Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New People, New Schedules

God has really blessed us this last year. In so many ways He’s proven Himself faithful time and time again. With the new year racing toward us at breakneck speed, we’ve been figuring out last-minute things in changes to the blog. Since the magazine is gone, the writers will now be writing directly on here instead of publishing them in the magazine. So now, I’m pleased to introduce….

Our New Writers

Bonnie     Bonnie (New Zealand):
Bonnie is the second eldest in a homeschooling family of nine children. She plays the violin and piano and loves dancing and singing. Among other things, some of her hobbies include playing and umpiring netball, sewing, writing, climbing trees, crocheting and knitting, drawing pictures, taking photos and playing practical jokes on people. She blogs at Bonnie’s Blessings.


     Cosette (United States):

Hi! I am a Christian homeschool girl who strives to build her relationship with her Saviour, Jesus Christ. I live in Maine and love it! The best part about my life is the music in my heart that God provides day by day. Learn more about that music at Day by Day.


   Rhoda Newton (New Zealand):
Rhoda Newton lives in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand, with her parents and four younger brothers. She was baptised into the Reformed Church of Oamaru as an infant, and joined the church as a communicant member in November 2012. She and her brothers have never been to school. She blogs at Serving With Joy, with the aim of encouraging young women to serve God whole-heartedly, never forgetting the joy of life in Christ.

Andrea     Andrea Groff (United States):
I’m the oldest of 8 children and a college student pursuing a degree as a Registered Nurse. I served on the mission field for two years in Nicaragua as a personal worker—teaching Bible studies and visiting the natives. Mission work is my heart’s cry. I blog at Committed To His Service.

Our New Schedule for Posting on the Blog

With the new year, we’ve come up with a weekly format for posting here:
day of the week subject author
Sunday Devotional Esther
Tuesday Edifying Words1 Rachel
Wednesday Recipes2 Team/You3
Friday Story/Article Team/You3
      1Edifying Words—little bits of what used to be put in the Encouragement Page
      2This would be once every two weeks
      3Team/You—this will be supplied both by the JOJ Team and by you, our readers

I would do a short devotional (well, something along those lines anyway…) on Sunday—and try to keep it to three reasonable-length paragraphs. :) I don’t think I have that many problems coming up with an article like that.

Rachel will be doing the “Edifying Words”. She was the one who gathered things together for the Encouragement Page, but since the magazine is gone she will just switch to doing that on the blog (unless, of course, she has something bigger to share—which would be fine as well!).

The recipes would also be a carry-over from the magazine. I still have one recipe from being submitted to go into the magazine left, which we can hopefully post sometime in January. I think it would be nice if we shared one recipe every other week or so. This is something that we want you, our readers, to help with—if you have a recipe to share, feel free to drop by the Submissions page where you can send it in. If we have no recipes, we won’t post any. But if we do we’ll try our level best to get it posted! :)

Friday, the “story” day, would also include articles that our team members write, or possibly guest posts if anyone wants to do that.

Hopefully, the weekly schedule can run something like this:

1st Friday of the month Bonnie
2nd Friday of the month Cosette
3rd Friday of the month Rhoda
4th Friday of the month Andrea

Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and every other Wednesday are free. This is where the best time would be for you, our readers, to do guest posting. Remember, a community like this is not only held up by those who write—it’s also made up of those that read. :)

Alright. This turned out long enough! Hopefully it’s all understandable. :)

Many blessings,
for the JOJ team

Thursday, December 26, 2013

:: The Box ::

-The Box-

Author Unknown

I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold, our salary had not been regularly paid, and it did not meet our needs when it was. My husband was away much of the time, travelling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing, and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re-patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well, and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

The people in the parish were kind and generous too; but the settlement was new, and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver.

Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned, I had lived upon His promises in dark times, until I knew as David did, “who was my Fortress and Deliverer.” Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer.

My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral. Many times our breakfast was Indian cake, and a cup of tea without sugar. Christmas was coming; the children always expecting presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth, and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it. I knew it seemed impossible, but oh! I wanted so very much to give the children the presents they each longed for. It seemed as if God had deserted us, but I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily. I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire and tried to serve our scanty meals as appealingly as I could.

The morning before Christmas, James was called in to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch – it was the best I could do – wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck, and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.

That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went to bed, I listened to her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll, and for the skates for her brothers.

Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me. “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama.” I thought then that I would move heaven and earth to save her from the disappointment. I sat down alone that night and gave way to the most bitter tears.

Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots: the thin stockings slipped off with them and his feet were red with cold.

I wouldn’t treat a dog this way, let alone a faithful servant!” I said bitterly. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me – James had let go, too.

I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God, and tell Him His promise wasn’t true; my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

There came a sound of bells, a quick stop, and a loud knock at the door. James sprang up to open it. There stood Deacon White.

“A box came by express just before dark,” he said. “I brought it round as soon as I could get away. Reckon it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate,’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along, and these other things I believe belong to you.”

There was a basket of potatoes and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he carried in a box, and then, with a hearty goodnight, he rode away.

Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket, and saw that beneath was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened on me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I cannot touch them,” he exclaimed;

“I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning from God.”

“James.” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this; I am to blame, I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”

“Wait a moment, dear, I cannot talk now,” he said, then he went into another room. I knelt down, and my heart broke; in an instant all the darkness, all the stubbornness rolled away. Jesus came again and stood before me, but with the loving words: “Daughter!”

Sweet promises of tenderness and joy flooded my soul. I was so lost in praise and gratitude that I forgot everything else. I don’t know how long it was before James came back, but I knew he, too, had found peace.

“Now my dear wife,” he said, “let us thank God together.” He then poured out words of praise; Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.

It was 11 o’clock, the fire was low, and there was the great box, and nothing touched but the warn blanket we had so desperately needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles, and began to examine our treasures.

We drew out an overcoat; I made James try it on. It was just the right size and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned.

There was a warm suit of clothes also, and three pairs of woolen hose. There was a dress for me, and yards of flannel; a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us, and in mine was a slip of paper. I have it now, and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written, “I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, ‘Fear not, I will help thee.’”

It was a wonderful box, and packed with thoughtful care. There was a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarves, and hoods; and down in the center, a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll. I burst into tears again; James wept with me for the joy. It was too much; and then we both exclaimed again, for next we drew out two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read; some of them I had wished to see; stories for the children to read; aprons and underclothing; yards of ribbons; a lovely photograph; needles buttons and thread; and an envelope containing a ten-dollar gold piece.

At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight, and we were faint and exhausted with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire – how we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved to be.

You should have seen the children the next morning. The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates. Ruth caught up her doll, and hugged it tightly without a word. Then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.

When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be there, Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

“Look here, wife,” cried James. We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already, and skating on the ice with all their might.

My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since.

Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him; dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. Over and over again we have proved that, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”

Saturday, December 21, 2013

When God Lifted Us Up—Part 2

From last time: Tall drifts rose out of the swirling white blackness. We could feel the car actually being lifted up over the drifts. I remember feeling amazing elation and joy at seeing how God was helping us get home. Then Mum gasped. We had reached “the” gully. Down at the bottom, a black shape loomed. It was a car, stuck, the wheels buried in snow. We were headed straight toward it, and Dad had no way to stop us. Even if he did turn the wheel, it would not have made a difference because of the slippery conditions. We were headed toward a terrible accident.
Spring, after the winter this happened. Two of my brothers
are there, beside the car that God lifted.

Then the unbelievable happened—the car came close to us, and we suddenly swerved around it. Dad had hardly any control of the wheel then. It was God, pushing us around the car. That night, we safely got home. It was a miracle. We should have gotten stuck or hit that car. But God was there, in a very real way. He was caring for us.
Some friends of ours had sat up that night, knowing the conditions outside and waiting for a call from us to tell them to bring their four-wheel-drive truck to pull us out of the snow. We called them that night, and they were surprised to hear we had gotten home safely. But we knew that it was because of God that we had gotten home safely. Someone was praying for us, even though we don’t know who. All we know is that we trusted that God would take care of us, and He did. He sent His angels to lift us over those drifts—actually lift us off the ground. We were airborne over those drifts.
This is something I will always remember. God stepped in in a very real way to help us that dark night. I’m reminded of two verses that relate to this. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” And 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us that we should be “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Are you facing a time in your life when you’re not sure what God wants you to do? Trust Him. Cast your care on His shoulders. Tell Him all about it. You aren’t alone.
Stay close to Him,

Also in this series:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

When God Lifted Us Up—Part 1

The night was dark. Strong wind whipped the snow into deep drifts as Dad fought to keep the car on the road. Snow fell quickly all around us, sometimes coming down so fast that the windshield was completely covered and we couldn’t see a thing through the windows. It was just a blinding whirl of white outside.
fence’ by jenny downing on Flickr
We were on our way home after a wonderful night of fellowship with our church family. The usual half-hour drive from our house had been converted from fairly pleasant to pretty scary for us four children. Snowstorms can be dangerous, and we were in a bad one. One thing was certain—the snow was getting deeper by the minute, and we still had a ways to go to get home. We had not reached the gully yet where the snow always piled the deepest and was the most dangerous part of the trip. Every winter, quite a few cars ended up becoming stuck in that area—and in the small station wagon only 15 cm (6 in) or so off the ground the chances of us getting through safely seemed pretty flimsy.
I’m sure Dad and Mum sent many prayers heavenward that night. I was only six or so, so I can’t remember if they said anything verbally. I just remember being scared stiff every time we slipped a little, wondering if this was the time we’d have an accident that could end our lives. Suddenly, Dad began singing. I don’t remember what we sang that night, but soon the car was rocking with music. I remember we sang a song about angels protecting us. We probably sang quite a few songs, but even about ten years later I remember the joy that filled us as that little white station wagon battled it’s way through the drifts. We knew God was in control, and we trusted that He would take care of us.
Tall drifts rose out of the swirling white blackness. We could feel the car actually being lifted up over the drifts. I remember feeling amazing elation and joy at seeing how God was helping us get home. Then Mum gasped. We had reached “the” gully. Down at the bottom, a black shape loomed. It was a car, stuck, the wheels buried in snow. We were headed straight toward it, and Dad had no way to stop us. Even if he did turn the wheel, it would not have made a difference because of the slippery conditions. We were headed toward a terrible accident.
…and I shall return next Sunday with part two.
Have a great week!

Stay close to Him,

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Magazine—Issue #8

Well, it’s high time for this to finally get published! I finally finished the last round of proofreading last night, and now everything is printed and ready to go.

Please be sure to read the “Dear Friend” article (page 3). In there you’ll see a very big decision we’ve made about this magazine. It was a hard decision to make, but I’m glad God is still leading. :)

This magazine has another article on dwelling in God’s love, one about loving others, a couple recipes, and some very practical encouragement in it. Oh, yes—and Rachel has gotten together another good page of little bits of encouragement.

Jewels of Jesus Magazine, Issue #8Click on the picture or go here to read issue #8.

We pray you’ll be encouraged by this final issue!

Rachel and Esther

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Teach Me How to Pray

Today, I’m just popping in quick to share with you a song that has been both blessing and slightly challenging for me.

“Teach Me How to Pray”, by Jim Reeves

(Daddy, my daddy teach me how to pray.)
One night a sleepy little boy knelt beside my bed.
He smiled and looked into my eyes and this is what he said,
“Daddy, my daddy, you’ve taught me lots today.
So daddy, my daddy teach me how to pray.

“You brought me home a brand new kite, and showed me how to fly.
And there ain’t no other kid who’s dad can knock a ball so high!
I’d like to thank God for you but I don’t know what to say.
So daddy, my daddy teach me how to pray.”

I had to turn and leave his room, and he began to cry.
I didn’t want my boy to know—but so did I.
His best pal forsaken him, but what was there to say?
For daddy, his daddy had forgotten how to pray.
(Daddy, my daddy teach me how to pray.)

This song was more written for parents and especially fathers, but I think that this is the kind of song all of us can learn from. No matter what our station in life, there are things that we know that we can pass on to other people. The joy of Jesus. How being a Christian really is—happy and peaceful, not because we have no storms but because He is always with us, even in the darkest storm.

I know I haven’t pulled everything there is to learn from the song out, but I think this is a start.

May God bless you as you begin another week to glorify and praise Him!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Reprimand

At the sound of Mr. Troy’s bell, Eleanor Graves vanished into his private office. Ten minutes later she came out, with a deep flush on her face and tears in her eyes.

“He lectured me on the spelling of a couple of words and a mistake in a date,” she complained to Jim Forbes. “Anybody’s liable to misspell a word or two in typing, and I know I took the date down exactly as he gave it to me.”

Jim looked uncomfortable. “I would not mind,” he said awkwardly. “We all have to take it sometime or other. Besides,” he glanced hesitatingly at the pretty, indignant face, “I suppose the boss thinks we ought not to make mistakes.”

“As if I wanted to!” Eleanor retorted, stiffly.

But she worked more carefully the next week; for her pride was touched. Then, with restored confidence, came renewed carelessness, and an error crept into one of the reports she was copying. The error was slight, but it brought her a sharp reprimand from Mr. Troy. It was the second time, he reminded her, that she had made that blunder. At the reproof the girl’s face flushed painfully, and then paled.

“If my work is not satisfactory, you had better find some one who can do it better,” she said.

Whirling round in his swivel-chair, Mr. Troy looked at her. He had really never noticed his latest stenographer before, but now his keen eyes saw many things that showed that she came from a home where she had been petted and cared for.

“How long have you been at work?” he asked.

“This is my first position,” Eleanor answered.

Mr. Troy nodded. “I understand. Now, Miss Graves, let me tell you something. You have many of the qualities of a good business woman; you are punctual, you are not afraid of work, you are fairly accurate. I have an idea that you take pride in turning out a good piece of work. But you must learn to stand criticism and profit by it. We must all take it sometime, every one of us. A weakling goes under. A strong man or woman learns to value it, to make every bit of it count. That is what I hope you will do.”

Eleanor braced herself to meet his eyes.

“If you will let me, I will try again,” she said.

—from Stories Worth Rereading, by Various

Photo courtesy Ethan R on Flickr.

Friday, November 15, 2013


This post came from The Pursuit (you can read others from the website here). It was originally posted on April 3, 2011. Used by permission—thanks, Ariel!

Hey Girls,

I want to talk about something that has always been challenging for me as a Christian: witnessing.  We've all read it in the Bible; God wants us to publicly share our faith.  That sounds easy, but when you are in a classroom surrounded by people who only make fun of Jesus and live to party, it's extremely hard to open you mouth (I know from experience!).  So, often (at least I do!), we just kinda twist that command to mean that we only have to live good lives and that will be our testimony…right????

Well, not exactly.  Sharing the hope of the Gospel with our mouths is very important, something we can't just slink around.  So, you may be wondering, how exactly should I go about this? What can I say that won't come across as preaching or condemning them or just plain stupid?  I've had these same questions, so let me try to answer them:

1) Pray! Pray that God will open up doors of opportunity as well as make you sensitive to His voice and prompting.

2) Look!  Look for the right situation, the right moment when you can appropriately bring up the subject. This is crucial, because if you try to shove the Gospel on someone at the wrong moment, you could actually turn them off, causing them to be less interested in what you have to say.

3) Speak!  Don't try to summarize the whole Bible all at once!  Maybe question their way of thinking or behavior and then offer a different way or approach (one that is biblical of course).  Or present a smaller facet of the Gospel to them, one that fits the occasion.  Or maybe simply challenge their belief about God…there are so many ways, just be sensitive to what is appropriate and what is most beneficial to them.

I want to challenge you guys to think of three people you know who aren't saved and whom you care about.  Pray for them daily.  And then witness to them using these three steps (if you want ;).  I hope this helps and challenges you all!


Megan Brainerd, from New York, is a busy nursing student who loves to hang out with her friends, read, and play the piano. :) Contact her at piano93[at]verizon[dot]net.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Love Unconditionally—or Just as a Friend?

I’ve always been intrigued by the story of the Lord and Peter in John 21:15-17.

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Peter, right after denying Christ.I’ve read it over many times, and I always wondered to myself, what’s the point? Why does Jesus ask Peter the same questions over and over—three times, to be exact? I’ve heard it explained before that Jesus had to ask him three times, once for each time he had denied knowing Jesus. That could be the case, I don’t know. What’s really interesting is to see the words used here.

In verse 15, Jesus says, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” The word “lovest” here is the Greek word “agapao”, which is the kind of wholehearted, unconditional, devoted love Jesus showed when He died for us.

Peter replies, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” Peter replies, but uses a different word—“phileo”, which means to just love like a friend.

Jesus asks again, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you agapao me?” Do you love me unconditionally, so much you’d lay down your life for me?

Peter says, “Yes, Lord; you know that I phileo you.” Peter loved Jesus like a friend but he wasn’t willing to try go agape Jesus—he’d already failed at that.

You can almost hear Jesus sigh as he asks the third time—“Simon, son of Jonas, do you phileo me?” Are you even willing to love me like a friend, Peter?

Peter was (naturally) very distressed at this point. Here Jesus had been asking him to lay down his life for Him, and he wasn’t sure he had the strength to do that. So he replied, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I phileo you.” Peter was so ashamed of his denial of Jesus, and he wanted to make things right but he was afraid he wasn’t up to the task the Lord had set for him. Thankfully, we know history and we know that, in the end, he did end up agapaing Jesus—he died for Him.

I find this bit of scripture very interesting because here, very soon before Jesus went up to heaven, he’s testing Peter. Seeing how far he’s willing to go.

And that makes me think of myself, of my own life. Of the fear that I have. What if I don’t agapao Jesus? What if my love is only phileo? Would I still stand strong for Jesus if I had to choose between Him or my life? I find it pretty scary to think about. Because I don’t think I am that strong. I don’t think I have enough faith. And that’s scary.

So I pull out my Bible and read, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Corinthians 12:9) And my fear is stilled.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think Jesus’ purpose was in talking with Peter like this? Do you agapao Jesus? Or is it just a phileo love? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


First photo courtesy La Vista Church of Christ Pictures.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Live for Something

Live for something; be not idle—
Look about thee for employ;
Sit not down to useless dreaming—
Labor is the sweetest joy.
Folded hands are ever weary,
Selfish hearts are never gay,
Life for thee has many duties—
Live for something, while you may.

Scatter blessings in thy pathway!
Gentle words and cheering smiles
Better are than gold and silver,
With their grief-dispelling wiles.
As the pleasant sunshine falleth
Ever on the grateful earth,
So let sympathy and kindness
Gladden well the darkened hearth.

From: The King's Daughter and Other Stories for Girls. Book is in the Public Domain

Friday, November 1, 2013

The White Woman’s Prayer

At church a while ago one of our pastors shared the following story.

He told us he had been speaking with a certain member of our church (a lovely elderly Chinese woman) and asked her how she became a Christian. This is apparently what she said.

She said that one of her ancestors (great-aunt or something like that) was very very sick and was almost dead. The sick woman’s family, knowing that they couldn’t do anything more for her, took her into the city in the hope that they would find help for her. But they had not money to pay for hospitals or anything so she found herself on the street, near death.

That was when a westerner (white woman) walked by. This lady stopped when she saw the Chinese woman who was critically ill. Taking compassion on her, she knelt down beside her, and, speaking in her own language because she knew no Chinese, closed her eyes and prayed to Jesus for the healing of the sick woman.

The sick woman got well.

All of her relatives knew that the white lady’s God had healed their sick family member. So they decided that since that God was so powerful, they must worship Him! He must be the true God! Since the white woman had prayed in her own language, they didn’t know which God to worship though. All they knew was that the white woman had prayed with her eyes shut.

So they set out on a mission to find the God to whom people prayed with their eyes shut. They found a church full of Christian people and eventually the whole extended family got saved.

And now, six generations later, this lovely elderly Chinese member of our church here in Christchurch is a Christian because many years ago a kind white woman took pity on a sick Chinese lady and prayed for her. Isn’t that amazing?

I’m sure the lady who prayed for the sick woman didn’t think anything of her action. I’m sure it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. She probably didn’t even remember it! But I can just imagine when she gets to heaven and sees this entire extended family (and lots of generations, too!) of Chinese people coming to greet her…and she gets told that they are all there because she prayed. Such a simple act! But with such incredible results!

Matthew 10:42 says “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.

About the Author: Bonnie is the second eldest in a homeschooling family of nine children. She plays the violin and piano and loves dancing and singing. Among other things, some of her hobbies include playing and umpiring netball, sewing, writing, climbing trees, crocheting and knitting, drawing pictures, taking photos and playing practical jokes on people. She blogs at Bonnie’s Blessings.

Photo courtesy jamesclk on

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Am Not Skilled to Understand…

This morning, I’m remembering a beautiful song written by Dorothy Greenwell, “I Am Not Skilled to Understand”.

I am not skilled to understand
What God hath willed, what God hath planned;
I only know that at His right hand
Is One Who is my Saviour!

I take Him at His word indeed;
“Christ died for sinners”—this I read;
For in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my Saviour!

That He should leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die,
You count it strange? So once did I,
Before I knew my Saviour!

And oh, that He fulfilled may see
The travail of His soul in me,
And with His work contented be,
As I with my dear Saviour!

Yea, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this Spring;
That He Who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Saviour!

This song became especially dear to me right after we moved here to New Zealand. Some of our friends had come with us, and they came two months before us. When we got here, we soon found out that during those two months they had changed some of their doctrines. We did not believe the same as they did, and they were not willing to work with us if we had different doctrines. In the end, even though we were willing to work with them, they moved away.

During that turbulent time, we began going to a gospel assembly an hour north of where we live. This was one of the songs that we sang a lot during that time. We sang about “I am not skilled to understand/What God hath willed, what God hath planned…” while the upheaval over clashing doctrines was going on. We couldn’t understand why God had willed this to happen. We were new to a country, half way around the world from home, and experiencing difficulties hardly two months into our stay.

Looking back, though, I can see (at least partially) why God allowed it. We learned a lot during that time. Most important of all the things we learned, I think, was the fact that if we trust God, He is well able to bring us through. But it takes faith. Faith in the fact that God does have a plan for our lives, a reason for why He’s letting us go through the thing that we’re going through.

The only reason He lets us go through the valley is so we can praise Him—and trust Him more—on the mountain.

You know the really neat thing about this song, though? While we were going through that time, we sang it a lot. Since then, we’ve only sang it a few times. I think God had us sing that song, at the perfect time, as an encouragement.

Now, it’s your turn. Have you ever had a song affect your life like this? In what way? What did God teach you through that? Share it in the comments; I’m sure it would be encouraging for other people as well as me!

Because of Him,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Kite

Once on a time a paper kite

Was mounted to a wondrous height,

Where, giddy with its elevation,

It thus expressed self-admiration:

“See how yon crowds of gazing people

Admire my flight above the steeple:

How would they wonder of they knew

All that a kite like me can do!


“Were I but free, I’d take a flight

And pierce the clouds beyond their sight.

But ah! Like a poor prisoner bound,

My string confines me near the ground.

I’d brave the eagle’s towering wing

Might I but fly without a string.”

It tugged and pulled while thus it spoke,

To break the string-at last it broke!

Deprived at once of all its stay,

In vain it tried to soar away;

Unalbe its own weight ot bear,

It fluttered downward through the air; Unable its own course to guide,

The winds soon plunged it in the tide.

Ah, foolish kite! Thou had’st no wing;

How could’st thou fly without a string?

My heart replied, “O Lord, I see

How much this kite resembles me!

Forgetful that by Thee I stand,

Impatient of Thy ruling hand,

How oft I’ve wished to break Thy ruling hand,

For something more or something higher!

And, but for grace and love divine,

A fall thus dreadful had been mine.”

             -John Newton

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Next Magazine

Hi, friends!

I’m working on compiling the next magazine (#8). Thanks to all you writers, we have enough articles to fill it! Thank you!

There are two things, though, that we still need. I’d like to have a recipes page. We still have two recipes from last time, but I thought that maybe if we have one more that will fill the page nicely (if you submit more than we need to fill the page we’ll just save it for next time). So if you’d like to submit a recipe, comment below or send it in via the form here:

Also, I’d like to ask you for your help for the encouragement page this time. Rachel took this on as her responsibility not too long ago, and that’s been great because I don’t have to come up with the things for it. But this time around she isn’t able to do it because her Mum is in the hospital with some problems (if you think about it, please pray for her!). So I wondered if maybe some of you wouldn’t mind helping us find things for the encouragement page? We’re looking for poems, special Bible verses, and inspiring quotes to go on there.

If you can think of (or find!) some, please send it in here (or you could comment below; it doesn’t matter):

Thank you for your support!

In Christ,
For the JOJ team.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Simple Things

(reposted from my blog)

Today, I’m very thankful for the “simple things” of life. Recently, an older friend back in the States died of a heart attack.

On Sunday he had been at church, and they took a group picture. The day before he died.


It was a shock to hear that he had died.

These last few months, I’ve been pondering on the fact that we don’t know—any of us—when our time will be up.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…
” –Ecclesiastes 3:1-2


So today I’m very thankful for each precious moment I get with my family. Being with them could be considered a “simple thing”, but in my eyes it’s a big privilege. We don’t know when one of us may be gone—for ever. I’m delighting in each moment as it comes.

Savouring the special moments.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Duty and Pleasure



“Duty first, and pleasure afterward,” wrote Amy Leslie in her copy-book one fine morning.
Line after line she penned, making many a mistake, for her thoughts were far away. At last her mother, who was sitting near her, said, “Amy, this is the third time you have spelled pleasure without a ‘p,’ and left out the ‘f’ in afterward. Put down your pen and tell me what you are thinking about; for I am sure it is not of your copy.”
“I was only thinking,” replied Amy, “how glad I should be if my copy said, ‘Pleasure first—duty afterward.’ It is very hard always to have the disagreeable part first. I wish I could have one whole week with no duties at all! How I should enjoy myself!”
Mrs. Leslie remained silent for a moment; then she said, while a quiet smile played round her lips, “Well, Amy, for once you shall have what you want. For a whole week you may amuse yourself; no duties, mind, my child,—none at all.”
“There is no chance of my wanting any, I assure you, mama,” said Amy, joyfully; “I shall be so happy, you’ll see!”
“Very well, then,” said Mrs. Leslie; “you may begin to-morrow. To-day I shall expect you to do as usual.”
Amy said no more; she finished her copy, learned her lessons, then went to the nursery to take charge of her little brother while the nurse was busy with other work. Afterward there were socks to mend, and an errand to run, and buttons to sew on to baby’s shoes, and a letter to write. And so the day passed, and the next morning dawned on our pleasure-loving little friend.
“No duties” she said to herself, as she woke at seven, which was her usual time for rising; “so I can lie in bed as long as I please.” She turned over, and as she could not sleep, began making plans for the day, and thinking what a delightful time she would have. About half past nine she came down stairs, to find her breakfast on the table; milk, toast, and egg, all as cold as possible. “What a wretched breakfast!” she said, as she took her seat.
“Well, dear,” replied Mrs. Leslie, “your breakfast was ready at the usual time, and of course is cold now.”
Amy said no more. She ate with only half her usual appetite, and, finishing in about five minutes put away her chair, and left the room. As she went up stairs to fetch her hat, baby in the nursery stretched his arms for her to take him; but she hurried past, and left the little fellow crying with disappointment.
Soon she came down again, with a fairy book in one hand, and a box of chocolate drops in the other. The sweets had been a present, but hitherto her mother had allowed her to have only one or two daily; now, however, she might do as she liked, and at present her idea of perfect bliss was the combined charms of chocolate drops and fairy stories.
[Illustration: "<i>Carried it like a baby</i>."]
For about two hours she sat in the garden; then she grew tired, and a little sick from eating too much chocolate, and was returning to the house, when her pet kitten ran out to meet her. For a short time she amused herself by playing with it, dressing it up in her pocket handkerchief and carrying it like a baby; but Miss Pussy wearied of this, and at last jumped out of her new dress and her mistress’ arms, leaving a scratch as a keepsake behind her.
Altogether, the morning was hardly a successful one, nor was the afternoon much better. After dinner, one of Amy’s little sisters tore her dress, and was running to Amy to ask her to mend it; but Mrs. Leslie said:—
“Don’t go to your sister, my child, come to me;” and little Jessie, wondering, let her mother darn the rent. Amy felt very uncomfortable, for she knew that Mrs. Leslie’s eyes were not strong, and were probably aching with the effort of such fine work; but she shrank from offering her services, and made her escape from the room as soon as she could.
In the evening she was about to draw her chair to the fire and read the newspaper to Mr. Leslie, a duty of which she had always felt rather proud; but her father gravely took the paper out of her hand, saying quickly, “No, Amy, this is a duty; remember you are to amuse yourself and do nothing else.”
Amy’s eyes filled with tears, and she ran up stairs to her own room. She had no heart to read the fairy book, or to make clothes for her doll, or to play with the kitten, or even to eat the rest of her chocolate drops.
“I shall never be able to bear another day of this,” she said to herself; “I thought it would be so delightful to have no duties, but somehow my play does not seem half so good as it did before.”
The next day brought no real pleasure and comfort. Listlessly Amy wandered about, having no zest for any of her former amusements, and feeling thoroughly unhappy. She began to long for the very duties which had seemed so irksome to her; she could hardly keep from tears when she saw others busy over lessons, or her mother doing work which had formerly been hers.
At last her misery ended in a fit of crying, and shutting herself up in her own room, she gave way to it. Sob followed sob so quickly that she did not hear her door open, until her mother’s arms were round her, and her hot, aching head was pillowed on her mother’s shoulder. Not a word passed between them for a few minutes; then Amy sobbed out, “O mother! mother! the copy was quite right, ‘Duty first, and pleasure afterward;’ for without duty there is no pleasure at all.”                               
[Illustration: "<i>Her mother's arms were around her</i>."]

The End
source: The King’s Daughter and Other Stories (various) 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Anxiety and Faith

Photo found on Flickr.

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”
― George Mueller

This would be very good to remember, especially when we’re struggling to try to get everything done and afraid we won’t find time to do everything.

Keep trusting Jesus!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October Wallpaper!

I want to apologize for not posting a wallpaper for September. With the giveaway going on, it slipped my mind until it was near the middle of September! 

Here it is...the October wallpaper! :) 

(Click and save image to your desktop and enjoy all month long!)
Please do not use these images for any other purpose other than personal enjoyment on the desktop of your computer!!!

Enjoy this month's wallpaper! If you enjoy using the wallpapers, please tell us! :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

At Cavalry


William R. Newell (1868-1956) is remembered fondly as a pastor, evangelist, Bible teacher, author, conference speaker and writer of the beloved hymn At Calvary. And he is remembered as a humble man who recognized that it was only by the grace of God that he was able to accomplish so many good things.

William was a very troubled and wayward teenager. In desperation, his father wrote to the president of Moody Bible Institute, and begged him to allow the enrollment of his son. Since the college was open to serious Bible students, the president was at first resistant, but finally agreed that Newell would be enrolled with the proviso that he would meet with the president daily, and would take his studies seriously.

Read more about William Newell here. What an amazing testimony!

Have a blessed weekend!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How to Cook a Pumpkin

I was helping Mum in the kitchen tonight, and told her about how I needed to come up with a post for JOJ. “You could tell how to cook a pumpkin!” She suggested. I wasn’t so sure about that because—truth be told—I was just learning myself for the first time how to do it!

After she told me that she hadn’t known how to cook a pumpkin until she was living by herself for a while, I felt a little better about it. So…here is how to cook a pumpkin!

First, select your pumpkin. This time, we used a Banana squash, but you could use any kind of pumpkin to do this. Cut it into quarters.

One of the quarters.

After cutting it into quarters, we scooped out the seeds and tried to get most of the strings out. It doesn’t matter if there are some left—you just want to take out the bulk of them.

If you want to, you could stop here and stick them in the oven like this (actually, if you are using something like the Grey pumpkin we can get here you wouldn’t even have to cut it into quarters—cut in half would work fine). If you wanted to do that, place them upside down (with the skin up) in a roaster pan. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for an hour, or until tender and well done.

Pumpkin wedges.

We decided to go further tonight, though, and cut it up into wedges about 1 inch (2 ½ cm) thick. For some of the wedges, we cut the quarters in half lengthwise, but for others we just left them whole.

Finished and delicious!

Toss them into a roasting pan (like a baking sheet with deep sides—if you don’t have one, a baking sheet should work just fine), and bake at 175°C (350°F) for an hour, or until tender and well done. Serve with butter or gravy. Yum!

And that is how you cook a pumpkin. Well, one way anyway…. :)

Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Magazine!

Hi, friends!

I’m just dropping in quickly to say that we’ve just completed another magazine! :)

This one covers a lot—from prayer to answered prayer, dwelling in God’s love, memorising scripture, recipes, and a couple stories. Hopefully you’ll be able to find a nugget to take away when you’re done reading! :)

Jewels of Jesus Magazine Issue #7Click on the picture or go here to read Issue #7.

God bless!
-Rachel and Esther

Thursday, September 12, 2013

And the winners are…

Bonnie and Latisha!


Bonnie, you will be receiving Twice Freed, by Patricia St. John, from Esther.

Latisha, you will be receiving Amy Carmichael - Selfless Servant of India, by Sam Wellman, from Rachel.

And, in other news…I’m working on finishing up the magazine! Lord willing, it should be ready sometime next week. I can’t guarantee that, but I’m hoping to have it finished by then. :)

May the Lord bless each one of you!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th...

The head of a company survived 9/11
because his son started kindergarten.

Another fellow was alive because it was
his turn to bring donuts.

One woman was late because her
alarm clock didn't go off in time...

One was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike
because of an auto accident.

One of them
missed his bus.

One spilled food on her clothes and had to take
time to change.

car wouldn't start. 

One couldn't
get a taxi.

One man put on a new pair of shoes that morning and took the various means to get to work, but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. 
He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid.
That's why he's alive today...

Now when I am
Stuck in traffic,
Miss an elevator,
Turn back to answer a ringing telephone...
All the little things that annoy me.
I think to myself,
this is exactly where God wants me to be
at this very moment...

Next time your morning seems to be going wrong,
You can't seem to find the car keys,
You hit every traffic light,
Don't get mad or frustrated;
It may just be that
God is watching over you.

May God continue to bless you
With all those annoying little things
And may you remember their possible purpose. 

(I don't know the source of this...sorry)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Don't forget!!!

Don't forget ...
to enter our giveaway below! :) 

It ends tomorrow (Sept. 11 NZT) so don't wait! ;-)

Hope you enter! :D

Rachel for the JOJ team

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Look Back (and giveaway!)

Well, this is the 100th post on Jewels of Jesus, and we thought it might be nice to have a small giveaway. First, though, we’ll have a look back.

God has been very good to us this past year. Almost exactly a year ago (it will be a year on the 13th), He led us to start this blog. At that time, there were just two writers—Tiffany, and myself. A lot has changed since we started this new venture, there has been some sad points, but over all God has ruled with grace and love.

A brief outline of JOJ’s history:
  1. The first magazine was published in September, 2011.
  2. We had published two more by June 2012, and then in September 2012 we started this blog.
  3. On September 13th, Tiffany posted the first post.
  4. Posting on here continued fairly sporadically until December 2012, when we asked for writers and Rachel joined our team (I really don’t know why I didn’t announce her myself…oh well. :)). After Rachel came along, she was able to hold up the posting part very well. I was very thankful for that! :)
  5. Near the end of June, Tiffany decided to leave. That left two writers/editors—Rachel and me.
  6. At that time, we asked for more writers. And, praise the Lord, you were there! I’d have to say—I’m feeling very blessed right now.
  7. Currently, there are three writers besides Rachel and myself. We have started a small Google Group, where we can write, edit each other’s writings, and encourage each other. (If you want to join, we’d be very happy to have you with us, but don’t feel pressured in any way!)
Now, almost a year after starting this blog, we’re amazed at how God has worked. And very blessed, too. So we’d like to share with you some blessing, too!

Rachel and I have both picked out a book, and we will give them away to two winners. One will get Rachel’s book, and one will get mine.

I’ve chosen Twice Freed, a book by Patricia St John about the slave Onesimus. I’ve never read the book myself, but Mum has and really, really liked it. I’ve read other Patricia St John books though, and they’re all excellent.

Rachel has chosen a surprise book. Well, to actually tell you the truth she hasn’t chosen one yet—she has several choices, and she’s having a hard time deciding. So the winner of her book will get a surprise. :)

Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below. For those who were wondering—yes, this giveaway IS open to international entries.

The giveaway will close at 12 am NZT on the 11th of September, and we will announce the winner as soon as possible.

Once again, we’d like to thank all of you for your support this last year. Thank you so much for praying for us, and sending us words of encouragement. May the Lord bless each one of you!

Esther, for the JOJ team.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


I came across a good thought-provoking poem today.

A place to think...Source

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't
It's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you've lost,
For out in the world we find
Success being with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are:
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
― Walter D. Wintle

Thinking is something that can affect us in a lot of ways, both good and bad. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we think we can do something, and yet if you have the opposite mindset it’s amazing how little can get done!

A while back I had the privilege of reading two blog posts about thoughts, and I’d like to share those with you today.

What do You do With Your Thoughts? and Keep Serving With Your Thoughts

Rhoda has some really good ‘thoughts on thoughts’ here. I pray you will be blessed by the articles as much as I was! :)