Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thinking of Livie ...

"I created you and I have cared for you since before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime ..." Isaiah 46:3 NLT
Dear Olivia ~ This is a very special day for you! Turning thirteen is a very big deal! You are especially in my thoughts today, as well as my prayers. It's been almost six months now since we last saw you ... I'm sorry it's been that long. Do you remember the walk we took back behind your house to this little pond? It was such a quiet spot and we could hear the frogs croaking and the bugs flittering. I love taking walks with you! I like to hear about what is going on in your life and the things you think about. I'm looking forward to taking lots of walks with you very soon ... perhaps we can take a walk one week from this very night!
"I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and will save you." Isaiah 46:4 NLT.

That's some promise that God makes, isn't it? To care for us, carry us along, and save us. Thirteen is a great age to be ... but it's also right on the brink of being grown up, with lots of choices to make, lots of different paths to follow ... I'm praying that you always go God's way, Livie. He has loved you before you were even born.

Happy 13th Birthday, dear granddaughter! See you in just one week! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pictures from yesterday ...

I had a really full day yesterday. I left home shortly after 8:00 in the morning and didn't return home for 12 hours. Mr. Jones and I drove separately for our childcare duties over at church because we each had our own plans for the day afterwards ...
I enjoyed lunch with my dear friend, Karen. We ate at a really wonderful place over in Eastown ~ but for the life of me, I cannot remember the name. The food was delicious, and since the weather has been so gorgeous still, we ate outside. Afterwards, we walked around the campus of Aquinas College, enjoying the architecture of the beautiful old buildings and the still-blooming flowers.
I love old buildings! We walked and talked and just enjoyed the day. There is nothing in this world more valuable than friendship, is there? We also walked some beautiful paths over at Marywood Academy ...
I loved the little ponds and lily pads ... Karen and I spent three refreshing hours together, and then I had to be on my way over to Nana's house for further computer instruction!!
Cookie's flowers are STILL absolutely amazing on the side of their house ... I love this passage from I Peter about the inner beauty of a woman ... and thought this flower was a beautiful illustration of it.
So how did our computer training go yesterday? I think quite well actually. Nana was able to successfully open and respond to several e-mails! Here's hoping ...
This darling bird was in Cookie's driveway ... I think it was taking a nap! Good thing it wasn't at OUR house with Thomas K. stalking the place! It became very angry when Cookie picked it up to see if it was okay! And then it flew back to its nest.

I left their house and headed over to a jewelry demonstration in Hudsonville at the house of a friend of mine. I had never been there before, so I used Mapquest for directions from Nana's to the party. However, Mapquest doesn't take into account construction projects and closed freeway offramps, etc. and the ramp I needed was closed. So I was naturally lost! I wandered around Jenison, Hudsonville and who knows where for about a half hour and finally stopped to ask directions. I arrived at the party 35 minutes late ... not bad I thought. Only one problem ... I had the WRONG day for the party ... it isn't until tonight. Oh well, at least I wasn't late!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ten Beautiful Children ...

A few months ago, Mr. Jones and I met a family from our church with ten children ... remember? I told you about them last spring. Two of their teen daughters were raising money for separate mission trips with the high school group at church, so they hosted a week of spaghetti dinners at their house. We were invited to come, along with some other choir members, and ate a yummy dinner and then donated money to both mission trips. I loved all of the hard work these girls put into the dinner and I was so impressed with their work ethic to actually earn their support instead of just asking folk for money outright! They far exceeded their financial goal and then gave the rest of their earnings to other teens who were lacking their support money for the trip. What a great servant attitude they demonstrated!

A few weeks ago, God laid it on my heart to invite this family over to our house for dinner. I argued with Him awhile about it, resisting His voice in the matter, but I finally phoned Christina (the mom) and asked them over. I think she was a little stunned at first, because families of this size just don't get asked anywhere very often!
There is a lot I could say about this family. They are just beautiful, inside and out! Thom (the dad) is a roofer and runs his own business. He and Christina met at Calvin College back in the mid-80's and married in 1988. Christina is from Ontario originally and from a very large family herself. Their ten children consist of Tanner, Steffani, Jacqueline, Cassidy, Tyler, Trevor, Nicholas, Rebecca, Jordan and Mitchell. So ... a boy, three girls, three more boys, another girl and then two more boys! Tanner just turned 17 last week and the baby (Mitchell) is 10 months.

We were actually able to get the entire family of 12 situated in our dining room all together for dinner ... well, not Mitchell ... Mr. Jones entertained the baby in the family room while the rest of the family ate. There were eight around the table, with the youngest two on our stools, the two oldest girls sat on the deacon bench that we pulled into the entrance, and Tanner (the oldest) sat at the little serving table (you know, the one with the extra serving dishes and the really messy drawer) because I pulled out the leaf and brought in an extra chair. We served them a Pillsbury bake-off recipe called Savory Crescent Chicken Squares, a chicken casserole, a green bean casserole, a nice tossed salad, zucchini bread, and watermelon. The whole family stayed after dinner and played and visited all over the house, deck, and yard until it was dark. Then, we enjoyed dessert ... and everyone went home. Mr. Jones and I received big hugs from every single one of the kids (except Tanner ... he's 17!) and three of the little boys asked if they could spend the night! (No, they didn't stay!) So I'd say the evening was a success ... a definite God-thing all around!

P.S. We were talking about funny signs last night like: "Tresspassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again." But here is an actual sign from the driveway of their house: "If you can read this sign, you are in range." Mr. Day says the sign is there to ward off any potentially dangerous suitors to his lovely daughters! ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An afternoon break to Rockford ...

I spent the morning cleaning our house. You know, straightening up, scouring the bathrooms, dusting furniture, removing cat hair (Tommy!) ... I know it's pathetic, but I only really get serious about cleaning house when I'm expecting company. And since we are having guests for dinner on Tuesday night, I figured I'd best get this place in shape over the weekend so that I can concentrate on cooking Monday and Tuesday.
But by about early afternoon, I was pretty much finished with my cleaning projects and it was too beautiful to stay indoors ... so I just hopped on my bike and decided to go on the White Pines Trail out to Rockford. These pretty little flowers were everywhere!
I didn't realize what a long way it was to Rockford from here! I was starting to get worried that I had somehow missed it and asked a fellow biker how much further it was. I was told it was just over this bridge!
I really didn't have anything particular in mind to do out in Rockford ... I just wanted to bike it and take pictures. This is a little foot bridge that crosses the Rogue River. There were folk in waders out there fishing away the afternoon ...
I spent a little time at the dam because I love the sound of that rushing water ...
And these beautiful swan were beyond the dam. They were a little too far away for me to get a good shot of them ...
"You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory." Psalm 32:7 NLT
There was lots of other wildlife out and about ... squirrels and chipmunks ... beautiful birds ... none of whom wanted their picture taken today! That's okay. I was joyfully out in God's creation, drinking as much of it in as possible! Can tomorrow really be the first day of Fall?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My first bike ride in ... 20+ years!

Behold ... my bike! I've wanted a bike for a very long time ~ years and years, in fact! It seemed that whenever I actually had enough money saved to purchase one, something would come up and the money would no longer be there ...
On one of the days last week when I was over at my mom's and Roy's, trying to teach mom how to use her computer, Roy asked if I had a bike. He said Lorraine (his first wife) had a hardly-used bike and it was out in the "barn" out back ... would I like to see it? Well, it was a little dusty and kind of covered in cobwebs, etc. but it came home with me! It's a 26" 3-speed. The tires needed inflating and the seat needing raising, so Mr. Jones went to work on that for me ... and voila! Today I tested it out around the neighborhood, and then I decided to venture out and hit the trail!
We live really close to White Pines Trail, which is a great biking trail that goes for miles and miles. I haven't looked it up on the internet to be able to give you accurate details about it, but I think it used to be part of an old railroad right-of-way. Anyway, it's just across the other side of West River Drive, behind the small businesses and auto shops that line that street ... look how pretty it is! I took it all the way to 5/3rd ball park tonight ... I know at least two young fellows who used to live in this house who regularly biked downtown and back without much effort, so this will seem real whimpy to them ... but I am just getting used to this bike thing ... plus, the brakes are extremely loud and squeeky ... they don't exactly have you stop on a dime!
I left our house at 5:45, biked past the ball park and along the Grand River. I stopped several times to take some pictures.
How peaceful and quiet it was there tonight! I've always wanted to walk along this trail, but I'm whimpy when I'm walking too. I know years ago Mr. Jones and I walked all the way to Rockford going the opposite direction on this trail. It's so much easier to ride a bike! The river is still high from all that rain we got last week from Hurricane Ike ...
All along the river there are places to park your bike and sit on benches ... this lookout place is somewhat submerged ...So, I have a free bike ... however, after this test run, I think I may have to invest in a softer more padded seat for it! Ouch!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maggie Mae

The phone rang at about 9:00 last Sunday night. I picked it up not expecting anyone special on the other end ... but then I heard this: "Hi CJ!" And I screamed! And she screamed! It was my roommate, Robbie, calling me from Florida. It had been over a year since I had heard her voice. There are few people in the world that I love like I do her ~ and what's weird is this: we were only roommates for our freshman year, and one semester of our sophomore year!
Thirty-seven years ago right now (!) we were freshmen at what was then Grand Rapids Baptist College. I was coming there from Detroit, she from Racine, Wisconsin (just a little north of Milwaukee). I walked over to Miller dorm, found my room, went through the door and there she was! She introduced herself, smiled her wonderful smile, and it was instant friendship! Do you know the definition of a kindred spirit? I'm not sure I've ever really seen it defined, but to me, it's someone who is always on the same page as you ... someone who you can start a sentence and they can accurately finish it for you! And laugh ... and cry ...
I don't think I have laughed harder with anyone on this earth. I love her dearly. She is one tough lady too. She and her husband Scott (who stole her from me during our sophomore year) spent a few years as missionaries to Chad, Africa as well as many years living on a houseboat (if I'm not mistaken) along the Amazon River in Peru. They had an iguana and monkeys for pets! And she's not afraid of insects (good thing, living along the Amazon, huh?).

Anyway, she called Sunday night to say she had received my invitation to join Facebook (which, by the way, I am totally addicted to). So we're working on getting her signed up, but she has some computer issues that are preventing that. We talked for over an hour, every minute pure joy!

Oh, and what's with the Maggie Mae title? Well, that was her college nickname! We all had nicknames at college ... I'm not kidding! Mine was "Gatelady" (serious!) as well as "CJ", and Robbie's was "Maggie Mae" because her middle name is Margaret (which she hates). At dinner one night, one of us shortened Margaret down to Maggie and it was the fall of 1971 ... Rod Stewart's song Maggie Mae had been #1 for weeks and weeks ... so Maggie Mae she was ... though not at all a loose woman as the song would suggest. But that was 37 years ago now. And yet years can go by without us conversing, she can call me, and in one second we are screaming, laughing, reminiscing ... so wonderful to hear her voice! Here's to you, Maggie Mae!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A picture comparison of Galveston ...

Since we rain-soked folk up north here in Grand Rapids have been under the remains of Hurricane Ike for the past 8 hours or so, I thought it would be appropriate to show you what it did to Galveston and kind of compare pictures from our spring trip there. Nick called me a few hours ago and told me to log onto a site on the web,, and see the photos there of what Ike did to Galveston.

This first picture is what is left of a place called Murdock's, a really typical tourist-trap kind of beach souvenir shop, one of dozens that line the beach on Seaway Drive on Galveston Island. I have pictures somewhere of the inside of this place absolutely stocked to the brim with every kind of seashell, sand-dollar, shot glass, beach towel, wooden sea gull, cheap jewelry, bathing suit, T-shirt, cover-up, flip-flop, ad infinitum known to man ... but I can't find that set of pictures!

All of that stuff inside these beach shops are strewn all over Seaway Drive ... here is a gentleman taking a sign that says "There are no bad days at the beach." Speaking of stealing, I lifted those pictures above (and the very last shot on this post) from the internet.
The picture above is how Murdoch's looked last April when I was strolling along in the late afternoon, seeing what I could see. Walking east from the Flagship, down the beach, this is the first set of shops a person comes to.
I took this shot on the back deck of Murdoch's, looking at our Flagship Hotel!
And this was taken UNDER Murdoch's ... there was about a mile's worth of these little shops on stilts ...
I love the look of them, the pilings and decks ... there is something just perfect about them to me.
I walked for an hour underneath and around these piers and shops ...
This was what the beach looked like between Murdoch's and the Flagship last spring ... and below is what it looks like today ... ouch ... such a sad sight for me! I can see the Flagship, but it looks to be listing a bit, doesn't it? And all of the shops and piers and walkways ... gone!
Thankfully the storm surge was not as high as predicted, and the seawall protected the island pretty well. However, the island is completely trashed from what I can see on the news. Last word from Aunt Peg in Houston (via Sabrina) was that her power was out but she was okay. That's good to know. Pictures from downtown Houston are pretty unbelievable as well. Hurricane Ike certainly wasn't a wimpy hurricane like Humberto was last year when we were there! If you don't recall my story about Humberto, you'll have to look back to September 2007 and read about us driving across the causeway to Galveston Island in the middle of a tropical storm (we neglected to listen to the news that day ... it was just a tropical depression that morning!) only to arrive late afternoon to find the island practically deserted, sandbags around buildings, etc! My pictures of the incredible surf pounding the seawall were kind of disappointing ... but I really am thankful NOT to have to go through a storm like Ike!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hoping the Flagship doesn't sink ...

This is the Flagship Hotel, on Galveston Island, where Mr. Jones and I stayed (only one night) last April so that I could get up before the sunrise to walk the beautiful beach and take pictures. The Flagship sits on a 1000 foot pier that juts out into the gulf. I've been watching the storm crashing over this pier all day ...
I've become pathetically addicted to the Weather Channel! Following the progress of Ike. Wondering if Galveston Island will survive ...
It feels personal ... and I've only been there a handful of times ... I can't imagine if this was where I lived each day of my life, had a job, a home, a whole history here. Pictures today show tons of these pilings shoved up over the 17' storm wall and onto the road, the surf crashing in ... it's difficult to take my eyes off of it ... they say this is the worst storm to hit Galveston in 50 years and reminiscent of the great one that hit in 1900.
I'm thankful Nicolas, Rachel, Nathan and Nia moved from downtown Houston to San Antonio this past summer! They used to hang out quite a bit at Galveston Island and places like Kema, on Galveston Bay.

Sabrina called this morning and told me to turn on the news because the Flagship was in the background of the news coverage on Ike. She reminded me that when a huge storm came on the Sea of Galilee long ago, all Jesus had to do was to speak "Peace" and everything came to a standstill! Picture that happening right now with this hurricane! Sabrina also said she spoke by phone to Aunt Peg last night, invited her to come to Austin, only to have Peg state that she was going to stay at her house there in Houston and wait out the storm. She lives on high enough ground to where the storm surge shouldn't be a problem ... but hurricane force winds will be upon her all night. So, we are praying here for all of you down there in Texas ...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A very busy few days!

I haven't posted any news on this blog for a week now and it's time I did so! But there really isn't any NEWS to tell you! It's been kind of a crazy busy week ... and so my thoughts are scattered here and there and everywhere. This will be a very random and disconnected post of these days ... I hope you will be patient with me because this might be difficult to follow!
Since I last wrote, we have had a few occasions of actual measureable rain ~ so our yard and flowers have kind of perked up a bit.
Look at this one rogue zinnia! It jumped away from the rest of the crowd and decided to bloom in the crack of our sidewalk ... a bit of a rebel, wouldn't you say?
I was tempted to pull it out, afterall, it certainly looks out of place with all of those other zinnias along the south wall of our garage behaving themselves nicely ... but I have completely fallen in love with flowers this summer and just can't bring myself to yank this one out! So here it stands alone, holding its head high ....

Thomas K. has been busy chasing butterflies, grasshoppers, birds, and even bees! He is ecstaticly happy protecting his territory, picking fights with the neighborhood cats, and being our watchdog. Mr. Jones's wounds have healed but he and Tommy STILL have not become friends ...
Saturday afternoon was our all-church carnival/picnic. We had beautiful weather for it and had a great time.
We arranged to meet folk from our LOGOS class there at the picnic and then everyone came over to our house afterwards to continue eating and to get to know each other a little bit better. We had a really great time of it. I love these friends of ours ...
On our way home from church Sunday morning, we were driving down Samrick and about a dozen wild turkeys were crossing the street in front of us ... but did I have my camera? No!
So I quickly ran into the house, grabbed my camera, and ran back up the street to take pictures of wild turkey ~ but not a single one of them stuck around for a photo op!
So instead, I photographed these beautiful flowers ... so full of life, bursting with color! I love them all!
God said, "Let the land burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant. And let there be trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came." And it was so. The land was filled with seed-bearing plants and trees, and their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind. AND GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD. Genesis 1:11-12
I spent more time this week over at Nana's, attempting to teach her how to use her computer. We had about a six-hour session yesterday! Both Nana and I did very well I think. Neither of us lost our mind, and I think progress was made! It's been 60 years since my mom has done any typing at all ... so I admire her courage to give this a try. It's going to be slow-going, though, and I only hope she is patient enough to see it through.
I also got introduced to Facebook this week and actually opened an account. I've been avoiding doing that for a long time because I KNEW I would feel overwhelmed ... and I do! I really have only one goal in mind with this Facebook stuff, though, and that is to get back in touch with my dear cousins who live all over the country. It's been really really fun so far to hear from them, see pictures of their families, and enter into their lives just a little bit. Another HUGE benefit from Facebook is that I can actually talk to Jesse almost every day. He regularly checks his account there and we've been leaving each other short daily messages. I can't describe to you how comforting it is to just hear a word from him!
Our fall church schedule has resumed and is in full swing over at church where I volunteer with 3-year-olds, both on Sunday and Tuesday mornings ~ and this week, also Thursday morning! I've dragged Mr. Jones into this worthy endeavor, dropping him off at the nursery, where he is 100% happy cuddling babies. I have been impressed by the Lord, though, that He wants me to be AVAILABLE to serve Him. It's really not so much about my ABILITY as it is about my AVAILABILITY ~ and then trusting Him for strength and wisdom to carry out whatever job He gives me to do.
"God made the earth by his power and he preserves it by his wisdom. He has stretched out the heavens by his understanding. He is the creator of everything that exists ... the LORD Almighty is his name!" Jeremiah 10:12 and 16
I've been editing photographs and designing cards all week, as well as planning our trip to Texas (we leave in just three weeks!). Tonight, I'm invited over to a friend's house to hear about some medical products she is selling, and Saturday night is Super Saturday, working with five-year-olds.

I told you this was going to be a rambling kind of post ... so consider yourself all caught up with our lives here at the Jones Junction. I told you there really was NO news! Talk to you soon ...