One Couple’s Adoption Story

Today’s featured article is about one couple’s adoption story.

Andy and Sarah Justice wanted nothing more than to have a baby, but after struggling to conceive for years, they decided to look into other options. With IVF costing between $30,000–60,000, the Justices decided to adopt a baby instead and were soon paired with a birth mother. Learn more.

Nancy and Kelly

Positive Attitudes

With the new year upon us, it is important to stay focused. Whatever our situations and circumstances, a positive attitude is vital.

I often teach about happiness and what has become exceedingly clear is this: There are seven qualities chronically unhappy people have mastered.

According to Psychology Today, University of California researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states: “40 percent of our of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.”

If this is true and it is, there’s hope for us all. There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness depending on the day. Learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

Magdala – Lesson from the Promised Land

The Home of Mary Magdalene

One of the greatest treats of our trip through Israel was our stop at Migdal, more commonly known as Magdala. This stop was special because the site is not yet open to the public. The dig was still in progress.

My pastor happened to be friends with Father Kelly who oversees the entire project, hence, our ticket in, to see what had been discovered thus far. The Catholic Church purchased the plot of land on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with the intent to build a retreat for women. As they began to dig the foundation, they unearthed ruins. In Israel if that happens the project is halted until archeologists figure out what has been dug up.

It turned out they had discovered Magdala, the home town of Mary Magdalene. The most exciting find was a carved stone pedestal unearthed from inside the synagogue. A replica of the menorah had been carved into its side from the Temple in Jerusalem. This proves the existence of the Jewish Temple during that era, which some would like to discount.


But what really caused my bells and whistles to go off, was knowing the chances are quite high that Jesus unrolled the scriptures atop that very stone pedestal. Scripture tells us He taught from synagogue to synagogue around the Galilee.

As yet, we don’t know much about the town of Magdala, but we do know something about a woman that was born there. Her name was Mary, who later was called Mary Magdalene. She had an encounter with Jesus that completely revolutionized her life. We don’t know the type of things she was involved in before she met our Lord, but one thing we do know.

Mary Magdalene was demon-possessed. She was possessed with not one demon, but seven. This was a woman who lived in torment. Most likely her life was hell on earth. Then Jesus came along, delivered her, and great was her deliverance. Her life was never the same.

Mary was one of the women who followed Jesus from town to town ministering to His needs and to the needs of the disciples. She did this at her own expense, because she had been forgiven and delivered from much, and she loved much. She was at the cross when Jesus died, and she was at the tomb soon after His resurrection.

Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene after He rose from the dead. What an honor! She was the first with proof that He had risen.

Are you tormented by something in your life or struggle with something you can’t conquer on your own? Take it to Jesus. He is the great deliverer.

A Diamond in the Rough,


The Sea of Galilee – Lessons from the Promised Land

Jesus and the Sea of Galilee

The early morning sun peeked through the rising mist as we boarded the boat bobbing on the Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake of Gennesaret. The crisp air was full with expectation and whispered the name of Jesus. We were on calm and hallowed water.

The mere mention of the Sea of Galilee and one thinks, Jesus. It was on this body of water that Jesus manifested His divine power. He calmed the raging waves and howling wind with just a word, walked on water, and caused men to fall to their knees proclaiming He must be the Son of God.

From my boat, I took in the distant shorelines around me. Jesus began His ministry in the Galilee area and walked along those very shores. What did He do along them? A good share of His ministry happened on those beaches and in the various surrounding towns and villages.


Peter, Andrew, James and John were picked to be Jesus’ disciples at the water’s edge. He told them to cast out their nets again, even though they had caught nothing all night. They followed His instruction and caught more than their nets could handle.

In small boats, He preached from the sea to get space from the pressing crowds. He healed the sick at its waterside and cast out demons restoring people’s lives. He sent Peter to throw a hook into its water to catch a fish. In the mouth of the fish, Peter found money to pay their taxes.

Jesus made the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding area a miraculous place. He changed the world from a small and insignificant spot on earth.

After His death and resurrection, He told his disciples to go to Galilee and He would meet them there, and He did, concluding His ministry in the Galilee area by appearing to His followers. Jesus came to His tired disciples, who had fished all night, but had caught nothing. He called to them to cast their net to the other side of the boat. When they did, their net came up full. As they came ashore, Jesus had fish and bread cooking on a fire, and He served them breakfast.

Jesus died so that man could approach God from anywhere on earth. He is always near. What is your need? Seek Him. Follow Him, just as the crowds of the Galilee did, and He will meet you.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Shiloh – Lessons from the Promised Land

Hannah’s Peace with God

While still in the West Bank, we visited the archeological remains of Shiloh. I was quite excited to go because the story of Hannah happened there, and that story is very near and dear to my heart.

Shiloh was the place where the first permanent tabernacle was built. Its walls were constructed of rock and its roof was made of cloth to remind the people that this was not God’s final temple or house.


In this very tabernacle Hannah begged God for a son. Hannah lived in a difficult situation. Although her husband loved her very much, he also had another wife called Peninnah who had given birth to several children.

For some reason Peninnah enjoyed rubbing salt into Hannah’s wound of barrenness. The scripture says, “she would provoke Hannah bitterly because the Lord had closed her womb.” The struggle of infertility is tough enough, but can you imagine another woman taunting you constantly about it? It troubled Hannah so much she could hardly eat.

Yearly, Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, would take the family to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord at the tabernacle. On one of these trips Hannah went to the tabernacle and poured her heart out before the Lord, begging for a son whom she promised would be given back to the Lord.

Eli, the priest, thought Hannah was drunk and told her to stop drinking. Hannah explained that she was oppressed in spirit, and was pouring out her soul to the Lord. Eli then said to her, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked Him.”

In that moment peace came to Hannah. She heard a word from God that she kept in her heart. She went her way and ate, and she was no longer sad.

Hannah did receive a son, whom she named Samuel. She was faithful to her promise and gave Samuel back to the Lord. God blessed her with five more children.

The Lord brought peace into Hannah’s heart and also into her situation. One of the names for God is Shiloh. It means peacemaker. The God of peace brought Hannah peace in the city of peace.

Do you need peace in your heart or in a situation in your life? Go to the great Peacemaker. He will grant you peace.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim – Lessons from the Promised Land

The Mounts of Curses and Blessings

While we visited the West Bank, we gazed out upon two mountains. To my eye, they looked like a couple of hills, since I live at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

As we took in the sight, a Rabbi shared the story of Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. In Deuteronomy 26:16-19 the Israelites declared God to be their God. They committed themselves to walk in His ways, keep his statutes, commandments, ordinances, and listen to His voice.


As a response, God declared them to be His people.

This happened toward the end of Moses’ life, and he gave the Israelites instructions of what to do when they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. Moses charged them to stand six tribes in front of Mt. Ebal and to stand the other six tribes in front of Mt. Gerizim. In the valley between the two mountains, the priests were to recite the curses.

After each curse the people were to say, Amen.

Then the blessings that were to come upon them, if they obeyed the Lord, were to be recited by the priests. Moses commanded them to do this as a reminder of how to live as a Godly people. By hearing the curses for disobedience and the blessings for obedience, they would be given the opportunity to determine to live their lives for the Lord and receive the blessings promised to them as a nation. (Deut. 27 & 28.)

When Moses was no longer with them, Joshua led the people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. At Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, Joshua and all the people (even the smallest child) were careful to follow the instructions given them by Moses, declaring the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their God. (Josh. 8:30-35.)

Have you declared the living God to be your God? Are you living for Him? Can we expect the blessings of the lord to come to our point of need, if we are living in disobedience and sin? If you haven’t asked Jesus into your heart, why don’t you do it now?

A Diamond in the Rough,


A Beautiful Adoption Story

What a beautiful and moving adoption story!


Every now and then, you hear a story that’s equal parts pain and joy, weakness and strength, fear and bravery, despair and hope.

The birth and adoption of Leo Doud, which came to light last week in a poignantly candid account written by Leo’s birth mom, is one such story.

A 25-year-old photojournalism student at the University of Iowa, Callie Mitchell chronicled her unplanned pregnancy, delivery and decision to give her baby up for adoption in heartbreaking detail and with gorgeous, moving photographs in the college newspaper, The Daily Iowan. The story gives articulate voice to someone we don’t often hear from in the adoption process: the birth mother. Read more.

Nancy and Kelly

J and K Plus Two

J and K Plus Two is the blog of a young family. The parents struggled with infertility, premature births, and finally two children. They have had quite a journey. We like to provide our readers with as many resources as possible. Per the blog about page…

This blog is the story of our lives with all the ups and downs of a multiple pregnancy, the tragedy of infant loss and now the birth of our miracle babies. Click here to learn more.

Nancy and Kelly



Lessons from the Promised Land~Cana


Jesus performed His first miracle in Cana. He attended a wedding in a hall built for such occasions. I got the privilege of seeing the remains of this hall.

During the celebration the host ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother, Mary, came and told Jesus that they had run out of wine. “So, why are you telling me?” was Jesus’ basic response. Mary knew her son and just told the servants to do whatever he said to do.


Jesus instructed the servants to fill the water pots with water. I used to have this picture of the servants filling little pitchers with water. This, however, is not at all what they filled. These were pots that were for ritual cleansing. They were large stone pots standing well over four feet high and too large for one man to lift.

There was one of these ancient pots at the site. I realized those poor servants must have made many trips from the well to fill just one of those pots. They knew what they had put into those massive stone containers, and it wasn’t wine.

How shocked they must have been when they dipped it out to the guests at the wedding and it had turned into the best wine available. Jesus’ first miracle was no small miracle. He turned that wedding into the best celebration ever.

Do you need a miracle in your life? Look to Jesus for your miracle, for with Him, nothing is impossible.

A diamond in the rough,