Summer’s here!

summer
summer
Image source: Google

Today is the first day of summer (you can get great summer deals today, including a free small blizzard at Dairy Queen), when it’s the longest day of the year in the U.S. and the shortest day of the year for people in Australia and residents south of the equator).

Heather, Andy, and their kids
Heather, Andy, and their kids

Our daughter Heather, her girls, her boyfriend Andy, and his kids, took off fast today for a much-needed break from work and a vacation in Branson, MO. It was a surprise for the kids.

There’s lots to do in Branson, although I joke to Ray that it’s “an old people’s place” with country hick singers and the entertainment shows (he loves it). However, Branson has beautiful scenery at Table Rock State Park and nice shopping and restaurants at Branson Landing.

Heather made a fun scavenger hunt at her house, where the kids looked for clues all over the house, until they got to the last clue which read that they were going on summer vacation in Branson. She is such a fun mom! The kids loved the scavenger hunt!

Me & Leah at our home for Thanksgiving 2017
Me & Leah at our home

Today I went to lunch with our youngest daughter Leah. When she was still living at home, she and I would go to lunch every two weeks when Ray was paid.

This was our mom-daughter special time together. After she moved out, I wanted to continue the tradition. Leah now stays busy working, taking her violin lessons, drawing her art, and doing stuff with her friends. We still try to go out every couple of weeks for our “mom-daughter” time.

A Moment's Pause Art Print
A Moment’s Pause art print
Copyright 2018 Leah Jones

You can follow Leah on Instagram @leah.merae to see the art she’s working on recently from daily prompts. You can also check out and buy her art at her Society 6 online store (Leah Merae).

I try to do lunches with Heather, too, only she lives much further away (an hour), she works more than full-time hours, and she is constantly busy, but we see each other when we possibly can.

Eden & her family
Eden & her family

Our middle daughter Eden stays very busy too, working 3 jobs, but she and Ray regularly text and video chat. We drop by to see them at times, since they and Leah live down the street from us in Butler. 

Heather, Eden, and Leah
Heather, Eden, and Leah

While our three precious daughters stay on the go every day and live their own, busy lives, I’m still trying to adjust to the empty nest. (I digress from the first day of summer, but I’m going with the writing flow for now.)

I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. Real hard. The house feels so empty at times. (My marriage isn’t what it should be yet, though we are in Christian marriage counseling now.)

insomnia
woman with insomnia
Image source: Google

At night when things are often too quiet, I lay down, wrestling with insomnia again, and then the mom guilt attacks me. The regrets. The painful ache in my heart, missing their beautiful, sweet faces and their physical presence here.

The haunting, condemning thoughts of, “I should have done more fun things with them” or “I shouldn’t have yelled at them so much” or “Why was I so focused on a clean house instead of just enjoying my time with them more?” Sometimes I miss them so much.

These days I do stay busy with my speaking and writing books. When I’m in between books, I get so restless, and feel like I’m just going to absolutely come out of my skin from boredom and anxiety. Today at lunch, Leah wisely told me, “You need to find new hobbies, mom.”

burger & fries
burger & fries

“Like what?” I asked her in between bites of a juicy cheeseburger and french fries drowned in ketchup. 

Creative things like painting or playing a musical instrument. For example, right now I’m learning to make origami.

Nancy Wilson of Heart
Nancy Wilson of Heart
Image source: Google

I told her that while origami is cool, I don’t want to do that and that I don’t know how on earth to draw or to play an instrument. The only instrument I’ve ever wanted to learn how to play was piano (which I quit my lessons as a child) and the guitar, so I could pretend to be Heart’s musician Nancy Wilson.  But I wanted to play bass guitar, not rhythm. I never learned how, and now I have no desire to be a rock star.

“What else can I do?” I asked my child who is wise beyond her years.

Whatever I want, she said. And Leah thinks that anyone can learn to draw or to play an instrument, no matter what your age is. It’s not too late to learn something new!

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Image source: Google

Here are some things I DO want to do–this summer:

  • Spend time with God and our family;
  • Travel somewhere new;
  • Start my walking/jogging routine again (pray for my self-discipline, puh-leeze! I’ve gained all my weight back!)
  • Drink more water and continue healthy eating (cut carbs and sugar dramatically, more salads and fresh veggies);
  • Restore our marriage;
  • Possibly write a children’s book with Leah illustrating the art on the front cover (she’s thinking about it!);
  • De-clutter my office (tame the paper tiger!);
  • Go horseback riding somewhere;
  • Have some much needed down time at the beach, my place of rest and refilling;
  • Visit my family and friends in different states;
  • Go on another train ride;
  • Speak at a women’s conference (several times would be great!);
  • Lead at least one person to Christ, hopefully more;
  • See God moving in our family, drawing us closer to Him and one another;
  • Visit the mountains; 
  • Ride a hot air balloon ride with Ray, drinking champagne;
  • Have roses bloom in my home garden;
  • Grow more Christ-like, in the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Laugh more. 

These are just some of the things I’d love to do. What about you? Share your comments below.

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Reward yourself for hard work

Got my hair done-yay!
Got my hair done–yay!

Today, after nearly a YEAR of waiting, I got my hair done–yay! (Colored, blonde highlights, and trim) I feel like a new woman! The Bible says a woman’s hair is her glory. (1 Corinthians 11:15) I believe it! Although hair isn’t everything (it’s the heart that counts), it affects a woman so much when her hair doesn’t look good. I now feel so much more attractive and better about myself. 

hairdresser meme

This appointment was to reward myself for my hard work, writing the last book God told me to write, Metamorphosis: Transformed From Despair to Hope (for sale at Amazon here). Whenever you meet a goal, you should reward yourself for your accomplishment! Make sure it’s something that you love. Today, mine was getting my hair done and eating Mexican!

The Y Factor
The Y Factor Hair and Nail Salon

I enjoy chatting with my hairdresser, Yvette at The Y Factor, in Butler, MO, where I live. She’s an outgoing, friendly Sanguine red-head who talks and laughs a lot. She’s also successful and very knowledgeable about business, so I like talking with her for success ideas. 

chips and salsa
chips and salsa

Afterward, my husband Ray and I went to eat at El Charro, the Mexican restaurant here in town, for me to get my chips and salsa fix (I’m addicted!). I hadn’t eaten lunch today, so I was hungry. I told Ray that I felt like I could eat a horse! He said out of the side of his mouth that he’d be sure to keep me steered clear of any pastures. 

horse meme

My cat Natalya acted like she hadn’t seen me in years after I was gone today. Ray said while I was at the hair salon, she sat at the back door, staring at it and meowing, until she finally resigned herself that I wasn’t coming home for awhile and climbed into bed with him as he tried to sleep, following his work shift. She was glad to see me when I came home. (It’s nice to be so loved!)

She is a very needy cat. I constantly pet her! She’s so sweet, cute, and funny, and she makes me laugh.

Natalya my cat
Natalya my cat

She is now in my office, occasionally meowing at me, so in a little while I need to get off here and pay attention to her and pet her!

“Time spent with a cat is never wasted.” –Colette (author, Gigi)

Beth Jones, Speaker & Author

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been working on my website theme to include a sunflower header. I’ve changed the website frequently yesterday and today. Whenever I get bored, restless, discouraged, or some other intense emotion, I start changing my website theme. I become intently dissatisfied and then obsessed.

Woman entrepreneur at laptop
woman entrepreneur at laptop

As I ate my chips and salsa today, I talked to Ray non-stop about my website and business. He patiently listened and watched me devour my food. Then he wisely told me that people don’t really care how pretty a website is; they are simply looking for good content and a variety of interesting things you can offer them. So true! (But I still like pretty websites!)

This is a new responsive, minimalist WordPress theme called “Freedom.” Do you like it? 

My goal this year is to begin studying marketing for my speaking and books and do whatever else God wants me to do. I want to be aligned with His purpose for my life and follow Jesus. What about you?

“Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” –Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed By a Relentless God

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God’s sweet grace: My speaking event at ladies’ retreat in Liberty, Missouri

This past Sunday, October 15, 2017, I had the honor to speak at the Precious Blood Retreat Center in Liberty, MO, for a women’s retreat. I’ve been speaking for over 10 years now, and in all that time, I’ve never received such a generous gift as the event planners and women gave me at this one! 

Carla, me, & Kathy (event planners for retreat)
Carla, me, & Kathy (event planners for retreat)

 

chapel
chapel

 

center
center

 

statue in garden
statue in garden

The event planner, Carla, told me that as a small church, they had a tight budget and might not be able to pay me a lot. Not only did they give me twice the amount of speaking fee I was expecting, but they also gave me a bag of chocolates, the goody bags they gave the attendees, a beautiful journal, and an entire cute, white crate filled with new gifts the women had bought me! I was in shock and so touched by this! WOW! What a blessing!

white crate of gifts
white crate of gifts

 

the generous gifts
the generous gifts

 

2018 planner, dip bowl, prayer note cards, bird deco
2018 planner, dip bowl, prayer note cards, bird deco

 

cute measuring bowls
cute measuring bowls

 

hand-made blankets
hand-made blankets

 

coaster
coaster

I was just blown away by their generosity!

ladies at retreat
ladies at retreat

 

women at weekend retreat
women at weekend retreat

The women were so sweet and made me feel so welcome. Several ladies came up after I spoke to thank me for sharing my testimony and said that it blessed them. Their theme for this retreat was A Chocolate Life Devotional by Deb Burma. I tailored my presentation to this, sharing my story and talking about God’s sweet grace.

me as keynote speaker
me as keynote speaker

 

A Chocolate Life devotional
A Chocolate Life devotional

 

Here in the pictures below, the women are writing their thank you cards to Jesus for the blessings He has given them in their lives. The event planners, Carla and Kathy, put so much work, planning, and organization into this; I was so impressed! The ladies went through all of the devotionals in the book on Friday night and Saturday. It was a full weekend of teaching from Carla. And of course, there was LOTS of chocolate! (I brought some Dove chocolates for them, too.)

women writing thank you's to Jesus
women writing thank you’s to Jesus
women at ladies' retreat
women at ladies’ retreat

 

teen girls
teen girls

This beautiful lady, Jennifer, is the mom of two beautiful twin girls. Jennifer is a nurse at Saint Luke’s hospital in Overland Park, KS. I enjoyed talking with her and am so glad there were all ages there, including youth! They have a powerful testimony, almost dying at birth.

Jennifer and her twin daughters
Jennifer and her twin daughters

These ladies, Kathy and Karen, are sisters, too. Karen bought my book on 8 women’s powerful stories of spiritual warfare, and greatly encouraged me about what I’d shared. Here we were outside, on the fun scavenger hunt. We looked up Bible verses for the clues.

Sisters Kathy & Karen on the scavenger hunt outside
Sisters Kathy & Karen on the scavenger hunt outside

This cute, little older lady is Fran. She chose to be my partner when we worked on the scavenger hunt. She was so sweet!

Fran
Fran

I always give away a gift bag when I speak at events, including a free copy of one of my books. In this gift bag I included my memoir, a pumpkin scented candle, and a cute orange notepad with a cat on the front, which read “Meow! Meow! Meow!” I asked God to help me pick the right woman to receive it and asked, “Who loves cats?”

gift bag for Paula
gift bag for Paula

I chose Paula, who is in the pic below with me. She was so happy; she’d never won anything before. She has an orange cat named Garfield! God knew!

She blessed me so much, giving me a big hug. She also hand-made one of the beautiful blankets in the white crate gift!

me & Paula
me & Paula

The night before, it had stormed badly and there was even a tornado watch there at the retreat center, with the power going out a couple of times. But Sunday was a gorgeous fall day. The sunshine and cool weather were exhilirating!

It was a gorgeous fall day!
It was a gorgeous fall day!

At the end of the retreat, each woman could choose a beautiful journal to take home.

journals
journals

 

trust journal
trust journal

I chose the one which had the scripture on love.

love journal
love journal

The Precious Blood Retreat Center is by a beautiful lake with a walking trail. It was so peaceful there. I was very impressed with the center, and contacted the staff today about possibly hosting my own ladies’ retreat there next spring or fall 2018. It has a building with a meeting room, a big kitchen and a dining room, numerous bedrooms upstairs and downstairs, bathrooms (including showers), and a washer and dryer room. BIG PLUS: it has a Keurig coffee maker and cups in the dining room, and Wi-fi!

retreat bedroom
retreat bedroom

 

writing desk in bedroom
writing desk in bedroom

 

Keurig coffee maker & cups
Keurig coffee maker & cups

 

retreat lake
retreat lake

 

fountain
fountain

 

beautiful lake
beautiful lake

 

I had a perfect ending to this event; I had chips and salsa and soft chicken tacos at a nearby Mexican restaurant!

chips and salsa
chips and salsa

 

chicken tacos
chicken tacos

It was such a blessing and privilege to meet Carla and all the ladies at this event and to speak there. If you are an event planner or know someone who needs a speaker for their women’s conference, retreat, or event, you can contact me here.

me, women's retreat, Liberty, MO
me, women’s retreat, Liberty, MO
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