Your Memorial Day

Memorial Day Vets thank you. Image source: Pinterest
Image source: Pinterest

Today is Memorial Day, the day we commemorate veterans and all those serving in the US military.

Thank you to my husband Ray Jones who served 14 years in the U.S. Navy, his father Charles Jones, his stepdad Leonard Smyth, and all those who have made sacrifices for our nation.

You are truly our nation’s heroes.

my husband Ray Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy over 14 years as a combat medic
my husband Ray Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy over 14 years as a combat medic

Today has me thinking: what is your (and my) Memorial Day going to look like?

  • What legacy will you leave when you die?
  • What sacrifices have you made for God and others?
  • What will others remember about you?
  • What impact are you leaving?
  • What are you bringing to the world–your gifts, talents, skills, difference in others’ lives, and contribution to leave this world a better place?

This past week there was a terrible tragedy in our small community. Twelve year old Kalee Chandler was tragically and suddenly killed at the end of a barrel racing run, when her horse Sarrley had a heart attack, slammed into the fence, rolled on top of Kalee, pinning her underneath him. 

“If we were dilly-dallying, she’d sure tell you, ‘Focus and get back on task.’”–Morgan Bradley, friend of Kalee Chandler

When I went to church on Sunday, Pastor Jeff’s sermon, drawn in part by Kalee’s death, was simply entitled, “Why?” Why do bad things like this happen?

His answer: he doesn’t know. No one does. What we do know is that we can make a difference in others’ lives and that Kalee’s life and death definitely left an impact on this rural community.

At the candlelight vigil for her at the Butler, MO fair grounds, there were hundreds–with estimates to over 1,000-people who came, according to the Kansas City Star.

Kalee Chandler
Kalee Chandler

Three quotes about Kalee in the paper stood out to me:

“She was given that gift from God to ride, And she’d go so fast and furious. She wasn’t there to take second.”–Tracy Murray, who took on Kalee as a barrel racing student when she was 7.

She was small but mighty. Always a smile on her face and not afraid of anything.”–Tracey Rapp, who went through school in Butler with Kalee’s parents and had known her since she was a baby.

“…she was a true cowgirl. I mean, she didn’t sit around the house and play video games. … She was a goer.”– auctioneer Jim Hertzog

woman stretching arms

I believe we’re all given gifts by God—spiritual gifts and natural talents, like Kalee’s on a horse.

I believe that as believers, we’re to have a smile on our faces–showing the world that even in the face of trials and hard times, the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) He wants us to love Him, love others, and love our lives and what we do every day.

I also believe that we’re to be “goers,” making disciples of all nations as Jesus commanded us (Matthew 28:19)–fulfilling our purpose from God, doing what He’s called us to do.

To live fully, no holding back, no excuses, no fears. 

To leave a godly legacy for God and others, to make an impact on others in the limited time we have here.

What will others say about you on your own Memorial Day–your funeral? 

Rest in peace, veterans and Kalee. 

 

 

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Fight the enemy with the sword of the Spirit

One of Ray's swords
One of Ray’s swords

My husband Ray loves to collect swords and other weapons. Downstairs in his “man cave” (recreation room – a combination of his office and where he relaxes to watch sci-fi movies with our daughter Leah after his hard shifts at work), he has hung up swords, knives, guns, and other weapons on the walls, as well as his various certificates and ordinations from different trainings (he has done so many amazing things and is the most certified person I know!). He could tell you the history of each weapon. 

Ray's collection of weapons
Ray’s collection of weapons

Ray is a former combat-medic Marine (14 years in the military), a former police chief and policeman, a former fire chief and fireman, and a former SWAT team medic. He’s also been to Haiti five times for medical/security missions trips.

Ray Jones
Ray Jones

After the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 100,000 to 160,000 people, Ray flew there to help our pastor friend Dr. Jay Threadgill, setting up a medical tent and treating 200 to 300 patients a day.The medical clinic is now a permanent part of Fishers of Men Ministries. Ray has a black belt in Taekwondo martial arts. He’s been a paramedic for over 25 years. He’s been through a lot of hardship in his life. He knows a lot about warfare.

The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles Available at Amazon October 23, 2015
The Hands of a Woman:
Everyday Women In Everyday Battles

This is why I asked him to write the foreward for my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles–a book about 8 women’s true stories of overcoming their greatest moments of spiritual warfare through faith in prayer and by standing on God’s word.

This powerful book is available in print and is launching in eBook format at Amazon for your Kindle on Friday, October 20, 2015. 

Ray's Japanese sword
Ray’s Japanese sword

Ray’s swords are mounted on the wall of his man cave and on his mom’s antique ceramic table. But swords weren’t created to stay on a wall or in their sheath; they’re to be used to fight. As a Christian, your weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, spoken of in Ephesians 6–the Word of God. 

When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responded to him, “It is written.” He used the word of God as his weapon against the enemy and it is our greatest weapon, too; God’s word stands forever. (Psalm 119:89, Isaiah 50:8, 1 Peter 1:25)

In the movie War Room (I highly recommend it), the elderly prayer warrior Miss Clara said, “Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”

This coming week I’m having a free telecall about prayer and spiritual warfare and the soft launch of this new eBook on Amazon. Be sure to share with your family and friends! Stay tuned for details on my scopes at Periscope (follow me @bethmjones) and here at BethJones.net.

Beth Jones
Beth Jones, International Speaker Amazon Best Seller Author

 

 

 

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Lost in a Texas storm

my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University's original EMS program
my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program

This weekend my husband Ray and I traveled to Texas for the plaque dedication service/reunion for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program, of which Ray was a part as a student and working as an EMT for the city of Longview, TX, about 30 years ago. He was so happy to see his old friends there, and longed to spend much more time with them.

Ray has worked so hard and faithfully in the emergency services field for his entire career serving as a Navy corpsman for over 14 years, a fireman and a firechief, a police man and a police chief, SWAT team medic, and a paramedic since he was 18 years old.

Since I’ve been married to him, he’s always done nearly back-breaking work like War Horse, going days and nights for years without sleep, going into work even when he was sick, exhausted, or just needing a break, all to put food on the table for our family.

In my eyes and our children’s, my husband is a hero every day of his life.

Ray’s mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard live near Quitman, Texas, which is close to Longview, and they graciously offered for us to stay with them at their home while we were there.  They live near a lake, which is so beautiful and peaceful. 

lake by Ray's parents' house near Quitman, TX
lake by Ray’s parents’ house near Quitman, TX

They have a big back deck with a large bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder. I’d never seen a hummingbird in person before, but this time I did and was so happy! They are so cute!

I’m planning to get me a hummingbird feeder for our house here in Missouri, to put near my sunroom. In this picture below, you can see the yellow goldfinch on the white bird feeder. It was the first time I’d seen one of these birds in person, too. 

bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck
bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

I really enjoyed waking up early before everyone else got up, cooking my egg, and then sitting on the back deck looking at the lake, watching the birds, and praying. The sun was shining through the trees.

I’ve been needing to get away from everything and just relax. This time of peaceful solitude was balm to my soul.

Me by the lake
Me by the lake

The first morning I saw a male red cardinal; each time I see one, I feel it’s God’s “sign,”  letting me know in a special way that He loves me. Interestingly, this often happens on very bad days (although this time was a good day).

Sun shining through trees near the lake
Sun shining through trees near the lake

Ray and his parents would then join me on the deck for coffee, which was so relaxing. Ray’s mom put my coffee in a sunflower coffee cup (I love sunflowers!), which she blessed me with to take home.

My cute sunflower coffee cup
My cute sunflower coffee cup

The first night Ray’s stepdad Leonard smoked ribs for us. Ray was very happy about this, because on the way driving to Texas, Bodacious BBQ (allegedly the best bbq anywhere) was closed by 7 p.m.

Ray’s mom Judy also cooked fried chicken (Ray’s fave dish of hers, which I’ve never been able to master!) and fried fish (which I love!). It was all so delicious!!!

She also cooked breakfast, telling me she enjoyed doing something special for Ray that he liked:  she made biscuits with home-made plum jelly and Mayhaw jelly (a berry I’d never heard of); scrambled eggs; bacon; and fresh strawberries. I’m not a morning person and hate cooking, so Ray was thrilled with this. (I repent in dust and ashes.)

 

Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard
Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard
Ray and his mom Judy
Ray and his mom Judy

Ray was so disappointed about Bodacous BBQ being closed and about a store in Bogota, TX, running out of hot links when he arrived there. He did get some on the way driving home.

Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links
Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links

When the beautiful black woman working at the store asked Ray how many hot links he wanted, he said, “All of them.” He cleaned them out! He also got boudin sausage, another Cajun favorite in Texas. 

Ray in line for hot links
Ray in line for hot links
hot links and boudin sausage
hot links and boudin sausage

A girl sitting at the cafe in the store was eating crawfish. Yep, we’re definitely in the south now! I’d never eaten one before and asked her if I could take a picture of them.

I asked her how you eat them and her dad said, “You bite their heads off.” I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.

It reminded me of the time I visited my sister Maria and her kids in Georgia, and my darling nephew Nicholas said to me with disgust at a seafood place: “Aunt Beth, you don’t eat fried catfish with a FORK! You eat them with your HANDS!”

Ray says you can eat crawfish like lobster or crab and that they are good. I’m not so sure I’ll be eating them at all. Nor did I taste the boudin.

crawfish
crawfish

Paris, Texas is on the way to Quitman, TX. Naturally as a joke, I had to stop and take a picture in front of it. I’ve been to the real Paris, France, twice and would love to go back some day! Our daughter Heather and our granddaughter Annabelle want to go, too.

Me in front of Paris, Texas sign
Me in front of Paris, Texas sign

Naturally, Ray had to act silly taking his pic in front of it. 🙂

Ray in front of Paris, TX sign
Ray in front of Paris, TX sign

For supper, we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Paris (does that sound like an oxymoron?). It was called Ta Molly’s, and silly me, I didn’t realize until we were inside that its name was a play on words (tamales)!

Ray really wanted to eat Bodacious BBQ,  but in my humble opinion, you can never go wrong with Mexican! I thought the restaurant had palm trees outside, but Ray said they are yucca plants. I’d love to get one for my sunroom.

I liked all the live green plants inside the restaurant and the white Christmas lights. 

Ta Molly's Mexican restaurant Paris, Texas
Ta Molly’s Mexican restaurant
Paris, Texas

 

Inside Ta Molly's
Inside Ta Molly’s

Ray was able to go fishing at his parents’ house while we were there. This was one of the highlights of the trip for him. He LOVES to fish.

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19, NASB

Ray fishing at his parents' house on the lake, Texas
Ray fishing at his parents’ house on the lake, Texas
Ray loves to fish
Ray loves to fish

 

me and Ray on deck by lake
me and Ray on deck by lake

The dedication/reunion

Ray and I got dressed up to go to the reunion. Here’s a good pic of us in front of his mother Judy’s beautiful red fireplace at their house.

me and Ray ready for the reunion
me and Ray ready for the reunion

The dedication service and banquet for LeTourneau University’s EMS program was on Saturday. Here’s Ray with his colleagues. Ray is the first person on the 3rd row in the grey suit, with the military haircut. 

Ray and his colleagues at reunion
Ray and his colleagues at reunion

Here is the plaque unveiling at the afternoon ceremony at LeTourneau University, a private, interdenominational Christian university which originally educated veterans coming back from WWII. LeTourneau University recently added a nursing program, hence the dedication to the college’s original EMS program. 

unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program
unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program
LeTourneau President Dr. Lunsford, Glen Butts, and Jack Lanier

The university’s vision statement reads: “Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact. Amen!

On Saturday night, the university served a food and dessert banquet. We sat with 2 really nice couples, one who were missionaries in Peru (the missionary wife met her husband there and married him!) and the other woman was from Canada, living in America now. When I asked if she missed Canada, she said, “I miss the snow.” (Ray groaned at this; he hates snow.)

Ray and I shared some of our missions stories with them about Haiti, Israel, and Africa. 

banquet dinner table
banquet dinner table

 

banquet
banquet

Afterward, they had the dessert banquet in another building and those who had attended the university’s EMS program and worked as instructors and EMT’s for the city of Longview shared both funny and sober war stories.

After this is when Ray and I got LOST IN A TERRIFYING TEXAS STORM. 

Ray’s stepdad Leonard had given Ray short-cut directions to get to LeTourneau University, with which Ray wasn’t familiar (he grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and normally knows Texas roads and highways).

Before coming to Texas, I’d seen weather reports and didn’t have a peace about going there. I’d been caught in a bad thunderstorm cell, driving home after a movie one night last year, and the rain coming down sideways and the lightning striking so fast and close to my car really scared me. I didn’t want to go through that again!

Joyce Meyer says, “Let peace be your umpire.” 

Longview had just had a tornado, which totally destroyed Jack Lanier’s house (one of Ray’s colleagues there at the reunion).

I sensed the storm before we went to Texas

 I was very concerned that if Ray and I went on this trip, we’d run into a storm(s). It just wasn’t the weather reports; I sensed it spiritually. But my family and my friends thought I should go with Ray, so I went with him in faith, to show my support for him.

Things changed fast

It was a clear night when Ray and I left the university to go back to his parents’ house near Quitman, Texas. Suddenly it began thunderstorming badly.

 The rain was coming down sideways, hard. There was small hail.

The wind was blowing so violently that Ray had trouble controlling our little Toyota Yaris on the road. I was yelling for him to slow down, and he said if he drove too slow, the wind would knock us off the road. 

The worst part was that whole trees had fallen on the highway. It was like an obstacle course.

Ray kept swerving to avoid hitting them, and he did accidentally hit a couple of them. By a miracle, none of our tires were punctured!

I was pleading the blood of Jesus over us and taking authority over the storm, rebuking it. Ray and I were both praying in the Spirit.

I was trying to have faith, but I felt terrified that we’d crash or another tree would fall on top of us.

Later I soberly realized that if we had left the reunion earlier, this is exactly what would have happened and we would have been critically injured or even died. 

Then we got lost.

We were on the right highway, but the visibility was so poor that we couldn’t see the road that had a gate leading to Ray’s parents’ house. 

Ray accidentally left his phone at his parents’ house. (He always carries his phone, so this was rare!). I didn’t have Ray’s mom’s phone number with me, just her email address.

I called our grown daughter Heather to pray and alert intercessors to pray for us as we were in real danger from the storm.

The phone cut off just after I told her we were in danger and to pray. I tried to call her back to ask her to call Ray’s mom and have her call us with better directions, but I couldn’t get through again.

We were both stressed out trying to find the road with the gate. Ray said he felt we were going the wrong way and turned around in someone’s driveway.

As we pulled up into it, I saw a big white sign with large letters that said something to the degree of, “Prayer changes things.”

I knew it was a direct sign from God to KEEP praying and taking authority over the storm. God amazes me how He does these kinds of things!

Ray told me to call 411 information for his parents’ phone number. They answered and gave us the number immediately (a miracle!).

Ray’s mom answered frantic. She had messaged me on Facebook that she’d seen the news and a bad storm was coming, and to come back immediately.  She got Leonard on the phone.

They didn’t know exactly where we were, but Leonard was able to determine enough to tell Ray to take a different highway nearby, which was the highway we were much more familiar with. We were able to locate a church on that highway, where we turned that took us to Ray’s parents’ house.

All I could do when we got inside his parents’ house was get on the floor with my head in my hands and praise God for our safety.

I’m not afraid of dying; I don’t want to live and suffer, crashing in a storm! 

The storm died down shortly after we arrived at his parents’ house. While we encountered some heavy rain traveling on the way home to Kansas City, MO, it wasn’t real bad. Thank God for travel mercies!

My sister Maria said this when I told her about what happened:

“I think it’s very interesting y’all weathered a storm together but came out unscathed, together. I feel it is significant that you two went through the storm. And were still together. I feel it may be God saying, “I will keep you together, no matter what comes because you belong together. No matter what the storm looks like, I am in control. And you are through the storm.” Not a thus saith the Lord, but that’s why I found it interesting.”

Interesting word, isn’t it?

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Master of the Wind and He can speak peace to the storm. (Matthew 8:23-27)

The storm outside of us in the natural, and the storm inside of us emotionally and spiritually. 

I’m so thankful to be home safe and sound!

Have you ever been caught in a sudden, violent storm? Share your comments below. 

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