Christian Living Magazine May June 2024

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Speaker and prison activist Stephanie Taylor-Thompson of Idaho Falls FREE May / June 2024 CARE HOUSE Learning Center Cost-effective child care YOUR Relationships Talk less, not more KELLY Culver Moved by a sign STEPHANIE Taylor-Thompson Freed from the pit

Because He Lives, We Ar e New Cr eat ions 208.3 79 0 79 Church Director y


Sandy Jones • 208-703-7860


Gaye Bunderson

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Southeast Christian Living | May / June 2024 3 Christian Living is committed to encouraging and instructing individuals in their daily lives by presenting stories of people in the Treasure Valley who are living on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and who serve as uplifting examples to others. Views expressed in Christian Living do not necessarily represent those of the publisher. Every effort has been made by Christian Living to insure accuracy of the publication contents. However, we do not guarantee the accuracy of all information nor the absence of errors and omissions; hence, no responsibility can be or is assumed. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2024 by Christian Living Ministries Inc. Christian Living is published every other month and is available in over 600 locations throughout southern Idaho, including grocery stores, convenience stores, medical waiting areas, and churches. If your church would like additional copies please email us today at Annual subscriptions available for $13/year. To start your subscription or give one as a gift send your check or money order, along with complete address information, including which issue to begin with and a phone number to call in case there’s questions about your subscription to Christian Living Magazine, PO Box 867, Meridian, ID 83680.
Contents May / June 2024
Idaho Photographer/Shelley, Idaho 208-419-9609
Steve Bertel, Daniel Bobinski, Rick Chromey, Tom Claycomb III, Ryan De Amicis, Roxanne Drury, Joan Endicott, Leo Hellyer, Rosie Main, Gary Moore, and Janet Thompson WEBSITE DESIGN SEO Idaho DISTRIBUTION D&S Distribution • 208-985-6904 Need Prayer? Call Idaho Chaplains Association Talk to a Chaplain 208-968-1991 “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God.” — Hebrews 2:17 FEATURES Care House Learning Center: Cost-effective child care 26 Carpe diem: ‘Life opportunities’ 24 Volume 13 | Number 3 16 COVER STORY Stephanie TaylorThompson: Freed from the pit Kelly Culver: A sign (literally) moved him 30 DEPARTMENTS IN EACH EDITION Maximum Health: Gut health 22 Understanding Relationships: Talk less, not more 18 Nutrition Nook: Read labels 8 COLUMNS Publisher’s Corner: Hope and promise 4 Bible Blanks: An Old Testament Son 7 Real Man’s Toolbox: Greatest leadership role model 10 Symbolism & Salvation: Jesus is the gate 6 “I Get To!”®: Peace with your past 14 History, Culture & Faith: Thomas Jefferson (Part 2) 20 Exploring God’s Great Outdoors: Hunting mushrooms 12 Biblically Responsible Investing: Kingdom Wealth Stewards 28 BRIEF: Sewing Angels 7

Spring, hope, promise and the Lord

Happy spring!!!

As I write this in April, after what seemed like several failed attempts I believe spring has finally arrived. And with it – all the hope and promise of the rebirth we Christians long for and celebrate in our walk with The Lord.

I have a Word doc on my desktop titled “Chapters We Don’t Talk About.” We all have them. I wrote it after a pastor friend shared some struggles he was going through with me. My heart ached for him as I struggled to understand the hurt he was feeling. It’s an article I’ve never finished, yet I leave it on my desktop as a reminder to put my best foot forward, especially on rough days.

As I’ve processed the hurt this friend of mine was going through at that time, it also inspired me to contemplate the saying that there are three sides to every story, since I only ever heard his. While it is true that there’s three sides to every story, sometimes only one side is right. For instance take the story of Jesus clearing the money changers from the temple. Can you just imagine the money changers’ side of that story? How they must’ve justified to themselves, and their friends, how they were right to be there in the temple – weren’t they making it possible for people to make their sacrifices? Regardless of how they justified their actions and motives they were still wrong in the eyes of God.

Like the money changers, I’m human, and as a human I don’t always get it right. I say the wrong thing. I mis-step. I sometimes have to stop and question my own motives – are they where they should be? Asking, if I have to tell my side of the story, would I only be justifying to myself, or would I be found to be obedient to what God has called me to do? I believe we are all called to search ourselves in this manner, and it is my goal to live that out each and every day.

I have a sticky taped to my laptop, just below my keyboard. On it is written:

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. – Proverbs 21:23

You see I have the gift of gab, and as one of the “gifted” ones (tongue in cheek sarcasm here), I have to remind myself that Scripture is clear in warning us what a weapon the tongue can be. I’m challenged to ask myself, is what I’m about to say edifying, is it necessary, is it honest and true?

I was far too old when I suddenly realized that just because a thought goes through my mind doesn’t mean it needs to be spoken out of my mouth.

4 May / June 2024 | Christian Living Who is in this week’s Join us each week as we take a deeper, more personal dive into people and ministries we’ve covered in Christian Living Magazine Saturdays at Noon MST on 94.1 FM The Voice Listen “live” at Subscribe & Listen on your favorite streaming service! ? Radio Show or PodcastYou Choose! PUBLISHER’S Corner
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May and June are two of my favorite months, with so many celebrations. Mother’s Day. Graduation. Father’s Day. Weddings. New beginnings. And here in Idaho, this year it also formally kicks off the political season in a presidential election year. There’s so much strife in our country, I already know I will have to hold myself accountable even more so in the coming months, to remember that I only want my actions and words to bring glory and honor to God, not a person, nor a party, but the King of Kings.

In the back window of my car I have a sticker that says He>i (He is greater than i). While it’s a true statement, it’s also a great reminder to drive friendly, and with the best manners. Those who know me well are probably laughing right about now. I fall far short of my goal, but I am trying. I’m often amazed at how that little sticker has been a great conversation starter. Often starting something like this: “Hey I like the sticker in your window!” And from there it usually goes one of two ways. The first, “I have one just like it!”, but it’s the second one that touches me the most, and that’s the conversations where these seemingly ordinary folks suddenly open up and tell the most amazing stories about mission fields they’ve served in all over the world. I love those connections, and I love hearing about their obedience and the journeys it has taken them on. How God has used them in some of the most unusual places. The connections they’ve made that only God could orchestrate. I learn so much – all because of a little sticker I put in the back window of my car to hold myself accountable for how I drive and for my own actions.

Tips and tricks and tools to help me walk the walk I talk about so often.

Many pastors will share with new Christians that being a Christian doesn’t guarantee an easy life, but it does guarantee that God will never leave you nor forsake you. They talk about how you become a new creation that very moment you invite Jesus into your heart. And they’re not wrong – you do become a new creation, but I have found that like any other worthy skill, if you want to serve God, and bring glory and honor unto Him – it’s a skill you have to hone. You can’t live out His Word, or know what it is He asks of you if you don’t learn His Word, and to learn it, you must study it.

I’ve never been good at memorizing Bible verses, or at least I didn’t think I was, but for nearly 28 years I’ve been serious about learning His Word. I’m often so surprised when I hear a pastor, or even a televangelist, quoting Scripture and I find myself speaking it with them, word for word. That’s not from memorizing a Bible verse a week, that’s from digging into the Bible, finding ways to make it come alive so I can better understand it.

I share all of this in hope that it might inspire some, while reassuring others in their walk with The Lord. Never doubt how much He loves you and that He wants to have a relationship with YOU, but in order to be in a relationship you must get to know Him as well as He already knows, and loves, you.

Until next time…

God Bless! n

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Sandy Jones

Jesus is the gate; beware of deception

Jesus represented many things during his time on Earth. Last year in this space I wrote about how He was the Passover Lamb, because by believing in the new covenant in His blood, God will pass over us and not sentence us to the second death. By way of review, the first Passover occurred in Egypt. Jacob’s family had become a nation of slaves there, and God was bringing a plague of death through the land. But if God’s angel saw the blood of a lamb painted on the doorposts of a house, the angel “passed over” and did not kill any firstborn in that house.

Jesus was also the sin offering that took away the sins of the world. In Leviticus 4:32 the law states that if one committed a transgression, a lamb without blemish was to be sacrificed as a sin offering. Those sacrificial offerings covered sin, but John the Baptist told us that Jesus was the Lamb of God who took away sins. There’s a difference.

I’ve also used this space before to write about how Jesus told us He was the vine and we are the branches, meaning that we need to stay connected to Him if we’re going to produce any fruit in our lives.

Of course, there’s more. Today I want to tell you that Jesus told us He was “the gate.” Some Bible translations use the word, “door.” To be specific, in John 10:7, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.”

He continues that analogy two verses later, saying, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”

The Greek word here is θύρα, or thyra. It means door, or gate, or vestibule, an entrance, or a passageway into some place. So when Jesus tells us He’s the thyra, He’s telling us that He alone is the entrance to eternal life with God.

He didn’t say he was “a” thyra. Or “one of” the thyras. No, Jesus said He is “THE” thyra. Only one thyra for entrance into heaven exists, and Jesus is it.

With that in mind, you now have a biblical response whenever someone tells you there are many ways to heaven. Jesus was crystal clear. The only way for people to enter into a relationship with God and find salvation is “through” Jesus. He is the door. He is the gate. He is the entrance. He is the passageway.

Entering by other means

It’s not biblical, but for the sake of illustration, imagine heaven as an enormously huge, beautiful property with a wrought iron fence around it. The only way to have legal access to the property and to receive all the fulfillment the owner has to offer is to enter through the gate.

This aligns with John 10:9, which says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture.”

But what if someone jumps the fence, ignoring the gate altogether? What if the person wanted the privileges and benefits, but just jumped over the fence?

Jesus addresses this in John 10:1, saying, “Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.”

This may sound odd, but messengers of Satan work hard on the youth, dangling fanciful powers and abilities, lying and deceiving, and caring not about anyone’s soul. They want only to do what Jesus says in verse 10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Such is the world of drugs and sinful pleasures and the temptation of supernatural powers. Drugs, in particular, are a gateway for people who feel abandoned; a deceptive path for people to think they’re being accepted. Tragically, drug use leads to other practices, all of which lead our youth down a road away from God.

Unfortunately, I know this road. Feeling abandoned in my teens, I made bad choices in my attempts to be accepted, but further and further down a dark path I went, until one day I found myself in intensive care on life support. I was in the hospital for weeks. One observation I made at that time was my “friends” were nowhere to be found.

The promises dangled by the dark side start off being attractive. One of the biggest problems in the church today is not telling our youth that sin starts off being really fun. That path was attractive for me 40+ years ago, and that path is still attractive to lonely teens today. But I can say with 100% confidence that the temptations dangled by the enemy provide only a false sense of belonging and false sense of fulfillment. Why? Because they are acquired by climbing over the fence – by avoiding the gate.

Jesus is the gate. He is the only gate. He is the only way to obtain eternal life and the true abundant blessings that accompany the life God offers.

If you have kids or grandkids, learn to die to self and listen to them. Practice patience. Provide as much emotional safety as you can. Study the daylights out of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Those verses are not for weddings, they’re for learning how to be an active, thriving member of the Body of Christ.

If we, as adults, cannot provide a listening ear and a safe emotional environment for the young people around us, they may easily choose to listen to the lies of those whose actual goal is to destroy them.

They almost destroyed me. I still bear the scars to remind me. Don’t let false fellowship and attractive but fake benefits destroy the young people around you. Show them the true gate, and explain that every aspect of love, as well as every aspect of loving acceptance, comes from the Person who is the gate. n

Daniel Bobinski, Th.D., is an award-winning and best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at or (208) 375-7606.

If you have found this or another ar ticle valuable, please consider helping us bring stories like this to our community by suppor ting Christian Living Magazine, a 501(c)3 ministr y, at

6 May / June 2024 | Christian Living SYMBOLISM
Daniel Bobinski

Sewing Angels group seeks participants

The Sewing Angels group at Ten Mile Christian Church has been making pillowcases for St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital for 10 years as part of a national organization called “Ryan’s Case for Smiles.”

Recently, Idaho lost its coordinator for this group.

“The hospital still wants the cases, so we are working on a plan for a couple of us to take over the coordinator position,” said Ellen Landreth, who is a member of Sewing Angels. “We’ve had such a great time building relationships through this project that we are hoping to enlist other churches to begin a sewing ministry also.”

The hospital needs 200 cases a month and one group alone can’t make that many, Landreth said. The basic cost per case is $10, she explained.

Other groups are sought to join in the ministry. “We will help them get started by inviting them to observe our group and the ‘assembly line’ we use.”

Any groups in other churches wishing to participate in the pillowcase project should contact Landreth at (208) 761-4237 or n


Fill in each answer, one letter per square.

Then ar range t he letters in t he highlighted squares to reveal t he name of …


1. Romans reminds us “ … we are more t han ___ through him who loved us.”

2. T his book feat ures t he quest ion “W hat do these stones mean? ”

3. James compared our ___ to a hor se’s bit, a ship’s r udder, and a small spark that ignites a forest fire

4. Esau told him, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”

And t he OLD TE STAMEN T SON is …

The OLD TESTAMENT SON is: THANJONA (1 Samuel 19:1)

4. JACOB (Genesis 25:29,30)

3. NGUESTO (James 3:3-6)

2. JOSHUA (Joshua 4:6 and 4:21)

1. CONQUERORS (Romans 8:37)

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Know what you’re eating – read labels

It’s Not All About Genes!

I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor, but otherwise, I’m healthy. Even though both sides of my family struggled with heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, my annual lab results in all areas are so pristine that at my last physical my doctor said he could stop ordering blood tests! I said no, I love to see the results of our healthylifestyle.

My husband’s father had quadruple bypass heart surgery and died from heart disease too early, and his mother had numerous health issues related to obesity. However, even in Dave’s senior years, his doctor says he’s healthier than 98% of his male patients and Dave takes no medication.

I don’t say this to brag, but to point out a myth I often hear: “It’s hereditary. I can’t do anything about my condition, so I might as well eat what I want.” That’s a fallacy – Dave and I are healthy proof. Yes, genes do play a role, but knowing what you’re dealing with gives you a heads up on being proactive rather than feeding into a generational cycle.

In the last Nutrition Nook column, I stressed the importance of knowing what you’re putting into your body, which you expect to last a lifetime and isn’t replaceable. Just like paying close attention to what goes into fueling your car. If a product has ingredients incompatible with our brand of car, it destroys the operating mechanisms of the vehicle. The same is true with our physical bodies.

Always Read Labels.

I saw a man on Facebook posting a picture of the ingredient list on his can of kidney beans and asking why it included sugar? A great question. Good for him reading the label, but I’m sure he wishes he’d read it before he bought the beans.

The ideal is to eat fresh whenever possible and avoid boxed, canned, and processed foods. Shop primarily on the outside aisles, avoiding the long center aisles where most of the processed food is located. You don’t always have time to make everything from scratch, so we’ll talk now about tips for label reading. Purposely, manufacturers make the printing on most labels so tiny you might need a magnifying glass, cheater glasses, or use the magnifying App on your phone so you can read the fine print. If the ingredient list is super long, probably best to put it back on the shelf and not in your shopping cart!

I read every label. If I don’t recognize an ingredient, I don’t buy the item. I avoid soy because of my breast cancer history. Some soy mimics estrogen in the body. The FDA has allowed the food industry to add soy indiscriminately to much of our food. “Soy lecithin” is one of the most ubiquitous additives in our food supply. It’s primarily an emulsifier found in everything from salad dressings to vitamins. The soy portion comes from soybean oil extracted from soybeans. You can avoid the brunt of soy lecithin by eliminating most processed foods, but read the labels.

Unfortunately, most labels are purposefully ambiguous. The FDA is supposedly making labels more user-friendly, but the food industry is protesting against the higher cost of making new labels. They spend trillions of advertising dollars marketing processed foods that have gone from 0 % to 70% of our diet in the last 100 years!

Food companies hire lobbyists to push against printing scientific health information on food labels that would red flag that an ingredient like sugar could be harmful to your health. They also know transparency makes it easier to identify what’s in our food. Even though by law they must list ingredients, they can still craftily use misleading language and terms and miniscule print on the outside packaging. The goal of food companies is to meet minimum FDA standards while still enticing you to buy their product. They care about sales not your scales! Profit not your health.

Following are some tips to help you make wise choices, especially

with grocery prices so high today. You want to be a discerning shopper who spends money on food that is actually nutritious and not potentially harmful to your body. Companies design packaging to be attractive and catch your attention to pick it up. Before it goes into your basket, take a minute to carefully check out the front and back labels. I once had someone say you should never need to read a label. I replied, “You should never buy a food item that you haven’t read the label!”

Front of Package Deception

1. Don’t be fooled by marketing subjective terms like “healthy,” “all natural,” “fat free,” “wholesome,” “sugar-free,” “no sugar added,” “light,” “low-calorie,” “fruit-flavored,” “keto-certified,” “low-carb or zero carb,” “whole grains” or “multigrain.”

In the United States, some of these claims do involve standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which I’ll indicate. However, others have very little or no guidance surrounding their use or misuse.

“Natural foods,” “all natural foods” and “wholesome” are widely used in food labeling and marketing with a variety of vague definitions. The implication is they’re minimally processed foods that don’t contain manufactured ingredients, but the lack of standards in most jurisdictions makes the terms meaningless.

“No sugar added” or “sugar-free” doesn’t mean the ingredients don’t contain sugar, just that there’s no extra sugar added.

“Light” has no specific regulated guidelines. “Low-calorie” has to have 40 or fewer calories than the regular food item.

“Fruit-flavored” doesn’t indicate real fruit, but an added fruity chemical. The FDA doesn’t specify how much “real fruit” must be in a product to tout “made with real fruit.”

I eat keto and the most recent indiscriminate label on a product is “keto-certified” in an official looking emblem. An entrepreneurial third-party website charges companies for this “certification.” There are no legal or official keto or paleo certifiers. Other commonly used terms are “keto-friendly” or “paleo-approved,” but always read the label’s nutritional breakdown and ingredient list for verification.

“Low-carb or zero carb” has no FDA guidelines, so it can indiscriminately appear on any label. Keto eaters deduct fiber from natural carbs, but some products like “zero-carb” tortillas have added high fiber ingredients such as cellulose or wheat starch. That’s the deductible fiber, but other ingredients still have carbs. An example of “natural deductible fiber” would be fiber in fresh asparagus.

Packaging can say “whole grains” or “multigrain” even if the product is primarily made with refined grains ground into flour. Check the ingredients on the back label.

2. Don’t trust “organic” unless there’s a legally certified insignia on the package. The term “organic” has an established legal definition in many countries, including the United States, as well as an agreed upon international standard. “All natural” and “organic” products are not interchangeable terms. In some countries, “all natural” is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning!

If the package states “organic ingredients,” read the label to be sure all ingredients are organic. All “organic” foods aren’t necessarily good for you – organic sugar is still sugar. Just because it’s organic doesn’t give it a free pass. It still has “wasted calories” with no nutritional value.

3. “Gluten-free” products must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten per the FDA to be on the label, so some producers of “gluten-free products” cannot by law use the term because they don’t meet the standard. However, even marshmallow packages now say “gluten-free,” but that doesn’t mean you should be eating marshmallows!

4. “Cholesterol-free” can still contain ingredients with cholesterol. “Zero trans fat” can contain up to 0.5 grams per serving. Always turn the package over and read the back information!

8 May / June 2024 | Christian Living NUTRITION Nook

Package Back Label Information

Never buy a food item without reading the back label. Ignore the claims on the front of the package. The back is where by law they must give you the nutritional breakdown of the food item.

1. The nutritional breakdown of calories, fat, carbohydrates, sodium etc. is by serving size. Often it’s ½ cup. Who only eats a half cup of ice cream or cereal? If you eat 2 cups, you need to multiply the nutritional breakdown, including calories, by four! On crackers and chips the serving size is a number, i.e. 10 chips. If you eat 20 chips, double all the nutritional facts listed.

2. Listed ingredients go from highest content to lowest. If water is the first ingredient, the product is mostly water. For example, a lemon drink that promotes “made with lemon” may list lemon juice as the last ingredient and water as the first ingredient. It’s water with a little lemon or it could even be lemon flavoring.

3. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, Google it on your phone. You don’t want to put an unknown into your you? Chances are it’s a preservative to avoid.

4. “Added sugar” is listed in the nutrition facts and in the ingredients list. Even if it’s organic or raw...sugar, honey, or maple syrup is still sugar with calories. Natural occurring ingredient sugar is in the nutrition facts portion of the label.

5. Avoid anything with high glucose corn syrup. Especially check children’s snacks. I sent my husband on a mission of finding barbeque sauce without high fructose corn syrup. He read every label on the grocery store shelf. There was only one brand without it.

6. Check the sodium level and remember it’s per the label’s serving size.

7. Avoid saturated fat and trans fats and all “vegetable oil,” usually followed with a list of oils in parenthesis so they don’t commit to any specific oil. Vegetable oils are highly refined and unstable from exposure to chemicals in the refining process that strips them of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They’re stored in body fat, which may lead to inflammation. Examples of bad vegetable oils are corn oil, canola or rapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil.

You’ll find vegetable oil or vegetable shortening in fried foods, packaged baked goods, salty snacks, salad dressings, even coffee creamers (use half-and-half).

The best overall oil to use is Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Also, avocado oil and refined coconut oil. Here’s an example of deceptive marketing. The front of the Blue Diamond Gourmet Almonds package reads, “Almonds with garlic, herb, & olive oil.” It even has a “certified NON GMO” emblem. That all sounds awesome! But the ingredients listed on the back are: “Almonds, vegetable oil (almond, canola, safflower and/or sunflower),

sea salt, roasted garlic, spices (oregano, basil, rosemary)” and the very LAST ingredient, extravirgin olive oil! What a disappointment!

When buying nuts, the ingredients should only be the nut and maybe sea salt if they’re salted nuts. Nothing else! If other oils are listed, unless it’s olive oil, return the package to the shelf.

8. Look for added soy, which could be in the form of soybean oil or soy lecithin. No one needs the amount of soy added to our food. Today, most labels indicate if there’s soy.

9. Choose wild fish, not farmed.

Buy Fresh, Be Healthy.

When possible, buy fresh and avoid packaged, processed foods, then you don’t have to worry about labels unless you’re looking for organic. Then look for the legal certified organic emblem. Beware at farmer’s markets. They may claim to not use pesticides, but you’re only taking their word for it. Whatever you’re buying, always check the dates for freshness.

It may take longer to shop at first, but soon you’ll know which foods to avoid. You may think buying organic is more expensive, but with all the products you aren’t buying, you’ll actually reduce your food bill and increase your health.

Happy shopping! n

Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. – Isaiah 55:2-5 The Message

Janet Thompson, award-winning Christian speaker, freelance author, and author of 20 books, is also the founder, director, and God’s servant of Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and About His Work Ministries. Her passion and focus is mentoring the next generation. Her tag line is, “Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.” She has a BS in Food Administration, MBA, and Master of Arts in Christian Leadership. Check out her books and sign up for her free weekly online blog and monthly newsletter at Join her on Janetthompson.authorspeaker, LinkedIn, Pinterest, X, and Instagram.

Recipe for Italian Stuffed Chicken on page 13 Christian Living | May / June 2024 9 BOISE CALDWELL The Sanctuary Cowboy Church Sunday Service 10 AM NEW LOCATION! 912 W. Linden Street Caldwell, ID 83605 208-329-8246 NEW LOCATION: 600 N. Ten Mile Rd. Meridian, ID Join us on Sundays: • On YouTube - 11:00 am Look for Centra l Va lley Meridian • On Campus • 8:00 am, 9:30 am and 11:00 am • Slavic Service 2:00 pm MERIDIAN For information on adding your church to this directory, please call 208-703-7509 or email: boisechristianliving@ CHURCHES IN YOUR AREA
Janet Thompson

REAL Man’s Toolbox

The greatest leadership role model of all

As men, we have many tools in our toolboxes, and we use most of those tools more than once. In living our lives as Christian men, we should be using the tools in our Real Man’s Toolbox repeatedly as well. Our lives are a compilation of many life experiences: good, bad, challenging, hectic, confusing, mountaintop, and valley, etc.

Men are expected, gifted, and challenged to be leaders in many areas of what we call life. To accomplish life as well as we can, most men look at role models or mentors to demonstrate to them how to be a good leader. In the business world, Ken Blanchard’s book “The One Minute Manager” has been a beacon of light to many men, leading them on how to lead in the world of business. He has also written a very inspirational book called “Lead Like Jesus.” As it says on the cover, this book is a number of “Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time.”

Blanchard discusses that there are four domains of leading like Jesus. He says that when we align our hearts, heads, hands and habits, our perspective of life is changed. He also points out that when these four domains are out of alignment, our work is unfocused and relationships are broken.

Of course, in referring to Jesus’ leadership, Blanchard references many Scriptures. A key Scripture to all of the rest that are referenced is Proverbs 4:23, which says that, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” The condition of our heart determines the direction we go in all other aspects of life. Our hearts must be healthy in order for us to lead others into a productive life experience.

With all of the distractions of life, we must keep our focus on God and not on life in general, our challenges, or wondering what’s in it for me. If we are willing to follow, Jesus will lead us in all areas of our lives. To effectively communicate with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is through frequent, heartfelt prayer. While we need to always honor the power and wisdom of God, we should communicate with Him as though we are talking to our best friend. A big part of the effectiveness of prayer, regardless of exactly what type of prayer it is, is for us to take time to be still, quietly expecting and receiving guidance directly from God Almighty.

As a servant leader, Jesus is invested in our success. We are a top priority of His. Jesus wants us to succeed, and He invests a lot into us to guide us on the path towards success. As a Christian man, we are to be more and more like Jesus on a daily basis. If we are doing this, we need to be building into the lives of those people Jesus brings along our path. We need to respond to the divine appointments that Jesus creates for us to minister to others as servant leaders.

A very important trait that Blanchard points out is crucial to leading like Jesus is the lack of ego. He references 1 Timothy 1:5, where Paul expresses to Timothy that, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” People with egos are not living a life which reflects this statement from Paul.

There is a great need for the proper type of leadership in the lives of men today. Unfortunately, for various reasons (too many to count), many men have not had someone in their lives who reflected Christ-like leadership to them in any manner. Many men are making valiant attempts to lead well; but unfortunately, they are failing because they really do not have an achievable goal in sight. Men of Christ, we need to come alongside of our brothers who are doing their best to lead without really knowing where they are going. Take the opportunity to add “Lead Like Jesus” by Ken Blanchard to your Real Man’s Toolbox. There are many men who are searching for a real-life role model to follow. If we are living our lives out in a Christ-honoring way, and are doing our very best to lead like Jesus, then we can mirror what true leadership is and how to achieve it. Particularly in this area of life, it may not be as much about what you say as it is about how you live your life that has the most impact. We never know how many other men are watching how we live the various facets of our lives to see how they should live their lives.

As you live your life, keep your focus on Christ; receive your strength and direction from Him. Be obedient to Him and let Him work in the hearts of other men while using you as a servant leader. On the back cover of Blanchard’s book, it says, “Leading like Jesus will make a profound difference in your life and in the lives of those you influence.”

Seek Jesus in your life, model Jesus as you become a servant leader to other men, and see the fruits of your labor as you see other men become Christ-like servant leaders to those people Christ brings along their paths. n

Leo Hellyer is a non-staff pastor with a local church and has been married to his wife Norma for 50 years. The couple volunteered with the Boise FamilyLife Ministry Team for 20 years. Leo has also been serving with Boise Rescue Mission Ministries for more than 20 years and is currently serving at the River of Life Rescue Mission. He is president and chief firearms instructor with Helping Hands Firearms Training LLC. If you have questions about Real Man’s Toolbox, or need other assistance, he may be reached at or (208) 340-5544.


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EXPLORING God’s Great Outdoors Springtime is magical in the Gem State

I don’t like to use the word magical but I don’t know the Christianese word for magical. Delightful doesn’t sound too manly. Well anyway. … Springtime in Idaho is awesome. You can wear yourself out. We have awesome bear/turkey/whistle pig hunting, unbelievable crappie fishing, bowfishing and mushroom hunting.

I could write 2,500 words on any of these six topics. They’re all a blast. What’s a guy supposed to do? You can’t call into work April through June telling the boss every day that you have a bad hangnail – AGAIN! I could write a daily article in the spring.

I think that I will write about the most unique topic – mushroom hunting. If you’ve never mushroom hunted, then you’re missing out on the best food that God gave us. If you’ve never eaten a morel mushroom, then you don’t have a clue what you’re missing. You may say, yes, I’ll buy mushrooms periodically and sauté’ them with a steak. Comparing store-bought mushrooms to a morel is like comparing a gas station hot dog to a filet mignon and telling me that you’ve eaten beef.

Morel mushrooms are the second-best fungi in the world, second only to the truffle. There’s a few edible mushrooms in Idaho, but I only can identify 2-3. I thought I’d take a mushroom class so that I could identify more. It’s crazy to walk around the mountains and only be able to identify 2-3 species. So I attended some classes. At the end, I still didn’t feel comfortable picking other species.

The first few times, it’s prudent to go with an old timer. Have them teach you the ropes. You don’t want to make a mistake and pick the angel of death or let’s just say that you and God had better be good friends, because you’re about to meet Him.

I’d caution you at first to only pick morels. They’re easy to ID, but have someone show you how to distinguish between them and snow morels. Now for the problem: finding someone who will teach you the ropes. Good mushroom hunting spots are probably left in some Idahoans’ wills!

I’ve found them all the way from the Boise River on up to the tops of mountains. The ideal conditions though are when it starts warming up a bit, about May 5-10. You need to have small rain/sprinkle and a warm night and then they seemingly pop up overnight.

Everyone tells you to look around old logs. Newsflash, Junior! There are dead logs laying all around the forest and not everyone has a morel by it. I find some on the uphill banks on old logging roads.

If you find a hotspot, you can usually find them there every year but that’s not totally so. If you find one on a slope/side of a mountain, look uphill/downhill because the spores wash downhill.

Outdoor companies need to make camo mimicking morels because they’re masters of deceit. Numerous times I’ve set down to eat lunch or a snack and after 5-10 minutes I spot one not 12 inches from my foot. I always say that I’d gladly trade what I find for all of the ones that I walked within 10 feet of and didn’t see.

But the absolute best scenario is to hunt a burn from last year. The morels are unbelievable. You’ll find bucketsful. You live for those times. I remember in 2005 the big fire up at Warm Springs. There were a million. I found like 13-17 growing underneath one lodge pole log. Always check old stump holes in burns. They usually have a bunch. In burns they’ll be covered with soot and a little harder to clean, but who cares.

I think it was in 2007, the fire going up to Silver Creek. I jumped up a steep mountain and found a million. In one spot that you could have covered with a 10x12-ft tarp I picked 142. I had a load, and walking down a draw to my truck there were clumps of 8-12 nice healthy morels I had to walk by because my bucket was full. A few days later, me, Katy and a buddy and his wife went back. We all got two 5-gallon buckets. That was an awesome spot.

Where I bear hunted a lot, they’d done some small prescribed burns the year before that no one knew about. I knocked off bear hunting to go mushroom hunting. I couldn’t find a one. I don’t think a little doodling fire works. I think that it has to be a real forest fire. You know – hot.

The real mushroomers use a mesh bag so the spores fall out while they’re walking. They also carry a knife and cut them off above the ground. Although I’ve never seen one sprout back up.

Preparing/cooking them: You got lucky. What now? They’re fragile so gently rinse them off to remove bugs and dirt. Then slice them in half longways and put in a bowl of salty water overnight to kill the bugs (but I usually fry up a batch the night I get home).

You can make mushroom gravy, mix into omelets, etc., but my favorite way is to fry them up. Crack a couple of eggs in a bowl and mix with milk. Dip the morel and then roll in flour sprinkled with salt and pepper. Heat oil to medium in a cast iron skillet and throw the mushrooms in and fry to a golden brown. Grilled ribeye or fried morel. I can’t tell you which one is best. Collect a bunch? Dry them.

Christian Tip #3 – Do we want to hear God talking to us every day? Do we want our prayers answered? If we really want this then I think we’ve got to relentlessly attack sin in our life. We can’t hold onto sins when the Holy Spirit reveals them to us. 1 John 1:6 teaches us that we’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re close to God when we’re willfully living in sin. Psalm 66:18 tells me that if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. n

For more information, contact Tom at

12 May / June 2024 | Christian Living
Tom Claycomb III Morel mushrooms are a tasty treat that grows for free in the outdoors in Idaho. They often grow in clumps in various places. (Photo submitted by Tom Claycomb III)

Nutrition Nook

Continued from page 9

Italian Stuffed Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts

1 egg

1 cup Italian sauce

(I suggest Rao’s Homemade All Natural, Premium Marinara)

1 cup fresh spinach chopped

1/3 cup fresh mushrooms chopped

2 tbsp. butter

½ cup mozzarella cheese

½ cup ricotta cheese

(can substitute cottage cheese or cream cheese)

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Grated parmesan to sprinkle on top

Slice one side of each chicken breast to make a pocket. Sautee spinach and mushrooms in butter. Mix cheeses, spinach, mushrooms, egg, and Italian seasoning. Stuff the chicken breasts pockets with the cheese mixture. Put in greased baking dish and cover with Italian sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!

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Making peace with your past

One unforgettable afternoon, out of the blue, I was confronted with some of my childhood challenges when a simple sound transported me back to a time of fear and trauma. As Mark hurried to change his clothes, the sound of my sweet hubby’s leather belt whipping through his Wrangler jean belt loops instantly brought floods of emotion and tears from the frightened little girl within me.* In those moments when I feel so fragile, I’m indescribably grateful for Mark’s long and strong, compassionate embrace and loving prayers over me. This offers an important reminder for us all, that even though we naturally want to help provide solutions to anything that causes our loved ones pain, there are some things that no one can do for another. We can, however, provide a safe and loving place for them to process when we are fully present, listen well, offer unconditional love, comfort and compassion—while simultaneously turning off any “I can solve that!” button we might otherwise be tempted to reach for.

My friend, if past traumas ever set off emotional alarms within you, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Over 300 million beautiful souls worldwide are navigating the choppy waters of PTSD, which can spring from experiences as diverse as first responders and military service, or deeply personal traumas. In those moments, please remember to be as kind and patient with yourself as you would be with a loved one. Your life happened in layers—so does the healing of it. So, exactly what is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as “A mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.”

Clients often ask, “Joan, how do I know if something is resolved or if I still have work to do?” I follow their question with other questions to help them get clarity: “How do you feel when you think about it? What words best describe those feelings? When you think about it, do you feel it in your body?” Every time we think of something, if there is an unpleasant emotion, or a mental or physical response connected to it, it’s a gentle reminder that that is still an issue—an unresolved one. In my young adult years, since I didn’t know what to do with the trauma triggers, I figured it was just a matter of trying not to think about

them. Well, clearly we know that “out of sight, out of mind” is a fallacy and won’t work when it comes to hurts, heartaches, and traumas we’ve experienced. They need to be faced head-on just like David faced his giant, Goliath. Instead of sitting and thinking about it, the Scripture says he ran quickly to the battlefront. Those big ugly Trauma Giants need to be slayed swiftly and deliberately. The sharpest sword available to us is God’s Living Word. (Just pause for a moment and give Him thanks for this incredibly powerful and eternal gift!) There is an arsenal of other weapons available to you as well. Please understand, I know how painful this process can be. I also know that it’s 100 percent worth the effort and that nothing can replace having peace with your past!

Trauma—a deeply distressing or disturbing experience

Resolve—settle or find a solution to a problem, dispute, or contentious matter

Peace—freedom from fears, agitating passions, moral conflict; freedom from disturbance; tranquility; mental calm; serenity

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

When I was still in the naïve, just-don’t-think-about-it phase, God gave me a great visual of being in the water with an overinflated beach ball and the goal of keeping the ball under the water’s surface. I was working so hard and using all my energy and strength to keep it hidden, completely out of others’ sight—and I was exhausted! BUT, when I found the stem on the ball, opened the valve and started letting the air out, it lost its power. The visual of deflating that ball is a terrific word picture for how you and I can take the stinging power out of past traumas by processing them in healthy ways.

In their excellent book, How We Love, Milan and Kaye Yerkovich expose various experiences people can have in their homes of origin and how those imprints have a profound effect on how we, in turn, naturally give and receive love as adults. I cannot overstate the value of this incredible resource. I recommend every human read it! Yes, it’s that beneficial. In Chapter 2, they ask a simple comfort question: “Can you recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress?” If you answered yes and can think of ways you were comforted with nurturing touch, being listened to, cared about and given relief from your distress, then you are blessed! If you answered no, you have a lot of company. The authors share that in their work, “roughly 75 percent of the adults we surveyed do not have a single memory of

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receiving comfort from a primary caregiver when they were children.” The first time I read that statistic I was shocked! Not only was my answer also no, as I began asking this comfort question to my clients from all around the globe, I was amazed that 90 percent of those I asked also said no. Clearly, trauma can come as a result of either what did happen or what didn’t happen.

I also found these same clients would often attempt to discount or downplay the significance of the lack of comfort. They grappled with destructive self-talk, questioning why they hadn’t “moved on” or “let go” of something that happened so very long ago, as if time, by itself, heals. It doesn’t. When your inner dialogue is critical and lacks love, care, and compassion needed for healing, see it for what it is—destructive! Compassion, both from others and ourselves, is vital in the healing process.

Attitude for working through trauma triggers:

1. Don’t blame others whose words/actions accidentally trigger you.

2. Verbally process your trigger with a trusted friend.

3. Be willing to go deep and do the work.

4. Find a supportive community.

5. Get help from qualified, vetted professionals.

6. Be honest with yourself and those helping you.

7. Have a plethora of practical tools.

Along with biblically-based counseling, learn practical tools you can implement immediately. For example, when something feels triggering, you can:

• First and foremost, immediately pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Memorize verses that directly combat the issue. Just as Jesus did when tempted, quote Scripture and draw the sword of His Word to

slay the Trigger Giants. Truth always triumphs!

• Acknowledge the trigger for what it is and why— to validate your feelings

• Take a brisk 15- to 20-minute walk outside

• Do Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

• Journal your feelings

• Drink 16 oz. of water

• Eat protein/nutritious food

• Lay a weighted blanket across your core

• Practice self-compassion ongoing (See my other self-compassion writings for more details.)

Just by knowing you have specific options, you will naturally reduce anxiety at the prospect of any trigger and feel more peace, ease, and rest. If you plan, prepare, and expect to win these battles, you are already on your way to victory, my friend! The Number One way I have been able to successfully process past traumas and make peace with all that happened is by taking the hand and walking closely with the only One who can carry those burdens for me—Jesus, The Prince of Peace. n

*Please understand, this is not an indictment of loving, appropriate discipline.

Grab your FREE copy of Joan Endicott’s “I Get To!”® book at Joan is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author and Coach whose coaching has reached over 30 countries. Meet her and enjoy her encouraging messages on Facebook and Instagram! Christian Living | May / June 2024 15
Joan Endicott

FREED from the PIT and RAISED up HIGH

Editor’s note: Information in the following article is comprised of an interview with Stephanie Taylor-Thompson, as well as from a YouTube video of a TED Talk written and presented by Taylor-Thompson. (See the YouTube link* to the video at the end of the article.)

It was February 11, 2011. Mid-afternoon. And cold. Temperatures hovered near freezing. Yet another eastern Idaho storm had blanketed the ground with some six inches of snow. And the sidewalk Stephanie Taylor-Thompson trudged along was icy and wet and slushy. “I had no food. I had no home. I had no money. I had no car. And I had absolutely no one who I could count on,” she remembered. “I’ve been through a lot of scary things in my life but, by far, the scariest was the uncertainty I faced on that cold, four-mile walk …”

The young woman was certainly not dressed for the harsh conditions, wearing only the clothes she had been assigned: a light T-shirt, jeans, socks (that had become drenched from all the slush), and sandals – actually, prison shower sandals she had worn while serving time at the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center.

Where she had just been released.

Despite a hard upbringing and a very troubled life, the power of faith eventually turned Stephanie Taylor-Thompson around and set her on a path of helping others fight the same battles she did.

Growing up in Idaho Falls, Stephanie’s life had not been easy. “While my childhood looked good on the outside – I had a home, I had plenty of food to eat, I had a nice school to go to – internally, it was a living nightmare,” she said. Both her parents struggled with depression, anxiety, and mental illness. Her father drank heavily; in fact, he spent years behind bars for the numerous DUIs he had racked up. Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had nearly died.

16 May / June 2024 | Christian Living
Stephanie Taylor-Thompson (Photo provided by Designs by Dreana Photography)

As far as having God in her life, well, He was barely a blip on her family’s radar. “My mom was a believer, but we never went to church,” Stephanie pointed out. Additionally, “I remember my father had an extremely contentious relationship with Christ. He had been raised LDS, but had left the church at a very young age.”

Then, after being sexually abused by a family friend at age 12 –she reported the attack, but her abuser was never charged – she gravitated toward what she called “some pretty unhealthy relationships.” One relationship led to a man who was 18 years her senior; she was only 14 at the time, he was 32. “I was a very vulnerable young girl back then, very lost. Looking back, he had absolutely no business being around me,” she said. “But there was so much destruction going on in my family, I was really searching for a male role model. With him, for the first time in my life, I felt protected.”

But she soon realized their “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationship had evolved into a dangerous and controlling situation, where he no longer allowed her to communicate with family and friends. In fact, it wasn’t long before he controlled every part of her life, to the point where he forced her to work as his drug “mule,” helping him to regularly transport illegal narcotics from California to Idaho.

In addition to becoming addicted to both methamphetamine and cocaine, there were even times “I was sold against my will and [sexually assaulted by multiple men] to pay drug debts.” Realizing the toll it was taking on her, Stephanie tried to escape the lifestyle, especially after facing a number of drug trafficking charges. But her boyfriend – her “trafficker,” as she calls him today – wouldn’t hear of it.

“It was one of the very few promises he made to me that came true,” she recalled. “He told me, ‘If you ever betray me or leave me, you are not going to survive’.” Defying that threat led to her being sexually assaulted – again – and stabbed multiple times by “people he sent.” As a result of the attack, she suffered a traumatic brain injury, “and my ability to have children was completely taken away.” She said she never recovered emotionally after that. “But when I recovered physically, I immediately went right back to drugs. I continued to use. I continued to get into trouble; in fact, by then, I had been in and out of jail more times that I can count,” she stated.

down, and had a heart-to-heart talk with her. “At that point,” she admitted, “I was ready to throw in the towel. I told them, ‘Let me do my time here in Idaho. Then I’ll go back to Montana and do my ten years there.’ But they got me settled down and told me, ‘Look. Stop and think about what you’re doing. You’re not a bad person. Just because you’ve made mistakes in your life doesn’t mean you can’t have a future.’ Looking back, it was an amazing conversation. It really changed my whole outlook on life.”

Soon thereafter and, while still incarcerated, Stephanie met a woman named Kati Eckenrode, a volunteer services coordinator, who was teaching a Bible study/Celebrate Recovery class to a group of female inmates. After attending the first class, Stephanie said, “Everything in my life changed. Prior to that, I was depressed. I had zero self-worth. And I had PTSD to the point where even certain little noises would absolutely throw me over the edge.”

She remembers well the class exercise that turned her life around. “Kati gave each of us a sheet of paper and told us to write down how we felt Christ saw us. It was obvious to me the other women in the class had attended Bible studies and knew the Word. But I had no idea what to write down. I didn’t know any Scripture. And I certainly did not feel like a daughter of Christ.

“So I didn’t write anything. Plus, I was not a person who had shared in class. Ever. When Kati saw my blank paper, she said ‘You need to rip that paper up. Everything you’re thinking right now is not true. Christ loves you. Everything you’ve done wrong has been forgiven. Christ died on the cross for your sins. Not just for a few of your sins. For all of them. You are worthy of His grace; you are worthy of His love.’ So I came back to her class again. And kept coming back.

“I felt like a 1,000-pound weight had been lifted from my chest. I found a joy and peace in my life I had never felt before. Whenever any worry or anxiety came up, I would tell God, ‘You know, I’m going to turn this over to You’.”

At age 19, Stephanie was arrested for being involved with what at that time was the largest drug trafficking operation eastern Idaho law enforcement officials said they had ever seen. According to reports, a man who hauled vegetables throughout the country in his semi-truck was actually a major drug trafficker. In fact, authorities estimated he had brought more than $1 million of illegal narcotics into Idaho over a five-year period. After a long investigation, detectives arrested the man and all his known associates – including Stephanie. As a result, she faced a mandatory minimum prison sentence of ten years to life.

In 2010, while on felony supervision in Idaho, Stephanie absconded to Montana, where the dark pit she was living in became even deeper. “I received another felony drug possession charge, and was given a ten-year prison sentence. Because of the circumstances, I was going to get charged federally but, by the grace of God, an officer advocated for my charges to stay at the state level. So I was extradited back to Idaho,” she explained. She was incarcerated at the Women’s Correctional Center south of Boise. “I can’t even articulate how angry of a person I was at that time.”

Although she had been behind bars numerous times before, Stephanie’s anxiety and anger boiled over one day and she was involved in what she termed “a heated argument” with another inmate. Fortunately, prison staffers intervened, pulled the two apart, sat Stephanie

“One day, Kati helped me pray, not in a scripted way, but coming to Him very vulnerable and asking for my life to be restored through Him. In fact, that was the first time I had really, really genuinely prayed. Whenever I’d be arrested, I’d ‘pray,’ ‘Please God, don’t let this happen again.’ But it was always superficial. It wasn’t genuine. When I prayed with Kati, I was ready to turn my life over to God. I remember I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life.”

The next day, Stephanie recalled, she felt “totally changed. It was surreal. I felt like a 1,000-pound weight had been lifted from my chest. I found a joy and peace in my life I had never felt before. Whenever any worry or anxiety came up, I would tell God, ‘You know, I’m going to turn this over to You’.”

But her newfound faith did not come without challenges.

Recovered from her addictions and ready to start life anew, she was released from prison on February 11, 2011, and ordered to immediately report to her parole officer. But with no transportation and no one to give her a ride, she had to walk the four long miles to her PO’s office. If she didn’t report in, she’d be returned to custody.

So she trudged through the snow and slush and freezing temperatures with only the light prison clothes she had been assigned. And, she was facing another problem: her re-entry plan had crumbled away. The home she had arranged to move into suddenly was no longer available, given the area’s housing shortage. “I was terrified. I didn’t know what I was going to do. My feet were numb from the cold, but I kept walking. And I kept telling myself Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.”

Eventually, she made it to her parole officer, who helped her find housing, get on her feet, and even helped her enroll in college. Her goal? “I saw what all the correctional professionals had done for me, and I told myself, ‘I want to do what they’re doing. I want to help people like they’ve helped me’.”

Continued on page 19 Christian Living | May / June 2024 17 COVER STORY

The key is to talk less, not more

It’s frustrating when someone accuses us of something without hearing our side of the story. Our boss yells at us for coming in late, saying we should have had the decency to at least call and let him know. If they had asked what happened, we could have explained that we did call but his voice mailbox was full. But when those tough conversations begin with accusations and assumptions, we find it hard to communicate well.

People are starved to be listened to. We have many conversations, but true listening doesn’t happen very often. Constant conversation is like trying to survive on a junk food diet, while listening provides the balanced emotional nutrition that gives us life.

Dr. Mike Bechtle breaks the process down this way:

• We all have a need to feel valued.

• When people listen to us, we feel valued. When they don’t listen, we feel like we don’t matter.

• The need to feel valued is strong. If nobody is listening, we talk more, hoping to catch their attention so they’ll listen.

• Everybody’s doing the same thing, trying to get people to listen. So, everybody’s talking, and nobody’s listening.

Over the years, we’ve developed a culture of talkers instead of listeners. We’ve developed a collective mindset that giving advice is more valuable to people than listening to them. If we want to help someone, we just tell them what they should do. Sounds helpful, right? They have a problem, and we have a solution. It’s a match made in heaven.

There’s a problem. Advice almost never solves problems. Listening does. This sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true in most cases. If someone gives advice, we don’t feel like listening. But if they listen to us, we feel like seeking their advice.

Think about the last time somebody gave you advice – or used facts and figures to convince you that your position was wrong and theirs was right. You probably didn’t say, “Wow! That’s so much better than my perspective. It’s obvious that my position was wrong. I’ll immediately change my thinking and do exactly what you suggest.” No, you probably thought they were crazy or arrogant – and either argued with them or simply withdrew from the conversation.

When we want people to listen to us, our natural tendency is to talk more. After all, when we talk, it gives them something to listen to, right? But the exact opposite is true. The best way to get someone’s attention is to listen to them. People instinctively want to hear what someone has to say when that person has first expressed genuine interest in them.

The more important a relationship is, the more valuable listening is. When two people in conflict keep talking “at” each other, they’re pouring fuel on an open flame. But when those same two people learn to listen to each other, the fire runs out of fuel and cools down.

Listening is a skill that anyone can learn. It’s not reserved for introverts or sensitive types. If that’s so, why don’t we listen?

There are a number of common situations in which we find ourselves talking instead of listening:

• We believe we’re right. If we’re convinced of our position, it’s easy for us to think the other person is ignorant or stubborn. We don’t really want to hear their position because listening would be pointless.

• We think the problem is the other person’s fault. If we believe the other person is to blame and we’re absolutely blameless, we don’t feel the need to explore our part in the issue. We simply want the other person to shape up.

• We’re afraid of criticism. If we don’t like conflict, we do whatever we can to avoid it. We present our position and get defensive when the other person talks, which effectively shuts down communication.

• We feel we deserve to be treated well. If we interpret the other person’s approach as criticism, we shut down. We feel like we’re not being respected, so we’re not open to hearing their perspective.

• We’re afraid we’ll lose ground if we admit we’re wrong. If two people are trying to determine who is right and who is wrong instead of exploring the issue, the conversation stalls. If we admit we’re wrong, we feel like we let the other person win.

• We want to be in control. We don’t like being a passenger in a car with a crazy driver. They’re behind the wheel, and we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. We’d much rather be in the driver’s seat.

• We think faster than they talk. If someone takes their time forming their ideas, we want to finish their sentences for them to move the conversation along. We get bored and distracted, so we give up listening.

When we find ourselves not listening, that should be a trigger for us to analyze what’s happening in the relationship. Becoming conscious of the underlying reason for our inattention is the first step in developing a solution.

So, the key is to talk less, not more. The same letters make up the words listen and silent. n

Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for 15 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He has a weekly radio program – Life Point Plus – on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. His website at has video teachings and other resources for couples. He may be contacted at

18 May / June 2024 | Christian Living UNDERSTANDING Relationships
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Gary Moore

Stephanie Taylor-Thompson

Continued from page 17

Attending college, she progressed through classes to where she needed to apply for an internship program. But those in charge told her, “Look. When employers discover your background, you’re never going to get an internship. You have four felony convictions. Give up. Do something else with your life’.”

“So I prayed to God about it,” she said. “I asked Him, ‘What on Earth do you want me to do with a criminology and sociology degree?’ And He told me very clearly, ‘I need you to work at the Department of Correction. I’m putting you there to help change things.’ I knew the one person who could make a decision on my internship was the director of the Idaho Department of Correction at that time, Kevin Kempf. So I drove all the way to Boise and waited outside his office until he came out. When I told him my story and what I wanted to do, he graciously agreed to help me. He’s an amazing man.”

So, not only did Stephanie get her IDOC internship, she became a full-time IDOC employee – in fact, the first re-entry specialist for the state of Idaho – and ended up earning two degrees through Idaho State University: an AA in criminology and a BA with a sociology emphasis. She also became President of the National Honor Society’s local chapter. And she’s currently working toward her MSW (Master of Social Work) degree.

Today, Stephanie’s résumé reflects her unending passion to help those in the criminal justice system with their community re-entry. She has served on numerous volunteer boards in the behavioral health, suicide prevention, addiction recovery, and anti-human trafficking fields, her work honored with a number of state and national awards. She was the keynote speaker at one of then-Governor “Butch” Otter’s Idaho Meth Project banquets. She has done numerous public speaking engagements, including a TED Talk and numerous media interviews … and is currently not only a four-state prison ministry manager for Prison Fellowship, but is founder and

Keeping an eye on your car repairs – even when it’s out of sight.

(That’s driving joy.)

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CEO of Empire Re-entry and Recovery Solutions, helping those formerly incarcerated re-enter society. She also volunteers her time helping human trafficking survivors and others across the country in the pardon process.

As a result of her stellar work and dedication, in 2017, she received full pardons from both Idaho and Montana.

And for years now, she and her husband have attended a Christian church on a regular basis.

Looking back on her life, Stephanie said, “God has always been there for me, even when I didn’t realize it. Nothing happened in my life by coincidence. All the bad happened for a reason. God brought me through it, and has now given me the ability to help others – to His glory.” n

If you are interested in serving with Prison Fellowship, you can contact Stephanie at There are currently three Prison Fellowship programs in Idaho: at both the Idaho State Correctional Center and the South Boise Women’s Correctional Center in Kuna, and at the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center in eastern Idaho.


Steve Bertel is a multi-award-winning professional radio, television, print media, and social media journalist, who retired after a 30-year broadcasting career. Now a busy freelance writer, he has written a book titled, “Dolphins of an Unjust Sea”, available on both Amazon and Kindle. Steve and his wife of 41 years live in Meridian, Idaho. He may be reached at Christian Living | May / June 2024 19
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HISTORY, Culture and Faith

The ‘Bible’ of Thomas Jefferson (Part 2)

Jefferson…wrote his own Bible that excluded all references to miracles,wonders, signs, virgin birth, resurrection, the God-head, and whatever else conflicted with his own religious thought.1

Thomas Jefferson was an irreligious Deist. A Founding skeptic. An Enlightenment secularist. Some say his disdain for Christianity drove him to author his own Bible, removing disagreeable doctrines.

All these claims originate with the nonreligious.

But surprisingly, many Christians also promote these accusations. Creation scientist Don Landis penned, “Thomas Jefferson…took scissors to the Gospels and cut out all references to anything supernatural.” 2

Both camps call it “The Jefferson Bible” – an edited Gospel that “rejected the superstitions and mysticism of Christianity” and removed “the miracles…of Jesus.” 3

But what’s the truth?

Jefferson and Scripture

First, Thomas Jefferson was a bibliophile whose personal library, including his collection of Bibles, commentaries and religious works, rivaled the libraries of entire nations. He relished conversations on religion, theology and ethics. His nightly routine included “an hour’s reading of something moral before he went to sleep. 4

Jefferson also encouraged others to read the Bible.

In 1814, he made a generous donation to the Virginia Bible Society, with this message:

“…I had not supposed there was a family in this state not possessing a bible [nor] without having the means to procure one. When, in earlier life I was intimate with every class,…never was…a house [without a Bible]…I therefore [enclose to] you [cheerfully] an order…sincerely agreeing with you that there never was a more pure & sublime system of morality delivered to man than is to be found in the four evangelists.” 5

Jefferson’s generosity, priorities and intellectual pursuits proved he valued the Bible’s wisdom, ethics and teachings.

So, is it true he authored his own work?

The Philosophy of Jesus

No, Jefferson never penned any “Bible.” Rather, he compiled two extracts titled: “The Philosophy of Jesus” (1804) and “The Life and Morals of Jesus” (1820).

Due to their private use and secrecy, these documents have always been under a cloak of misunderstanding and confusion. What was their original purpose? Why were they created? What was Jefferson hiding?

The answers begin with context.

During the 1790s, Jefferson was concerned with America’s partisan conflicts. The Founding generation was divided over politics and religion. Jefferson’s own Episcopal faith was crumbling, evolving, transforming. Politically, he faced unfair, false accusations from opponents claiming he was “atheist” and hostile to Christianity.

Jefferson eventually broke from his family/state religion to embrace Unitarianism, a controversial liberal faith that rejected the Trinity. Unitarians preached Jesus was God’s Son, but not God. And the Messiah’s mission was to teach humans to be virtuous. 6

Jefferson vowed to never speak publicly on his faith again.

In early 1804, Jefferson was inspired to create a tool for native tribes to understand Jesus. He culled and clipped verses from the four Gospels of Jesus’ teachings, then combined them into a 46-page work “of pure and unsophisticated doctrines” titled: “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth extracted from the account of his life and doctrines as given by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,

being an abridgement of the New Testament for the use of the Indians unembarrassed with matters of fact or faith beyond the level of their comprehensions.” 7

The lengthy title revealed this work was: 1) an abridgement, not a complete “Bible”; 2) drawn from the four Gospels; and 3) intended as a teaching tool for native tribes.

Jefferson enthusiastically wrote his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush –who was a close friend, correspondent and religious advisor – to share his abridgement. However, the conservative Christian doctor wasn’t interested due to Jefferson’s Unitarianism. Deeply disappointed, Jefferson shelved his work and never mentioned it again.

The Life and Morals of Jesus

A year later Jefferson began a new, more ambitious, multi-lingual compilation he titled “The Life and Morals of Jesus.” This ethics text reflected Jefferson’s own search for religious truth, using Gospel lessons translated from English, French, Greek and Latin.

And then Jefferson stopped working on it…for more than a decade…finally completing it in 1820.

As before, Jefferson selectively confided in two close friends. He wrote the Rev. Charles Clay how he “had cut out from [the Gospels] every text [the writers] had recorded of the moral precepts of Jesus.” 8

He proudly confessed to the theologian/author Charles Thomson:

“I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus… a more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus… 9

Years later, Jefferson’s grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph shared why he created it:

“[My grandfather] left two codifications of the Morals of Jesus –one for himself, and another for the Indians; the first of which I now possess…His codification of the Morals of Jesus was not known to his family before his death, and they learnt from a letter addressed to a friend that he was in the habit of reading nightly from it before going to bed.” 10

Like the other work, Jefferson never intended to publish “Life and Morals.” He never mentioned its existence to family, who only discovered it after his death. This unique collection was exclusively for Jefferson’s moral edification.

So how did “Life and Morals” evolve into the Jefferson Bible?

It started when a Smithsonian librarian named Cyrus Adler located the text (still with Jefferson’s family) and purchased it for Congress in 1895. A few years later Rep. John Lacey (R-IA) read the work and it stirred his passion. He wanted Jefferson’s text to enjoy a wider readership. In 1902, he led a resolution to print “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” for every U.S. senator and representative. And for the next half century Jefferson’s “wee little book” was widely distributed.

As for the name “Jefferson Bible?” That was a post-1903 nickname applied by secularists, skeptics and the irreligious. But eventually Christian critics picked up the label too.

Today, very few Americans know the work by its original title. And the erroneous, false accusation that Jefferson created a Bible – a cut and paste job – that deleted the miracles and supernatural (because he was a skeptic hostile to Christianity) persists.

Except it’s not true.

And now you know. n

20 May / June 2024 | Christian Living

Dr. Rick Chromey is an historian, author and speaker who helps people interpret history, navigate culture, and explore faith. Since 2022, he’s worked as a Lewis and Clark historian for American Cruise Lines on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Rick is available to speak to churches, schools and organizations about topics related to history, apologetics, leadership and Christian education.

Christian Living readers may use this QR code to subscribe to Rick’s inspirational (history, culture, faith) Morning MANNA! (M-F) email.


1) “The Real Jefferson on Religion” by Robert S. Alley: https://secularhumanism. org/1998/10/the-real-jefferson-on-religion/ Accessed March 15, 2024.

2) “Jonah and the Great Fish” by Don Landis, Answers in Genesis: https:// source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjw48-vBhBbEiwAzqrZVAmImjoSE_8u0LjvAW4S0ckv1aO8UMtqNxMsXM_Hj9JPmHh-ziDohoC4isQAvD_BwE Accessed March 15, 2024.

3) “Thomas Jefferson on Christianity & Religion” compiled by Jim Walker, Free Republic: Accessed March 15, 2024

4) Thomas Jefferson Letter to Vine Utley (March 21, 1819): documents/Jefferson/03-14-02-0144 Accessed March 15, 2024.

5) Bible Society of Virginia: Thomas Jefferson Monticello: research-education/thomas-jefferson-encyclopedia/bible-society-virginia/ Accessed March 15, 2024

6) Dickinson W. Adams, Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983): 14-16.

7) Ibid., 28.

8) Andrew A. Lipscomb, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904): 232-233.

9) Ibid., 385.

10) Henry S. Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 3 (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1858): 671-672.

Is Th e Life Aft Death?

“It’s not about if I died the doctors proved that. It’s about where I went when I died.” –Dean Braxton

Dead for 1 hour and 45 minutes following a routine kidney stone procedure

You’re invited to come hear Dean Braxton

Share his news about Jesus and Heaven

Followed by Q&A Christian Living | May / June 2024 21
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Heal the gut, reduce gut inflammation

In today’s fast-paced world, gut issues have become increasingly prevalent, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. I suffered from Crohn’s disease (severe gut inflammation) that led me to have to drastically change my diet. Yet this circumstance it has led me to be a gut expert and have the passion to help others with gut issues. Fortunately, many natural remedies can help heal the gut and alleviate the inflammation that contributes to these symptoms. By incorporating simple lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments, you can promote gut health and experience relief from digestive discomfort and other associated issues.

Common symptoms of gut issues:

1. Digestive discomfort: This includes symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.

2. Food intolerances: Individuals with gut issues may experience adverse reactions to certain foods, such as gluten, dairy, or FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols).

3. Fatigue: Chronic fatigue and low energy levels can be indicative of gut issues, as the gut plays a crucial role in nutrient absorption and energy production.

4. Mood disorders: Anxiety, depression, and mood swings may be linked to gut health, as the gut-brain axis influences mental well-being.

5. Skin conditions: Conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis may worsen with gut imbalances due to inflammation and impaired detoxification.

6. Weight changes: Unexplained weight gain or loss can occur when gut health is compromised, affecting metabolism and nutrient absorption.

Solutions to a happy and healthy gut:

1. Adopt a gut-friendly diet: Focus on whole, nutrientdense foods that support gut health and reduce inflammation. Incorporate plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, which promote healthy digestion and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are rich in beneficial probiotics that help maintain a balanced gut microbiome. Additionally, include sources of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, which possess anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Reduce trigger foods: Identify and eliminate foods that trigger digestive discomfort or inflammation. Common culprits include gluten, dairy, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and high-sugar foods. Keep a food diary to track your symptoms and pinpoint any potential triggers, then gradually eliminate them from your diet to see if symptoms improve.

3. Manage stress: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on gut health by disrupting the balance of gut bacteria and increasing inflammation. Incorporate stress-reducing practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time in nature. Prioritize adequate sleep, as lack of sleep can also impair gut function and exacerbate inflammation.

4. Support digestive enzymes: Supplementing with digestive enzymes can aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, especially for individuals with digestive issues like bloating or discomfort after meals. Look for enzyme supplements containing protease, amylase, and lipase to support the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, respectively.

5. Incorporate gut-healing herbs and supplements: Certain herbs and supplements have been shown to support gut health and reduce inflammation. These include:

• Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria that help restore balance to the gut microbiome and improve digestive function.

• L-glutamine: An amino acid that supports gut lining integrity and helps repair damage caused by inflammation.

• Turmeric: Contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory compound that can help reduce gut inflammation and alleviate symptoms.

• Marshmallow root: Soothes and coats the digestive tract, reducing irritation and inflammation.

• Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL): Supports healthy digestion and helps protect the gut lining from damage.

• Bone broth: Embrace the nourishing power of bone broth, a traditional remedy rich in collagen, amino acids, and minerals that support gut health and reduce inflammation. Incorporate homemade bone broth into soups, stews, or simply enjoy a warm cup daily.

• Stay hydrated: Maintaining proper hydration is essential for optimal digestion and overall gut health. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support bowel regularity and prevent constipation. Herbal teas like peppermint or ginger can also aid digestion and soothe GI discomfort.

By incorporating these natural solutions into your daily routine, you can support gut health, reduce inflammation, and alleviate the symptoms associated with digestive issues. Remember to listen to your body, prioritize self-care, and consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen. I was able to transform my life, and with God’s help, these changes led me to restore my gut; but also, I now get to help many with these same issues in my practice. With patience and consistency, you can achieve a healthier gut and improve your overall well-being as well. n

For further support with your health goals or more information, go to

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CARPE diem

Never pass up a God-sent ‘life opportunity’

Life! Life is a funny thing. Scripture tells us that when we are born, our days are already numbered. The tricky part is that we don’t know how long we have or what our life will look like. Many times, as a child or a teen, we have dreams of what it “might” be; we have “hopes” of what it will look like. But we never know what the reality is until we are actually in it.

A while back, I spent an entire day with one of my granddaughters. Just she and I hanging out, baking and shopping and yakking. Out of the clear blue, she asked me how many kids I wanted when I was growing up. Without hesitation, I could say, “Ten – all boys!” Of course, her response was, “Really?” “Yep”, I said, “really!”

She then asked how many Grumpa (Grandpa’s nickname) wanted and I had to tell her I honestly don’t remember that we ever talked about it when we got married. He may remember though – he has a much better memory than I do. My granddaughter proceeded to tell me that her mom wanted four kids, but her parents stopped at two because they were afraid they’d have more girls. Then she talked about how expensive kids were – girls especially because of all the clothes and make-up and stuff (and here she rattled off a zillion girly things). And interestingly enough, she was very knowledgeable about boys. Even though she has no brothers and no boy cousins, she was able to quickly point out how expensive boys were because of all the sports and athletic equipment. (Notice there was no mention of the cost to feed, house, and educate children...)

At any rate, I just listened to the chatter of this wise old 9-year-old. And I couldn’t help but think to myself: At 9 years old wasn’t I still playing in the fields and catching snakes?

Weren’t these kinds of thoughts the furthest thing from my mind? Life was way different for kids when I was growing up. We stayed kids longer.

But, here is the kicker – after all this talk about how large of a family each family unit dreamt of, I failed to ask her what she was dreaming of. Now, it could be that we arrived at our destination and the conversation moved on. But still, I missed an opportunity to share in the dreams of my grandchild. Who knows if this topic will ever come up again? Yes, I can and will try to bring it up when we are together another day; but somehow, I don’t think the moment will be quite the same.

All of this is to say I think we have to learn and practice keeping our eyes and our minds open to see what I call “life opportunities” and seize them. I am talking about the times we can share in another’s dreams, goals, or plans – share a sorrow, offer a helping hand or a word of encouragement. Give a hug or pat a back, touch an arm or hold a hand, ask a question, set a date to meet, or make a phone call.

Life opportunities are what enrich our lives and connect us. And that is truly God’s plan for us. He wants us in community. He wants us in relationship with our tribe of people. It is easier, though, to walk away from a hard conversation. It is easier just to do our own thing. We have our own ideas and plans, but God’s plans and His ways are much better. He wants us to experience and use those life opportunities to build strong relationships with those we know and love. Strong enough to last. Strong enough to have those tough conversations. Strong enough to call each other out. Strong enough to just sit and not talk at all. Strong enough that just being there is enough.

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It’s a terrible loss to miss out on the opportunity for that kind of life enrichment. I am feeling that this morning, and am hoping I will be wiser when the next life opportunity comes along. I pass this on to you as a life opportunity to learn from.

Carpe diem. Seize the day. Seize the moment.

Life is short. Don’t miss the moments that can make it all the richer.

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

“By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” (1 Timothy 6:19)

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa “Forever is composed of nows.” – Emily Dick inson

And in the words of Erma Bombeck: “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

Blessings, friends! Carpe diem! n

Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher who served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 45 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church in Meridian. She has written a group study guide on Psalm 23. She may be reached at Christian Living | May / June 2024 25
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CARE HOUSE Learning Center Caring for families in a cost-effective way

The Care House Learning Center at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene is a lesson in what’s possible when people pull together – and when people and churches combine their efforts to benefit a community. The center’s co-founders, Rebekah Grindstaff and Kenzie Emerson, are Northwest Nazarene University graduates, and both are firsthand familiar with the challenges families and children may face.

Grindstaff earned a Bachelor’s degree in communication science from NNU in 2015 and a Master’s degree in business from West Texas A&M in 2020. She worked as an “advocate coordinator” with the 4th Judicial District Guardian ad Litem program and oversaw both its new volunteer training program and about 30 volunteer guardians ad litem who worked with children. Guardians ad litems serve as court-appointed advocates for minors who end up in the legal system in such circumstances as child custody or child support cases. Her next position was as the program director for Faces of Hope, a nonprofit in Ada County that serves those who have experienced interpersonal violence such as sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, etc.

Emerson earned a Bachelor’s degree in social work from NNU in 2018 and has been a certified child care director since 2022. She also worked as a guardian ad litem. Both women stated that, in their work over the years, they saw parents who lost their children to foster care despite the fact they loved their young ones. The challenges the parents faced were often

financial: they couldn’t adequately support themselves or their offspring. One of their biggest problems was a lack of cost-effective but good, safe child care.

Grindstaff stated, “When I was working with foster kids and families where there had been abuse, if you were a victim of abuse, you had to ask, ‘How do I find child care?’ because those people are often taken away from their safety nets, including friends and other family members. They have likely left an abusive spouse, have insufficient means of support, and must find a job as well as child care. They are asking impossible questions.”

The biggest barriers to adequate child care are the fees and the wait lists.

Emerson worked in child care and was an assistant teacher at a local center. “The main thing I saw was that the center didn’t have the capabilities to accept kids who actually needed care,” she said.

The women, who are close friends, started brainstorming and asking, “Is there a way we can give parents more access to day care and make it more affordable?”

“We did research. We didn’t want to duplicate what others had tried or what was already out there,” Grindstaff said.

“We’re Type A people and like to have everything prepared,” Emerson said.

They drew up a business plan and talked with other organizations to acquire all the knowledge they could. They visited a child care center in Boise called Giraffe Laugh and learned from that model, where about 50% of client families are above the poverty line and 50% are below it.

As they were doing their research and organizing their plans around the required legal and other steps, people at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene where the women are part of the congregation got wind of their efforts. Church staff and board members thought they could team up with Grindstaff and Emerson and in doing so also help others.

Emerson went to the church board, and members approved opening the center in the church itself. “We could run the center out of the church and they’d be a partner,” she said.

Said Grindstaff, “We’ve been a 501(c)(3) for two years and opened at the church one year ago. We can’t say enough about all they’ve done for us.”

The child care was given the name Care House Learning Center in conjunction with the church’s Care House Partnerships program and its Nazarene Compassionate Ministry. The partnership allows CHLC to keep costs low and pass the savings on to families. Also, the name defines emphases on early childhood education and ensuring school readiness for the children in the program.

On how they are meeting their funding needs, Grindstaff said, “We have donors all across the U.S. We also get grant funding, and it all helps us with our sliding scale fees.”

In other words, the program helps families where they’re at financially. Both parents and their children reap the benefits of affordability, safety, and the opportunity to learn.

Also, people who work at the child care center are afforded financial respect as well.

“I’m very passionate about fair wages,” Emerson said. After being an employee in the child care field herself, she learned, “Child care workers don’t get paid nearly enough for what they’re doing.”

She cited examples from five years ago, and currently, in the local Nampa area.

“Five years ago, the pay scale for lead teachers was $10 an hour. It has since risen to $11 to $12.”

It’s still a low wage and has not kept pace with inflation – “and these people are in a manager type of role,” Emerson stated.

“Assistant teachers earned an average of $8 an hour five years ago,” she said. And while that’s increased somewhat, it’s still dismal.

Emerson pointed out that child care workers are educated in early childhood learning through IdahoSTARS, a project that provides

26 May / June 2024 | Christian Living
Kenzie Emerson, co-director of the Care House Learning Center, reads to students during last year’s Read Across America Week. She is dressed as Thing One from Dr. Seuss. (Courtesy photo)

“training in child development, education, health, safety and assessment of child care facilities based on national quality standards” (information taken from They must also stay up-todate on best practices.

“I knew I could not pay our teachers less than a living wage with a clear conscience,” Emerson said. “We also wanted to provide benefits, such as paid time off and paid vacation.”

The women have managed to achieve these goals but still have concerns about the high inflation rate everyone must currently deal with.

The pair also feels that the value of early learning cannot be overstated, making the need for accessible child care even more essential as a matter of fairness to all kids. Grindstaff explained, “The way the education system is set up, we as a society don’t start investing in children until they walk through the doors at kindergarten.”

That leaves some children at a disadvantage if they haven’t had the necessary exposure to learning before they enter the kindergarten classroom.

“They need to have ‘kindergarten readiness’,” Emerson said. “They need to be emotionally ready, socially ready, and educationally ready.”

The social and emotional part involves such things as how to share. “Teaching them to play and interact with other kids and learn what the social norms are,” Emerson explained.

Early learning is not just important for children when they’re young but also as they grow and mature.

“There are life-long benefits of early childhood learning, and studies have shown that children who receive it are less likely to interact with law enforcement; less likely to be on welfare; more likely to graduate high school and pursue higher education; and have higher earnings as a result,” Grindstaff stated.

Parents who wish to enroll their youngsters at Care House Learning Center need to fill out an online application form at “From there,” said Grindstaff, “we talk with them, find out their needs, and see if we can meet those needs. We see if there is a sliding scale spot available, and, if we have the spot, we accept the children.”

She then said, in reference to the child care, the church, and the surrounding neighborhood, “Here, we ‘live into’ our families. It’s been a real blessing. We live in the community as a part of the community. We get to know each other. We cry with each other, and we celebrate with each other.”

There is no faith requirement to be accepted at the child care center, and Grindstaff explained, “There’s a mix of families. We’re faith-based, and we adhere to faith-based concepts. We welcome all of our families, and we try to be an example. For instance, we pray a simple prayer before we eat.”

One little girl was so enamored of the pre-meal prayer, Emerson said, that when her mother came to pick her up, she wanted to share the prayer with her mom and to show her how to pray over the food and the words to use.

Both Grindstaff and Emerson are married and have children. Grindstaff and her husband had thought they would not be able to have children, so she calls the year-old son they were blessed with “a little miracle.” Emerson and her husband have a 4-year-old son and an 18-month-old daughter.

The women are co-directors at CHLC, but each wears another title. Grindstaff, who is 29, is Director of Development and Operations. Emerson, 27, is Director of Child Care.

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BIBLICALLY Responsible Investing

How to be a good Kingdom Wealth Steward

It’s a silly game we primarily played as kids. Remember it? A friend asks a question forcing you to choose between two abilities – Would you rather be Spiderman or Superman? – or disabilities – Would you rather lose your arms or your legs? Shout out to my cousin, Tomas, who seemed to have an endless supply of clever options for us to choose from.

When Christian investors find their way into our office, they want help reaching their financial goals, and, often times, they are looking to us to help determine what those goals may be. Before we begin creating goals and working towards them, a quick game of “would you rather” could provide helpful perspective.

Would you rather build your kingdom or partner with the Creator of the Universe to build His Kingdom?

Like many other kingdoms, there’s probably a lot of good you can do building your own kingdom – provide for yourself, leave an inheritance for your kids, and help others in the process. While those things are good, they aren’t the complete picture and, as a result, are subject to anxiety, insecurity, and a short-term perspective. However, partnering with God to build His kingdom has many benefits, including peace (Isaiah 26:3). Ah, peace. We like peace – especially when it comes to financial planning.

But you don’t have to overpay to do it!

I know I don’t need to convince many of you that viewing our money decisions through the lens of the Kingdom of God is the best way to go. Who doesn’t want the stress-free life that’s offered through relationship with our Creator? I know I do. Sign me up! The challenge most of us face is how we practically go about building the Kingdom of God with our finances.

As with every decision, it starts with prayer, revisiting the Scriptures, and listening to the Lord’s promptings. After exploring this topic with the Lord for over a decade, I’ve concluded the best place to start is to understand what our God-given role is. I believe we are called to be the Lord’s stewards. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines a steward as a manager “of all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.” I’d like us to consider ourselves as “Kingdom Wealth Stewards.”

As Kingdom Wealth Stewards:

• We pay taxes with integrity. This can be a sensitive subject, and Scripture reminds us in Romans 13:7, “Pay to all who is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

• We work to support the needs of our family. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

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Paul also challenges the church in Thessalonica “to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).”

• We break the bondage of debt so we can love others well. “The borrower is slave to the lender” declares Proverbs 22:7.

Paul beautifully writes in Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” A quick thought to wrestle with – if we have consistent outstanding debt, are we able to love others well?

• We prepare for the future by saving and investing biblically responsibly. Proverbs 21:20 reveals, “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.”

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), God was pleased with the servants that sought a return on what He entrusted to them, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

• We are quick to generosity. Proverbs 11:24 states, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Jesus simply puts it, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

As stewards, we know our wealth isn’t actually ours; it’s the Lord’s. Psalm 50:12 states, “The world is [His], and all that is in it.”

The most common fear we come across in our office is the fear of not having enough. Yet, Jesus challenges us to practice our faith in all areas of our lives (including finances), as in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

After all, why should we be afraid of not having enough when we know the limit to our humanity? What we build in a lifetime can be squandered in a moment; but, in a moment, God can accomplish more than we could in our lifetime.

In a game of “would you rather,” I choose the Kingdom of God over my own (Lord, help me). I’d rather be Superman over Spiderman (duh!). And finally, I would rather keep my arms. See ya legs! n

Ryan De Amicis is an investment advisor with Christian Wealth Management in Boise, providing biblically responsible investment advice to Christians. For more information, visit or contact him at or (408) 758-6413.

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KELLY Culver

A sign from God changed his direction

God used a “For Sale” sign on an empty McCall church to get the attention of Kelly Culver and his wife, Julie. God’s message to the Culvers? It’s time to move to Idaho.

In 2016, Culver was enjoying a sabbatical with his spouse at WorldMark when the couple spotted the church. God used the vacated house of worship to tell the Culvers they were to leave their home in Tacoma, Wash. and start a new life with new opportunities in the Gem State.

Since they both got the message at the same time and were certain it was from the Lord, they prayed about it. But the prayer wasn’t, “Are we supposed to move to Idaho...for sure?” It was, “What are we supposed to do when we get here?”

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the answer didn’t involve purchasing the church and moving to McCall. Instead, the idea was to use ministry skills that Culver honed in Tacoma working for Youth for Christ, as well as a program he’d launched himself called Recreate Ministry to take inner city kids into God’s outdoors. He was to bring those skills to another Idaho town.

Culver wasn’t entirely surprised that he and his wife were to leave Tacoma. “We knew there was something else we were to do. We thought maybe open a group home for foster kids in Montana,” he said. But the Lord led them to Caldwell – a community they’d visited in the past with no desire to plant roots there.

Culver’s little brother lives in Caldwell and frequently encouraged his older sibling and sister-in-law to join him. “We said, ‘No way.’ We visited once and it was 400° and my brother had no air conditioning,” Culver said. In other words, it was very hot that year and after sweating their way through their stay, Kelly and Julie hightailed it back to Tacoma.

But even if living in the mid-sized Idaho community wasn’t in their plans, it was nonetheless in the Lord’s plans for them. They moved in 2017.

Now, according to Culver, they’re busier than they’d ever thought. When the couple arrived in the Treasure Valley, Culver volunteered at Caldwell’s Canyon Springs High School. Ultimately, a classic treat helped him make inroads into the education system. Canyon Springs set aside time for tutors to help students, and while the tutoring was going on, Culver made root beer floats for everyone.

“One day, I was walking through the hall and the vice principal said to me, ‘Why don’t you be a substitute teacher?’ I said, ‘I don’t have a teaching degree,’ and I was told I didn’t need one to be a substitute teacher in Idaho. So I got the paperwork done, and I started subbing and working with at-risk kids,” Culver explained.

His time at Canyon Springs turned out to be pivotal when, with good timing, the principal and vice principle of the school both left to launch an Elevate Academy, a year round 6th-12th grade career technical public charter school serving at-risk youth. The academy has chapters in Caldwell, Nampa, Post Falls, and Idaho Falls, and they are all part of Elevate Network. Culver was asked to serve as the first board president of Elevate Academy in Caldwell in 2019. Now, the learning center has a new building in town that encompasses four schools of different trades. Culver teaches automated manufacturing and computer-aided drafting.

He explained, “We’re preparing students to run CNC machines (computer numerical control) and 3D printers.”

The mission of Elevate Academy, as stated on its website at, is: “For all students to take responsibility for leading their own lives and studying a career track that may include vocational and college paths or a combination thereof.”

The evolution of Kelly Culver from student to educator is a story he’s comfortable telling. “I’d always been told, ‘Be you’. I taught driver’s ed, and I’d share my testimony with the kids in the car.”

He claims he “broke into this whole education thing.”

“I struggled in school. I was partying and drinking,” he stated. “My mom was an alcoholic, and I was an at-risk kid. That was me.”

His lifestyle took a turn for the better when he met Julie in high school and got to know her and her parents. They invited him to church, but he initially declined. “My dad went to a legalist church, and I didn’t want anything to do with that,” Culver said.

In a story one generally doesn’t hear about salvation, Culver was led to the Lord by a comic entertainer who used humor to engage and enlighten his audiences. “I saw a comedian who joked about legalism,” Culver said.

To this day, he feels God used that comedian to help him see things differently and to laugh at legalism. The comedian led him to accept Christ at age 17. Kelly and Julie got married six months after their high school graduation, and Kelly worked in a sheet metal plant for 20 years, learning the various trades he currently teaches.

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His work with Youth for Christ in Tacoma lasted for 10 years, and he also oversaw a local YFC chapter for three years. In Tacoma, he started his recreation ministry “to take kids outdoors to meet God with no distractions.” He’d like to do that here and hopes to take some trips with kids this summer. (But he’d eventually like to turn the leadership over to someone else.)

“While in Tacoma, I got a free trip to Bozeman, Mont. with 10 kids, and we went on an ultralight backpacking trip,” Culver said. “One kid had just gotten out of jail the day before, and he was only 15. All he knew was the thug gang thing, and his dad had spent time in prison.”

During the backpacking trip, Culver looked up and saw the kid – whose name was Josh – sitting on an outcropping of rocks and, later, when he had the opportunity, asked him, “Josh, what were you thinking?” And Josh answered, “For the first time, I realized I could be different than my dad.” On the backpacking trip, with its emphasis on God and the outdoors, and with Culver’s example, it had occurred to Josh that he didn’t inevitably have to live a thug life and end up in prison, that he could actually make something of himself.

Over four years, Culver went on seven trips with at-risk youth, all of the trips paid for by donors. The experiences were meaningful, but he thought, “I’m only reaching 20 kids a year – I need to do more.”

So he went to a foundation and they gave him funds to buy gear for more youngsters.

Now 56, Culver said he’ll be at Elevate Academy until he retires. Those who work with him tell him, “You bring a presence into the school that mellows things out.”

Culver appreciates the compliment but said, “I never used to be that guy. My dad was hot-headed. I had to work hard not to be a hot-headed guy.”


Has he ever needed to get tough with the kids in his charge? Yes, he’s had to cool things down on occasion, he said. And he used a cool head to do it.

Culver knows he’s doing the work he’s supposed to do. Julie works for an orthodontist and, according to her husband, “She has an incredible impact on the office.” The couple has two grown children and are grandparents. The Culvers attend Caldwell Free Methodist Church. They were never meant to purchase the McCall church with the “For Sale” sign. But God used it to place them where He wanted them to be, doing what He had in mind for them to do. The couple is happy with the outcome.

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Kelly Culver, foreground, is shown climbing Smith Rock at Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon. At the time, Culver was the adult leader of a Youth for Christ chapter in Tacoma, Wash. (Courtesy photo)
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