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True friends

Me and my BFF Maria

Me and my BFF Maria

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”– Elisabeth Foley

In my blog on spring, A Chance at Life Again, I shared about my first children’s book that I’m writing, which should be launched in mid-March or late March 2020. It is about my and our daughter Leah’s black cats, Natalya (Nat) and Jax. The theme is friendship. 

Jax and Natalya

Jax and Natalya

I’ve never been the type of person to have tons of friends. Usually, I have anywhere from two to 10 close friends, with whom there is a depth of relationship, instead of having a lot of friends, where the relationships are shallow and even superficial.

In high school, there were cliques. Depending on your looks, clothes, type of car you owned, class grades, your family’s economic status, and more ridiculous things, the cliques were:

    • the “popular” group (usually rich, good-looking people who everyone wanted to be friends with);
    • nerds (intelligent students in the accelerated learning classes, and sometimes the popular kids were in this group, too);
    • jocks (students who played football or basketball, wrestled, were on the gymnastics team, and/or who participated in other sports and were good at them–they were often in the popular clique, too);
    • druggies (kids who usually smoked cigarettes and/or pot, drank alcohol, and/or took other drugs. Some of the popular kids indulged in drinking and drugs, and would have parties);
    • others who didn’t fit into any of the above cliques.  Painfully shy and socially awkward, I was in this group, often eating my lunch alone. It was a difficult, lonely time. As I matured and grew older, I learned better social skills and began developing close friendships. Today my friends are a vital part of my life, and I love them so much! You know who you are!

     

    I believe that Jesus’ ministry time here on earth exemplifies the types of relationships we can have with others:

  • The crowds of people whom Jesus taught. This would be similar to your and my Facebook “friends,” who are really more acquaintances (or even strangers we don’t know), our social media “peeps,” audiences where we speak, readers of our books and our blogs, etc.
  • Jesus’ disciples. These included men and women who followed Him more closely. These would be friends who we start to spend more fun time with, such as having over for dinner at our houses, doing a Bible study with at church or in our homes, etc.
  • Jesus’ 12 disciples. Your friends who you begin to confide in, asking prayer requests from (I have a team of intercessors who pray for me and my family), hang out with for a bbq and a movie at your house, people who are aware of the more personal details of your lives, whom you can really trust. Jesus chose these 12 men after all night in prayer, so they would spend time with Him, to preach, and to cast out demons. They would later spread the gospel throughout the world. These would be like my friends Liz, Ruth, Gala, Susan, Jane, Stephanie, and Dana.
  • The inner circle of 3, Peter, James, and John.  They are always listed first in the Biblical record whenever the apostles are listed by name. Peter along with his brother Andrew, along with James and his brother John, were the first set of disciples called by Jesus to follow Him. These three were the only disciples to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37-42; Luke 8:50-55); Christ’s Transfiguration on the Mount (Matthew 17:1-2); and Jesus travailing in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was crucified (Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-36).  Jeff Atchinson said, “the Perfect Leader, Jesus, showed us the importance of narrowing in on a smaller circle for the highest degree of intimate training.” These would be like your best friends, who you’d trust with your very life. You know they  are loyal and they always have your back! These are usually people who, even if you go separate ways (such as moving), you can always pick right back up where you were the last time you saw each other, such as my friends Shelley Valasek and Kim Weber.
  • John who lay on Jesus’ breast, hearing His heartbeat. This is your very best friend. For me, that would be my daughters and my sister Maria. These are the ones I laugh with and cry with. They really know me–and love me anyway! My sister and I talk about everything, and we understand each other so well (we both have the same kind of warped humor!). 

Sometimes we meet people who are definitely not and will never be our friends. They simply rub us the wrong way, and/or vice versa. 

The Bible says in Romans 12:18 NASB, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

I believe this passage indicates that sometimes it is not possible. I think this is often due to personality types. They (or you!) are bossy, manipulative, narcissistic, controlling, rude, hateful, arrogant, or have something about them that just irritates or angers you. Sometimes people rub you the wrong way and/or vice versa. You know the type: people with an attitude who you feel like just slapping, but you control yourself!

woman shooting bird

I’ve experienced this in my own life, even recently. There was a woman at a part-time job where I worked for a season who, for whatever reason, seemed to not like me at all and would get easily angry at me. I tried my best to be nice to her, but she’d storm out of the office, offended over what seemed to be little, ridiculous things. Sad to say, we never got along. I no longer work there, and I’m so glad that I don’t have to deal with her any more!

Not everyone is going to like you or get along with you, or you with them. We can try our best to walk in God’s agape, unconditional love and forgive, but you and that person may never become friends. 

Woman in jacket. Source: Unsplash

Woman in jacket
Source: Unsplash

However, sometimes it IS possible. My children’s book is about that hope. I’m praying to launch it soon.

If you aren’t already signed up on my website’s mailing list, be sure to sign up with your name and email address on the welcome page at the bottom of the page. You’ll also get my free video training for speakers and writers about sharing your heart’s message, when you do. 

I’m personally so thankful for the friends I do have. Like my salvation through Christ and my family, I consider them a precious gift from God. 

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

 

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Blog, Faith, Speaking, Spiritual Gifts, Travel, Writing

Speaking event and Book Signing in Kansas: The Gift of Words

Do you ever struggle with your thought life or the words coming out of your mouth? I know I do! In fact, I believe that Joyce Meyer may have written her book, Me and My Big Mouth, just for me!

For my entire life, I’ve battled speaking impatiently, in anger, thoughtlessly, or too bluntly. My wise husband Ray says it’s not necessarily what I’m saying (because I speak truthfully and honestly), but that it’s the way I say it, how I often come across to others. His title of endearment for me is La belle dame sans merci. (The beautiful lady without mercy)

My precious sister Maria, who drips with the gift of mercy, calls it my “bull in the china shop approach!”

I’m working on it! 

As a professional, Christian speaker and author, I’m well aware of the power of words.

The American adage that children often recite in response to bullying in school, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is simply not true. Words can hurt deeply. Words can also heal and impart life.

God created the world and everything in it with His words. (Genesis Chapter 1) In fact, Jesus Himself is called “The Word” in John 1:1. 

Because God created everything with His  words, and we are made in His image, the words of our mouths are powerful, too. In fact, each word is a gift. This is especially true for speakers and writers!

I’m going to be speaking on this topic at a Christian Women’s Writers’ Workshop, The Gift of Words, in Hutchinson, Kansas, with my friend, author Missy Hoffman, on September 21, 2019.

The workshop will be 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Hutchinson Public Library. 

The address is 901 N. Main Street, Hutchinson, Kansas, 67501.

Missy and I would LOVE to see you there! Admission is free, but seating is limited. If you’re interested in coming, please email Missy at missy@missyhoffman.com or contact her here on the Facebook event page to save your spot. 

Missy is a self-published author of three books, and she will also share about her own writing journey. Our hope is to encourage Christian women to share the story God has given each one of us and to help each woman experience healing through her own writing journey!

We will meet in the Library Conference Room #1.

The book signing for both of us to sign our books is that same day, September 21, at Metropolitan Coffee shop from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Join us for some delicious coffee and fellowship!

The address for Metropolitan Coffee Shop is 1329 E 17th Ave, Hutchinson, Kansas, 67501. (There is no charge for the book signing! Our books will be available to sign and/or for sale!)

We can wait to see you there! Remember, each word you speak is a gift from God and for God’s glory! Your story matters.

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Blog, Business, Coaching, Ebooks, Faith, prayer, Speaking, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

Serene September Writer’s Get-away

Black woman writer at cafe

Woman writer at cafe

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!

Bethany House

Bethany House

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

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!

Living room to watch a good chick flick!

Master bedroom

Queen bedroom

Sunroom

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

coffee in Bethany House cup

 

Windchime in sunroom

Windchime in sunroom

 

Stenciling 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

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.

Goodies for ladies’ gift bags
Facial mask, chapstick, and chocolates

My books in gift bags, How To Write Your Book Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True, and 
Walking With God (a book on prayer)
Journal & Kleenex with encouraging captions

I used my book, How To Write Your Book Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True, as the primary resource for this writers’ retreat.

How To Write Your Book Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True
Cover art: Copyright 2016 Beth Jones

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!

Me teaching at writers’ retreat
Writers who attended the retreat at the dining room table, where I taught the retreat.
Here we are eating the salad lunch on Saturday.
Four women attended the retreat: Krista, Liz, Missy, and Simmie. Liz and Simmie are local author friends. I am friends with Krista and Missy on Facebook, and really enjoyed meeting them.
 I’m so glad they all came!


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!

We enjoyed chips and salsa (my addiction!) and Mexican for supper the first night of the writers’ retreat at the local El Charro restaurant.


Beautiful night sky

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!

Breakfast on Saturday morning
Fresh fruit: Strawberries and blueberries
Simmie and I enjoyed fresh peaches!
The ladies at breakfast Saturday morning

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!

Yummy bagels that Liz brought from Einstein Brothers


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! 

Missy, one of the attendees, sharing the Saturday morning devotional

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!

Missy sharing the devotional in the sunroom and Simmie

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 beautiful ladies at the Serene September Writers’ Get-away:
Krista, Liz, Missy, and Simmie

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!

My pretty floral gift bag from Liz
The pretty flower Paparazzi earrings that Liz got me

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.

Communion at writers’ retreat

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!

Krista praying for Missy
Missy praying for Simmie

Krista praying for Simmie
Liz praying for Krista
Simmie praying for Liz
Liz sharing song with Missy from her phone
Anointing oil and candle from Israel, decorative mirror & hearts

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!

Curious George that Florence Littauer gave me and other speakers at CLASS retreat for speakers & writers. 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!

Beautiful sunflowers and roses that was my birthday gift from my family. It made a great centerpiece in the sunroom!

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!”

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