Today is the beginning of a new month, March. I always feel like the first of a month is an opportunity for a fresh start-a reset button. Like if last month was really crummy, then here’s a toast to a much better one!
I remind myself that, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT) So thankful for that! God, You are good, faithful, and true! Full of grace and love. May I be so.
Today I painted my nails powder-blue, in anticipation of spring. (A nail model, I am not! Twenty-six years of washing dishes and doing housework has done its toll on my hands, and they show my age more than any other body part! Yet American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon Iris Apfel said it well: “I don’t see anything so wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage!”) I like the soft blue color.
Powder-blue nail polish
Spring 2020 is officially on Thursday, March 19. Today as I walked outside, I saw and heard robins singing and doves cooing, excited about spring in the air. Spring is also like the Earth offering a brand new start-a chance at life again.
Our precious grandbaby, Willow
My schedule now is primarily driving our youngest daughter Leah to her doctor appointments–her fibula surgery follow-up visits, physical therapy, and other appointments and errands. I drive the 45 miles to her city, willingly, happy to do it. But on days that it rains and snows/ices, I grip the steering wheel, praying that the car’s tires won’t slide and I won’t wreck, especially if Leah is with me in the car–another reason I welcome spring and summer.
Leah at physical therapy with her therapist Sam, who rocks!
A fall on ice and snow in Leah’s driveway at her rental home is WHY our precious daughter broke the fibula in her ankle, requiring surgery and the thick, black ankle boot that she must wear 8-10 weeks post-surgery.
Although normally a snow bunny who loves the beautiful snow, I now hate ice for doing this to her. It is the enemy-one of many. Yet last week when she began 50% weight-bearing on her ankle at physical therapy, I was filled with joy! She’s on the way to walking again!
Leah on one crutch, using 50% weight-bearing on her ankle
Helping Leah–driving her to her appointments and on errands–is my #1 priority for 2020. Everything else–my speaking, writing, and traveling–is on hold for now.
me & our precious daughter Leah at Jose Pepper’s restaurant
Before Leah’s accident near Christmas that caused her fibula to break, I did have my first children’s book in the works. The illustrator is still working on coloring the last four images for the pictures inside the book. Again, God has me waiting. It seems that I’m often in the waiting room.
The book is about my and Leah’s black cats, Natalya (Nat) and Jax, learning to become friends when Leah was still living with us. While certainly not BFF’s, they did play with each other at times (and fight, as well!)–frenemies. The idea of the book is that we can develop friendships with others, who we may not like at first.
Jax and Natalya
Ray and Leah encouraged me for years to write a children’s book. I kept giving excuses why I couldn’t–I’d never written one before! Ray pointed out that I’d never written other types of books, either. Yet now I’m the author of 19 books–16 non-fiction and 3 fiction adult books. You can check them out at my Amazon Author Page here.
Beth Jones’ book signing for LaToya Gay
So I decided that I would write a children’s book, after being inspired by our comical cats, whom we love so much. I hope to have this book launched in mid-March or late March 2020, so stay tuned. If you aren’t already subscribed on my website personal mailing list, sign up now at the top of the page on the right-hand side to be FIRST to hear when this eBook for Kindle goes live on Amazon!
As I anticipate the warmer weather, beautiful flowers, and watching birds and squirrels feed from our sunroom, I also wait eagerly for the miraculous healing of Leah’s fibula in her ankle. I have strong faith that God is going to completely heal her. She’ll soon be walking again and I will give Jesus Christ all the praise, honor, and glory.
Leah at physical therapy, at 50% weight-bearing on her ankle
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
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!
Outside porch with rockers
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!
Living room to watch a good chick flick!
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.
coffee in Bethany House cup
Windchime in sunroom
Stenciling in sunroom
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.
candle and angel
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!”
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.
The recent trip I made to Ireland with my precious daughter Leah for the first time in our lives was incredible. I had booked our trip through Great Value Vacations, choosing their B & B’s package, which I believe was the right choice. It allowed us to travel throughout the southwest of Ireland at different Bed & Breakfast places.
I read lots of reviews to decide which ones to stay at as we traveled in a direction that resembled a Shepherd’s Hook. Every one of them was immaculately clean, with a full Irish breakfast served in the morning and tea/coffee and cookies in the afternoon to welcome us there.
Road in Killorglin
There was only one B & B that we stayed at where I couldn’t wait to leave! It was in the town of Killorglin, which is located in County Kerry, located on the famous Ring of Kerry and The Wild Atlantic Way. It is founded on the River Laune, known for its salmon and trout fishing, and the Reeks District is renown for outdoor activities, mountain walks, and sports activities.
I loved the canopy of green trees driving to this B & B, pictured above, as well as the unusually beautiful roses in the driveway. It was beautiful.
There were palm trees and beautiful, majestic, blue-purple mountains in the background. It was one of the prettiest places we visited.
The owners of this B & B near Killorglin had a sheep farm; they had a sheep dog, a breed of dog that Leah loves. To my amusement, they also had a cat that looked just like my black cat Natalya. She even had green eyes and the little tuft of white hair on her chest like Natalya’s!
The cat in Ireland that looks just like my black cat Natalya!
black cat in Ireland
I noticed a pretty topiary plant at the entrance of the front door, which are plants pruned or shaped into certain forms. To me, this was a symbol of the entire house’s decor: elegant.
As soon as we knocked on the door of this B & B and entered the house, though, I noticed right away one disturbing thing: flies. HUGE flies–everywhere! Maybe it’s because this was a sheep farm. Leah said it was because they had the front door open when we first arrived. I assume this was to let in fresh, cooler air; most places in Ireland don’t have central air and heat.
Even though there are flies in the United States, LOL, and we have had flies in our house at times if the door is left open (especially in summer), the flies left a really bad first impression in my mind. I tried to just ignore them and be gracious, mindful that I was leaving an impression too–as a guest and an American.
The hostess was wonderful and so welcoming. She had tea and cookies for our arrival, as did the other B & B hostesses. However, she didn’t have enough tea and sugar set out for us. I wondered about this, as she knew we were coming (along with other guests there).
The room she gave us was beautiful: two single beds, as I had requested. It had large windows letting in the sunlight, and the decor was in beautiful, lacy white.
Killorglin B & B
In fact, the room was so beautiful and clean and WHITE that I was afraid to touch anything. I didn’t want to dirty it with our muddy boots!
white satchel with lavender
Leah was intrigued with the pretty lamp with faux glass on our table beside the beds, that resembled a chandelier.
We brought in our luggage and settled into our room, and then decided to go into the town of Kilorglin, which was only a few kilometers away. Leah really liked the fine dining restaurant that we went to there. They were so polite to us and seemed to go out of their way to serve us well. It also had a very nice atmosphere.
Restaurant in the town of Killorglin
Killorglin restaurant table lamp
They had HUGE cheeseburgers, which we both got. As usual, it was served with some type of potato, so we chose French fries. We noticed that a small, fresh salad is often served with any entree in Ireland, which I enjoyed.
Leah ordered a drink called a “Double Dutch,” consisting of gin and watermelon flavor. She liked it. I love the pretty glass bottles which water is served in and the little table lamp, pictured above.
huge burgers in Killorglin
The older couple in the picture below chatted with us, with all of us laughing over how big the cheeseburgers were!
Leah at restaurant in Killorglin
Quaint town of Killorglin
We sat awhile in this restaurant. Leah seemed to relax here. Then we went back to the B & B, and as Leah was doing her college homework, suddenly a giant spider fell on her bed and then ran under it. We both screamed. I tried to kill it with a shoe, but to no avail. We couldn’t find it. I think it came through the window, which we had opened to cool off the room. I prayed the Irish spider wouldn’t crawl on or bite one of us during the night!
Then I went into the bathroom, which–oddly for a B & B–was across the hall. I got locked into the bathroom! Leah and the owner had to help me out. The owner tried to tell me that I just wasn’t unlocking it correctly, but Leah told her she had trouble with the lock, too, when she tried to come out. This is definitely something they need to fix if they are going to have a B & B for guests!
As I tried to lay down to sleep, each time I rolled over, the little single bed squeaked and moved, bumping into the wall! There was a couple in the room next to ours, with a little child. I was afraid the noise was going to wake them. I felt frustrated. Despite the spider, Leah liked this place. This was the one B & B that I could not wait to leave!
There was another full Irish breakfast the next morning (you could also order other items of your choice). We met other guests staying there, among which there was a young French couple. To my delight, I was able to speak to them briefly in French as we were leaving. It blessed me to be able to show Leah that if you study a foreign language, even a little bit, you can converse with foreigners. I need to brush up on my French again—and maybe learn Gaelic, too! (And Spanish!)
I apologized for our noise to the couple who were in the room next to us, and explained about the squeaking bed and then the couple. They said I didn’t wake them or their child, and laughed about the spider. Then they shared their own horror story of having a flying roach in their hotel when they traveled to Hawaii.
The hostess came into the room then to serve us more hot coffee, smiling and pleased that her guests were laughing and obviously enjoying themselves, but having no clue what we were laughing about. After my incident with the locked bathroom, I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the spider!
As I looked later at the key that was supposed to unlock the bathroom, I thought how Jesus is the key to everything in our lives! After we left there, Leah and I laughed about the things that happened at this B & B, but at the time it wasn’t funny! But this place stands out as one of our vivid memories in Ireland!
Jesus is the key
I decided that the next morning we’d retrace our steps and go back to the town of Killarney to shop, which was only about 25 kilometers from Killorglin. In my next post on this Ireland Blog series, I’ll blog about the town of Killarney which I loved and share pictures of beautiful Saint Mary’s Cathedral with incredible stained glass windows.