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."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

One More Day!

TOMORROW!!!!!  That is when the Atlanta Braves pitchers and catchers officially report to Spring Training in Orlando at their Disney Complex.

For just a few weeks the playing fields are level and every player is the hero of the World Series.  There's something about the Florida (or Arizona) sun that's warmer than most places in our country, the smell of freshly cut grass, the thwacking of a baseball hitting a glove in a game of catch, and seats so close to the field you can hear the players talk. All is right with the world for a minute or two because life as we know it has remained the same somewhere.

Some of my favorite memories are from the game of baseball. A lot of us from my generation listened on summer nights to our local broadcaster describe the action on our transistor radios held by our ears. My hometown of Atlanta was defined a couple of decades ago by phrases such as "Worst to First", "The Catch", and "The Slide".

Snow will be falling here in middle Tennessee tomorrow, but with sincere apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer, I will be looking beyond the slush because...

"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing as they bend and stretch and run;
Because there is joy in Mudville, Spring Training has begun!"

~Casey At The Bat (mostly)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Graceful Numbers

I'm not sure where I learned this, but somewhere in my life I heard that the number 5 represented grace.  I thought of that last October when I turned 55 on my birthday.  Since I had two 5's going on, I decided that meant I could claim double grace for me and my family in 2012.  Then the other day I was thinking about this again and realized that if you added the numbers 2+0+1+2 together, you get...5.  So I'm taking that as confirmation of my earlier deduction and find myself looking forward to what this empty slate of a year has in store for us.  I'm pretty sure this would hold up in a theology class....not!   :)

Anniversaries deal with numbers too.  We reflect on how many years since (fill in the blank) happened and whether that's a cause for celebration or a remembrance of loss.  When I was talking with my Mom this morning, she reminded me that exactly one year ago today, she returned home after 31 days of emergency room/hospital/rehab stay and it gave me quite a pause.  A year and a month ago I would have bet money that she wouldn't live through all that was going on.  For a purely random comparison, here's her Christmas tree last year that we put in on the windowsill of her hosptial room. She actually has no memory of anything surrounding the holiday.

And this was this year's tree in the beginning stages of being decorated in the living room of her apartment.

I would have to say that falls in the grace category.

This past weekend as the rest of the country was celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., I periodically looked back to six years ago and what was Tiffany's wedding weekend. Every once in a while, I still just shake my head at the reality that is ours and how that barely a year later, her husband walked out on her and ultimately chose an alternate life style leaving lots of carnage in his wake. But mostly I am thankful to God for saving her from a marriage that was already full of heartache and preparing her for the life He called her to.

I would have to say that falls in the grace category.

Back in my youth, there was a song by Three Dog Night called "One". The first line says, "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do". I've learned that truth firsthand in the last few months as the settling in here in Tennessee has gone much slower than I had anticipated. I am by myself a lot. We're still not settled for sure on a church and you don't see neighbors in an apartment building except in the parking lot. And to top it off, three months ago we lost Kit, my feline companion that filled a void I didn't realize was as big as it was until she's been gone. But in this time of solitude, I've learned in new ways that God is always there. Being alone with myself doesn't scare me anymore; in fact I'm almost too OK with it sometimes. I suspect that as we age and those we love begin to leave us faster than we'd like, the knowledge that I will never truly be alone will sustain me when nothing else can.

I would have to say that falls in the grace category.

So maybe 2011 wasn't as lacking in grace as I thought. But I'm still claiming a double share of it this year just in case!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Happy New Year to everyone! Yes, I know, I'm a little late on that one and realize it's almost MLK's birthday holiday, but better late than never, right? Over the last month or so, I've been pondering some tweaking of the blog and as a result haven't really done much of anything. I realize that if I want to stay interested in keeping up with Keepin' Up With The Joneses I actually have to do just that. And it would help in keeping readers too. Well, if there are actually any left. goal for this new year is to have entries often, even if they're only a picture or a sentence or two. I think I've been guilty of thinking that if I didn't really have anything significant to say, then I didn't need to say anything. But isn't that a bit narcissistic? Why do I think that anything I ever say could be significant?  (By the way, how do you like the use of the word "narcissistic"? I'm learning bits and pieces from Tiffany as she plods away at her master's degree in counseling and I must say that I'm better for it!!)  I think I've concluded that whether anyone reads or not, for now this is a way for me to journal through the adventures we seem destined to live out and to help me remember what the year has brought.  It appears we'll be settling down for a while in the Nashville area, so we'll see what unfolds as the year goes on.

I don't have much time right now to wax eloquently, so I'll just share a few of my favorite pictures from Christmas and tell you why they are.

I realized a few years back that our tree ornaments tell a story every year as I decorate it so I intentionally keep an eye out for new ones to add to the collection. This first picture is of a new Hallmark ornament of an Oriole which represents our time in Baltimore along with a locally designed ornament with part of downtown Franklin drawn on it.

This ornament is not a new one, but it makes me smile every year as I put it on the tree. When it's dark, dreary, and cold outside, it's a reminder that life keeps moving forward and in the not so distant future Spring Training awaits along with a new season of hope for baseball fans everywhere.

This was a gift from our dark-haired Disney daughter this Christmas and it makes my heart smile. It's a reminder that all girls are princesses and while it seems that the wait for Prince Charming for some seems eternal, God has a plan and He's moving everyone into place at just the right time.

This last one made me cry when I finally got around to putting it together. Loss of loved ones, human and otherwise, is a universally common theme for all of us and we experienced that with Kit this fall. She had been part of our family for 15 years and it was very sad to not have her sleeping under the tree this year. Matthew brought his cat, Simba, when all of the kids came to celebrate Christmas and his presence was a help for me in the absence of Kit.

I'll leave you with a picture of our greatest gift this year.

While the moves of the last three years and the total upheaval of our family has been difficult a lot of the time, I have learned something very valuable in the process. Being together as a family, whether often or only once a year, is a gift and I hope to never take it for granted again.