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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Taste of Africa restaurant

painting of elephant
painting of elephant

This week Ray and I celebrated Valentine’s Day a little late (we had to go on a date near his payday!). I googled online to look for a good Moroccan restaurant, and found Taste of Africa in Overland Park, Kansas, which is within an hour’s driving distance from us. It was the right choice; the food is delicious and the service is excellent!

African tribe
African tribe

I loved the vibrant colors of the restaurant (especially oranges and reds), with African paintings on the wall. They also play African music.

A Taste of Africa restaurant
Taste of Africa restaurant

 

African art
African art

 

paintings
paintings

Ray ordered the Kalahari Platter (tender pieces of goat, cooked in an assortment of herbs and spices with ugali, sauteed kale, sauteed cabbage, chapatti (a flat bread), and Kachumbari salad.

platter
Kalahari platter

The ugali is a sticky dish that is a staple at African meals. The chef and the waitress complimented Ray on eating it correctly–balling it up in his hand, and then sopping up the goat stew with it.  He was in his element.

Ray at Taste of Africa
Ray at Taste of Africa

They said most Americans eat it with their forks. (Of course, how would one know how to eat it properly without visiting Africa?) This made him smile very big, so proud.

ugali
ugali

Ray remembered how the native people in Kenya ate it as we visited there, when I spoke for three days at a women’s conference.

Beth Jones speaking, Kenya, Africa
Me speaking in Kenya, Africa with a translator

At Taste of Africa in Overland Park, Kansas, I ordered Mshikaki (chicken skewers–so good!), fries (it came with the meal as french fries often do in many countries), and Kachumbari (a wonderful little salad).

Mshikaki (Chicken skewers), fries, and Kachumbari (salad)
Mshikaki (Chicken skewers), fries, and Kachumbari (salad)

I had looked at the menu prior to us driving there and knew that without a shadow of a doubt, I wanted The Sweet Banana for my dessert--fried plantain slices drizzled with cinnamon sugar, topped with vanilla ice cream on chocolate and strawberry syrup. Ray and I shared it, even though I wanted it all!

The presentation was so pretty and Oh. My. Gosh. It was divine! (Or was it sinful?) My mouth is watering even thinking about it again!

The Sweet Banana
The Sweet Banana

The female chef is originally from Kenya and came to America as a student and to start her restaurant business. She came to our table to greet us; we complimented her on the wonderful and beautiful meal. 

If you haven’t tried this place yet, and you’re a wanna-be foodie like me, you’re in for a different, elegant experience!

You can find out more here.

When one of our African friends, Apostle Catherine of Nairobi, Kenya, saw my pics of the restaurant on Facebook, she said, “Welcome back to Kenya.”

Apostle Catherine Nairobi, Kenya
Apostle Catherine
Nairobi, Kenya

I believe one day we will return to Africa

me in black & white vest Ray bought me
me in black & white vest Ray bought me

I also believe our daughter Heather will go to Africa one day, as a mission trip there has been on her heart for years. I bought her pretty, blue, dangling earrings that the restaurant’s owners sell with other beautiful, colorful African jewelry there.

our beautiful daughter Heather
our beautiful daughter Heather

 

Heather's earrings
Heather’s earrings

 

jewelry
African jewelry

It was a fun date for Ray and me, and I’d love to go back sometime. What ethnic restaurants have you tried lately? Leave your comments below.

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Not called to hate: Bankrupt without love

rusty gate
rusty gate Image source: Google

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”–1 Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message

What do you think of when you hear the word “love”?

You love Jesus.

You love your spouse, your kids, your sister, and your friends.

You love Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

You love your cat.

You love the This is Us TV series.

You don’t love bad hair days, gaining back the 15 pounds you lost last year walking and jogging, new wrinkles showing up in the mirror, catty women, and drama.

iced coffee
iced coffee

As I sit here writing at my laptop with an iced coffee, pondering the meaning of the word love, I realize that I so often fail to hit the mark, God’s way. In fact, much more often I’m like that creaking rusty gate in the above-mentioned passage in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Squeak, squeak. Rust corrodes and destroys. (Wince.)

Without God’s love in my heart, the Bible says that I’m getting nowhere. Bankrupt. Not a pretty thought.

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Sometimes I think that maybe I have a heart of ice. Ray has sometimes called me la belle dames sans merci–the beautiful woman without mercy. It is the name of an English ballad by poet John Keats, considered a classic with numerous interpretations.

In the poem, there’s a bleak wintry landscape and a broken knight. The beautiful lady is a femme fatale who attracts lovers only to destroy them with her supernatural powers. She destroys because it’s her nature to destroy. Not exactly a compliment from my husband, although I like when he calls me beautiful!

La belle dames sans merci by John William Waterhouse
La belle dames sans merci
by John William Waterhouse

No, I don’t want to be a femme fatale. I don’t want to hate anyone, either. God is love, and I am called by Him to love others, too. (1 John 4:8)

I want to be a woman of love, and yet even as I type this, I think, “Do I really? Am I willing to do what God requires of me to unconditionally love Him and others? Or am I too comfortable in my own skin of apathy, or even worse, of hate?

frustrated woman
frustrated woman

Hate is such an ugly word, isn’t it? Certainly not one with which a Christian–a Christ believer and follower–should be associated. And yet, I confess it out loud, now to the entire world.

I struggle with feeling hatred sometimes. I have for my entire life. I especially struggle with it at times in anger toward my husband Ray (and I can think of a few other people right now, too! And just so you know, Ray has struggled with feeling hatred toward me at times, too!)

Former first lady Barbara Bush recounted a time when Ruth Graham, wife of world-renown evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by a writer if she had ever considered divorce. “Divorce? No. Murder, yes.”

happy woman
happy woman

Maybe you can’t relate to me or Ruth Graham at all. I commend you for having a happy, free heart oozing over with God’s unconditional, reckless love and you having your life way more together than me.

You might even question if I am really a true Christian if I feel hate. Am I the only Christian who battles the sin of hatred?

No. Recently when Ray and I were in a marriage counseling session, the Christian therapist told me about a recent situation where she and a loved one were arguing loudly in her home, and she felt hatred for this family member. 

Did she stay stuck in the sinful stew of hatred in her heart? No. This gifted, anointed Christian therapist decided instead to leave the house, drive off [fast] in her car, and go get a large Diet Coke at Sonic to chill out for awhile. She came back home and they talked about it again more calmly now, reconciling. 

I admit that I felt secretly relieved when she told me this story! So, I’m not alone in this struggle! It’s a human dilemma.

The Bible addresses hatred in many verses. Some examples are:

  • 1 John 4:20
  • 1 John 3:15
  • Leviticus 19:17
  • 1 John 2:9
  • Ephesians 4:31
  • Galatians 5:20
  • Mark 7:21-22

What’s interesting is that the audience for most of these passages are Christian believers!

How do you overcome this evil weapon of hatred if you struggle with it, too?

  • Come to God. God is love. He is the One who can and will teach you how to love others.
  • Repent of the sin of hatred. Satan, who is God’s and our enemy, wants you to hate God, other people, and yourself. Ask God’s forgiveness for the hatred.
  • Ask God to fill you with His agape (unconditional) love and for victory in the situation.
  • Choose to forgive the person for how he or she hurt, angered, or offended you. If needed, ask forgiveness of the person you are struggling with hating if you have sinned against him or her.
  • Spend time daily reading and meditating on the Bible, praying, worshipping, and in fellowship with other Christian believers to help you in your walk. You are not alone.

I’m now writing a new non-fiction book: Metamorphosis: Transformed From Hate to Love, which will be available for sale soon at Amazon as an eBook. If you subscribe to my personal mailing list here at BethJones.net, you’ll be first to hear about its release. This is the beautiful cover for the eBook:

eBook cover
eBook cover

Just sign up at the top of the page on the right-hand side with your name and email, and confirm your subscription. You’ll also get a free gift when you sign up!

You can find the other books I’ve written here at my Amazon Author Page

Have you struggled with hating anyone? Leave your comments below. 

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