Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Battle Surrendered--Part 3 of 5

(Sorry I couldn't get this up earlier! We have been b.u.s.y.)
Here's part three! Read part 1 and part 2 if you already haven't! Enjoy!

Part Three

We continued walking. And walking. And… walking. The forest floor was free of debris and, much to the relief of my bare feet, a soft carpet of moss covered the earth. But after several hours of walking, and walking, and… walking, I said, “Ok, don’t get me wrong. I want to follow You wherever You go. But can You give me some clue where we’re going? Please?”

“We are going home,” Jesus replied.

I gasped loudly, feeling both excitement and fear. He took one look at my face and cracked up. “No, dear heart! I mean your house. It’s not your time yet.”

“Oh,” I said. Then I saw the funny side of it and laughed along with Him. After a few minutes, it finally dawned on me what He had said. “Hey! Why are You taking me back home? You said You were going to train me!” I cried.

“Don’t worry,” He said. “We won’t arrive until you’re trained.”

It took me a while to try to sort that out. “So… You’ll be training me on the way?”

“Yes. We won’t get there until you’re trained.”

“Oh, ok. Gotcha.” Little did I know that I had no clue what He meant.

We walked some more. And walked. And… well, you know. But it wasn’t as boring as it sounds. The forest was beautiful and quiet, and I was walking beside the Prince of Peace.

Photo Credit
After a while, Jesus finally stopped walking and said, “We’ll make camp here for the night and continue your training in the morning.”

I can’t deny that I gave Him a funny look. Continue? I didn’t know we had started. I hadn’t even touched a sword or a bow yet!

Jesus stripped the lower branches off some nearby trees and soon had a small fire going. He took bread, canteens filled with water, and light blankets out of the leather bag He carried on His back. We ate and then slept on the soft moss with the blankets over us. The weather was perfect. I didn’t feel cold until early in the morning.

Shivering, I pulled my blanket more tightly around me. My eyelids fluttered for just a second, but what I saw in that moment made me sit up and scream.

The shadow creatures were back.

Again they pulled at me with their freezing hands. I cried, “No!” and tried to stand, but they kept me firmly fixed to the ground. I looked around for Jesus, but the shadow creatures surrounded me and blocked my view of Him.

Suddenly, there was the same dizzying light, the same trance-like feeling, and the same urge to give in.

No! I willed myself to fight back. I couldn’t fail again. I couldn’t let myself give in.

But the shadow creatures didn’t let me go, and I couldn’t tear myself from them. I started to wonder if I really wanted to. Was that prison so bad? Were the chains really so heavy? And Jesus would rescue me as soon as I asked Him to. He was nice like that.

The overwhelming feeling of false peace washed over me. The creature leaned over and whispered, “Follow meee….”

I don’t even remember the first step this time. All I know is that I found myself starting awake, once again, in the prison tower with the vague memory that I had chained myself there.

I had never thought I would fall into the same trap. If it had been horrible the first time I failed, it was double the horror now.

And then I thought of Him. I’d let Him down. And that was the greatest heartbreak of all. How could I have ever thought He would rescue me again? And even if He did, how could I face Him?

My shame overwhelmed me. My guilt was heavier than my chains. I mourned and moaned in the tower for days. No one came, which only made my sorrow deepen until it was so deep I felt like I could drown in it.

I was hungry, thirsty, tired, and cold. It was the closest to death I have ever been.

Finally, just when I thought I would burst from the pain, I did the only thing left to be done. I cried out for help.

“God,” I whispered, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Please… help me. I’ll die without You.”

I cried myself to sleep.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Battle Surrendered--Part 2 of 5

Here's part two of this story!  Read part one here. Enjoy (and come back tomorrow for installment no. 3!)

Part Two 

“Can… can you get me out?” I asked.

His smile grew even larger. “That’s what I came here to do.” His face drew back from the hole as he stood.

I waited while he hacked away at the stone, making the crack large enough for him to crawl through. It was a few minutes before I realized that he was using a sword to send the bricks of my prison tumbling down. That was one strong blade.

Finally, he secured a rope outside the dungeon and used it to climb down through the gap he had made. He looked like a prince out of a fairy tale; dressed in white from head to toe, a long cape thrown over his shoulders. Gold thread was stitched in flowing patterns on his cape. A leather bag was strapped to his back.

When he stood in front of me, I lifted my shackled wrists and said, “I’m chained. I don’t know where the key is.”

He reached into a pocket on his tunic and took out a tiny gold object. “You mean this key?” Grinning, he quickly bent to unlock the chains on my wrists and ankles.

“How did you know I was here?” I asked as he unbound me.

“Er, well,” he said, “I’ve known for a long time that you would be here. I’m here to train you. But I can’t train you if you’re locked up like this.”

“Train me? Why?” I had read stories about kids who were sucked into fantasy worlds and trained to be warriors for special missions. The thought that I could be like them filled me with jittery excitement.

“‘Why?’” he repeated, letting my final shackle fall to the floor. “You think you don’t need training?”

“No, no! It’s just that… why me? Why was I chosen to be trained? Does it have something to do with those shadow creatures? Why were they after me?”

He looked me in the eye. “They are after all of you, dear heart.” With that, he turned back toward the rope, leaving me to follow and wonder what he had against direct answers.

It was pretty easy to climb out of the dungeon with my feet braced on the wall and my rescuer beneath me to give me a lift if I needed it. Soon, he and I were standing in the green grass outside my prison. I shaded my eyes from the sun as I turned to look at the awful place. It was a single tall tower without any doors or windows, sitting in the middle of a forest.

“Um, so, Sir…?” I let my sentence trail off and turned to look at my rescuer, who was busy coiling the rope. “Sorry. I didn’t get your name?”

“Jesus,” was the calm reply.
Photo Credit

My jaw dropped. His grin returned as He added, “You wanted directness.”

Was it a complete miracle or complete lunacy? The fact that He could read my mind pretty much ruled out insanity, but could it really be Him?

Before I could say anything, He stretched out His hand toward me. One look at the ugly puncture wound marring His skin was enough to convince me. My mind spun.

He pulled me out of my circling thoughts by pointing out, “You were about to ask Me something?”

“Uh, yeah. When do we start… um, that is, when are You…?”

“When does your training begin?” He said.

I nodded, still dumbfounded.

“When you are ready,” He said.

I managed to squeak out, “Am I ready now?”

He smiled. “You tell Me. Are you?”

“I think so.”

He waited.

“Yes. I’m ready.”

“Good. Then let’s get to work.” He shouldered the coiled rope and strode into the forest.

I scurried after Him, calling, “Wait! Where are we going?”

“Follow me.”

I stopped. “Did You just quote Yourself?”

Thankfully, He understood my sense of humor and laughed. “Yes, I tend to do that. It makes it easier for people to see things the way I do.”

“And that’s supposed to mean…?” I asked as I again hurried to keep up with Him.

“That I never change. I am the same at this moment as I was two-thousand years ago, and as I was at the creation of the universe. Today, tomorrow, and yesterday, I remain the same. And so I can quote Myself in everything.”

Come back tomorrow for part three!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Battle Surrendered--Part 1 of 5

I'm excited to introduce to you our first part in a series of five stories written by Storyteller SilverLoomWe were graciously given permission to use it. It's a beautiful story, and I just KNOW you'll love it like both Tiffany and I have. But...we can't post it all today. It will have to come in segments. Come back tomorrow for part two!

Part One

They came at night. There was no time to prepare. I had no idea they were coming for me… until it was too late.

I woke up just in time to see them reaching for me. They looked like shadowy silhouettes of humans. They had no faces, no features to distinguish one from another. Their fingers were like black icicles circling around my arms, neck, and head.

Screaming, I pulled back, trying to roll over and get away. The shadow creatures didn’t let go.

A dim light suddenly shone. But instead of clarifying, this light made everything blurry. It illuminated the shadow creatures, but they didn’t disappear like shadows; instead, they seemed to grow more solid. Their skin turned white, soft, and pleasantly warm. I could see their eyes; dark, but gentle. The light seemed to come from someplace behind the creatures.

A strange feeling invaded my body and mind, like the one you get when you have a fever and take a sedative cold medicine. Under the unnatural disorientation, I started to wonder why I was fighting. I thought that I wasn’t being hurt, so why bother struggling? It was too much work to try to get away.

The creatures made me stand beside my bed. I didn’t resist. One of the creatures twittered in my ear, its voice soothing, “Follow meee….”

I didn’t ask where it wanted me to follow it to. I would see when I got there. It would take too much effort to talk.

I remember taking the first step to follow the creature. Something in me warned that what I was doing was stupid and wrong, but I buried the feeling and stepped forward. The next thing I knew, I was blinking as if I had just woken up. I was no longer in my bedroom.

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The eerie light was gone. The shadow creatures were gone. I was completely alone in a dark, damp prison. The only light in the place filtered in from a crack in the wall high above me. My ankles and wrists were chained to the stone floor of the dungeon. I had a vague memory of the creatures telling me to chain myself up.

“Hello?” I called. No answer came. The only sound was the rhythmic dripping of water from a corner of my prison. “Hey! Let me go! Get me out of here!” I yelled. Was it my imagination, or did I hear malicious laughter coming from the darker parts of the dungeon?

My heart pounded with fear. I had never thought something like this could happen to me. This stuff only happened to people in stories. It wasn’t supposed to happen in real life.

A scream welled up inside of me and I let it go. The worst part of it was that I knew I had put myself in this place. I hadn’t fought hard enough.

I curled up on the cold stone floor and sobbed. Then I called for the only One who could hear me. “God, please… please help me! I don’t know where I am! I shouldn’t have given in. Please! Help me!”

As my tears fell, the light from the crack in the wall suddenly disappeared. I stopped mid-sob and froze. I even held my breath.

A voice reverberated off the solid walls of my prison. “Hello, down there!”

I looked up at the crack. The face of a man stared back at me, his head almost completely covering the small crack. He had the widest smile I had ever seen. “Not the most comfortable place to live, I’d say.”

I wiped my teary eyes with my pajama sleeve. “Can… can you get me out?” I asked.

His smile grew even larger. “That’s what I came here to do.”

Come back tomorrow for installment number two!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday

explanation: a miscellaneous collection of verses, with a quote at the end.

Philippians 2:13-16,  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Psalms 34:8,  “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

1 Corinthians 13:12,  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-13,  “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Quote by Hudson Taylor, "I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking God to do His work through me."

Have a blessed Wednesday (or Thursday, depending on where you live)!

*Thanks to for the "Apple of Peru" picture behind the quote!*

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recipes Wanted

Hello, all you dear readers!

I'm slowly working on putting together the next JOJ magazine (fourth edition), and thought for this issue we'd like some recipes!

And, of course, your help is you have any fairly simple and easy recipes to share with us today? If you prefer, you can comment, or feel free to contact us. And please, either way you send it to us, include a little "about me" at the end. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it's nice to know the people behind the recipes--not just the recipes themselves! It helps build sisterhood.

Here's a recipe for you to try today:

Oh, yum, yum! I'll have to make those again!

Looking forward to your submissions!

For now, 
Your loving sister,

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Because I Love You

This story was written by both Tiffany and Esther, at Esther's birthday sleepover. Yes--that's what writers do sometimes! Write when they come together for a birthday celebration! Enjoy. (And I hope you'll get something out of it!)
Mae rose from the chair to take a closer look. Something was slowly creeping across the lawn! The long furry body slowly sneaked toward the porch. What? She though, it can't be! She leaned tiptoe over the verandah, the bushy tail had just slipped behind a small shrub. Mae leaned harder. Was it a…? She squinted, all of a sudden the top three verandah boards gave way and Mae fell the six feet drop and landed on her back, the lower half of her body on the concrete, the rest on the grass bank.

She cried out in shock. Her legs wouldn't obey her command! “MUM!” She screamed, staring at her lifeless legs.

Suddenly, a head popped up from behind the bank, exposing a red head, green mischievous eyes, and a freckled nose.

“JEREMY!” the yell came almost to a scream. It ended in a moan of fear. She almost sobbed, but her voice came in a whisper. “Get Mum. NOW.”
Mae was quickly but gently wheeled into the emergency room. People in blue robes lifted her onto a table. A large black machine was hoisted down and moved over her legs. One of the people, a nurse, reached over and squeezed her hand. “You're gonna be fine, honey. We just need to X-ray your legs to see what's wrong.” Mae lay very still, thinking how this whole day had completely turned around. She was disturbed from her reverie by an agonized scream coming from the X-ray viewing room. Some pale faced nurses walked through and took her off the table.

Just as they were wheeling her out she saw her Mum, tears streaming down her face. She was talking with the Doctor in the door to the viewing room. “WHAT!” She screamed, “You mean my precious daughter will never walk again!”

“The fall damaged her lower back, causing paralysis. I am very sorry, Ma'am, but yes. She will never again walk.” While her Mum wailed, Mae stared at the ceiling in shock. She would never again walk!?

Gently, she was placed on her bed by strong arms. Her father crossed the room, opened the closet, and extracted two more pillows. He carefully placed them behind her and exited the room.

A once cheery—now grim—face appeared in the doorway, and she watched as the little boy quietly crept to the chair by the bed. “Are you hurt bad?” The boy asked, gazing at the lifeless legs resting on a cushion. She wanted to scream, to tell him to run away, but she couldn't. It wouldn't be kind—or fair. He didn't know what was going to happen when he had done it!

Bitterly, she replied, “Yeah. I won't ever be able to walk again.”

A pained expression flitted across his small dirt-streaked face. “I was just joking!”

“Oh, yeah?” She wanted to say more, to say that it was a dirty joke, but she refrained. Mum wouldn't like her to talk like that to her brother. She would just keep quiet.

“Yeah.” the boy glanced again at her legs, then up to her face. “Tommy gave me that wolf skin. He said that his uncle got it on his last hunting trip! Isn't it swell?”

“Well,” Mae raised her voice but caught herself just in time. “I think you'd better go.”

A truly mournful face looked up at her. “Are you mad?”

“JUST GO!” she shouted. A tearful boy ran out.

Huh, some joke! She muttered to herself. It cost me my legs. Now I'll be stuck in a chair all my life!

Over the next few days Mae had nothing to do except be sorry for herself and blame Jeremy. You might have said she had the right—she would never be able to do the same things again. But thinking these things was not making Mae's home a nice one. She was constantly talking to herself, and she would not let anyone in her room. Darkness had crept into her room, visitors learned to keep well away. Mae's life and beauty—had turned into a stinking pit of blackness, bitterness and selfpity. Her family crept lightly round her.

One night, Mae was seriously thinking of somehow taking her life. She fell into a dream. In the dream, the walls around her bed were crumpled by thick black searching fingers. An overwhelming stench filled the room. The smell of something long dead or dying. Mae felt exposed. She heard moanings, groanings, shrieks and laughs. She was glad her bed was still there and she pulled the covers up to her ears, but the sounds did not stop. She could now “feel” the air—a deep violent stirring invoking utter terror in her heart. The stench became overwhelming. She felt the air being robbed from her, and she began gasping for breath. There seemed to be many things around her, gathering on her bed. She could feel their hairy, slimy touches as if there was no covers.

Suddenly, there was two claws that dug deep into the flesh around her shoulders. Two wide sickly yellow, green flecked eyes stared into her own, and she sensed they were smiling and she realized those eyes belonged to the claws that were drawing yet deeper into her skin. Yes those eyes were smiling—enjoying the pain they were inflicting. About now she became aware of the worst noise in her life, the sound of herself screaming. Something she would never forget. The pain became indescribable, those claws felt as though they'd reached in and grabbed her heart, and was squeezing the life out of her. “HELP!!!

She screamed hoping like never before, the hope of someone desperate. She could feel herself crumpling like paper.

“Put your hand up!” a soft voice whispered. Hot, thinking dimly, she put her hand up. The relief was immediate. She felt like she was being pulled through lots of layers of dirt really fast at a speed much faster than an aeroplane. She looked up and saw the best face she could ever imagine, coming toward her, FAST. All of a sudden, she was at His feet.

“MAE” He said.

All of a sudden, Mae felt very dirty. Very ashamed. She suddenly realized what she had been doing to people during her “sickness”. She tried to get away from this man who was giving her those feelings.

{Photo Credit}
“Don't trust your feelings, my dear, for the feelings come and feelings go. Mae, you have something to tell me.” He added.

She poured out everything to Him and lay herself at His feet. “Sir,” she said, “I know not why you take such interest in me. Why, you took me from that terrible place below, when punishment was what I really deserved.”

“Because,” He said, brushing away a tear, “Because,” He said as he tossed her up and spun her around, “Because, I love you!” With that, the dream faded, but the love she had come to see continued and she jumped out of bed and ran into her Mum & Dad's room and jumped on their bed saying, “Mummy, Daddy, I met the greatest person…”

Her parents looked at each other in the eye, both with tears filling their eyes.

“Darling,” her Mummy cried, “You're walking!”


-Tiffany and Esther-

Wednesday, September 12, 2012



Have you just stumbled in somehow?
Or have you just alighted on our windowsill, cocking your head like a bird does, to see what the J.O.J. blog looks like?

Well, whether you are an exhausted traveller or a curious bird, we warmly welcome you both!

Please take a little time to sit down and rest. To read through the post's, to scroll through the articles and hunt through the archives! We love to get comments, so please don't be afraid to recommend something, just please do it in a caring manner.

While you read, we hope you will become aware of the presence of One who started this all.
We hope that if some how you know Him not, that He who breathed life into this, will somehow--for His ways are mysterious--breathe life into you, for there is nothing quite so wonderful as Him.
And if you don't know who 'He' is... Well you're about to find out!

And no we did not forget you, you who already "know" Him -know, you see, isn't quite the right word, for who can know Him? Anyway, we hope you will be encouraged, blessed, by this.

And if you should have anything you would like to say please email us at

Love and Blessings,
- Esther and Tiffany