To Read on the Journey

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Go back to what you know for sure

It's been almost a year since I blogged here on Victory Rd. I sat down today ready to begin again. If you're a blogger than you know when you make your way to that blank page to hammer out words, all the pages you've written before will be there staring at you. The many posts you've clicked "publish" on, and the many more you didn't. I was gonna write today, I really was. But then I started looking through posts I'd never published. And I found this one, below, from last February. 

(And ... I can't afford it, but it's mine)   
 
And this mama needs to be enveloped in this gift today, to press "publish" on these words of blessing about me before I begin again... in fact, maybe that's the best way to begin.

     ***********************************************************
Before you read the following paper written by Emilie for an essay class you should know: 

I learned from the two generation of mothers and daughters before me how to be downright nasty to each other. I was the daughter who rolled her eyes at her mother, spoke like a sailor about her, and gave her a certain finger gesture when she wasn't looking. Until a handful of years ago I still felt deep hostility toward her.  

As a result, I was terrified to have daughters. I was certain they'd grow to hate me.
Emilie was born seven weeks early. And I wonder if God allowed her to be a preemie so I wouldn't feel threatened by her.  Because she was so early there were some concerns. Concerns which caused me to forget my fear, and plead with God, "Please let me keep her!" Sometimes I think the LORD purposely authored it all that way, to reveal to me how desperately and how truly I wanted my daughter

Two years later I was pregnant, and afraid to have another girl. After the ultrasound tech announced, "Emilie is going to have a playmate!" I went home and cried for three days, and sobbed to Michael, "Great! Now there will be two girls to hate me."  

After the third day of crying I had a dream: The setting was Easter dinner at an aunt's house. Three women were seated close together at the dinner table. An older woman was tucked in the middle of two lovely younger ladies. The three women were smiling and laughing. At that point in the dream I asked God who these women were? "That's you and your girls. They're your best friends."  He paused. "And you are theirs."

 From then on when the lie that my girls were going to hate me surfaced- and let me tell you, it surfaced a lot for a lot of years- I'd remember something an old pastor's wife said to me once, "Go back to what you know for sure." That image of my girls and I at that Easter table- that promise, that we'd be close and happy and laughing and would grow to be best friends, that's the "for sure" I'd go back to.  

And a beautiful thing happened as a result of leaning into that truth instead of the nasty lie- I started to believe it.  

Also, It was years later that it finally occurred to me that the setting for that dream was Easter. I'm thinking God purposely authored it that way too. After all, He is well known for allowing a thing to die and then resurrecting it to new life.  I know, because He's doing it in me all the time.
Anyway, I thought you should know all that before you read Em's essay. Because you ought to have a glimpse of the incredible mess I was, so you can see what a miracle and gift her words are to me.

  
“And I Can’t Afford it, but it’s Mine”

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praises her”-Proverbs 31: 25-28

 “And I can’t afford it but it’s mine,” whispers my mommy when my dad  kisses her on her rounded cheek.  “And I can’t afford it but it’s mine,” she utters when her children proclaim their jubilation in Jesus to her.  “And I can’t afford it but it’s mine” she triumphs when she reads about her Savior dying on the cross for her sins.  My mom says this phrase meaning that she feels humbled to have what she doesn’t deserve.  Mommy is my “and I can’t afford it but it’s mine.”  I don’t deserve her, but she’s mine!  She is my role model. With her outgoing personality, she shines Jesus’ light to others through her actions and conversations.  She passionately studies and teaches the Word.  I am blessed by the impact she is making in my life to follow Jesus and pursue a relationship with Him.


My mom, wearing a patterned blouse, dark jeans, and tan boots, strides over to the check out line in Target, I bring the rear, pushing the red shopping cart.  As we wait in line, my mom makes friends out of the strangers surrounding us.  Her cupids bow lips spread into a wide grin and her straight white teeth show as she tells a story to a mother holding her baby, causing the mother to laugh.  Momentarily, it is our turn for us to place our items on the conveyor belt.  I hear high pitched beeping sounds as the cashier scans our goods and determines the amount due.  My mom clutches her black purse with her petite hands, her curly hair which curves like ripples in the sea, swishes as she searches for her money and collects the charge.  As she reaches out to hand the cash to the cashier, she takes notice of his name tag.  Her round shaped face illuminates as she enthusiastically asks, “John, did you know that the meaning of your name is “Yahweh is gracious?”.”  The cashier, sporting a red polo shirt and khakis, shakes his head side to side and beams.  While John bags our purchased items, she proceeds to ask John what his middle name is, if he has any siblings, and what his parents names are.  Her voice is a joyful tone as she reveals the significance of his family’s names and intentionally shares glimpses of Jesus to him.  Then my mom and I grab the bagged items.  I take her free hand, which is soft against mine, and hold it as we walk out of the store to the parking lot where our car is parked.  I notice a bounce in her step as we stroll to our car.

One Saturday morning, my mom ebulliently exclaims that she discovered the gospel being testified in Genesis 5 through the lineage of Adam.  The two of us are in our jammies and curled up on our living room couch. Her leather Bible, which she passionately consumes everyday, lies on her fuzzy robed lap.  Her chestnut hair that was swept behind her ear falls out of place as she clutches her polka dot cased phone, intently researching the internet for the Hebrew meanings of Adam’s name though Noah’s.  She fervently reads her found treasure, "This is God’s message of salvation in the meaning of the names of the lineage of Adam!  Man, possessed, mortal, sorrow, the blessed God, shall come down, to train up, disciple, teach, His death shall bring, the despairing, rest.”  My mom’s milk chocolate eyes open wide as she explains how creative it is of God to reveal the Gospel simply through the meaning of names.  While she talks I ponder how my mommy is not only fascinated with the significance of people’s names and to have their names be known, but she has an intensity for God’s sovereign name to be known and glorified. 
Several years ago, my mom discovered that her maiden name “Teodosio” means God-giver.  As a mommy, she lives out the meaning of that name and speaks truth into her children’s lives.  Every weekday morning, before my brother and I depart to go to school, my siblings and I sit down on our living room couch and my mom reads the Bible to us.  I walk over to sit by her and her face lights up.  I nestle in next to her, resting my head against her shoulder.  As I burrow close, a blanket of security envelops me.  I feel like a hatching protected by its mother's wings.  She tenderly opens the Bible and thoughtfully voices the scripture aloud.  The promising words dance off her tongue into our hearts, preparing us for the joys and tribulations of the future.  After reading we bow our heads and my mom fights for us in prayer, my heart is sustained by her words.  
During the day, her fingertips prance across a keyboard and words are produced that fill a screen.  Her face glows from the luminous computer screen.  She records memories and her journey with God on her blog, knowing that her children and generation’s after will have the ability to view this virtual journal.  She prays over them as she types, craving that they will know and serve the Lord.  
  
When I was small my mom would enter my bedroom at night.  She tenderly caressed my face with her hands, softly singing hymns as I drifted off to sleep.  When she worshiped, her lips extolled God.  I saw glimpses of God’s beauty as she praised him.  This memory is a reminder of how faithful my mom is as a mother and a follower of Christ.  She fears the Lord and exemplifies the adventure of following him. I don’t deserve her love, and I don’t deserve God’s immeasurable love.   “And I can’t afford it but it’s mine.”


“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”-Proverbs 31: 30-31



 Live in Peace,
 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day 2016


"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while,
 you could miss it."  
Ferris Bueller 

Life moves fast doesn't it?  Case in point- Noah’s a senior in high school, Emilie a junior, and Josie’s catching up to them as an eighth grader!  You know as well as I do we can’t slow life down, but we can heed the words of Ferris, and “stop, look around, so we don’t miss it.”  And here’s a bit of how these five Joneses did that in 2015.

We hiked or got outdoors, together, every month- Point Lobos, Moaning Caverns & Columbia State Park, Moonstone Beach, Lewis Creek, Chiquita Pass Trail, Jackass Lakes, Mono Rock, Morro Bay, Bass Lake Flume, Fresno Dome, and Centennial Dome (where we watched the moon set and sunrise over Yosemite valley and Half Dome).

Josie and I took an off the hook field trip to D.C.!  We stayed with our great friends the Allen’s, who lived near the Capitol and in walking distance of the National Mall.  While we were there D.C. had a shutdown-the- government-sized-snowstorm, but that didn’t keep these Cali girls from taking in ALL the sights.  In fact, it made it possible for us to stand ON a frozen Capitol Reflecting Pool, and to make snow angels and a snowman on America’s backyard.

We were treated to Easter break on Newport Beach (Thank you Dean & Barb Russell!) where we thoroughly enjoyed relaxing and playing on the Pacific Ocean, and visiting dear So Cal friends and family.

The Gage, Cannedy, and Kiely families joined us again for Maycation at Bass Lake (which because of the drought we dubbed Bass Puddle).  Time spent with old friends is always refreshing. 

Michael and Noah took a backpacking trip to Lady and Chittenden Lakes.  They began their trip at sunset, and  both of my crazy fellas were enthusiastic to hike to their first destination by the light of their head lamps!  

Once again the girls enjoyed two weeks at “The Home of the World’s Greatest Campers,” YSSC, where they  backpacked, played on Bass Lake, and romped around camp growing in their relationship with Jesus and some of His finest people ever!  Emilie turned 16 at camp, and would want you to know that dressing like a pirate, then taking the camp war canoe out on the lake to the Pines Market where she commandeered ice cream booty with her cabin mates, while staying in pirate character was a most memorable way to celebrate her “Sweet” birthday!

Last summer YSSC was not only “Home of the World’s Greatest Campers,” but also of the “World’s Greatest Staff,” as Noah had his first job there working maintenance.  YSSC staff are given camp names, and after our mountain boy wrangled a snake, some lizards, and piles of dirty dishes in his first week of training, he was christened with the name “Wrangler.”   

In spring Michael celebrated 15 years with West Coast Imaging where he’s now the General Manager.  Last year he enjoyed teaming up with photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum and created spectacular mandala art.  In August they shared their unique pieces in an art show at the g2 Gallery in Venice Beach!

I want it to go on record again in this Groundhog Day card that I LOVE my kids’ friends (I’m quiet fond of my friends too, but I’d need a whole other letter to express that)!  Also, to those of you who are eighth graders (going separate ways after all these years of homeschooling), and to those who are seniors (moving on to here, there, and everywhere), I’ll be the one at your graduations in June CRYING UNCONTROLLABLY!   



Our wildest hikes and outdoor adventure of the year took place during Thanksgiving break, when we borrowed a tent trailer and traveled to the Grand Canyon,  AZ. and Zion National Park, UT.  To say that both places were MAGNIFICENT would be an understatement!  We were all in awe of their indescribable beauty.  It’s good to be outdoors.  It rehabilitates and reconnects us to the Creator.   And with life moving so fast, these Joneses need that.

Finally, we rang in 2016 in the most FANTASTIC WAY EVER- watching our girl Emilie ride on the Kiwanis International float “Children… Our Treasure” in the 2016 ROSE PARADE!  We excitedly watched her wave and and cheer from our gifted bleacher seats on Colorado Blvd!!  That was certainly an experience we’ll all “treasure” for a lifetime!

Some words I savored in 2015 were “Their adventure wasn’t an ocean or a mountain but a family” from Donald Miller.  We had some epic adventures last year, but ultimately my favorite adventure, the one I really love living is the everyday.  It’s a cup of coffee with Michael in the morning, followed by everyone racing around trying to get out the door.  It’s juggling jobs, housework, home school, kids’ activities, taxi service, understanding teenagers (not understanding teenagers), and too much homework. It’s forgetting to pull something out for dinner and having tacos again. It’s conversations around the dinner table, which always include Noah’s wittiness, Emilie’s thoughtfulness, and Josie’s silliness.  It’s ending each day with hugs, kisses, and a whole lot of grace, then hearing the Faithful echo “goodnight” down the hall and the Name that holds this family together, “Jesus.”  Yes, “life moves pretty fast,” and I’m abundantly grateful I get to share every bit of it with Michael, Noah, Emilie, and Josefine. 


 Live in Peace,

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I Want to Remember

Okay, so let's just ignore the ridiculousness that is my not blogging for more than seven months and jump right into this blog post... deal?  Deal.

Okay, here goes...

So, Noah is 17 and some change. A senior in high school.  He's applying for colleges (UPDATE: he received his first acceptance letter today!).  He's applying for scholarships, and next month he'll apply for financial aid and grants (If you want to pray he gets a whole lot of both we won't stop you). It's not even Christmas yet, and we've submitted his senior and baby photo for the yearbook, I've purchased his cap n' gown for graduation, and we've already handed in the check for grad-night activities.  Ahhh!  And remember my last blog post... the one from seven plus months ago? (I know, I know, we agreed not to bring that up) The one about the sand zipping through the hour glass and me WANTING MORE SAND?  Well, time is a jerk.  Abigfatstupidmeanieheadjerk!  And I can't stop it.  BUT, I CAN MAKE THE MOST OF IT!  And that is what we did over Thanksgiving break.  We made the most of our time together and traveled to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park! And I'm blogging about it because I WANT TO REMEMBER. 

I want to remember...

that Sara Groves new album Flood Plain was the soundtrack of this road-trip. 
(Lyrics from the album are italicized in red throughout the post


"We're going on an expedition. We're looking for lost time. 
And it will take days and days.
And it might be extravagant and wasteful. 
We'll be gone as long as it takes. 
Looking for lost time."


I want to remember...

that we spent our first night at Space Port Campground in Mojave, where 20mph wind whipped through our borrowed tent trailer. 

Knowing we'd be neighbors to those giant wind turbines in the not so distant distance might have been a good idea before we booked this place.
 
The howling wind was so fierce that Emilie snickered, "We're not in Kansas anymore!" I was thinking the same thing.  The wind beat against the tent trailer so hard that somewhere in the 2 a.m. hour Josie frantically asked, "Is the trailer gonna tip over!?!" And again, I was thinking the same thing.  Michael, our driver, who was desperately attempting to get at least a little shut eye, calmly replied, "Noooo, we're not gonna tip over."  I slipped my bra back on just in case. I mean, if he was wrong I did not want to be trapped under a tent trailer in my cute flannel pj's bra-less!  

The five of us maybe slept a total of 15 minutes combined. At one sleepless point Emilie declared, "I feel like I'm in a movie! This is so fun! This is part of the adventure!"  Emilie. She was clearly delusional from the loss of sleep and had forgotten how "fun" her parents can be after just minutes of sleep. But she was also right, THIS IS part of the adventure.  

"This cup, this cup, I want to drink it up. To be right here, in the middle of it."

I want to remember...

that there was a sky party the entire road-trip. A few times I shouted, "God is showing off!" 

I want to remember...

how it was lightly snowing when we arrived to our Grand Canyon campsite. And that my kids, who LIVE for the outdoors (they get it from their father, because if you recall, I love NOT camping) were beyond excited.

And that after camp was set-up we bundled up in every bit of clothing we brought and trekked out to take our first peak at the glorious Grand Canyon by the light of the full moon.



I want to remember...

looking back at this photo and spying a heart shaped moon enveloped by a heart shaped cloud, and how I knew this was no coincidence; knew the Creator was whispering His sweet love for us.

I want to remember...

Thanksgiving Day 2015, which was spent at the edge of the canyon with my little family. 

And thinking about something I'd read on the drive- "As people who live in a busy world we need to step away, be rehabilitated, reconnect with the the Highest." 
 

Then recalling James 4:8, which says "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Thinking we really ought to draw nearer to our generous Maker so much more than we do. And how I felt a full-heart-full of THANKFUL for this sacred time, together, to do so.


"So take up what we've been given, 
welcome the edge of our days, hemmed in by sunrise and sunset, 
by our youth and our age.
  Thank God for our dependence, 
here's to our chasm of need, 
And how it binds us together, In faith and vulnerability."

 


I want to remember...

that I was told the Grand Canyon was originally named Kaibob, which means, "inside out mountain."

  

I want to remember...
how Noah playfully prodded this sentimentally ill mama whenever he wanted something with, "But it's my last Thanksgiving as a child." 
 

After the bird and the thanks were served it turned into, "This is my last Christmas as a child." This kid. He knows how to turn me inside out!


And don't even remind me that in one short year from now I have to do this all over again with Emilie.  My heart!  Whose bright idea was it to have these two so dang close together?!


"All the cliches about how fast kids grow are true, 
I woke up this morning, eye to eye with you.

"All the cliches about living this life are true.  The path is worn, but for us it's new.  There's no way to know it without discovery,
 marking our missteps with mercy."

"All the cliches about how much I love you are true, 
as big as the sky, and up to the moon, 
a million gazillion, 
infinity plus one."


I want to remember...

the heater in the tent trailer didn't work the two nights we camped in the Grand Canyon, and that it was in the TEENS COLD!  So out-of-this-world-insanely-cold that the condensation on the tent canvas and on our bedding TURNED TO ICE!  I am not even kidding. In fact, Josie left a cup of water out on the table and in the morning it was a BLOCK OF ICE. There was even a tiny icicle formed from a drop from the kitchen faucet. I will likely not thaw until mid August. Oh, and did I mention that I love NOT camping. Well, let me tell you that I LOVE NOT ICE CAMPING a million bazillion times more.


I want to remember...
driving away from the Grand Canyon the morning after Thanksgiving, and sharing our family tradition of kicking off the Christmas season by listening and singing along to Amy Grant's "Sleigh Bells."  And how we all sang. Yep, even Noah. And as we rounded the Grand Canyon, singing, light snow began to fall from Heaven. I mean, what a dreamy way to usher in "Noah's last Christmas as a child."  AmIright?!




I want to remember...   

the drive from the Grand Canyon to Zion National Park- from Arizona to Utah,

  
and how the topography changed in a snap. One moment we'd be traveling on flatland and the next moment we'd be heading through rugged red rock.


The next moment there would be snow...


and then in a blink we were back to the brilliant sky party we'd been enjoying throughout the trip.


And as the topography changed I thought about my own life, how one moment it's rugged rock and in a blink smooth, flatland. And I considered the weather and this life, how the morning can begin with blue skies, then often, without warning, in the afternoon it turns  dim and cloudy.  I recall verses I HAD to memorize years ago from Ecclesiastes 7:13-14, "Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what He has made crooked. When things are good, be happy; but when things are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their own future." 

Good and bad- both are inevitable. This isn't heaven. But God. He's God of both. And I HAD to memorize those verses because I HAD to remember that.  
 
"Really we don't need much, 
Just strength to believe, 
There's honey in the rock; there's more than we see. 
In these patches of joy, these stretches of sorrow,
 there's enough for today, there will be enough tomorrow."  

I HAVE to remember...  
 "There's honey in the rock."

And that as Emilie said, "This is part of the adventure," and that the patches of joy are actually made so much sweeter because of the stretches of sorrow. 


I want to remember...    

that  between the snow and the sky party, Michael, wondered aloud if we would see a snowbow.  Huh?  He explained, "Like a rainbow, but it comes after the snow." Of course!  We didn't. But Michael is funny.  Oh, I sure do love him! I'm so grateful to do these patches of joy and stretches of sorrow with him. With the guy who promised, "I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked a 1000 miles to fall down at your door...dadalatda." 

This marriage is honey in the rock.  
 

 "Love is a diamond hidden in mountains covered in danger and dirt. 
I'm on the outside digging and digging, I've seen and I know what it's worth... 
I feel the love between us."  


I want to remember...  
 
how we arrived to Zion at sunset. The time of our arrival was Divinely appointed. I know that. I know the Maker of Heaven and Earth wanted us to arrive at that very moment. He wanted to put His AWEsomemess on display for Michael, for Noah, for Emilie, for Josefine, for me - for His beloveds.


The clouds were brilliant and billowy in the bluest sky as the sunset burst through them and fell on Zion.  I couldn't take photos. I couldn't press record for video. I could only take it in. I teared up!  The sight of it literally caused my soul and my eyes to water. 

Zion was so Magnificent. So Glorious. So Other. And I felt small. A good and necessary small.

"Your reality is my good medicine. Tell me who we are, and who I am... 
and you're too good to be true."

At one point I literally thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. I'm totally serious. I actually took a head count in the car to make sure we were all there. And then it occurred to me we probably wouldn't be in Heaven in our Saturn Outlook. ;)

Then I wondered if that's how it will be when God takes me Home... one moment I'll be in this world, and the next moment I'll be aware that I am in His. I think so. I know so. And I can't believe earth's Zion barely scratches the surface of Heaven's Zion. I mean, "I scarce can take it in! How great Thou art, How great Thou art!" 


I want to remember...
 
reading and  thinking, "Our wonder needs reawakening,"  and how more beautiful to me than all of Zion was watching Wonder reawakening in my children. 

I want to remember...
  
that I saw a ram! 



"Meet me at the river, oh oh oh. 
 Fashion us a raft and oar...  



we're goin' on an expedition,
we're looking for lost time.


And it might take days and days,
and it might be 
extravagant and wasteful,


we'll be gone as long as it takes, 
looking for lost time."
 

 Michael said he wants to remember, "Being together, experiencing new things, and seeing my family's smiles, even in the cold."  He  continued, "I have memories of this trip as a kid (to the Grand Canyon), and now I have memories with my family!


 I want to remember...

watching Michael walking with the girls, holding their hands, being playful and silly and affectionate with them. I think I need that for them more than they need it for themselves.  
 


Noah says he wants to remember, "When I first saw Zion, because it was the coolest view I've ever seen."
  I want to remember...

Noah was rest. He is most himself when he is in the outdoors. When he is in wonder of Majesty; when he is rehabilitated to the highest.  Noah needs to be outdoors more. I need to see him outdoors more.


 I want to remember...

 standing in the tent trailer, and him giving me the look, then telling me he loves me, "mmmuch."  I want so much more sand


Emilie wants to remember, "Though there were hard times the trip was an adventure (I knew she'd want to remember that). She also wants to remember, "Daddy getting up in the mornings, while we all stayed in bed, and how he made us tea, coffee, and hot cocoa to warm us."


 I want to remember...

how Em's glass-half-full perspective warms us as much, if not more, than her dad's warm beverages. 

I also want to remember how silly we both looked sticking out our tongues to taste falling snow. I like having someone to be silly with me.


"I've been here before, 
and I'll tell you what I've seen, 
the hand of grace reaches down to me, 
a voice inside says I will be free"


Josie says she wants to remember, "The breathtaking sights, especially the view from the top of Emerald Pool in Zion, where she felt like she was on top of the world."  


 I want to remember...
 
 Josie's weak ankle throbbed for a good bit of the hiking, but she wanted to keep going. She teaches me to not quit; to keep my eye on the prize.

I also want to remember how she was always eager to be a helper; how she generously gave herself up to serve each one of us. 
 


 I want to remember...
 

they are 
 "honey in the rock."


 Live in Peace,