Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The BIG Announcement

The Most Distinctly Christian Home Discipleship Magazine

Homeschooling Today magazine is my favorite publication of all. I first read it right about the time James and Stacy McDonald bought it and have always loved the portrait it has painted of Christian family.

It was with great fear and trepidation that I accepted the role of Editor-in-Chief of the magazine when James offered it to me in the fall of 2006. A short three months later, James told me that God was calling him into more and more full-time pastoring in Peoria and that he was looking to sell the magazine.

Knowing that my good friends Steve and Kara Murphy wanted to purchase a family business that would allow Steve to hand off his construction business to two of his young protégés, I told them that the magazine was for sale. In February 2007, they bought it and kept me at the helm while Steve finished up his last construction/remodeling job.

Because of the increasing time demands on the McDonalds in the new direction the Lord was taking them, the Murphys inherited a production schedule that was almost a half-year behind. In the following twelve months, we worked very hard and with the Lord’s help published ten "bi-monthly" issues: something even some fans said couldn’t be done.

Going Strong
Now after two years, the magazine is on-track, has undergone a great redesign, just launched a new community-focused website, added a digital edition, and is in more capable hands than it ever has been.

The redesign is complete and in the talented hands of Erika Schanzenbach. Bookshelf and Beyond, where you can learn about the greatest resources available to homeschoolers, whether they be new books hot off the press, or tried and true standards from years gone by, is now under the close scrutiny of private homeschool librarians, the Cottrill family.

Instrumental in launching the new HST website, Ken Griffith will continue to tweak and fine-tune it, endeavoring to make it a community portal for all things related to the biblical family. A handful of capable men are making sure Homeschooling Helper, FirstYear, and The Father-Led Home e-newsletters and email blasts keep arriving on-time in your inbox to deliver encouragement between issues, right when you need it.

I have loved every minute of labor at Homeschooling Today magazine: communicating with writers and potential writers, working with editors and publishers, maintaining and updating the website, training customer service interns, speaking at conferences, and especially co-laboring with my friends, Steve and Kara Murphy. But best of all, I've seen God use the magazine to bless the lives of many: encouraging them in their daily walk to disciple their children, exhorting them to think biblically about curriculum, schedules, organization, college, marriage, government, entrepreneurialism, and so many other areas. I am grateful I have been able to serve Him here!

Now He's calling me to serve Him elsewhere.

Parting the Waters
During a Christmas trip to Texas, Amy's and my hearts were stirred to return to Texas to labor with the saints there, closer to our siblings and parents, that we may care and provide for them as the Lord allows. Thus, we began praying that He would move us back to Texas "soon." We pictured paring down our belongings, beginning a job hunt, finding someone to whom I could hand off the labor at Homeschooling Today magazine (but also knowing I could do much of the work remotely as long as high-speed internet was available), preparing our house to sell, and looking for new digs as soon as God revealed my next position.

We arrived home after almost four weeks on the road and began seeing His answer to our prayers the very next morning, when Steve let me know that the long-term plan for keeping the magazine financially strong would require letting me go. This is the second time God has closed employment doors for me here in SW Virginia, which tells me He heard our prayer and was answering our request to return soon.

Editorial oversight will now rest in the capable hands of Steve and Kara Murphy with the trusty help of long-time friend, supporter, and prayer warrior, regular contributor and former Managing Editor, Marilyn Rockett, who was indispensible to me when I wore the Editor-in-Chief hat.

And though He closed a door here before He showed us the one He will open in Texas, it is clearly His hand moving us, directing our hearts like a watercourse "wherever He pleases" (Proverbs 21:1). Our response is to trust Him and begin our journey to the land He will show us.

But, This is a bad time to try to sell a house. And, We’re in a recession. Don't you know that Folks are being laid-off all over the country?

The waters have not yet parted though we move toward the shore while the river overflows its banks (Joshua 3:14-16) and threatens to wash us downstream. We look forward to seeing Him part the waters, allowing us to cross over on dry ground.

New Work
In addition to the new employment we trust He will show us, God has given Amy and me personal success and a voice to help others save lots of money in these difficult times by using coupons to lower their monthly grocery spending. (See In the House of the Wise for details. And look for an upcoming online training class.)

For those of you liked Inherit the Land produced by Franklin Springs Family Media (http://www.franklinsprings.com/) and hosted by yours truly, I hope you will be pleased to learn that I am working on a couple of more projects with Ken Carpenter. Both projects are still in the infancy stage but I am very excited about their potential to deliver a powerful message.

As always, I will continue to be an advocate for home education, writing and publishing where He allows. In that vein, there are some other potential projects in the works that I hope to share with you soon when I have more details and they’re ready to go public.

Not Forsaken
Please join me in praising God and thanking Him for His promises and His provision for my family up until this day and for what He is going to do.

I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.

—Psalm 37:25

P. S. Resumes are available on request and a list of my work history and qualifications are available on LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/JBHoward.

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