Merry Christmas, Love The Joneses

Merry Christmas! 

(Baby Fields was sleeping when these photos were snapped, but he told me to wish you good tidings!)


Featured Friend: Friday

Enjoying your Friday? Let me introduce you to my dear friend, Mimi. I first met her when we started going to Jacob’s Well Church like six years ago. Michael and I helped with the grade school kids program, which Mimi led. She is a genuine spirit, and I’ve always looked to her for wisdom. Since back home from New Zealand she and I have had fun design meetings, collaborating on revamping kid spaces at church. I just love hanging out with Mimi. Her friendship is such a blessing. Here are her answers to some of my questions. 

1. First off, will you introduce yourself and your family to us?
Hi. I am Mimi Keel. Tim is my partner in life. We met in Journalism class at Shawnee Mission East High School a few years ago. Mabry (19), Annie (16), and Blaise (11) are our three great kids. They continually teach us and enrich our lives. We connect around the dinner table, playing Settlers of Catan, and watching Lord of The Rings & Jayhawk basketball.
2. Mimi, you’ve spent the past several years in New Zealand with your family. Will you tell us why that was so great for your family? Any special memories you’d like to share about your time there?
Moving to New Zealand was a great adventure that knit our family together in special ways! Everything was new- location, house, school, people, friends, food, ocean :), accents, driving, cars, church….Being away from all things familiar caused us to rely more on each other and on God. 
I found the people of NZ to be refreshingly happy and humble. Kiwis are very hospitable, enjoying tea time 3-4 times a day. They don’t ever seem to be in a hurry, always having time to chat over a cup of tea. I learned a lot from their positive and unhurried posture in life. It always brought a smile to my face when the grocery clerk would end our interaction at the check out with “Thanks, Love.” 
3. What did you notice that was different about parenting in New Zealand versus parenting in the U.S.? 
Whenever I went grocery shopping, I was struck by the way parents spoke to their children. I don’t think I ever heard a parent speak in a cross tone. I sensed a deep respect and joy for children. It was always, “Good onya’ Imogene” or “That was gorgeous, Love.” And even when a child was a bit unruly, I’d hear, “Oh, Love, let’s settle a wee bit.”
3. You have much wisdom when it comes to spiritual formation in children. Is there a practical idea or two you could share with us that we can do with our children at home?
Practice and pursue our own personal lives in God first. Know that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in the life(lives) of our children. Let the Holy Spirit lead us as we live out our faith with our children. Ask a lot of questions. Learn together.
Read, act out, and play in the stories of God as told in the scriptures. Share conversation, ask questions, and share reflections as you play. Two primary questions- 1)What is God like? How does He show Himself in this story? Or in your day? (Is He strong? Patient? Loving?) 
2) What about the other people in the story? Have you felt that way before?
God Sightings- God is at work all around us. At the beginning of the day, invite everyone in your family to God-Sighting, where everyone looks for God’s creativity or love in their day. Come back at dinner and share one place where you saw or felt God’s work or presence.
4. What else are you passionate about?
I love to exercise. It’s great for my emotional health. I like classes at the YMCA- kick boxing, yoga, spin, boot camp.
I like to bike and enjoyed jogs along the coast by our house in Auckland.
5. Where do you go to have some r & r?
Each season, I enjoy joining the sisters in Clyde, Missouri at their monastery for retreat. I am renewed by praying and singing the psalms with them during their prayer times. And it’s a beautiful place out in the country… 
6. Any books or movies you’d like to recommend?
Book – The Gift of An Ordinary Day, by Katrina Kenison
Movie –  Chasing Mavericks Movie- We saw it as a family and everyone loved it.  Probably for 7 year old and up….
Thanks for sharing with us, Mimi! 
Enjoy your pre-Christmas weekend everyone! May God’s peace be with us as we anticipate Jesus!

Notre Capitaine

I don’t write much, probably because I am not too good with words.  I just need to tell you kids that your mom started writing to you over 4 years ago.  She just wanted to know how much you were loved, even before you knew who she was.  She is a beautiful woman, compassionate and true to those she loves.  She is a mother bear, and at the same time gentle touch on your soft backs.  She yearns for you to love yourself, others and Jesus.  She is tasteful, classy, and has an eye for everything beautiful.  I’ve come to know her for these past 10 years, and all I want is more time with her.  You are lucky children.  Lucky because you have a woman in your life who dreams for you, cares for you and pours herself into everything you do.  You have no idea how much she loves you, nor will you ever understand.  I don’t understand the depths as well.  One thing I know is that you are her world, and you are images of her. You are beautiful children, and you care about each other.  Tegegne, you take care of your sister so well.  You are a strong big brother, a real joy to have in our lives.  Hensley, you are gentle and determined and beautiful like your mother.  Fields, as of now you are calm and pensive.  You grin, and I know that comes from her.  You three children make up different parts of your mother, and I think that is why I count down the minutes until I get time with you after I leave the classroom.  You remind me of your mother, the most amazing person I have ever known.  If just one more minute around you and your mother, the better man I will be.  If just one more minute around your mother, the better you will be.  She loves because she is loved, and she reflects that love well.  Better than anyone I have ever met…

Be blessed by your mother today,

Fields Benjamin: 3 Months

Dear Fieldsy,

Oh you’re cute and chubby and we love you. You are such a good baby. My favorite thing you’re doing lately is looking up at me with the biggest grin after you’re finished eating. I’m smitten. Then you spit up for the next 20 minutes. Like a ton. It’s not so fun. You have started to make coos and love to be talked to. You still like to wake around 4am, but we’re working on that. 

I give you this blessing before bed, “God loves you, God cares for you, God blesses you, God is with you.” I’ve started doing some baby massage and you love it. You also like the baby yoga moves. Your favorite outfit is your Patagonia fleece from Geo and Jan. Cooozy! We do cloth diapers at home, but you pee through almost each one and that’s with a double liner!

You are gonna love Christmas break because you will get held lots, and talked to, and spoiled.



Moms: Let’s Give Ourselves a Gift

Hello Mother Hens. 

Are you tired? Dream of sleeping in on Saturday? I sure do. Rest and relaxation have been on the forefront of my mind. I hope for those two words to reach my body and soul next!  Let’s make an effort to give ourselves these gifts this Christmas. Here are some suggestions with hopes to revive our spirit.

1. Ask for help. First of all, we’ll need some help, especially those of us with tiny kids. To get help, we must ask for it, yes? (Tis the season to be around family members who also love our kids, and hopefully would love to spend special time with them. Maybe we get creative and plan for one on one time. For example, Little Billie could have a special morning outdoors with Grandpa while Sweet Sister Sue goes to the library with Auntie.)

2. Pick a book. Try to sneak away for a morning or two to a coffee shop solo…book in one hand, frothy drink in the other. ( These are my picks…One Thousand Gifts and White Parents, Black Children.)

3. Sneak out for a date. (A matinee movie is nice, especially if the kids are napping aka…easy babysitting.)

4. Hit the spa. (A few new nail polishes will be it for me, and I’ll try to exchange home-style manicures with my mom! These look lovely, don’t they?)

What else sounds good to you? Whatever it is, make the effort. Take some time to revive Mother Hen. Everyone will be better off when we do. And we must not feel guilty or anxious during our special time. 




Advent: Peace with One Another

Advent 2012 – Week two.

Peace within ourselves.
Peace with one another.
Peace in our communities and nation.
Peace in the world.

Here’s a thought from our friend (and pastor) regarding this season.

Advent – A time for Presence, Intention, and Sharing

by Tim Keel
I love this time of year. It is the season of Advent! It is a time when routines change, music changes, when people begin having parties – all in anticipation of Christmas. In proclaiming my love I might also be in the minority. Many people do not love this time of the year. They hope merely to survive. It’s easy to understand why. Christmas can be incredibly stressful and difficult for so many reasons.
Even so, it is a significant time of the year. Amidst all that swirls around us, there is a sense that something is different. I believe this is because Christmas isn’t a mere holiday. It is a holy day. There is a deep and true Center to our celebration that is rooted in the revelation of God. At Christmas, we proclaim that the Creator of the cosmos has made himself known by coming to us as a child, Jesus Christ. At long last, God is fulfilling his promise to come and dwell among his people once more, to bring healing and renewal to creation. Immanuel.
In coming to his people as a child, God reveals something about his nature and character that we often overlook. We learn that God’s nature is manifested not by independence and demonstrations of power, but through vulnerability and relationships. The good news is that the God of the universe comes to us as a person.
Anticipating that, we prepare to receive and worship that person – Jesus Christ – during Advent. Advent marks the beginning of the new year for the church. In the same way that our culture begins a new year with fresh resolutions, I want to invite Jacob’s Well to be thoughtful about how we prepare for Christmas this year – that our celebration of the arrival of God in Jesus Christ would reflect the Person whose birth we celebrate. And not just that, but that our actions during this season would reveal the Creator who has come to bring healing and renewal to his world.
To do that, I am challenging us this Advent to be present, to be intentional, and to share.