A review by Stephanie Eddy
Life as a “ministry wife” or a “woman in ministry” does not mean one thing. It means a thousand things and a different thing each day for each woman.
At PIR, we are praying about how to support and love the many types of women who are doing shepherding ministry, whether alongside a spouse or independently. One resource we recommend highly to all these women is the ministry of Just Between Us (JBU), a print magazine, overflowing web resource, and devotional ministry created to “encourage and equip women for a life of faith.” www.justbetweenus.org
JBU was founded by Jill Briscoe 28 years ago, and it was created originally for women in ministry, or ministry wives — to be a friend, and to encourage these women that they are not alone, as many ministry women have few confidantes and safe places. Since then it has broadened to disciple all women desiring to grow in their faith, but it maintains a deep connection to the life of ministry women and the ups and downs of their journeys.
The journey is different for every woman. For me as a pastors’ wife, mother of three, Bible study leader, substitute teacher in public school, and all-time ministry “fill-in,” my life is generally saturated with people, projects, deadlines, and noise. But there are moments at the end of the day, when the commotion settles, or when the kids get out the door in the morning, that I am alone, and I have to deal with myself. And I find there is a lot of noise within me as well. I find shepherding my own soul to be the most awkward and least appealing shepherding of all, but ultimately the most important.
This is where JBU offers gritty wisdom for the down-and-dirty corners of my woman’s heart. There aren’t many places where a ministry wife can be honest about her heart struggles, but it is not always a pretty picture inside. My heart is deceitful and wicked to start (Jeremiah 17:9), and to compound it, life and ministry have damaged, trampled on, and just plain worn me out in places. I need Scripture-saturated wisdom when I wrestle with pockets of unforgiveness, burnout, depression, marital strife, parenting frustration and grief.
JBU offers articles, but even more than that, it offers a community of women who are honestly exploring God’s presence in areas of difficult relationships, chronic illness, secondhand worry, boundary setting in ministry, supporting husbands through tragedy and loss, divorce and the aftermath, and homosexuality in our families. These women are finding joys amid their sorrows and learning to stand through it all.
Each edition of JBU’s quarterly publication offers columns from Jill Briscoe and Joni Eareckson Tada, and they have published contributions from other well-known heroes of the faith. However, JBU is primarily reader-written, and scores of women just like me have submitted wisdom from their own faith journeys (and you can too)! JBU is valuable to me, above all, because it is REAL.
Let me speak from my heart for a moment. If I could gather all of you weak and weary women who are serving the Lord, I would take you with me to JBU’s annual conference in northern Wisconsin. Hosted by JBU’s small staff, it is a place where the Spirit of the Lord and His love for the women who serve Him pours out in fountains. It is a place where Matthew 11 is played out: “Come to me all you who are weary…and I will give you rest.” This time each year has been restorative to me, and it has repeatedly been a space for where the Lord has healed my personal and ministry brokenness.
But as I cannot take each one of you with me, I would like to point you to this ministry and this website. I would encourage you to register for the e-devotional, follow JBU on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and read their wisdom either online or in print. Sit with some coffee and drink in the wisdom of other women who, like you, have been called. And while they have been called to serve Him, they have primarily been called to be His daughters. And they also have tired and weak seasons, and they also have hearts that are not always pretty. But joy comes in the morning, and we can encourage one another on that journey. So press on my friend. You are loved!
A review by Stephanie Eddy