Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's May Again!

It's May...the month that has seen us move from our current residence to another state twice in the last four years. Usually on our anniversary. And it's happening again.

This time, the move is of our own choosing. No jobs have been lost in the making of this current adventure. In fact, as of this writing, we don't have jobs at all. Why would we do such a thing? The one sentence answer is because home is where our people are and it is time to come home. 

Without jobs, we obviously can't pay rent, so we are moving into the guest room of gracious "framily" (friends who are family) and storing what's left of our possessions. I'd by lying if I said I wasn't battling a myriad of emotions as the clock ticks down to departure day. Fear of not being financially stable, embarrassment at being in this position at our age, sadness at moving hundreds of miles further away from our only grandchildren to this point, and an empty soul and spirit from these last few years of change are just a few of them. We are not the same people we were when we left and I wonder where and how we'll fit in. 

But we're coming home. And I suspect that while these last almost 7 (really? 7?!) years were needed for reasons I may never fully understand, I'm ready to be back. It's likely I did some running away when I so readily agreed to move to Baltimore on a whim with Hamp 6 1/2 years ago, so it's also likely I have some things to deal with in coming back. If you want to join me in this adventure, check back in soon. To be continued......

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Year in the Life

I've been pondering writing an updated post on this almost defunct blog for a while now.  I just recently got around to actually looking at it and realized that the last time I wrote was almost a year ago.  Wow!  Time really does fly...whether we're having fun or not.  Don't worry; I won't try to catch up everything at one posting.  If I did, I'd never finish writing it and you'd never finish reading it.  

As a side note, I'm actually using a computer as I type this.  When my laptop died, we crossed fully into the Apple family and got an iMac for our home use to add to our iPhone and iPad.  I still don't really know how to use it for much more than a word processor which is a little sad, so the immediate goal is to figure out how to get pictures in this post.  (And as you're about to see, I was successful!!)

The best place to begin is to share two of the most exciting things that happened in the last year.

A little over a year ago, this precious angel was born to Michael and Bekah and recently celebrated her first birthday.  Miss Lily is our first grandchild and she's brought much joy to our whole family.  She's squishy and lovable and funny and the only negative thing to say is that she lives too far away!

And a little over two months ago, Matthew and Melissa got married to the joy and happiness of us all!  Their school year just ended today so they're looking forward to some down time this summer after a busy spring filled with teaching, wedding planning, and coaching.

When I last wrote, Hamp was working in Richmond after his job ended somewhat unexpectedly in Nashville.  We ended up moving in June and lived there for 6 months before realizing that life as we knew it was not working anymore.  Like so many other fields, the printing industry has changed drastically in recent years and it became obvious that something had to give before we did.  When a call came in October from our pastor friend in Baltimore that funds had become available to add Hamp as director of operations for his church, we said goodbye to the corporate world and moved back to Baltimore at Thanksgiving.

As you might imagine, our salary doesn't look the same as it did in printing, so we knew I would have to work outside the home again to supplement our income.  We had heard that a new ChickFilA was opening in the city close to where were living, so as of about a week ago, both of us are now official team members there.  Hamp will only work sporadically as needed for special occasions, but I will be leaping back into full-time work for the first time in a while.  It will be an adjustment, but one that will be made easier by the quality of the company, the owner, and the people who will be my co-workers.

Before this gets too long, I wanted to catch you up on Tiffany and her wonder cat, Ellie.  Nikki (Tiffany's roommate) got married in February, so Tiffany had to find a new place to live.  Ellie had been with us because Nikki had some allergy issues, so my drive from Baltimore to Orlando for the wedding turned into a road trip for me and Ellie so she could move back in with her mommy.  I miss her chatty company at times, but she's quite happy to be back in the Sunshine State!


It's been an interesting and busy year and this is just a small factual sample of some of the things we've experienced.  Now that my computer and I seem to be able to work together to create a post, I'm going to add more soon (really!) that will help you keep up with the Joneses.  Once that's done, I'll be transitioning to a new blog that I'll tell you more about soon.

I'll leave you with one last picture of me with our girls that was taken at Melissa's bridesmaid luncheon. We are a blessed family and do not take for granted the gifts God has given our boys in their wives, nor in our own daughter.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"It's Okay Not To Be Okay"

A few weeks ago, I was made aware of Brennan Manning's last book that he would write before he died.  I would show you a picture of the cover, but my computer gasped its last recently and I am functioning completely from an iPad with a keyboard and my iPhone.  (As an aside, while the technology those two items affords me is pretty much amazing, neither can replace a computer.)

Anyway, the name of the book is simple, yet extremely profound:  All Is Grace

Can you imagine how our lives would be affected if we actually believed that sentence?  All is grace. The unexpected death?  The lost job?  The life-changing medical diagnosis?  ALL is grace?  And yet if we confess God as our Father, Savior, and Lord, then it is in fact a true statement.  

The book is primarily an autobiography of this flawed and grace-filled man and I recommend it highly.  The message of this book, as well as Brennan Manning's life can be summed up in one sentence:

"It's okay not to be okay."  

Spoken to him years ago by Brother Dominique Voillaume, it changed Manning's life, gave direction to his ministry message, and I suspect will continue to change lives until we meet him someday.

I share all of that with you as an explanation to some degree as to why I have only written two entries in almost a year on this blog.  Originally started for friends and family to follow us as we began a new adventure by moving to Baltimore almost 5 years ago, it quickly turned into somewhat of a roadmap of where to find us.  We have become accidental gypsies by losing and finding jobs and moving several times encompassing the cities of Baltimore, back to Atlanta, and then Nashville.  We actually are only a few days away from hitting our 2 year anniversary of being in the same place without moving, but as life often goes, it will arrive in the midst of irony.  Hamp actually no longer has the job that brought us to Nashville and is currently working in an interim position in Richmond, VA with the company that we originally moved with 5 years ago.  We don't know yet if that will become a permanent job, but the calendar is circled with a date in June that will most likely see us loading a moving van once again with our ever-decreasing possessions.  As of this moment, the location is to be determined.

I've always loved words and the pictures they can paint of life, feelings, hopes, and dreams.  But the last five years have been a slow stripping of everything I've ever known and for the most part I have simply just not been okay.  So to put thoughts and emotions into words to send out into the great void of cyberspace hasn't been something I could do.  Those closest to me (and the number has shrunk drastically in the last 5 years) know of the darker days, but how can you explain what you don't even understand yourself?

I read a quote not too long ago by Donald Miller that says, "I often ask myself, 'What wants to be written today' rather than 'what am I supposed to write?'.  The good stuff often flows and isn't forced."  I'm not sure I'd describe what may come from my "pen" as good stuff, but I think I'll give this a try and see what happens.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Catching Up...Again!

Oopsie!  I was a little shocked to see that it's been 5 months to the day since I last wrote a post.  The other shocking thing is that apparently there are still a handful of people that check occasionally to see if there's a new post.  I really will try to do better at keeping things more current. 

So, what's current?  We still live in Franklin, TN near Nashville which is a really cool place!  I wish I had a bajillion dollars so we could buy a little house downtown and pretend we live in a movie set.  Instead I have to wander the sidewalks to absorb the cuteness and support the local economy by eating frozen yogurt at Sweet CeCe's or get a peppermint hot chocolate at Starbucks if it's cold.  Fortunately, they're right across the street from each other so that makes it convenient.

We found a great church and are part of a really cool small group.  We are a random mix of eclectic people of all ages, but it's hard to get together outside of our one night a week.  In the age of Twitter and 140 characters of communication, I think that's mostly normal now, but it makes for lots of alone time for me.


Speaking of Twitter, do you tweet?  If so, you can follow me (@jilljones05) and I can do the same with you.  It makes me laugh that I even have an account, but it's actually been helpful during baseball season and weather issues for getting information quickly.  I can't imagine that anything I have to say would be of utmost importance, but I suppose you never know.

Nashville is in the central time zone and I've learned that I like it a lot, EXCEPT when winter comes and daylight savings time ends.  Then it's dark around 4:30 and this lover of light has a VERY hard time.  But it's weird how thinking in time zone conversions has become second nature to me now.

Our kids are doing well in their respective lives and that's probably the area of my life I struggle with the most.  Not that they're doing well, but that I just miss them.  :)  They're really cool people and I enjoy being with them and learning from them.  Tiffany is graduating in 4 weeks with her masters degree in counseling after being in school for 2 1/2 years.  It's been a hard process but she's been perfectly made for this and every part of her story has led to this point in her life.  We're going to FL for her graduation and we'll be celebrating with Mickey Mouse and his Christmas party the next day at Disney, so we're excited! 

Matthew is still teaching and took the fastpitch softball team back to the Elite 8 of the state championship tournament in his first year as head coach.  It was quite a busy fall and he's enjoying having a little bit of down time right now before baseball gears up for the spring and he has to assist with that program. 

Michael and Bekah have settled back into life near the north shore in Massachusetts where they first met and married.  They returned to a great church family, jobs, and are gearing up for weather that's quite a bit different from Texas and Indonesia which is where they were most of this last year.  We pretty much have to fly to get to them, but we love the area and are glad we have a reason to go back and visit.

And...that pretty much catches you up with the basics.  Maybe next time I'll be able to go into more specifics with me and what has kept me busy this summer when I did take time to be more creative.  Let me hear from you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dreams and Wishes

I have always loved to read. Even as a little girl, I would get lost in a story and travel wherever the character was. A secret garden? No problem, I could see it. Narnia? Still looking for the lamppost.  More often than not, a good story leaves me with a heart-felt sigh knowing that truthful words can come in many forms.  So I offer you the following words as the weekend rushes toward us.  And while you try to conquer your to-do list, take time to really look around your corner of the world.  You just might glimpse a latent dream or wish you thought you'd dismissed that's simply waiting for the perfect time to come true.  Oh, and keep and eye out for pixies - they can sometimes be spied if you're ever so still!

"Some dreams and wishes, I believe, are of the dormant, time-released variety. They aren't forgotten over many years or through many changes in life. They don't shrink during their hibernation. They simply wait to come true when the dreamer and the wisher need to believe all over again."

~Robin Jones Gunn, Sisterchicks Go Brit

Friday, June 8, 2012

"Is It What It Is"?

If you've known me longer than a minute, you've heard me say the phrase, "It is what it is".  It's a short, but sweet statement that can be said about anything that actually has no explanation, or maybe more honestly, one that we want to accept.  Which could mean that it makes no sense at all, but yet somehow it does.  Confused yet?  Me too.

Anyway, a few months ago the movie, "We Bought  A Zoo" came out and we rented it one night.  It's a great family movie for those who haven't seen it and getting to look at Matt Damon for an hour and a half was an added bonus.  It's about a family that...buys a zoo.  Shocking plot spoiler, huh?? 

But the part that really stuck with me was an exchange between Matt Damon's character and the real estate agent as they're pondering the fact that a zoo is actually for sale.  At first listen, it's confusing.  At second listen, it's still confusing.  And then as I kept replaying it and writing down the words, I realized it was quite profound in a still confusing sort of way.  I found the paper on which I had written those profound, still confusing words not too long ago and thought I'd pass them along in case you needed something to think about as the week winds down in your corner of the world. 

"It is what it is."

"It is what it is.  Sometimes you don't know what it is until you see what it is, you know?  And once you see what it is, then you can figure what it is?"

"No, but we can move on".

And there's the profoundness of it all - we can move on.  Even if we don't buy a zoo.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Desert Disassembling

dis·as·sem·ble - verb (used with object)

1.  to take apart.
I don't know about you, but when it's been a while since I've talked to someone, I find ways to avoid reconnecting because how do you go back and fill in the gaps since the last conversation?  The reality is that you can't and a lot of the little, daily things that might have made up the relationship building is forgotten or left out so you can begin again and move forward from that point.  That's what this post is today.  Beginning again, moving forward.
I'll start with this:  today is our 36th wedding anniversary.  Wow.  How did that much time go by that fast?  More honestly, how did we actually make it that long?  The biggest reason is because for all the things we had going against us when we got married at ages 19 and 20, the one thing we were both committed to was our relationship with Jesus Christ and therefore to each other.  Divorce was simply not an option for either one of us.  With that exit door closed, we had to work through the tough times, the dry times, the busy times, the disconnected times, and the times we just really didn't like each other very much.  Two overused phrases come to mind that can pretty much sum it up:  "God is love" and "Love is a choice".  It doesn't make for a great Disney movie, but it works in real life if both people are committed to making it work. 
The past three months...okay, the past 5 years, have been about my life slowly being disassembled from the picture on the puzzle box in my mind so God could put the frame together that He designed for my life and begin to fill in that picture.  As so often is the case, my idea and His plan don't look much least not yet. 
I would love to say that I've been patient, excitedly waiting to see what the puzzle would look like, but I can't.  I've had moments, even moments strung together, that I've thought it was kind of exciting to be "out of the box", but those have long passed.  I've done more complaining, whining, and crying than anything else recently and I've mostly beat myself up because that's been my response.  But be honest, doesn't a Norman Rockwell painting look much nicer than the unfinished frame above?  Of course it does!  Disappointment, grieving, and even anger is an appropriate emotional response to that drastic of a difference.  The danger is grieving without hope because then I've lost sight of God.  The truth is not only has He not been caught off guard by my little life crisis, He's actually right in the middle of it all.   So my silence has been in composition only; my mind and spirit have been much engaged in a wrestling match that God is graciously overseeing.
Life here in beautiful middle Tennessee has been lonely.  We made it a year without losing another job so that's a huge cause for celebration!!  It took a couple of tries but we've decided on a church that we believe we're to join with to be part of the local body in our community.  Nashville is an interesting city with lots of musicians, artists, and creative types hoping to find their dreams here.  Most of them are young and we are not.  :)  My heart desire for a "kindred spirit" has not been met yet and trying to stay connected to those that exist is challenging at the least and usually much more complicated than that.  I miss our kids and the dream I had of us sharing life together in close proximity.
However...a conversation I had this morning with a dear friend I've known for most of our 36 years together reminded me that thankfulness is a sacrifice I can still choose to make when it isn't easy to give.  They use a candle at their dinner table every night as a visible reminder to find blessing in whatever God is bringing their way.  Sometimes the littlest things are what keep us going.

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."