Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good-bye, gorgeous May!

This is the last day of May! I don't want to let it go ~ it's been such a lovely month! Sometimes Mays in Michigan are extremely hot and humid. I don't remember one single day like that this year at all. It's been the most perfect spring!
I bet you wonder HOW I can post MORE pictures of flowers? Don't I ever get tired of them?! No, and I never ever will! I'm assuming you love them as well, so I'm sharing mine with you. Look at this cool flower. I have no idea what it is called. I love flowers, yes! But I don't claim to know anything at all about them. This flower has personality! It's just begging to show you how beautiful it is! Wednesday night, Dylan and I celebrated his birthday with Shane, and I snapped this picture right outside the apartment building.
And I love this yellow one, so elegant and stately she is! And her pedals are so soft. Yellow is almost my favorite color, not the bright yellows, but this buttery-colored yellow I find so subtle and charming. This flower pot sits on our front porch to welcome all who visit!
Mr. Jones and I have started walking more regularly. It's a struggle for us to maintain a routine of regular exercise, but it feels so great to be outdoors and we try to walk two miles most every day.
I took this picture of the house this morning. I intended to mow the lawn today, but this morning it was still so wet from yesterday's rain and then I totally forgot this afternoon! I love these hanging flower pots!Thomas K has loved this spring. We hardly ever see him! He never stays inside for very long at all. He is out all night long, comes in first thing in the morning for his cream, and then goes right back outside. He does take an inside nap about mid-morning, but after that, he only comes in to briefly eat ... doesn't he look happy in this picture?
These delicate white flowers are on one of our front bushes. I never get tired looking at them!
I planted wildflower seed today, along with black-eyed Susans, all along the back fence. The packets said these would attract butterflies! It's been a long time since I have planted any seeds at all. About six summer ago, Nicolas climbed the Grand Tetons and brought me back two cans of wildflower seeds from out west. I planted them and was just amazed at what grew! I have never seen such a variety of flowers ever ... they were stunning! While we were in Texas in April, I ended up with two packages of wildflowers from the Oil Ranch. But after reading the packets, I realized that these are supposed to be planted in the autumn and will then bloom next spring. I wonder if these guys only grow in the Texas climate ...
Mr. Jones planted his zinnia seeds along the south side of the garage again this year. He's also going to plant marigold seed next week. He has a real knack with growing both of these flowers. Last year, they grew amazingly well in this location. The colors were dazzling!
And our lilac bush is in full bloom now. This is the first day we have actually opened the windows of the house! It's been really windy all day, and the fragrance of lilacs is filling every corner of our house. Mmmmmmm ... delicious!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dylan is 24 today ...

Twenty-four years ago, the 28th of May was a Monday and it was Memorial Day ... it certainly was a memorable day for me! Dylan was born bright and early, just before 5:00 a.m. that Monday morning. Ultrasounds were not done routinely back then, so we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl; but he was a third son! Everyone wanted me to be honest with them and asked me how I felt about another boy?!! So I told them I was thrilled. And I was! He was healthy, and such a contented baby! We had plenty of boy clothes and money was tight!

Contentment is a strong characteristic of Dylan's personality. Even as an infant, he always woke up happy! He has been a personal blessing to me, all his life long! I greatly admire his pursuit of God, his passion for truth, and his commitment to excellence in his studies. He has one year left at Kuyper as a pre-Seminary student and then, Lord willing, will take up his Seminary studies at Calvin the following year.

My prayer for Dylan: "I pray that God will give you a complete understanding of what he wants to do in your life, and I ask him to make you wise with spiritual wisdom. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and you will continually do good, kind things for others. All the while, you will learn to know God better and better." Colossians 1:9-10 NLB


Monday, May 26, 2008

My own little Eden ...

If I had believed the weather reports for today, I never would have purchased our annuals this morning. It was supposed to be a rainy and stormy day, all day today; instead, it was practically perfect! Partly cloudy, mid-70's, nice and breezy! And this is Memorial Day, the day I always buy our annuals!
For the past two weeks, I have been digging, weeding, working the dirt, cutting back overgrown plants, transplanting some, working the dirt some more ... it's a wonderful process ...
Mr. Jones and I drove over to Kingma's this morning and picked out just a very few annuals to plant this year. We bought two hanging baskets, geranium, begonia, impatiens, dusty miller, alyssum, polka-dot-plants, tomato plants, beets, turnips, wildflower seed, some ferns ... my very favorite kind of shopping delight! I love walking through rows and rows, surrounded by the deep pinks, glorious yellows, vibrant purples ~ all sizes and shapes, exquisitely designed by God ...
I got each and every one of our purchases planted by mid-afternoon. And our lilac bushes are just starting to bloom ... not very fragrant yet ... but in a few days, they will be heavenly! Our yard has been kind of "wild" in the last few years, but this year I decided to get reaquainted with all of it's little forsaken corners. I'm determined to study up on perennial gardening! Years ago, my good friend, Marlene, gave me a good book on the subject that I need to read! We have a big enough place so that as the years go by, and I improve my gardening skills, I can make each area of the yard a special place of beauty.
"May your roots go down deep
into the soil of God's marvelous love."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Faith, family, friends!

This beautiful sign hangs over the door that goes out to the patio from the kitchen of Sabrina's house. I like it very much, because it characterizes what is true in this house!
Today is a five-year milestone for Andrew and Sabrina. Most folk start their marriage with some alone time, togetherness, the two of them by themselves, at least for the first year or so ... but this couple started as a threesome, and God has been gracious to blend them into a beautiful family. Isn't He good? God is always good, all the time! We snapped this family picture of them in San Antonio at the very beginning of April ~ what a fun day we had together there!
Congratulations on this special day. We pray this year will be even richer in your love for each other!

Friday, May 23, 2008

I've been making cards ...

It's been a wonderful week, all week long, in this first spring of my retirement ... other than the eye difficulty and all the trouble with the medication, the days have been amazingly beautiful and I have been 100% happy!

I've been passionately making cards the whole week long, each and every day! There is the tiniest possibility of a card ministry being started at church where they think they could maybe use my cards to encourage or welcome or thank folk ... so I had to get some samples together to show them. I have never had SO MUCH FUN!

It's just that I have so many photos ~ soaring sea gulls, tranquil sunsets, gorgeous flowers, amazing butterflies, and 13 different lighthouses ... and all of God's Word to look through and put with just the perfect picture! for just the right need! for the exact situation! Plus, I have thousands of pictures from Israel to illustrate tons of Bible truth ...
There is one problem, however. The card stock that I mount the pictures on and the matching envelopes I use come all the way from Austin, Texas ~ a bit inconvenient if I run out of a color since we only get down there twice per year. I've been researching card stock that is local, but can't find the nice colors in the right size with the great envelopes that I like ... I'll have to keep looking.

I think the very best part of this "card ministry" is that there is no view to marketing. Copyright laws are so confusing! Money always messes everything up anyway, don't you think? So I can just make cards to my heart's content and keep on creating and exploring and hopefully being a blessing to someone!

Other than working on cards all week, I have been back out in the yard digging away in the dirt -- IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE ...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A case of good gardening gone bad ...

I've had kind of a miserable few days here at the Jones Junction and I'm going to whine (a lot) and tell you my sad story ... so if you're not a sympathetic kind of soul, you can just skip over this entire post, leave no comment, and be done with it (and I will TRY not to have ill thoughts of you being totally insensitive and uncaring ...)
You all know how I LOVE to dig in the dirt, drink in the fragrance of the good earth, feel it between my fingers ~ and for all of the years I've been gardening nothing bad has happened as a result. Until Friday afternoon. I had a close encounter with an almost bad time Thursday when I was digging and a bug flew right into my mouth (!) and I very nearly swallowed it but didn't ...

Friday was a beautiful day here in Grand Rapids: blue sky, gentle breeze, cool temperature. I was out digging behind the house, near the hottub where abundant weeds had grown all through the nice ground cover (that I do not know the name of) we have out there. I was clearing the area of weeds, as well as cutting back the ground cover, as it was really overgrowing its boundaries right into the grass! I stopped for a minute to gaze around the yard and assess where my next digging project was going to be and at that exact second, something flew into my eye ~ one of those weed/seed things that are all over the place this time of year. It didn't fly into the eye that is my "bad" eye, but flew into the one I can actually see out of. I took my muddy work gloves off and used a clean hand to try and remove whatever it was from my eye ~ to no avail. My eye was a little bit annoyed, but I wasn't finished weeding this area, so I continued working until the job was done! I went into the house to just lay down for 20 minutes or so, but I carelessly continued to rub on my eye the whole time thinking I could rub this little weed/seed away! When I got up and looked in the mirror, my eye was puffy and red all the way up beyond my eyebrow, as well as down to the side of my nose. Great. I needed to get ready to go to a baby shower, so I put some cold compresses on my ghastly looking face for about 10 minutes, applied some make-up and went to the shower.

I returned home from the shower at about 8:30. My eye felt nasty, but I didn't want to mess around with it anymore, so I went to bed by about 10:00. When I woke up at three in the morning, I could hardly open that eye. I looked at myself in the mirror and honestly! It looked like someone punched me hard in the eye. The swelling was pretty grotesque and my whole face was lopsided. Once it was actually really morning, I called my doctor's office and they said they could see me. I went in, the doctor did a lot of probing around in my eye, took an instrument and pulled my eyelid around and turned it inside-out (gross!) and found the little seedling way back behind my upper eyelid and removed it! He looked at it under a magnifying glass and told me it had little prongs on it! Whew. I thought my misery was over until he said he thought he should check the eye further for cornea damage or infection. Thankfully, there was no scratch on my cornea ... but he seemed pretty convinced of infection, which he attributed to my rather careless and aggressive eye rubbing. He prescribed a Prednisone dospak and an anointment that was unbelievably expensive for a teensy tiny tube ... I made the Pharmacist call the doctor back and prescribe something a bit more reasonable for my meager budget. I read all of the possible side-effects of using Prednisone (all of them very scary) and started my medication regimen immediately.

Out of the TONS of side-effects listed for Prednisone use, I only ended up with the severe headache, joint-muscle-and-bone pain ... not too terrible for the lengthy and life-threatening list on the medication sheet! But having broken my tail bone twice in my life, I am having pain there in the extreme right now and feel like a victim of a train wreck (are you crying for me yet?) The prognosis is good: I will live.

My eye is doing better today. I wore sunglasses to church and explained to all of my three-year-olds (when asked WHY I was wearing sunglasses at church!) that I had a bad "owie" in my eye. They were very sympathetic (as only three-year-olds can be). They promptly showed me each and every "owie" on their small bodies and received MUCH empathy from their teacher.

End of sad story.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A very long-distance birthday ...

I love this picture of Jesse. It was August 1st and he was dropping Mr. Jones and I off at the airport in El Paso as we headed back home after our weekend visit with he and the family. Jesse got checked through security and stayed with us until it was time to board our plane. We had the nicest time talking together, hugging, and saying our good-byes. He was very kind and so patient with my tears! I haven't seen him since then, but I have nice memories of that day.

So, Jesse, if you have access to the internet today and are checking blogs, here is a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY for you! I'm thinking it must be very weird to be 8,000 miles away from everyone and having it be your birthday ... but it is a very special day today and always will be for me because you were born ... and you are very precious to me!

I've added your "Superman" song to my playlist and bumped it to first place today in honor of your birthday. You have always been a lover of good music and this is a good song!

I am trusting in the LORD, the One who made you, to take care of you, soldier-boy, and am daily praying for you!

"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
I trust in you, my God!
Do not let us be disgraced,
or let our enemies rejoice in our defeat.
Show us the path where we should walk, O LORD;
point out the right road for us to follow.
Lead us by your truth and teach us,
for you are the God who saves us.
All day long we put our hope in you.
Remember, O LORD, your unfailing love and compassion,
which you have shown from long ages past.
Forgive the rebellious sins of our youth;
look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O LORD.
The LORD is good and does what is right;
He shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in what is right,
teaching them His way.
The LORD leads with unfailing love
and faithfulness all those who
keep his covenant and obey his decrees ..."
PSALM 25:1-10

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Priority Mail ...

A small but very important package was mailed to my house on May 7 ~ Priority Mail ~ and it FINALLY arrived this morning! It's a long story, but I really thought it must be lost somewhere between here and Austin ...
Sabrina is an artist ~ she does beautiful scrapbooks, makes cards and all kinds of other cool stuff. She made me some special things for Mother's Day and sent them last Wednesday. She was informed the package would arrive to me last Friday. She also sent a package to Nana and HERS arrived Friday, just as promised. I was over at Nana's Friday and saw what Sabrina had made for her for Mother's Day ~ just beautiful! Nana was so pleased! But when I got home from Nana's Friday, there was no package for ME! When I talked to Sabrina on the phone on Mother's Day, I told her how much Nana enjoyed her gift and then Sabrina asked me how I liked mine ...
... it was then that we figured out that Priority Mail doesn't always deliver when it says it will! When the package still hadn't arrived yesterday, both of us gave it up for lost and I felt terribly for Sabrina. I know some of the creative energy that goes into making cards and how personal it is, and how protective I am of what I make, etc. A few weeks ago, I made my niece a birthday card but put a totally incorrect address on the envelope and it returned to me long after her birthday ~ I felt so sad that she hadn't received it for her special day!
Having said all of that, I am delighted with the beautiful book and card and gift that Sabrina made for me ... and the hand cards from the kids are great too ... thanks so much!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Simple pleasures ...

Can you see what's in my bucket? Look carefully! Do you see him?! Isn't he cute?
I was working out in the yard this afternoon, digging up dandelions, weeds, and last year's dead leaves, and other unsightly growth from the lawn and flower beds when this cute little toad came hopping into view ...
He didn't want me to catch him and hopped right through the fence and into a pile of leaves. "Not so fast!" I said to myself and then promptly climbed the fence, balanced oh so carefully on the outside air conditioner, leaned way over, and caught him!
I know it's hard to believe, but this little toad made my day. How is that possible you ask? Because it brought me back to the days when the boys and I ~ years and years ago (it seems like forever ago actually) would go hunting! In the summer time when I was a single mom and the boys were out of school and I still had to work, I would get up in the early hours of the morning and get my transcription for the doctors all finished by about 11:00 a.m. Then, we'd pack up some peanut butter-and-jelly-sandwiches, snack crackers, our canteens, a very deep bucket, and our "frog nets" and go on an adventure! There was a nice shallow creek that ran through Townsend Park (Cannonsburg) and that's where we would go to hunt frogs and crayfish. A few times, we brought Jesse's tent along with us and made an entire day of it. I can honestly say that these happy excursions remain as the best memories I have of those years. The boys would run from the car, nets in hand, hollering all the way down to the creek ... but you had to be real sneaky about it because those frogs were FAST! How many could we catch? Who would catch the biggest frog?
I think Shane almost always caught the most! He just had a knack with that net and he was SO determined! Mostly, we were just content to catch a few, hold them, examine their cool skin and color, put two up against each other in a race, see how many we could fit in our pockets, and then we'd return them to the creek at the end of the afternoon. For very little $$ cost, an entire afternoon would lazily slip by with us up to our knees in the water, looking at all the wonderful things God had made ... and for me, it was a sense of complete peace and total happiness! Good and healthy fun, pure joy! So, thanks little toad for the memories! I have him all situated for the night in my yellow bucket with water, rocks, plants and a lid with holes ... he is being taken to Dylan's Field Ecology class tomorrow, where he will be enjoyed by all!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Moments 2008

It's been a nice Mother's Day, even though it's been cold (BRRR!) and rainy all day. We worshiped this morning and learned about three godly women from the Book of Acts ~ Eunice, Lois (Timothy's grandmother and mother) and Lydia. I didn't realize that Lydia was the first European convert to Christianity (at least the first one that was recorded in biblical history)! She was a wealthy business woman who came to faith in Christ through the Apostle Paul's ministry.

I had 15 beautiful children in my 3's class this morning and the class ran pretty smoothly. It's always a bit touch-and-go with that many little ones, but we manage to survive it each and every Sunday!

During third hour, we had the privilege of hearing an aviation missionary couple who are preparing to return to Papau New Guinea with their three children in six weeks. What a fascinating story they have of the great things God is going there in that country.

We invited Nana and Cookie over for dinner today. I made up a nice batch of lasagna yesterday that I just had to re-heat after church, cooked some delicious fresh green beans and almonds, made a yummy tossed salad and baked some garlic bread. Nana brought an apple pie (yum) and we all ate too much! Dylan joined us for dinner as well.

I asked Mr. Jones if he could try to get a good picture of my mother and I. Neither one of us like having our picture taken very much and these are not the greatest shots, but after cropping and manipulating and DELETING most of them, here are a few ...

I also received some very nice phone calls today. It was wonderful to hear Shane's voice and talk to him for awhile ... he has such a nice voice on the telephone. And I talked to Sabrina for a long time too. And guess who I heard from last night via e-mail? Jesse! He left the states Wednesday morning and was STILL not in Taji as of very late last night. He was, however, waiting for a helicopter flight from Baghdad to his base. He said his travels have been "pleasant and safe." That's good news for a mother's heart ...

The rest of the day has been rather quiet and mellow. Very nice. We worked hard in the yard the last few days and needed this day of rest ... how smart of God to make sure there was one day each week where we could just STOP, breathe deeply, think, worship, gather our strength, soak in His goodness ... mothers of young children, however, have much less rest and quietness no matter what day of the week it is, but I am praying that this Mother's Day was a good one for all of you!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tulips, tulips everywhere!

I have lived in Grand Rapids since 1971 and in all that time, I have never ventured out to Holland for Tulip Time! Isn't that crazy?! The only time in my life I have seen the tulips in Holland was in the fifth grade, when my class from Grant Elementary School (in Livonia) took a field trip to see the big tulip parade that year!
I'm not sure I caught the tulips in their prime this year ... it's been a really cold week here ... but just look at them! Aren't they gorgeous? (to steal my great-nephew Matthew Owen's much used expression)
Mr. Jones and I drove out to Holland right after lunch today. Our destination was Windmill Island. This is the De Zwaan windmill. The name is Dutch for "The Swan" or graceful bird. This grain mill is over 240 years old and was brought here (in pieces) from the Netherlands.
This picture was taken from the fourth floor of this working grain mill. Most of the parts on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors are the original wood (Norwegian Fir). The brick portion of the tower was built locally. We took a guided tour. My favorite part was the outside gallery which runs around the outside of the fourth floor. The view was really nice from up there. We met an old gentleman taking the tour who was wearing a hat that declared he was a survivor of Pearl Harbor! He was on the USS Sarasota when the bombing happened!
This is the whole wheat graham flour which is packaged into three-pound bags and sold over at the gift store.
I couldn't decide which color of tulip was my favorite ... there were so many to choose from! I was preoccupied with taking pictures of them and my glasses kept getting in the way, so I took them off and draped them onto the V-neck of my shirt ...
We walked around the whole park, in and out of shops, up and down rows and rows of tulips and returned to the car before I realized that I no longer had my glasses ... they were gone!
Since I was driving, and I can't see to drive without my glasses, it was kind of serious that I didn't know where they were. I searched my bag, my pockets, my camera case ... no glasses! It was time to retrace my steps and see if I could find them. I went back to the Post House where we had gotten our map of Holland and asked if there was a Lost and Found. There was one right there, but my glasses had not been found. I had a sick and sinking feeling ... so as I re-walked everywhere I had been on Windmill Island, I started praying ...
I was SO thankful to find my glasses, sunglasses attached, lying on a stool outside the entry door to the windmill. They must have fallen from my shirt while I was taking an interesting shot and I never noticed! Someone was kind enough to pick them up and just place them right on that stool! Whew! Thanks, Lord!
Can you imagine how exhilerating it would be to have the power to create such beauty, with such array of color, sizes, shapes, fragrance ... God must have had such a great time making all of it, don't you think? But even more than that, listen to what is said about US ~
"...we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so that we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago." EPHESIANS 2:10

Back to Big Red

Since we were in Holland this afternoon, I couldn't drive back to Grand Rapids without seeing my lake! Yes ... Lake Michigan is MY lake. I love it like no other!
What I really wanted to do was to get some photographs of Big Red from the south side of the channel; in other words, the side opposite of Holland State Park. I wasn't sure which road to take in order to do that, so Mr. Jones and I picked up a map of Holland while we were at Windmill Island and found our route without any trouble! However, the road we needed (South Shore Drive) only goes so far and then it dead ends into a gate house with a posted guard ... and closed gates!
I rolled down my window at the gate and asked the guard if it was possible to get to Big Red on this side of the channel. He very kindly gave us a one-hour pass, opened the gate, showed us where to park, gave us a small map that showed the walking path that winds through the dunes, away from private property, and brings you right here to Big Red! It was really cold by the lake today and very windy ... but it was SO good to see my lake and get a few more pictures of the lighthouse, exactly as I wanted! I didn't even get lost or make one single wrong turn ... do you suppose that has anything to do with Mr. Jones navigating from the passenger seat?

We finally meet David!

My mother and Cookie have been married for over a year now but I just today met Roy's son, David ... and technically he is my step-brother, but that feels pretty weird at this time in my life ... I know! I have been part of a blended family now for close to eleven years ... but this is different!

David comes to Grand Rapids this same weekend each May to take advantage of some flower sales for his own house in the Chicago area and to help Roy plant all of the annuals in his big yard. Mr. Jones and I invited ourselves over to meet him tonight! We all went out to dinner and had a real enjoyable time getting acquainted. My first impression was that he was a very serious and rather intimidating person, but he isn't either of those! He has an engaging personality, is very intelligent, and we liked him a lot.

Would you like to hear a little about him? David is a year younger than I am. He was in ROTC while studying at Wheaton College, was called to service in the mid-70's and ended up serving in the first Gulf War. Early on in his Army career, he was stationed in Europe (Italy and Germany) for about ten years. He retired from the Army in 1995. He presently teaches Ethics, Leadership and Business at Judson University. He and his wife have one son (Jonathan David, age 24) and one daughter (Alyssa, age 22).
This is one perfectly beautiful rose, isn't it? It was in a pot that Roy's son is taking home to his wife tomorrow. I think roses are perhaps my most favorite flower, but I can't say for sure because there are just so many amazing kinds of flowers that God made!