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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Drinking in fall

Leaf bliss

“Autumn…the year’s last loveliest smile.”– William Cullen Bryant, Indian Summer

This afternoon after my walk at the track, I was going to come home and record a podcast. I may still do that, but I just couldn’t at that moment. I had to go outside. Right now, I am drinking in fall, savoring every moment of looking at the beautiful, glorious, colored leaves, God’s amazing art.

I want to stop winter, stop time, and shout to the world, “Look at how gorgeous this is! Look at what God our Creator has done!” 

Contrast of green, yellow, gold, and red leaves with the blue sky and green grass
Contrast of green, yellow, gold, and red leaves with the blue sky and green grass

There is something about this season I’m wanting to hold onto more than ever. I can’t put my finger on it, but I want to stay in this moment, hug it like a baby and never let go.

I don’t know if it’s a spirit of dread and fear, if something terrible is about to happen, and I just have a sixth sense about it, or if God is just somehow making me somehow acutely aware of how great He is and I just now noticed it in my everyday, scurried, distracted life. 

coffee on back steps
coffee on back steps

I went outside and sat on our back steps, drinking my creamy coffee in my Casey’s brown cup (refills for just 75 cents), and it was like I was completely dehydrated and someone gave me a bucket of cold, artesian spring water. I couldn’t get enough of the glory of God, looking at it all. Pictures can’t convey how gorgeous God’s masterpieces are. 

backyard filled with leaves
backyard filled with leaves

I looked at the pile of brown leaves on the emerald-green grass, and wanted to just go jump in them like I did as a child when our dad made us rake the huge yard. We’d rake awhile, putting the leaves into huge piles that resembled mountains, and then jump in them, screaming with glee. Sometimes daddy would come outside and order us to “stop fooling around,” and get to work again. He grew up as a farmer’s son, and laziness is a cardinal sin to farmers. 

Instead, I walked on the leaves today, delighting in the crunch-crunch sound underneath my short, black boots. (Boots are another fun thing about fall!). 

The contrast of the orange, yellow, red, and green leaves against the blue sky is so vivid. I’m not an artist like our daughter Leah is, but sights like this would awaken the artist in anyone. I had to grab Leah’s Nikon camera and snap some shots. 

blue sky-orange leaves
blue sky-orange leaves

 

Contrast of green and yellow leaves against blue sky
Contrast of green and yellow leaves against blue sky

Each leaf, like each person, is beautiful and unique.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”–Psalm 139:14-16, MSG

Red-yellow leaf
Red-yellow leaf

 

fall leaves
fall leaves

God’s beautiful collage: fall colored leaves.

God's collage: fall colored leaves
God’s collage: fall colored leaves

I snapped a pic of myself, even though it’s not a very flattering shot. But I was happy! I had just come back from my walk/jog at the track and was in Ray’s olive-green, light-weight jacket. 

Me in fall
Me in fall

Here’s a better “fall” pic of me in my new, soft brown sweater and scarf. Another wonderful thing about autumn!

Beth Jones
Beth Jones
the sun today
the sun today

I’m drinking in fall, savoring each delicious moment. What is your favorite thing about fall? I love the quote below. So true. Today, take time to just sit and revel in the exquisite changes of this season God has so graciously given you and me. Don’t let it pass you by without noticing its beauty, and thanking Him for it.

leaves turning quote

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A gift from God

Our daughter Leah with her violin
Our daughter Leah with her violin

Yesterday our youngest daughter Leah and I spontaneously went to eat at the Mexican restaurant in town, one of my fave places, and when we were almost finished, I spotted my old friend Denise and her husband Clayton at the door. They were looking for a meeting room in town for their MLM business. She ran up to me and hugged me, loudly laughing in exclamation to see me. As we talked, they shared about their business and then we left.

As soon as I was home, Denise texted me an apology, saying she hoped that they hadn’t been “too much” sharing about the company, but they were just excited about the testimonies from people using the product. I texted her back no, but I was wondering if I had run across her for another reason: our daughter Leah.

Leah Jones' graduation -in her blue cap, gown, and tassel
Leah Jones’ graduation -in her blue cap, gown, and tassel

Leah graduated two years ago from our homeschool, but isn’t sure what she wants to do yet with our life, so she doesn’t have a job and isn’t enrolled in college. She’s been taking violin lessons for two years and is an incredible violinist, and is teaching herself how to play the mandolin, the guitar, and the keyboard. She’s also an amazing, completely self-taught artist.

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones
Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Several years ago, Ray bought her a graphic art tablet for her computer. I believe the art she creates is inspired by God. It is simply beautiful. I knew Denise was an artist and had been to the art studio in her home when we used to be neighbors and Leah was a toddler. I told her about Leah’s art and asked if she’d be open to us coming over for Leah to see her paintings. This year Leah began experimenting, too, with watercolor paints.

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones
Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Denise said yes, and then she suggested coming by in a few minutes since they were already here in town to look at Leah’s art (they don’t live here, but close by). She not only paints, but she was an art teacher several years at a Christian school, won a local painting contest, and was commissioned to do portrait paintings for pay by people.

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones
Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

When Denise and her husband Clayton looked at Leah’s art, they really encouraged her. Denise looked at Leah after going through her computer graphic art and her watercolors and said, “Leah, you have a GIFT FROM GOD.” She explained that not everyone was able to do this, and it was God-given.

Copyright 2011 Leah Jones
Copyright 2011 Leah Jones

When I told them that I thought Leah could easily sell her art on Etsy but didn’t want to and didn’t think it’d sell, she and Clayton both told Leah that she COULD do that and SHOULD try. They told her they believed it would sell and if she could make money at doing what she loves and is good at, why not? What a lesson for you and me today! God wants us to prosper!

a gift
a gift

Denise then began sharing with Leah about the parable of the talents –how interesting since that’s our study in the Creative Christian Women’s Network on Facebook this week! It’s also a passage I’ve shared many times with Leah before about her art and music. Denise told her that the master called the servant who hid his talent “wicked” and “lazy,” and that Leah doesn’t want to hide her talent. Clayton explained that while the “talent” in that passage was a means of money in those days, it still applied to our talents and skills.

In the parable in Matthew 25, the word “delivered” in the original Greek language is the word paradid?mi (Blue Letter Bible Strong’s G3860), which means:

  • To give into the hands of another;
  • To give into one’s power of use;
  • To deliver to one to keep, use, take care of, manage;
  • To commit to, to commend.

Just as the master gave his servants the talents, giving them into their hands to manage wisely, God has put gifts, talents, and skills inside of you to steward faithfully. God doesn’t want you hiding your gifts, just as He doesn’t want Leah hiding her amazing art or music gifts. He created Leah in my womb, wonderfully and fearfully, with those gifts innately and He created yours, too.

Leah with our family, Heather, Ray & me
Leah with our family, Heather, Ray & me

The question is: what will you do with them? Hide them or let your light for Christ shine, so He may be glorified in you and through you? Remember, it’s all about Him and for His glory. Don’t hide your gifts!

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