Our beautiful daughter Leah at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
When I realized this week how long it’d been since I blogged here at BethJones.net, I felt dismayed. I could give you a million excuses for why, but it boils down to the usual: I’ve been busy. Everyone is, though, right?
But here’s what has been happening in my life recently:
I went on a week-long trip to Ireland with our daughter Leah in September 2018;
I started a new part-time Administrative Assistant job in October 2018. I’m no longer there as of this week, as my season there has ended and God has new things for me to do now;
Through a friend’s influence, I spoke and gave my testimony at a church;
I went back to Florida this year in the spring for several days, to visit Kim and her family and to enjoy a much-needed beach marathon (the ocean is my place of peace and refilling);
I wrote a Kindle eBook about Leah’s and my trip to Ireland with beautiful pics, which is now live on Amazon. You can get it here;
Right now I’m working on writing my first children’s book about Leah’s and my cats, Jax and Natalya! This is unfamiliar territory for me. For years Ray and Leah have been encouraging me to write a children’s book. I kept saying I didn’t know how, but now I finally am! As writers, we need to stretch and push ourselves, to hone our craft. We’ll see how it goes! I’m asking Leah, who is now taking college graphic design courses, to design the front cover. I pray she does; she’s an amazing artist! I’m excited about this new venture.
I’ve also been going through more intense spiritual warfare the last several years. Satan never seems to stop. Please say a prayer for me and my family. Christ has the victory, amen!
One thing I want to encourage you to do: Don’t stop dreaming!
God can make your biggest, most impossible dreams come true, as Leah and I are living proof from our trip to Ireland!
Let me know if you need prayer, too. I’ll be happy to pray for you! God is a mighty, prayer-answering God!
I’ll try to be more consistent blogging now! Let me know what topics interest YOU!
Get my newest Kindle eBook at Amazon, with beautiful pics of the “Emerald Isle” Ireland. It’s about my and Leah’s exciting adventures, traveling there in 2018.
Ireland, Soft Rains. Your big dreams CAN come true!
With fresh BONUS content–never-before released, short video clips that showcase Ireland’s beauty. Also, videos on My Best Travel Tips and funny stories about our time there!
Do you love writing? Do you want to write a book? Joseph Epstein, essayist short story writer, and editor, said at the beginning of the new millennium that 81% of people want to write a book and that statistic likely still holds true!It’s time to write YOUR book!
I started a new, part-time job outside the home this year, so I’ve been extra busy and blogging hasn’t made the top of the to-do list.
But I decided this weekend to just sit down and blog, and wanted to share about my Serene September Writers’ Get-away I hosted and spoke at in fall 2018. Four Christian women writers attended, and it was so fun that we want to do it again this year!
The venue for this writers’ retreat was at the Bethany House in Butler, Missouri.It’s about an hour south of Kansas City, MO. This is a beautiful, fully-furnished house with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in a quiet neighborhood, that has been completely remodeled inside and out.
It is a relaxing, quiet place to pray, refill, and be refreshed. The women and I love it!
Outside porch with rockers
You can sit outside in a big rocker on the wrap-around porch, make some popcorn and enjoy a chick flick on TV in the living room, watch the birds with your coffee in the morning in the sunroom, or sleep in late in the master bedroom, queen bedroom, or upstairs bedroom decorated in a children’s theme, which is where I prefer to stay because it’s so cute and comfortable!
Living room to watch a good chick flick!
The sunroom is my favorite room. I love sitting in there in the morning, drinking my coffee, journaling, and watching the birds. The sun comes streaming in through the windows.
coffee in Bethany House cup
Windchime in sunroom
Stenciling in sunroom
It is so peaceful. I’ve stayed at the Bethany House several times overnight just to be alone, think about my life, and pray. The owner of Bethany House has pretty decor like this candle and angel below to set a tone of serenity and prayer for the house’s atmosphere.
candle and angel
I love buying gifts for people and bought the ladies attending a gift bag, each in different colors. I included goodies like a journal (to jumpstart their writing!), Sharpie ultra-fine, black pens, sticky notes, hand lotion, a little bag of tissues with sayings on them like “Seize this moment” and “Find your fearless,” chewing gum, and a Dove chocolate bar. They loved them.
I used my daughter Leah’s violin music stand to set my teaching notes on and we used used the formal dining room as our classroom and to eat. Both worked perfectly!
On Friday evening, I taught the first session of the retreat. Then we went out to eat supper at the local Mexican restaurant, El Charro–fun! When we came out of the restaurant, we saw a beautiful night sky!
Afterward, the ladies made popcorn and enjoyed the chocolates I’d brought them for the weekend, and stayed up watching chick flicks in the living room and talking. I think this set the right tone!
The next morning, I fixed the ladies breakfast (scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee). They were free to sleep in as long as they wanted!
Two of the ladies have a house full of kids, so they really needed this time of R & R!
The house has all the amenities of a nice hotel–including little shampoos and other toiletries and soft, white robes!
One of the attendees, my friend Liz, generously brought bagels from Einstein Brothers in Overland Park, Kansas, as she and her friend Simmie drove together to the retreat. She bought a variety, but one unique kind is their bagel with red onion, tomatoes, capers, and cold-smoked Nova Lox salmon. Delicious!
One of the attendees, Missy, and I talked prior to the retreat and I asked her to share a devotional on Saturday morning in the sunroom after breakfast. It was so good and she did a great job!
I had never met Missy in person or heard her speak before, but I am led by the Holy Spirit and my gut. Neither have ever led me wrong!
I’m so glad that Missy shared! It was anointed by God!
I taught several hour-long sessions during the weekend retreat, but I also gave the ladies some needed free time to be alone to pray, think, write, or to talk with each other. On Friday and Saturday night I went home to sleep, since I live right here in town and that gave the ladies more privacy.
The sessions included these topics: Why do you write, Getting Started, Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, Writing Tips, and Resources that I use each time I write a book (I’ve written 17 and am about to write my next one. You can find out more about my books at my Amazon Author Page at http://www.amazon.com/author/bethmjones.
This retreat was intense with a lot of information for beginner writers, but we also took time out for FUN! That weekend was near my birthday (September 20) and Liz’s was that weekend (September 23) , so we decided to celebrate both of ours that weekend.
I brought cupcakes and Liz and I gave each other a gift. I loved the Paparazzi earrings and necklace that Liz got me! They have such cute jewelry for just $5! The ladies sang happy birthday, too!
I felt led by God to also offer Holy Communion at the writers’ retreat. This may sound unusual, but I desire to put God first with everything I do. He is the one who has given us this gift of writing, and I feel it is important to dedicate the writing of our books, blogs, and everything we pen to Him, for Jesus’ glory.
I ended the retreat by answering any questions they had about writing. I encouraged them that I’d be first in line to buy their books!
One of the ladies, Missy, emailed me this after the retreat: “We leave for vacation in Angel Fire, NM for the next six days and I have plans to write and take photos for my book project (an inspirational “coffee table” type book about all that I have learned “In the Valley” of this year) while I am there! I can’t wait to just start!”
Another lady who attended, my friend Liz, has written an exciting adventure novel and a devotional book on the Lord’s rest, both which she plans to publish soon. I’m so excited for her!
Before the retreat, I also prayed for God to give me a Scripture and a song for each lady there. We concluded the retreat by praying for one another. This was one of the most powerful parts of the retreat, where the ladies and I received prophetic words for each other. We were all ministered to and cried! God is so good!
I brought a few visual aids to the retreat for the teaching times, such as my Cinderella glass slippers (this is my signature speech) and the Curious George monkey that was a gift to me years ago when I attended renown speaker Florence Littauer’s CLASServices speaker/writer retreat. She said always be curious!
For my birthday, my family gave me some fresh beautiful red roses and sunflowers, which are my favorite kinds of flowers. They made such a gorgeous centerpiece in the sunroom!
The ladies loved looking at them all weekend!
If you’d like me to speak at your women’s conference, retreat, or event sharing my powerful testimony or about writing your book, I’d love to come encourage you and your friends. You can contact me here at my website.
One of the ladies at the retreat, Missy, gave this testimonial:
“Thank you for all of your planning and prayer and preparation for the amazing retreat this weekend. Your passion for encouraging women to find and follow God’s calling to WRITE is simply contagious. Your willingness to be transparent, genuine and compassionate toward each of us was a blessing. Every detail was covered, everything we could possibly have needed was provided for, and every question we had was answered. You went above and beyond to ensure that we were thoroughly blessed, carefree and able to remain focused on what God was speaking to our hearts this weekend. Saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough! I have buried this dream for long enough. Because of this weekend, I am moving forward with three projects immediately, and I came home with a list of up to 20 additional writing projects to work on in the future. How amazing is that!”
Liz shared her experience about this retreat: “Beth had a great writing retreat in a lovely retreat center. She paid attention to a lot of little details, which added to our experience and had some great teaching time which was helpful. I personally needed more time to write. But I ran into some personal snags which kept me from writing. The rooms were great and the food was great, too! Loved it!”
We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!
I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.
“If you’re going to be lost, there’s no friendlier place to get lost in than Ireland.” —Rebekah Crane, The Upside of Falling Down
Ireland green fields & stone wall
As I shared in my blog post Galway Girl,Galway was definitely mine and Leah’s favorite city on our Ireland trip. The city was alive with energy; it was just FUN! We loved Galway!
I bought my souvenir in Galway: a beautiful, sterling silver Claddagh Ring. Its meaning is about love, loyalty, and friendship. I’d seen them before I went on the trip, and knew that’s what I wanted as my gift!
The Claddagh Ring has been the traditional wedding ring in Ireland since the 17th Century. There are four different ways to wear it:
Single: You should wear the ring on your right hand with the heart facing outwards.
Relationship: You should wear it on your right hand with the heart pointed inwards.
Engaged: You wear it on your left hand with the heart pointing outwards.
Married: You wear it on your left hand with the heart facing inward.
The saying goes that if you’re taken, you wear the ring with the heart on the ring facing your heart, and if you’re searching for love, you wear the heart facing outward.
I’m interested in fashion, but I noticed what other people were wearing as I traveled. This young woman’s white sneakers and backpack were cute. I noted a lot of people wearing backpacks everywhere we went.
The Latin Quarter of Galway
Young woman’s cute white sneakers & backpack
I wanted to stay much longer, but I had booked a different B & B each night throughout our journey and since it was starting to rain, Leah and I both thought it best to start heading out after our lunch at The Quay Street Kitchen located in the thriving town’s center.
Thriving Galway center A talented street musician–guitarist
Menu at Galway restaurant
gorgeous fresh flowers on our table
Leah seemed more interested in the bird (a pigeon, I believe) that stayed near our table outside than anything. Throughout our trip, Leah took several pics of birds, to my amusement. This is a good shot below. Now you know what a Galway, Ireland bird looks like!
pigeon near our sidewalk cafe table
Before we ate lunch, we enjoyed window-shopping at the shops. One of the first things we saw was a pretty street mime in a French cap, turtleneck shirt, big hoop earrings, black and grey leggings, and boots, performingon the sidewalk. A man playing a guitar accompanied her. This was the first time that Leah and I had ever seen a mime in person, so it was interesting.
Galway street mime
Galway street mime & town center
I saw a music store and asked Leah if she wanted to go inside. Naturally, she did (she plays the violin and other instruments). She later told me that I should know better than to go into a music store, where she’d want to spend all her money! She actually didn’t buy anything there, but wanted to buy a lot!
I took a pic of a harp at this store, because our granddaughter Annabelle–who plays the violin, too–wants to learn how to play the harp.
Music store in Galway where we stopped
Harp in music store
Leah was captivated by all the street musicians, as I knew she would be. Here is a shot that is closer up of the guitarist, who reminded me of the musical prodigy in the movie August Rush.
Leah and I listened to him for quite awhile. Leah said he was really good. As he played, he gathered a much bigger crowd than shown here.
amazing guitarist in Galway
A big crowd began to gather to listen to this talented young man, who played incredibly on the guitar
One of the historic landmarks in Galway is the Wolf Tone Bridge over the River Corrib. The bridge is named after revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone, who helped found the United Irish Society, which worked to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants.We were trying to find parking to walk across the bridge.
Wolfe Tone Bridge Image source: Google
Leah found parking lots on my phone using the GPS, which I didn’t even know you could do. But it proved to be challenging as traffic was INSANE in Galway!
We just drove in circles, with me trying to listen to my phone’s GPS lady Siri, as I drove through unknown and ridiculously narrow streets and tried to avoid hitting cars in our rental car! Leah was getting frustrated with me, and I was getting very hungry!
Car GPS lady’s voice Siri telling me where to go
I winded up mistakenly going down a dead-end street and having to back up (not an easy feat, as the automatic cars in Ireland are a little hard to put into Neutral or Reverse!).
Leah and I decided to forget the bridge!
We did see this pretty stone bridge pictured below. I believe it was near Galway, but can’t be postive. There are a lot of bridges like this across Ireland. Unfortunately due to parking, I was unable to get a picture on the Wolf Tone Bridge.
Ireland has many legends, and the Wolfe Tone Bridge has one, too: in the 1800’s, it was that any Claddagh person traveling west over the bridge at midnight would be attacked by a ‘gliomach’ or sea monster. We were there in the daytime, not midnight, but good thing I don’t believe in legends, anyway!
In my next post in this Ireland Blog Post series, I’ll share about one of the scariest times that Leah and I had in Ireland: driving in the rain up Corkscrew Mountain!