Thursday, September 1, 2011


I am moved recently to think about family. My family in particular. People who have been taken away from it. People added to it. I have often thought of my parents, both only children, bringing up the five of us in a world that was largely unfriendly towards us in general. A few people touched our lives indelibly. Those few are precious to us still. And the old-fashioned, old-world togetherness that we have fiercely protected and promised one another never to break.

Back when I was studying sociology in college, I came across information on predominantly Oriental  communal cultures that are interdependent and inter-related in such a way that almost seems like threads in woven tapestry, together strong and beautiful. And then the typical American culture that breeds on individualism and independence, seeking fulfillment without regards to family ties. As we three younger girls work hard to support our mom in her waning years, keeping the "home fire burning," so to speak, I am reminded of so many verses in regards to Mom...Exodus 20:12, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you." Heb 12:12 "Strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble" Prov. 16:31. "A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness," Lev. 19:32, "'You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD."And Jesus' stern warning in Mark 7, "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH';   but you say, 'If a man says to his/her father or his/her mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God)' you  no longer permit him to do anything for his/her father or his/her mother;  thus  invalidating the word of God by your tradition  which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

I should write a book one day, entitled Memoir of a Dutiful Daughter. :-) But then again, being an earthly daughter does not define me...being a child of God does! And I need to be here for my sisters and brother, whether in prayer or financial help or emotional support. And for my nieces, those precious beings that will carry the spiritual torch.

I look at our precious nieces, and think, "They are the future of this family, the future Jones girls, future missionaries and teachers and preachers." I pray that they would come to know Jesus early in life. And be filled with the Holy Spirit to be powerful women of God, equipped for their Master's use. To be able to overcome life's hurts and wounds with grace. And always stay sweet and gentle. That their temperaments would be soft-hearted and kind. And that they would not be as lonely as we were.

Our family has always been "a city set on a hill that cannot be hid." Whether we liked it or not. There was not anywhere we could go, or anything we could do that did not get scrutinized by outsiders as we were growing up. We looked different, acted different, talked different, and were different. Even down to the jobs that we have, or that God has given to and anointed us for. And still yet, we continue on as different as ever.

Mom's Aunt Rene hosted us as little children, as we trekked up Signal Mountain every Sunday to visit her. Cinnamon Trident gum sticks, peach turnovers, and Nickelodeon are some of the memory relics from those days. She was saved late in life, so I don't remember her as a Christian as much as she was a benevolent old lady. Then came the day that Dad's company went under, and our house sold. Life was changing rapidly for our family nuclei.  Dad's Mom asked us to move to Pensacola and offered to let us live with her until we got on our feet. That would facilitate our permanent move to Florida. Aunt Rene did not understand; with her brother pushing her over the edge of snipping family ties, angry and confused. And for several years, we had no contact with her at all.

We lived with Grandma for nine months. It was not an easy time. Mamar was used to living on her own for many years as a "Merry Widow." Dad tried and tried and tried to find a job, but nothing opened for him. So some local Bible college student  jack-leg carpenters invited him to join them in trying to make a living for their families. We were living on between $15-17 thousand a year. When I think of that amount today, I laugh inside my head. What seven-member family can live on a little over $15 G's a year?!? But Mom and Dad made it work. We were poor, so very poor. Fifty dollar bills, pressed into my Dad's hand on a random Sunday morning helped to build our faith. Our land lady's boys leaving sacks of much-needed groceries on our porch. I remember being ten years old, spending my Saturdays with Dad and my sisters, mowing lawns off of Lillian Hwy. and Hwy 98 for $5 a week, which we saved fastidiously to pay for sturdy shoes or spend on stickers and pencils and wall posters from local bookstores. Recently, I was cleaning out a cabinet in my bathroom, and found an little old ceramic bear and basket full of plastic flowers, I think given to Tricia or me by our brother. And a mug from another sister. Cute reminders of those meager days.

We found an oasis in the Lillian homegroup, hosted in Richard and Nita Parker's house. It was a croup of senior citizens that made us feel at home. There was one other family with a girl our age that we got to know,  and several teen boys that we really didn't get to know too much. Again, we were growing up in a sea of people different from us.

And days became better. We were able, after two long years, to move from Lillian, Alabama, back over the bridge to Pensacola. Aunt Rene's brother had died, managing to steal and pilfer and cheat her out of some of her life savings. But she needed someone to take care of her. And he anger had passed, and she wanted us again. So Mom found the biggest house that she could find for us, to prevent Aunt Rene from being bothered by us kids, and to let us have our own space. How we loved that house on Man O' War Circle. We younger kids healed from a lot there. And experienced a lot there. I turned 13 in that house, with the best birthday party a girl could ask for.

This is just the beginning...

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