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Research Plan Presentation Beth Jones

The lovely gardenia bush has always been my son’s favorite flower, and one of his favorite smells.  As he was growing up in Georgia, both sets of grandparents had the fragrant bushes planted in their yards.  He would pick some each time that we visited and take them home to put into a small vase.  When my job in GA was eliminated, I decided to take a job 5 hours away outside of Nashville, TN.  My Dad rooted a gardenia from a cutting of a bush they had and gave the cutting to Justen to plant.  He was so excited to take it home to plant it!

The small foot-tall stalk was planted with great care and love in our front flower bed.  The first year, it grew some but did not have any flowers.  The next year, I experienced a job cut again, and this time, we moved all the way to Fort Worth TX.  We dug up the little gardenia bush and loaded it along with some other cherished plants, the dogs and cats, and personal items into the minivan to follow the moving truck to TX.  The little bush lived in a flower pot for a year.  After we were blessed in purchasing a home, we planted the small bush in our front flower bed once again.  However the bush was surrounded by other taller shrubs, and in 3 years, it never grew very much and never bloomed much to Justen’s frustration!        

James, who cuts our lawn, suggested moving the bush around to the side of the house and to plant it in the corner by the fence.  After he did that in early spring, the bush took off!  The direct sunlight and with nothing else crowding it allowed for it to flourish.  It grew to be 3 feet tall in one season, and yes! – it bloomed and filled the corner of the yard with its sweet smell.  Justen would sometime pick a bloom to put in his car to enjoy it on the way to school.

Then, this past winter was the most brutal here in TX in a lot of years as it was in the rest of the country.  An ice storm covered the bush, and its evergreen leaves were weighed down.  The temperature stayed below freezing for days.  By the end of the winter, the leaves had all died and fallen off.  The branches were dead and dry.  The landscaper said that he didn’t think the bush would make it – maybe we should just dig it up and replace it.  I said no way!  This was too special of a bush.  I took the pruning shears and cut the beloved bush almost all the way to the ground.  At the beginning of spring, I began to water, fertilize, nurture, and pray over the bush.  After a couple of weeks, a tiny sprig appeared!  Yes it was going to make it!

Here is what it looked like by the middle of spring: 

Image

As I have tended over this gardenia bush that has so much history, God brought to mind the similarities with our lives.  We start out as a seedling ourselves – hopefully – loved and rooted into a family.  Sometimes not so wonderful things happen, and our lives get uprooted.  But, God provides the sun and water wherever we go, so that we can take root again.  Sometimes we need to be uprooted and moved to a better place to get more sun and air so that we can grow in the Lord.  Sometimes, storms so strong come along that we feel that all is lost, and we are sure to die.  Sometimes, we have dead and dry branches that need to be pruned away so that our souls can come alive again.  Sometimes, we need new beginnings and to let the old pass away. 

Everything Has Its Time – Ecclesiastes 3

1 To everything there is a season,

    A time for every purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born,

    And a time to die;

    A time to plant,

    And a time to pluck what is planted;

3 A time to kill,

    And a time to heal;

    A time to break down,

    And a time to build up;

4 A time to weep,

    And a time to laugh;

    A time to mourn,

    And a time to dance;

Our challenge is to embrace our season, and trust that God will work everything for the good for all that believe in Him (Romans 8:28).  He is the Master Gardener and also promises: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:3)

The purpose of the gardenia is to bring nectar to the bees and joy to everyone who sees and smells the bloom.  This is how the gardenia gives glory to God.  How we respond to our season, whether we are in the rooting, re-planting, uprooting, pruning, dormancy, or re-birth phase, is how we bring glory to our Father.  Embrace the season that you are in! 

What was Jesus’ reward for the Cross?

He faced such terrible torture that day – spat on; humiliated; beaten; and unimaginable physical pain.  So, what was Jesus’ reward for bearing death upon the Cross? For one, He lived out the prophesy from Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Another, He knew as a young boy what His mission was to be. Luke 2:49: “And He said to his parents, Mary and Joseph, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Yes – the entire 30 years or so of his walk here on earth, we – every human of the present time and future – we were on his mind. John wrote: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8) Jesus said in John 12:46 “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”  One of the many rewards of the Cross is that Jesus defeats evil!  In the end, love wins, and we no longer have to live under darkness.

Recently, Pastor Preston Morrison gave a message about the disciple Matthew, a hated tax collector. What would have changed Matthew’s heart in an instance to drop everything and follow this fellow Jesus?  Perhaps it was that Jesus looked Matthew in the eyes, unlike most others that cursed him, and Matthew saw a deep authentic love – like none he had ever come close to experiencing.

Maybe – just perhaps – Jesus’ reward of the Cross was knowing that He left mankind the gift of an example of expressing love and grace over hate and judgment. Believing in Jesus and following his example presents an opportunity to learn to see things differently through the Father’s eyes.

Perspective

What do You see
When You look upon Your world?
Do you see disease and tragedy?
Do you see Your children made to be like you?

What do I see
When I look at this world?
Do I see death and destruction?
Do I see the mission that was made for me?

I need Your Truth
Help me to see
The veil was torn
Remove the blindness from me.

What do You see
When you look amongst Your people?
Do You see lost and broken souls?
Do You see battles to end in Victory?

What do I see
When I look at others around me?
Do I see suspicion and evil?
Do I see a brother that needs kindness and mercy?

I need Your Truth
Help me to see
The veil was torn
Remove the blindness from me.

What do You see
When You look at me?
Do you only see my kept secret sin?
Do you see someone who needs love to come in?

What do I see
When I look into my heart?
Do I see failure and dark destiny?
Do I see a heart that is willing to hope?

I need Your Truth
Help me to see
The veil was torn
Remove the blindness from me.

Beth Jones Feb. 27, 2007

Jesus’ rewards for His sufferings that day were many – our reward for believing?  Priceless!!  And eternal.

Blessings to you this Easter – may our perspectives be eternally changed!

Much love,
Beth

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7 years ago, we got one of those phone calls that turned our lives upside down. A reminder to live every moment to its fullest. Today is the anniversary of his passing on – the day we disconnected the life support. Walking my children through the pain of saying goodbye to the father was the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. Don, your long struggles with mental illness and addiction motivates me to do my work at the hospital and in dissertation research…every life has a purpose.

Broken Hearted

Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

Lord, Heal our broken hearts,
We weep over what we do not understand,
We ache for answers and new starts,
The pain radiates through our being.

You will bind up the broken-hearted,
Please anoint us with Your healing oil,
Fill the cracks that are so deeply parted,
May we receive Your outpouring love.

You come to set us captives free,
May we take comfort in Your presence,
Bring us the calm waters of Your serenity,
We trust that You are the master healer.

Amen.

Beth
Jan. 25, 2008

In the familiar story of the fishes and the loaves, Jesus, in the Gospel of John Chapter 5, takes five small barley loaves and two small fish supplied by a boy to feed a multitude.

The Feeding of the 5,000

Jesus directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

The disciples had to marvel at this miracle!  Then something happened that often gets skipped over.

12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

Catch that?  “so that nothing is lost.”

God is an excellent steward of all!  HE will do the same in our lives as well!  HE uses every little bit of our lives and experience to bring him Glory.

This wonderous thought led to the following poem:

Mosaic
 
You put it all together
So that nothing will be lost.
Every little piece of my forever
Each part of the mosaic of my life.
 
Every time I wonder,
Why do I have to endure life’s pain?
Another piece is made for my mosaic
Maybe it’s jagged and stained.
 
When Your blessings rain on me,
I must remember Your goodness
Made more pieces of my life’s story,
Perhaps smooth and full of shininess.
 
When I think that life is all about me,
May I realize that my pieces
Are part of the bigger picture
You construct as Your kingdom increases.
 
Whatever the pieces may be,
Whether smooth or jagged; light or dark,
I must guard them mightily
So the enemy can not snatch them from me.
 
You put it all together
So that nothing will be lost.
Every little piece of my forever
Each part of the mosaic of my life.
 
 
Beth
July 15, 2007

about my first poem….

first of all, I am an engineer – a computer project manager – by training for 28 years.  I had never written any poetry except when forced to in high school English classes.  In 2005, as I had to spend several months at home recovering from surgery for cancer, I started journaling – an amazing outlet and way to connect with the Lord.

Jan 1, 2007 …..I was pondering resolutions to be made and this is what was said to me. “To intensely pursue Oneness with the Lord”.  If I could follow that then there is no need for any other resolution.

I had been really meditating upon that and trying to learn what it means to live by that during the month.

One Sat. night I promised my son that I would take him to a movie….so we decide to go see “In Pursuit of Happyness”…we had wanted to see that also.

What an awesome movie!!! Based on a true story and how to never give up on dreams; love; etc. I cried many times during the movie.  I came home, sat in my room and cried for an hour more thinking about how much my Father loves me even more than an earthly Dad that refuses to give up.

So the next morning, I start journaling about my Pursuit of and thoughts on the movie “In Pursuit of”…the words seemed so connected.  I flipped the page and this just came out….

In Pursuit of Oneness

In pursuit of Oneness,
May I seek HIM, with all of my heart,
For an awestruck closeness,
Of my Father, whose love will never depart.

Give me the passion to always strive,
Give me the rest to abide,
Fan the flames within,
Help me trust so I NEVER give in.

In pursuit of Oneness,
May I seek my Savior, who is the Vine
Who so willingly died blameless,
For the countless dark sins, that are mine.

Give me the passion to always strive,
Give me the rest to abide,
Fan the flames within,
Help me trust so I NEVER give in.

In pursuit of Oneness,
May I seek the Spirit, who lives within,
Who guides me in the wilderness,
For the Spirit is my ever present friend.

Give me the passion to always strive,
Give me the rest to abide,
Fan the flames within,
Help me trust so I NEVER give in.

Beth Jones
Jan 28, 2007

I’ve been a single mother of two children for 16 years – a long time!  When I tell other newly single parents that fact, they look at me in horror, like “Oh No! That’s going to happen to me!”  I try to quietly reassure them that for every person God has a different plan, and at that point, they may start breathing again!  I’m not sure where the years went as I was so very busy being a single parent with very little support from others; trying to perform in my career; and at age 35 learning what it meant to be “born again” after 25 years away from church.

I was very blessed to be gifted with intelligence and a love for science and math.  Yes, a geeky girl who was able to get an engineering degree.  God, in His faithful provision, granted this to a rebellious wayward prodigal. Even with a good job over the years, being a sole provider can be difficult at times.  Sometimes, an unexpected avalanche of life happens – a blown transmission, doctor bills, root canal, traveling to see sick family members, and on and on. There were times when I lost my job – several of those, and times when I had to move away from family for work – some 900 miles away.

In such a time as this, I found myself sitting in the grocery store parking lot searching the bottom of my purse for every loose coin and counting the single bills.  When times get tough, we women know how to stretch a dollar to feed those kids!  As I was searching and counting, I looked up at the noisy and annoying grackles overhead and around the parking lot. Grackles are birds that are loud and not so pretty that often take over entire trees and will dive bomb your car in the parking lot. Never walk under a tree full of grackles unless you want to be anointed with something other than oil!

Just when I was close to reaching the REALLY stressed out point between the lack of money and the loud cackling, I noticed another group of grackles in a nearby water puddle. The water was left over from the running of a landscape sprinkler.  These grackles were having the time of their lives – drinking, bathing, and splashing in this water! In that moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the scripture: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt 6:26)

I knew in that moment that everything was going to be all right.  I felt such an amazing peace that surpassed all understanding!  I laughed at and with those grackles – they didn’t annoy me anymore.  God cares and provides for them, and most certainly He cares and provides for me and for you!  We have His promise to stand on that ““I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5)  Our God loves us so much that he even takes further steps and promises in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So the next time life has you down and you’re counting the change out to pay for groceries or the enemy is whispering doubts into your ear or you are just not sure how you are going to make another day, remember the lowly grackle splashing in the puddle. God loves you. He cares for you. He will provide a way!

     The phrase often goes “love is blind”, and I add “and stupid” in my case.   In the name of “love”, I have made some pretty poor choices in the past.  Love that was based on the flesh and worldly desires.  Love that was based on trying to control and manipulate others.  Love that in my mind was trying to save or rescue others.  Love that was sure that I could make someone else love me back.

      I am very grateful that God covered me and graciously waited for me to spend decades navigating through my ideas of love until this prodigal finally found her way to the arms of Jesus.  God is Love.  He shows us by loving us just the same – whether we are saints or sinners.  He loves us – the beings He created but not our sin because He separates the person from the behavior.  I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16), and I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4).  In my ideas of love, I never did that on my own.  Love and acceptance were based mostly on performance – mine or yours.

      So what do we do with this past love that was so destructive and toxic? How do we heal from the heartbreaks and deep wounds? I believe that an answer is given in Isaiah 61:3 – “he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.”   He wants to give us beautiful things for the ashes of our past.  See, when we ask Christ into our hearts and lives, we become a “new creation”!  I am God’s child⎯for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). Our past is forgiven and forgotten “as far as the east as to the west”.

Isaiah 61:4 goes on with God’s Promises:  “They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago.”  Not only will God will remove the transgressions of our past, but He will also be there to help us rebuild those ancient cities so that they are shining and reflect God’s Glory – his true Love.  Our future cities will be bigger and brighter than ever.  God’s love is full of grace, redemption and hope!

The Great Exchange happens when we let Jesus come into our lives to lift the burdens of our sins and shame.  We exchange our dark sins for his Holy Righteousness as He comes to live in us.  He then redeems our past, hurts, and pains, but we must be willing to hand Him our ashes!  He can’t give us beauty so that we can glorify Him unless we let go of the past! I had a counselor years ago ask me “How can you move forward when you are always facing backwards with your hands around the neck of the past?”  We can’t get on with rebuilding our city until we let go of our ashes.

We can hand Him our ashes when we receive His forgiveness. We ask for Christ to come into our lives, and He then readily and completely forgives us.  We have to then accept that clean slate by accepting and forgiving ourselves.  We have to understand in our hearts that we are loved and cherished daughters of the Most High King!  We are “to love our neighbors as we love ourselves”.  So, learn to love and accept yourself and then bag up those ashes and lay them at the foot of the Cross.

What a beautiful and freeing exchange!

If you believe you have a future, you won’t be trapped in the past. – Joyce Meyer

 

With the tragic shootings in Colorado, we are left to ponder why this person would commit such a horrible act. He seems to have had a good childhood with successful and loving parents. After all we are made in God’s image, and He knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  But then God also gave us free will – the ability to choose between right and wrong.  We are born innocent and learn what to do or not to do as we grow up.

Then how do we explain this heinous act?  With mental illness, often there is a biological neurological basis of a chemical imbalance in the brain. But is it also learned?  Is it of God?  Is evil learned?  Being criminal is breaking the law and knowingly doing wrong. With a psychosis, the mind of a person breaks from reality, and conscious thoughts are often not under the person’s control. Schizophrenia is indeed the cruelest, but is it of evil?  This illness often starts in the late teen years, and the person realizes something is not quite right.  Over the years it progresses often in small and subtle ways.  The person often does their best to conceal it until the illness wins and takes over their thoughts and perceptions.  And worse yet, the stigma of mental health keeps this in the darkness – further perpetrating the evil.

As a society – as Christians, we MUST bring awareness of mental illness into the Light.  When someone is suffering from brokenness and isolation, we are to lend a hand and a listening ear – not judgment.  We are to show every person that they are indeed a person of worth and a child of God. If the illness warrants, medication is needed to return the chemical balance in the brain – sometimes that medication is needed for a lifetime.  The person needs ongoing support which is sometimes more than a loving family and friends can provide.  In some cases, the illness is so severe that professional ongoing help is required.  This is where the American mental health system so often breaks down.

We are the land of the free, and free will reigns.  But, what do we do when a person is so mentally ill that they will not remain on their medications or with the support regimen?   Wrongfully, before the 1960’s people were often locked up for “being crazy” with no hope of rehabilitation.  We have swung to the other extreme where families have to beg mental health professionals to have a person committed. Then the professional must in turn go and plead a strong case to a mental health court judge, and the person may be hospitalized for 7-14 days.  Only after multiple trips to the mental health court will the person is sent to a state mental hospital for longer terms.  So, what happens in the meantime?  Sometimes, the patient dies or innocent victims die and most definitely the mental status of the person worsens.

One of the unanswered cruel aspects of schizophrenia is that after being on medications for a while and they start to feeling better, their brains convince them that they no longer need to be on the meds.  Within a matter of a few weeks after stopping meds, the person has lost all progress and may become even more dysfunctional.  Psychological research has yet to find an answer to this phenomenon, however more medications are being developed that are injectable and are long lasting.

This subject brings up very strong emotions with me as I was married to a schizophrenic for 8 years.  I and his family lived in this hell.   As a teen, he said that he always felt socially awkward and never fit in.  When he was 17, he found that by drinking alcohol he felt “more normal”.  This strategy worked for some years to quiten the “noise in his brain” as he described.  Then as the schziophrenia progressed, the volume of alcohol increased and no longer kept the voices and strange thoughts under control.  He turned to crack cocaine, and the hell on earth escalated.  When the insanity and anger took over, he was very capable of violence and an evil that was unfathomable.  At those times, he was not the person God created, or the kind and funny person underneath that I knew.  He took that evil out on himself when he heard voices from the radio tell him to kill himself so that our daughter would not be taken away.  I came home with our 3 year daughter to find police and rescue squads with a bathroom covered in his blood.  Some 300+ stiches and a month in a mental hospital later, I was alone in trying to figure out how to live with this very mentally ill person.  Later after the crack use totally consumed him, he turned his violence towards me.  By the Grace of God, I was able to finally get him away from me and my children.  He spent the next 12 years wandering the streets often from Florida to Mexico to his home state of Illinois spending time in numerous jails, mental hospitals, and homeless shelters.  Along the way, he became infected with Hepatitis C.  At age 48, in my opinion mercifully, died of a sudden heart attack as a long slow death of liver disease was avoided.  Before his funeral, a family member remarked that the demons are finally silenced.

Returning to the questions – is it biological? Is it genetic?  Is it learned?  Is it criminal?  Is it evil?  I believe that is probably all of the above.  Is it God?  No – God is good.  In the falleness and brokenness of man, the original image and DNA has been warped over countless generations.  God uses these situations and circumstances to bring us together and bring about good in someway.

So what do we do?  We must recognize and address the challenges that mental illness brings for the person, their families, and society.  By avoiding these tough realities and letting ill people suffer in silence and isolation and shame, we, the American people, are in just as much denial as the ill person is.  Mental health services – screening , counseling, and access to medications – must be open and readily available.  If a person is seriously ill, the mental health system must be able to provide long term support to the person and their family.  If the person is a serious threat to themselves or others, professionals must have readily available access and process to have the person hospitalized for as long as it takes to stabilize them – regardless of insurance!

The facts are there are many, many mentally and spiritually broken people walking among us and that God is good and loving.  We, who profess to be Christians, must bridge that gap and bring love and hope to the broken and hurting.  The mental health system must be open and easily accessible to help the mentally ill, and the stigma and denial must stop or there will be more tragedies like Columbine and Virginia State and the Aurora Movie Theater.

Hello world!

Greetings to all!

The Right Path Ministry is a result of a vision that God gave to me in 2006 after I was mentoring a group of young men.  They were on journey to find who they were and to break destructive cycles of behavior.  Many were able to make positive changes as long as they were in the structured program, but some fell back to their old habits when they lost their support.

The Right Path Ministry is based on Proverbs 4:26 – Mark out a path for your feet; stay on the right path.  This ministry is to provide ongoing support through counseling, accountability, and fellowship for persons recovering from addictions following inpatient or outpatient programs.

I have been on an amazing, often very crooked, journey myself over my 52 years.  I hope that I can share some experience, strength, and hope through this blog.

Much love,

Beth