When everything around you is falling, and all else fails, eat chips and salsa

chips and salsa
chips and salsa

Today I made a mini-escape from hurts this week and I drove to Harrisonville, Missouri, which is a bigger city north of my tiny, rural town (meaning out in the sticks!) of Butler, and ate Mexican. 

I posted the pic on Instagram and Twitter with the title, “When everything is falling apart around you, and all else fails, eat chips and salsa. I could eat it every single day!” I love them so much, and my husband Ray jokes that when the Mexican waiters see me coming, they hide the salsa because I always ask for two bottles. I add salt to the salsa, because I seem to crave the salt.  Today’s seemed especially satisfying.

Afterward, I went to the Harrisonville Lake and park, where I often took our children when I homeschooled them to play, for picnics, and to walk the nature trail. Today was a beautiful, sunny, spring day. It was peaceful and relaxing.

Harrisonville Lake
Harrisonville Lake

A man was fishing at the lake, and it reminded me of my hard-working husband Ray, who loves to fish and who desperately needs to fish sometimes.

“And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, AKJV)

Two geese were near the fisherman and I saw numerous geese at the park.

Fisherman and geese
Fisherman and geese

Going to the lake and walking the nature trail was a much needed, healing balm to my soul. God spoke to my heart in many ways while I was there. Some of this I will share about here,  and some I will continue to reflect on and ponder.

The first thing I noticed as I entered the park were the beautiful flowers. Our beautiful daughters Heather and Leah especially love fresh flowers, and I thought of them.

beautiful flowers
beautiful flowers at park entrance
daisies
daisies
fuschia colored flowers
fuschia colored flowers
flower garden
flower garden

As I got out of my car to admire the lake, I noticed an older woman sitting at a bench with a dog on a leash. I wondered about her, and thought I could write about her in a future fiction book. For writers, anything is fodder. My family knows by now that anything they say or do may wind up as content for one of my speaking presentations, books, or blog posts!

woman with dog at park
woman with dog at park

Who was she? Why was she alone at the lake, except with her dog? Had her husband of many years died and she was a lonely widow? Had her children forgotten her or no longer wanted her involved much in her lives any more?

Was she a bitter, sad, depressed person, or was she simply happy and content being alone, being with her dog who was her best friend? (Maybe she was glad her husband was dead as they had a terrible marriage, and that her kids were all grown; it was time for a new chapter and do other things now!)

I watched as a grandpa who was wearing  a jacket with a veterans logo showed his granddaughter the lake and pointed to the geese, and her daddy skipped stones across the lake with her. What a precious memory. After awhile, they started to go to their car and asked the little girl, “Are you ready to go and eat now? Want a hot dog?”

The hot dog remark reminded me of my mother’s eyes lighting up when she saw me and asking me that same question many years ago, when I visited her in my college years. My mom and I weren’t close, so this is a happy memory for me. I don’t eat them much now, but kids love ’em.

The veteran grandpa reminded me of my husband Ray, who is “Papa” to our four precious grandchildren, with one on the way.  I prayed that Ray would be able to do things like this for many years with our grandchildren.

Our kids and grandkids
Our precious 3 daughters and 4 grandkids

Next, I drove over to where the nature trail was. Perfect day for a walk. I noticed the staff had put up something new on the Natural Trail sign: “Watch out for snakes.” That was almost enough to make me turn around, but I put my brave on.  If I hadn’t gone on the trail, I would have missed God’s blessings–the beauty and how He spoke to me personally.

sign about snakes
sign about snakes

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I watched carefully for snakes, because I am terrified of them. However, I did think seeing one (from a very safe distance) might make a good picture for my blog. That didn’t happen, although I did see what I thought might be a “snake track” (a big S on the dirt trail) a couple of times.

I did notice right away in the lake what seemed to be a family of turtles sunbathing on a log.  One was swimming in the water nearby. Two bigger ones were on one side of the log, and seven others were on the other. It reminded me of our family, who has this exact number of people right now–with one grandbaby on the way in November.

turtles
turtles

The nature trail is so beautiful. I felt refreshed, while at the same time my heart was still hurting about some things that happened this week. I know healing is a process and takes time. The good news is that we are all walking on this journey of life, and God will never leave us or forsake us.  He is our healer, including our family’s. 

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

nature trail

I soon came to a fork in the road on the trail. We all have a choice as to how we will live our lives–to follow Jesus and God’s loving, good ways, or not. Which path will you choose today?

The fork spoke loudly to me about how I needed to change some things in my life and choose a different path…as well as others I love. 

fork in the trail
fork in the trail

I felt myself relax as I walked the trail. I intentionally breathed in the fresh air, tried to fully use my senses, and paid attention  all around me to the beauty of God’s creation.

I stopped when I saw two bees drinking nectar from a white flower bush. I wish I knew the name of the flowers; they resembled azaleas in south Georgia, where I grew up.

“One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…”–Leo Tolstoy

I tried to capture a picture of them, but they were flying too fast. Probably a good thing that I went on, as I”m highly allergic to bees! As a child, I was stung by one on the bare foot, and my foot swelled up twice its size! However, I think bees are cute (when they aren’t stinging!)

bees
bees

This fork on the trail led to a bridge over the lake into a more remote part of the woods. A mom and her daughter were having a picnic in the middle of the bridge! It was so cute.  Another sweet memory. I remembered picnics Ray and I had with each other and our kids.

I didn’t want to interrupt their fun, or make them have to move by crossing the bridge, so I turned around and walked on the other path. When I saw the bridge, I thought again of the fork on the trail and the choices we have in life, and took my pic by it as  a good reminder…also of the eventual, eternal bridge we’ll have to cross one day when we die.

bridge
bridge

Later I saw the mom and the little girl, and chatted a minute with them.

She apologized for being on the bridge having the picnic, blocking my access to it, but I said, “Oh no, you were fine! That looked really fun. They grow up fast,” I said to her, and we looked at her child together, smiling.

The mom said, “Oh, I know! I have a teen now!” she said that her little girl had been a “surprise baby,” and was now 5 years old.  I said I hoped they enjoyed their picnic and to have fun. To my amusement, as I walked off, the little girl said, “I want to go with her!” and started following me. Her mom called her back to look at the turtles again.

This spoke to me about how we are to follow Jesus, and make disciples. 

As I continued on the trail, I looked up hearing birds singing, and the sunlight shone through the tall trees. The canopy of trees, their emerald green leaves dipped in sunlight, made beautiful pictures.

sun through the trees
sun through the trees

 

canopy
canopy

I was disappointed to not see a deer, rabbit, fox or other wildlife, but Harrisonville isn’t a rural town, so the animals are either not there or they hide well. I did see a couple and their child with a dog on the trail, who they said was a service dog in training for the man’s dad who was in the Army and now has PTSD. I stopped a minute to pet the dog, smile at the little girl, and tell them that service dogs are a good thing and I hope he helps his dad.

When I came to the end of the trail, I thought, “At the end of the trail. Now what?” I felt it applied to my current situation, kind of at a loss as to what to do or say.  I would have to turn back around. I also feel it applies to the end of our journey here on earth.

end of trail
end of trail

I looked around and saw a set of steps on a hill. I’d never seen them before.  Curious, I went up the stairs to see what was up there. It was a different lake, or perhaps the same lake, divided by the road. But you couldn’t see it until you went up the stairs. This reminded me of heaven.

The lake where the stairs were
The lake where the stairs were

When I turned around and walked back, this is when I saw the mom and her daughter, who had the picnic on the bridge. A few minutes later, as I went to my car, I saw them crossing the road, hand in hand. The little girl was carrying a walking stick in the other hand. I looked at them, thinking again how quickly time flies and that my children are now grown. 

The mom and the daughter went to the park area, where the little girl got on the slides, and her mom sat on a bench watching her. 

mom & child
mom & child

As I drove home, I noticed a truck in front of me with this sign: “You’re needed.” That was a great note to go home on.

You're needed
You’re needed
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My new book addresses the topic of terrorism

With the news this week of the Istanbul airport attack in Turkey, terrorism continues to be a big concern around the globe. I’ve been to that airport before, going to it before arriving in Nairobi when I spoke at the women’s conference in Africa, so that’s scary! A little too close for comfort.

We’re seeing more and more terrorism today. A terrorist attack is defined as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to obtain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”

This year I’ve been working on the second book in my Storm Tossed fiction series which addresses the topic of terrorism, Afflicted: A woman missionary kidnapped by terrorists in the jungles of Africa. 

This morning I was very excited to get an email from my graphic designer that the cover for this book–which will be for sale on Amazon soon–is ready. It is beautiful, I love it, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

My deadline to have this book launched is now set for July 15, 2016. 

If you’re not already signed up on my personal mailing list here at BethJones.net, just enter your name and email address at the top of the page on the right hand side to be the first to hear more about this book and other new updates. 

 

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Summer Bucket List

84 degrees
84 degrees

Summer has definitely arrived. It’s 84 degrees today in the Kansas City, MO area. Today I texted my husband Ray, reminding him of the hot temperature and asking him why he uses the freaking electric blanket in the summer. Here’s my text:

 

My text to Ray today

He never answered the text.

In the summer time, I always freeze my family cranking the A-C, so that might explain it a little. I’m trying to stay cool drinking lots of water.

water

Recently I also discovered Sonic’s mango lemonade, which is very dangerous. I’m trying to avoid them, but they are so tempting! The medium size is almost as much as the large, so I just go for the large, with easy ice.

But if I want to hit my summer goal of losing _____ pounds (for me and God to know only!), I can’t do this very often! (Confession: I’m drinking one right now as I blog!)

I will tell you that the morning stop drinks are cheaper than the afternoon Happy Hour 1/2 off drinks! Some employees let you get the lemonades at the cheaper price in the morning, and some don’t.

Sonic's mango lemonade
Sonic’s mango lemonade

A lot of people plan family vacations for summer. Our family has rarely done this, due to cost, but a girl can dream, right? My place of peace and restoration is the ocean, and I want to go so bad!

I’ve written down a goal of going to Destin, Florida this year, the location that was the setting for my first fiction book, Storm Tossed.

Right now I’m writing the second book in this fiction series, called Afflicted, where the main character Rachel and her husband Jackson are kidnapped by extremists while on a mission trip in Africa. (Stay tuned for details!)

me on the beach, my place of peace & restoration
me on the beach, my place of peace & restoration

Ray’s dream vacation spot is Bora Bora in the French Polynesia Islands, and I fully intend on sending him there one day.

If you could go anywhere this summer, where would it be? Are you taking a family vacation this summer? Where? Leave your comments below!

Bora Bora
Bora Bora

Ray and I need prayer for this summer. Our landlord is selling the rental house where we live. We’re not sure what exactly is going to happen with our housing situation or where we’ll live, so please keep us in prayer for God’s leading, wisdom, and His provision.

But one thing I do know is that I’d like to do some FUN things with Ray, our kids, and our grandkids this summer. What’s on your summer bucket list? I’m busy making mine! I’d love to hear from you below!

Summer bucket list

 

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