Getting The Most Out of the Holiday

A few things we have learned about the holidays to increase joy and experience it to the fullest.  Go slower, keep it simple, buy less, spend time with others, choose activities that require more one on one time and less busyness, take conversations deeper, love more, feel the energy from the friends you meet.  Here are a 5 suggestions to help spice up this season:nap-in-a-hammock-for-2

“Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.”

– Charles Spurgeon


“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Hubert H. Humphrey
How can you relax with friends more during this holiday?



“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
― Hippocrates  

In between the 5th piece of pie, select colorful and natural foods for your family to eat!



Dust off the board games, shut down devices, and pull the family together for a few games and laughter. When it comes to family peace: “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” Aristotle


Cuddle because research shows that “hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.”

10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day – mindbodygreen


“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” Dr. Suess

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.”

Winston Churchill
Rest and Reflect This Holiday Season!

A Christmas Miracle

One of my favorite things about living in Asia, is monkeys.  Many of you watched the video of the “attack of the monkey on my hair.” If not, I’ve included this for your viewing pleasure at the bottom of this post!  But, the sad part is that this video is only one of many of my dangerous monkey encounters.  The one that I would like to share today ended in a miracle that saved a life.  It begins with my pet monkey.

pet-monkey-and-i sleeping-monkey


This teenage male macaque pictured above, came with the house we rented and we bonded at once.  In fact, we enjoyed him so much, we (I, with my husband ever warning me) decided to get a female monkey and mate them.  I pictured cute baby monkeys to play with, what could go wrong?


A friend found a female monkey and sight unseen I said that I would take it.  As soon as this monkey arrived and they placed it on my lap, I knew we were in trouble.  The monkey was a full grown adult and was a bit nauseated from the moto ride to my house.  Needless to say, the clothes I was wearing were placed in the trash.  At the beginning, things looked good as they bonded together in our backyard.  But, a few days after their romance began things got bad for me.  The female began to be jealous of me until one day as I went to feed them, she attacked me and bit my hand.  Her teeth went deep into my skin as she grabbed my thumb.  We wrestled until she finally let go and I ran screaming into my home.  With doors slamming behind, she ran around the house looking for a way to attack again. Fortunately for cell phones, Marc returned to the house with back up and we said goodbye to the female monkey.

The female monkey at her new home.

But, as promised, the good news is coming soon so hang in there!  I visited a doctor in the city who prescribed an antiviral that I needed to take but was unavailable in our country and was costly to order.  We decided it was best to spend the money for this medicine.  The day it arrived, I got a phone call from a friend saying that there was a woman who was very ill from high fevers and I needed to see her immediately.  They were afraid that she would die soon.  I picked up my antiviral at the pharmacy and headed to the refugee camp where the sick lady was waiting for me.  I pulled up to see her to find a mother of 3 lying in her bamboo hut with a worried husband next to her.  She had Shingles which is a viral infection all over her skin and her fever was so high that I could feel the heat before entering her hut.

shingles home-of-shingles

I realized that the medicine I just picked up was the exact medicine, dose, and amount she needed.  I gave her the medicine that day and thanked God for the opportunity to be a part of a Christmas miracle not from me but from Him!  Merry Christmas and I hope your Christmas is filled with joy and miracles.

Nomadic Living From a Volcano Lake to the Plains of America

We added it up.  Since summer this year, our family has slept in over 40 different beds each!! We have been in 3 countries and will add France to that list by next week.  Nomadic living has taken us off the path and to many hidden jewels.  When we travel, we stop momentarily where the tourists go but always seem to steer off that path usually because its cheaper, more intimate with nationals, quieter, and it feels more like real life.

Last summer, we visited Ratanakiri to delve into a corner of the earth few get to travel.  Twelve different languages within 50 miles of each other! There is no other place like Ratanakiri Cambodia.  Closed to the world, except those willing to take a 2 day moto adventure through mud, until 2 years ago, many of these tribal areas remain untouched from outside influence.  We traveled 10 hours from capital Phnom Penh to arrive in this town and was surprised to find 3 great experiences including a volcano lake, a luxurious hotel with charm and excellent food, and a canoe ride to visit the villages whose language no one speaks except 200-500 people in the entire world.


Terres Rouges Lodge in Ratanakiri

Travel tip: We often book a nice hotel such as this on the second day of our trip.  We show up early and check out late.  Before and after, we stay at a hostel or backpackers place in order to save money.

Lake Yeak Laom

Located approximately 3 mi (4.8 km) from the provincial capital, Banlung, the beautiful lake occupies a 4,000-year-old volcanic crater. Due to the lake’s tremendous depth (157 ft or 48 m), its water is exceptionally clean and clear. The lake is almost perfectly round and measures 0.45 mi (0.72 km) in diameter. Large trees and rich, lush rain forest, the home of many exotic birds and parrots, surround the lake. The water has a mysterious viscous feel yet clear as glass. An unusual sight and feel with mysteries lying on the bottom such as unexploded bombs from Vietnam War and bodies of those who thought they could swim.

Tonle San River Ride

Driving an hour out of Ratanakiri town, we approached the shack, trash lined edge of the Tonle San river to arrange a canoe.  Waiting another hour, a man came running up ready to load.  We road the canoe down the river with our guide who is Chinese but lives in a village with about 200 other Chinese families who left China over 50 years ago.

Eli with Chinese/Khmer canoe driver and tour guide.

The sun was intense on our backs as it was midday with no shade on this 2 hour boat ride.  But, all of us were enthralled as we looked out to find children and adults on the edge of the river scantly dressed and bathing or washing clothes.  He explained that each of these people had their own language.  They were called the Khmer Loeu, Tampuan, Brou and others depending if you asked an outsider or Khmer.  Not much is known about many of them but a few have learned enough Khmer to interact with the outside world.  We stopped and visited the Jarai village of about 200 people.  No-one knows the history of how they got to this land but they have been there since they can remember.  Ancestors knew how to live on the forest alone but now they are employed by outside groups to cut down precious timber by the acres.  We watched as they bathed without clothing unashamed as a community in the river.

hot-on-a-canoe tribal-village-on-river

Recently, we reflected on this trip and other unusual adventures, over a coffee with friends when asked “what have you learned from living a nomadic life?” Here are some unique lessons that came from this conversation:

  1. The less we own, the less there is to stress about.
  2. What we give, God blesses us back. We give to the poor, and we receive from friends and family in America. Sometimes the blessing isn’t material but often joy, contentment, and peace fill our families lives.
  3. Our kids are different.  They don’t have a permament home and they don’t own many toys.  They never slept in a crib or have a bed to call their own.  But, the weird thing is this: they are happy and good (unless you give them American candy and tell them to share it).
  4. Adventure is in our blood.  At a young age, this meant rebellion.  In our adult life, its exploration. We were both made for this life. It’s unusual enough that we are both adventurers.
  5. Finally, it makes our family bonds even stronger and my kids are proud to say they are a ‘Hall”.
  6. Our family and friends in America get to learn these lessons with us as we give a window to life outside of America and outside the normal box.

Every life is unusual and unique.  Yours is too.  Share what is unusual about your life and what you have learned from that?

I’m Glad I’ve Suffered Because of Love

Suffering hurts but I am glad that I have suffered and wouldn’t change the bad things that happened to me.  I’d like to share why.

  1. Suffering has brought friendships deeper and surrounded me with the real friends who truly care and love me.
  2. Suffering taught me that we were created to heal.  That it has a beginning and end and this gives me hope.
  3. Suffering has changed me.  I will never reject a person for their faults or differences.  I have dropped my expectations of others and allowed them to be who they are. I will never allow others to feel rejected but I desire all around me to feel loved.
  4. Suffering helped me embrace everything my senses have to offer each day.  I realize the gift of stepping on soft grass, the smell of a fire, watching waterfalls flow for hours, tasting the sweet, and the pleasant gift of an orchestra.  I’ve come to appreciate all these are gifts to me everyday by the greatest artist of all time.
  5. Suffering strengthened my marriage.  It allowed me to be weak while he was strong.
  6. Finally, suffering made me realize that I was created to love and be loved and anything less was despicable.
Touching an albino porcupine as it slept on my lap.

Have you suffered?  Tell us the lessons you have learned. Are you suffering today? Tell me and I will pray for you.  So many are suffering beyond what I can comprehend and my hope today is to help lift anyone who feels as if it is all meaningless.  Everything about you is meaningful, grande, and important.  You are unique and have a beauty your own!

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