Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Luck of the Irish - Happy St. Patrick's Day.

St. Patrick's day is the one day of the year when we all can be a little bit Irish.  It is one of those holidays that everyone loves but might not be quite sure how it all started.  Lá Fhéile Pádraig - or the Day of the Festival of St. Patrick - is a cultural or religious celebration which is on the 17th of March, which is the date notes as the traditional death date of St. Patrick (ad 385-461) , the foremost patron saint of Ireland. But the day not only celebrates the arrival of Christianity into Ireland, but celebrates Irish culture and heritage in general.  St. Patrick's Day in London emerged after the end of World War II and it was through St. Patrick's day that members of the Irish Country Associations would meet up with their fellow county ex-pats and walk behind their county banners, celebrating their Irish identity.  It's from this tradition that our Irish Day Parades today have evolved. The city of Chicago dyes the Chicago River green to celebrate the day. Savannah dies their fountains.  Green beer can be found in any good pub.  My favorite tradition is the serving of corned beef and cabbage.  I LOVE IT!....One day a year.  In 2009 I was fortunate enough to be in Dublin for St. Paddy's Day.  It was remarkable and remarkably crazy.

If you ever get a chance to visit Ireland you must go.  It will claim your heart.  I know it did mine.

Happy St. Patrick's Day !

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday Hodge Podge 300 and Counting

300? Say what??? It's true! We've reached the 300th edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge, so go us! And to celebrate we've got a brand new Hodgepodge button. You can grab the code from Joyce's sidebar by clicking here to include in your post.  Is it not beautiful.. One item of business-Joyce has declared  next week Spring Break in the Hodgepodge, so no Wednesday Hodgepodge on March 15th. Joyce and her daughter will be visiting the west coast.  I don't know about you but I am a bit jealous. The Hodgepodge will be back in action the following week, March 22nd.  Want to participate?  Answer on your own blog then hop over to Joyce's blog by clicking here  to add your link to the party. Be sure to visit a few a leave a little bloggy love.

1. What is one area of your life where you're a perfectionist? Is that a good thing?  I am a perfectionist when it comes to singing.  It is a good thing most of the time....except that I hate to mess up.  It kills me.....and then I worry about my performance.  I used to be really bad and actually throw up before performing in public.  I HAVE outgrown that.
2. What's something you find perfectly ridiculous?

3. What's a skill you've developed by way of that old fashioned saying, 'practice makes perfectAgain it has to be singing.  I took voice lessons, I sing all the time, I do scales....I practice, practice, practice
4. What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?  Oatmeal with fresh berries and toast.

5. What's a trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing you've taken that you'd rate a perfect 10? Tell us why.  They would all be perfect 10's if I was really honest.....I have several.....Pacific Northwest with Amanda and family and Kat.  PEI with Kat, Nantucket with my SMAK group, Niagra Falls when Nick walked across the falls with Susan, Amanda, Linda, and Missy, Mackinaw twice with special people, Italy with my daughter, Kat and dear friend Mary is my number one.  England, Ireland and Wales with Mary....and Hawaii for Mary's 50th birthday.  Any trip I take with Frank is always a 10.  I love to travel, especially with special people in my life.
6. What quote or saying perfectly sums up your life right now? If you can't do perfect, how about one that comes close?  Every perfect life is a parable invented by God. Simone Weil

7. How would you spend $300 today?  I would send it to my daughter and son-in-law in Moldova for Stella's Voice and to help stop human trafficking.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.  Our Spring Break is the last week in March.  When you were in school did you have Spring Break and what did you do?  I grew up in South Florida and Spring Break was crazy in Fort Lauderdale/Miami with all the colleges coming down.  Those two towns were off limits for me during Spring Break I live in Alabama and everyone here goes to the Gulf Coast....I still avoid the beach during Spring Break.  Believe was never like Where The Boys Are portrayed it.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wearied and Burdened

One of my favorite verses is found in Matthew 11:28:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

There are so many times in my life when this verse has been there for me.  I remember when my brother died, my grandparents, my parents, .....and then there was Mary.  I can remember my cell phone buzzing at 4 in the morning....I knew it would be one calls me that early.  I sat there and read the text in horror and disbelief. The first thought in my mind was NOOOOOOOOO!  How could she leave me?  How could she be gone? We had so many plans!  We were planning to drive Route 66 this summer!  She was the picture of potential. So much going for her. She had been through so many challenges and had come so far...I remember the gastro bypass gone wrong....and chuckled.  Then more shockwaves rippled through the core of my heart followed by a landslide of sorrow.  I woke Frank up in tears and he silently held me as we both felt the enormous grief permeate through us.  Mary was gone!   All who knew and loved her grieved. In our homes. On social media. In our conversations. In our prayers. In our hearts.  We grieved deep with a pain that stings fierce.
We grieved for Bill, the boys, the grandkids, for the empty seat at their dinner table, and the empty gape in their hearts and home. We grieved for her friends, BRHS, and our community. We grieved because death hurts. 

As we gathered in the community to celebrate her life many stories were shared. I struggled to breathe.  She was my soulmate.  She was my sister from another mother.  I hated cancer.  In the sacred sanctuary of God’s presence, we were reminded that God is the healer of the broken and as I looked at her family I saw brokenness. We were reminded that death is not the end for those that place their faith in Christ. We were reminded to cherish those we love and to keep our eyes wide open to the needs of those around us.   I stood on the stage to sing and could not breathe.  I hurt.  Even today, five years later the weight of it all still sits heavy on my heart. I remember pouring my heart out to the Comforter and sensing His peace in the middle of the grief. The burden remains, but the pressure of it is lightened in His presence. And I’m reminded that God’s strength comes to me as I yoke myself to Jesus and allow Him to share in the carrying of my grief. In doing so, I am locked into His power that walks with me step by step through every struggle.  I found myself wondering....when life is jagged and darkness taunts us like a bully, how can we see beyond the despair that grips us?  I did find in the depth of my pain that... when grief runs deep God’s comforting love runs deeper still.  The peace I was longing for and the rest that I was desperate for would always be found in the arms of Jesus. And those arms are constantly reaching out to us.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).  This is the invitation Jesus gives to each of us. Will you accept his invitation?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Team Jones and The New Year

Kat sent me the New Year Newsletter a while back and I failed to share it with my faithful followers.  I am so very proud of them.

Dear friends,

Outside is gray and the snow is beginning to melt. This makes everything look covered in mud and dirty. It is our least favorite time of the year, but it is also when the weather begins to warm to the 40s and 50s, and we know that sunnier weather is just around the corner! We hope this letter finds you all enjoying the beginnings of spring and new life!!! January and February have been busy months and we are awaiting the day when we can spend more time outside! It was a long and cold winter, and we rejoice with warmer weather and the opportunities it brings!

This month has been a wonderful month. We began the month by sharing at the kindergarten where many of our girls learned while they were at the orphanage. There is a very special teacher there who is one of very few who ever showed our girls kindness and love as they grew up at the orphanage. We went and were special guests at a program. We had the opportunity to take them Christmas shoeboxes as well, as many of them are from poor families or from the orphanages. It was such a joy to see our girls reconnect with a woman who has poured her heart out for them. We are always so overwhelmed by the positive examples our girls and guys have had, and we feel especially grateful for them. So many people have beaten and abused and mistreated our precious ones that it is very easy to be angry and frustrated with most adults, but these few positive examples restore our hope.

Throughout the month of February, we really focused on different types of love and how God loves us. We posted scripture, shared love, and had a great youth group meeting or two about love. We even had a special girls night just to remind them of how loved they are. Understanding who you are in Christ and knowing that you are loved by Him no matter what is so important to their healing from the wounds of their pasts. On Valentine’s Day, we woke up early and made special heart shaped Danishes for the girls (all 36 of them) and then spent the day decorating and making a yummy Greek dinner for them. We set the table for 36 and then served them a plate full of delicious food with a side of home-made heart shaped cookies. They loved it, and they all said they felt so loved. We try to remind them that as much as we love them…God loves them infinitely more. It is such a treasure to be able to share His love with these girls-to try every day to be a beacon of His light and love.

During the past four or five weeks, Kathryn has started a new weekly tradition. She got up very early one Monday morning and made breakfast for all the girls in both houses. Then the next Monday, she did the same thing. Then for the past few weeks, Brian has been helping with preparing breakfast as well. The girls all love it so much, and it makes them feel loved for us to get up very early (about 4:30 typically) just to do something special for them. They are more than worthy of that level of effort and so much more whether they realize it or not, and we want them to understand how worthy they are of love from those around them. Their response has been so positive, we are completely hooked on making special breakfasts on Mondays. We find ourselves throughout the week thinking of different ideas of what to prepare. We love starting our day with lots of hugs from our little family, most of whom we typically don’t see until they return from school in the afternoon.

We don’t normally write much about our lives outside of Stella’s Voice, but there’s stuff happening there too. For instance:

• Our local church (International Christian Fellowship) has made the transition to a new pastor. Our previous pastor and his wife are wonderful, and we were so blessed to have the chance to learn from them. However, health issues have required them to move back to the states. The new pastor and his wife are super nice, and we are looking forward having them as part of our little church family.

• The Honda Element that we purchased has been such an amazing blessing to us. It has been so nice for Kathryn to have more freedom to go anywhere she needs to or wants to go without depending on someone else or our luxurious public transportation. We have also been without our ministry vehicle for about three weeks, so having our own car to drive in its place has been tremendously valuable for us and our whole crew. We can’t say thank you enough to those of you who have supported us in ways that allowed us to buy a car.

• We have started a Bonfire account to help raise some much needed funds. Not being able to come home to raise support can be quite difficult for many reasons. Our friend Abby helped us design some shirts to sell through Bonfire as a fund raising project. You have until March 15th to order a shirt. Every purchase helps. Thank you sooooo much for your help!! Please feel free to share this link with others

As always, we have attached a few photos here as well. Thank you all again so very much for your prayers, cards, emails, Facebook notes, and financial contributions. It takes all of these to keep us going when we are so far from home. We appreciate all that you have done and continue to do for us.

With hearts full of thankfulness!

Brian and Kathryn Jones

Team Jones in Moldova

P.S.  We observed End It Movement day on February 23rd. This is a day to shine a light on the tragedy that is modern day slavery. Our houses exist to prevent our girls and guys from being victims of traffickers.

We are still experiencing winter-like weather here. It was 40 degrees today and then it snowed again. Forty is a balmy day for us

I am having trouble posting the pictures that are attached so I will only share the high points.

La multi ani from Moldova

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fishing for Wednesday Hodge Podge Answers

Here are the questions and my answers to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back over to Joyce's blog by clicking here to share answers with all your friends and neighbors. Then hop around and comment on some of the other blogs.  Everyone loves a little bloggy love.  I know I do.   See you there!

1. Have you ever been fishing? Did you catch a fish? If so did you keep it or throw it back? If you haven't been fishing is that something you'd like to try?

Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fishbowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, fish or cut bait...which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life? 

I have been fishing many times and enjoy it a lot.  I have caught many fish, thrown some back, kept some for eating.  Right now the end of the school year is fast approaching and I would have to say fish or cut bait.  That is how I feel trying to get my seniors to do their work.

2. What's something you're always fishing for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer?  My keys and my cell phone.  They seem to disappear in my purse.

3. Your favorite fish tale or movie?  Finding Nemo and Big Fish

4. Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight or night? Explain why you chose your answer.  I am sunrise.  Definitely a morning person and I love to get up early, grab a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise.  It makes my day.
5. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?  It WAS a pair of Birkenstocks from the very early 80's.  I discarded them in January.  Now it is a jacket and sweatshirt from my early Auburn days.....1985.
6. We've got one more month of (officially) winter here in the Northern hemisphere. Are you feeling the need for a getaway? What's been the best and worst part of your winter so far?  I am so ready for a getaway.  Spring Break for us is the last week in March.  It cannot get here soon enough.  The worst part of winter so one day it is cold....and the next day it is 70 and we are wearing shorts and flip flops.
7.  The Wednesday Hodgepodge lands on National Margarita Day...will you be celebrating? Frozen or on the rocks? Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? If so, what's your favorite JB tune?  I will not be celebrating....but if I did...frozen would be my choice since it is supposed to be 75 here today.  I love Jimmy Buffet and if I have to chose a favorite song it would be Come Monday.
8.  Insert your own random thought here. Do you know/watch the HGTV show, Fixer Upper?  I just finished reading the Magnolia Story about Chip and Joanna Gaines.  LOVED IT!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Welcomed Hodge Podge

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered the questions today, add your link at the end of Joyce's post by clicking here and be sure to leave a comment for your blog neighbor.

1. What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the name. If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?
My dad's mom was called Grandmother.  She was very austere and refused to have any other moniker given to her.  My mom's mother was Little Grandmother/Granny.  She was a very tiny lady and most of the grandkids were taller than she was.  I did not have a grandfather on my dad's side living when I was born and my mom's dad was Granddaddy, Grandfather, or Tige.   My moniker is Nana K.  Eric and Roulain's kids call her mom Nana V.
2. Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek? If not, any desire to do so? What's one tourist attraction along the coast you'd add to your must-see list?
I have done the entire PCH.  I love the California Coast.  I adore Santa Barbara, San Diego, Carpinteria.....I would love to go and do it again.
3. What are three things you don't know how to do?  Knit, Ice fancy cupcakes, really crochet
4. Tom Peters is quoted as saying, 'Celebrate what you want to see more of.' If that's true, what and how will you celebrate?  Peacefulness -“Stop caring about what other people think of you, how they perceive you, or if they approve of you. Start to focus on your inner peace.”    I sit in the shade of  my big tree....and listen to my Corinthian chimes as they lull me into peace.
5. Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer-an Almond Joy or a macaron? What's something you make that calls for almonds?  I do not love almonds or coconut.... and would  turn down an Almond Joy or a macaron.  I swap out almonds for walnuts or pecans.
6. What does Saturday morning look like at your house?  Coffee on the porch with each other and breakfast at Jeff's Place with Beth at 8.  I love Saturdays and don't want my routine interrupted.
7. Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.  Love Does by Bob Goff.  I am doing a facetime/Skype study with my daughter in Moldova.  I am loving this book.  I also read and reviewed on my blog Control Girl  It too was pretty amazing.8.  Insert your own random thought here.  I am back.  After 14 days in UAB hospital and a month off of work....I am back at work and healing.  It was a long, hard, end of the year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Control Girl

About The Book:  Tension, anger, fear, anxiety-it all begins with a heart that craves control.  Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don't match your version of perfect. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God's, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts.  Thankfully, there is a better way.  Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve's desire to know instead of trust, Sarah's inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah's controlling hand on her family's future, each of these women's stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.  Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.  Learn more and purchase a copy.
About The Author:  Shannon Popkin is a wife and mom, a speaker and teacher, and a leader of small group studies. As a writer and speaker, Shannon combines her love for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She has been published by Family Fun, MOMSense, and Focus on the Family Magazine, and is a contributing blogger at Shannon and her husband live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. When she's not taking pictures from the sidelines of her kids' sporting events, Shannon loves to be opening the door of her west Michigan home to family and friends. Find her at  
My Thoughts On The Book:   I began reading this book in the hospital.  I did not really want to read it because I felt bad.....and it really did not apply to me.  Boy was I wrong and the Lord used my illness to point out some things I had been being controlling.  It is so much easier to see controlling behavior in others, isn't it?  While I lay there in my hospital bed at rock bottom I looked up and realized I had some major lessons to learn.  Popkin does a wonder job unveiling the controlling tendencies that we all have.   I loved that she hared her own struggles and the struggles of real women of the Bible.  The struggles of Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Miriam were used along with scriptures to show how control hurts us and impacts our relationship with God.  This book is excellent for people with Control Issues and even for those who struggle and don't even realize it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book  from Litfuse.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”