When I realized this week how long it’d been since I blogged here at BethJones.net, I felt dismayed. I could give you a million excuses for why, but it boils down to the usual: I’ve been busy. Everyone is, though, right?
But here’s what has been happening in my life recently:
I went on a week-long trip to Ireland with our daughter Leah in September 2018;
I started a new part-time Administrative Assistant job in October 2018. I’m no longer there as of this week, as my season there has ended and God has new things for me to do now;
Through a friend’s influence, I spoke and gave my testimony at a church;
I went back to Florida this year in the spring for several days, to visit Kim and her family and to enjoy a much-needed beach marathon (the ocean is my place of peace and refilling);
I wrote a Kindle eBook about Leah’s and my trip to Ireland with beautiful pics, which is now live on Amazon. You can get it here;
Right now I’m working on writing my first children’s book about Leah’s and my cats, Jax and Natalya! This is unfamiliar territory for me. For years Ray and Leah have been encouraging me to write a children’s book. I kept saying I didn’t know how, but now I finally am! As writers, we need to stretch and push ourselves, to hone our craft. We’ll see how it goes! I’m asking Leah, who is now taking college graphic design courses, to design the front cover. I pray she does; she’s an amazing artist! I’m excited about this new venture.
I’ve also been going through more intense spiritual warfare the last several years. Satan never seems to stop. Please say a prayer for me and my family. Christ has the victory, amen!
One thing I want to encourage you to do: Don’t stop dreaming!
God can make your biggest, most impossible dreams come true, as Leah and I are living proof from our trip to Ireland!
Let me know if you need prayer, too. I’ll be happy to pray for you! God is a mighty, prayer-answering God!
I’ll try to be more consistent blogging now! Let me know what topics interest YOU!
Get my newest Kindle eBook at Amazon, with beautiful pics of the “Emerald Isle” Ireland. It’s about my and Leah’s exciting adventures, traveling there in 2018.
Ireland, Soft Rains. Your big dreams CAN come true!
With fresh BONUS content–never-before released, short video clips that showcase Ireland’s beauty. Also, videos on My Best Travel Tips and funny stories about our time there!
Do you love writing? Do you want to write a book? Joseph Epstein, essayist short story writer, and editor, said at the beginning of the new millennium that 81% of people want to write a book and that statistic likely still holds true!It’s time to write YOUR book!
I started a new, part-time job outside the home this year, so I’ve been extra busy and blogging hasn’t made the top of the to-do list.
But I decided this weekend to just sit down and blog, and wanted to share about my Serene September Writers’ Get-away I hosted and spoke at in fall 2018. Four Christian women writers attended, and it was so fun that we want to do it again this year!
The venue for this writers’ retreat was at the Bethany House in Butler, Missouri.It’s about an hour south of Kansas City, MO. This is a beautiful, fully-furnished house with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in a quiet neighborhood, that has been completely remodeled inside and out.
It is a relaxing, quiet place to pray, refill, and be refreshed. The women and I love it!
You can sit outside in a big rocker on the wrap-around porch, make some popcorn and enjoy a chick flick on TV in the living room, watch the birds with your coffee in the morning in the sunroom, or sleep in late in the master bedroom, queen bedroom, or upstairs bedroom decorated in a children’s theme, which is where I prefer to stay because it’s so cute and comfortable!
The sunroom is my favorite room. I love sitting in there in the morning, drinking my coffee, journaling, and watching the birds. The sun comes streaming in through the windows.
It is so peaceful. I’ve stayed at the Bethany House several times overnight just to be alone, think about my life, and pray. The owner of Bethany House has pretty decor like this candle and angel below to set a tone of serenity and prayer for the house’s atmosphere.
I love buying gifts for people and bought the ladies attending a gift bag, each in different colors. I included goodies like a journal (to jumpstart their writing!), Sharpie ultra-fine, black pens, sticky notes, hand lotion, a little bag of tissues with sayings on them like “Seize this moment” and “Find your fearless,” chewing gum, and a Dove chocolate bar. They loved them.
I used my daughter Leah’s violin music stand to set my teaching notes on and we used used the formal dining room as our classroom and to eat. Both worked perfectly!
On Friday evening, I taught the first session of the retreat. Then we went out to eat supper at the local Mexican restaurant, El Charro–fun! When we came out of the restaurant, we saw a beautiful night sky!
Afterward, the ladies made popcorn and enjoyed the chocolates I’d brought them for the weekend, and stayed up watching chick flicks in the living room and talking. I think this set the right tone!
The next morning, I fixed the ladies breakfast (scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee). They were free to sleep in as long as they wanted!
Two of the ladies have a house full of kids, so they really needed this time of R & R!
The house has all the amenities of a nice hotel–including little shampoos and other toiletries and soft, white robes!
One of the attendees, my friend Liz, generously brought bagels from Einstein Brothers in Overland Park, Kansas, as she and her friend Simmie drove together to the retreat. She bought a variety, but one unique kind is their bagel with red onion, tomatoes, capers, and cold-smoked Nova Lox salmon. Delicious!
One of the attendees, Missy, and I talked prior to the retreat and I asked her to share a devotional on Saturday morning in the sunroom after breakfast. It was so good and she did a great job!
I had never met Missy in person or heard her speak before, but I am led by the Holy Spirit and my gut. Neither have ever led me wrong!
I’m so glad that Missy shared! It was anointed by God!
I taught several hour-long sessions during the weekend retreat, but I also gave the ladies some needed free time to be alone to pray, think, write, or to talk with each other. On Friday and Saturday night I went home to sleep, since I live right here in town and that gave the ladies more privacy.
The sessions included these topics: Why do you write, Getting Started, Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, Writing Tips, and Resources that I use each time I write a book (I’ve written 17 and am about to write my next one. You can find out more about my books at my Amazon Author Page at http://www.amazon.com/author/bethmjones.
This retreat was intense with a lot of information for beginner writers, but we also took time out for FUN! That weekend was near my birthday (September 20) and Liz’s was that weekend (September 23) , so we decided to celebrate both of ours that weekend.
I brought cupcakes and Liz and I gave each other a gift. I loved the Paparazzi earrings and necklace that Liz got me! They have such cute jewelry for just $5! The ladies sang happy birthday, too!
I felt led by God to also offer Holy Communion at the writers’ retreat. This may sound unusual, but I desire to put God first with everything I do. He is the one who has given us this gift of writing, and I feel it is important to dedicate the writing of our books, blogs, and everything we pen to Him, for Jesus’ glory.
I ended the retreat by answering any questions they had about writing. I encouraged them that I’d be first in line to buy their books!
One of the ladies, Missy, emailed me this after the retreat: “We leave for vacation in Angel Fire, NM for the next six days and I have plans to write and take photos for my book project (an inspirational “coffee table” type book about all that I have learned “In the Valley” of this year) while I am there! I can’t wait to just start!”
Another lady who attended, my friend Liz, has written an exciting adventure novel and a devotional book on the Lord’s rest, both which she plans to publish soon. I’m so excited for her!
Before the retreat, I also prayed for God to give me a Scripture and a song for each lady there. We concluded the retreat by praying for one another. This was one of the most powerful parts of the retreat, where the ladies and I received prophetic words for each other. We were all ministered to and cried! God is so good!
I brought a few visual aids to the retreat for the teaching times, such as my Cinderella glass slippers (this is my signature speech) and the Curious George monkey that was a gift to me years ago when I attended renown speaker Florence Littauer’s CLASServices speaker/writer retreat. She said always be curious!
For my birthday, my family gave me some fresh beautiful red roses and sunflowers, which are my favorite kinds of flowers. They made such a gorgeous centerpiece in the sunroom!
The ladies loved looking at them all weekend!
If you’d like me to speak at your women’s conference, retreat, or event sharing my powerful testimony or about writing your book, I’d love to come encourage you and your friends. You can contact me here at my website.
One of the ladies at the retreat, Missy, gave this testimonial:
“Thank you for all of your planning and prayer and preparation for the amazing retreat this weekend. Your passion for encouraging women to find and follow God’s calling to WRITE is simply contagious. Your willingness to be transparent, genuine and compassionate toward each of us was a blessing. Every detail was covered, everything we could possibly have needed was provided for, and every question we had was answered. You went above and beyond to ensure that we were thoroughly blessed, carefree and able to remain focused on what God was speaking to our hearts this weekend. Saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough! I have buried this dream for long enough. Because of this weekend, I am moving forward with three projects immediately, and I came home with a list of up to 20 additional writing projects to work on in the future. How amazing is that!”
Liz shared her experience about this retreat: “Beth had a great writing retreat in a lovely retreat center. She paid attention to a lot of little details, which added to our experience and had some great teaching time which was helpful. I personally needed more time to write. But I ran into some personal snags which kept me from writing. The rooms were great and the food was great, too! Loved it!”
This is post #2 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here is post #1.
We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!
I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.
“They say the clouds are lower in Ireland…I say Ireland is closer to Heaven.”–Michael Vatis
I’d been dreaming of and praying to go to Ireland for years. I was so excited that my youngest daughter Leah was going, too–thankful that her boss said yes to letting her get the time off work!
I found these cute purple tags, “Adventure Awaits,” to put on our black rollerboard luggage to help identify them on the plane. Since this was an international flight, I didn’t want to take a chance on checking our luggage and them getting lost! For the plane, you’re allowed one small piece of luggage and one personal item. I bought us the rollerboards and backpacks for our “personal item” for the plane. Leah was concerned that they wouldn’t allow us to take the backpacks on board (I packed light, but they were still stuffed!). But I used to be a flight attendant, so I knew how to push them under the seat good! They barely fit on a couple of flights, but they did!
There are some great videos on YouTube that teach you how to roll clothes for packing. You can choose to use the packing cubes or not. I learned as a flight attendant how to roll clothes and to pack “light and tight,” but I still packed too many clothes on this trip. You really don’t need as much as you think you do! And you might want to save room for souvenirs for family and friends!
When you’re going on a long, international trip like this, you really don’t want to be lugging around a bunch of suitcases with you wherever you go! We were staying at one hotel and various B & B’s (Bed and Breakfast places) throughout the southwestern part of Ireland, and renting a mid-size rental car with limited room, so I didn’t want to deal with heavy luggage for a week. As it was, our backpacks were heavy enough, straining our necks and backs a little. But I’d made the right decision to NOT check luggage.
Best travel tip: pack light, take lots of pics, and have fun!
I’m a very organized person. I researched a LOT for this trip, reading about traveling to Ireland on Trip Advisor, blogs, and articles. I printed out many things before the trip to be as prepared as possible:
vouchers for “Park, Ride and Fly” where we were parking Leah’s car while we were gone (a shuttle takes you to the airport nearby);
conversions of kilometers into miles for driving and Euros into American dollars;
the most common Ireland road signs’ meanings;
directions to some places;
and a list of suggested places to visit for each city.
I put everything that I printed out into this pretty floral folder. It was like my Ireland “Bible.”
I bought Leah and me the Kangaroo brand, waterproof, passport/money holders on Amazon. I loved them; they worked great and I highly recommend them. Just a warning, there’s lots of pickpockets and scam artists in Europe, so you have to be careful and alert. I highly recommend watching YouTube videos about pickpockets and crime in Ireland/Europe, as well as how to drive in Ireland. (There are so many round-abouts, and they can be scary with all the traffic!) I watched hours of these types of videos before traveling on our trip!
I didn’t wear any expensive jewelry traveling to Ireland, to avoid possibly being robbed. I bought a $1 ring and wore that as my fake “wedding band”!
The Kangaroo passport/money holders are a lot more secure because you wear them over your neck (and the length is adjustable). The RFID Blocking system will guard your personal data by protecting your cards and passport from unauthorized scanning. I loved all its pockets to keep different things inside. It also had a cute, little pouch to keep your phone earbuds in! Although flight attendants hand out sleeping masks and ear buds on the flights, you’ll want your own earbuds for the plane for your music, a podcast, or a movie to watch to pass the time when you’re not sleeping.
Usually I fly Delta Airlines when I travel, but for this trip I had to fly both American and Delta. We had numerous flights going to Ireland and back. You can see how tired Leah was before we even got there in the last pic below!
One of my biggest concerns was her getting severe jet lag, as she had never been on an international flight before. Ours was six hours going there, plus all the other flights we took. While we both had jet lag, it wasn’t severe as I feared and we both adjusted to the six-hour time difference there pretty fast!
Travel tip: eat a light, good meal before flying, take snacks, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other liquids (try to avoid lots of caffeine, sodas, or alcohol, which can further dehydrate you!). Some tips for overcoming jet lag are to keep drinking lots of water, stay out in the daylight and active (like visiting the sites), stay on a regular meal schedule, and try not to take long naps, so you’re adjusting to the new time difference.
I felt so bad for Leah when she was so tired (in the pic below), before we went on the international flight. But I knew that after we arrived, drank some water and ate, and rested that she’d be okay and we’d have fun. And we did! I had prayed at home that she would sleep on the international flight and bought her a soft neck pillow, which really helped her.
I also bought her and me a warm hoodie (planes can get cold) and warm socks. Flight attendants no longer dole out blankets to keep passengers warm, as it’s unsanitary (germs spread). It’s important to get up and walk the aisles on long flights like this to avoid blot clots from sitting too long. I’m happy to say that Leah slept some on the international flight. (I did not!) I was just glad that Leah did.
But I love flying. During the flight, I prayed, thought about many things in my life, and journaled. As a flight attendant, it never ceased to amaze me when the plane took off or landed–the creativity and ingenuity of man, who is made in God’s creative image. Each time I fly and look out at the clouds, I can’t help but think of God who made the clouds, the sky, and everything.
When we arrived, the first thing I had to do was get more cash out of the ATM at the Shannon airport. I’d read that the ATM’s have a better conversion rate than the exchange place (also located in the airport). The Euro is stronger than the American Dollar (one Euro equals 1.16 American Dollars), but it’s pretty close. The Euros come in bills, such as 10’s, 20’s, and 50’s as well as in coins (1 Euro, 2 Euro, and there’s also cents like we have here). It reminds me a little of Monopoly money.
I did use my business Visa bank card a few times while there, but you will need to let your bank know about your travel plans before you leave. I had to fill out a short “Travel Advisory” form at the bank. You don’t want to take a ton of cash with you, any more than you would here in the States. Most business places take Visa bank cards and you see ATM’s frequently, but most places don’t traveler’s cheques.
Then I had to go to Dan Dooley’s car rental to pick up our rental car. This had all been taken care of for the most part by renting the car online, when I paid for the vacation package. Since most of Ireland has manual cars, I had to request an automatic car. You will need to ask if you want an automatic, or they give you a manual one!
This was my first time renting a car anywhere, so this made me very happy. It was a black, automatic, mid-size car that looked similar to the car I drive at home. At first, at the airport Leah and I thought it was a manual. It just looked different than American cars and it’s a little hard to get used to switching gears, especially to neutral or reverse. The rental car was almost brand-new and drove GREAT; Leah and I wished we could take it home! You can see it in the pic below with Leah on the ferry.
The car key was also a little odd-looking: like a small steak knife! It had a button to push for the key to come out, and two buttons to unlock or lock the door. It fit perfectly inside a small pocket in my passport/money holder!
I had to practice a little in the parking lot before driving, as in Ireland they drive on the left side of the road and in the right front seat. I was scared of driving on the left side and Leah was terrified of me driving, but I did it with God’s and Leah’s help and the GPS! It was weird, but I feel I did pretty good, having never done it before! I used an app called Waze on my iPhone, which I’d read about before going over there. It did great!
I just decided to for it and drove out on the highway using Waze to get to Tesco, which is like Ireland’s Walmart. That was our first stop! But before that, we had our first coffee in Ireland at a restaurant in the airport, which Dooley’s staff recommended.
I wanted to get a pre-paid, basic cell phone at Tesco as a backup GPS, but the ones with Wifi were almost $90 (instead of $20 for the basic ones), so I decided not to do that, after all. Instead, I used my iPhone with the Waze app and it worked wonderfully the entire week! I’d read on Trip Advisor posts that this app does even better than Google Maps in Ireland.
After Tesco, we drove to Bunratty to the only hotel we stayed at during our week-long trip, Bunratty Castle Hotel.It is beautiful and the staff are so polite and welcoming. I loved the cute little, white window in our hotel room.
They served a full Irish breakfast the next morning in the dining room, and it was delicious. I’d been anticipating this from looking at videos of it on YouTube. It was a wonderful place to stay and I highly recommend. Five stars for me!
Ireland has many castles and castle ruins. Bunratty Castle is right by Bunratty Castle hotel, where Leah and I stayed the first night in Ireland, and we toured that on our second day there. It isn’t for the faint of heart; there’s lots of steep, winding, narrow stairs! It was hard on my knees! But Leah and I made it to the top of the roof, which has an incredible view. In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share more about that!