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beauty

Blog, foodie, Friendship, prayer, Travel

God has surprises in store for you and me

Gorgeous tulips in Holland, Michigan

Gorgeous tulips in Holland, Michigan

 Did you know that God has wonderful surprises in store for you and me? 

Although I wanted to visit my friends Herb and Diane Bishop in Michigan, traveling there wasn’t on my radar this year. But they invited me there to visit them and to attend an Encounter ministry weekend. Herb had just been to the men’s Encounter, and wanted his wife Diane and their ministry Board of Directors to experience it, too, because he thought it was amazing. (I’m on their Board of Directors.) So with God’s blessing and a friend’s help, my Southwest plane trips were booked and the Encounter ministry fee was paid for!

Tulips are so beautiful

Tulips are so beautiful

Diane didn’t know this, but I had been looking at tulips at Walmart. They come in various, vibrant colors. I’ve never grown any, but think they are beautiful. Suddenly, Diane emailed me that they would pick me up at the airport and take me that day to Holland, Michigan, where there is a park filled with gorgeous tulips and they are planted all around town.

Park in Holland, Michigan with beautiful tulips

Park in Holland, Michigan with beautiful tulips

They also would take me to Lake Michigan after that, which I’d wanted to visit. I’ve never seen any of the 5 Great Lakes there. These lakes are huge and like the ocean with waves – amazing and beautiful! They even have sea gulls – but no salt in the water, like other oceans.

I sensed that God wanted me to read a Scripture over Lake Michigan and to pray and prophesy over the lake and the people of Michigan, which is Psalm 42:7, my favorite Scripture in the Bible because I love water and waterfalls:

“Deep calls to deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me.” I prayed that God would show the people of Michigan the depths of His love, forgiveness, mercy, and goodness.

Diane and I were actually standing by the inlet to the lake/ocean when I read this. Herb was waiting in the car for us, because the park where the lake/ocean was located was closed and they wouldn’t allow people to park close by the sand dunes. When we got back into the car, Herb asked if I had actually gone to where the OCEAN was. Diane said no but that I saw the inlet, and Herb said I needed to actually go to the ocean since I had come all this way! He was so right and I’m SO glad and happy that I did go on the beach up to the waves to see it! I hope to come back one day again, maybe this summer! I’ve never seen a lake that is like the ocean!

 

 

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

 

Sea gulls

Sea gulls

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Blog, Faith, Fitness, foodie, prayer, Stress

Know your worth: A self-care day

Today is Sunday, the day that the American church typically celebrates the Sabbath, the one day of rest which God commanded in Exodus 20:8-11, although Jews observe  Shabbat from Friday evening to Saturday evening. I believe what’s most important is that we set aside one day a week to rest and not work. This is good for our bodies, soul, and spirit. Some people work on Sunday (or Friday or Saturday), so they have to take another day to rest. Generally, I observe both days! The weekend is my time to “unwind” from my week’s work.

Thankfully I was able to sleep in this morning, cook a cheese/onion/green olive omelette, and enjoy my morning cup of creamy coffee–my Coffee with God time. Then although there is plenty of work to do around the house and in my biz today, I decided to take a relaxed, self-care day. 

“Know your worth, hold your own power, be you.” –Morgan Harper Nichols, American Christian musician, songwriter, mixed media artist, and writer

Morgan Harper Nichols

Image: Morgan Harper Nichols

Part of my goals for 2021 are focused on my health and fitness. Years ago, I stopped drinking Cokes because I felt like God told me to do this (a miracle because I was addicted to them and had drank them almost all my life!). I started eating healthier (such as salads) and began walking at the track. I was able to lose 29 pounds doing this. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I felt so much better. You can see how much thinner I was in this pic below, on the back steps of our house.

me after losing weight

me after losing weight

Then Missouri’s winter came with its snow and ice, so I stopped walking. As we all experience sometimes, bad habits aren’t easy to break and I began drinking sodas again–this time, Dr. Pepper. God is not fooled. It is just Coke–with pepper! I started eating unhealthy and the pounds which I had lost piled back on—and then some! It has been very discouraging.

But it’s never too late to start over. The Bible says in Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” I’m so glad that with each new sunrise, we get a brand, new start with God!

It starts with a decision of our will, a choice. And I’ve decided that I want to be fit and healthy again. When Ray gets home from work, I drive to either the track in town or a walking path in town that has blooming cherry-blossom trees. It is so pretty and peaceful.

cherry tree

cherry blossom tree

path

path

I carry my iPhone with me to listen to music and to pray and think about my life and my business as I walk. This week I saw a cute bunny rabbit hopping in the grass. The robins and other birds feed in the grass and sing. There is a blue sky and puffy white clouds, giving testimony to God the Creator.

robin

robin

clouds and blue sky

clouds and blue sky

My goal for now is simply to re-establish a walking routine, 3 to 4 times a week at least. I’m not trying for a marathon here, or even a 5K (at least not right now! I have done two 5K’s in the past and hope to do this again one day!). It has been a long time since I’ve walked, so I have to pace myself.

Any time you begin something new, there is resistance, whether that’s exercising, eating healthy, managing your finances better, improving a relationship, developing a daily quiet time with God, or taking a new class or training. I noticed on the 3rd day of walking, that my right knee felt sore. So I’m resting this weekend, and will begin again tomorrow.

my Nikes

my Nikes

I’m aware of this resistance, so I’m already praying about it and for God to give me self-discipline again. If I did it before, I can do it again! Please pray for me—and for my body to cooperate!

trail

trail

I can do this with self-discipline and through faith in Christ. I love how The Passion Translation in this verse puts it, “Christ’s explosive power infuses me.”

“I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.” (Philippians 4:13, The Passion Translation)

I’m trying to get my husband Ray on the bandwagon with me to eat healthier. He is very much a “meat and potatoes” man, so it won’t be easy. But he’s willing, for the sake of his own health. We’re not spring chickens any more, so taking care of ourselves physically is important. And our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we need to honor them. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

rooster & chicken

rooster & chicken
Image: Unsplash

This week when I went to the grocery store, I bought as much organic, fresh fruit and veggies as I could.

fresh fruit & veggies

fresh fruit & veggies

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, and are high in potassium and vitamin C.  They lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, and are anti-inflammatory. They are known by doctors as a superfood. Frozen blueberries are healthy, too.

You can make fruit smoothies with them. I use almond milk in mine. I bought Ray some coconut milk to make his smoothies. I also bought a package of frozen mixed fruit with mango, pineapples, strawberries, and peaches.

I also add blueberries to plain yogurt, mixing in a teaspoon or two of raw organic honey and cinnamon to sweeten it and for flavor. This has much less sugar (unhealthy and causes weight gain!) than regular yogurts. I’m still getting used to this, as I love yogurt!

blueberries

blueberries

almond milk & frozen fruit

almond milk & frozen fruit

coconut milk

coconut milk

I love finding things on sale at the store.  I saw these discounted mushrooms and grabbed them. They taste so good, sauteed in butter with sea salt on them. Yum!

lettuce and mushrooms on sale

lettuce and mushrooms on sale

For greens, I usually buy Romaine lettuce and spinach and kale combined. You can use these in a salad or a smoothie. I’m still trying to figure out how to keep lettuce and other greens “fresh.” Since it’s just Ray and me here at home (empty nesters), if we don’t use it quickly, the salad fixings can wilt and go bad fast, which I hate. It’s a waste of food and money. If you have any tips for this, please let me know!

Of course, God never intended for food to be stored in a cold box (a fridge), but to be eaten fresh out of a garden! I recently bought some Romaine lettuce and cilantro, and I’m going to try to grow it in my sunroom. I admire people who have big gardens, but I don’t think I have the patience for it!

I do drive to a local Amish market, which sells fresh produce in the summer and love it! I encourage you to take advantage of your local farmers’ markets. 

spinach & kale

spinach & kale

Besides putting good things inside my body, I’m also trying to take care of the outside. Last year on my friend Dana Arcuri’s recommendation, I started using Mineral Fusion mineral skin care and makeup. It is healthier skin care and makeup, and has natural ingredients. They make their products free of gluten, parabens, talc, artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, SLS, and phthalates. They don’t do animal testing, either. I love both the skin care and the makeup! Yes, it is more expensive than most makeup you can buy at Walmart, CVS, Kohl’s, or other places, but I believe it’s worth the investment in you!

Mineral Fusion skin care

Mineral Fusion skin care

Last week I bought a Dead Sea Mud Mask product. My cat Natalya always stares at me when I apply it, as if I am the Creature from the Black Lagoon. You can buy it here at Amazon. It is enhanced with collagen, which can improve your skin’s hydration and elasticity, making it look younger. (Don’t we all wish for the fountain of youth as we age and those wrinkles and grey hair start?!)

Mostly I bought it because I want to reduce the size of my pores, which look like the size of craters! This aging thing is for the birds! I figure the mud mask can’t hurt. Today I put it on, painted my fingernails, washed it off with a washcloth and warm water, and then came into my office to blog.

Dead Sea Mud Mask

Dead Sea Mud Mask

Something that is good for both your insides and outside is water. Most people walk around dehydrated. It has 7 benefits:

  • Maximizes your physical performance;
  • Affects your energy level and brain function;
  • May help and prevent headaches;
  • May help relieve constipation;
  • May help treat kidney stones;
  • Helps prevent hangovers;
  • and most importantly, it can aid weight loss!

This year I bought a water tumbler to help me drink more water. I paid my daughter Heather and her fiance Andy to paint it in a beautiful blue color (the color of my branding here) and put the letters of my website, BethJones.net on it. This is a great way to promote your biz when you’re out and about.

Andy has a painting business. They did a beautiful job on it and I love it! You can follow Andy on Instagram @andysuniquecoatings

Our daughter Leah just graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Graphic Design. She designed the logo for Andy. Great job, Leah! You can find Leah’s website at https://lemeraedesigns.wordpress.com/

water tumbler

water tumbler

Finally for self-care, I surround myself with beauty. I enjoy being in nature–God’s beautiful art. One thing I love is fresh flowers. Sometimes my husband Ray surprises me with a bouquet. While I normally like roses just for Valentine’s Day and prefer large sunflowers, daisies, or a variety of flowers for everyday “appreciation,” I do love this bouquet with the orange lilies and white and pink roses in them, as well as the white flowers (not sure what they are called! If you know, tell me).

If you don’t have a spouse or a significant other, buy yourself flowers! You deserve it!

flower bouquet from Ray

flower bouquet from Ray

lilies

lilies and roses

What day of the week do you honor the Sabbath/take a much-needed break and relax?

How do you do self-care? Leave your comments below. 

Blog, Ebooks, Faith, Family, Marriage, prayer, Travel, Writing

The gift of dreaming

“If God cares about us and delights in us and therefore cares about the things we care about as a Father cares for the joy in His children, then we can exhale…He put the very ability to long in my soul. He gave me the gift of dreaming so I could have vision in this life.”–Sarah Mae, Longing for Paris

woman on beach

woman on beach

Summer is in full swing here in Missouri, with 3-digit temps some days, making even my husband Ray who hates snow long for cooler days. I look longingly at my friends’ beach pics on Facebook, their pretty painted toenails in the sand. The beach is my place of peace and refilling, and I miss and crave it in my soul.

When I was a child, every summer our family took vacations at the beach in Florida. My home town of Valdosta, GA, is about the last stop you can make in Georgia before you see that “Welcome to Florida” sign.

Several times we went to the idyllic Jekyll Island in Georgia, as my dad’s Civitan Club conventions were held there. But we also tried other beaches in Florida, such as Daytona and Panama City, where the current is so strong that you feel as if you’re going to be sucked right under the surface of the waves and carried out to sea, forever lost.

purple sky and ocean

Ocean

At the beach, my usually reserved father, a workaholic in his home business as a CPA, finally relaxed. He’d drink some beers, looking out on the ocean at night under the moonlight, and he’d actually laugh–a rare event. And when he relaxed and laughed, my mother–an overweight, stressed-out, usually screaming woman on the verge of madness–would laugh, too, and they might even hold hands on the patio. One time we kids actually saw them kiss, and I was shocked as they never did this at home in front of us. We all giggled. 

During the day, we’d head for the beach, my mother making us slather our bodies with sunscreen, and my older brother Greg yelling, “Last one in is a rotten egg!” as he dove with exuberance in the waves. One year on the beach, Greg got stung on the foot by a jellyfish; they seemed to be everywhere in the water and on shore that year. While the sting was painful, he recovered and was okay.

jellyfish Image source: Pinterest-gacpr.com

jellyfish
Image source: Pinterest-gacpr.com

Another year, we thought that Greg had drowned to death, as the strong current and a giant wave suddenly snatched him underneath the sinister surface. I recall the frightened calls of my parents, “Greg! Greg!”, as they frantically searched for him, and suddenly he reappeared out of the ocean like a Loch Ness monster, looking larger than life, but red-eyed and sputtering salty water. Thank God he was alive!

It wasn’t the only time that God spared his life. Years later, he was hit by a drunk driver when Greg was riding a motorcycle. He was in a coma for days, doctors unsure if he would ever wake up and not knowing the extent of any brain or internal injuries. 

Motorcycle accident
Image source: Google

When Greg was in the coma, it was one of the few times in my life that I remember my dad, a strong, prideful, independent man, ever crying. I was at our high school’s prom when the accident happened; or at least, I was supposed to be there. My boyfriend and I were doing what was called “parking” back then, in a dark driveway by the town’s football field, when my boyfriend’s dad drove past us and spotted his son’s car. He’d been driving all over town to find us, to let me know about Greg’s critical accident; my parents had called him to find my whereabouts when I wasn’t at the high school.

Remembering his own high school days, he had a hunch what we might be doing, and found us just by a fluke. Imagine our surprise when he parked on the side of the road, got out of his car, and tapped loudly on the car window, interrupting us!

When he told me that my brother had been critically injured in a car accident, we rushed to the hospital. As I walked frightened into the ICU room, my father was furious with me, demanding to know where I’d been instead of at the prom. At the moment, my “activities” with my boyfriend (which were innocent enough as we’d only been kissing) seemed to be more important to him than my brother laying on his possible deathbed.

IV needle Image source: Google

IV needle
Image source: Google

But then the doctor came in, and my father’s and my mother’s attention turned back to him and their oldest son, Greg. I stared in shock at my pale brother, with whom I was close friends back then. He was hooked up to a lot of machines that blinked and beeped ominously, the IV needle stuck in his vein and the fluids flowing into his limp body. Yet he looked peaceful and asleep. 

My brother Greg (middle), with his beautiful Russian wife (left) and my sister Maria (right)

My brother Greg (middle), with his beautiful Russian wife Ilona (left) and my sister Maria (right)

Miraculously, Greg awoke several days later from the coma, his life spared and although he was shaken, he was fine. He sued the drunk driver, and they settled in court for thousands of dollars. Today he is a successful business man, married to a beautiful woman from Russia with a grown stepson, and is a Presbyterian minister, preaching the gospel of Christ. God protected and saved him for a glorious purpose. 

But I digress…back to the beach vacation days! I’d walk on the wet shore, collecting sea shells to take home, wanting to forever preserve the memory of the beach. Why couldn’t we just stay here? I loved the beauty of the ocean and the sunset, smelling the salt in the air, and hearing the waves as I lay on a towel, warm sand on my feet.

At night, I slept restfully because we kids had played hard, delighted to wake up to the sound of the ocean the next morning and anticipating more fun swimming in it that day after breakfast. By lunch we were famished. Mama usually brought groceries on the trip so that we could save money, and we’d devour our sandwiches and chips. It was hard to wait the hour following lunch; mama claimed we’d “get cramps” if we swam too soon after eating. 

Daddy would usually take us out to eat at one nice seafood restaurant during the vacation, the highlight of the trip for my mother, as well as her being able to swim in the ocean. She had been an excellent swimmer in high school and swam effortlessly as a mermaid in the water.

Mermaid Image source: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-mermaids-realI

Mermaid
Image source: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-mermaids-real

Mama seemed to feel young and sexy again in her one-piece swimsuit, diving under the waves, and letting her greatly freckled skin dry in the sun–but not too long, as she and us kids seemed to burn so easily. We’d usually get burned anyway, and mama would rub Noxema or something to cool down our skin. The fun seemed so worth it!

Never stop dreaming

My dad and my sister Maria had olive complexions and would get dark, and I’d be envious of her, walking around in her itty-bitty bikini, sporting her new tan. But nothing could take away my happiness completely, because we were at the beach, our once a year, only, fun vacation. The stuff dreams are made of.

I’m reading a book right now by Sarah Mae called Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure–Right Where She Is. She’s a wife and a busy mom of young kids; Sarah dreams of traveling to Paris. Me, too–and of every continent!

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”–Susan Sontag

Sarah Mae still hasn’t gone to Paris, even after writing this book! I confess that I am frustrated about this. The reasons are never really clear–the expense? Because she has kids and we all know that moms can’t travel to exotic places? Who really knows why?–but I understand. I’d be traveling all over the world to many nations right now if only I had the money to do so!

Traveling woman Image source: Google

Traveling woman
Image source: Google

Still, what is stopping me from saving every single dime until we have enough money for me (and/or my husband and our kids) to go where we want? 

Sarah writes:

“We give our dreams and longings to God, trusting Him to do as He pleases, knowing He cares about us, our growth, and our total trust in Him…We recognize our longings are in us for a deeper purpose.”

“Use your imagination…go on, close your eyes and dream. What would you do if you could go to Paris (or another place that calls to your heart)? What would you want to see?”

 

I’ve actually been to Paris…twice. Once in high school with my French teacher and our class. It was the first time I’d ever tried champagne or any alcohol, and I confess that I got drunk with my classmates, because I didn’t realize how potent alcohol was! My French teacher, Mrs. Gandy, threatened to kill me if I told my mother and father. To this day, I hardly ever drink, except a glass of sweet, red wine over dinner with Ray once in a blue moon.

I was enthralled with the Eiffel Tower (it’s beautiful, fascinating, and so tall!), the gorgeous art in Le Louvre musem (especially the Mona Lisa; I stared for an hour at her), and I loved dipping the French bread into hot chocolate in the morning!

Eiffel Tower Image source: https://viralrang.com/5-reasons-visit-eiffel-tower/

Eiffel Tower
Image source: https://viralrang.com/5-reasons-visit-eiffel-tower/

And once, speed forward years, I went to Paris again on Ray’s and my 10th wedding anniversary trip. We traveled there briefly by train when we flew to Europe, renting a car and driving all over Switzerland.

We stopped for a couple of days in Italy, France, and an unheard of place called Lichtenstein, which borders Switzerland and Austria. There at a beautiful castle on a high hill, I boldly and secretly buried a piece of paper with a Scripture in the ground, proclaiming the word over the area.

Ray said we couldn’t walk around inside, since it didn’t look open to the public. (We found out later that the Princely family lives there!) After I furtively buried the Scripture in the ground, immediately a strong wind blew through, and I realized I had probably stirred up some demonic principalities of the air! But God’s word had been prophesied over this nation!

French bread Image source: Google

French bread
Image source: Google

In Paris for the second time, I cried seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa again, and I simply couldn’t get enough French bread baked with chocolate and French cheese. In many of our pictures from this trip, you see me standing in line for chocolate bread! Sometimes I’ll buy baguettes and French cheese to recreate the feeling of being in Paris again, an idea of wishing, which Sarah Mae encourages in her book Longing for Paris.

“Grab your kids and hunt for something French! Maybe you will discover the best croissant in your town together. Or maybe it will be the best macaron. Take a side trip to the library and check out The Little Prince or Madeline or The Story of Babar–adventurous tales with a French twist.”

For me personally, it’s not enough to pretend to go to Paris, eating the Americanized version of French bread (the baguette is actually much thinner and longer) with imported French cheeseI want the real thing.

Beth Jones- Jasper National Park, Canada

Me when I traveled across Canadian Rockies by train Jasper Park, Canada

I want to truly travel abroad all over the world! I believe dreaming is a gift from God and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, just like we as parents want to make our own children happy and laughing.

I believe it’s important to never give up your dreams and to go for them, as much as possible. God can miraculously make the way for them to become true!

woman in bonjour shirt

Woman in Bonjour shirt & skirt

Sarah writes, “When my son draws me a picture, he is so excited to give it to me, not just so that I can see his talent, but because he loves me and wants me to take pleasure in it. This is what God does with us; He wants us to take pleasure in the beauty He’s made and in the gifts He endows us with.”

Never stop dreaming; never give up. Be the girl (or guy) who goes for it!

Woman with camera

Woman with camera

What is your big dream? Remember that NOTHING is impossible with God? To be encouraged to go for it, check out my book, The Cinderella Story: The Power of Dreams, at Amazon, by clicking here.