Sunday, August 31, 2008

AH ... South Haven!

When our friends, Tom and Judy, called us this week and invited us to come with them to South Haven on Saturday, there was NO question what my answer would be!! YES!!! Mr. Jones was somewhat less enthused, but he decided to come with us ~ without any promise at all of seeing one single train!
This weekend was South Haven's big craft fair, so that's where we started. I was drawn mostly to the paintings, cards and phenomenal photography; but there was every kind of creative endeavor imaginable represented at this craft show. Judy bought a nice hat made from beach grass (I think) to shield her from the very hot (and wonderful) sunshine.
After we had looked at and touched everything possible, we headed on down to the pier to walk to the lighthouse and enjoy the view. We had basically just gotten to the pier when we spotted this tall ship quickly coming into the channel. I wanted to get some good pictures ... you know, ideal kind of snaps at a perfect location ... but honestly, when there are this many people on the pier, there is no such thing as a perfect picture. Besides the fact that I was too far away and this beautiful ship was coming too quickly. Mr. Jones handily snapped this picture with his gigantic zoom lens. Meanwhile, I took off my flip-flips and ran down the pier hoping to catch it as it rounded the corner ...
It wasn't a good time of day to be shooting at this angle, so these pictures are what they are ... but isn't this such a beautiful sight? Wouldn't you love to sail way out in the lake and just let the wind take you wherever?
"Sing a new song to the LORD! Sing his praises from the ends of the earth! Sing all you who sail the seas, all you who live in distant coastlands." Isaiah 42:10 NLT
I looked up this tall ship on the internet, but was unable to really find out much about it. You can charter it out of South Haven and enjoy a nice ride ... for a price!
Since this is technically the last weekend in the summer, EVERYONE was taking that last chance to be in this beautiful spot. There were so many boats! I grew up around boats and really love them all ... luxury cruisers, the huge power boats, fishing boats, and even dinghies! But nothing is so alluring to me as a sailboat!

I didn't even try to really get good pictures of the lighthouse. Like I said, I like a pristine picture. I was looking back just the other day at my pictures from Galveston Island when I got up at 5:30 in the morning and watched the sunrise ... practically alone ... well, me and the gulls! Almost every single snapshot I took was picture-perfect! The colors that time of the day are so enticing. I've decided in the next few weeks, I'm going to have to set my alarm very early one morning and just head out to the lake and hope nobody else is there! I won't catch the sun rising on the water, because afterall this is WEST Michigan, but perhaps I will be able to get some interesting pictures anyway.
I love the sparkle on the water. Mr. Jones took this picture ...
We walked along the channel (which I believe is the Kalamazoo River) and up into town to catch something to eat. After a pretty lengthy wait ~ Tom and Mr. Jones held our place in line while Judy and I shopped around town! ~ we finally ate a lovely dinner at Clementine's.
Tom offered to drive around to the north side of the shore after dinner for us to see the sunset. It was so perfectly beautiful that I really can't find words for it! The sky was amazingly golden, then orange and purple ~ and finally, crimson ...
"Let the coastlands glorify the LORD! Let them sing his praises!" Isaiah 42:12 NLT

We finished our time together with ice cream at Sherman's and got home way past my bedtime! That's okay though, because I always feel SO rejuvenated by God's creation ... so thankful to live in this paradise! And the frosting on the cake for me was reading this passage in Isaiah 42 this morning in my quiet time before church ...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A potpourri of praise ...

"The highest heavens and the earth and everything in it ALL belong to the LORD your God ... The LORD your God is the God of gods and the LORD of lords. He is the great God, mighty and awesome ... He is your God, the one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done mighty miracles that you yourselves have seen." Deuteronomy 10:14, 17 and 21.Do you see the bee in that sunflower pictured above? It's almost impossible to take any beautiful flower pictures lately, without bees practically attacking and ripping my camera out of my hands! But aren't sunflowers SO incredible!? This blossom is not growing in MY yard ... I am not that handy yet with overseeing the growth of God's creation; but there is a yard just a street or two over where the people definitely understand plants, grass, flowers ~ their property is just breathtaking ~ they have sunflowers growing in THEIR yard as tall as their house!
If you look real hard, you can see ANOTHER bee in this bunch of flowers ... and this IS in our yard. I saw a bee so large the other day that I almost mistook it for a small bird! I haven't been doing as much digging around in the dirt these last few weeks because the insects are just a bit too aggressive for me! Also, we haven't had any significant rain in so long ... it's certainly not lush and green like it was at the beginning of this month ... many folk's yards are completely dead and brown ... how sad! This is one of Mr. Jones's zinnias that he planted from seed. They grow without much moisture at all! I hope I never ever get tired of contemplating God's creation. If what He has made is this amazing, what must it be like to actually see the One who made it all and spoke it into being?

Is there anything more precious that God has breathed life into than a newborn baby? My niece, Shari, who lives far away in North Carolina, gave birth last week to a perfectly formed, tiny (under 6 pounds) baby girl ~ look at her! Isn't she sweet?
Esme' Arabella is my sister's very first granddaughter ... she is MY great-niece! I don't know when I will ever get to meet her face to face, but I sure am thankful for these pictures of her. (I just checked my sister's blog and she has returned from her visit to N. Carolina and has posted many more pictures).
These snaps were taken the day she was born (I think)! Look how alert she is! Isn't she adorable?! I am a great-aunt now to four great-nephews and four great-nieces and I have met only one of them (Matthew Owen ~ but he is very special).

Doesn't GREAT-aunt SOUND like I am really really old?! And I guess I am now because I officially entered the ranks of senior citizen last week! Definitely old! Turning 55 is a significant landmark. There is nothing YOUNG about it! I certainly can't say I am in my early 50's anymore, now can I?! And 5 is my most unfavorite number, and I'm stuck with two of them all year! That's okay, though, because there are definitely worse alternatives ...
I had a very nice birthday this year, celebrated over a several-day period! I spent the afternoon of my birthday with Karen. We ate a yummy lunch at Rose's over by Reed's Lake and then spent hours just talking and talking. Karen gave me a beautiful photo book she had made for me (I love it!) of pictures she took of us when Di and the children were here, plus probably the nicest lighthouse book I have ever seen in my life ~ the best photographs and narrative! Every single picture in this book is just superb ... like you want to go there and see it ... NOW!

Mr. Jones had pity on me about my pathetically SLOW computer (it was SO overloaded!) and for my birthday bought me an external hard drive (500 GB)! We have transferred a lot of stuff over, and now my computer is running much more smoothly! I received many nice cards from friends and family and got phone calls and e-mails from many loved ones. Thanks everybody! :)
Sabrina had been calling all weekend without being able to reach us ~ and her package finally arrived yesterday! She was worried about it being late, but I told her it makes celebrating a birthday that much more fun to stretch it out over several days! She sent a "RELAX" sign for my lighthouse/boat room and a great little pillow that looks wonderful on the bed as well (and a beautiful card).

I even received a phone call from Jesse, all the way from Iraq! WOW. We had a nice, long conversation. It was so good to hear his voice. He is busy counting down his return to the states hopefully in November.
One of Mr. Jones's railroad groups was getting together for a picnic late Sunday, so we went up to Newaygo to a property where I met lots of his train buddies and their wives. The folk who own the place live in a great little cottage/bungelow/house in the middle of the woods with a lovely creek that flows through their property.
The owners, Al and Dee, have a pretty nice train layout that covers the entire upstairs of their house which was especially built to accommodate it (these train people are always a bit fanatic!).
Having never seen the Croton Hardy Dam, I was delighted to get the chance! We drove right by it on our way to the picnic, so we stopped for some pictures.

On Tuesday, Mr. Jones and I were invited out to lunch (to further celebrate my birthday) by mom and Cookie. How nice of them! We ate at Red Lobster and then visited for a few hours over at their house. My mom is contemplating purchasing a computer so that she can better keep in touch with all of us who blog, etc. So Mr. Jones was giving her some information regarding computers. I bet you can all imagine how much of that conversation my mother actually understood!
I was out in the back yard yesterday, examining my very pathetic wild flowers, and found this rogue sunflower! It's not huge like our neighbors are, but its pretty tall and sturdy! I just love the colors, don't you?

And I don't know about YOUR neighborhoods, but the Rose of Sharons that are blooming everywhere around here (except in OUR yard) are displaying every color practically under the sun! I love the artistry, the design, the intricacies of this blossom SO much!
Aren't these berries beautiful? I took this picture out in Ada last Saturday afternoon. And isn't God so gracious to give me eyes to see and hears to hear? I know this is a pretty disconnected rambling sort of post, but I just have so much to be thankful for and wanted to share it with you!

"Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O LORD my God. I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great." Psalm 86:11-12 NLT

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grandbaby Nia is one year today!

One year ago this very day, our youngest grandchild was born. She is Nia Madelynn, and she is very precious!
Nia lives very far away from Grand Rapids, and we are sorry that we can't see her more often. The week after she was born, Grandpa Jones and I drove down to Texas to visit all of our families there. Our first stop was Houston to meet Nia! We loved seeing her as a newborn ~ so beautiful! And then her whole family came home to Michigan for Christmas last year, so we got to see her when she was four months old. The holidays are always crazy busy with lots of family activities and we got to see Nia on several different occasions. This past spring, we drove back down to Texas to do the entire circuit and got to hang around Houston with Nia and her family for several days. We had so much fun! And then we saw her again on July 4 when she was in town with her mom and big brother for a short vacation. These next pictures of this darling baby were taken then!

Nia has the bluest eyes, chubby little cheeks, wonderfully baby-fat legs, and a sweet little personality! I was shopping for her at my favorite toy store and they offered to gift wrap the items I had picked out ... and they did a beautiful job wrapping ...
We sent Nia three Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles ~ you know, the kind with the little handles on the puzzle pieces so that chubby baby hands can pick out the pieces and chew on them without doing much damage. My favorite puzzle, though, was one where the pieces did not come out at all ~ instead, they were on little tracks on the board that could move in and out of the correct spaces! I also picked out a special pink chiffon bow for her hair that had a sparkly princess crown with her name written on it ... for when she grows enough hair to wear it! We're going back to Texas for a few weeks in October to see everyone again ... this time, we'll see baby Nia in San Antonio!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happier than happy ...

I am finally able to upload more pictures from Saturday night in Muskegon!
Mr. Jones and I walked around the beach for awhile before meeting up with our friends. We walked all the way to the end of the pier as well. Most of my pictures from there didn't turn out though. I was shooting into the sun and I really do not know how to do that very well! Most of the pictures are too dark and they just aren't very pretty at all.
I do like this shot, though, peeking through the life saver to the South Pierhead Light.

This is our friend's boat. Have you ever taken notice of the what folk name their boats? Growing up, our boats were named after my sister (Ruthanne) and me. So, all of our boats were named Carol Anne (and then Carol Anne II, and then Carol Anne III). Ruthanne and I were not crazy about the name because there were so many more creative or beautiful names out there to choose from! I've always liked Zephyr which means a "gentle breeze." But I've seen some really hilarious names as well ... I can't think of any at this moment to share with you! Our friend's boat is named JohnThree3. Tim, the owner of the boat, said that John 3:3 was the passage of Scripture that convicted him to turn from his sin and follow Christ! "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God." So when Tim is asked why he named his boat this odd name, he can share his faith. Good thinking!

Mr. Jones and I had been invited to come out early afternoon ~ but both of us had other separate plans, so we didn't arrive in Muskegon until 6:00 in the evening. However, several of our friends were able to make it there by about 3:00 in the afternoon and Tim took everyone sailing. They said the water was quite rough and they got caught in the wind and rain (I would have loved it!) and some folk were a little seasick.The wind had almost completely died down by the time we arrived; so our boat ride was under motor instead of sail. I wasn't complaining though! Just to be out on the lake in a boat this beautiful was just so wonderful ~ I was completely ecstatic! Their boat is docked at a marina off from Lake Muskegon; but very close to the channel that dumps out into Lake Michigan. The picture above is the Muskegon US Coast Guard station. The property is all fenced off with "No Tresspassing" signs ... so it's difficult to get certain angles of this lighthouse ~ the South Pierhead light ~ further down the pier ... see it? It is 53 feet in height. And then the South Breakwater Light is the one at the farthest point ...

These are the two lighthouses that I took beautiful winter pictures of almost exactly six months ago! What a difference to see them in the summer AND by boat!

This is the South Breakwater Light, which is approximately 70 feet in height. There are a bunch of people at the end of the pier all waving at us! What a cool thing to be the recipient of everyone's greetings. The sun was fast disappearing at this point ... when it sets, it really goes down quickly!

"You are a people belonging to God,
that you might declare the praises of Him
who called you out of the darkness
into His wonderful LIGHT." 1Peter 2:9
The sky remained all of these beautiful colors long after the sun had set though! How nice!
We got a little tossed about by other boats going by. I was standing on the bow taking pictures as fast as my camera would allow ... the woman in the foreground here is Kim (wife of Tim).

I was hoping we could see a BIG ship come down the channel ... some other time perhaps ...
Aren't marinas beautiful this time of night? I love the design the ship masts make against the sky ...
And then it was over all too fast! We were back at the marina, all docked for the night. It was great to enjoy our good friends and share God's incredible creation ... so thankful we could do this!