The Life and Times of Abby Jones

 

Cruises make the best pictures.

I think, as it is the new year, I should post something about what our family has been up to recently. Consider this the Jones 2016 Christmas Letter.

My blog has gone a bit by the wayside lately, as I’ve been working on some faery stories and finishing Book 2 of The Artists Return Trilogy. For various and sundry reasons, I’m hoping to get back in the groove of blogging. You’ll see why a little later.

Pretty much my new favorite line.

2016 was a doozy.
My health started to improve in May, which was a blessing because about that time my extra Dad ended up in the hospital. I know it’s not quite accurate, but it feels like we spent the whole summer in and out of the hospital. As far as my health goes, it seems that most of my issues stem from an inability to produce vitamin B. I can’t make it, or get it from the food I’m eating. Now, I take a B supplement every night before bed. I think this vitamin deficiency, combined with years and years of running on adrenaline while we owned the boutiques, and while I tried to do all the things, is what caused the Abby Collapse of 2015. I still have to watch how many things I commit to and listen to my body when it’s tired, but I’m much better.

About the time my extra Dad’s health was leveling out, our dear friend Ron Baines passed away right before we went on vacation. As soon as we returned, we found out our Pastor Jarrett has Parkinson. Changes will have to be made as he deals with this life altering disease. Next, our church hosted the Founders Conference SW. At this point in time, it is the end of September. I’m not sure what happened in October. That month is a big blank in my mind.

Halloween was in October!

November saw big changes in our family. The final decision for Price to go back to school was made along with the decision for me to look for a part time job.
Did I say doozy?

I started my job search in November, hoping to get picked up for holiday help, prove my worth, and stay on afterwards. I anticipated finding a job would take weeks if not most of the rest of the year. Nope. It took less than a week. Nordstrom hired me right away. I was flattered, but also slightly terrified. Starting a new job just as the holidays rolled in was enough to turn any woman’s hair gray.

On top of the college paper work, Christmas, a new job, Price teaching at church, and all that, we decided to revamp our home accounting. New home project right in the middle of the craziness! Yay! This has been a challenge, but also something we can work on together, so it’s been fun. As fun as accounting can be.

Just before all this craziness started, Emily Shiflet and  I had a Band of Brothers party. We watched all ten episodes in two days. Emily said she now understood what it was like to be in my head much of the time. 🙂 It was a much needed weekend of snacks, drinks, fellowship, and my favorite TV show. (See, the year wasn’t all bad.)

Christmas 2016 has been titled The Christmas that Wasn’t.
Sister Baking Day didn’t happen. Everyone’s lives were crazy. Jason only got to join us for a few hours on Christmas Eve. Remi was sick. Liz was enjoying her first trimester. Mom got sick on Christmas Eve and had to hide in her room all day. It was hot. Things were just off.

Christmas with the Joneses went a little more smoothly. We had a wonderful afternoon after church, spending time together.

Just when you thought life couldn’t get crazier, Price and I decided it was time to venture into the world of self-publishing. I have many stories sitting around. It’s time to see if they can survive out in the world and bring in an income.
First step: Panic.

Second step: Find an illustrator.

Third step: Everything else.

Thankfully, the Lord has already started to provide in this area. One of the girls at church, who is an amazing artist, wants to break into illustrating. We are going to combine our ignorance and collaborate on my first book, Sanctuary. We hope to keep learning together and put out 2-4 books this year and next. Please pray for us. I have several online friends who are letting me pick their brains and cry on their shoulders. God is good.

In addition to this, Pastor Jarrett approached me this Fall with the idea for a children’s allegorical story based on the Beatitudes in Luke 6. He’s been preaching through them and hopes to publish a small book based on his sermons. He wants a children’s story to go with it. This was a huge huge huge moment for me. Not only did it show me that my writing has grown enough for him to want to use it, but Jarrett has inspired several points in my stories. I am honored, excited, and horrified all at the same time. The name Lewis, and even Sproul, have been thrown around. That’s auspicious company to find yourself in.

Between all the faery stories, I’m still working on my Trilogy. Book 1 is simmering. Book 2 is going through the first round of edits, and Book 3 is percolating in my head. I’m also writing each of the kids a story for their birthday. I hope to collect these into one book to publish at the end of the year.

I have had to set aside almost all of the beta reading I was doing for different writers. This is something I hope to put back in my normal rotation, but I haven’t found time yet.

January has now rolled around. Price has started classes. He is working full time, taking two classes, and teaching almost every Sunday. I hope to see my husband in a few months. Lord willing, he will graduate with a BS in May. I am working part time, managing the cleaning, eating, secretarial work, and accounting, and odds and ends, and walking down the publishing path.

Niece or Nephew number 10 on the Vincent side is on the way. Price’s nieces turn 14 this year, and are both taller than me. They are beautiful and amazing and I love them. Vacations are being planned.
2017 promises to be very interesting. (Isn’t that an old Irish curse?)

How is your year shaping up?

 

 

Thankfulness  ( Day 7)

Today, I’m thankful for how well I felt last week. I was able to be busy all day each day without paying for it with a sudden loss of energy. I tackled projects, enjoyed the people in my life, had friends over, maintained my home, and more in a way I haven’t been able to in over a year and a half.

I’m thankful for my chiropractor’s wisdom, and my husband’s patience through this whole time.

And, in thankful for the gift of this trial. I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to see God keep his promises to me, I’ve grown in my love for his church, it’s been good for my marriage, and become more tender hearted to those struggling with their health.

This whole ordeal has been a blessing, and I appreciate feeling better.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The Beauty of the Ordinary: Thankfulness

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“…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you…” 1 Thess. 4:11

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song about hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

– JRR Tolkien

View from first room.

Recently, I spent six days in the hospital with my father-in-law. The first day started with a call at 530 in the morning saying he was in the emergency room because he fainted. We left the house without showers, me with no makeup, no plants watered, no dishes done, the curtains not even open. We got home around 700pm and were so tired, I only watered my elephant ears and fed my sourdough starter.

The next morning started slower and I was able to do everything that didn’t get done the day before including shower and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. Standing at the sink doing dishes, I was struck by how often I either complain about dirty dishes, or don’t really think about them at all. I never get up and realize that doing dishes in the morning is a good sign that things are normal in my home and in my family in general.

Everyday chores get a bad rap.

You know, one should never be that boring suburban family who never does anything artistic, adventurous, or amazing. Who could possible want to spend their life mowing lawns or rising kids, right? Travel the world, explore other cultures, and find yourself.

Attitude change: how about being thankful for a morning that starts off with simple things? Take the quite as a sign that your family is well, fed, and off to face the day. You never know when you might wake up and spend your whole day, or several days, in a hospital watching the people you love face major health issues.

Get your hands good and soapy, get out in the heat to water plants, make the bed, take a shower, and be thankful for the small things in life, the little things the Lord provides every day.

Like father, like son.

As another morning started with chores left undone and coffee in a freezing hospital, my heart went out to all the people I know who’ve had to spend so many more hours in one of these little uncomfortable rooms. My heart went out to those who didn’t have a family member feeling well enough to give every nurse and doctor a hard time. My heart when out to those who had to go through the soul-tearing struggle of coming home one family member short.

It was sooooo cold!

I’m generally good a empathizing with others, but sometimes that empathy needs to be reinforced with a shared experience. I imagined how tired those friends must have been, how worried they were to even go home to take a shower, how confusing all the doctors and nurses and information was. I sat in that cold room and remembered how many other dear saints that I know have sat here before.
Spending a week in a hospital makes you thankful for quiet days and it makes you pity others as they face the same thing.

Day after day spent hurrying up and waiting, gave me the wonderful joy of watching a real life example of love. I’m old enough now to have old parents and extra parents. Now, they aren’t old old, but we are starting down the path of old age. How terrifying is it as an adult child to watch your parents start down that path? Very Terrifying. The strongest become the weakest, the together come undone. Roles reverse. But, by God’s grace, there is beauty here too! For almost a full week, I got to see real love. Not silly Hallmark love, (my extra Mom loves Hallmark movies) but love that is there in sickness, frailties, grumpiness, confusion, exhaustion, surgery, and post-surgery. I got to see self-sacrificing love that didn’t run away, but chose to be there every day. I saw real vow keeping visible in stolen blankets, bathroom issues, tidying, carting, worrying, fixing, and fussing. And it wasn’t just my extra Dad that my extra Mom took care of. It was all of us. She made sure everyone else was taken care of before herself. Love expressed through action, day in and day out, in the most ordinary way.

My own love for my husband grew as he prayed over his father, worried, took care of his mother, and encouraged me to stay with them each day, while the dishes and laundry piled up. Self-sacrifice and love in action.

View from the second room, post heart procedure.

Six days in a hospital lead to fresh thanksgiving for the quiet ordinary things, fresh pity for others who have had to be here too, and a fresh idea of what true love really looks like, unfiltered and earthy.
My extra Dad is home, and we’re all happy not to have to spend another day in the hospital, but God gently uses everything to make us more like Him, and for that I’m thankful.

Waiting for him to come out of surgery, and trying to stay out of trouble.

He always makes faces when I take his picture.

Racing the elevator.

They weren’t alone in playing on the stairs and elevator, Wanda joined them. It’s amazing they didn’t kick us out! 😉