When he was 12 or 13 years old, Nick Jones told his Aunt Eve in Indianapolis about the vision he had for a multi-story house on a steep hill with a studio overlooking a lake. This seemed a childish whim for a youngster who grew up traveling in a trailer across the country with a father who was a professional musician.
However, more than a half century later, he sits in this very real office studying elevations and roof lines for more buildings to design in Florida.
“Everything was in my imagination before it became real,” Jones said. He has worked more than 50 years as an architect and occupied the building he dreamed of as a youth. “I live nestled in trees and feel like God talks to me through all life.”
Blueprints for more structures rest on his desktop. Across the room are decorative shoji panels in the Japanese tradition made from his original pen and ink drawings. These show the churches he’s sketched and seen constructed during his career.
His wife, Betty Sue, enters the studio and he takes a break to carry a box of plants down the steps for her. Their rescue Boston terrier, Bebe, dances around with a plastic ball and whines for a game of chase.
He still does all the maintenance on his building and sports a big scrape on his shin from working outside. “You can’t lay back and let the world take you down,” he said.
His own grit is evident in the steep path he traveled to become licensed in his profession. While a student at Florida State University, he also worked full-time. He completed seven years of apprenticeship with registered architects who mentored him. For the final requirement, he finished 37 hours of exams during five days. “It took me three tries to pass all seven sections,” he said.
He believes God will equip people to accomplish amazing things. “God’s given us a marvelous chalkboard to write the script of our own lives,” he said. “But many people don’t know--and aren’t taught--they can design their own world.”
Taking a work break, he walks to the interior garden he designed with a waterfall and pool complete with colorful koi. Their tails swish near ferns cascading over the peaceful spot. “You can learn how to make nice things,” Jones said. “Not many take time to do it though.”
Betty Sue was a classical singer before an accident damaged her hearing. Her husband helped start a local symphony, which is in its 16th season.
“A passionate hobby of mine is I like to collect people,” he said. “They are more interesting than things.” He leads local discussions on various philosophical topics to generate deep analysis in a safe place.
In Jones’ profession, he focuses on places of worship. “I am drawn to churches because they have a mission and want to help people.”
He believes guardian angels protect him and sees his family as an extension of this divine provision. A granddaughter lives nearby, and his oldest daughter works with him as an architect too.
“Whether you are in a time of tribulation or plenty, the most important thing is thankfulness for what God has given,” he said.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe….” (Hebrews 12:28 NIV).
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