Just Between Us Magazine | Summer 2022

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e g a r u Co Rise Up and Take

by Shannon Geurin



y r a n i d r O


A Sit-Down with Katie Davis Majors by Sarah Nielsen

summer 2022 | F I N D



welcome from the editor SHELLY ESSER

Hi Friends, Welcome to the summer issue! We hope you find your favorite spot and treat yourself to some “me time” so the Lord can refresh and encourage your soul today. He is waiting for you and desires to talk to you heart to heart, so He can fill you with words of hope and encouragement. Especially in these times don’t we need someone to sit down with us and remind us that we’re going to be okay and that no matter what is happening around us, God loves us and is Lord over all? As I was proofing this issue, I couldn’t get over how often the idea of doing faith together kept leaping off the pages. It reminded me of For King and Country’s song “Together” released in the beginning of the pandemic. The line, “Together we are bolder, braver, stronger” is so fitting for us as a community of women, especially now when our hearts break with all that is going on in the world. We don’t walk this faith journey alone! We need each other, perhaps more than ever before, so we can be brave and courageous, we need each other to point us to Jesus, we need each other to link arms together and hold each other up. Down deep in our souls, God created us with the need for companionship—for time with other women who get us—and this is what this magazine is all about.

Inside you will find all kinds of encouragement to remind you of the togetherness your heart craves. We are thrilled, after ten years, to give you an update on Katie Davis Majors and her growing family in her interview on page 18. Last time you met her she was a single mother of 13 girls. Can’t wait for you to hear what God has been doing since then. Then our Courageous Women series features one of the heroes of the faith, Corrie ten Boom on page 34. What an amazing woman of God and story. It’s our prayer that you will be challenged and inspired by her courage and faith grown in the deepest, darkest pit imaginable. Even there, God can bring out good and beauty as you will see. You won’t want to miss all the other rich content including our new “Faith at Work” column on page 44 in this issue. Plan to savor every word and let the Holy Spirit encourage you, comfort you, challenge you, inspire you—and everything in between. And when you’re having one of those days, don’t forget that you have a community of women who are spurring you on in your faith and courage. “Together we are bolder, braver, stronger.” Let’s change the world together!

ȷustbetweenus summer 2022

We consider ourselves your hand-picked cheering section. We will be here with you through every season and trust that God will have a word for you so very personally in whatever you are going through. Because that’s the kind of personal God He is. So intimately acquainted with what your soul needs on any given day.

Togetherness is especially important when it comes to our word of the year: courage. None of us are brave in isolation—one person’s fears can be countered by another one’s courage. I love those words from Catriona Futter, one of our authors.



The Wonder of Women 24

God has created beautiful you with special life-giving gifts to fight in your small space in the world. by Rachel Holeman

Finding Your Target Community 26

When finding courage takes all the faith you’ve got. by Lisa Elliott

Releasing Your Grasp 36

Finding freedom in surrender. by Jill Briscoe

he parenting journey is not designed to T travel alone. by Rachel Booth Smith

365 Days into My Grief Journey 28

A new widow chronicles adjusting to life after the loss of her husband. by Connie Gochenaur

Creating Margin 30


Transparent Moments

23 Frameable Artwork

44 Faith at Work Discovering 45 the Word 46

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ing n n i d-gwazine r a aw ma N •








SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscription Price: $19.95 per year for four issues. Outside US, add $6 per year prepaid US currency; $5 in Canada. Gift Your Ministries: Group subscriptions are now available at reduced rates. Encourage and inspire the women who make ministry happen at your church or other places of outreach or service to others. Energize their relationships, refresh their faith, and become equipped as a team for facing ministry challenges through JBU. For more information, call 800-260-3342 today! Just Between Us (ISSN 1069-3459) is published quarterly by Just Between Us, 777 South Barker Road, Brookfield, WI 53045-3701. Make all checks and money orders payable to: Just Between Us, Subscription Orders 777 S. Barker Road, Brookfield, WI 53045


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summer 2022


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S ELIC ADVERTISING AL PRE Ellie Dunn For more information call (856) 582-0690 ext. 2# or email ellie@carldunn.com.

Between Friends

How to set healthy boundaries so you can live the life God intended. by Chrissy Callahan


Photography Wayde Peronto Babboni Photography babbonis.com


Outside Your 42 Front Door

Advisory Board Anita Carman Pam Farrel Judy Briscoe Golz Nancy Grisham Pam MacRae Elizabeth Murphy Jackie Oesch Stephanie Seefeldt


Courageous Women 34 Corrie ten Boom

Prayer Sharon Stonecipher

Creative Director Julie Krinke


You can learn to interpret Scripture for yourself. by Karen Abeyta

columns 39 Intentional Faith 40 Living Well Minutes 41 1in5 the Word

Subscriptions Phil Perso Mary Richards Jan Schuldt Lin Sebena


and surrender. Interview by Sarah Nielsen

Don’t Let the Bible Scare You 32

in every issue 3 Welcome from the Editor 6 Meet Our Team 8 Between Us 9 Happy Home eart-to-Heart 10 Hwith Joni

Director of Mission Advancement/ Social Media Ashley Schmidt

Editorial Assistants Ann Cook Constance B. Fink Gayle Gengler Betty Hinds Cherry Hoffner Melinda Papador Marilyn Pritchard Danae Templeton

For Katie Davis Majors everything is about love

What it means to be a true friend. by Elizabeth Wilder


Marketing Julie Santiago

Director Digital Media Mary Ann Prasser


Chats 18 FNoaithOrdinary Life

Assistant Editor Suzan Braun


features Priceless Friendship 16

Renewals Manager & Software Support Rebecca Loesche


You’re one decision away from having the courage to do something! by Shannon Geurin

General Manager Mary Perso


on the cover 12 8 Habits of a Courageous Woman

Advertising & Accounts Manager Sharon Vaught


NO. 3

Editor Shelly Esser



Circulation Manager Suzan Braun



Founder/Executive Editor Jill Briscoe


meet our





summer 2022

Director Digital Media


Our Just Between Us team is made up of incredible women with hearts to see you flourish in every area of your life, especially in your life of faith. They bring their collective gifts to make sure you don’t feel alone and that you are continually encouraged, so you can grow closer to Jesus and make an impact in His world.



Director of Mission Advancement/Social Media

MARY PERSO General Manager

REBECCA LOESCHE Renewals Manager & Software Support


Circulation Manager & Assistant Editor

SHARON VAUGHT Advertising & Accounts Manager

JULIE KRINKE Creative Director

About Our Ministry

We Need Your Help!

Just Between Us is a vibrant and expanding not-forprofit ministry that continues to transform the lives of women around the world. Our heart-focused and biblically-based content in the print magazine, on the website, in the weekly digital mini-magazine, on social media, and other products—all help women find hope and encouragement while growing their faith and deepening their love for Jesus.

We have some family news to share. This past year has been financially challenging. We have been hit extremely hard with rising costs on all sides and have had to talk about possibly discontinuing our ministry. If just half of our Just Between Us subscribers gave a gift, it would go a long way in closing our deficit.

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Would you consider giving a gift to help sustain this ministry, so that we can continue getting out God’s Word and resources through the magazine and website to the women who need it most—women who are in places with little or no spiritual encouragement or women who feel alone in their walk with God? Most of all, we covet your prayers. Thank you. You can give today at www.justbetweenus.org/donate


Thriving in Our Seasons of Suffering

Will You Budge?



In Jeremiah 29, the children of Israel got news from the prophet Jeremiah that they were going to be held in captivity by Babylon for 70 years. If we had to go to prison today for 70 years, for most of us that would mean we’d probably die in captivity. This length of captivity feels like a lifetime of hardship without a lifeline of hope. But here’s what God told the people of Israel: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jer. 29:10). This is the scene and the setting where we then get these familiar and glorious promises I cling to: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you …” (Jer. 29:11-14). God is assuring His people that His thoughts and intentions toward them are fixed and established. His plans are for their “welfare” not for hurt. His sure and steady promise is one of restoration.

If we want to see Him in our circumstances, we must seek Him, His ways, and His Word. That’s where we find His good plans and promises for hope and a future.

For the Israelites, the news that they would be in captivity for seventy years was absolute reality. But the truth that God had a good plan and a purpose not to harm them but to give them a future and a hope— that promise was very much in process all the while they were in captivity. God’s promises for you are in process as well. Right now. Even in circumstances where you can’t see any evidence of good yet. Just remember “not yet” doesn’t mean “not ever.” Let’s cry out to Him amid our suffering. Let’s earnestly seek Him and ask Him to help us look at our circumstances through the lens of certainty in who He is even when we are uncertain about how things will work out. We are not forgotten. And our long-suffering won’t seem nearly as long or nearly as painful when we know God’s perspective is to use every single second of our suffering for good.

Right now, in the middle of the pain you didn’t cause, the change you didn’t want, or the reality you didn’t know was coming ... your life can still be beautiful. Gain healthier ways to process your pain with truth-based perspectives in Lysa’s new devotional, Seeing Beautiful Again: 50 Devotions to Find Redemption in Every Part of Your Story. Order your copy today at seeingbeautifulagain.com.

Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

and the #1 New York Times’ bestselling author of Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way and Uninvited. She lives with her family in North Carolina.

LysaTerKeurst.com LysaTerKeurst Lysa TerKeurst



James pulled the car over before we entered the campground. Turning off the engine, he looked at me sternly, “Are you going to act like this all weekend long? Because if you are, we can just turn around and go home.” He wisely understood that a weekend with miserable me was no vacation. I mumbled through tears, “You mean I didn’t have to come?” I still laugh today when I think of that moment! I collected myself and realized I was being selfish. I promised to have a better attitude. When all the camping-loving wives greeted me, I hugged them back and smiled weakly. Although the weekend didn’t make me a camper, I did survive and made some funny memories with my outdoorsy husband. I was discovering that in a happy two-way street marriage, you have to be willing to budge. Being able to adapt to your spouse (and vice versa) is a valuable skill that pays to learn. The words adjustments and modifications may sound like they come from a manual for robots or a computer. But, as human beings, we could all use some occasional tweaking and minor changes. We must learn to adapt to our ever-changing circumstances and to the needs of others. One day I was working out at home with a fitness video. The instructor said you have to force your body to adapt. You have to force it to make changes. When

The dictionary defines adapt as “to make fit (as for a new use) often by modification” and “to adjust (especially oneself) to different conditions, a new environment, etc.” When you’re single, you can get along doing things your way. But when you are united with someone in marriage, the Bible says the two shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). That translates into some serious adjustments and modifications.

“‘You’ have become ‘we.’ And to be a happy ‘me’ in the ‘we,’ you must learn to adapt according to what’s best for your marriage, not just yourself.” Flint is a hard gray rock that in ancient times was made to form tools or weapons. As wives, our hearts over time can harden like flint. We can say things like I will not budge. I will not cooperate. I will not adapt. That unwillingness to change can become a weapon of war in a marriage. Don’t let that hardness ever form around your heart. Be willing to adapt and in so doing, you will open your life to endless possibilities… maybe like camping.

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker, the host of the Happy

Home podcast, and author of several books including: Screen Kids, Parents Rising, and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. Arlene has been featured on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Wall Street Journal, FamilyLife Today, and Focus on the Family. She lives in San Diego, Calif., with her husband James and their three children.

arlenepellicane.com ArlenePellicaneAuthor ArlenePellicane ArlenePellicane



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When we seek God, we see God. We don’t see His physical form, but we see Him at work and can start to see more of what He sees. If our hearts are willing to trust Him, He will entrust to us more of His perspective.

All these things were true for the Israelites. And they’re true for us.

As you might imagine, our first camping trip had its share of tears, conflict, and compromise. We were newlyweds living in Dallas. The young couples’ group at church was going on a camping trip. While we drove toward the campsite, I was sullen, quiet, and irritable. It was painfully obvious that this camping trip was not my idea. We had packed the tent (which James had put on our wedding registry), but I had left my smile back at our cozy apartment.

you’re doing jumping jacks and your body tells you to stop, your mind has to tell your body what you want it to do. That’s a great picture of marriage. Sometimes you want to throw in the towel or say something that you shouldn’t, but you must force yourself to adapt. You must adjust. Life isn’t just about you anymore. “You” have become a “we.” And to be a happy “me” in the “we,” you must learn to adapt according to what’s best for your marriage, not just for yourself.


summer 2022

But He also reminds them of what they must do as they await the fulfillment of His promise. They need to call on Him. They need to seek Him intentionally and wholeheartedly.

If we find ourselves in an incredibly disappointing place, it’s easy to start feeling that some of God’s good plans don’t apply to us. But the truth is, God is closer than we realize. He has a perspective from where He is that allows Him to see all things—the past, the present, and the future. He declares He is our rescuer. He is the One who will sustain us. And He is more than able to bring His plans to pass (Is. 46:3–11).

efore getting married, my idea of camping was sitting in a casual café overlooking a lake before returning to a rustic motel. My husband James’ camping experience was vastly different. He remembers carrying his tent and food in his backpack and finding a different spot under the stars every night. Yikes!

Arlene Pellicane

Lysa TerKeurst

ong-suffering isn’t a word I want to be part of my story. It means having or showing patience despite troubles. I don’t particularly want troubles to begin with, let alone for any extended period of time.






Tossing Hidden Idols

When You are Mistreated



As I went on my way, I thought of the many people in our society who still worship idols. Usually when we hear the word “idol,” we think of scenes like the one in the nail parlor. We picture idols as wooden figurines with fat lips and bloated bellies—something you would see in a display of Aztec art in the British Natural History Museum. But there’s a different idol worship that’s more prevalent these days, and it’s described in Psalm 97:7, “All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols.” Do not assume this Bible verse only applies to idol worshipers who live in Southeast Asia. It’s relevant today. Idols are still putting us to shame. When does that happen?


“God has wired us to worship Him, and He knows nothing can satisfy our hearts until we find our peace and rest in Him.”

Imagine sitting with an important associate over coffee—you’re wearing a new outfit, you feel sophisticated and, at times, almost charming. The thought crosses your mind, I’m coming across rather well, and so, you congratulate yourself. How impressed this person seems with you.

God has wired us to worship Him, and He knows nothing can satisfy our hearts until we find our peace and rest in Him. Little wonder that the Holy Spirit makes it a top priority to uncover those things or people in our lives that we inordinately venerate. He has your best interest at heart, and He wants you to find satisfaction in Christ alone.

But then it happens. As you reach across the table, you knock over the pot and hot coffee spills all over your new outfit. Even worse, it splatters on the other’s lap. She jumps up and hurriedly wipes off her clothes. Onlookers turn their heads. But instead of laughing it off, you feel stupid and silly, embarrassed, and even ashamed. I feel like crawling into a hole.

So, the next time your cheeks turn red with shame, ask the Lord, what idol are you shoving off the shelf of my heart? You can be sure God is unearthing some idol He wants you to get rid of. And once that idol is given a shove, toss it. Junk it. Get rid of it. Keep your heart clean of idols. It’s the Spirit’s advice from Psalm 97.

This is where Psalm 97:7 comes into play. Because it’s through shame that God exposes the things we idolize. Consider how you felt when you knocked over the coffee. What “idol” did your feelings of embarrassment expose? How about pride in your appearance? Or smug self-confidence in your conversational skills? Maybe the “idol” was inflated ideas of your own importance.

Joni Eareckson Tada is an esteemed Christian

author, artist, and a respected global leader in disability ministry and advocacy. Although a 1967 diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she emerged from rehabilitation with a determination to help others with similar disabilities. Joni serves as CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization which promotes support services for thousands of special-needs families around the world. She and her husband, Ken, live in Calabasas, Calif.


% response@joniandfriends.org

What spoke deeply to me from that encounter was the change in demeanor toward me once they were made aware of my resume. It’s easy for us to judge people without knowing their true heart, and, in particular, how Jesus must have been treated when He entered the community. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was often disregarded, disrespected, and treated as insignificant. What a reminder on how we cannot allow the attitudes of others to diminish our calling. God alone has the authority to examine our motives and to judge with perfect information. How foolish to allow the words or actions of someone with incomplete information to judge us and to influence the trajectory of our lives. At our leadership academy, we teach women that in every family, there is a spoken or unspoken code of behavior. In a similar way, God’s family also has a code of behavior He expects from His children. As a daughter of the King, I look for guidance from the Bible for behavior that is fitting for one who belongs to my heavenly Father’s household. I do so by either looking for Scripture verses that offer instruction for my situation or I learn from the choices of a faith sibling, like a Bible character who was in a situation parallel to my own. In my situation of people treating me differently based on what they assessed as my social status, God led me to James 2:2-4 which read, “Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the

The insight God gave me was to recognize that the world will be careless with those they view as insignificant. A quiet force is sometimes viewed with suspicion and wrongly accused. We may also find that a true heart of service is often pitted up against those who are serving for self-gain. Without intending to be a threat, you may find that your purity often becomes a threat. God showed me through His Word that He alone is the perfect judge. The person who assumes the role of judge against the innocent is the one God views as harboring “evil thoughts.” God did not send us into the world to be impressive but to give our lives away to be His blessing. As the daughter of the King, the royal way is to recognize that nothing unusual has happened when we find ourselves wrongly accused or wounded. Jill Briscoe told me once in no uncertain words when I wanted to quit for fear of being wounded, “Why do you think you shouldn’t be wounded?” Such wise direct words from a true servant of God who has inspired me to greater service!

Anita Carman arrived in America at 17, after her mother’s tragic suicide. Today, she is a walking billboard of how God transformed her pain into passion to build Inspire Women, a non-profit that unites thousands of women of all races and invests in their potential to change the world. She has an MBA from SUNY and an MABS from Dallas Theological Seminary. Anita has authored several books and lives in Houston, Tex., with her husband. She has two grown sons. Visit her at inspirewomen.org (Anita Carman’s signature curriculum, being taught through Inspire Women’s Leadership Academy, offers an online option to teach women how to make decisions fitting for one who is the King’s daughter. To enroll, please email info@inspirewomen.org).

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How else could we detect the idols in our life? God has engineered us in such a way that He uses our sense of shame to reveal those things or people that we idolize. Once our idols are exposed, we can more easily do away with them.

man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”


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Whenever you feel ashamed.

Here you were, hoping to come across sophisticated and much-admired, but a simple accident chucked a hand grenade into your self-confidence, exposing an ugly idol. And the idol we worship–especially puffed-up pride–will ultimately put us to shame.

attended an event to honor a leader. It was held in a private setting with a handpicked guest list. God prompted me to sit by a friend who appeared disoriented by the noise level of all the people chatting around her. I noticed several influential individuals coolly turning their backs on us to have their own private discussions, as if we didn’t exist. It was only after my friend took the opportunity to tell one of the guests that I was the Founder and President of Inspire Women that I noticed a complete change. They were immediately glad to have the opportunity to meet me in person.

Anita Carman

Joni Eareckson Tada

he other day I passed by the open door of a nail parlor run by a Vietnamese woman and her relatives. I paused when I saw a little Buddhist altar behind the receptionist’s desk. The gold-painted statue of Buddha was sitting on the floor, draped with flowers, and smiling down on a piece of pastry. Several sticks of incense were burning in a little pot next to the altar.


So, with this in mind, God was basically saying, “Joshua! Make up your mind, and do what I’ve called you to do!” You’re One Decision Away from Courage Ask yourself—what is God calling you to do? • Is He calling you to a specific ministry? • Is He calling you to be a friend to someone? • Is He calling you to fight for your marriage and family? • Is He calling you to rise up even though you’ve been diagnosed with a disease? • Is He calling you to face the pain of your past? • Is He calling you to put one foot in front of the other and move forward?



What is God calling you to do? by Shannon Geurin


Now, let’s go back to the room-cleaning situation because I’m sure you’re wondering how that story fits here. A command is an authoritative order. So, if I simply request that Averee clean her room, she’s probably not going to do it. But if I command her to clean her room, then she has a decision to make. Either she obeys or she doesn’t and reaps the consequences.

So, make the decision, and do it!

Eight Habits of a Courageous Woman


The courageous woman gives God her weaknesses.

“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on, it’s going on when you don’t have the strength.” —Napoleon Bonaparte Do you want to be a warrior? You can’t do it on your own, but through His strength you can do it! God uses weak people for His absolute best work. In our weakness, Christ is glorified, and that makes us strong. When we give Him our weaknesses, He gives us His strength. “The LORD does not become weary or tired. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power—those who wait on the LORD will gain new strength—they will run and not get tired, and they will walk and not become weary” (Is. 40:28-31).


The courageous woman knows she’s not alone.

“…No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). Ah, what a promise. It doesn’t matter what you face, God is with you! Be confident in that. He’s got you! And not only will He not leave you, He’ll empower you to follow through!


The courageous woman surrounds herself with women who encourage her.

We’re either going to tear each other down or we’re going to lift each other up. Surround yourself with women who will encourage you, but listen: also be an encourager so that others will want you to surround them.

The courageous woman realizes that she has a stalker. Satan hates you. You get that, right?

Peter tells us that the enemy is lurking and describes Satan as a lion. Lions are ferocious and fierce. In fact, he’s “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone he can devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). But here’s a promise: Our God is stronger. Don’t be in denial about our stalker. He’s real. He’s out there. And he hates you! But no matter how ferocious the enemy is, he is simply no match for Christ.


The courageous woman is a fighter.

Lisa Bevere says in her book, Lioness Arising, “God did not save you to tame you!”

So, get out there and fight! Realize you have a stalker and fight, because he’s fightin.’ The way I see it, you have two choices. Either lay down or get up. Choose to be a fighter and say, “No, Satan! You can’t steal my peace. You can’t steal my joy. You can’t have my family!” Rise up!


The courageous woman is vulnerable and honest about her fears.

We are all scared and fearful about things. It scares the wits out of me to do what I do. I worry that people will say, “Who does she think she is?” But I decided to move past that because I know I’ve been called to minister to women. Sometimes you just have to punch fear in the throat.

What are you afraid of? Be honest about it so you can move past it and do what you’ve been called to do. Not one of us has it all together. Jesus didn’t die because we have it together, He died because we don’t!


The courageous woman knows Whose she is.

This might be the most important habit of a courageous woman. She knows who she is, but more importantly, she knows Whose she is. When we know Whose we are; it changes everything. The courageous woman knows she’s a daughter of the King. Looks fade. Financial situations change. Our kids get older. Jobs come and go. But one thing remains the same. We are His!

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I love Joshua’s story in the Bible. God told Joshua multiple times to be strong and courageous. Multiple times. Finally, He said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous” (Josh. 1:9).

Why did God tell Joshua multiple times to be strong and courageous? Maybe He knew it was a big task and He knew it was bigger than Joshua could handle on his own. Maybe He knew Joshua could become easily discouraged. Or just maybe it was because Joshua simply couldn’t make the decisions.

Get out of the denial. When you have an idea of what God is calling you to do and it creates butterflies in your stomach, it’s a pretty safe bet that’s what He’s calling you to do.

Ponder the Word. Don’t make reading the Word an item to check off on your list. Meditate and breathe it in.


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ne of my least favorite things to do as a mom when my girls were young was to ask them to clean their room. Why? Because I knew it was going to be a fight. You’d think I was asking them to donate a kidney. Rarely did they ever clean their rooms after the first ask. And now that I think about it, I merely “asked.” I never commanded initially; I requested.

I don’t know what it is He’s calling you to do, but you do. And it’s going to take courage.

4 5

The courageous woman meditates on the Word.


He’ll always be there. He’ll never let go…because we’re His. We’re fiercely His! He’ll always be there. He’ll never let us go…because we’re His. We’re fiercely His!

Make the decision to be courageous when you get a bad doctor’s report.

We live in a culture of fear. We’re afraid we’re not being politically correct, afraid to say the wrong thing and offend someone, afraid to take our kids to school and leave them. Fear is rampant.

Make the decision to be courageous when you don’t think you can handle one more temper tantrum from your toddler.

But do you know what? God is greater. He sees what’s going on. And He’s building a generation of women—you and me—who will be honest and vulnerable about our fears. Women who will be bold and courageous to do what He’s calling us to do. Women who will link arms with each other. Women who will rise up and fight! How is God Calling You to be Courageous? • What is God calling you to do? • What is He asking? • What battle are you facing? • Where are you tempted to be afraid? • Where are you prone to be discouraged?

Make the decision to be courageous when you find out your spouse has been lying to you. Make the decision to step into the calling that seems like such a stretch for you. Make the decision to take (or in some instances turn down) that job promotion. Make the decision, ladies! Choose to be courageous. Join us and let’s change the world for Him together!

Motherhood otherhood M is a million little moments that God weaves together with

edemption, , race, , rredemption ggrace , tea, rs, laughter laught, ertears

. love . love

and most of all

Shannon Geurin volunteers at her

church and desires to empower women to rise above their failures and fight in order to fulfill their God-given purpose. She and her family live in Inola, OK.


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Friends thank God for their friendships.

“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers” (vs. 4).

In my powder room is a blue and white ceramic soap dish. Around the edge of the dish are the words “Friends are a gift from God” hand-painted by a former neighbor. I love that soap dish because it reminds me of a special friendship and that God cares for me. Whether for a season or a lifetime, God has given me the friends I need at exactly the right time in exactly the right place. It’s only fitting that I thank Him.


Friends are specific with their praise.

s s e l e c i Pr friendship

Six ways to encourage the women in your life! by Elizabeth Wilder


“To Philemon, our dear friend and fellow worker …” (vs. 1). “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement” (vs. 7). This letter is short but personal. Paul starts by showing appreciation—a far cry from the brisk, impersonal beginning to many of my own short emails or texts: FYI. Hey. You done yet? I used to think that keeping communications short respected my reader’s time—and it may—but getting right to the point doesn’t make my friends feel valued. I’m now more intentional in how I communicate, sending physical cards more often and starting even the most businesslike phone calls with thanks for the person’s time. What I’ve found is that absolutely everything—even a chat with the insurance adjuster—goes better.

The most amazing thing about Paul’s letter is that he sends his written request in the hands of Onesimus himself! Under Roman law, a slaveholder had absolute power over a runaway slave, even to the point of taking his life. Onesimus is putting his life on the line at Paul’s request. The trust and friendship Onesimus is modeling here is extraordinary.


Friends are trustworthy and are willing to take risks for one another.

“I would have liked to keep him with me …” (vs. 13). “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me” (vs. 18).

Which words mean more to you: “Thanks for the help” or “Thanks for updating the membership list”? I think the second phrase is stronger. I always hope my small tasks count in the big picture of kingdom-building, but I’m encouraged when someone in leadership notices and thanks me individually.

Paul reminds Philemon how precious Onesimus is to him—like a son, “my very heart” (vs. 12)—yet he is sending him back. When we entrust something or someone important to us—a secret longing, a heartache, a child—to a friend, we hope that they will treat it as carefully as if it were their own.

I try to mimic Paul’s technique when I work with volunteers and friends. I sometimes envision encouragement as imaginary coins stored up in an emotional piggy bank. If I make deposits into friends’ “encouragement banks,” hopefully they will be able to draw upon those savings whenever they’re feeling low.

Paul also tells Philemon that he will bear any financial responsibility for Onesimus. Paul is willing to take a risk for his friend, and because Paul has proven himself reliable in the past, Philemon knows he can trust Paul to carry through on his promise.


Friends pray for each other.

“I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ” (vs. 6). Paul models exhortation and intentionality by letting Philemon know he’s being prayed for. I believe telling people they will be prayed for and following through on it is one of the best ways to help build someone else’s faith. When someone says they’ve been praying for me, I often tear up. I sometimes think that I don’t deserve their time or that other people need prayer much more than I do. It is both honoring and encouraging to know that someone deliberately and specifically thought about my concerns, then intentionally lifted them before God.


Friends aren’t afraid to ask for big favors.

“I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you” (vs. 12). “… no longer as a slave, but … as a dear brother” (vs. 16).

I know from personal experience that having a friend you can call on any time of the day or night, who will drop everything to help you, no questions asked, is one of God’s greatest blessings. When I received a 4 a.m. call from firefighters in a distant city telling me my son had been in an accident and it was unclear if he would survive, my first instinct was to telephone my friend, Mallory. I was in shock and didn’t know what I needed. My trusted friend took charge. “Dave’s getting dressed,” she said. “He’ll drive your husband to the airport. I’ll buy the tickets while they’re in the car.” She stayed with me that entire awful day and shared in my joy when I learned my son would survive. Philemon is such a short book, it’s easily overlooked. But it carries a profound message of friendship, hope, and sacrificial love. As Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching … .” I hope you’ll look at these 25 verses to see what God wants to teach you.

Elizabeth Wilder is an author and

community volunteer who lived overseas for ten years. She and her husband have three grown children and live in Houston, Tex.

summer 2022


Paul’s letter to Philemon is a friend-to-friend note, much like the multipart texts and emails I send to friends and family every day. Since studying Philemon, I’ve made changes in how I communicate with friends, letting them know how much I appreciate them and that I’m praying for them. Here are six ways Paul demonstrates how to be a great friend:


Friends let others know they’re valued.

Paul shows us how to let people know their work is valuable. He doesn’t just say Philemon has done a good job; he’s specific in praising the hospitality Philemon provided. Having his pastor write that Philemon “refreshed the hearts” of his fellow believers surely encouraged him to persevere in his efforts for Christ.

Slave ownership was a status symbol. Enslaved people were considered assets, and presumably Philemon expected to see a return on his investment. When Paul asks Philemon to free Onesimus, he’s saying this is more than a financial request. He’s counting on their shared identity as brothers in Christ to ask this of his friend, appealing to him “on the basis of love” (vs. 9).


summer 2022

Tucked between Titus and Hebrews, Philemon is a small but mighty letter from Paul to a friend. In it, Paul challenges his friend Philemon to see a runaway slave, Onesimus, not as a piece of property but as a fellow human being—but even more, as a brother in Christ and an equal heir in the kingdom of God. In addition to dealing with the important topics of slavery, equality, and freedom, Paul also packs a case study about friendship into these 25 short verses.

“I hear about your love for all … people” (vs. 5), and “you … have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (vs. 7).

It’s hard for me to process what a big ask this was, of both Philemon and Onesimus.


faith CHATS


ust outside the city of Jinja, Uganda, on the continent of Africa, 33-year-old Katie Davis Majors is in her kitchen, cutting up vegetables and boiling fresh beans to feed about thirty people at her dining room table. It’s not unusual for Katie, her husband Benji, and their children to welcome whoever is hungry, lonely, sick, or alone for a meal or a stay. Katie just can’t resist someone who needs the love of Jesus.

At her desk in an affluent suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, 18-year-old Katie Davis searched online for somewhere to serve for her Christmas break. An orphanage in Uganda responded, so she spent her time holding babies and playing with children on the other side of the world. Astonished by how powerfully Uganda’s impoverished but beautiful land and people jumped into her heart, she made plans to return as soon as possible. Leaving her fun American teen life, beloved family, friends, and boyfriend, Katie bargained with her parents to spend a gap year in Uganda, teaching kindergarten. She promised her parents she’d start college in the U.S. the following fall. She did, but by then she had taken in four orphaned children, acquired a house, and started a school called Amazima. Uganda felt more and more like her home, and she couldn’t stay away.

interview by Sarah Nielsen

Photography by Julie Ranee


For Katie Davis Majors everything is about love and surrender.

“Faithfulness is what we repeatedly do.” Katie says. “It is a habit formed of long, hard obedience in the quiet. Faithfulness is dropping milk through a syringe for hours into a mouth that could barely swallow. Faithfulness is pursuing that resistant teenager again (and again and again) even though she yells and hurls ugly words. Faithfulness is in chopping carrots and folding laundry

JBU: What kinds of things did God teach you as a single mother of so many needy girls? Katie: That my life is characterized by contradictions. The challenges of meeting their varied needs, big and small, were offset by the ridiculous joy of their hugs, kisses, praise-filled hearts for Jesus, along with the intense love I have for each one of them. I could be utterly exhausted and emptied out, but then I’d come home from the grocery store to a room full of giggling, bouncy girls who yelled, “Mommy!” and my heart would be jam-packed with joy all over again. JBU: How did God lead you to begin Amazima? Katie: My heart was moved to start Amazima when I discovered that some children in the orphanage actually had parents at home, but they were unable to provide for them. The orphanage was their only option to sustain their children’s lives. I wanted those children to live with their parents, so God prompted me with the idea of starting a school that would be free. I laid in bed at night thinking of my American life where $300 is spent in the blink of an eye and yet $300 could provide so much for these Ugandan children. I knew that if my family, friends, and others heard about the need they would give, and they have. Now, so many more people are helping these precious children, giving them the hope for a better future and the knowledge of a Savior who loves them.

JBU: Amazima has grown since you started it in 2008. How are you bringing the practical love of Christ to the community? Katie: We started Amazima with forty children and it has grown to the 600 we serve right now. That is all God supplying everything we need to run it, because there’s no way we can turn away a child who needs the hope of an education, food, clothes, and a lot of fun! The fantastic staff provide parents the ability to send their children to a Christ-filled school who would not otherwise be able to pay for an education. I love to think of the early days of Amazima when forty children would attend school, come over to our house and play outside, have a snack, a Bible lesson, and often sleep over! So many have experienced more life trauma than most adults ever will, but we give them as much as we can, asking God to work in their lives.

summer 2022



Katie would tell you she’s just an ordinary person, but she’s taken God at His word in the dark and dirty places. From picking maggots from an alcoholic man’s neglected wound to digging a decaying rat from the back of her oven, she powers through in the love of Jesus. As hard as those things are (she threw up getting the rat out), she does them knowing this is where she’s supposed to be: this life, this moment. She’d tell you the rewards are mind-blowing, and they have everything to do with love—God’s love pouring out to everyone around her.

Just Between Us had the privilege of talking with Katie to catch up on all that’s happened in the years since we last interviewed her at the beginning of this lifelong adventure.


summer 2022


y r a n i d r O

As she immersed herself in the community, God sent her people who needed a hug, a lap, a bath, medical care—or a family. In her twenties, Katie adopted thirteen girls and now regularly takes in those who need extra care and are likely to die without it. American Benji Majors, in Uganda as a missionary, had lived just a few miles from Katie in the States although they had never met, asked Katie to marry him in 2015. He happily acquired a bevy of girls he had grown to love and together they’ve added two little boys to their family.

and all the things that go unseen. Faithfulness is in a million tiny decisions and small surrenderings—submitting with a simple Yes, Lord—that created a life of obedience in the extraordinary as well as in the mundane.”


JBU: What is true courage to you? What does it look like in your day-to-day life? Katie: When God asks me to do something, He gives me what I need to do it, including courage. Whether I’m brave or not (I’m not) or strong enough (I’m not) doesn’t matter. I’m just responding (not that it’s easy) to what Jesus asks of me—to feed His sheep, to love the least of these, to let the little children come to Him, to help the orphan and the widow. God surrounds me with many helpers, but He does the heavy lifting. I try to think back to all the times He’s been faithful, and I realize I don’t need to be afraid. Sometimes, I still am! JBU: How do you stay plugged into your relationship with God in your busy life? Katie: I get asked this a lot. I don’t mean this sarcastically, but… you just have to make it happen. Sometimes I read the Bible first thing in the morning, and I try really hard to make this a priority. I keep a Bible app on my phone so if I don’t have time in the morning I can read throughout the day—in the carpool line, in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, while rocking or nursing a baby. I’m tempted, like everyone else, to scroll Instagram instead. But years of practice have taught me how much better I feel, how much better of a wife, mom, and friend I am, when I choose Him instead. I also love listening to the Bible Re-Cap podcast that accompanies my daily Scripture reading and various podcasts and teachings from Christian leaders. We are all busy, but I think we also all have more time than we think we do—we just are so quick to fill it with other things. It has helped to get rid of this idea of “quiet time” as a once-a-day, specific-amount-of-minutes thing. While I love starting my day in prayer and God’s Word, God doesn’t need or want to be relegated to a specific portion of our lives. He is in all of it! I talk to Him in the car, in the grocery line, and while I am cooking dinner and helping kids with their homework. When we whisper to Him in the ordinary middle minutes of our days, we will find that He meets us where we are.


Katie: Benji is a lot more patient than I am, and I often joke that he just trusts God more than I do. He has been our family’s steady rock over the years. Benji is quiet and consistent while I’m more passionate and emotional. He encourages me to think through things from many angles, and I encourage him that sometimes it’s just time to leap. We remind each other of who God is and what He promises when one of us is tempted to doubt or despair (I’ll be honest, it’s more often me). Serving our family and our community together is one of the great joys of my life! When I have a dream or something I am passionate about or want to dive into (the book I am currently

When God asks me to do something, He gives me what I need to do it, including courage. writing, for example), Benji is always the first to say, “Yes! Go get ‘em!” He then makes that possible by picking up extra things around the house or helping more with the kids. Benji is a safe place to share even my hardest emotions, and he always points me back to the Father with Scripture, worship, or even just his silence. He prays with me and over me.

JBU: It must take a lot of courage for Benji to handle all these women. How does he do it? Katie: He does it gently, with great patience and love—and loads of fun! Before our wedding I heard one of our girls yell out from her room, “I’m gonna get a Daaadddyyyyyy!” I’m delighted that the girls get to have a father that so beautifully models the love their heavenly Father has for them. Even his proposal included the girls, who were hiding in the bushes and excitedly ran out after he asked me! JBU: You have given birth to two little boys! Katie: Yes. How great is that? For us, and certainly for the girls. They adore their brothers, and the boys love their sisters so much. You can see in our family photographs that the boys want to sit on their sisters’ laps!

JBU: Bring us up to date on what the girls are up to these days. Katie: Prossy, Margaret, Agnes, Ellie, Helen, Mary, Tibita, Sarah, Scovia, Joyce, Sumini, Grace, and Patricia are growing up! Eight of our daughters are in college and one got married last year! We still have seven at home with our two little boys and we try to take in every minute. We are grateful that our daughter who has had some health issues is on the road to recovery. JBU: What is something you do that is life-giving? Katie: Spending a long time in the Word (preferably in quiet) and having time to journal and process afterwards. Words are my creative outlet. I love long walks and runs outside and often feel so full of words after my time in nature that I need to race home to write it all down. I am also filled up by time with authentic, vulnerable friends. There is just nothing so sweet as knowing people and being known. Similarly, I feel joyful when my family is together doing something we all enjoy—sharing a meal, playing games, laughing on the couch. I love when our home is full! JBU: When do you find it challenging to trust God? Katie: When someone I love is struggling, it is so hard for me to trust that God knows what is best for them. It’s

also difficult for me to trust God when things don’t go according to plan. I laugh out loud as I say that because of course I mean when things don’t go according to my plan… and my plan is, well, false. God has the plan, and I don’t always know it. But unexpected twists and turns, especially when they involve hardship for my family or loved ones, find me crying out to God and learning to trust Him all over again.

…the hardest times of my life have led me to trust God and lean into Him more than I have before, ultimately, strengthening my faith. JBU: What has strengthened your faith the most? Katie: It’s a funny paradox when paired with the last question because I desire to shield my loved ones, especially my children, from hard things. However, I know the hardest times of my life have led me to trust God and lean into Him more than I have before, ultimately, strengthening my faith. Times of scary unknowns and deep hurts have caused me to pray more, to search God’s Word more for answers, and ultimately grow and know God more deeply.

summer 2022


Katie: When I chose this life, I assumed that a husband was not going to be part of the equation. After we met, Benji asked me out, but I couldn’t fathom how to fit dating into my jam-packed life. As time went on, I saw the depth of the man Benji was and yes, we went on dates! We mostly learned about each other during dinner prep for the girls, side-by-side tasks, and outings. I confess I invented things I “needed” done which required his help. Like me, Benji was in Uganda for what he thought was a short-term mission trip until He found God wanted him to stay. I’m sure glad he did!

JBU: How does Benji compliment and encourage you in your calling?


summer 2022

JBU: You came to Uganda as a single young woman. Did you ever think you’d meet someone to take on a ready-made family this large? How did you meet Benji?

I often think about how gracious and kind it was of God not just to give me a husband, but the perfect one for me. Benji is without a doubt one of the biggest blessings of my life. I am thankful God sees what we need and has good plans for us that are better than our own.


JBU: Did you ever want to give up and come back home? Katie: The best answer to that is what I wrote in my journal years ago: “Sometimes working in a Third World country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eyedropper. Just when I have about a half cup full of water it rains: more orphaned children from the north migrate to where I live, more abandoned and dead babies are found, more people are infected with HIV. It is enough to discourage even the most enthusiastic and passionate person. Yet the discouragement lasts only a moment, and God tells me to keep going. That He loves me. That He loves these people. That He will never leave us or forsake any of us, not one. That my work is important—to Him. Darling Emily, a little girl from the orphanage, is snuggled against my chest fast asleep, and I can feel her heart beating against mine. It’s that beat. It’s that warmth. It’s that love. That love is the reason I just keep filling up my little eyedropper, keep filling it up and emptying my ocean one drop at a time. I’m not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, to put a stop to people abandoning babies. I’m just here to love.”

JBU: What would 33-year-old Katie tell 18-yearold Katie? Katie: You don’t know everything. Be committed to being a learner first, learning from God and the people around you. The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know. Many of my opinions have grown and changed since I was that younger, fiery version of myself. Life makes us softer, you know. I would encourage her to remain open to growing and changing. I would also tell her to hang on tight. Life has been infinitely harder than I ever imagined, but infinitely more beautiful.


summer 2022

JBU: What would you tell women about how to have the courage to live a surrendered life?


Katie: I like to quote my daughter Joyce using her definition of courage: “To have faith.” Period. When I surrender, it’s not something vague or ethereal, it’s to a personal God who wants what’s best for me and loves me immeasurably. He knows the future and will walk me into it. I can be as fearful as anyone, but I try to remember that whatever He asks me to do, He’s already waiting for me there.

Sarah Nielsen is a writer based in

Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of Just Keep Going: Spiritual Encouragement from the Mom of a Troubled Teen and JustKeepGoingParents.com.

Hope for Uganda Founded by Katie Davis Majors in 2008, Amazima Ministries International exists to educate, empower, and encourage the orphaned, poor, and vulnerable in the country of Uganda. In the local Ugandan language Luganda, Amazima means “truth.”’ The ministry desires to reveal the truth of God’s unconditional love through Jesus Christ to the people of Uganda. Education is Key The cornerstone of this ministry, the school, serves primary and secondary age students. For what an American child might spend on school supplies alone, a Ugandan student can be educated, clothed, and fed for a year. Remarkably, today their team has grown to over 200 staff members and the school to over 600 students including their families. In addition to an excellent education, most receive scholarships that provide daily meals, extensive medical care, and spiritual discipleship of every student. Katie always believed that education could have the most strategic impact on changing communities. “I myself could not change villages or the country of Uganda,” Katie said. “But educated Ugandan children could.” Amazima also includes a farming outreach with a profitable vocational program and community outreach that features biblical teaching and spiritual encouragement. Transformed Lives are Evident Amazima is made up of many different people, working together in a shared mission—to share the love of Jesus, help transform lives, restore relationships and change communities. “Every day,” says Katie, “we wake up thanking God for entrusting us with His beautiful ministry, ready to live out the love of Jesus by educating and empowering the people of Uganda, whom I so love, and the communities we serve.” To learn more go to: Amazima.org




Christ IS IN HER.

~Sarah Nielsen


Scan this code with your mobile device to find articles by Katie Davis Majors.

Download this printable poem at justbetweenus.org.

I tell myself that I would do exactly what she did—I would leave my family and friends and go off to fight someone else’s battle, to fight for a cause I didn’t even know about. I would allow my eyes to see the ravages of war, feel the loss of life, and experience the mental and emotional consequences of a lengthy battle. And it would all be so amazing when I accomplish my mission and we are successful.



What the Win Actually Looks Like

of Women

The truth is, and what I came back to, and what caused my grief of sorts, was that I don’t get to pick my battles—and I am not particularly happy with the battles I have been given, the challenges that have been placed before me. My areas of influence seem so small and inconsequential and so massive and overwhelming at the same time. The invitations I have received to fight for others are far less romantic than what the movie portrays. There is less glory, less excitement, and less looking beautiful while doing it.

What small space in the world is God asking you to do battle? by Rachel Holeman

Wonder Woman does not do a good job of showing the messiness of war. Oh, you see it in the dirt and in the fox holes, your eyes are flooded with images of starving, bedraggled people, but not Diana. She always looks beautiful, strong, and clean. But the reality in our stories is that we are tired, and haggard, and confused. Let’s be realistic, if you live in the trenches, when you are in the thick of it, you are physically, mentally, and emotionally affected by your battles. No story is comfortable or perfect looking if that story is set in a war. And friends, all our stories are in a war. They are messy and there are casualties.


I have watched the movie Wonder Woman three times. Now, I am not one to watch something more than once very often. What is it about this movie?

she deflects thousands of rounds of ammunition. The enemy’s guns are trained on her and her alone. And she takes it, her defenses hold, she kneels and does what no one else can do. She offers her abilities to a war-torn world, doing exactly what she was created to do—and it is life changing, life bringing, and life giving for those in need of rescue.

We Love Heroes

What We Think the Win Looks Like

We find such hope, such satisfaction, in watching someone else’s story. We watch as they persevere and sacrifice and take wounds and suffer loss. In the end they win—and win big. They save the entire world from sure destruction. Their story is told loudly and publicly. And part of us wants to be them—to find in ourselves that heroic warrior who does the right thing at the right time, no matter the cost for the triumph.

The truth is this, most of us wonder women are not called upon to save the whole world. But we are asked to fight in our small space in the world. What part have you been asked to play in this war called life?

Maybe your battle is constant financial concerns. What about mental and emotional health? What are your battles? It is never just one. What have you been called into? Where have you been called on to be the one?

The Strength What do we have as women to offer to the world—to our situations? What is the wonder of women? Women were designed to be life-givers and life-sustainers—and I don’t just mean in the birthing process. We are designed to give a house life, nurture it, protect it, and we are also given the strength to bring it forth. Our words can sustain life as well—breathe hope and encouragement into a battle. We have been given great perception, intuition, and wisdom. We hate injustice and most of us have prevailed through times that required great fortitude and perseverance. We are desperately needed in this role in life’s battles. Without women, the front will falter, and the advancement of the kingdom will fail. You are needed, desperately needed. Your space and time in the world require the wonder of you.

The Answer The next question must be asked: How? How do we offer our gifts when we are exhausted and wounded ourselves? This question has taken me on an amazing journey with Jesus. I don’t want to fake it or run on empty. I want to be authentic and offer real hope, drawn from having my own heart tended to. He knows exactly what you need and how you need to hear it. The simple answer is Jesus. He wants to love you. He wants to give you daily expressions of His love. Start asking and looking for them. And this is why: if you are convinced of His love, then you will love others better. If you feel seen and accepted by the God of the universe, you will see others better. If your heart has been healed by the Great Physician, you will extend love and mercy to others better. The key to being a wonder woman is to open your heart, soul, mind, and strength to the Wonderful Counselor and let His beauty transform you.

Are you fighting for a child who is addicted to drugs? Does the situation seem impossible? Has it been dragging on for years and years with no end in sight? Or has your body betrayed you, so you are fighting pain on a daily basis?

Rachel Holeman grew up in Papua

New Guinea as a missionary kid and has experienced the joy and wonder, and the hurt and loss that accompanies that childhood. She has a passion to help women find their security and identity in Christ, and to become who they were meant to be. Rachel has been married for 25 years and has five children.

summer 2022


I cried ugly shoulder-shaking sobs the third time I watched the film. I surprised myself. Where was this depth of emotion coming from? It was the scene that most viewers remember, when Diana runs head long into the battle alone, leading the charge—and she hunkers down with her shield and takes all the fire so that at long last, no-man’s-land can be crossed over and the front advanced. She is bent double as

The Battlefields

Or do you have a particularly prickly relationship that requires constant attention?


between summer2022 2022 ȷustbetween ussummer ȷust us

onder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

I think that all of us want to come through—to play our part, our irreplaceable role in our war, to fight for our kids, spouses, families, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. But I grieve that subconscious idea that I won’t be enough, have enough strength, maturity, drive, and will to do what is required of me. I will fail. I will surely fail. I will not come through, not be admired, not surprise anyone—I will be un-wonderful.

Does your husband choose over and over to not look at you, but to feast his eyes on well-endowed “perfect” others?



very mom I know has a Target story. One where things went so wrong, she thought she might have to switch to a Target down the road. Mine was in the spring of 2005.

We had just returned from an international move. I had Abbie in the Babybjörn carrier (2 mos.), Clara (14 mos.) in the front of the cart, and Stephen (almost 3) in the back. (Yes, I know. It’s crazy to have three children under three. No, I don’t advise it. Yes, they get along, and once we got out of the preschool years it was actually pretty fun.)

Hope for Success

I had bought Clara and Stephen popcorn assuming that if their mouths were full, they wouldn’t make those new screeching noises they had just learned. So, I doled out the snacks and then raced like a maniac through the store trying to get everything on my list before the bags were empty. I made it through the store with two three-year-old fistfuls of popcorn to spare. We pulled into our checkout lane, me sweating and close to swearing, fighting post-partum unawares. Stephen, with a gleeful hoot, threw the contents of his popcorn bag into the air. Success had been SO close. As I leaned down to begin picking up the pieces, I felt Stephen’s paper bag ricochet off my head—with another gleeful hoot. All the while, the checkout girl chewed her gum and watched.

Tension Mounts

If I hadn’t been at my absolute bottom, I probably would have laughed at the absurdity. As it was, I was praying that the popcorn smell and the up and down motions while I bent down to pick it up wouldn’t wake the Mt. Vesuvius reflux monster we called Abbie.


The parenting journey is not designed to travel alone. by Rachel Booth Smith

I slowly, deliberately explained that there was a mistake and began to frantically look for the gift card receipt that would give me some credibility. Stephen and Clara (popcorn gone) attempted to harmonize their howls. I let them, even though my blood pressure rose with each cry. Gum girl slowly reached her right hand out and flipped on the “Help me please, crazy woman here” light. A manager appeared who obviously had no children, no sympathy, and no charm. She used small words to explain to me that I was only going to get $6 from my card.

Gum Girl and Mean Manager each took a step back. Stephen and Clara briefly stopped their vocal harmonizing, only to begin again in a valiant attempt to sing a lullaby to me. I swiped my debit card, silently praying that God would make the $24 appear in my account. It cleared, I packed up my things through my tears, and walked out of there completely defeated. I needed a friend.

Time to Call my Lifeline

Who do you call after your Target disasters? Do you have anyone to call? This parenting journey is not designed to be traveled alone. We need friends, confidants, and sanity savers. We need friends with a listening ear, advocates who threaten to storm the store, and allies ready with a witty retort to ease the tension. Maybe you’re wondering if those friend unicorns exist. They do! It’s unfair that sometimes we must do the uncomfortable work to find them when we are already at the end of our rope. I wish friends came gift wrapped when we brought that first baby home. But they don’t. Thankfully, though, you can find community! You can spot them at church, a mom’s group, a gym, the cafeteria at work, or even in the preschool line. Just look for the one whose eyes connect with yours, who chuckles instead of stiffens when irritation hits, and who has a few stains on her clothes. Be bold and start the conversation. Hopefully, the first person you find the courage to chat with will be a new friend for life. If she isn’t, that’s all right. As a friend of mine told me, “Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your people.” Keep opening up! Pray for God to provide and then stand on His faithfulness. After a few years of three preschoolers, a lot of tears, and more diapers than I am comfortable confessing to, it got better. I got better. I found friends who weren’t afraid to wipe my kids noses, crawl on the floor with me, or decompress after a drama-ridden preschool dropoff. With the love and support of friends, I made it.

Here’s to Community

We all need companions who can listen to our Target stories of defeat, defend our actions, and then help us laugh it off. So, here’s to community. May your arms open wide, your comfort flow freely, and your laughter be abundant. And may you never have to switch to the Target down the road.

Rachel Booth Smith is a writer, teacher, and leader, when not working on her Master of Divinity at Pillar (class of 2023). She and her family live in Minnesota. Read more from her at: rachelboothsmith.com; rachel@smithsfrontdoor.com; rachelboothsmith.com

summer 2022



I took a deep breath. And another. Smacking-gum girl looked at me a little warily.

That was it. The dam burst. I began crying. Then sobbing. Then some little giggles came out with the tears.


summer 2022


The checkout girl rang up my order, and I handed her my precious gift card. It had about $30 on it and I had counted every bit of it using sales and specials. The girl swiped the card—and only $6 came off my total.

The Meltdown


Daily Reminders

No one in this world loves me like he did, says the ticker tape racing across my brain many nights. Even a year later, sleep is unpredictable. Audio books have become my bedtime friend. I set the timer for an hour and often fall asleep, but on some nights, I reset the timer for yet another hour. Still, the words of the book are easier than the ticker tape. When I am out and about for the day, suddenly I am shocked by the thought, “Not one person in the world knows where I am.” I am not on his radar. He is not texting and asking about my day. I kept my phone so close to me in the first month or so until I finally realized I was waiting for a text from him. Even as I write those words, I am aware of how bizarre they sound, but grief is not sane. You bargain. You dream. You ask for miracles. Anything to get your life back on an even keel. I have walked through my house crying and begging, “I just want my life back!” My easygoing, carefree life. And yes, I know I was a blessed woman. I had an easygoing carefree life. Problems were small. I had the love of a faithful, godly, hard-working, wonderful man for almost 50 years. We had a good life, full of love and security. Many women search their whole life to find that kind of love. I am blessed, and I am thankful.




t is an early morning, but I have been up for a while. I want to savor every minute of today. A year ago, my husband was still with me. He was still alive. I can only keep saying that for just a few more hours. It seems like only yesterday he wrapped me in one of his big bear hugs before he left for work. Or was that another lifetime ago?

“And the two shall become one flesh.” I am still trying to figure out who I am. I am not who I once was—I don’t think I will ever be her again. That person was part of another person, woven together as one. Seldom did either of us do anything of significance without considering how it would affect the other. Part of me died a year ago when he took his last breath.

C.S. Lewis said, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn, by God you learn.” And I have learned that although my grief is unique to me, it is also a collective circumstance millions of people walk in every day since the beginning of time. I find that oddly comforting. I am alone, yet I am not alone. And only now do I see your grief. And I am so sorry for your loss. And even if it has been years, I know you still hurt. I see your pain. I know that on some days, it takes every ounce of strength and courage to just get out of bed and face your day. You are brave. You are strong. You keep moving forward. I, too, am moving forward, but with new questions of my own. I am trying not to ask, “Why me?” anymore, but rather, “What now?” That has been a tough transition. It has been hard to watch people go on with their life as if nothing has changed. How can you be happy? How can you act like everything is okay? Can’t you see it? Everything has changed! Every. Thing.

Resting with Grief in Hand

So here I am, me, myself, and I in a resort town in Florida… history… beach… ocean. All the things we loved together. I chose a city we had never been to before to avoid as many ambushes as possible. I brought books and writing material with me. I even tucked some watercolors and an art journal in my bag in case I found inspiration in the quaint town or the ocean sunsets. I find myself not much interested in any of the tours or sightseeing. I am content to find a shady spot and read my book and watch people. Some moments, I miss my husband so much it hurts in my chest, like I can feel my heart breaking apart. He would have loved this place. Oh, how I do not want to do this. Any of it. I allow myself space to sit in that for a while. I feel all the hard and sad feelings, all the what ifs. I give myself grace to just feel the pain. Sometimes that is exactly the next step I need. Grief is not something you can fix or get through. Grief is something you carry with you as you walk forward. Some days it sits right in my lap, and I give it all the attention it demands. Other days, I carry it in my pocket, just touching it at times throughout the day. Grief is always with me. I think I may be the only person exploring this city alone. Couples. Families. Friends. Everybody is with somebody. I do not mind for the most part. I could have brought a friend with me, but the only person I wanted to come is not available for trips this side of heaven anymore. I needed to do this trip by myself. Sleep when fatigue demanded it. Eat when hungry. Sit and do nothing if that is what I need to do. I wanted the freedom to just be me and to begin the discovery of me without him. Now here I sit with open hands and ask, “What will I do with what I’ve been given?”

Connie Gochenaur’s writing has been featured in The Upper Room, The Perennial Gen, and Prodigal. She is the women’s ministry leader at Maple City Chapel and an art facilitator for senior citizens. Connie recently became widowed after a 46-year marriage with her high school sweetheart and is the mother of four grown daughters and grandma to seven grandchildren. She lives in northern Indiana.

summer 2022



by Connie Gochenaur

What We Learn Together

No, I do not know who I am right now, or where I should be, or what I should do. I am just taking it one day at a time, trying to do the next right thing. Recently, the next thing seemed like a vacation. Truth be told, I just wanted to get out of town on the anniversary of his death. I needed a distraction.


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What will I do with what I’ve been given?

I am not who I once was—I will never be her again. But I am still here. Who am I going to be? What will I do with what I have been given? To be honest, I have spent most of the year fighting those questions. I didn’t even want to hear them. This is not what I wanted. It is not what I imagined.

Grief is not something you can fix or get through. Grief is something you carry with you as you walk forward.


.. we find a hidden treasure as a result of creating margin.. This is one of the reasons I love the lesson Acts 6 teaches us. The Hellenistic Jews were complaining that their widows were being neglected in the daily food distribution. The Twelve Disciples knew it was an issue that needed to be addressed. However, notice their response:


Margin How to set healthy boundaries in your life. By Chrissy Callahan

“It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2b–4, emphasis added). Was feeding the widows a good and needed task? Yes. But was it for the Twelve to do? No. In fact, it would have distracted them from the work that God intended for them to do, and it would have made them less effective at reaching people with the Gospel. It’s hard to say no to good and necessary things, isn’t it? But we find a hidden treasure as a result of creating margin in the decision of the disciples.

Saying no opens the door for others to say yes. When the Twelve said no to feeding the widows, they made room for others to say yes. There are a couple incredible things about this: 1. The disciples acknowledged a difference between doing every good thing that came their way versus doing the right things that God had given them specifically to do. 2. The seven men who were chosen to feed the widows then had the chance to step into a new opportunity of service.

I ȷustbetweenus

The good news is that we can learn to create healthier margins for our lives. Here’s how to begin:

As much as I’d love to be able to do it all (and I feel the pressure on some days), the reality is that saying yes to everything sets us up for burnout. Even worse, experiencing burnout makes us feel more defeated because we feel like we failed. Why do we beat ourselves up for failing at something that was unrealistic in the first place? Of course, I’m not talking about saying no to things that are our responsibilities. Some things are necessary, so God will give us the strength to do them. Far too often, however, we pick up things that aren’t ours to carry.

What if we posed the question this way: If everything is done by one person (or the same few people), where would the strength and diversity of the Body be? If we do everything ourselves, where is the opportunity to grow as a community? The responsibility of feeding the widows was still taken seriously by the disciples—they didn’t give it to just anyone. In fact, they didn’t even give the responsibility to the people who were complaining about it. Instead, they placed seven trustworthy men in those positions in

Learning to say no helps us respect and encourage other people’s boundaries.

Is there someone in your life who is also learning how to create margin? The journey is more enjoyable when we walk it together, giving each other grace and encouragement as we go. Oddly enough, we can feel rejection or frustration when people tell us “no,” even for good reasons. As we learn to practice healthy boundaries, however, we also learn how to respect and encourage the healthy boundaries that other people create, too. The beautiful thing about growing stronger as a community is that we need each other in order to grow well. We can implement disciplines on our own, but sometimes we will need to depend on the situation. Ideally, though, we learn and grow together. It keeps us accountable, and it helps the roots of community grow deeper than they would have if we tried to do everything ourselves. Maybe you had grand plans for what this new year would bring, but it still feels like a hectic spaghetti mess. The good news is all that is needed to start living with healthy boundaries is taking that first step. We won’t be perfect at it, and that’s okay, but we’ll get better with time. Our disciplines don’t end with us. We are meant to learn together, then pass that wisdom on to those who follow. It was the honesty of women who already learned to set margins in their own lives that taught me to do the same. They didn’t do it perfectly, but they were consistently growing, and were willing to be honest about their difficulties. As we learn to be more intentional with what we pick up, the Body of Christ as a whole can become more focused on what each part has been given to do—giving us the capacity to steward our lives well together. Where can you create margin today?

Chrissy Callahan is the writer behind Status Quo Questions blog. She works in software and hopes to use the skills she’s learned to help strengthen churches and believers around the world. Chrissy holds a master’s degree in Ministerial Leadership and is passionate about digging into what it means to pursue genuine Christian living and solid Christian leadership.

summer 2022


As women, we often struggle with setting boundaries around our time and energy. When you’re used to people depending on you on a regular basis, your “yes” may spill out without a second thought. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we can say no.

Saying no to the right things helps us steward our yeses well.

One of the men chosen, Stephen, would later be questioned and stoned for his faith. Imagine how different this outcome was: the disciples could have been spread too thin and become less effective trying to do it all, but they stayed their course instead, and the widows were cared for by someone who was solid and brave enough to die for his faith.


summer 2022

sn’t it funny how difficult saying the word “no” can be? I have a habit of taking on too much, wanting to help anyone who might need it. Yet as great as our intentions may be, always saying “yes” can work against us.

One of my favorite Scripture passages is 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul is describing how important each part of the Body of Christ is. At one point, he says, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor. 12:17–18).

order to steward the need with strength, godly wisdom, and faithfulness.


didn’t promise, or that He promised only to someone else in their immediate context. Both scenarios can lead to confusion and disappointment. To read a verse in context, first look at the sentence in which it occurs. Then, read the whole paragraph. Next, look at the chapter the paragraph falls within, and then the book of the Bible. You can also look at the other books written by that author and, finally, whether the verse comes from the Old or New Testament.

3. Dig into the Root Language

Good news: you don’t need to learn Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Read Scripture slowly (in English) and see if certain words give you pause. Sometimes, an English word fails to capture the nuance of the original word. A lexicon, such as the one at Biblehub.com, shows the meaning of the translated word.


SCARE YOU Learn how to interpret Scripture for yourself. by Karen Abeyta


his doesn’t make sense, but what else could it mean?” my husband asked. “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning” (1 John 3:6). The verse seemed straightforward, but we all sin. How can John say that no one who believes in Him keeps on sinning? Yikes! Maybe I’m not living in Christ? Or maybe John means habitual sin?


As with most things in life, we should begin with prayer. God wants us to understand His Word. We should ask Him, through His Holy Spirit, to guide and teach us as we read.

2. Always Keep Verses in Their Context

In my early days of Bible reading, I would pluck an encouraging verse out of the Bible like a tweet. For example, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11). Little did I know (since I only read part of the chapter), God’s plan included the Israelites remaining in exile for another 70 years. While we might find comfort in individual verses, we may inadvertently believe something that either God

4. Reflect on the Genre of the Passage

Scripture contains narrative, letters, poetry, history, and other literary genres that affect how we interpret passages in those genres. Poetry, such as the Psalms, often contains hyperbole (an intentional exaggeration for effect), similes, and metaphors. For example, when the psalmist writes “In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun” (Ps. 19:4), he means that God made a place for the sun, not that God got out a mallet and pegs and set up camp.

5. Consider the Original Audience

Through human authors, God gave us His Word. He wrote it for us, but not to us. Determining the original audience and what His words would have meant to them at that time in history can help us see its relevance for our lives. Most study Bibles will give a brief description of the audience for each book and why the author wrote to them.

6. Read Different Translations of the Bible

I find that reading a variety of translations adds to the richness of my understanding. Use BibleGateway.org

When I run into a verse that appears to contradict other Scripture, I begin with the assumption that an explanation exists. Commentaries can provide insight from theologians who have studied the original languages. They can also provide insight into idiomatic expressions that were used in Bible times.

8. Listen to Sermons

Sermons can be a helpful means to understand the Bible. A good teacher will work through a passage, explain its meaning, and unite it with other Scripture to tell a complete story. They will also show you how to apply the text to your life. When I tried to reconcile 1 John 3:4 (noted at the beginning of this article) with verses that indicate our salvation does not depend upon sinless living, I found a sermon by John MacArthur. He explained that when John talks about sin in this context, he means an “attitude of sin”—living with disregard for God’s commandments and acting as if God Himself does not exist. Whew!

9. Find an Overview of the Entire Bible

I would highly recommend participating in a study or reading a book (like Living God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays) that provides an overview of the entire Bible. Or you can check out bibleproject.com. They have a video synopsis of the Old and New Testaments as well as a summary of each book of the Bible. This will help you to put things into context more easily.

10. Be Committed to Finding the Truth

False teachers abound. The Bible tells us to watch out for them. Avoid looking for someone to corroborate what you want a passage to mean. Rather, study to determine what it actually means. Ask your pastor or another trusted resource if you feel that something you have read seems off.

11. Apply the Word

Once you understand what you have read, you must apply it to your life. The Bible contains God’s words to us which He intends for us to read, ponder, and act on. In addition to information about God’s character and promises, Scripture contains everything we need to know for salvation and our hope for eternity. So, grab a cup of coffee (and maybe a friend or two) and dig in! As your comprehension and appreciation for the Bible grows, so will your enjoyment of your time with God.

Karen Abeyta is currently studying at Dallas Theological Seminary. Additionally, she enjoys international travel and finds herself at home in her Vermont horse barn or at her desk writing. She is a mother to teenagers and lives in South Chittenden, VT.


summer 2022


Before we dig in, a brief word about the reliability of Scripture; 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is Godbreathed.” God supervised the writing process such that each author of the Bible wrote down His exact words. The Bible tells us that “Every word of God is flawless” (Prov. 30:5), so we know that it does not contain errors.

1. Pray

Historical sources, such as a Bible dictionary or a book on the history of the Near East, can help you to understand the cultural context of the Bible. Knowing who sat on the Roman emperor’s throne and whether or not he persecuted Christians can shed light on certain passages.

7. Use a Commentary


summer 2022

Have you ever felt confused, frustrated, or unsure while reading the Bible? I know I have. Knowing some basic principles will help you feel confident in understanding what you read so that you can apply God’s Word to your life.

So where do we begin?

For example, in Psalm 23:6, David writes “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” I wondered what it meant to have His love follow me. When I looked up the Hebrew word for follow, the word meant “to pursue or chase after.” Wow. So, God’s love doesn’t just trail after me like a golden retriever. He plans to pursue me with His love. That added information gave me much more comfort than my initial understanding of the verse.

or a similar website that offers numerous translations for side-by-side comparison. If I want to get the gist of something quickly, I will often read a Bible paraphrase like the New Living Translation.

courageous WOMEN What makes Corrie’s story so remarkable is that, by the grace of God, she lived to talk about all of it. It was, in fact, Betsie who said, “We must tell people, Corrie.” And tell them she did! While her circumstances were vastly different from our own, we too, are living in a world increasingly requiring us to courageously make costly stands for Christ. What can we learn from this brave woman of faith that applies to us today? In her words, here are some nuggets of truth to inspire each of us. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. It was within the confines of a dark and dank compound where Corrie discovered a faith deeper than her unthinkable circumstances that gave her the courage and strength to share her story with the women in the barracks and later the world. A message of forgiveness, hope, and joy that runs deeper than despair.

Corrie ten Boom When finding courage takes all the faith you’ve got. by Lisa Elliott


hat does courageous faith look like? As we read up on the life and times of Corrie ten Boom, we find out. Her story came to light in the darkest of circumstances.

Corrie ten Boom was born into a strong family of faith April 15, 1892. She was living a quiet life as the first Dutch woman watchmaker in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, until events she could never imagine turned her world and the country she loved upside down.


Betsie died 10 months after their arrival. Corrie was eventually released due to a clerical error. The next day, all the women her age were killed in the gas chambers. Corrie is a woman who lived through a time in history that took everything she had. In exchange, she found a faith strong enough to courageously offer everything she had left despite the horrors and her personal losses.

Pictured: Corrie ten Boom shows the hiding place her family built in her bedroom to protect Jews.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? ‘Lord Jesus,’ I prayed, ‘forgive me, and help me to forgive him.’ I tried to smile. I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. ‘Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.’ As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.

And so, I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His” (p. 238).

“In this German camp, with all its horror, I found many prisoners who had never heard of Jesus Christ,” Corrie said in her book The Hiding Place (published in 1971). “If God had not used my sister Betsie and me to bring them to Him, they would never have heard of Him.”

Corrie teaches us about the freedom that comes with setting a prisoner free then finding out that prisoner was you!

After her release and for the next 40 years until her death, Corrie traveled the world speaking everywhere sharing her story. She died on her 91st birthday in 1983 after taking the gospel to 60 countries. Who could have foretold that Corrie’s mistreatment and misery would become her ministry? God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies. Understandably, Corrie struggled with hate toward the Nazis even though she knew as a Christian she had to forgive. Perhaps the most humbling moment Corrie experienced took place years after her release from Ravensbrück once she began to share her story in public. In her book, The Hiding Place she writes, “It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbrück. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming, and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say,

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest. It’s this godly perspective that Betsie infused into Corrie. Betsie’s heavenly focus transcended earthly trials to the degree of thanking God for lice because they kept the soldiers away. Betsie’s perspective helped Corrie look beyond her circumstances and is likely what kept her alive. Everyone needs a Betsie! Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. There is no question we are living in uncertain times full of fear and anxiety. If there was ever a time in history where we need to learn from Corrie’s courageous faith, it’s now. We may not have had to count the cost for our faith like Corrie ten Boom did. However, if God could use a modest, middle-aged woman in a concentration camp during a time of utter darkness, He can use us. God is calling us to courageously rise up as never before and we need people like Corrie to show us the way.

Lisa Elliott is a speaker and awardwinning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. She and her pastorhusband David live in Ottawa, Ontario. They have four adult children (three on earth, one in heaven), a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren.

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Going against everything society dictated and words of disapproval from their pastor, the ten Boom family was convinced God was calling them to do something. So, they built a secret room inside the wall of Corrie’s bedroom— a “hiding place.” Over the next four years, they hid over 800 Jews until February 28, 1944, when one of their own, a Dutch informant, turned them over to the Nazis. That afternoon, Gestapo broke into their home and the entire ten Boom family was arrested.

They were stripped naked upon their arrival and afterward retained in inhumane living quarters where they endured unspeakable treatment and forced labor at the hands of evil guards. Corrie and Betsie were mercifully able to stay together amongst an estimated 35,000 women. Corrie was known as prisoner 66730.

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Boemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.


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In May of 1940, during World War II, the Germans invaded her country. Suddenly, all around the ten Boom family Jewish neighbors and friends were mistreated, persecuted, and targeted for genocide.

Shortly after their imprisonment all but Corrie, her older sister Betsie, and her father Casper were released. Casper died days after his imprisonment and within weeks, Corrie and her sister were deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany.

He has washed my sins away!’



here isn’t anyone reading this magazine who has not lost something through the past couple of years of this pandemic. I lost a close family member in the UK, but some losses have not been as tangible as that. Over these past months, some of my losses have been being unable to gather in church and being unable to visit or travel. Needing to isolate meant we had to lay down the familiar ways of life and doing things with others. But I knew where to go for help—my Bible!

Releasing Your Grasp

Finding freedom in surrender.


I want to


Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death—even death on the cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. Jesus released His grasp of things we can only imagine coming to this earth to take our place on the cross. I’m so glad He did, so I want to surrender it all to Him because He gave everything for me. (Jill spent some time thinking about her clutching fingers and wrote the poem on the next page.)

it all to Him because He gave everything for me.


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Jill Briscoe was born in Liverpool, England. She has partnered with her husband in ministry for over 60 years. Jill is the founder of Just Between Us. She and her husband, Stuart, live in southeast Wisconsin.

summer 2022


When I needed guidance and help, I was taught to read my Bible until God’s Word connected with my soul. Here’s an example: one of the biggest upheavals in our lives was immigrating from the UK to the USA. “Sell all the furniture—and everything else”—my husband told me. “It’s easier for the church leaders to provide us a home over there,” he said. It seemed so easy at first—just sell everything, but it wasn’t. Some things, yes—but not everything! The wedding presents, special sentimental keepsakes, children’s toys, and dolls. We each had two suitcases—one for clothes, the other for personal things. I found, to my horror, my fingers were firmly gripping onto the things I had considered yielded and already given! “Release my fingers, Lord,” I prayed. “Help me to release my grasp!”

‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:


summer 2022

by Jill Briscoe

Over the years, I was trained to read my Bible every day. I can still hear my friend Jenny, who led me to Christ say, “Never put your head on the pillow at night before your nose has been in the Book during the day!” Over the years, I have learned to put my Bible on my bedside table so that it is the first thing I do every day and the last thing I do at night. Recently, an Indian friend of mine mentioned her resolution, “No Bible, no phone!”—no phone by my bedside so I reach for my Bible first.

He helped me to let it go then, as He has helped me since, speaking to me from Philippians 2:5-11:


He Laid it Down


He came not trailing clouds of glory, He came not wearing heaven’s crown. He left behind his Father’s golden city, and chose as birthplace Bethlehem’s little town. Equality with God was His by nature And worship by the angels was His right. The honor due Him by His heavenly Father, He left to come and save us Christmas night. He laid it down, He laid it down, And taking human form became a man. He laid it down, He laid it down, And chose instead the world’s redemptive plan. So, who am I to seek the world’s dim glory? And who am I to fight for worldly crown? What right have I to choose to work in city, In rural country or in Tinseltown? And who am I to grasp some vain ambition, Or to choose a partner for my days? Am I superior to the Christ who saved me? Do I have rights to keep or give away? I’ll lay them down; I’ll lay them down, And make Him Lord of all I want to be. I’ll lay them down; I’ll lay them down, Lay hold instead of all He wants for me!

by Jen Allee


came home from a dinner with a group of women and promptly told my husband, “I don’t like that woman.” This was not the first time I had come home disgruntled by this particular person. She is often terribly rude. But this night there was a shift in my heart, because underneath that statement a deeper decision had been made: I won’t ever like that woman. I’m not going to even try. The matter was settled. Truth be told, I felt the shift when it happened. It was subtle, I caught it, and I knew it was wrong. However, I felt justified in my decision. So, my rationalization outweighed the tiny voice cautioning me against bitterness. The following day, I repeatedly thought of that woman and recalled my decision, but with each remembrance the pang of conviction slowly diminished. A few mornings later, a loud bang woke me. My husband didn’t budge. Suddenly the room was eerily quiet, and I was wide awake. Though God doesn’t normally speak to me audibly, I am pretty sure I heard, “Get up… now.” With puzzled urgency, I slipped out of bed and headed to the couch. Within minutes, I had gathered my Bible and devotional onto my lap. With piqued curiosity I opened them both, assuming something warm and worshipful was about to occur. Instead, it was pointed and painful. My devotion focused on Philippians 2:8, (ESV): “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Obedient to the point of death. That made me pause. There was nothing Jesus was not willing to do for the Father. Yet how often am I unwilling? How often can I say, “I am obedient to the point of ________”? That morning I was obedient to the point of loving that difficult woman and my heart wasn’t budging. Yet, Jesus never reached a point that would hinder His obedience. I, however, had an unwilling heart.

Instantly, I was humbled. All I could do was roll off the couch onto my knees and repent for my unwillingness to do whatever He asked of me. I didn’t have to search for a verse on love or unforgiveness or bitterness. I knew what was required of me, yet I had arrogantly chosen to only obey Jesus up to a point. For Jesus, His willingness to do anything to eradicate sin and usher us into a relationship with the Father is astounding—partly because He did all of it in the face of harsh opposition and even hatred. The very people He was dying for were killing Him. Jesus’ willingness to rescue us has no bounds. Such love. So, how do we develop a willing heart? According to Philippians 2:8, the answer lies in our humility. Jesus chose to humble Himself. And that action kept His heart focused on doing whatever the Father asked of Him. Even to the point of death. Jesus models an important truth. Humility always precedes obedience. We cannot obey the Father without first humbling ourselves before Him. This is not our goto response. Our natural response is to obey our needs and wants first. So, what are the limits to your obedience? To what degree are you willing to embrace, respond, or surrender? And at what point are you not? If you long for a willing heart, then follow the route of humility. When we lead with humility, willingness is not far behind.

➜ Be Intentional Is there a point of unwillingness in your life?

In what way do you need to humble yourself? Choose, today, to follow through in obedience.

Download this printable poem at justbetweenus.org.


summer 2022

Jen Allee is an author and a speaker who believes a strong faith is built one intentional step at a time. For encouragement in taking your next step, visit her at Living Intentionally at jenallee.com.


©Jill Briscoe

When Your Heart is Unwilling




minutes in the


Perfection Paralysis

That’s My God, and I Trust Him

by Gail Goolsby

By Dorie Etrheim


have overwhelming anxiety every day and a hard time relaxing. Sometimes I can hardly breathe,” the lovely 22-year-old woman told me when we began counseling. “I always feel I need to do more, be more, try harder. I hate it when I can’t be perfect. God is probably disappointed in me too.” “My professors generously offered me extensions for my classes in light of my husband’s heart attack and death,” my 48-year-old client reported. “But I feel like a failure if I don’t complete everything by the deadline. Less than perfect is not acceptable, even with all the shock and grief happening to me.” “I can’t believe this is my life,” remarked the tearful 67-year-old woman, “that I am getting divorced. How can I present myself as a Christian woman when I can’t even fulfill my wedding vows?” What makes Christians so insecure? We love God and believe He deserves our best. Sadly, this mindset can dangerously lead us to pursue perfection. Does He really expect that? Or is it just our expectations—of ourselves that are then transferred onto God to make perfection happen?

Doomed From the Start

When we sense constant scrutiny at work or when we walk out the front door, we can get nervous, confused, and distracted. Our best efforts can be sabotaged.


Exhausting. Destructive. Not God’s plan.

Gail Goolsby,

Galatians 3:2-4 (MSG) says: “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!” We must remember we belong to God. We are called to serve Christ and He is the One who is perfect, not us. Hebrews 10:12-14 (MSG, emphasis added) says: “As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.” Let’s allow Christ to be the perfector of our lives. As we learn to trust Him, He will change us from the inside out and we will become the best version of ourselves. We will never be perfect humans, but we will be free to enjoy the journey of life, not aiming for perfection as the destination. Philippians 1:6 (NASB, emphasis added) says: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

MA, MEd, ACC is an author, speaker, and career educator, including serving overseas as detailed in her recent book, Unveiled Truth: Lessons I Learned Leading the International School of Kabul (see ad on page 43). She is a mom, grandma, and lives in south central Kansas, with her husband.


% gail.goolsby@gmail.com F Gail Wettstone Goolsby T Gail Goolsby

That’s precisely how God wants me to come to Him— excited, confident, joyfully declaring “That’s my God!” as I place my trust in Him. Courage results from that kind of trust and is essentially the strength to face our fears, difficulties, or danger.

The Hebrew word for “courageous” is amas and means “to strengthen, to show courage.” Where do we find our strength?

Let’s step into the courageous sandals of Moses’ mom, Jochebed for a moment (Num. 26:59). Moses was born to Jochebed during a time when Pharaoh decreed all Hebrew boys be thrown into the Nile River at birth.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Read Exodus 1:22-2:10. What courageous acts did Jochebed take?

God used Jochebed’s faith and courageous acts in the unfolding of His plan for Moses. Look how Moses encourages the people in Deuteronomy 31:6-8. What phrase does Moses repeat?

Psalm 28:7

God promises us His presence, and He promises His strength to meet our challenges. He will never grow tired or weary. His strength becomes our strength as we trust in Him and His promises. “That’s my God!” “That’s my God, and I trust Him” (Ps. 91:2)!

For Your Journal Read Hebrews 11:23. How are Moses’ parents described?

Courage is a call to faith, and faith is a continual journey of placing our trust in the One who is trustworthy. For Jochebed, she entrusted Moses again to God when she could hide him no longer.

God is working His plan in your life, and He knows your circumstances. Even if you can’t see Him at work, you can trust Him. How can you exhibit Jochebed-like courage in your life today? Is there something God is asking you to put in a basket, place in the river, and trust Him with the outcome? What courageous steps do you need to take? Write your thoughts as a prayer to God.

Reread Exodus 2:3. Can you imagine the courage it took to place him in that basket and walk away? Peek ahead to verse 10. How heart-wrenching it must have been for Jochebed as she trusted God and walked Moses back to the Egyptian palace. But Jochebed kept trusting God and courageously stepped out in faith, even in her pain.

strength “The Lord is my

and my shield;

my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

—Psalm 28:7

summer 2022


When we take apart every thought and action to assess our performance, we lose much and gain little. This behavior leads inevitably to procrastination, low productivity, missed deadlines, lateness, and forgetfulness. We end up fulfilling the failure prophecy we spoke about ourselves.

What are we doing wrong? Let’s go back to the beginning. How did we start this journey with God?

Digging Deeper


summer 2022

However, for most paralyzed perfectionists, the criticism comes from their own thoughts. Often the voice sounds like someone pronouncing the judgment: How could you do that? What a failure YOU are! YOU should be/do better than that!

Get the Paralysis Cure


y granddaughters were bursting with excitement at the book fair. We were in the checkout line when we noticed the smile on the girl in front of us suddenly turn to sheer sadness. She was short twenty-five cents to purchase her book. As I handed her a quarter, her face lit up. Instantly, my granddaughter jumped out from behind me and shouted with enthusiasm and a confident trust, “That’s my Grandma!” “That’s my Grandma!”



What Woman Would Willingly Move to Afghanistan? GREAT

Let the Spirit Lead



by Ashley N. Thomas


herefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16, emphasis added). This seems like a season with a lot of need. We don’t have to look far to stumble upon someone going through a hard season. In fact, that someone may be really close to home. Whether it is infertility, a cancer diagnosis, a broken relationship, or simply a weariness due to the pandemic. Life is hard, and we are needy. Because of our faith, we have a deep desire to meet the needs of others. We are quick to prepare a meal, send an encouraging note, add a friend to our prayer list, and simply be in the hard places. We are also quick to send off the following message: “Let me know if there is anything you need.”

Don’t Ask—Just Do It!

We have all said it. In fact, I am guilty of it. It is sort of the default response, when it feels like there is no best response available. We have every good intention in asking. Nonetheless, there is an additional burden that question can place on those we are hoping to serve and love well.


summer 2022

When we are in a hard place, or season of life, it is often debilitating to begin to think about what exactly we need. Even if we could begin to articulate it, the next challenge is asking.


While having coffee with a dear friend and mentor, I expressed that I don’t know what to do or how best to support our friends currently maneuvering through a cancer diagnosis. I would do anything for them, but I have been paralyzed by trying to figure out what is most helpful. So, I continue to ask. My friend stopped










In 2005, following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Gail Goolsby reluctantly found herself the founding principal of the International School of Kabul in Afghanistan. The how, when, and why make for a captivating and insightful story.

me and said just do it. When you feel the prompting from the Holy Spirit to do something, take the leap of faith. Follow His lead. It breaks my heart to think I have added an additional burden on people I am only hoping to better support. I know that they know I am willing. My gift to them in this season is to trust that God has placed the right people to respond to His promptings along the way, so that each need is met at the perfect time, in the perfect way. I know this is happening, as I tearfully read the updates. Each update is one more reminder that God cares for His children best. He not only sees our needs but meets them perfectly (even if not in the way we had hoped for or expected).

“When you feel the prompting from the Holy Spirit to do something, take the leap of faith. Follow His lead.”


Available everywhere books and ebooks are sold online.

Gail Goolsby holds master’s degrees in Professional Counseling and Educational Leadership. She has over 25 years educational experience as teacher, school counselor, and principal, working both in the United States of America and the International School of Kabul in Afghanistan. As a counselor and ICF certified life coach, Gail writes, speaks, and helps others Learn to Live Well. Visit her site at




in your spiritual journey… Summer reading from Shelley Warner

Let the Spirit Lead

We need each other. Our Father gifted us with unique talents and abilities to be able to meet the needs of His children. My challenge for us is to step into those spaces as the Spirit leads. Father, please help us wade through in the messy, broken places of life. Allow us to be quick to listen and discern and slow to jump to conclusions. Help us to be mindful of the needs around us, and to graciously accept the gifts of grace bestowed upon us by those who love us. Give us eyes that see, ears that hear, and a willing heart to live out your will. Amen.

Ashley N. Thomas is the Executive Director of Hope Street ministry in Milwaukee, Wis. She enjoys speaking, writing, and being present with broken people as each discovers the grace that allows us all to be known and loved still.

When Shelley entered an ICU room where her brother lay in a coma after a drowning accident, she wondered what to say to him. The only encouragement that came to mind was a verse: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). This book contains stories of liberation from a works-oriented Christianity, God’s provision, blessing, and struggle.

Sequel to “A Very Present Help,” “What Remains Behind” chronicles a grief journey. Her favorite poet, Wordsworth says it well: “We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.” It is OK to grieve, and necessary; but, as Shelley learned, what remains behind is worth living for. You’ll find encouragement from a surprising dream “On the Other Side.”


Shelley Warner grew up exposed to religious fundamentalism. As a young pastor’s wife, she struggled with her view of herself in God’s eyes. Along the way, she learned that she is the person that God uniquely made and it’s good to serve Him in a way that brings her joy.




Whose Approval are You Working for?

Lessons from the Vineyard

by Danielle Thomas

by Pam Farrel


tarting a new job can be daunting—through online searches, resumes, LinkedIn, interviews, and that final “you’re hired” call. That first day of work can be equally as overwhelming. Questions of self-doubt can pop up soon: Am I qualified enough for this role? Will I fit in with my coworkers? Will I be able to impress my boss?

Nagging Self-Doubt

I recently began a new job with much excitement, but quickly my self-consciousness and people-pleasing compulsion came flooding through. As I talked to my husband that first week, he reassured me I should have confidence in the abilities and gifts God has given me. His words made me think of Bible stories where God had prepared His people, sometimes unbeknownst to them, for a challenge ahead: Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, and Ruth. I pondered whether they once felt like me, a bit unsure, nervous to make missteps, or doubting themselves.


Working for the Lord

I quickly recognized that I should be committing my new position and each day to God in prayer, asking for His help, bringing my anxieties to Him. I began to pray for God to take control of my work life and direct my path. I reflected and prayed over Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

I wrestled with self-doubt those first weeks, worrying if I happened to make any small mistake. I was enjoying my work, but part of me still felt “imposter syndrome” lingering. Was I really not as competent as I was suggesting to my coworkers? I knew these feelings pointed back to the root sin of perfectionism.

By laying my job at Jesus’ feet each day, I felt peace begin to grow in my heart. God had given me the skills to do my job, and in committing my work to Him, I no longer had to live up to the weight of worldly expectations. God’s reward would be far greater.

Instead of trusting in God’s sovereignty and direction, I was pressuring myself to succeed, impress others, and manage my own career. But perfectionism is a lie—a façade that masks our desire to rule our lives our way. Maybe it wasn’t so much the job’s pressure or my manager’s eyes on me, but me trying to hold myself to an unachievable standard. Maybe I was looking at my career from the wrong perspective—my own.

If you’re feeling pressured, self-doubting or like work is becoming a bit much, I encourage you to reflect on who you are serving in your job. Are you working for your boss’s approval or your own high standards? Or are you committing your work to the Lord, who will bless it and guide you through your career’s challenges and triumphs? The next time you feel awkward or afraid of making a mistake at your job, pray about it and commit your work to God. He gives you everything you need to work joyfully for Him, each day. All you have to do is trust Him.

Danielle Thomas

Who are You Working For?

works in internal communications for the UK’s largest water utilities company. She lives with her British husband Caleb and Cavapoo puppy. She enjoys hiking, exploring the countryside, and learning UK history.



In John 15:4, 16 the Bible shows the interlinked relationship of the branches, vine, and Vinedresser (emphasis added): I am the true vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he (the Vinedresser) takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he (the Vinedresser) prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I (the Vine) have spoken to you. Abide in me (the Vine), and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (the Vine).

As the branches began to bud, my role was to watch over the tender buds to keep the bugs and birds away. In addition, there were measures to take to prevent freezing if the temperature dropped. As the leaves grew thicker, and grape clusters began to appear, I kept the vines well-watered. Then, as the scorching sun beat down, I trimmed back sucker branches that had no fruit, so the fruitful branches could receive more hydration. I wired up the branches to shade the growing clusters and help support the branches as the fruit grew heavier.

The Reward

Then at harvest time, as a vinedresser, I hand cut the beautiful, sweet grapes. In addition, the vinedresser also hosts a harvest celebration and leads the rejoicing for the bounty of the harvest.

…You did not choose me (the Vine), but I (the Vine) chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father (the Vinedresser) in my name (the Vine), he (the Vinedresser) may give it to you.

That year in the country, my relationship with God grew as I prayer-walked the vineyard daily. Stepping into the role of the vinedresser, I felt the attention our Father in heaven extends to us, caring for our every need, so we can become branches who bear more fruit. I also saw the vital importance of being a branch secured strong and stable into the vine—the source of life and fruit.

The Work

To Learn More…

In my role as a vinedresser, I daily walked the vineyard to care for the branches, so they produced fruit. Right after the harvest, I walked through the vineyard looking for places to prune so the vine could produce more fruit. When I would saw off a branch, we applied “b-lock,” a mix of nutrients and sealer, to bind up the wound to keep the good nutrients in and the bad elements out. In the winter, we burned the tossed branches, then gave care to the soil to enhance fruit from the vine in the next season.

Pam Farrel

Plan a vineyard excursion sometime. Visit a winery to walk through the vineyard. Pull up an internet video and take a virtual walk. Maybe purchase grapes, jelly, or a beverage made from grapes, then picnic as you enjoy reading John 15. Underline your role and responsibility as a branch. Thank Jesus for being the Vine, the source of all the fruitful blessings of your life, family, and ministry. In a journal begin an ongoing list, thanking the Vinedresser for the tender loving care He extends to you in every season.

is an engaging and energetic leader who has impacted women's lives with her experience as an international speaker, director of women's ministry, radio co-host, newspaper columnist, pastor's wife, youth leader, and mentor. She is co-director of Love-Wise, and the author of over 52 books. When she's not traveling, she and Bill make their home on a boat in southern California.


summer 2022


Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” I realized that my feelings came from who I thought I was serving: my managers, coworkers, the company, and myself. That’s a lot of people’s expectations to live up to! I was counting the opinions of the people I was working for as those that mattered most.

few years ago, we downsized to move near Bill’s then 88-year-old parents to help care for them. To support our move, Bill’s sister and brother-in-law offered to have us live at their vineyard for a while. I was thrilled that for nearly a year, I would train as a vinedresser of a working vineyard.


summer 2022

The Lie of Perfectionism

Working for Man’s Approval



Bii and Pam Faael Making YOUR life

Courage to Crave What Really Satisfies

Our New eBook is Here!


by Shelly Esser


have had a close—I mean really close—relationship with sugar for as long as I can remember. My family often laughs about my mom giving me milkshakes in my bottle when I was under a year old! No wonder those sugar taste buds became so fully developed. Recently, I started noticing that sugar was becoming a problem. It was no longer about a treat oncein-a-while. It began consuming me—especially my thoughts. I began reaching for the pantry or refrigerator much more often than I wanted to. Driving home from work, all I could think about was some sweet treat awaiting me. And when the cupboards were bare, I felt frantic—looking for my next fix running to the corner drugstore to feed my sugar addiction (almost always Swiss chocolate). Addiction. There, I said it. That’s what I have not had the courage to call it. Surely, sugar couldn’t be a sin addiction in my life; after all, God gave me these taste buds to enjoy. I kept pretending that next week would be when I’d exercise self-control and beat this pleasure that had moved from a gift to a stronghold in my life.


summer 2022

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit had been working on me persistently…He didn’t give up even though I often ignored His voice and gave into my lack of self-control. Again! I pushed the whispers down deep, because I knew if I didn’t, I’d have to look at the reasons (like comfort, loneliness, boredom, pandemic stress, grief) that were driving my sugar addiction and how it was replacing my hunger for God. What I thought was a sugar issue was really a heart issue, and that’s where God wanted me to start.


It has taken years to come face-to-face with my love for sugar and to have the courage to bring this wall of Jericho down in my life. It’s been so hard, partly because my flesh loves sugar and doesn’t want to give it up. By not giving it up, however, I was giving up a deeper intimacy with God. My relationship with Him suffered as a result.

This past January, my sister was doing a sugar detox with a book that I had too, so we decided to do it together. The Holy Spirit’s voice had now become like a trumpet. I asked Him to give me strength and power over my overpowering cravings. I was finally experiencing what author Wendy Speake said, “Each day, as you go to Him rather than to food, the Spirit of God gives you strength that those empty calories never could.” I started the 40-day sugar fast expecting that I would fail. But do you know what happened? “When I stopped filling my emptiness with sweet treats so that I might be filled up with God, His Spirit surprised me” (Wendy Speake). He was setting me free! Day by sometimes very long days, the Holy Spirit gave me the self-control I lacked and helped me not only say no to sugar, but yes to letting God fill the hunger that had grown so large in my heart. Every time I had a sugar craving, I turned it into a prayer or read a verse—constantly mindful of the only One who could satisfy. The longer I went without sugar the more filled up with God I became.

The longer I went without sugar the more filled up with God I became. Psalm 107:9 says, “He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” The only way we’re going to live a satisfied life is to live hungry for God. Our souls were made to crave Him alone. Everything else is a temporary substitute. I am no longer reaching for the pantry or refrigerator doors first. My fasting from sugar has helped me see Who needs to fill those cravings and that when I let Him, He gives me good things—Himself—that doesn’t leave me craving for more an hour later. Our relationship has become oh so sweet again!

Shelly Esser has been the editor of Just Between Us for 30 years. Additionally, she has been involved with leading and nurturing women in Christ since college. She and her husband have four adult daughters, two sons-in-law, a new grandson, and live in Menomonee Falls, Wis.

Best Selling Authors of over 50 books & international speakers www.Love-Wise.com

Drink Deeply

from God’s Word

Rather than breeze past a snippet of Scripture and a loosely related anecdote each day, this unique devotional focuses your attention on one short passage of Scripture for an entire week, encouraging you to memorize, understand, and apply its truth to your life. After twelve weeks of these rich, deep dives into God's Word, you'll find your soul restored and your life changed.

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Life-Changing Prayer

Have you ever felt like your prayer life is burdened by a sense of obligation or failure? Prayer is not merely something we do— prayer is what God does in us. Best-selling author David Benner helps you move beyond words to become not merely someone who prays, but someone whose entire life is prayer.

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