Wednesday, December 26, 2012


17 weeks from now the handsome guy above flies to the States for a  


Friday, December 14, 2012

::friend Friday::Nina::

I'm so happy to have Nina here for Friend Friday.  Within the past few months, I've begun reading her blog.  I'm absolutely serious when I say that it's easy to tell from her blog that she has a genuine + sweet spirit -- just the type of blog I love to read.  I didn't get to meet her when my brother and I spontaneously visited her church several years ago....wish now that we could've met!

Take it away, Nina!!


Hello there!

My name is Nina Rose Hall. I'm 24 years old, and live I in Macungie, Pennsylvania. I've attended Lehigh Valley Baptist Church my whole life, and am so very grateful that the Lord has placed me here!

Curious what I do? Well, I'm a passionate lover of all things musical! Since I was young, I've had an interest in music and my parents have given me the opportunity to receive a lot of instruction over the years. My favorite instrument is the piano, then my harp, my flute, my orchestra bells, and my violin (which I hope to improve on in the coming years!).

Since I was young, I've had the privilege of doing quite a bit of traveling both in the US and in foreign countries abroad: visiting our missionaries, taking family vacations, visiting friends, school trips, teen camps, national parks, music programs, etc... Traveling is a wonderful way of broadening your perspective of life - and keeps things interesting!

I was saved as a teenager. Through the years, the Lord had often worked in my heart to show me my sin, and the importance of giving my life to him. My testimony is that the goodness of God led me to repentance...through the continual teaching of God's word at church and home, and the many blessings He poured out in my life. As I grew older and He began to reveal my sinful heart to me, I wanted nothing more than to be made into a "new creature" as the Bible talks about. You can read my testimony in more detail here on our church website.

I graduate from Louisiana Baptist University with my bachelor's in Music in 2010, and completed my Religious Education Diploma from Lehigh Valley Baptist Bible Institute in 2012.

A typical week would find me teaching piano lessons to about 15 students; working on a few job assignments around our church office; volunteering some time with the students at our christian school (Emmaus Baptist Academy); and doing the typical cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc...around our house with my mother and sister.

Sunday's are always busy days for our family as we all do our particular ministries around the church...then meet back at home later to talk about how everything went! :)

My family members are my closest friends. :) We have so much fun together! My parents are the best - I love them very much! Benjamin is my older brother, and a blessing to have around. He is engaged to be married this summer to a very lovely young lady from Washington state! Selena is my younger sister, and very best friend...I couldn't imagine life without her! Titus is my younger brother, and one of the sweetest guys I've ever known...don't know how I got so lucky to have such an amazing brother. Hudson is my youngest brother - cutest little guy with a hilarious sense of humor...we love him to pieces!

Well, that's a little bit about me! Thanks, Rebecca, for asking me to participate in your Friend Friday! It's been so fun getting to know you! :)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

::the story 3::


We met for the first time on Sunday morning before Sunday school. I don't think either of us would say it was "love at first sight"....although he was WAY more handsome than the picture I'd seen.  ;)

Leon came up for dinner that Sunday night after church, along with Carol + baby Hazel, [Adam was on deputation], James, and Brenda [Zambian students here at the college].  Annnnnnd, he didn't show any interest in me.  At all.  He was polite but stand-offish.  We laugh about it now.

There were absolutely no hints, at first, that he was even remotely interested.  "He was here to go to the Conference."  <----- that's what he would've said if you would've asked him

Our first time together [was it a date?!] was with the missionaries who first started the church where he currently attends.  It was great fun to be with them and hear so many stories.  The Gordon's are great people!

Our first "official" date was Friday of that week.  We went with my pastor and his wife and Adam + Carol to Chicago.  Ruth Chris' for lunch.  Sears Tower.  Grand Luxe for dessert.  The whole bit.  It was fantastic.  We laughed a lot and had an absolutely wonderful time together.

From that first Friday, I have felt so completely comfortable with Leon....never a lack for conversation...can't even really count that many awkward moments.

We spent a little time here and there over the weekend.  Monday, we went to the dairy farm. [this post]

Our last date together was on Wednesday, the day before he left.  It was a fantastic day in every way.

Thursday, he left for London to meet up with his mom.

Then, a 13-week separation.
Then, a trip in August. [posts here]
Then, a 15-week separation.
Now, a 2-week trip.

I really have no words for how God has orchestrated this relationship.  Last night at dinner, my brother said, "God must have something amazing in store because this relationship is unlikely."  I mean...come on!  Africa + America doesn't typically happen.

I love Leon so much.  He brings out the best in me.  The hard times of being separated have taught me sooooo soooo many valuable lessons.  I can't thank the Lord enough for the hard times.

The hard times are about to be over in 14 hours when I land in Lusaka.  Praise-allujah.

*blogging from London -- waiting to catch my last flight.


Monday, December 10, 2012

::blown away::

::taken in a real turbine engine!!!::

 I'm getting blown away today to Africa.

Thank you, Jesus, for the opportunity to go.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012


::our crab-apple tree was especially pretty this year after the leaves had fallen::

5 days till departure
4 more things to purchase
3 batches of goodies to bake
2 suitcases to pack
1 sweet man I miss very much

Really, at a loss for words for this little space.  Sometimes, my heart is so heavy from missing Leon.  There are a lot of miles between Chesterton and Kabwe.  But, the Heavenly Father [always] [generously] enables with peace and strength, giving me no reason but to have joy.


Monday, December 3, 2012


<<creative people>>
<<the type that come up with this sort of video>>
<<are some type of amazing>>

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

::just six weeks away::

Just in time for Christmas!

These are my favorites but there are bunches more in the shop!

I'm telling you...this is the perfect small gift for a "secret sister" at church, stocking stuffer, cousin gift, grandma name it.

Ten bucks only for pretty Scripture cards to sit on a ledge or dresser or nightstand or desk and be a blessing to someone you love. 

I must say, I think these cards do best on a cute 'lil easel rather than hole punched with a ring.  But whatever suits you best is fine.

Here's the deal:

Buy 4 or more>>>get an one additional free [let me know in "notes to seller" what your choice is]
Buy 3>>>get $5 back [refunded to your paypal account]


Monday, November 12, 2012

::another fun Friday::

On Friday, the kids I nanny had the day off school.  We had a great time visiting a Museum in Chicago.  When we did this trip in the summer, we took the train.  This time, I drove in to the city giving us at least 2 extra hours.  What fun!

Other than a few school groups, there weren't many people there so the kids were able to spend lots of time playing + learning at the exhibits.


We had to get a picture by the cows.  :)

Also, I learned something very interesting.

If you were to drink either a can of pop a day OR eat a candy bar a day for a year, which product would cause you to gain the most weight?

My first reaction: the soda pop [duh!]
Really >>> it's the candy bar.

I don't know why this was a shocker but it's something I learned on Friday.  :)

Happy new week!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Wednesday night, a group of friends got together for a little campfire.

It was perfect....apples with all the fixings, s'mores, and warm apple cider [didn't bring enough of that!].

So many laughs! We played a game called LCR. <<weird name, I know! But super fun and fast-moving with a fun-loving group. 

The absolute best thing [in my humble, unnecessary opinion] about our church is the large group of young people, particularly young marrieds.  Though I'm not a part of the "young couples class" ['cause I'm not married yet], I've made some great memories over the past few years strengthening friendships with other "kids" I grew up with.  

::getting close::

Just a few more weeks 'til I leave. 
[cue Hallelujah Chorus]

 Incentive to going [other than seeing Leon and the family]....

weather here this coming Monday:

 weather there this coming Monday:


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

::me and batgirl::

Me and 'lil Bat-girl

I'm handing out candy at my boss' house in S Creek today.

It'll be busy because you know all the smart kids from town know where to get the good stuff.  :)


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I did not get enough [read: very many, at all] pictures of the family or The Fig.

So when I go back in December, I need to rectify this.  :)

I do have this nice picture of Bianca on my last Sunday there.

I'm so so so so so thankful for incredible sisters-in-law who welcomed me into the family so warmly. I've wanted sisters for so long and knew the only way I'd end up with them is with sisters-in-law.  So blessed that there are two sisters ready and available in Zambia.  :)


Monday, October 29, 2012

:: ::

[my beautiful Mom on the left]

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit is so evident in some Christians' lives.  The Lord has used several ladies [and my Mom, of course!!!!] in my church to encourage me.  The more I allow the Holy Spirit to change me into the likeness of our beautiful Saviour, the brighter my spirit and Christian testimony will shine.


Saturday, October 27, 2012


Do you notice amongst all the burnt and brown the beautiful yellow flowers?  
Sometimes, that's life...looking for the beauty amongst the barrenness.]

 This week!!! has been good.

>>>My Mom and I finished the first cake course.  And we were like "We made that??? Why yes, we made that!!!!"  Imperfect.  But, they do resemble roses, do they not?!  :)

>>>This status update on Facebook.  Oh yes. Let's do it again family! Let's do it again! [with Mom Staal and Natasha, too -- oh and Andy + Anton, too]

So yes, it was a good week.

The next few weeks in a blur >> working late, working late again + Election Day, Empowered Youth, spending time with Oma and Opa along with Thanksgiving, then pack for my next trip to Zambia.  So pretty much, hello December.  :)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

::an encouraging thought::

[precious faces....Mercy, Hazel, and Teija]

Several years ago, a pastor's wife spoke at our church's Mother-Daughter banquet.  As part of her talk, she gave the most helpful poem that coincided with her theme.

I've often had bits and pieces of it in my mind.  Last week, I finally made an effort to find the poem and jot it down for posterity's sake.

Here it is and I hope you enjoy it.  

Three men were walking on a wall,
Feeling, Faith, and Fact.
When Feeling took an awful fall and Faith was taken back.
So close was Faith to Feeling that he stumbled and fell, too.
But Fact remained and pulled Faith up, with Faith came Feeling, too.


Thursday, October 18, 2012


My Mom and I have been taking a cake decorating class together.  Monday is the last session of the 4-part series.  

Honestly, I was so excited about this week's class.  I had my cupcakes all made.  The frosting was tinted before I set foot in class (!!!!).  I was early and set up my work station.  blah blah blah.....Aaaaaaand, the frosting was too thin and basically, the night was a complete flop.

So to redeem myself and try to salvage a bit of the time thrown away by Monday night's class, I made cupcakes for my Master's Club class tonight.  

The frosting was made according to class instructions, not pre-packaged frosting.  [In our defense, the teacher said we could use it <<< I know. Big waste of time.]

And I could actually form leaf-and-rosette-resembling sugary concoctions.  These were by no means perfect but what fun it was to make a big mess and actually see results.  :)

Maggie and Kali are having their own version of cupcake wars.  Do any of you enjoy cake decorating?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

::step by step::

 [entrance to "The School" also commonly known as the "Guest Cottage" on the Staal farm]

Sometimes, we [collectively] speak of God opening and closing doors.  I don't necessarily love this word-picture.  But honestly, if we truly live "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths..." then God points the way for each step we take.

My grandma has been living in the same retirement community since she moved up to the Hoosier state with us.  Recently, my parents made a decision for various reasons that she needed to move to a facility in our town.  I thought the grand move would happen in August while I was on the other side of the world.  

It never did.  Meanwhile, construction continued on a gorgeous new facility down the road from us.

Through a series of circumstances, Granny still hasn't moved.  

However, she's most likely moving this weekend or next week to the newest, most-beautiful retirement/care-giving facility in our town.  

We are so over-joyed at how God cares for us and directs each step.  Even delays and misunderstandings work out for our benefit if we trust He has a greater plan.  :)


Monday, October 8, 2012

::just a peek::

FOR TODAY, October 8th

Outside my window...sunshine, blue skies, breeze, changing leaves
I am thinking...about the compassion of Jesus gleaned from Bible reading this morning [Mark 4-6]
I am thankful...for Leon
In the kitchen...baked garlic parmesan chicken for dinner
I am wearing...skirt, long-sleeved white top, scarf [the usual]
I am creating...needing to finish a dress I began sewing months ago
I am work, then to a cake decorating class
I am wondering...why mail doesn't get delivered on Columbus Day
I am reading...The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson
I am hoping...that our current president is removed from office in November
I am looking forward to...Wednesday, December 12th
I am learning... God's plans are always best
Around the house...bathrooms cleaned, laundry + vacuuming done <<< love a fresh house
I am pondering...the documentary Agenda that I saw on Friday night
A favorite quote for today..."To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men." Abraham Lincoln
One of my favorite things...Words with Friends
A few plans for the rest of the week: work, church,
A picture thought for the day...[would you guess any other would be on my mind?!]


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

::living without worry::

[doesn't this pool look positively tranquil?!]

Recently, I've discovered the works of J.R. Miller.  But honestly, I shouldn't say "recently" because I was required to read one of his books for a college class.  But discovering the wealth of a good writer is always more of a treasure when it's not required reading.

I downloaded two of his books to my Nook for $.99 each.  I know!!  A great deal.

Today, I've been working through Living Without Worry.

 The lesson [living without worry] is well worth learning, at whatever cost.  To live nobly, energetically, up to one's best, and yet without worry, is one of the highest attainments possible.  It is the ideal life.  It is the life whose vision of beauty is pictured for us in the peace which our Lord promises his people, the peace that passes all understanding that keeps the heart and mind in Christ Jesus - the perfect peace that comes to him whose mind is stayed on God.

This week has been great.  I took the day off work on Monday and spent time with my Mom.  And tomorrow, we are going to squeeze in an "emergency" [i.e. have-to-return-something and catch a sale] shopping trip before work.

Also, the month of October is going to fly by.  Even though I'm not restricted by school, my life very  much revolves around the school calendar because I'm an after-school sitter.  There are all sorts of extra hours at work pecked into my phone's calendar which makes me happy. Busy weeks = a quick month

So that's what's happening on the home front. Anything new with you?


Saturday, September 29, 2012

::junior church game::

I thought I'd share a game I'm making for the kids at church tomorrow.  I frequently feel that I run out of ideas so when the creative urge strikes, I try to run with it.  Maybe some of the games I post here will be help + blessing to someone else.

I love the dot-to-dot game so here is my version!

Simply take a blank piece of poster board and plaster it with Post-It an orderly fashion, of course.  :)

I used three different prizes this week and alternated them between all of the squares.
But, here's the kicker.  I'm using these pumpkin manipulatives for a twist.  The kids will choose a pumpkin and on the back is a number.  That's the number of lines they get to draw.  And there's even a few "4" pumpkins which means that kid is an instant winner!

So that's my game for tomorrow!

I hope everyone has a tremendously fantastic Sunday!