Happy Independence Day

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Happy Independence Day America!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. We’ll be spending the evening with our church family eating brisket, making jokes about how much better the good ol’ USA is, and how much better Texas is than that, blowing things up, fellowshipping, and probably staying up too late. Holidays are a blessing from the Lord, a time to get out of the normal schedule and celebrate the temporary things of this life. Enjoy yours!

Happy Birthday Ellie!

Five years ago today, the Lord brought one of my most favorite little ones into the world. I love you so much Ellie! I’m so glad you’re part of our family. I love your snuggles and adventurous spirit! You are a delight and wonder, and we are the better for you. Love you!

Raise Your Glass: Memorial Day

So pour the beer for thirsty men
A drink that they have earned
And pour a beer for those who fell
For those who did not return

-Raise Your Horn-

-Amon Amarth-

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All over the USA today families and friends gather around the grill, out at the lake, at the park, and in local restaurants to honor our soldiers. But, this holiday isn’t about our Veterans who we love and adore. This special day is about all the boys and girls who never came home. This is about the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces who spilled their blood on far away shores.

I do not belittle the use of this holiday to spend more time with family, or get a few projects done, or to get some extra rest. I imagine those soldiers who never made it back would be glad to see people enjoying the simple things they sacrificed. So, grill your burgers. Drink your beer. Sleep late. Mark one project off the list.

Just Don’t Forget.

Don’t Forget what this day is for. Allow a proper solemnity to cloud your day. Someone gave up a child, parent, sibling, or friend to protect us and our way of life, to aid others. Don’t forget the soldiers sacrifice.

I firmly believe that war movies are not made for soldiers, but for those of us who didn’t serve. We’re the ones who need to remember. We’re the ones who need to see and feel on some level what our soldiers experienced. If you aren’t facing this day with a hint of sober respect, maybe it’s time for you to sit down to something like Lone Survivor, or Fury. Maybe it’s time for you to remember.

Many of my family members–on both my side and my husband’s side of the family– served in our military. They all came home. I am not facing this holiday without my brother, without my father-in-law, without my grandpa. I know these men as old men, not as stories and a picture on the wall of a shockingly young man in a uniform. I get to text, tease, and see my brother. I’m so thankful for this blessing. It could have been different.

With this in mind, my heart goes out to all those who  are facing this holiday without the same blessing. To the kids gazing at the picture on the wall of the man they never met, to the ones who hear stories instead of voices, we raise our glasses. We honor your loss. We thank you for bearing that in our stead.

Don’t think a Veteran today. This day isn’t for them, and they don’t want your thanks. They came home. This day is for the ones who didn’t.

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To the Heroes who Never Came Home. (Unknown Source.)

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Carwood Lipton, Don Malarkey, Dick Winters at the grave of Skip Muck.

Happy Mother’s Day

Instead of doing two Mother’s Day posts—one about my Moms and one about being a childless wife—I’m going to only talk about how blessed I am by the mothers that surround me. I’m going to do this for three reasons. One, I feel like all of life has turned into excessive inclusiveness. We can’t possible honor one type of person anymore because it excludes others. (sarcasm) I don’t want to be in that band wagon. It adheres to the wrong type of equality. I think it’s wonderful to honor Moms a little more one day of the year. Two, I don’t want any Moms out there feeling like they have to walk on pins and needles around me when it comes to this holiday, or their children, births, or general motherhood. They should be free to express their delight without worrying about ‘Trigger Warnings’. Being a mom is amazing and hard. It is the best job a woman can do. Enjoy it and embrace it! Third, I’m overloaded with writing projects this year as I move closer every day to publishing. I basically do not have time to write two articles. Truth.

So, Moms. When I think of Mother’s Day and Moms, I don’t just think of my own Mother and Mother-in-law, who I dearly love and who are some of my dearest friends. I also think about how many other moms surround me and are part of my daily life. My sisters are some of the best Moms I know. They are kind, wise, and have kids I want to be around. Many, not all, but many of my closest friends are Moms. We have to finagle life a little more to enjoy a cup of coffee, but we make it work. I’m honored to be loved by these women. I’m touched by the room they make in their lives for me. I’m thankful to see their children growing up. The longer I think about the list of women I admire who are mothers, the longer that list becomes. I’m not going to name names here for fear of leaving someone out, but please know that if you’re a mom and you’re my friend, I admire, love, respect, and treasure you more than you can imagine. I treasure any second you give to me: be it our paths crossing in church, a quick hug, smile, or greeting, or a quick text or Facebook comment. Thank you.

I pray for the Moms I know all the time. I pray you have wisdom to see every moment you need to see. I pray you have courage to keep correcting. I pray you have consistency in discipline. I pray you have grace to witness of Christ to these dear little ones. I pray you have strength to carry on when it seems redundant and useless. I pray you cling to Christ more than your children. They will grow up and leave someday. You will always have Christ. I pray you have just a little more energy to share with your husband in the evening. I pray you have wisdom in educational choices and in everyday educational moments. I pray for you as you seek to submit to your husbands where your children are concerned. I pray for you as your children grow and your work changes.

Please know Moms that I love you, cherish you, and admire the work you do. You are in my heart always.

To my dear Mother-in-Law: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m so blessed to have you as my extra Mom. I hear other women complaining about their mother-in-laws and I smile. You’re not my arch nemesis, but one of my dearest friends. You’re someone I love to be with. Your home is a place I love to be. And, honestly, your food is food I love to eat.

Here we are, at 15 years as a family, having gone through many ups and downs, having had times we could spend lots of time together, and times when we really have to plan to see each other, but I’ve loved every minute. I’m glad to be a Jones. I don’t think there are better people in the world. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and your heart so many years ago. Thank you for making space for me where I could grow and thrive. Thank you for making me a daughter, and not just your son’s wife. Thank you for all the times you have answered my questions about homemaking. Thank you for all the times you have generously feed us, shared tools, helped with chores, and been a neighbor in so many ways. I know change is coming as Dad gets older, but I’m glad we have each other to lean on. I think a special bond forms between women married to Jones men. J All that to say, when God sovereignly brought me into the Jones circle, He blessed me beyond belief with a wonderful family, a wonderful extra mom, and more than that, a woman—you—who is one of my dearest friends and favorite people to be with. I love you more than I can ever say. I’m glad you’re my extra Mom!

 

To my Mom: I always loved it growing up when my birthday fell on Mother’s Day. It was an expression of the special bond I always felt towards you. There are many ways we are very different people, but there are many more ways we are not. I have always had the great joy of looking like you, which I count as a highlight in life because if I’m going to look like someone, it’s going to be you. But, there are so many ways we think and act alike. We both struggle with many of the same issues in our home management. We both have many of the same loves and dislikes. I’ve always enjoyed this bond we share.

When I look at my life, I see your mark on so much of it. I see the love of reading you instilled in me manifested in every word I type. I see the types of stories you read to us in every story I pick out. I see the times we had no money echoing in what I consider comfort food and what I consider a treat. Every flower I grow is an echo of my daughter-ness. At the oddest times my country girl raising manifests itself, and I remember that I once collected eggs, milked goats, butchered chickens, and worked gardens. That is and always will be part of who I am, just like the ocean is part of who I am, and just like Texas is part of who I am. You instilled in me a desire to find the magic in every place we lived. Because of you, this Southern girl has a love of winter that won’t die and is a bit particular about her maple syrup.

Some of the big parts of who I am are also because of you. I love WW2 history…because you read the Hiding Place to us as children. The same goes for Lord of the Rings. I will always cherish the memory of you taking a year to read that to us. But, more than all of that, you showed me day in and day out a consistent and strong faith in the Lord. You always brought the situations of our lives back to God and His Word. I remember at times being frustrated by that when I was an unbeliever or very immature. As I grew in grace, I grew to admire that. The Lord was your life and I could see it. Oh how I longed for that same all-encompassing infusing of God in my own life. Thank you for modelling that for us every day. Thank you for teaching us the ways of the Lord.

I love you Mom, more than these feeble words can every express. I never ever get to spend enough time with you. I always miss you.

Happy Mother’s Day ladies. Happy Mother’s Day Mom and Wanda! 

Happy Birthday Jude!

Happy happy 3rd birthday to this little man! I love everything about you from your bright happy smile, your rough and tumble attitude, to your love of cars and wrestling. I love watching you discover this world. I love how you say my name at the start of every sentence when we’re together. I love your hugs. 

I’m blessed to have such a fun nephew! Happy birthday!

(If you would like to read Jude’s birthday story, let me know. I’ll email it to you.)

Happy Birthday Rachel and Lauren!

Happy birthday to two of the most beautiful, awesome, adventurous, fun girls I know.

Thank you for making me an aunt when toy came into the world! I have treasured every minute with you and loved our movie dates, family days, and fun on Instagram.  I pray the Lord will grow you both in wisdom and grace.

Love you both so so much!

Happy Birthday!

Christmas Traditions: Christmas Carols and Two Kingdom Theology

A better translation.

A better translation.

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

 I love Christmas carols and Christmas songs. I love the very Americanized version of this Christmas holiday with songs about snow and Santa and presents. I love the Christian side that rejoices at Christ’s incarnation. What could be more wonderful than celebrating the first Eucatastrophe in human history: God became man and dwelt among us? We should be humbled and awed by this turning point in history.

And yet, as I grow in my doctrinal understanding, I often have to sing and enjoy these songs through heavily shielded Two Kingdom Theology Goggles. So many of them seem to think that the above passage means that at some point in our earthly history there will be no more war. Many Christmas songs seem to believe that God is in the business of saving this world.

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My response, as I hope to have a character in my story say, “The King isn’t in the business of saving this world. This world isn’t going to be saved. The King is in the business of saving his souls. That’s what he’s doing. He saving his souls out of this world. Not saving this world.”

There will never be peace here, on this earth, but that doesn’t mean God is dead. “God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, and right prevail, with peace on earth.” This line is true. Just not in the way intended in the context of the poem. God isn’t taking sides in man’s petty wars. (Though I believe in fighting for what’s right.) So that the good guys win. (Thought I’m thankful when they do.)

This is one of those cases where you have to understand and define what’s being said. And dear reader, if you do, the world makes more sense, and the Christmas Carols take on a whole new depth of joy!

Peace on Earth isn’t about a lack of bickering and fighting. It is about God himself breaking into time and into our hearts and ending the war between us. From birth, we have all in a bitter, violent war against God that we are going to lose. You can’t win a war against God, but we’re fighting it anyway. And we’re not fighting it in a valiant Ragnarok/300 way: fighting because it’s right even if there’s no hope of winning. This is outright rebellion against good, right, light, and hope. This is us clinging to small rebellions when better has been offered to us. This is your three year old throwing a fit over a small piece of trash when you’re trying to offer her a new toy. It’s mean, petty, and ridiculous. Honestly, it’s sad. And yet we keep proudly plodding along in our fight against God.

Who would save us? We wouldn’t, couldn’t stop. We are at constant war with God.

Eucatastrophe.

God came to us.

He didn’t come in pomp, or pride, or might…which he could have. He came in humility, born into this world like we are, born in a cold dirty place, and living a cold dirty life, and dying a tortured death. All this and more he endured for us! To bring peace. We couldn’t bring peace, so God himself brought peace.

“Peace on earth, goodwill towards men” is one of the greatest lines in all of history. For some of us, those called, chosen, elected, the war is over. Gently, God has taken the trash we so vainly screamed over and given us something better than a toy.

So, Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Good Christian men rejoice, with heart and soul and voice. God rest ye Merry Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ your Savior was born!

Could there be a more amazing, awesome, joyous event to celebrate than God ending the war that we started?

This earth will burn. It will be judged. God isn’t here to save this place, or make it a nice place to be, or make us nice to each other. God is here to gather His people home. The people He is now at peace with. Those who still fight this horrible war against Him aren’t at peace. There is no goodwill. They have refused to repent. They have not had their hearts broken by God.

But, for those of us who have had their hearts broken, who have agreed with God’s assessment of the vile wickedness of our sin, who have experienced an undeserved rescue:

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

are some of the most beautiful words in history.

 

Merry Christmas!!!

 

Christmas Traditions (Part 8)

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.”
-Unknown

Once upon a time, we had a magical and, yes, white Christmas Eve. (The story of why the Vincent side of the family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve will come later.) The day started with the sad news that Jason wouldn’t make it to the family celebration due to work. Spirits were low. Hearts were sad. We knew the day would come when we wouldn’t all be together for the holiday, but it was hard to realize that time was now.
Then low and behold, like the jolly man himself, Jason appears! A good day turned into a great day! A merry and bright day! A day of magical gifts. For, far more important to us than the gifts is  being together.

But the magic of this particular Christmas Eve wasn’t over.
Snow.

Snow!

We all wish for a white Christmas, but who in Texas believes we will ever have one, and yet, like a Christmas movie, snow sifted down from the sky! What joy! Grownups forgot their cares and raced outside like so many small children. Snowball fights ensured. Squeals of delight. White stuff flying!

That Christmas was before too many little ones had joined the family, so many of us spent the night at my parents house in a giant slumber party. We stayed up talking late into the wee hours of Christmas morning. We went out into the snow for a game of Frisbees unable to believe the white on the ground and not wanting to waste it.

It was a magical Christmas that joined others like the Christmas Fire, the Marshmallow Christmas, and Why we Celebrate on Christmas Eve, this was the White Christmas.

Merry Christmas! May yours be Merry and Bright with those you love gathered around!

 

Christmas Traditions (Part 2)

“The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you’ve ever seen 
Is Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home
It’s nice you know, to kiss your beau 
while cuddling under the mistletoe 
And Santa Claus, you know of course
Is one of the boys from home

The door is always open

The neighbors pay a call.”

– Christmas in Killarney by Bobby Vinton

Part of the joy of Christmas is all the wonderful food that you wouldn’t eat on a regular basis. One of those special foods in our family is Sausage Balls. Super easy to make, this wonderful tasting delights are a Christmas must have. We usually make a few batches for ourselves, and then one for each side of the family on the actual  holiday.

Three ingredients.

Ready to go in the oven.

Yum yum!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
This is the recipe. 😊

http://zachandashleyjones.blogspot.com/2013/02/simple-sausage-ball-recipe.html?m=1