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Rachel T. Joyce
Although I trusted Jesus as a little, seven-year-old girl, and grew up hearing about God's love, living in the good of His love was something I didn't know how to do. Cognitively, I knew He loved me, but somehow I still felt unlovable and much of my Christian service was done out of an earnest desire to please God coupled with a nagging sense of never measuring up. Grace was a word in my vocabulary, but not in my heart.
To help me learn how to live out of the abundance of His love and grace, God gave me the gift of chronic pain. It has not been easy and I won't pretend that there aren't days I wish He would take it away, but He has drawn me close to His heart and filled me with the strength to go on, even when I think I can't.
God has blessed me with a godly, supportive husband, Bryan, a full-time
evangelist and we take great joy in serving God together. We're thankful for our children: Benjamin and his wife Daniela, James and his wife Janneylee, Theanna, and Abigayle. We also have a sweet pooch who looks like a little white fluff ball but has a huge heart and a mind of his own. God has used each of my family to teach me more about His tender love and how to live in the good of it daily.
I'm thankful to be a hope*writer and spend most of my days either writing, editing, or doing admin work for the Living Loved Today and Woman to Woman ministries.
I am grateful to have been raised by loving, Christian grandparents who took me to hear the gospel regularly and taught me about my need for Jesus. At the age of 5, I told my grandmother I was saved, but I knew I hadn’t trusted Jesus. The Heavenly Father kept working in my heart and when I was 13, I cried out to God to save me and I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not having experienced a father’s love, I wrestled with doubts at times. Would God ever say I was not His? How could He truly love me? Did I believe right? I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father who spoke peace to me through His Word, assuring me that because of Christ I was His forever (Rom 5:9).
The Lord has blessed me with my husband, Rob, whose love has been a tangible expression of God's love. Throughout the thirty years of our marriage, as we have raised our children, Kevin and Meaghan, and welcomed our first grandchild, Remington, Rob’s unconditional love has helped me learn more of the heart of my Heavenly Father.
Through my trial with depression after my grandmother passed away, and cancer, God continued to draw me closer to Him. He taught me more about myself and more about His amazing love. I learned that I didn't need to hold back my feelings. I could bring everything to Him, my fears, my past, and my future and let Him work in my life. He is a gracious, heavenly Father who has redeemed my past and I can rest securely in His love and faithfulness.
I came to Canada from Northern Ireland as a child. My experience of the nightly bombing in nearby Belfast and the military checkpoints left me fearful.
I came to Christ when I was nine years old. I simply told God that I was a sinner, and believed that Jesus took my sin when He died on the cross. The change in me was noticed by my teachers at school. I was less anxious and more able to focus on my work, and even my marks reflected it. I had peace.
But life has ongoing challenges. When I was 19, my mother died of cancer, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and I was diagnosed with a syndrome that causes various cancers. My father survived his cancer, and I continue to have routine treatments. Although I’ve been a patient at cancer centers for over 30 years, I still face my fear when I walk through that door every month or two. I am still learning to lean in, to trust that God has a good plan for my life.
Many years ago, as a result of multiple stressors, I experienced an episode of
severe anxiety and depression, when I despaired of life itself. My experience of Christian counseling and women’s Bible studies at that time was life-saving. Gradually, I was able to focus on the unconditional, and faithful love of God, and witness His love demonstrated through relationships with others who journeyed with me and pointed me to God. I also became more attuned to the emotional and spiritual needs of other women around me. This burden finally led me to return to school to study counseling.
God has blessed me with challenges that have grown my faith, and with the opportunity to use that experience redemptively to help others. I am incredibly blessed with a wonderful husband, Keith, and three beautiful girls who call me mom. I am also a mother-in-law, a grandma; and best of all, I am a beloved child of God, still learning more of His character and desiring to make Him known.
One of my first childhood memories is of coming face-to-face with the love of God and feeling so overwhelmed and blessed by His love that I had to accept it. As a little girl, I was quietly singing to myself the song “Jesus Loves Me,” when in my childlike way, I stopped momentarily and thought, “Wow, Jesus loves ME!” I had learned in Sunday School that Jesus wanted to come and live in my heart and so that is what I asked him to do right at that very moment.
I am so thankful to have been raised by caring Christian parents. I was particularly close with my grandmother who was a very godly example and left a huge impression on my life. In recent years, I have been blessed to share my life with my loving husband, Curtis, and our three sons: Ethan, Jaxon, and Zachary. When Ethan was 9 months old, we were shocked to learn that I was having twins. The Lord was gracious and provided us with the strength and help we needed! I truly learned the truth of Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything, through Christ who gives me strength.” The Lord has used being a boy-mom to teach me many things, especially enjoying a good adventure and laughing!
The Lord gave me an interest in helping others in the medical field and led me to my career as an occupational therapist in the area of stroke rehab. I have a true passion for seeing those that I work with meet their goals and reclaim their lives after a severe illness and injury. The Lord has also done a work in my own heart as it relates to wholeness in body, soul, and spirit. In His tender and gracious way, He revealed errors in my thinking regarding body image and He lifted the cloud of guilt and shame I had been living under. I am now passionate about helping other women see themselves the way God sees them and live in the truth that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
I’ll never regret the choice I made as a child of five to trust Christ as my personal Savior. I’ve been amazed at His love and His preserving hand in my life as I grew and developed. My love for Him has ebbed and flowed but His love for me has remained constant and He continually draws me back to Himself even when I stray. For this I am truly thankful!
“I wonder if I’m good enough.”
It’s the first conscious thought I ever recall having regarding eternity.
Raised by moral, loving parents, I was taught I had to be “good enough” to be with God in heaven. But on the brink of turning twelve years old, I heard the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. My sin became a burden to me personally and, after some stubborn rejection and many months of no peace, I finally laid that burden down at the foot of the cross.
I wish I could tell you I fell in love with God and His Word right then and there, but that wouldn’t be the truth. My teen years were a tricky navigation of doing what it took to fit in, good or bad, ending in a wearisome trap of constantly trying to measure
up. It left me asking over again, in a different context, "Am I good enough?" I had been saved by God’s grace, but I hadn’t found the freedom to live in that grace.
I couldn’t tell you the exact moment I finally understood what it meant to live this way. But somewhere in my early twenties, I got to digging into God’s Word. This is where my true freedom was found. I haven’t stopped mining the treasures of its pages ever since, and every day He opens my eyes a little bit more to His marvelous love and grace.
I’m blessed to be married to my husband, Bert, a full-time evangelist and so full of passion for the gospel. Together we have served the Lord, in His strength, for nearly 23 years. We have three young adult children, Megan, Owen, and Brandon who bring us much joy! Far from flawless, but resting in He who is, we, side by side, seek to daily dwell in all that His love and grace afford.
God is good and I am blessed. The peace and joy I experience daily come from His gracious, nail pierced hands. My life has not always been so tranquil. God has taken me through many years of spiritual growth to enjoy His continual presence in my heart and mind. I am indeed thankful for learning from the Holy Spirit on a daily basis as God refines me for His glory. It is a humbling process, but necessary for growth.
On September 1, 1931, I was born in Bellville, Ontario to Christian parents who loved God and taught me the good news of the gospel. Aware of my sin and realizing my need of the Saviour, I became serious about salvation at the age of sixteen. There was an empty place in my heart that only Christ could fill. When I had come to the end of my own resources, I prayed for God's forgiveness of my sins. At that moment, Acts 16:31 flashed through my mind, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be
saved.” At that moment, I knew I was redeemed, saved for all eternity. What joy flooded my anxious soul, what relief from sin! What a life-changing experience!
Since that memorable day, I have learned to love my Lord through the endless challenges of normal life. I married Don Stewart on December 1, 1951. We were blessed with six children: Joan, Jeff, Bradley, Susan, Andrew, and Robert. When Brad was six months old, he developed influenza meningitis and suffered brain damage. We had an active, busy household that revolved around our assembly on Eglinton Ave. Our children all came to know the Lord while they were young. For that, I thank my Lord every day.
My role during the 70s to 90s was organizing the kitchen and food preparation for events, showers, weddings, and funerals. We had a tract band, young people’s meetings, ladies’ coffee hour, special meetings, and picnics. For twenty years, I did features and devotionals each winter in many southern Ontario assemblies where I was blessed to know many godly women. My husband died in 2013 and I moved to Bethany Manor in 2015. I enjoy my home here and being useful in Bethany Lodge as a volunteer. My best role in life now is to pray for family (including my seventeen grandchildren), friends, and God’s work among His people. It has not always been an easy life, but through it all—financial reverses, health issues, and difficulties—the Lord has been my strength, my rock, my peace, and my joy. I would not have changed my journey with Him in the least. The older I get, the more I value the lessons learned in adversity. My Lord gave His precious life for me; God is good and I am blessed.
Born in a small town in Nova Scotia, I grew up in a Christian home where the Bible was read daily, and at the age of 13, I accepted that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. It was through the words that Paul and Silas spoke to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,” that I realized that Jesus died for me and was my Savior.
After having taught Sunday School for almost 25 years, I have recently started an online girls club with a group of girls ages 7-11. I am also privileged to be part of a Ladies’ Bible Study group, which has been a great source of encouragement.
I currently live in Toronto with my husband of 21 years and our 3 children. We have two teen boys and a daughter in elementary. I love to cook and to read and, after running for several years, have recently started biking.
As a stay-at-home mom, I volunteer for school events and am part of the PR committee at a long-term care home. In 2020, I joined the team at Living Loved and am able to use my previous education and experience to serve as a coordinator and writer.