Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My very favorite room ...

I want to show you how our basement playroom turned out.
I hung up the posters the other day,
and I keep going downstairs to see them
again and again and again!
Grandpa Jones and I picked out
the paint for the walls a few weeks ago.
The color is called "Cracker Bitz", a very weird name for a color,
but I like it very much.
However, in some of these pictures, the color looks like MUSTARD!
See how beautiful the posters all turned out?
The only grandchild who is not represented very well
is baby Nia . . . but that's because she is only a wee babe!
We have plenty of time to take other beautiful pictures of her!
And there is still plenty of wall space to hang more posters!
Presently, I am using this as my exercise room.
Exercise is something I hate to do, remember?
But now, I am surrounded by our beautiful
grandchildren the entire time I am working out ~
it makes the task much more tolerable!
So, dear grandchildren,
you have made this my very favorite room . . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm a Happy Woman!

It doesn't take much to make me happy really. Honest! I've been saying for many years that we kind of needed a new vacuum cleaner around here . . . you know, a vacuum that actually sucked up something it ran over instead of just pushing it around the carpet making me crazy. Last fall, I "upped" my complaints concerning our lack of a decent vacuum, answering all of Mr. Joneses inquiries as to my "proper" use of the one we possessed such as had I checked the bag lately? YES! I checked it a thousand times and made sure that a fresh, empty bag was installed. Did I mention that this particular vacuum was already 12 years old when we got married ten years ago and from Day One didn't pick up diddily-squat?! Somewhere around Thanksgiving, Mr. Jones began to take me seriously. Perhaps he overhead the terrible names I was calling our old machine as I attempted to clean the house with it!

Anyone who is vaguely familiar with Mr. Jones KNOWS that he will not buy anything without a sale, and it had better be a good sale. Several weeks ago, I noticed him pulling aside ads from the Sunday Press and looking them over. I waited to see what would happen ~ not without further complaints (some folk would call this nagging) about the total lack of performance of our vacuum. I'm telling you, it was SO pathetic, it couldn't even suck a crumb off the carpet!

The right sale finally came along ~ horray! We went over to Kohl's and picked up our brand new Hoover Windtunnel vacuum cleaner and I ran it for the first time today. It's one of those nice bagless, self-propelled machines -- okay, so it's not a Dyson, but it's pretty nice. I could not believe what was in the container after vacuuming just ONE room. YOW! The whole thing was full of dust and hair and other disgusting stuff. And the carpeting and area rug look beautiful now ~ I'm so pleased! No wonder we couldn't breathe around here . . .

Grandpa Toys

Grandpa Jones has been into modeling trains his whole life. Saturday, a friend of his was having an Open House to let folk see his layout, so we joined up with some other train friends (Thom & Barb) and went out to Holland to see it.
The layout is of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad from Ridgeway in the north to Durango in the south, and it is modeled of the time periods between 1890 and 1952 on a typical mid-September day.
I was most impressed with the art work because this gentleman has done such an excellent job with mountains, trees, out-buildings, farm land, ranches, etc. He is a perfectionist and has such great detail in his work.
The trains are HO, narrow-gauge, and when a train is running, there are very cool sound-effects of the steam engines, the water filling the tenders, etc. It was great fun to walk around and see all of the little towns and farms, and of course, to watch Grandpa Jones.
The gentleman who has built this entire layout has pictures posted along the tracks of the real railroad out in Colorado. He has done an amazing job matching the colors and the landscape. It's really beautiful.
I think my favorite thing was the bridges. I would LOVE to be on a real train on this bridge, wouldn't you?
The layout is actually on two levels, but it's hard to see that in these pictures. But look how real the rocks, dirt, trees and mountains look!
I think Grandpa Jones has a little bit of work to do on his own layout, don't you?
I took a video of the train coming across this bridge. I've tried to upload it twice, but it is about a minute and a half long and doesn't seem to want to upload. I think I'll just have to save it for another day.
I had a lot of fun taking these pictures. Looking at them now, it's hard to believe this is only a model -- everything looks so real!

Pretty fancy toys these guys have! Perhaps one day our layout will look cool like this one does. Grandpa Jones certainly has the know-how and ability to do the building and the tracks and the trains, but I think he would need a little bit of help on the artistry . . .

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The snow is so exhilerating!

(that's for all you folk down SOUTH in Texas) ...
We got six more inches of snow overnight.
Almost all schools were closed (even Grand Rapids Public!)
I received a call at eight o'clock telling me no "angels"
were needed over at church because all of Tuesday's
Bible studies had been cancelled.
But I just could not stay inside on a day this beautiful!
Mr. Jones wasn't feeling well, so I decided to tackle
the snow plowing solo this morning.
It doesn't look like that much snow,
but we already had 6" on the ground and then
another half foot fell during the night.
It took me a full 20 minutes to get 1/4 down the driveway.
Our neighbor across the street, Matt,
has a snowplowing business;
but since Mr. Jones and I are young and healthy,
we do our 3-car driveway with shovels (i.e. the hard way).
However, when Matt backed his pickup into our driveway
this morning and asked if I would like a little assistance,
I certainly didn't turn him down!
90 seconds later, the driveway was totally clear!
Except I really wasn't ready to go inside yet . . .
the day was SO invigorating!
And there were beautiful pictures waiting to be taken!
This is our backyard ...
We are very fortunate to live in a subdivision
with lots of undeveloped land nearby . . .

makes it handy for those nice long walks I like to take.
I obey the "No Hunting" signs very well,
but the "No Tresspassing" signs I'm afraid are kind of ignored ...
In some places back in these woods,
the snow was two feet deep.
With my heavy hiking boots on, it made for
a good workout! It sure was prettier out here than
exercising on my stair-stepper in the basement!
Here is some beautiful Scripture to go along
with these pictures:
"God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
He does great things beyond our understanding.

He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth . . . '
(He simply speaks . . . and it happens!)
"Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
God comes in awesome majesty."

JOB 37:5-6 and verse 23

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wanting to make a difference ...

Would you like a little update on my first week volunteering? Well, Tuesday I worked as an "angel" in the Women's Ministry office at our church, assisting with phones, filing, and other clerical duties. I thought it was very slow. However, I was only there four hours and they ran out of work, so I went home! I'm hoping this Tuesday is busier and that I am needed all day.

Wednesday afternoon I had an interview at Urban Family Ministries and learned about several opportunities for service. I was given two applications to fill out ~ one for them, and one for the Grand Rapids Public School district, since much of the volunteer work takes place in area schools (reading books to children, some tutoring, etc.). Those applications will need approval before I can do any work with them; however, I was invited to attend "Super Saturday" last night to observe and assist as needed. So that's what I did.

"Super Saturday" happens at Calvary Church every Saturday evening throughout the school year. Anywhere from 80-225 intercity kids between the ages of 3 and 12 are delivered to the church via bus or van between 5:30 and 6:00. The littlest kids are cared for separately with a program of their own. But grades 1 through 6 meet in the gym. There is a craft time, lots of music and singing, a Bible lesson, a game time, everyone is fed a nutritious meal (the only food some of these kids will eat all day) and then it's time to go home! They've been doing this now for five years, and it has really grown. They've been studying "super heroes" of the Bible (hence the "Super Saturday" title), and last night's hero was Noah. I would have to describe the evening as "controlled chaos." These are intercity children. I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I felt way too WHITE. I was being introduced to so many all at once, with names that I could hardly pronounce, and definitely do not remember.

I felt most at home at the craft table(s) where the children were making colorful bookmarks using that cool foam stuff that seems to be everywhere in craft stores now. We didn't have a lot of variety in our materials, but we had a bucket full of foam letters, numbers, and some ribbon to work with. These little girls asked me to help find the letters in their names to put on their bookmarks. I was okay with the ones who were wearing their name tags, but so many would just mumble their names and then ask me to help them find the letters. M-A-L-S-H-A was wearing her name tag (whew!), so it was easy to help her; but M-A-L-I-K-A was not wearing hers. One little girl's name was 11 letters and I never did figure out how her name was pronounced! Plus, I found there was quite a language barrier. I know ~ we all speak English, but I had a hard time translating ...

I watched other volunteers who knew these children well. There was such a nice rapport and friendship between them. As I was driving home last night, I wondered if this was where God wanted me ~ could I help to make a difference in any of these children's lives? I'll have to see how the Lord leads in the next few weeks. Truthfully, I felt I accomplished much more good washing the tables and putting the chairs away after the children left!

This morning as I sat in church, my friend Judy mentioned the need for workers in the children's Sunday School ministry and gave me the name of a woman to contact about that. So I think I will call her this week. I could worship during first service, serve children during the second service, and still attend my Sunday School class during third service!

And after our Sunday School class this morning, Nigel (our teacher) asked if I had any time to do some typing for him. Nigel teaches Biology over at Cornerstone College, plus he has a research position over at VanAndel Research Institute. He did a lecture at Trinity College during the summer on the subject, "The invisible soul in relation to the physical mind," and hasn't had time to put it in manuscript form. Could I help him out? I told him I would be delighted! I guess I'll just take it a day at a time, keep my schedule wide open, and wait to see how God leads. That's all for now ... :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Marble Run: A Video by Adam Jones

Last week Walgreen's was running a sale on prints. I had not printed out any of my pictures since March 2007. I had thousands (!) to go through and edit and then decide which were worthy of being printed. It was a lengthy process. I finally chose 342 pictures. Mr. Jones burned them to a CD for me. The majority of the pictures are of the grandchildren, as I decided I had so many lighthouse and sunrise photos that I just couldn't afford to print them all right now! I delivered the CD to Walgreen's with the express instructions NOT to cut off anyone's heads, etc. when printing them out. I got them back a few days ago and already have them in albums so that I can thumb through them anytime I want to or show them off to anyone requesting to see our beautiful grandchildren!

As I was going through all of my pictures, I ran across this cute video that Adam took on December 23, 2007 of Jackson and Karis playing with our marble run downstairs in the playroom. The laughter and conversation you hear in the background is Sabrina, Emily, me and grandpa.

Karis and Jackson played with this toy for almost an hour, with Adam making adjustments to the marble run to keep it interesting. Thank-you, Adam, for shooting this video!

Grandpa and I are getting ready to paint the playroom next week. I took the time today to look through my huge collection of pictures and pick some especially cute ones to enlarge into posters to hang down there. I have 38 different pictures I am considering ~ some are funny (like the one of Nathan cracking himself up in his mirror, or the one of Jackson and Christopher playing our piano last Christmas, or Karis kissing Nathan), but others are just SO beautiful of these little faces that I love so much ~ 38 is too many ... how will I ever decide?!? Don't worry. I'll narrow it down and then I will show you! :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Things I've been thinking about ...

The past few weeks has been jammed pack with things that have really provoked me. This is good! I've been anticipating the start of this year as a new beginning actually. I'm not sure why I have such a thick skull (or perhaps it's my heart that is hard), but I am beginning to understand something about my life finally. It's not mine! Not one single bit of it belongs to me.
When I seriously began to think about volunteering my time, it started out kind of with "what's the minimum I can do" (isn't that pathetic?) and still hang on to the rest of my life, ordering it in exactly the way I choose! There is a young couple at church that I have felt very indebted to because of their help to me many years ago. Whenever I thought of volunteer work, they came to mind; perhaps I could "pay back" a little of the debt I owed them, helping them out a few hours each week.

But then for some reason the word "debt" kept going around in my head. I began to see that the One I was really in debt to was the Lord. I've been reading through I Corinthians, and quite a few times Paul writes that I have been "bought with a high price." Purchased. Owned. Paid for at the high price of the death of Jesus. If I understand correctly, it means that my life is not my own.

I read a book last week called The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Dylan loaned it to me. It's one of those books you pick up and can't put back down. The writing is excellent. There is not a dull moment in the whole book. Dylan and I went and saw the movie on Friday. The movie was very true to the book, but it really couldn't give the details that the book was able to; so I naturally liked the book better. Most of the story takes place in Afghanistan, and so I felt as though I actually lived there for 2-3 days last week, learning about the history of that part of the world over the last 20 or so years. The main character, Amir, has a chance to "be good again" and it is his story as he looks back on his childhood in Afghanistan and then we enter his life as an adult and read about the difference he is able to make in the life of one young boy caught in the middle of the terrible and tragic reality of life in that country. Also, this week is the missionary conference at Calvary Church. Yesterday's worship was so amazing! I didn't want it to end! We met two missionary families up close in our class following the service. One couple serves in Kazakhstan and the other in Romania. They had such wonderful stories to tell of how God is working in their lives and in the people of these countries. Our key speaker yesterday, though, was a man by the name of Gary Haugen. He is the president and CEO of International Justice Mission ( He is a lawyer and was the director of the United Nations genocide investigation in Rwanda back in the 90's. He began his prayer with these words: "Kind Father ..."

Addressing God as "Kind Father" is very provoking to me. Having had a confusing (at best) relationship with my dad, I have always struggled with calling on God as "Father"; and "Kind Father" is a very alien notion to me. But hearing this man pray -- the quiet confidence in his voice -- so trusting, so believing in God's great goodness and mercy -- was such a comfort to me. I purchased two of his books: Good News about Injustice; a Witness of Courage in a Hurting World and Terrify No More, a book about very young girls enslaved in forced prostitution around the world. IJM has actually led undercover operations and freed some of these little girls AND saw to it that the criminals who held them were brought to justice! If you want to hear his message, just click onto my link Great Sermons and hear him for yourself. I'm going to purchase the CD and listen to it weekly. He said so much that I need to pray and to think about ...

And then following the Lawrenson story (just google "cfhusband" and you'll find Nate's blog) these past few days has been a blessing that I have a hard time putting into words. Did you read about their story yet? It's incredible. What impacted me most was their unwavering confidence in the LORD -- no matter what the outcome -- they say this over and over again -- no matter what, they are going to trust Him. I love looking at the pictures they have posted of Gwyneth Rose, their one pound six ounce miracle daughter -- her tiny hands -- so perfectlly formed! I made her a card this morning and mailed it out to them! People from all over the world have been praying for them. So many lives have been impacted by the faith of this one family! I know it's a stretch to connect all of these thoughts ... but tomorrow I begin my life as a volunteer. I am praying that God will lead me all the way on this journey as I begin to serve others, something I should have been doing all along. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to shine His Light. I'll try to keep you up to date as I enter into this new adventure!

Friday, January 11, 2008

An early morning winter walk ...

"Purify me from my sins,
and I will be clean ...
... wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me."
PSALM 51:7 &10
I was up early this morning, looked outside,
got dressed, grabbed my camera, and just walked
and thanked God for all of this beauty ...
Purified ...
Cleansed ...
Washed ...
Renewed ...
Whiter than snow!
I find that pretty amazing, don't you?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Administrative Angel

I was on my way to exercise class yesterday morning when the sun started streaking through the clouds and I just had to pull over and get a few pictures. These were taken at VerSluis Park, where I'm sure I haven't visited in at least 30 years! There is a beautiful park there now with wonderful playground equipment and everything ~ great for grandchildren that I no longer have in town; ah, but we won't talk about that.

I had an appointment immediately after my class with Judy, the woman who is in charge of volunteers over at Calvary Church. I have been praying about what God wants me to do with some of my extra time now and decided I would offer one day per week to volunteer in whatever capacity, wherever He would lead. I have been interested in helping out over at Urban Family Ministries for some time; but Judy said the church had a more pressing need right there in the office. So next Tuesday morning I am going to show up and work closely with one of the administrative assistants and be her "angel" (that's what they call their office volunteers!) Since I have a lot of years of office experience, they said they would just plug me right in to do typing, copying, organizing, telephones and whatever else comes up. Tuesday is also their staff luncheon, and she said I would be welcome to join them! Judy is also going to check if there is any need over at Urban Family Ministries on Saturday nights, which is what they call "Super Saturday"where they bus in 250 inner city kids and play games in the gymnasium, have Bible studies, and feed all of them. I'm hoping to hear that they need some help as well ...
I used to think that if I HAD to have a job that earned money, a perfect one would be to be able to work at Calvary Church, in the office, typing up stuff I was really interested in! Now I get to do it! I think I'm going to like being an angel!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Beautiful Love Story

A few days ago I clicked onto the link to my niece's blog, and found a prayer request there. Shelley did not attempt to tell the whole story (nor will I), but gave information so that I could read it for myself ... which I did ... and I want you to do too.

If you go to you will be blessed beyond words, and I hope prompted to breathe prayers throughout your day for this dear family. The "cf" stands for cystic fibrosis. Look at the awesome passage of Scripture the Lord has given them:

PSALM 34:1-4 (The Message)

"I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with His praise.

I live and breathe God;
if things aren't going well
hear this and be happy.

Join me in spreading the news;
together let's get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,
He freed me from my anxious fears."

Please pray for PattySue, Nate and Gwyneth Rose Lawrenson.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The last few days ...

It's been a good week here in Grand Rabbits (!). I've been slowly recovering from this horrid cold, so I've been more home-based than normal. I took the opportunity to completely undecorate the house (which is not nearly as fun as the decorating) as well as attempting to eat each and every cookie remaining ... that way, temptation being out of the way, I can seriously get back to more healthy living ...
New Year's Eve was spent getting ready for the party we were planning to attend that night. I had signed up to bring a dessert and decided to bring Earthquake Cake, which is a real ugly but very delicious rendition of a German Chocolate cake. If you'd like, I'll share the recipe sometime. We received a call from Nicolas in the morning asking if we could take care of Nia and Nathan for a little while.
Doesn't she look sweet sleeping?
Nathan was very happy to chase
Thomas K. around our place
and play trains with Grandpa ...
It was nice to see them one last time before they returned to Houston. The time always goes by too quickly and there are so many miles between us.
The New Year's Eve party was a LOGOS class event and was held at our friend's, Bob and Kay. They only live about 15 minutes away from us. Almost everyone from class was able to attend. We had so much food and so much fun.
I was still very much down with this cold and told Mr. Jones there was no way I would stay very late. However, we got playing a game called, "Catch Phrase" and it was so hilarious that we just kept playing it over and over again. Team One (my team) won 5 games to 3 (if I remember correctly).
You can learn a lot about folk playing this kind of game when everyone gets all competitive and crazy. It was great fun. Then we put on our top hats and watched the ball drop in Time's Square.
We brought in the New Year praying around the circle for different requests and needs that were presented. I love this group of friends. Mr. Jones and I didn't get home until nearly 1:00 a.m.!

And today, I did something I haven't done for a really long time ~ I went to a college basketball game. Dylan invited me to see the Kuyper Cougars take on Cincinnati Christian University.

The Cougars started out really slow and were down 13 to 2 early on. It didn't take me very long to get in on the cheering ~ you know, the yelling and screaming and jumping ~ all of that good stuff!
I really enjoy a good sports event and usually really get into it. Dylan knew this about me already, so I knew I wouldn't embarrass him. The home crowd was really charged up. It was close to half time before Kuyper closed the gap and tied the game up at 40/40. They went on to win the game 92 to 88! I was pretty well screamed out by the end of the game but was complimented by several of Dylan's friends for my enthusiastic cheering and invited to attend future games! They play Grace Bible here in town on the 15th ~ I think I'll plan to go!

Go Cougars!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Grand Rabbits?

Ruthanne and Terry, Shelley and Matthew came to Grand Rapids yesterday afternoon to visit with Nana and Roy and to deliver Christmas presents! Mr. Jones and I got to be part of the fun. I received such a nice gift of a 2008 day-at-a-time calendar with a lighthouse picture for each day! I was going to save it and only look at one picture per day, but last night I couldn't help myself and got all the way up to May 17 (Jesse's birthday) before I finally put it down and went to sleep. My favorite lighthouse so far is the Split Rock Light up in Two Harbors Minnesota. It sits way up on a high cliff and is amazingly beautiful. But the most fun of the day was my great-nephew, Matthew. He is at the perfect age ~ he completely entertained all of us for the entire afternoon!
We met at Nana and Roy's house. Matthew especially liked Nana's Christmas tree that played Christmas carols and had three cool trains that circled around it. The top very-tiny train was stationary and Matthew was very disappointed that it didn't "go." We told him that train was resting. He very badly wanted it to "wake up" and get going! He was delighted with this train tree and we just enjoyed watching his wonder ...
Here is Grandpa Roy in his own abode. This is the basement of his house, and he built and finished all of this with his own hands. It is very homey and warm and beautifully made. I wish you could see it!
Some of Matthew's toys from home were brought along to keep him busy, but he really was wondering ~ "Where were the rabbits?" I have lived in Grand Rapids for almost 37 years now and never once did it cross my mind to look for rabbits! However, wee Matthew was told that he was going to Grand Rapids today and just thought for sure there were rabbits somewhere. Shelley was explaining this to me, and I thought she meant that Matthew understood there were rapids here and he wanted to see them. I was amazed at the brilliance of this just-turned two-year-old! How could he possibly know what a rapid was? But then Shelley clarified that Matthew got it into his head that he was going to Grand Rabbits! So, the search was on! Terry took Matthew on a search for rabbits all over Roy's house. They found lots of interesting things, plenty of stuffed bears and toys, but Matthew wasn't easily fooled ~ thankfully, these little ceramic bunnies satisfied him. There WERE rabbits here afterall! I missed taking the picture of him smiling, walking around with one in each hand!
Grandpa Roy told stories of finding rabbits out in his garden and shooting them (!) but we didn't let Matthew hear those stories ...
Here is Terry teaching Matthew about money and the difference between a penny and a quarter. They had previously been all over the house looking at all of the neat clocks that chime and cuckoo, in between looking for rabbits.
Terry got out his IPOD to show Nana something and she was so entertained by it! She and Roy sat there amazed by the technology for quite awhile.
We all had dinner over at Arnie's on Leonard. Matthew decided he liked those yucky dill pickles and that it made a great lizzard tongue. When it was time to go, Terry took the pickle away and Shelley lifted Matthew up to take him for a diaper change and he said, "Where did my tongue go? asked the lizzard!" Little kids say such cool stuff. But I definitely liked the rabbit thing best of all.
The Grand Rabbits!