaican students is how much we TALK when we eat!!! That makes me laugh because I always think, Oh I wish they could have experienced the Hall family dinners. My brother is a comedian, the rest of us would laugh so hard at Marvin's antics and stories that today I wonder how we finished our meal! My mom is a great cook, we would have eaten dinner cold, I guess!

Because Den is a professor with set hours it makes our dinner time easy to accommodate. Renee's extracurricular activities are after school so it makes life real easy to eat together.

Today I am grateful for that. We have another tradition that we have set for our time here in Jamaica. We read a chapter out loud and play a game as soon as we finish eating, even before doing the dishes. Right now the book we have chosen is Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life and the game of choice is Skip-Bo!

I found this article on line,10 Great Reasons to Eat Dinner as a Family, written by Sheila Wray Gregoire.

It’s good for the body!
1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of Family Medicine)

2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association) When we eat all together, we cook meatloaf with veggies on the side or we make stew. When the kids eat alone, we heat up chicken fingers. Not good.

3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). I think this is also because parents are watching what they eat! And when we snack in front of the TV, we eat way more than if we were sitting at a table.

Good for the brain
4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don’t have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll).

5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don’t have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University) TV doesn’t teach language skills well. When we eat at the table, kids hear their parents talking to each other, too. It’s great!

Good for emotional health
6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris- Reader’s Digest National Poll)

7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University) I read this study a few years ago and have quoted it frequently. When we eat dinner, we catch up with our kids. They know we care so they’re less likely to give in to peer pressure!

8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners less
often. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal) When we feel that our priorities are being met, we feel less stress.

9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota) And fewer teenage pregnancies!

Good for family bonding
10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey’s “Family Dinner Experiment”)

Some "intentional" choices are really good. So glad that we were intentional about eating around the table with Ryan and continuing the practice with Renee. It's not always easy if your husband is on call or works nights but being a college professor's wife is really convenient even when he teaches the night students, thanks Den!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I am not sure who the author of this piece is but I give credit to them. Today this forwarded email inspires me to live without baggage, regret, and an overall unpleasant attitude. It takes work! None of these things come naturally, but with God's help I can be a pleasant aroma to God....and when I do that...I can be a pleasant aroma to those around me!

1. Try everything twice.
On one woman's tombstone she said she wanted this epitaph:
"Tried everything twice. Loved it both times!"

2. Keep only cheerful friends.
The grouches pull you down.
(Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches!)

3. Keep learning.
Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever...
Never let the brain get idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'
(and the devil's name is Alzheimer's)

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. (This one makes me really laugh, I have always been in trouble for laughing loud.)
Laugh until you gasp for breath.
And if you have a friend who makes you laugh,spend lots and lots of time with HIM/HER.

6.. The tears happen.
Endure, grieve, and move on.
The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves.
LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love.
Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever..
Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health.
If it is good, preserve it.
If it is unstable, improve it.
If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips.
Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county,to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

11. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lots can happen in 30 days!

Thirty days ago we were in Phoenixville enjoying the time of our life! Thirty days ago Ryan changed his status from college student to college graduate! Thirty days ago Renee was wearing new clothes! That is a big deal. No shopping here in Jamrock! Thirty days ago we had already experienced Ryan's senior violin recital which was a great success! Thirty days ago we had already been to New England for three services and great times with wonderful friends. And today, thirty days ago we were at VFCC for the baccalaureate service and graduation.

We had prayed for a sunny day because if the graduation is not able to be held outside only a couple people get into the chapel. We were more than a couple, we were seven and we sure didn't want anyone that had travelled to have to sit in an overflow classroom and watch the screen.

God was gracious! It was a gorgeous day. Beautiful weather and not too hot where you felt you would be near sunstroke if you sat there much longer! A truly delightful weather day and a truly spectacular graduation day!

Ryan was a worship leader for the baccalaureate service and that was a highlight! He is in his element when he is playing his guitar and leading worship. Needless to say, our buttons were bursting. We are so proud of where God has brought him and also so proud of Ryan's obedience to follow the Lord's calling in his life. He could have gone many directions, but he chose to follow his passion and that is leading worship.

Ryan, in all reality started his music career when he was just a child! Little did we know back then that starting him in violin at the age of three would culminate in music being his career of choice. He could have become many things since he is so smart. He would have made an incredible lawyer with strong debating skills. He would be a great school teacher. He would make a great race car driver! The only field Ryan wouldn't have excelled in would be a medical field. Lots of stories there! But he chose music, or better said. Music chose him.

When he was a typical teenager, he gravitated toward the guitar. It is hard to be in the youth band with a violin! One of the youth leaders gave Ryan lots of attention on his first cheap, red and white guitar! Thanks Dalton! Because he played the violin for so many years the guitar came easy to him. He loved it. As a matter of fact, loved it so much, we purchased his Taylor guitar for his high school graduation.

When Ryan went to VFCC he was chosen for the travelling teams each year and this further solidified his passion for worship and leading. He developed in his skills, music and people, song writing, theory and ministry. His senior year found him on staff at a church in Phillie doing what he loves best....worship!

Ryan completed his bachelors in three years. We are so proud of his hard work and diligence. He saved alot of money that way and although some semesters were pretty tough with the class load, he did it. We are more than proud!

Ryan is the firstborn. His sister has learned alot long distance from his college experience. He really paved the way for her to understand a little bit better what it will be like and how hard you have to work to do it in 3 years. Knowing Renee, she will probably follow in his pattern! Ryan graduated from high school early as well. His first semester of college was when the rest of his classmates were finishing high school.

Now what? Many people have asked. In these past thirty days Ryan has put alot of miles on the car! He has gone from Phillie to Pittsburgh, Phillie to New York, Phillie to New England in search of "the place" and he has come to a real peace about Boston. He is following what he senses as God's direction and will be working a secular job (to pay for his apartment!) and volunteering in the church. He is excited to get "off the bench" and jump into the game. We remain his number one cheerleaders! God has great things planned, we are sure!