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