Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Victory!

Greetings from the Jones household where we are celebrating Georgia Tech's win over UGA after 7 years of drought. I guess I should clarify that a little; Michael is lamenting the loss in the Boston suburbs somewhere while Tiffany is mostly neutral. Should you be wondering at our family's opposite loyalties, I'll give you a quick background....

My family moved to the Atlanta area when I was 5 years old because my dad became the radio voice of Georgia Tech football. Back then, the 60 miles or so to Athens was a long 60 miles with no major highways connecting it to Atlanta. So if you lived in suburban Atlanta, you were usually a Tech fan and someone in your family probably graduated from there. On Thanksgiving Day the "Bullpups" used to play the "Baby Jackets" and many families had the tradition of going to that game as part of the celebration of the day.

By the time I graduated from high school, UGA was a popular college choice and I attended for 2 quarters before retiring from higher education. While a student there, I cheered for UGA, but blood runs deep and my ultimate allegiance remained with Tech. When the kids came along, Michael chose UGA to be his team to cheer for and we've had many fun rivalries down through the years with Michael in his red and black and the rest of us in gold, white, and/or blue.

This year, we gathered with Tech fans only since we have endured public humiliation most of the last 7 years in living rooms belonging to UGA fans.

For the first half of the game, it looked like the Bulldogs would prevail and then it became a question of who would have the ball last as Tech had an amazing 3rd quarter and scored several times. This image from the television answers the question of "who won?"

It was a long time coming and it may only last for a year, but for today we are celebrating Georgia Tech's victory over the University of Georgia. Go Jackets!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope today finds you able to celebrate the people and things you are thankful for with those you love. It's been an odd week for me - one of gratefulness and yet sadness. I am reminded that life doesn't always turn out the way we plan and I know of families who gather today with vacant seats because of choices made or tragic circumstances. When it's all said and done, I think the greatest reason we can and should give thanks is found in 1 Corinthians 1:30:

"But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption..."

I want to wish Tiffany and Michael a Happy Thanksgiving since we can't be with them in person. I thank God for His precious family up north that loves them well.

I'll have more later from our family gathering here and the hectic preparations by me and Hamp in between food prep for realtors to come meet with us this weekend. At least I'm not bored! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Quiet Week

It's confession time for a new and still insecure blogger. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen this week so I could share it with you and hopefully keep you interested enough to check on us from time to time. I have come to realize that in the grand scheme of life, however, we're actually pretty quiet and simple people. So if you do decide to stop by, you'll just get the real us. Sometimes we'll have exciting things to share like, "We're moving to Baltimore!" and sometimes we might tell you that it's been a hard week and God has held our broken hearts together. In my supposedly mature and wiser place in life, I've discovered that most of life happens somewhere between those two extremes. To that end, here are the highlights of the week with a couple of pictures to make it more colorful.

After coming home from being in Baltimore, my brain took about 4 days to slow down enough to actually "be" at home. The saying "home is where the heart is" rings truer to me than it ever did before. Part of my heart resides with Tiffany and Michael on the North Shore in Massachusetts, part of it now lives with Hamp in our apartment in Baltimore, and the rest of it is scattered all over metro Atlanta with the family and friends I am blessed to have and will soon be leaving. This can make for a very schizophrenic way to live if you're not careful and I've needed this week to figure that out a little bit. The preparation of the last two years has helped immensely, yet I've found that the emotion of dealing with everything has caused a few grief bumps to surface as well. Most of my evenings have found me knitting in front of a cozy little fire just letting my soul relax and also trying to keep the chill out of the living room.

Not to be outdone, Kit has done her best to remind me that sometimes the best thing to do is just curl up and take a nap!

I do have one exciting thing to share with you. I am no longer a bow making failure thanks to my friend, Janet. She invited me to join her on Wednesday at the Serendipity House in Acworth where they had several classes on various holiday decorating ideas. To fully appreciate the experience I had, you need some background.

Many years ago when my kids were very small, several ladies from our church took a bow making class together. We mostly just needed a night out, but we really did want to learn how to make a bow. Sadly, the lady that taught the class was much too serious for the task. She obviously had a detailed plan for her investment of time and allowed for no fun or frivolity. How can you make Christmas bows without either, I ask you? I'm sure Santa frowned and she was added to the naughty list that night. But I digress...I never really got the hang of it and was made to feel inferior because of my creative lack. So for the last twenty-something years, I never attempted another bow. That all changed on Wednesday as I folded and twisted and made a Christmas bow all by myself that actually looks like a bow. To some of you, this is just a silly piece of information, but for me, it was a healing and liberating moment!

So there you have it - a week of keeping up with the Joneses. Hamp will be flying in on Wednesday and will be here all of Thanksgiving weekend. My family (minus Tiffany and Michael) will join us for dinner on Thursday and we will be watching closely the UGA/Georgia Tech game on Saturday. From things I'm reading on and hearing with my own ears, UGA fans are a little nervous, but only the honest ones will admit it. While Tech still might not win, it should be a good game and if they do, there are paybacks that are long overdue...and you know who you are!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pictures from Baltimore

Good Monday to everyone! I am back in Kennesaw preparing for a busy week. Now my brain is full of two "things to do" lists between here and Baltimore. It was very hard to leave Hamp yesterday because his job has never required him to be out of town much and we're not used to lengthy separations. I'm hoping the busyness of the holidays will make the time go by faster and I'm suspecting that will be the case.

The clouds finally cleared off some before I left, so we braved the windy day to take some pictures of the area we will call home for the next year. Hopefully by seeing them, it will help give you a better picture of what life will look like for us as we get settled there.

This is the front of the apartment building we live in followed by the route we take to get to our apartment each time we enter.

Once inside, we would actually greet you at the door, but the only place I could set up the camera for a picture was in the living room.

Once we get our own furniture there, we'll probably rearrange things so that the window behind us is completely open. The view is amazing which you can see in the following pictures. The first one is looking toward the left out of the window and the second one is moving to the right out of the same window.

When it's time to get in our car to go somewhere, we turn left out of the front of the building to go to the parking lot. This is the view to our right as we go into the lot.

If we turned right and didn't go into the parking lot, there are benches by the waterfront you can sit on and lots of walking paths that go along the perimeter of all the buildings in the area.

If you turn right out of our apartment building, you head toward the busier part of Fells Point. This park is a block away and in the process of being renovated. It's a popular walking place for people with their dogs so going barefoot would not be recommended!

Notice the cobblestone streets that make up this area. We discovered they are very slippery when wet.

Fells Point is a trendy area that is made up of a lot of interesting shops, taverns, pubs, and restaurants of every type. It was built up along the waterfront and if you keep on going, you'll end up within a few minutes at the Inner Harbor area of downtown Baltimore. It's a safe and easy walk and one we actually did twice while I was there. Some of the shops have doggie doors that open at the top so a patron can order food while walking their dog and others cater to the dogs themselves.

One of the things we're looking forward to doing when the weather gets warmer is taking the water taxi to various places along the harbor. Camden Yards is one of the destinations so that might be a fun way to get to an Orioles game.

Living in a city instead of the suburbs is a completely different way of life and I can see pros and cons of both. I found at times my spirit of adventure waned a bit especially when it was drizzly and gray outside. But Hamp and I are both excited about the path before us and look forward to sharing it with many of you when you come visit. While I still can't imagine driving away from what has been home most of my life, I know we will be OK and that God will be with us every step of the way. We will be ever so grateful if you would keep our family in your prayers as the relocation process has begun in earnest.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Church in the Pub

Most of you are probably like me in that you haven't seen the word "church" in the same sentence as the word "pub" before. Well, this afternoon that changed for me and Hamp as we actually met in one with other believers to lift up the name of Jesus Christ. More about that in a minute.

We spent the day running errands and exploring some. We got Michael to the train station for his return trip to Boston. That was a nice treat getting to spend some time with him as he came for part of his reading week. Then Hamp and I made the necessary runs to places like Target and we lost count of how many times we went up and down the elevator and stairs to our apartment as we came and went. The weather cooperated and we were able to dodge the rain all afternoon.

Later in the afternoon, we headed to Ellis and Ginger's where we joined them and others for the Saturday meeting of the Gallery Church Baltimore. This is held at the pub right up the street from where they live and I'll let their worship guide answer the question of "why do you meet in a pub?" for any who are wondering.

"We get this question a lot. We hope that you and everyone that comes in contact with our little part of the Church body understands that our meeting locations aren't about stirring up controversy, or making any kind of statment. We firmly believe that God is the head of the church and with that we are constantly seeking His direction and desire for everything we do here. These locations are the doors that God has opened and we are going to follow His lead as we step into unfamiliar territory. If you take some time and read through the four Gospels found at the beginning of the New Testament, you will find that Jesus often used unusual settings and locations where people gathered to talk, eat, laugh, and play. He used these places to meet, teach, and engage in conversations with others. It was actually far more frequent that He taught from the side of a hill or someone's home than in the temple or synagogue."

So here you go - a couple of pictures of where our first gathering with some of God's people took place in Baltimore!

And for Jim and Tanya, just to let you know Brooke is doing well and here's proof!

After the meeting, some of us went back to Ellis and Ginger's for yummy brownies and I got a picture of Ellis trying to stay caught up on the neverending work of church needs communication.

As I get ready to leave tomorrow to head back home from....home, I'm finding my brain is unable to process all that has bombarded it the last few days. So for now, there are no real words of wisdom or revelation. But the one thing I can tell you is that God's word promises in Philippians 4:7 that "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" and in that I can rest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Day of Firsts

Greetings from foggy Baltimore. Today was probably more of what a normal day will be like once this becomes home. I don't have any pictures because it was damp and drizzly and I couldn't really take my camera out. Besides, most everything would have been gray anyway.

Hamp went to work and after a relaxing morning, Michael and I went to a diner down the street for a Waffle House type brunch. Then we went to the Barnes and Noble that's not too far away and enjoyed browsing for a while. When Hamp got home, we met Ellis and Ginger and their kids for dinner along with some other people that are part of the Gallery Church here. It was nice to see some familiar faces and at the same time sort of surreal to know that these are the people that will more than likely be a major part of our lives and we don't even know them yet. Even though the weather was soggy, we walked everywhere we went and that's definitely a first compared to how we've always lived.

It's been fun to spend some time with Michael, but we have to say goodbye to him in the morning as he heads back to Boston on the train. That's another thing that we've discovered not only for this area, but in the north in general - public transportation is common and just an accepted and preferred choice often. Before the last year and a half of my life, I could have counted on one hand the times I rode in a taxi, but they quickly have become a very welcome sight when needed!

Once Michael leaves, Hamp and I will do the normal Saturday activities like going to Target, etc. but we just first have to find them! While the temptation to throw the GPS out the window was strong at times on the way here, we controlled ourselves and are thankful for the technology and plan to take full advantage of it tomorrow.

I will get some more pictures tomorrow as we're out and about and then we will go to the Saturday service of the Gallery Church that meets in the Irish Pub up the street from where Ellis lives. That will most definitely be a first! Tiffany and I discovered the Shepherd's Pie there when we came in April and that will probably be our dinner.

Have a wonderful Saturday and we'll check back in with you tomorrow. And since Tech is off this weekend, we'll close with a "Go Dawgs!" (Sorry, Matthew and Joey)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Impressions

It is the end of my first day in Baltimore and I'll see if my brain can process everything enough to try and share with you some of what I'm thinking. I'm majorly sleep deprived, so we'll see how it goes......

First, I do like the apartment. It's obviously much smaller than our house, but after spending time in Tiffany and Michael's dorm size apartment, this feels like a lot of room. The bathroom is very small, but it's the only place I have been able to "nest" by adding a colorful shower curtain.

The washer/dryer situation will probably be one of my greatest opportunities to practice giving thanks for everything. They're the stackable kind and the washer has only about 6 inches of room for me to get the lid open. There's nothing that can be done to change that, so unless I want to go to the laundry room downstairs and pay to use a larger one, it's what I will live with for the first year here.

I mentioned before that we have a parking space in an actual lot which is a wonderful provision. But I will still have to lug everything from the car into the lobby of the building, unlock the door, and go up the elevator or stairs to get to our apartment. While that will help me with the exercise I keep saying I want to increase, I'm thinking that will get old sometimes. However, the view from the parking lot to the front door of the building is one I will probably never get tired of.

We'll be able to bring most of our furniture when we actually move, so that will help make it seem more like home. For now, we're using stuff that's been rented and there's not a lot of light in the rooms. But I love the brick that's on the wall in our bedroom and in the living room.

We went to Hamp's work today so he could show me and Michael around and I got this picture of Michael sitting at Hamp's desk.

That pretty much sums up the day and tomorrow Hamp has to go to work. Michael and I will do some exploring and hopefully we'll get to see Ellis and his family if he's feeling better. Thanks for checking on us and keeping up with our continued adventures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Safe Arrival!

There are no pictures yet, but I wanted to let you know that after a later than hoped for start, we arrived in Baltimore around 11:30 p.m. safe and sound. OK, maybe not sound, but safe! I think, however, that this was a blessing in the long run because traffic was great, it never rained on us, and as we thought we couldn't possibly be in the truck another minute, we drove by the Washington Monument and Captiol Building illuminated by spotlights. I had actually walked all around that area with Tiffany in the spring when we went to a Washington Nationals baseball game, so it was fun to see it from a different perspective.

Honesty compels me to tell you that as we were following our handy dandy GPS and the monotone voiced directions approaching our apartment building, I had a moment of panic as I realized that I had no idea where I was, how to get anywhere, and I wondered if I ever would. Then I realized I was exhausted and the most immediate need was to get the truck unloaded and begin anew tomorrow. We did end up walking a few minutes around the area and it's very nice with a lot of older historic buildings that have been restored for businesses and residences. I think daylight will help my adventurous spirit revive as well.

I think I forgot to mention that Michael is with us because he has reading week this week in school, so he took a train to Baltimore on Monday to hang out with his dad some, stayed alone for a couple of days to get some work done, and now gets to be with his favorite mom. :) I actually haven't gotten to see him in a while so it will be fun to catch up with him a bit.

So for now, dear friends, I bid you goodnight. Thank you all for your prayers; they were answered most favorably and we are grateful for the uneventful drive we had.

I don't think the forecast is very cooperative for sight-seeing, but we're going to give it our best shot, so I should have some pictures for you tomorrow. For now, I leave you with a parting question; how many GPS's have ended up tossed out the window to silence the very annoying voice as it's recalculating for the hundredth time? I was just wondering......

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Road Trip

Hamp and I will be leaving in the morning to drive to Baltimore so he will finally have his truck there and won't have to keep renting a car. I'm still having serious adjustment issues trying to imagine living in a place I haven't seen yet with furniture in it that's been rented until we can get ours there. I'm hoping this trip will provide some much needed bonding and nesting time that only my female readers will fully understand and appreciate.

While having Hamp gone has taken some getting used to, I also think God has given me this calm before getting the house on the market, the holidays, and ultimately moving permanently. I don't like change, but I'm sure that just makes God smile as He's providing me with many ways to learn to trust Him through the very changes I don't like.

On a more colorful note, one thing that never changes is God's faithfulness and order, especially in His creation. It has been a beautiful fall here and I've had a couple of opportunities to capture some of that beauty with my camera. I'll leave you with some pictures to enjoy. The next entry will either be from Baltimore or somewhere close if we don't quite make it all the way driving tomorrow.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Geography of Nowhere

Last Saturday night I was one of the many thousands of spectators at the Georgia Dome watching the finals portion of the Atlanta Regional Bands of America marching band competition. Yes, I am a band nerd. Not because of personal experience but by virtue of giving birth to two percussionists resulting in many hours of chaperoning or lugging heavy equipment on and off the field. Their hard work and dedication helped lay the foundation that saw their alma mater miss first place by only 1 point. It was a wonderful moment and I was excited to be there to witness it.

Band was more than just an extracurricular activity in our house. It was the shared life experience that God used to add heart children to our home, some more permanently than others. And sadly, it was the choosing against family that saw the departure of those same heart children, embarking our famiy on the journey we travel still today.

In the tiny book, "Experiencing Grief", H. Norman Wright writes, "Saying good-bye is one of the significant tasks of grieving. It begins with accepting the reality of your loss, working through your pain, adjusting to life without your loved one, withdrawing your emotional energy from this person and reinvesting it elsewhere, and finally, changing the relationship with your loved one from one of presence to one of memory. And saying good-bye is part of the concluding process."

Which brings me to the point I'm trying to make. In "Ruthless Trust", Brennan Manning writes, "The music of what is happening...that is the finest music in the world. The music of what is happening can be heard only in the present moment, right now, right here. Preoccupation with the yesterdays and tomorrows of life to the neglect of now/here - Nowhere - is not living at all."

And so as I drove away from the Dome, I said goodbye in my heart, even as I looked ahead to the adventure before us, yet realizing that true life will lie in Nowhere, the now and here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Blogging 101 - Revised

I consider myself to be a fairly computer literate "mature" individual. I am discovering, however, that about the time I learn something new, it's already outdated. I figured if that was the case for me, it might be for some of you as well, so I thought I would help you out a little bit.

Take for example the creation of this blog. What kind of a word is that anyway?? For those who don't know, the word "blog" comes from the two words "web log" which is an online journal one can keep. While that may be the technical definition, my favorite comes from my friend, Annette, who shared it on her blog one day.

"Blogging - Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few."

Indeed. That being said, I still want to share a couple of things that might help explain how my blog works. First, I left the word verification option activated at the suggestion of Blogger should you decide to leave a comment. While it can be intimidating to have to type in weird letters, apparently by having that human factor it keeps automatic spamming from taking place on blog sites.

I also left the option to leave comments anonymously activated so if you don't have a google account and would like to let me know you've stopped by, then you can just sign your name at the end of your comment. None of us want to be cyber-stalked, but from my experience commenting on other blogs, I have found the set up to be protective of both the person blogging and those leaving comments.

**Updated paragraph - There is a new option for Blogger which lets you become a blog follower. There is some confusion about how you can be contacted by e-mail when a new post is put up, but signing up to be a follower is not an automatic way for that to happen. I might have to actually put your e-mail addresses in to get that going. If that's something you want me to keep looking into let me know, but for now if you want to let me know you're keeping up, you can add yourself to the follower link on the top right side of the blog. I told you it takes me a while to get all this new stuff!!

This may not have been the most exciting entry you'll ever read, but maybe it will encourage some of you silent readers to say hello!

Check back soon - it's been a busy week!