Tuesday, April 8, 2014



When my little five year old helps me to peel potatoes, am I upset that she is slower at the job than I am or that her peeling strokes are not as long and skilled as someone older? 
No, of course not!
As I hear her chatter away telling me how much she loves me and wants to help, my heart swells.  She apologizes, pointing out that she is still on her first potato while I have already peeled several.  I reassure her that it is her heart that pleases me.  Her motives are good and her effort to do what I want her to do blesses my heart.  She beams and gives me a kiss.
How many times are we like that little potato peeler?  We want to do great things for the Lord, but we feel little and clumsy at the tasks He has given us.
He could probably find someone with much greater skill to do the job He has called us to. 
But just like I do not expect little Hailey to peel the entire pot of potatoes on her own, He is working with us.  In fact, He is doing the bulk of the work—it is God who changes hearts, teaches our children, and grows us.  Me?  I am the one flinging little bits of potato peel all over the floor...  knowing He will also graciously clean my messes and mistakes just like I happily clean up after my “helper.”
Thank you Lord for letting us help.  And thank you for doing the bulk of the work.  We love you for working in us and for causing us to will and do of your good pleasure.      
Your little potato peeler,

Monday, March 31, 2014

MEETING HEROES {living waters ministry}

Hailey with her little vintage suitcase and... where did she get those glasses?  :)
Our time away was absolutely amazing.  When we hit the road for Texas we knew that we'd drive a full day, then stop in Southern California for our first overnight.  As people interested in filmmaking, you might think that we would want to see the "Walk of Fame" or Universal Studios, but that could not have been further from our plans.  We do have a few heroes, but ours are not represented there.  In fact, I am pretty sure if someone named the most popular Hollywood star names to our children, they would be met with blank stares.  That's just not our reality.
But when Tom and I told the kids we would try to zip into the Living Waters ministry to purchase a fresh supply of our favorite Bible tracts, you should have seen the excitement from our kiddos! 

The girls outside the Living Waters building

The Living Waters Ministry has long been an encouragement to our family.  We have watched these faithful men open air preach on You Tube (Ray usually open air preaches locally every Saturday from 1-3); we have worked through their evangelism training course as a family and often when we share the gospel or hand out tracts, it is their training and resources that have helped us to reach out to a lost and dying world. 

So... needless to say we were a little excited to be able to visit their store front.  But when we were told that Ray Comfort would come out to meet us- wow!  We could barely contain ourselves.  

Ray treated us like family right off, giving the little ones a stuffed bear (they call them their "Comfort bears"), playing jokes and tricks with us and giving us a tour of the entire facility.    

Ray loves to entertain the kids!  And if he says he has a hang nail, well you'd better believe him!  ;)

What a shot in the arm it was so have him take the time to greet us and share his day.  I am pretty sure that he thought he was in the thick of the Paparazzi as just about every Jones aimed a camera his way, but he was a great sport.  And the kids picked up his accent quickly and repeated phrases that sounded just like Mr. Comfort for the remainder of the day. 

Ray showing the girls some of the moments from a recent project
Ray walked us through their studio and let us see just how they carefully use their resources to best share the truth of God's Word.  Like this studio set up.  With access to the internet, they are able to produce a daily show that tackles the issues of the day and broadcasts to a worldwide audience for very little expense.
You may know that the Living Waters team films a daily show to tackle the issues of the day
If you have seen the daily "On the Box with Ray Comfort" show, this "green screen" set may interest you.  It was amazing to see how much they do with minimal investment.   

We were able to see the studio where the daily "On the Box with Ray Comfort" is shot
One thing we have always been impressed with is how Ray demonstrates love even to those who are blind to the gospel.  He is a lot of fun and treated our girls so very kindly. 

Ray gave the girls little stuffed bears and played games with them
Ray introduced us to those who have been working on the recent Noah and the Last Days movie (watch free here!). 
This film is in response to the Noah film that was just released by Hollywood that stars Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins and debuted at 44 million dollars.  While Director Darren Aronofsky used a few of the Genesis names, he has called his Noah movie "the least biblical film ever made."  Most Christians would agree. 
The Living Waters film, Noah and the Last Days was created to give people an understanding of what really happened; why the Lord sent a worldwide flood and what we must do to be saved.  If you have friends and neighbors seeing the Noah film from Hollywood, you might consider steering them toward this well made production.  Producers ask parents to please preview before allowing children to watch.  

He took us around to meet his talented team and to see their latest film release- Noah
Ray Comfort said this about his film:
  "We hope people will watch Noah-And the Last Days to learn the biblical reason God sent a worldwide Flood and be able to share these truths with those who see the Hollywood version. Rather than providing mere entertainment, we want viewers to consider whether the biblical warning of Noah applies to them today."

After seeing Mark online, it was fantastic to speak with him about what he sees
trending in LA and his role at Living Waters.
We thank the Lord for these men and pray for this ministry team. 

After the tour, Ray gave us their most recent Way of the Master series.  We can't wait to go through it!
Thanks for letting me gush a bit. 
Blessings friends,

Thursday, March 6, 2014


San Antonio here we come!  We're so excited to be heading to the
Christian Worldview Film Festival!

Here we go!  The truck is packed.  The route is planned and the hotels are booked.  We are just as ready as we are going to be.

The suitcases are all lined up in the back of our Suburban and the Thule is filled with roller skates, wrist guards and bb guns.  The Joneses are headed to Texas! 

The plan is to wake up at 4 am and leave at 5.  The kids are so excited that I am afraid they will have a really hard time falling asleep tonight.  It's just like Christmas-- only it is a two week trip instead.  An experience together as a family.

I am sure there will be times along the way that I will be tempted to think the driving is getting a little monotonous (it will take over 26 hours without stops-- and there will definitely be stops) but right now that is just not the reality in our thinking.  This is family time and we are walking on sunshine around here!  I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to having so many days to just enjoy my family.

Passing miles while reading books, seeing sights and listening to the CD of Christian tunes Faith made for our trip are just a few of the things I am really looking forward to.

Implementing some cost saving tricks learned from our friends.  Packing premade
meals in ziplocks that can be put right into our crock pot and cook through
the day while we are at the conference.  Perfect!

We have gleaned so many amazing tips from our traveling friends.  Things to pack.  Like coolers that plug in.  Pre-prepared meals that travel in ziplocks and are thrown into crock pots at hotels to save cost.  The right roads to take and the ones to avoid.  We have taken every nugget  that has been offered and feel all the richer for the good advice from dear friends. 

 And then there are our personally percolated plans.  Tom has been planning his relaxing time when he isn't driving.  In his mind it will include the folding down of the extra Suburban seat so he can sit in the farthest row with his legs stretched out.  A bit of popcorn premade by us (already done!) and the chance to watch a movie with his kiddos.  In other words, a "family night" on the road.  Honestly, I am just glad that means he plans to give himself a break once in a while!  He is usually a driving machine!  And he needs the rest. 

The thought of Tom with us for two whole weeks has all of us just about jumping out of our skins (and maybe his employer too).  With his demanding schedule lately, it is a really big deal to all of us.

Tom and Michaela working in Tom's shop-  where Tom is usually working
in the evenings and weekends.

Little Lyddie found these 99 cent glasses at a Goodwill and loved them.  How
could I say no?  She says she wants to take photos on the trip. 
Oh, I think that can be arranged, sweet girl.  :)

Our little travelers are ready too!  They have their plans as well.  Some want to take photos.  Others want to help follow the route on the maps we have printed out.  Mama thinks it is all great and is looking forward to sliding in a little schooling edgewise with all the things she has been studying-- everything from ancient history to the OK Corral to Roosevelt and Taft and current events.  It's a span I grant you, but it is all so very interesting. 

Sweet little Hailey with an Arizona map.  So "where is Texas on this?" she asked.
It's after Arizona... and New Mexico.  But it will fly by, right?

We all have our plans, and we are all so excited, but our prayer is that His plans may reign.  May our greatest goal be to love Him and to love those He puts in our path along the way.  We appreciate your prayers to this end, dear ones.  May we love and enjoy Him forever.

And may you be blessed.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

FIELD TRIP {monterey bay aquarium}

Our Texas trip is only nine days away, but we couldn't miss Homeschool Day
at the aquarium.  Look at the cute fish we saw!

And the interesting long legged crabs!  Don't worry.  They didn't scare my little
nephew Judah one bit!  Yep-  he's the baby of the group.  :)
We were so glad that the jellyfish displays were open.  They are my favorite and this was the first time little
Hailey had seen them!
She was a little bit in wonder at the whole thing, but has already asked three
times if we can go back again!  I think she enjoyed it.  :)

The weather was just perfect.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  Our almost 15 year old, Michaela soaking up
the sun, water and wildlife from the observation deck.  Love her gentle soul.

Our sweet Faithie used the experience to practice with her new camera--thank you,
Wintons!  Can't wait to see the footage. 

Fun little cousins had a blast.  From front to back:  our Lyddie (9), our Hailey (5)
and my niece Mercy (almost 8)
Don't let their calm look fool you.  This is what they were up to minutes before!
We found a quiet corner on the observation deck to do a few of these.

Love this darling picture of my sister, Elizabeth and my brother in law, Sven.  As I was going through the photos
I cracked up.  I noticed a slight difference in Sven's lips between this pic. and the one below. 
See what I see?  Besides my adorable brother in law and niece that is.  Yep, he got smooched and
I didn't even catch it when I took the previous picture.  You two love birds! 

The kids had so much fun at this water wall and exploring the aquarium.  And although
it was a little like herding cute kitty cats at times and we didn't seem to get very far, it was
a wonderfully full day!

The town was charming as always.  Loved this vantage to the water.  Goodbye, Monterey!
We're taking your cute tourists with us!  ;)

Great time. Now I really should be packing!
Blessings friends,


Thursday, February 20, 2014

BEYOND UNEQUALLY YOKED {being equally matched}


"A woman's heart, John, is a strange instrument,
and few men have learned to play upon it skillfully."

The Withered Heart, 1857

My thoughts on marriage have evolved.   I think there was a time when I believed that all you needed was love.

Then I understood that God had certain requirements for believers.  They are to yoke themselves only with other believers. 

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness? 

- 2 Corinthians 6:14

Now, as I think about these punkins' of ours someday (far, far, far away in the future) getting married I realize there is more than that. 

Love?  Yes. 
Equally yoked?  Yes. 
But what about equally matched?

As a young person I hadn't heard much on the topic of courting, but my mom had always impressed upon me that dating was for the purpose of marriage.  In other words, if I couldn't see myself marrying that person, then I really had no reason to be dating them.  I know it saved me  from a lot of heart break.  Thanks, Mom!  

As a teenager, I met a guy who I thought I would want to marry (and I did!).  I would spend time with him at family gatherings.  He would play with children younger than himself, speak respectfully to adults and serve and spend time with his mom.  He was an unselfish boy who, not surprisingly, grew into an unselfish man. 

He is kind and playful with our children.  He happily serves me.  And the result is that we happily love and serve him in return.  There is no burden in our service.  His expectations for us are so low, that we are always sure to exceed them! 


I recently read an interesting book, The Withered Heart by Timothy Shay Arthur (Kindle version is $ .99- thanks, Lisa!) 

In the book, the author paints the picture of two young Christians who were unequally matched.  Long story short, it reminds young maidens that there are far worse things in this life than not being married. 

Just a bit of the story line:

The story involves a respected young man who pursues a lovely Christian girl.  He is well known and in a position of authority in the church.  He seems from the outside to be a good match for this gentle, sweet spirited girl.  

But John Hardy has a much different view of submission than Jane's father did.  And quite frankly, a young lady raised in a different environment would have been an easier match for him.  

Misunderstandings, unkind words and glances are a shock to the system of this delicate girl.  And emotionally she shuts down.  The consequence is that the very sunshine her husband wished for his home was snuffed out by his heavy handedness.

I am sure you have heard of several unhappy marriages over the years.  Often in hindsight, the warning signs were clear.  The author portrays similar warnings in his account:

- Although the young girl would look forward to seeing her fiance, when together she was not completely happy and when the young man left, the girl was left feeling pensive and unhappily distracted, feeling insecure about herself and the future.

-  The young man would never praise her efforts to please him.  If she performed some service (like singing) he would withhold his praise, causing her not to feel good enough.  She would work harder and harder, but unable to please, she eventually gave up on her natural talents. 

- The young girl had a negative first impression of the young man, but decided to ignore those impressions because so many other people seemed to think so highly of him within their church community.

- Her family also had a negative impression of him, but were afraid to voice it because the hearts of the young people had become connected prior to the courtship process.

For our home, marriage is still far off (did I mention far, far off- smile) but my thoughts on the topic seem to be coming into greater focus.

Praying for equally matched young people who will truly work side by side effectively for the kingdom of Christ.

Blessings friends,


We have some excited girls over here!  15 days and counting until we leave for Texas and the Christian Worldview Film Festival!  Will you be there?  We'd love to meet you! 


Thursday, February 13, 2014



I recently finished the book, Jane Eyre.  If you have read the novel, you know that near the end of the book, Jane finds herself in a difficult and painful dilemma.  Alone in the world, an orphan from a young age, Jane has her first experience with mutual love.  She is about to marry the man who has been her employer, when she finds out- at the alter- that he is already married.  

He explains to Jane that in a cruel plot, when he was too young to see through the trick, he was duped into marrying a girl who quickly became insane.  For years he provided basic care for this violent woman but explained that in reality he never had a wife.  That he and Jane could still be man and wife (although Jane knows he really means that she would be his mistress).  And he urges her to run away with him.  No one would ever know.  Really he is the victim.  And he loves her.  For once in her life someone loves her.  

Jane's very reason begins to turn traitor against her.  She desires to comply with the man she loves and a battle begins within her heart.  Who else in the world cared for her?  Who would ever be injured by her seeking to fulfill her own chance at happiness?  And since no one would be hurt by their being together, would it really be wrong?  What of this poor man she loves?  

Finally, a glimmer of reason takes hold in the fog.  And in one of my favorite portions of the book, Jane takes her stand within herself:

"I will keep the law of God...  I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad as I am now.

Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation:  they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against all rigour...  If at my individual conscience I might break them, what would be their worth?"

"Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations are all I have at this hour to stand by:  there I plant my foot."

Predetermined ideas helped Jane to make the right choice when reason was compromised.  

At the end of the book, Charlotte Bronte demonstrates the way God used this singular moment to bless Jane and eventually makes a way in which she and her love can be married without breaking God's commands- only after a transformation in the man she loved.  It is not a perfect tale.  It was mature and complicated, but one I wanted to share with our older girls.


For some reason it reminded me of the 1980's campaign against drug use in the public schools.  It's slogan emerged when Nancy Reagan visited an elementary school in Oakland, California.  A little schoolgirl asked the first lady what she should do if she was offered drugs to which Mrs. Reagan responded, "Just say no." 

Critics of the effort said the slogan, "Just say no" was too simplistic to really help, but it did.  As Mrs. Reagan took the message throughout the US and to other nations, totaling over 250,000 miles, drug use declined. 

Could it be that if kids embraced what they wanted to do before temptation hit they would be prepared to make wise choices?  It seemed that simple.

Our children will make their mistakes in life.  But they can be helped by our simply taking the time to talk through the things they might face ahead of time.

Sometimes parents doubt the effectiveness of parental influence.  But Gary Chapman shares survey research in his book, "The Five Love Languages of Teenagers" that when teenagers were asked who had the greatest influence on their decisions- parents or friends?  The influence was parents hands down in both their thoughts and behavior.  

And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart. 
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way, when you lie down,
and when you rise up.
-Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Can just talking through potential difficulties ahead of time help children to know where to place their foot?  I think it may be just that simple.

Blessings to you, 


P.S.  Have you met this sweet Christian book for young girls?  Rosie is a homeschooled girl who loves God, horses and her family.  I just finished reading it to our younger girls and we all loved it!


Friday, February 7, 2014

TEA PARTY PHOTOS {a party by big girls for little girls}

Pink gingham and white tea pots.
Excited little girls.
Who couldn't wait for their friends to arrive!

Extra tea cups, just in case a little friend wasn't able to bring one.
Darling gumball favors for each place setting.  Thank you, Liz for getting these!

Vintage dresses, generously given to the older girls by friends. 
Thank you, Tolsons!  We love them!

Dear friends gathered.
Each girl took their place at the table to enjoy mini sandwiches, fruit and treats.

Big girls served the younger girls sweetly with food, games and prizes they
had planned.
Our sweet friend, Haley organized the day with cousin Katelyn
and our Faith.  Oh- and she made those amazing cookies.  So good.
Dear cousin, Katelyn with gluten free brownies she made for the day.
Our Sarah Mae helped with the tea pouring (well, apple juice).  :)

The girls played relays, balancing a plastic tea cup on their heads.

Had contests stacking sugar cubes.

Hunted for hidden tea cups in the yard.  I think Rebekah is ready to go!  ;)

They also made candy necklaces and decorated cupcakes like tea cups.  Aren't these darling?

Such a fun day!

Blessings to you!


My sisters (the proud aunties) started this fundraiser to get Faith to Texas!  We are beyond blessed.