To Read on the Journey

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Make Your Name Great!

For some time I have wanted to share the incredible story of how God lead us to camp.  I started writing it, but it just wasn't coming together.  And I know why... because some stories shouldn't be read, they must be told face-to-face. Since I can't make that happen with all of you, I decided to record it, because screen-to-screen is the next best thing, right?    

So go pour yourself your favorite cuppa something (a Salted Carmilla is my go-to drink) or make yourself a big ol' bowl of popcorn (preferably Whirley Popped, white popcorn, sprinkled with Lawry's season salt- yum!), then come on back here and enjoy hanging out with me! 

Don't worry about anything: instead pray about everything.  
Tell God what you need, 
and thank Him for all He's done. 
Phil 4:6 MSG

"There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is Who He is. And the bigger the circle we draw, the better, because God gets more glory."

  "The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked." 

Now get to praying!

 Live in Peace,

Circle Maker- Mark Batterson
Our Deepest Prayer- John Piper 
Cool Bean Cafe (for that Salted Carmilla 😊)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!

2016 Highlights & Updates 

Michael said goodbye to 16 years at West Coast Imaging, and accepted a job as Director of Operations at “The Home of the World’s Greatest Campers,” Emerald Cove/Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp.

Our house sold without ever going on the market, and we moved to camp in May.

On June 1st, Josie graduated from 8th grade and homeschool. Josie’s graduation marked the end of 13 years of homeschooling for me. During the ceremony Michael said, “This probably isn’t a good time to mention this, but starting tomorrow you’ll be unemployed.” I mighta socked him in the arm, then asked for severance pay.

Noah graduated from Minarets High School the next day… #timeisabigfatstupidmeanieheadjerk.

In early June, I had the great privilege of teaching God’s word at a retreat in the quaint town of Mi-Wuk Village for the women of Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene.  Because I attended the church as a teen I treasured that time of being with many of the women who had poured into me 24 years ago.

June also kicked off summer camp at YSSC! From June-August, we were all caught up in the excitement and sweetness of serving alongside 75 amazing YSSC staff to love on the 130 campers who gathered up on this mountain each session.

By the way, if you see us during the summer months we will not answer to our given names, but by our camp names- Apex, Shasta, Wrangler, Chickadee, and Hobart.

For her senior year of high school, Emilie transferred to Michael’s alma matter, Yosemite High School, where Josie is also attending as a freshman. Both girls love YHS! Emilie plans to become a Physical Therapy Assistant, and is benefiting from the ROP Sports Medicine program. The girls especially enjoy being part of the Associated Student Body, which allows my spirited and people-loving/serving daughters the opportunity to organize and lead school activities.

Noah has taken a gap year from school, and moved to coastal San Luis Obispo. He’s enjoying independence, while living with Michael’s sister’s family and working for their company, One Source. Once in a while he responds to our texts with one or two words which reassures us he is still alive.

Early September camp transitions from its summer program to a college campus, and hosts approximately 45 Azusa Pacific University students and staff, who participate in APU’s study abroad program, “High Sierra.” This program allows students to both take classes and have grand adventures in the beautiful Sierra Nevadas.  

To say Michael is thriving in his new position is an understatement. He was made for this! After years of working indoors, primarily at a computer, he is thrilled to be working with his hands again. My Jack-of-all-trades fella is doing construction, electrical and mechanical work, felling trees then milling the wood, and on occasion he even gets to drive a snow plow! And though he’s great at all this, where he really shines is how he leads and mentors his 5 year round staff- Ducky, Sprinkles, Gator, Rascal, and B.K. (pictured bottom right). These 5 have become incredibly dear to both of us; like our own children! They even call us Mom & Dad.

On September 21st, Michael and I celebrated twenty years of marriage! Over the summer we received the highest compliment, when a YSSC staff gal said, “Watching your marriage makes people know Jesus.” We really hope so. We opted to forgo an anniversary trip, and gifted ourselves a used tent trailer. We’ve already been on a couple of outings. One took us to breathtaking Mammoth Mountain, and the other to Morro Bay.

I’m adjusting to life as a stay at home mom without stay at home kids. When I’m not taxiing the girls, I work for our small business creating ID cards for online homeschools. I also volunteer in a 1st grade class once a week, and am currently training to become a volunteer at a pregnancy care center. I’ve had the pleasure of leading two girls’ Bible studies, of sipping coffee and swapping heart stories with many ladies young and old, and have hosted more gatherings in our home in the last 9 months than we have in the last 20 years combined.

One awe-inspiring part of the story of our move to camp is that for years when we’d drive our kids to camp we’d play, sing, and pray Phillip Phillip’s song “Home.” -Hold on to me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road, and although this wave is stringing us along, just know you’re not alone, I’m gonna make this place your home.”  Both Michael and I came to know Jesus intimately and powerfully at camps. Because of that we’d pray that during their times at camp, our kids would see Jesus well, and glimpse our home yet to come in Him. So imagine our TOTAL SURPRISE when Michael was offered a job which required we move to camp! For years we’d been praying God would make this place home, but had zero idea He had taken our prayer LITERALLY!! 

As we live at camp, in community, God continues to impress upon us that “Home is not primarily a place- it’s a people.” Home is relationship. Author Tim Keller said, “There is a deep oneness that develops as we journey together toward the same destination, helping one another through the dangers and challenges along the way.”  We need people in our lives with whom we feel at home, and to encourage us on to our true Home. So my prayer for you this new year is that the LORD our God would both make you a person and provide you with people to come alongside for the journey.

 Live in Peace,
Denise "Shasta" Jones 

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,