Bethel Grace Abbey Mission

This is the online outreach for Bethel Grace Abbey Mission. May our efforts to serve the hurting and homeless souls of Southern California reach to the level He has set for us. May His Glory shine through the darkness and be evident in all we do at Bethel Grace Abbey. These are only our humble beginnings, but through His love, we can move mountains. Thank you for joining us on our mission. May your life be as blessed as mine has become.
In His Loving Grace,
Jennifer Joy

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review

DSC08273This has been an amazing year, full of ups and downs. We finally got on the road, after three long years of trying to start living the RV lifestyle. (Read about our struggles over the past three years here.) Then, once we got started on the road, God changed our game plan (big time), thus the birth of this new blog.

This past year has held some of the worst physical pain I have ever experienced, but God was faithful to heal me physically a few months ago. One thing I have learned about God’s healing miracles is that it isn’t always instantaneous. Even the apostle Paul, after recovering his sight, needed time to recover. (Acts 9:19 “and after taking some food, he regained his strength.”) Finding the truth in this verse helped me to believe in my own healing, for there was instantaneous relief from the severity of my pain, my migraines, and even my food allergies, but some of the other issues are taking a little longer to overcome. Some of these other issues have to do with regaining the strength I lost during so many years of illness.

DSC08368The first quarter of the year also held some of the worst emotional pain I have ever experienced. My marriage was on the brink of disaster and my father passed away from cancer on the first day of Spring—a day that should herald hope and new beginnings. In a way, it did bring hope and a new beginning, because God was again faithful in His love, care, and compassion for this lowly sinner. After my father passed, my Savior finished the task of releasing me from my past. In a way, Jesus brought to a close what He started in me five years ago, when my mother passed away suddenly and when I became seriously ill (actually I fell seriously ill about six months before my mother passed on, but I was diagnosed the same week she died).

When God healed me of my past, my marriage was also instantaneously healed. Our marriage has never been better than it is right now, and I will be forever grateful to God for it.

God has also brought my daughter and I back together. I will not go into details at this time; just know that this too has been healed.

One thing we have yet to be healed of, however, is our finances. We are struggling horribly, barely making it month to month. Everything is so much more expensive down here in Southern California, than it is in Oregon. My husband’s past employer, whom his retirement is through, is playing games with what little they provide. They’ve added higher copays and deductibles to our health insurance, and they are taking more and more funds out of his pension (to pay their higher costs of providing the insurance, I suppose). Plus our motor coach broke down three times on our way south, which drained our savings account, and now we fear traveling too far because if we break down again, we won’t be able to fix her again. So my latest struggle on our journey, which God has us on, is overcoming the fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no money. Though I should not fear even this, because God has always been faithful to make sure I have been taken care of in my times of need. He has always provided some form of “Manna” to keep us alive, sheltered, and fed.

IMG_1173Sometimes I worry and I fear that I will not be able to carry out this mission He has placed on my heart. I fear this because of our lack of finances. How can I ever hope to help others, if we ourselves are barely above destitute? Though in this area, I do have hope, for my God is a faithful god. I know He will provide when the time is right. In the meantime, I continue to pray and believe.

My prayer for you today is that, even if your year has been painful, that you can see where God has given bits of joy for your endurance. I also pray that God will provide and care for you, as He has been faithful to love and care for me.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stress Busters

Stress can make or break a person.

Stress can eat a hole right through your stomach. Stress can cause you to make poor decisions, to make mistakes. Stress can keep you from sleeping. Stress can make you prone to overeating.

Stress can also make us aware of trouble spots in our lives.

In moderation, stress can build our resiliency. Stress can teach us patience. Stress can drive us to achieve great things.

Stress can also be good for us. We experience good stress, or eustress, when we fall in love, go to an amusement park, or joyfully anticipate the birth of a child.

In eustress, our hearts pound. We feel a surge of pleasure and excitement rise in us. We can barely stifle our enthusiasm.

But when we are experiencing too much stress (even good stress when to excess), this chronic stress can have detrimental effects on our health and our ability to function. We miss deadlines at work. We find ourselves running late, and then we miss the bus, or we get into an accident on the way to work because we are thinking about our obligations instead of focusing on the road. Our blood pressure rises and stays elevated. We become less able to tolerate change. We become vulnerable to all sorts of illnesses. We carry our stress overload on our shoulders, as if it were a real physical burden, and the added tension brings on back pain and headaches. When I am under too much stress, the tightness in my shoulders even makes my hands go to sleep.

So, if we are under so much pressure and it is stealing our joy, how can we ever hope to get out from under it?

I have a simple list of suggestions, and although I say it is a simple list, until you can see your way clear, it can be anything but simple to accomplish. Even so, your health is worth every effort to get your stress back under control.

  1. Learn to say, “no.” Or at least learn to say, “let me get back to you.”
  2. Set healthy boundaries, for your time and even to include whom you allow into your personal space.
  3. Acknowledge your innate value. You are not a doormat, to be used by everyone who enters your life.
  4. Prioritize your obligations.
  5. Delegate anything that needs done but is not worthy of being on your hectic schedule. (By this I mean that older kids can do dishes and fold laundry. Or even hire a housekeeper or gardener to come once a week.)
  6. Laugh often. Watch comedies instead of dramas, as even violence and strife seen on the screen can raise our stress levels because we unknowingly internalize it. It’s human nature.
  7. Take a walk, either alone or with a loved one.
  8. Exercise, but know that exercise does not have to mean sit-ups. Gardening, if you enjoy it, can be excellent for the physical and mental being.
  9. Memorize a key verse or make up your own mantra to get you through the stressful times. (My favorite is Philippians 4:13.)
  10. Make a list of things you enjoy, and then prioritize some of them into your week. Hobbies can be great stress relievers.
  11. Show yourself grace and mercy by not trying to be a superhero.
  12. Write out what is so stressful for you because as you write, things will become clearer, and then hopefully, through your writings, you will find a solution. This can be only for your eyes, or if it helps, share it with someone you trust.


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

“‘Martha, Martha,’ The Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.’” Luke 10:41-42

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

My prayer for you today is that you may find at least a moment of laughter and joy in each and every day.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Friday, December 27, 2013

Drama-Free Zone

I’ve been hearing people around me say that they are tired of all the drama, and I’m not just talking about teens. I’m talking about women (and even men) old enough to know better, than to continue the drama cycle.

I see them repeatedly inviting drama into their lives, with the decisions they make.

Everything is a choice. Everything in our lives stems from decisions we have made. However, unless we actually pay attention to what we are doing, we will not see that we have made poor choices.

It is my firm belief that, if we truly want a drama-free life, then we need to make the pledge to live in a truly drama-free zone.

How do we do this?

There’s biblical principals that can guide us in making the right decisions, but before I list key verses, I would like to give a list of do’s and don’ts.

  1. First, stop the lying. When we lie, we have not only the truth to keep track of (which is easy to do) but also the lies. Lying gets us all twisted, and then we cannot remember who we told what to, and then all hell breaks loose when we make a mistake and say the wrong thing to someone we have been lying to, or when the truth gets back to them through someone else. We can  lose our most important relationships through lying. Plus, we teach people not to trust us, when we lie.
  2. Stop gossip in its tracks. Sure, it can be enticing, listening to all the juicy bits of someone else’s life, and it can be even more enticing to pass what we hear along to others, but when we participate in gossip, we kill our relationships. It is one thing to pass along details we have permission (directly from the person) to pass along, but it is another thing entirely to say things behind their back. As an example, if a friend made it public that she is pregnant, and she is full of joy about the pregnancy and doesn’t care if the world knows, then it is okay to share in her joy and pass it along. It is entirely a separate matter if her pregnancy was unplanned or the result of an affair and she is fretting over all the changes it brings into her life, and she told you in confidence because she trusted you. Basically, before you open your mouth, think, “Does what I am about to say hurt or help the person and his/her situation?” If it hurts, keep your mouth shut. If you are unsure, keep your mouth shut. It is better to err on the side of caution.
  3. Stop reading tabloids. Tabloids gossip about celebrities. When we read tabloids, including the supposedly higher class gossip magazines, then we contribute to perpetuating the cycle of gossip. Gossip hurts, even if it is about celebs. When we buy and read these magazines (or watch such shows) then we are telling society that it is okay to spread rumors and gossip.
  4. Be true to yourself and others. When we act one way in front of this person and another way in front of that person, then we are two-faced. If what you are doing is not acceptable in front of everyone, then stop it. Any behavior can be changed if you really want change in your life.
  5. Know who you can trust before opening up. If the person is a known gossiper or liar, then don’t share important things with them. Some people can take even the most innocent of comments and twist them until they become hurtful. With these people, it is usually best to not say anything beyond the weather forecast.
  6. Become trustworthy. Make every effort to be the type of friend they need you to be, to be the type of person you would want as a friend. Adding to the drama isn’t worth the price of losing valuable relationships.
  7. Avoid drama. It may not be polite to walk away from a conversation, but sometimes that’s what needs to be done. I’ve had to walk away from conversations, when my acquaintances did not get the message that I did not care to hear about so-and-so’s troubles. Sometimes walking away is the only thing that makes them understand you are serious about remaining gossip and drama free. Don’t make excuses or debate the issue; just walk away.
  8. It is unfortunate, but sometimes relationships must be ended if you have tried everything to make them understand and the other person still does not accept your unwillingness to participate in the drama. Have confidence that there are better relationships out there waiting for you.
  9. And finally, forgive. Forgive others their mistakes and how they have hurt you. Own up to your own mistakes by asking forgiveness of those you have wronged. Forgive yourself for those mistakes you have made. And ask God’s forgiveness. His forgiveness will bring wondrous blessings and peace to your life.

And now to the key verses. As I’ve said before, memorizing Bible verses can and will help improve your life. Write them out on Post-its or 3 x 5 cards and display them where you can read them throughout the day.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Proverbs 11:3

“Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:12-13

“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” Proverbs 26:20

“ The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear The Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” Psalm 15:2-5

“Cast your cares on The Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

“Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’” Hebrews 10:17

My prayer for you today is that you may find the peace that is only found in knowing Christ.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy


Monday, December 23, 2013

Family Traditions

299In this fast-paced world, where single parents are raising their children alone, or grandparents, out of necessity, take on the raising of their grandchildren, or where households are a mishmash of friends cohabitating out of financial necessity, is there anything left of the old holiday traditions?

With finances so tight that the special holiday meals and traditions cannot be carried out, what then are we passing along to our children? Or with families going every which way that they don’t even get together anymore, can we even expect Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (and other holidays) to be sacred  anymore?

It pains me to see far more emphasis and effort put into the gatherings surrounding football games than our sacred holidays.

I dearly miss the gatherings we used to have when I was a child. We never had much, but there was always something special under the tree. In fact, one of my earliest memories is way back when I was probably three or four, and we were living with my mom’s parents. The house was very small, especially with seven people living together. We had our tree in the basement that year. I remember this so well, as clear as if it were yesterday. I got an Avon powder puff bunny and a Barbie that year. I was thrilled. It was my first Barbie.

I also have fond memories of the other Christmases during my childhood. One of our traditions was that we would spend Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s, having a nice family dinner together. Grandma was always buzzing around, her apron strings almost flying behind her as she made her way around the table, making sure everyone was well fed. I rarely saw her sit and partake of the entire meal with us, until later years when age finally slowed her down.

Then we would go home, all rosy-cheeked and eager to go to bed so that we could play with our new toys Christmas morning.

301One of Mom’s traditions was cinnamon rolls. I absolutely adored her cinnamon rolls. She’d make the dough the night before, at least a triple batch, and then she would put the Tupperware fix-n-mix bowl in the refrigerator to rise overnight. The next morning, that huge bowl would be overflowing with rich, sweet dough, and Mom was usually up at six to finish making the cinnamon rolls, so that we could enjoy them for breakfast.

Once again, I found myself really missing my mom the other day. She passed away five years ago. Wow. It is difficult to believe it has been that long already.

So I decided to whip up a batch of rich, sweet dough last night, and I got up this morning at six to finish them. It’s difficult, baking in a tiny RV oven, but I managed to make a single batch, and soon the entire coach was filled to overflowing with the wonderfully sweet smell of Christmas.

My prayer for you today is for fond memories to surface and for traditions to be reborn, if they have died away.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy



  • 2 pkg. yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 4 1/2 cups flour

302Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Combine with the rest of the ingredients, beating the flour in cup by cup until smooth. The dough will be soft. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill at least two hours or overnight. divide in half, roll out, fill with softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and nuts (optional). Roll up tightly. Slice one inch thick and place in a buttered pan. Let rise over a pan of warm water. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Glaze immediately with your favorite vanilla frosting (thinned slightly). My favorite  frosting recipe follows:


  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • enough milk or water to thin to desired consistency



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Personal Best: Part Four: Well Grounded

This is the final in the series on raising the bar. As I mentioned in the first post, I believe that if we can achieve one, then the other three will follow. This is the one that I believe is the key. Being properly grounded makes everything else easier in life.

But what do I mean by being grounded? Many people talk about having their head in the clouds, or being flighty. These are the opposite of being grounded.

To be grounded means that we have a solid foundation to stand on. It means that we are focused and present in the now (not ten minutes from now and not two weeks from now). Our minds are not racing ahead to fantastical what-ifs. We are calm.

When we are not grounded, everything can become unraveled easily because we tend to be overly emotional. We get upset or angry for unworthy reasons. We get frustrated when things don’t go as we expect, often because our expectations are not based in reality.

So, how can we get grounded? For a quick situational fix, the easiest thing to do is breathe. Concentrate on your breath and let it bring you back to the present. This is not only for the negative events in our lives, but also for those events that are too stimulating to take in all at once. If you find you are getting too excited (about anything, get your mind out of the gutter, although that’s a good reason, as well) and you subsequently find your mind racing, then breathe. Deep breaths. In and out. Until the excitement is under control.

When emotions are allowed to run rampant (as in our over-excitement), we make decisions that we later regret. We react instead of act. What I mean by this is that actions are premeditated. We have spent time in making the decision to do the action. Whereas, reactions are spontaneous. We don’t think. We let the circumstances or the emotions or someone else make decisions for us. And this is not good.

So breathe.

And then when you are calmer, while you are still breathing, think.

Where can we find a solid foundation to stand on? We can find this by exerting wiser choices in who we choose to be in relationship with. This is a good starting point, but the most important relationship, the only one that can truly be our rock to stand on, is Jesus.

When we give ourselves over to Jesus, and we follow His teachings, then we have our solid foundation. If all our decisions are based on biblical truths, then we can be sure we are making good, wholesome, honorable decisions in our lives.

I hear you when you say that The Bible was written several millennia ago. You think its outdated. I understand your concerns. However, when we are in relationship with Jesus, and we have the Holy Spirit whispering truths in our ears, we begin to understand. We begin to see how The Bible is still relevant today. Trust me. Or better yet, trust God’s Word. If you earnestly endeavor to find life’s answers in The Bible, a whole new world will be opened up to you. It is as simple as saying a prayer and opening the book. If you are not sure where to start, the Psalms is always a good choice, and it can be found right in the middle of The Bible. The Book of John is another great choice. Galatians is my personal favorite. It teaches me that grace is based on faith and not on our silly human strivings. Through faith, I am a new creation. I don’t have to jump through any hoops or prove anything to anybody. God knows my heart, and so He reads my heart directly. Without striving constantly to prove my worthiness, an unspeakable joy fills me as I go about my daily chores. Since I don’t have to prove myself anymore, I eagerly work for His Kingdom, to share this wondrous joy with others and give them hope for their own joy, found only in the unconditional love of Our Savior.

So that is my prayer for you today, that you might be open to receiving the Joy of Christ.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Personal Best: Part Three: Trust

Honesty and trust go hand in hand. The more honest I am known to be, the more likely it is that people will trust me. If I’m not a trustworthy person, doors will close for me, instead of opening to greater opportunities.

Lying is a tiresome endeavor. Instead of just having to remember the truth, now the teller has to remember each twist and turn in the story he’s been weaving, usually to cover up the truth. Before long, the whole thing unravels, and people get hurt. The liar gets hurt as well, as his relationships suffer the consequences of lies that need not be told.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell the truth? Instead of weaving a fantastic story, just spit it out. The fantastic story is bound to unravel. The truth is bound to come out, sooner or later. Then the lies lead to a horrific aftermath, and we are left putting out relationship fires. Face it, there’s less of a mess to clean up, if the truth is told in the first place.

Being honest in our words is only part of the whole trust issue, though. To be trustworthy, our actions must also be held up to the light. If a person isn’t reliable, then people tend to judge him/her as not being trustworthy, as well. Idle promises, again, bring us down. If we make idle promises, then our trustworthiness is called into question. If we say we will be somewhere and then don’t show up, we are not trustworthy.

It goes without saying that if we take what isn’t ours, then we are not trustworthy.

If we expect others to trust us, then we need to prove we deserve to be trusted. Make all your dealings and all your words reach to the higher standards you are now striving for. As you walk this new, narrow path, you will discover that, even though it is narrow, it has many gates that open to wondrous new experiences and opportunities. It has many more and much better gates than that old, crooked path of the past.

As with anything that is worth having, this too will take patience and persistence. When we try to start fresh, with a background of distrust, it will take time for others to feel secure enough to trust again. Keep at it. Hang in there. Even if at first, old relations refuse to believe the change in you, please know that it is possible for relationships to be renewed and to overcome trust issues. It will take patience on your part, but I know that you are worth the effort to strive for better relationships.

As I stated a few days ago, take every word that comes out of your mouth seriously. Make each word count. Make each word truthful. Others take our words seriously, and part of this is because, as the Bible states, “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What comes out of our mouths matters.

If we like juicy tidbits, then we gossip. If we are prone to anger, then we will argue. These are examples of our hearts dictating what our mouths do.

But we cannot simply say, “the heart wants what the heart wants.” We must take steps to stop our mouths from blurting out every hurtful or gossipy thing that lands on our tongue. Bite that tongue if you must, for the tongue is the most powerful muscle in the body. It can do more damage than any thrown punch, but don’t go throwing punches, either. I wouldn’t want people thinking I advocate violence as a solution for anything. Because I don’t.

My prayer for you today is that a special person will surface in your life. It may be that you already know this special person, waiting there to be your helper. I pray they will be someone whom you can bond with in a wholesome manner. My prayer is that this person will offer you unconditional love and will be a shining example of strength and honesty of character, so that you can lean on them as you persevere in overcoming your challenges.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Personal Best: Part Two: Commitment

It should be a no brainer that when it comes to employment and to relationships, having high standards is very important. However, we seem to forget what commitment is, when we become complacent or disgruntled.

We get a new job, and we are all excited about having the new job. So we promise ourselves that we will learn all we can learn and do the best job we can possibly do, and we quickly learn how to do our new job. We even dare to believe we do our job better than the guys that have been there longer.

Then we begin to notice undercurrents. We learn the unwritten hierarchy and we learn how to leverage ourselves above the others. Then we start noticing how the others are slacking off. We start to hear conflicting messages from the higher-ups. An unfavorable attitude brews in us. “Why should I do my job to the fullest if they aren’t?”

The same scenario can play out in our relationships as well. At first, all we see is sunshine and rainbows. We see stars that blind us, as we travel through the early stages of a relationship. In a romantic relationship, this is the lust phase, when we are madly passionate about everything that has to do with our new beau.

But after awhile, we start seeing the blemishes and the flaws in our new beau. We then enter into a phase that will make or break the relationship. If time has been invested to really learn about our new interest, then the relationship will weather any differences of opinion that happen to arise. However, as in many romantic encounters, if the new couple chooses to explore each others bodies and they neglect their minds, there isn’t enough in the lust to keep the relationship alive. That’s why it is so important to spend some time really getting to know someone before hopping into bed—so that the relationship is built on a solid foundation of common ground, instead of heady clouds of lust.

If we are reaching for a strong committed relationship this time, instead of another painful fling, then we need to invest the time upfront to build that foundation.

Any beau worth having will understand waiting until you know each other better.

We need to set the bar higher for ourselves, if we expect to experience commitment in our relationships and in our work.

When it comes to our personal standards, where we choose to set the bar is a personal matter. What I mean by this, to achieve my own personal best, my standards cannot be dependent upon anyone else’s performance or demands.

I’ll go back to the work analogy to explain this better. When we accept employment, we agree to perform our assigned duties. We agree to uphold everything listed in our employment contract. Most companies nowadays have rules concerning our conduct while under their employ and while on their premises. Most of these are standard rules of etiquette. Others are specific to the company. Either way, when we sign on, we agree to follow all their “rules.” Their list of expectations is the baseline. Our bar needs to be at least this high for us to succeed in their company. As a side note, this is not basing our standards on their demands. This is us meeting the expectations of our job.

However, sometimes we must follow our own standards, rather than blindly following orders. As as example of times when our personal standards trump company standards, sometimes, after we have been in a company for awhile, we start to notice shady dealings at the management level or above. Even though this seems to be the status quo for the company and other employees are following suit, my own personal standards would keep me from partaking in those shady dealings. For instance, I once had a situation at work where I was informed that someone was in the process of stealing people’s identities, and he was using our company to do so. The higher ups knew the repercussions on their customers, if this criminal succeeded. Yet when the officials (police and/or feds) told them to carry on as if nothing were wrong, because they were on to him, my boss passed that official command along to me. Try as I might, I could not follow through with my orders. My personal standards would not allow me to partake in ruining the lives of all those strangers, when his call came on my phone.

Included in the expectations of employers is being a productive member of the staff. Being hired to do a specific job is a binding agreement between two entities, between employer and employee, and nowhere does it state that if so-and-so slacks off, then I get to as well. And this is the same in relationships. Just think of that thing moms used to say, “If Bobby jumped of the bridge, would you?”

When we disregard our work ethic to play the same games as everyone else, everyone else does not suffer the consequences for us when we get caught and get either reprimanded or fired. It is our own reputation that suffers. Our own paycheck suffers and our own family’s welfare suffers. Same goes for our relationships. When we neglect our morals, our reputation suffers, and it costs us other, more valuable relationships.

I’ve had problems in the past with thinking I had to play their games in order to be liked by the other employees. Being accepted was very important to me, and unfortunately I made decisions that didn’t always honor my employer. It didn’t take long before I figured out that my place of employment was not a social outlet; then I started putting my nose into my work and stayed away from the gossipers and those who tried to entice me to extra long breaks, and such. I am not placing blame. I made every decision. We like to blame things on that catchy phrase, “peer pressure,” but even though I was being pressured, I made the final decision to succumb each time.

My prayer for you today is for you to find strength to stand up against peer pressure. My prayer is that your relationships will grow and blossom, and that you will blossom where you are planted.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Monday, December 16, 2013

Personal Best: Part One: Reliability

I have spoken several times in the past few months about raising the bar and having higher personal standards. It is very important that we have honorable values and morals. It is important for our dealings with society and within our own family. It is important for our employment and financial future. Having maturity in these areas just plain helps us function in life. Today, I would like to share about some of the best qualities we can exhibit. If we strive for these, we can achieve the things we wish to achieve in life. It’s not a long list, only four characteristics to work toward. I believe that if you master one, then the other three will automatically follow. This I will explain more in the fourth and last post in this series.

  • Reliable
  • Committed 
  • Trustworthy
  • Well Grounded

Being unreliable, nowadays, seems to be part and parcel with being young. Somehow, we have managed to not teach the younger generations how to be upstanding citizens. We yell and scream at the younger generations, that they should be more respectful and such, and yet we forget that we, the older generations, neglected our duties as the younger were growing up. However, I am not here to lay blame or make excuses. I am here to help bring harmony to our communities and families. As such, being unreliable begets disharmony, and reliable people bring harmony to the table.

As an example,  when we regularly call in sick, (in those times when we know darn well we aren’t really sick), we portray our unreliability. The fact that we are not reliable can be seen like a big neon sign around our necks. Everyone soon discovers this about us, upon meeting us or hiring us. We cannot hide this character flaw for long. Once in this habit, it is difficult to break. I know this from personal experience. There were jobs I hated and there were plenty of times I believed what I had to do at home was more important. No matter what was going on at home, if it wasn’t a life-threatening emergency, then I had no business placing my priorities ahead of my boss’ priorities for my time. It is not about who is more important in the situation. When we accept employment, we make a commitment to be there and to do our assigned tasks. Yes, we are putting our boss and coworkers in a bind by not being there, but the bottom line is that we disgrace our own good name; our reputation suffers when we flake out by calling in sick all the time (or however else we show our unreliability). When we flake out at work, we also have a tendency to flake out in our relationships.

Friendships, relationships, intimacies, work, they all suffer when we are unreliable. If you do not believe it, just have an honest conversation with someone you spend a lot of time with, someone you can trust to be honest with you. Or, if you are in a self-punishment mood, ask your boss what he honestly thinks about your absenteeism.

You can ask what others think about you, you can even ask their advice on the subject, but no one can fix this issue for you. You must do the work for yourself, to reset your own bar above what people now expect from you (having lived with an unreliable you for some time now). I cannot tell you how to be more reliable. I can tell you that the most obvious way to be more reliable is to act reliably from here on out.

One thing that worked for me was taking every word out of my own mouth seriously. I made a vow a long time ago that I would not make promises, because promises have a tendency to be broken. Life has a habit of getting in the way of things. By not making idle promises, I know I won’t be what gets in my own way so often.

So many times, we jump to say yes to everything asked of us. Before our brains have even engaged on the subject, our mouths commit us to it. If you have an inability to say no, commit the following phrases to memory: “I need to check my schedule.” “I need to think about it.” “Can I give you my decision tomorrow.”

Those simple words will give you the time you need to make sure you can commit, or it can give you the time to decide if you really want to commit or not.

But sometimes our best option is to just learn how to say no. Work is work and has priority. If social or family requests are getting in the way, maybe its time to sit down your friends and relations and have a serious talk about your commitment to your employer and that being able to feed and house your family is more important than the drama being pushed in front of you. I’ll talk more about drama another day.

I must caution, however, that when it comes to accepting change in us, people can be gun shy. If they know us one way and one way only, they may have trouble believing we have changed. In this situation, it is best to just keep plugging along, doing the right thing, making better choices, demonstrating our new, reliable self, and eventually our relations and friends will see the new pattern emerging, and the more they see of it, the more they will be able to believe.

Remember that change takes time. Change is possible, and once it truly occurs, it is amazing, but it takes patience to get there. Hang in there.

My prayer for you today is that you can see more clearly the person you can be, and that your steps to become her/him is made easier by the love in your relationships.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Inspirational Links

Today, I would like to simply share a few links, which I have found quite inspiring. While it is true that the internet can be a dangerous place, full of misinformation and just plain bad stuff, it can also be quite useful. As with everything else, we must use discernment and wise judgment when we read what others post on the internet.

I’ve not read everything these websites and authors have to offer, but what I have read, I like. I happened upon this site this morning. I am looking forward to reading more of what she has to offer.

Right now I am trying to get her Christmas journal/devotional (Finding Real Joy, A Mother’s Prayer Journal at Christmas) to upload to my Kindle. Having things available on my Kindle, rather than just on my computer, helps me get all the reading in that I need to. My computer is old and clunky, and even though it is a laptop, it has become very heavy over the years (not really, but when compared to newer options . . .) and it can be awkward to use in my limited-space situation (living full-time in our motorhome). So our Kindles have become my best go-to solution for many things. Mine is an older version and perfect for just reading, but I do use my husband’s Kindle Fire to quickly look things up on the internet when I don’t wish to drag out my laptop (and when the size of my iPhone screen is inadequately small for the task).

I am having difficulty getting it uploaded because my older version Kindle tends to not be as friendly as the newer Kindle Fire when it comes to acceptable file types, but if all else fails, I know I can put it on my hubby’s Kindle Fire, and read it from there.

When I am doing biblical research, I like to use one of the two following sites: and Even with these sites, however, I still refer back to my own leather-bound Bible and prayer for discernment, that they are speaking the truth.

Another good site I have found is It is a good site for young parents, as it shares a wealth of information for families, written from the perspective of a young Christian mother and pastor’s wife.

You can even find inspiration in blogs about your favorite hobbies. I found this one,, and it is a treasure, as she covers not only her hobby/business of being a seamstress, but she also shares personal and family tidbits of hope and laughter.

I would like to know, what inspires you? Please comment about this post and any of my other posts. If you would like me to use my hound-dog research skills to find solutions for a specific issue (within my ability of course), just let me know. If there’s some issue related to homelessness, poverty, domestic abuse, community outreach, God, finding joy and peace, or just about anything else that you want me to talk about, drop me a line, and I will do my best. I love doing research, and I love sharing what I find out.

My prayer for you today is that you find what really fires you up in a positive manner. I pray you discover what it is that brings you peace and joy.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dental Emergencies

Okay, so this morning I woke up with a killer toothache.

It is a doozy, but it’s not like I didn’t feel it coming on.

I’ve had increased sensitivity in my lower left molars for a few weeks. I’ve also had a lymph node or gland or whatever swollen up on the left side of my throat for at least that long, but I was ignoring it, hoping it was just left over from the cold I had at the end of last month.

This morning I woke up with a killer headache and my lower jaw was hurting so bad, I could barely eat breakfast. In fact, I left some of my food on my plate because it was too painful to eat any more. Breakfast was not enjoyable, not in the least sense of the word.

So, here I sit with a bad toothache. I brushed twice with Sensodyne (once before eating and again after). I flossed. I even chewed two aspirin, hoping for instant relief. By the way, I would not recommend chewing aspirin to just anybody. You have to know your tolerance level, as aspirin can be very corroding to the mouth and digestive system. That’s why they now put enteric coating on most aspirin. But I’ve been chewing aspirin since I was a kid. Chewing aspirin and then downing a strong cup of coffee can seriously help a migraine.

This time, however, the aspirin did not do the trick for my tooth pain. My next plan of homeopathic attack is the heating pad. So, here I sit, looking like I have the mumps, with a thin kitchen towel tied round my head, holding the heating pad in place. Using heat on my tooth and ear troubles has also been a lifelong habit. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I refused to take medications unless it was absolutely necessary. Often, I chose to use hot compresses, and oftentimes I just suffered through, for fear of what the drugs might do to my unborn child.

The heat is helping. I’m feeling much better right now, but still far from okay. The pain may have subsided, but I still have the reason for the pain to deal with.

Hence, today’s list of affordable, free, and/or sliding-scale dental clinics found in Southern California.


Community Health systems, Inc.


22675 Alessandro Blvd.

Moreno Valley, CA 92553

Provides preventive and restorative dental care for adults and children. Services provided at discounted (sliding fee scale) rates for those who qualify based on gross annual income and family size. Accepts many forms of payment (such as Medicare, Medi-Cal, Healthy Kids, Headstart, and many more). Please contact them for details.

Mead Valley Community Complex—Perris


21091 Rider Street

Perris, CA 92570

This program provides medical and dental services for the community. Please contact them directly for details.

 Inland Behavioral & Health Services, Inc.—San Bernardino


1963 North E Street

San Bernardino, CA 92405

This center is designed to provide outpatient health services to infants, children, adolescents, and adults. If you are covered by a health plan, bring your membership card. They accept Medi-Cal, Medicate, and most other insurances. If you are not covered by an insurance plan, they offer low cost/no cost programs (based on eligibility) and sliding scale fee. Please call them directly for details.

Eastside Health Center Medical/Dental Clinic


1970 University Avenue

Riverside, CA 92507

Provides low cost and sliding fee general dentistry, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and fluoride sealants. Please call them directly for details.

Fallbrook Family Health Center—Dental Clinic


1328 South Mission Road

Fallbrook, CA 92028

Provides low cost and sliding fee general dentistry, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and fluoride sealants. Please call them directly for details.

This short list should at least give you somewhere to start, in the search for affordable dental care. Our teeth and mouths are very important to our overall health, and as such, our oral care should not be ignored or overlooked due to an inability to pay. Many of us have enough to fear, when it comes to dentists, without adding the fear of insurmountable dental bills to the mix.

I found these sources through a quick search of the following national directory of free dental clinics, Free Dental Care. Just keep in mind that not all clinics are created equal, and not all are free. If you don’t find what you need on my list, by all means, go directly to their website. You will hopefully be able to find something close to your own home. Plus it is a national website, so even those who do not live in Southern California can use this free resource to find affordable dental care.

Other resources to find affordable medical and dental care:

  • Word of mouth. Ask your friends and neighbors.
  • Contact your church, or if you don’t have a church, look one up. Churches are always willing to help those in need (if they are worth their weight and follow the true teachings of Jesus, anyway).
  • Contact your county health department.
  • Call 211, which is a national clearinghouse of information relating to health and human services.
  • If all else fails, conduct your own internet search.

My prayer for you today is that you realize that your worth, your value as a human being, is not tied to your wallet. Our ability to earn a living is only one small aspect of our character. I pray that whatever led to your financial misfortune will not overshadow all your finer qualities.

In His Name,

Jennifer Joy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finding Joy at Christmas-Time

Parties to attend (or throw).

Gifts to purchase and wrap.

Cards to write.

Cookies to bake.

Packages to ship.

Family dinners to cook.

Wow. I don’t know where to begin. Hmm. I do know that most won’t get done, in this house anyway. Can’t afford to be frivolous. Finances are tight. Finances get tighter for more and more families every year.

What’s worse, parents buy into the societal messages that more is better and that our kids should be spoiled half to death, else we are not good parents. This is not the message we, as adults, should be receiving from other adults or from society. This is also not the message we want our kids to walk away with. If our kids buy into the idea that more presents equals being loved more, then when s/he receives only one small gift under the tree, s/he believes s/he’s not loved.

We as parents propagate this falsehood as well, by feeling that we cannot properly express our love with that measly offering under the tree. We mope and make excuses and we make promises for next year. Please don’t make promises you cannot keep. Kids remember the broken promises, and broken promises work at damaging the soul and tearing away at trust.

Moping and making excuses isn’t the way to convey a positive message. Even if there is only the love in our hearts as our offering under the tree, we must show that our love, and the love of our Lord and Savior, is sufficient for joy to thrive during the holidays and all year long.

Christ is the reason for the season. Christmas is about celebrating Our Lord’s birth. Yes, it is true that the wise men brought wonderful, expensive gifts, but the shepherds brought only their adoration because they had nothing else to offer. Mary and Joseph welcomed all who came to witness the birth of Our Savior. Even though some brought magnificent gifts, no gift was required to behold our newborn Lord.

On that note, I would like to offer a different way to look at things this Christmas season. Yes, gifts are great, and yes, I believe every child should have something to look forward to on Christmas morning; however, we need not succumb to the many societal and media influences, nor the peer-pressure-induced stress, depression, and anxiety.

Commit the following verse to heart, because I’d like to offer several reasons why this single verse could add joy to your celebrations this year. First, it teaches us what true treasure is all about, (and it isn’t anything you can carry in your pocket). And second, it teaches us what God cares about and ultimately, how He loves us.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

 What did Mary “treasure up” in her heart? She treasured the glorifying words of the shepherds, about her newborn son, Jesus. She treasured up the wonder of the Magi who followed a star all the way to Bethlehem just to see her newborn son, The Christ Jesus (see Matthew 2:1-2). She treasured the (most likely) exemplary behavior of her young son, Jesus (see Luke 2:51), even if she didn’t always understand. She treasured up the amazement of others, when they first heard her Jesus speak.

I imagine that she also treasured up all the normal things we moms (and dads) treasure up in our own hearts about our own children. And she pondered what it all would mean for her son, just as we ponder the futures of our own children.

I’ve just compared Mary’s parental love to our own. Now, I would like to take it a step farther and compare Mary’s love for her son, Jesus, with God the Father’s love for us.

God loves us unconditionally. He revels in our successes, and His heart breaks for us when we don’t succeed. He is one of those fathers who loves us to such a degree that He trusts us to make our own mistakes. He also loves us to such a degree that He patiently waits for us to come running home for help, after we make a mess of things on our own. He will never say, “I told you so.” He holds no contempt for our sinful nature. He will not shame us or refuse us when we finally come to Him.

God knows the circumstances of our lives, even before we try to explain things to Him or make excuses for our behavior. He knows our hearts better than we do, and God knows that there is no shame in poverty. Society tries to shame the poor and less fortunate, but God never shames us for our misfortune or our mistakes.

When we can barely make it from one week to the next, many of us fear going to church because we fear the time when the offering bag comes around. It is embarrassing to have nothing to offer, especially when churches are making extra pleas at this time of year, to support their many worldly missions. Sometimes we can even be made to feel left out, when our own church doesn’t recognize our need, yet they cry for the needs of people halfway around the world, whom they’ve never even met.

Don’t feel bad if you have had this thought. I know I have, in years past. How could I worry about them, when I didn’t even know whether we would have enough on our own table for Christmas dinner? It made me feel like I was a horrible person, not caring about the children in Africa (or wherever else). Fact was, I did care for the welfare of these children and their families. It just tore me apart too much, to not be able to do anything to help them. It was yet another obligation on my heart that I could not meet.

God understands why we feel this way. He knows that it is difficult to have compassion for the needs of others when our own needs are not being met. For me personally, and most likely for you, God knows that if I had it to give, I would gladly give it, and then some.

When it comes to our tithes and offerings, God knows our hearts. He knows when a dollar has been stretched as far as it possibly can be stretched. He knows that pang in our hearts when we can barely feed our own family. He knows our heartache when we cannot set aside what we want to, for charity, for tithing, for good and honorable reasons, for our children. God knows our list of priorities and obligations. He knows that sometimes, we simply don’t have it to give.

And that’s okay with God. He knows that we will all go through hard times and trials. It is inevitable. All He asks, is that we ask for his help to get us through our hard times.

So don’t fear going to church. There is no shame in being unable to tithe right now. Someday you will be able to. Your need to be there should far outweigh the lack in your offering. If your church puts more emphasis on that magical ten percent, then they aren’t worth their weight, in my opinion. Tithing is not about reaching that predetermined ten percent. It is about the condition of our hearts. And church is about helping each other, being a community, even closer, a family.

God knows that sometimes we need help, and He also knows our prideful side. Set aside the pride and turn it all over to His able hands. He’s been waiting for us to ask for help. For He is a gentle and patient Father.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

I challenge you to find ways to teach your children about storing up treasures in the heart. It’s never too early nor too late to teach about the pitfalls of materialism.

  • Make gifts from recyclables with your children, to give to teachers, friends, family. Teach the good old message that it is not the gift but the thought that counts.
  • Take an early evening walk with your children, around the neighborhood, to check out everyone else’s lights and yard decorations. Use this time to teach about appreciating the fleeting nature of beauty and the splendor all around us.
  • Take your children to volunteer their time. This can be as simple as going to a senior care center and singing carols; or offering to make ornaments with the seniors; or it can be as complicated as putting together all your kids’ friends and their parents, to sing carols around the neighborhood.
  • Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Those shiny advertisers that come as junk mail make quite sparkly paper chains. Kids love to color and paint, so let them make all sorts of decorations and cards to hand out.
  • Nifty homemade window clings can be made with clear contact paper and Sharpies.
  • Let your imagination soar.

My prayer for you today is that finding your family’s joy isn’t an expensive prospect. I pray you can return to simpler ways, and create for yourself a simpler, easier, more joy-filled life.

In His grace,

Jennifer Joy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Worries

IMG_0429This can be an especially tough time of year for many folks who already find themselves trapped in the cycle of poverty. When we can barely meet our bills and other obligations on a regular basis, how can we possibly squeak out even the tiniest of budgets to make our holidays bright, like everyone else pretends to?

As parents caught in this situation, it breaks our hearts when our little angels ask for this or that, and we cannot provide it. It tears us apart inside, when we have to choose between food and rent. We know our kids need both a roof over their heads and a satisfied belly. So we pay the rent and pray for a little something extra in this month’s food box, so that we might go on to live another day and another month. But another month turns into another year, when we are caught in the poverty cycle.

If we could get ahead just enough, then . . .

If we could just ____, then we could get ahead.

Why can’t they just leave us alone for one month? Then we could get back on track.

It is enough to drive a person mad. It is enough to drive a person back to their sinful nature. We try our best to go straight, go clean, stay on the wagon in whichever fashion, but the stress can get to be too much. I understand this. I have been there. I’ve done some really stupid things at really desperate times. I understand the feeling of being backed into a corner and feeling as though you have no choice.

Please hear me when I say that even though you may not see a good choice among all the bad, there is always a better choice. When we reach a point in our lives when we lose hope because of all the poor choices available to us, that is when we need to pray the strongest. That is the time when we need to let it all go. Yes, our bills will still be ours to pay, but when we let go, we turn the stress and worry about the bills (or whatever) to Jesus. When we let go, it frees our mind of the franticness of the situation. Letting go allows us the mental space to get back on track. It gives us the time and wits to sort out all the mess to find the best possible solution. We can say to the worry and stress, “Okay, so maybe all the bills didn’t get paid again this month (or whatever), but worry won’t sprout wings on its own, so I’m not going to obsess about it anymore.”

Worry won’t get the bills paid or the kids fed. Stress will cause more problems than it cures.

Invite God to come help you with your problems. He’s waiting for you to call on Him, through prayer.

My prayer for you today is that you are able to let go of your worries and your stress, so that you can breathe and see more clearly. Whether your stressors are financial, physical, or emotional, I pray that your heart will be receptive to letting go, so that God could come in and help you with your woes.


Jennifer Joy

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Be True

IMG_1249[2]We just completed a week in exile, as I have chosen to call our recent adventure into dry camping. Luckily I had the foresight to set up over a weeks’ worth of posts ahead of time, so this is actually the first post I have written since before Thanksgiving.

Dry camping, or boon docking, is when you have all the luxuries of home in your motorhome or trailer, yet you have no power, water, or sewer hookups; therefore, most of your “luxuries” are rendered useless, unless you have the added luxury of solar panels and a large bank of batteries, which we do not. We had plenty of propane to heat and cook with, but we had to ration water, not having a ready supply at our fingertips. We also did not have adequate lighting, as sunset is quite early this time of year, and our house batteries aren’t what they used to be. Needless to say, we spent most evenings by candlelight.

I had hoped that exile would be a growing experience for me. I had hoped that God would use that special time, disconnected from the rest of the world, to teach me something important.



Instead, I spent most of the dark hours grousing because I did not have adequate light and I could not use my computer. I could not even read without my eyes hurting. So I grumbled through most of the week, and I teetered on the edge of anger because I could not do the things I wanted to do. Writing by candlelight is not any easier than reading by candlelight, and crocheting a new pattern is all but impossible in the dark. I kept making mistakes and I had to tear out my stitches more than once, before giving up. There wasn’t much we could do while in exile.

My self-inflicted problems were many last week, as I did not learn what exile (in The Bible) teaches. I not only complained during the night, but I also spent my daylight hours complaining about the darkness. It knocked on my door all too soon, every afternoon, and I dreaded its inevitable approach. I let this negativity eat away at me. By fearing and fretting, I allowed the darkness to steal my joy. So my exile did not turn out how I had hoped, but maybe I did learn something after all.

Biblically speaking, God would send His people into exile when they were sinning to extremes and needed a wakeup call. Moses led the Israelites through the desert for forty years, in exile, because the Israelites were so thick-skulled that they could not help but keep sinning, every time their leader, Moses, turned his back for just a moment. Even in Solomon’s day, God was still using exile as a teaching method.

“But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name.” 1 Kings 9:6-7

God does not hold the reigns too tightly. He allows us our free will. However, sometimes our antics could cause real damage, and it is at those times when the Holy Spirit whispers softly to us. Just as my husband rescued Gracie from an imminent broken leg, Our Savior can rescue us. All he asks is that we come to Him and ask for His help.




Maybe what I learned is that we must simply let go, of all the little things as well as the big things. I took my exile and saw only the negatives, when I should have been looking for the joy in having a week to spend with my husband, my dogs, and ultimately with my God. Lately,  I’ve gotten rather skilled at turning over one big thing after another to God, allowing Him to take the reigns of my larger problems, but sometimes I forget that I must also turn over every little thing, if I expect to keep my joy. The correct path to follow would have been to use my week in exile to its fullest potential. If I could not see to read The Bible, then I should have at least been praying for enlightenment of my heart and soul.

Maybe what I learned is also that I am who I am, and I have to be true to myself, if I am going to be true to God. I’m no better than the thick-skulled Israelites because I could not see past my own frustrations, to what He was trying to teach me, anymore than they could all those millennia ago. I may backslide into anger or bad habits once in a while, but I cannot hide who I truly am inside.

Just as Gracie could not stop herself from having so much fun in the loose dirt, despite how dirty she became in the process, I cannot help being human, and as such, I cannot help making mistakes.

I can mask myself with primping and crooning, but I am still a sinner underneath. I still get angry. I still allow my anger to get the better of me. I still allow my frustration to fester into melancholia.

And I will always need my Savior to rescue me, time and again.

What I am trying to say is that kids will be kids, dogs will be dogs, and we will all show our humanness, like it or not. No matter how hard I strive to put my past behind me, sometimes I find myself once again in the thick of it.

It is at that precise moment, when I feel the weight of my dirt and my sins upon me, when I must make the conscious decision to ask forgiveness and to let the dust settle again, so that I can humbly get back on track. Back to my relationship with God.

No, we did not punish Gracie for being herself. We enjoyed her antics immensely. She is only a dog and does not care whether she gets dirty or not. She does not know that a bright, shiny white coat is preferable to a dingy, dirty coat.

Likewise, it does not matter how dirty I get in the process of my sinning, Jesus will always welcome me back with open arms. His blood will wash the dirt from my snowy white garments (made snowy white in the first place only by His loving sacrifice), and He will gently lead me to a more fulfilling path.

That’s why Our Savior came—to rescue us and protect us from ourselves, as well as from the devil.

Our humanness will trip us more often than not, if we allow it, and Our Savior will pick us back up every time, if we only ask.


My prayer for you today is that you might recognize your humanness as a good thing. We were made in the image of God, yet we were given free will because He loved us enough to let us be unique.

In His grace,

Jennifer Joy

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

DAY SIXTEEN: International Human Rights Day

16_days_logo_englishToday is The International Human Rights Day and marks the end of the 16 Days Campaign. I will leave you with wise words from some of our past leaders and great humanists.


“The spirit of liberty is not merely, as multitudes imagine, a jealousy of our own particular rights, but a respect for the rights of others, and an unwillingness that any man, whether high or low, should be wronged and trampled under foot.”

William Ellery Channing


“A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected and revered.”

Felix Adler


“America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense . . . Human rights invented America.”

Jimmy Carter


“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.”

A. Philip Randolph


“No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.”

Susan B. Anthony


“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check—a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’ There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: ‘The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.’”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


My prayer for you today is that these wise words will sink in and give you a sense of urgency in fixing what is wrong in our world, whatever cause you choose to support.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Monday, December 9, 2013

DAY FIFTEEN: International Violence Against Women Act


Today is day fifteen of The 16 Days Campaign. Our journey to disseminate valuable information in a short span of time is almost at an end. Even though this campaign is coming to a close, our work is far from finished.

The International Violence Against Women Act is proposed legislation addressing violence against women all over the world, through foreign policies initiated by The United States. Although it was introduced in the 110th and 111th congresses, it has yet to be passed into law.

Amnesty International, The Family Violence Prevention Fund, and women thrive Worldwide were instrumental in creating this proposed legislation.

Even without this legislation, we as individuals and as a society still have the great charge to eradicate violence and abuse from our families, our communities, and our world.

Some forms of violence against women worldwide include, but are not limited to:

  • Rape
  • Sexual slavery
  • Sexual violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking
  • Murder
  • Violence against women with disabilities
  • Violence against immigrants and refugee women
  • Breast ironing
  • Female circumcision and other forms of female genital mutilation
  • Burning with acid
  • Honor killings
  • Dowry death
  • Foot binding
  • Forced pregnancy
  • Murder of pregnant women
  • Forced abortion
  • Forced prostitution
  • Human trafficking
  • Genocide
  • Stoning
  • Bride burning
  • Gender-based discrimination
  • Emotional abuse
  • Dating violence and rape
  • Imprisonment
  • Torture


Links you may find useful:

Amnesty International USA

U.N. Women

The Duluth Model domestic abuse intervention programs

Link for creating a safety plan at


My prayer for you today is that you see yourself up to the challenge of taking on violence against women. And if there is violence in your own life, my prayer is that you will see that you have the strength to break free and that there are people out there in your community who care deeply for your safety and well-being.

In His grace,

Jennifer Joy

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DAY FOURTEEN: Taking Steps

16_days_logo_englishToday is day fourteen of The 16 Days Campaign to end domestic abuse and violence against women. It has been a challenge to put for all this information over the past two weeks, but I believe it has also been well worth my time and effort. We have two days left, after today, and I believe that Our Lord can work miracles in our families, if only we would be His hands and demonstrate His heart for hurting people.

Although there has been much progress since the days my abuser had me in his clutches, there is still much work to be done, if we are to prevent further domestic violence against women, children, and even men.

It reasons that if we develop, promote, and implement effective strategies, we will make a difference. Even the efforts of one bystander in the life of an abuse victim can change that life for the better.

On a personal note, my abuser made me believe that no one would be willing to help me. He convinced me I was worthless, that I would be better off dead. He made me believe that he would have me committed to a psychiatric hospital if I reached out for help. Back then, there weren’t as many victim advocacy services and crisis hotlines available, and the one outsider, a Methodist minister, who I reached out to blamed it all on me. He said that if I were being abused, then I was not performing my wifely duties. In essence, my minister blamed the abuse on me.

When I did reach out and tell a family member, after years of taking the abuse in silence, I was denied her help because she believed me to be lying and manipulating the situation. I went back to my abuser because I thought I had no other choice, no help, no one who loved me enough to care.

If I would have had just one person on my side back then, well, the past is past, and I can only live for the now.

The following includes a list of things we all can do to help turn the tide of violence in our families and in our community, and ultimately in our world. Some are simple and can be done by an individual, while others are more complicated and will require the community to participate, through governmental initiatives, social activism, and providing more services and resources for the victims of intimate partner abuse.

  • Increase the safety and protection of women and children.
  • Promote healthy, respectful relationships, including healthier parent-child relationships.
  • Develop positive family dynamics and emotionally supportive environments.
  • Foster the growth of positive interactions, based on trust and respect.
  • Foster effective non-violent communication skills and conflict resolution.
  • Teach children appropriate peer and dating relationship tactics, what is acceptable and not acceptable.
  • Promote healing and prevention in the lives of victims so that they will not be victimized again.
  • Support and volunteer in local efforts supporting this cause.
  • Recognize that violence against women and children is a human rights issue.
  • Show solidarity among women who have suffered past abuse or are currently in an abusive situation.
  • Ensure that legal, housing, safety, medical, and mental health and other services and resources are readily available and accessible to survivors of violence and abuse.

My prayer for you today is that if someone trusts you enough to reach out to you, please, please take her hand and help her so that the cycle can end and that she will know how important she really is, to you and to God.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

DAY THIRTEEN: The Biblical Significance of Sixteen Days

16_days_logo_englishToday is day thirteen of The 16 Days Campaign, and I would like to share the biblical significance of the number 16 and, specifically, 16 days.

I do not find this topic mentioned anywhere else, that I have seen in the 16 Day Campaign, and being a follower of Christ, I believed it important that someone shares how powerful the number 16 is, and specifically how 16 short days can change the world.

There are 16 qualities of Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not boast
  • Love is not proud
  • Love does not dishonor others
  • Love is not self seeking
  • Love is not easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love does not delight in evil
  • Love rejoices with the truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always perseveres
  • Love never fails

Some sources say that the number 16 literally means love in The Bible. (God Counts, W. E. Filmer

There were sixteen prophets in the Old Testament and sixteen apostles and evangelists in the New Testament.

King Ahaz reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:2, 2 Chronicles 28:24). He was by far the worst idol-worshiping King to have reigned in those days. And yet, his son, Hezekiah, rebuilt the Temple of God and restored hope and faith in his kingdom in the first month of his reign. It only took sixteen days to restore the temple (2 Chronicles 29:15-17).

What took 16 years for his father to destroy, this God-empowered King Hezekiah restored in only 16 days.

God is so powerful. He can accomplish anything, including restoring our families and communities to health.

My prayer for you today is that you have the faith to know it is possible, that domestic violence can be eradicated from our homes, our communities, and from our world.

In His Holy Grace,

Jennifer Joy

Friday, December 6, 2013

DAY TWELVE: Loving a Child Out of Despair

16_days_logo_englishToday is day twelve of The 16 Days Campaign to end domestic abuse and violence against women.

What You May See If A Child Is Having Trouble

When children witness abuse or violence, their whole world is shaken. If they see it on a regular basis, it can damage their psyche long-term. The following are some of the problems that might be seen in children in unsafe home environments.

  • Sleep trouble, nightmares, bed wetting
  • Aggressive behavior or angry outbursts
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hyper-vigilance (excessive worry about danger)
  • Excessive worry for the safety of loved ones (especially the loved one being abused)
  • Withdrawal from friends and regular activities
  • Emotional numbness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Acting out what they have witnessed

The dynamics displayed in a family where domestic violence is prevalent make for an unhealthy living environment for children. Children learn that they must protect the “family secret.” I had to protect such a secret, and it taught me to lie. It also taught me that I could not reach out for help because of the shame this secret held. Children who grow up in such homes often develop social, emotional, and psychological and behavioral problems. This traumatic childhood will find its way to the surface, disrupting the survivor’s life from childhood and far into adulthood.

Children will often feel they are powerless, hopeless to ever have a better life. They may be confused about what is going on and also confused about their own feelings of shame, guilt, self-blame, and anger toward their parents. These children fear abandonment. They fear letting others into their personal space. They fear confiding in others because they fear that confidant might turn it all against them, tell the parent, or something worse—the State—because no matter how bad it is at home, that’s all these kids know.

These children may act out in school, get in fights or be otherwise aggressive; or they may become passive, apathetic, depressed, and they withdraw into themselves. They have very rigid defenses that are not always based in logic.

In essence, these hurting children withdraw from life, and every contact with another human holds the potential to be painful or dangerous.

As they grow up, these children may isolate, or they may act out sexually, having short, explosive relationships.

If we offer these children our love and compassion, we can effect powerful change in their lives. After a hurting soul first experiences agape love, compassion from a stranger or loved one willing to step up, her heart begins to be able to soak up the goodness in life, instead of being cut constantly by the badness.

We can help these children by making sure we reflect trust, respect, and love in all our relationships. We can greatly increase their self-esteem and promote independence by providing an emotionally and physically safe place to stay. We can demonstrate healthy love by setting boundaries and limits, being consistent, and by having clear expectations.

Encourage and support their interests. This can be especially important to help them switch from being consumed with personal safety, to being open to new experiences.

Before a child can share her story with an adult and begin healing, she needs to know she is in a safe place to do so. There must be a relationship of trust between the adult and the child.

The system fails our children and our families when they expect a child (or even an adult) to walk right in and spill the beans. Just because the social worker or police officer says, “you can trust me,” does not make it believable. The child’s history needs taken into consideration and the authorities (and all of us) have to realize the child most likely has never experienced a trustworthy relationship. It takes time, patience, and a monumental amount of love and compassion in some cases, to break through that wall of fear and distrust.

My prayer for today is for the children. I have great travailings for them. I pray that the children in your world know love and trust.

In His Grace,

Jennifer Joy