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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the pages of Between the Lines. We hope it encourages you, strengthens you, and blesses you. We hope you share it with others. And, in the words of our devoted editor, Emily, we hope this magazine will reach “far and wide.” Our hopes are our prayers, and we seek the Lord to guide us every step of the way. The Journey, a ministry of Christ Church, is in its eighth year. The mission of Christ Church is to connect people to Jesus Christ. This is what we are about. Our Journey community continues to grow, and we welcome you! We are growing stronger and going deeper. Depth is a rare treasure in a world that flaunts the temporary at the risk of missing the eternal. We are passionate about this mission because we know that Jesus Christ promised that he will return for us (Rev. 22:7). And we also know that, as we wait, he is not slow in keeping this promise. He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:8-9). You may already have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Or, you may be

wondering about the possibility of a relationship with him. We invite you to join us on the pages of this magazine with the hope that you will find the nugget, the treasure, which God has specifically for you. God’s grace is found in Christ alone. Through Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension we have a living hope. In Christ alone, we live. We look forward to his return. Endeavoring to learn and love deeply and to live fully,

Mary Ann
PS: We appreciate hearing from our readers. Please let us know how this magazine has touched your life. You may send your e-mails to:

Between the Lines is a magazine of the Journey, a ministry of Christ Church Fairview Heights, IL. © 2012, Christ Church. Graphic Design by Justin Aymer

Between the Lines • Spring 2012 • Volume 2, Issue 2

We’d love to know what you think about Between the Lines.
E-mail us at In the next issue: Creativity This Issue’s Theme: Hope Verse of the Season: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”
(Rom. 15:13).

Meet the Contributors
Marcy Bitner is a member of the Journey Team. She cherishes her roles as wife of David and stay-at-home mom to Sophie and Jonathan. Marcy enjoys exercising, volunteering at her children’s school, and spending time with her family. “And as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Emily Climaco, Ph.D., is a Journey Team member and the volunteer editor of Between the Lines. The wife of Phil and mom of Caroline, she spends her time reading, bike riding, drinking green tea, and laughing with her three-year-old daughter. Sandy Dunbar is a women’s retreat leader, speech pathologist, and wife of 44 years. She has been active in women’s jail ministry for 23 years and authored a DVD, “Mature Hearts,” offering encouragement for seniors. A mother and grandmother, Sandy enjoys family, friends, nature’s beauty, travel, reading, and telling the Good News of Christ. Lindsay Tallman is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Nature, Biotech, and Commerce magazines. A wife and mother of three, Lindsay enjoys reading, traveling, and playing with her quirky children. She and her family live in O’Fallon, Illinois and worship at Christ Church. Mary Ann Turner is the leader of the Journey Team at Christ Church. A former elementary school teacher, she is the wife of Mark, mother of two grown children, and grandmother to two precious little boys. She enjoys great conversations, hiking with her family, and encouraging others to grow in their Christian faith.

We dedicate this issue of Between the Lines to the memory of

JoAnn Groom (1932-2012),
a beloved friend of the Journey Team who fought the good fight and whose hope was in Christ alone.

Hope In Christ Alone
by Lindsay Tallman My grandma grew up in the Depression and the Dust Bowl in western Nebraska. She never earned any great rewards or had a career of prestige. As a young mother of three children, she found herself suddenly widowed with no vocation to fall back on in the 1950s. With the support of friends and family in a tiny town, she was able to stay on her feet and eventually remarried, living a quiet and unassuming life raising her four children and working various jobs when needed. I’m sure her life wasn’t easy, but I never heard her complain. Romans 12:10-13 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” My grandma was a living example of these verses. I don’t remember a single holiday spent at her house when there wasn’t an extra chair at the table for a friend or neighbor in need of a family. Her home was constantly filled with the scent of baking banana bread and cookies that she was always delivering to someone who could use a little kindness. She believed the Word of God was her guidebook for life, and she never missed an opportunity to minister to both neighbor and stranger alike. Her love for Jesus carried her through good times and bad. She lived her life


full of joyful anticipation with hope for tomorrow. My grandma was a woman who refused to be defined by her circumstances. Instead of allowing those hard times to make her bitter, she allowed them to make her better. I’ve often pondered what her secret was, but I think it comes down to this: her hope was found only in the Lord. Not in the things of this world or people who may or may not be there for her. Her hope was found in Christ alone. When we put all of our trust and hope in Jesus, then we can face tomorrow without worry or fear. Then we will be able to hope with Paul who writes, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9). A few years ago, we discovered that she was slowly slipping away under the grasp of Alzheimer’s, and this winter, we moved her out of her home and into a care facility. It’s been tremendously painful to watch my grandma and dear friend slip away. As I know many of you can relate, losing someone to Alzheimer’s is like a slow death. While she is pain-free and unaware, we struggle to make sense of the loss. I’ve often wondered why God doesn’t just take her home. And then God reminds me that if she is still here, he is not finished with her yet. A few weeks after they moved her out of her home, it dawned on me that I would never again walk into that house and smell banana bread or ginger snaps and hear my grandma’s voice call out, “Well hi there, Linds.” It broke

my heart. And then my mom called to report that apparently my grandma is up to her old tricks at the nursing home. She spends her days visiting everyone else’s rooms to check in on them and brings them anything they might need. More importantly, she brings her genuine, radiant joy to the people there who desperately need some hope. A few days ago, my daughter asked me if Grandma Jean was going to get better. I started to reply, “No,” until I thought better of it. As Christians, our hope is in a heavenly reward and eternal salvation. I thought better of it and replied, “She’s not going to get better while she’s on this earth, but when the time is right the Lord will call her home and then she’ll be perfect.” And then we both smiled. There it was, the joy and the hope, too big to be contained by this world. My cup overflows.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(Rom. 15:13)


Hope Against Hope
by Emily Climaco
Jesus told stories to explain truths during his life on earth, and he sometimes uses stories to reveal truth today. I recently read a beautiful novel, Stewart O’Nan’s A Prayer for the Dying (Henry Holt, 1999), which gave me a better understanding of hope. Hope is a difficult concept because I’m predisposed to carefully weigh all options before risking disappointment. For a long time I thought of hope as “faith lite,” a low-calorie version of the real thing. Since “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” then surely it’s more substantial than hope (Heb. 11:1, KJV). When Paul wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love,” I found it easy to disregard hope as a distant third (1 Cor. 13:13, NIV). So, if love is the greatest, and faith is a fruit of the Spirit, what in the world is hope? Maybe it’s not in the world at all. “Why are you always so hopeful? Haven’t you learned anything?” With these words, Jacob Hansen rebukes himself for persistently hoping that his small town can be saved. In A Prayer for the Dying, O’Nan tells the story of Jacob Hansen, constable, preacher, and undertaker in a postCivil War Wisconsin town caught in a deadly diphtheria epidemic. When disease breaks out, Jacob is suddenly overwhelmed with duties of enforcing the law, burying the dead, and trying desperately to protect the healthy, even while his own wife and infant daughter succumb to infection. After his wife and baby die, Jacob’s hopefulness seems alternately heroic and naïve. I can’t imagine this turning out well. With each page I turn, I admire his diligence to help his neighbors even as spiritual doubt creeps in, but I also dread the day when reality sinks in. Somehow, I want to protect Jacob from the staggering disappointment that will surely hit him like a load of bricks as soon as he stops to breathe. As I read, it’s a relief to mark my page and remember that it’s a work of fiction; loss of hope, however, is a real condition. Because I’m naturally inclined to questioning, hope is complicated for me. When Phil and I went through a couple


years of infertility, including four consecutive failed procedures while trying to conceive, I started to wonder if hope was a trick. What’s the point of getting my hopes up and being disappointed month after month? Finally, thanks to God’s graciousness, we were thrilled to be expecting a baby, but I still held my breath until her first cry. Disappointment had trained me to temper my hopes. But it also taught me the supreme importance of where my hope is placed. At the story’s end, Jacob resists the temptation to kill himself and experiences a powerful epiphany: “This is what you’ve found out—that even with the best intentions, even with all of your thoughtful sermons and deep feelings and good works, you can’t save anyone, least of all yourself. And yet, it’s not defeat. After everything, you may still be saved. Your mother was wrong; it’s not up to you. It’s always been His decision.” He’s been working hard and working out his salvation because faith without works is dead, after all (James 2:1426). But he thinks it’s all on him. I believe that God is good, but Jacob has a rock-bottom realization that whether God is good, bad, or indifferent, God is God. Even when Jacob’s simplistic faith begins to crumble, his hope remains that evil cannot triumph over good. This hope is the will to live—or

to die (Phil. 1:21, Job 13:15)—knowing that either way God’s got you. The ending of the novel is powerfully ambiguous but not hopeless. I managed to live more than three decades before infertility handed me a membership pass to the fellowship of suffering (Phil. 3:10, KJV). Jacob, a Civil War veteran, is no stranger to suffering, but the diphtheria outbreak he endures is an acute and furious suffering experience. During times of suffering, the power of hope becomes clearer. We all grieve, but those who put their faith in God through Jesus Christ grieve differently—with hope (1 Thess. 4:1318). I may never fully grasp hope, but after reading A Prayer for the Dying this distinction has become useful to me: faith is trust we place in God; hope is divine expectation that he has placed in our hearts. If faith is a shield (Eph. 6:16), hope is a special bulletproof balloon God fashioned just for you. It carries you through—but not above—the suffering. And, most importantly, it’s equipped with a homing device that leads straight to the “bosom of the Father” (John 1:18, KJV). We are never disappointed when we hope in God.


Photo by: Julie Crask

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song; This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease! My comforter, my all in all— Here in the love of Christ I stand.
From “In Christ Alone” Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

Low On Hope?

by Marcy Bitner

source of hope. In early 2003, after giving birth to a stillborn baby girl, I didn’t think I could go on, yet God was there to restore me in the days that followed. “I am holding you by your hand–I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here to help you’” (Isaiah 41:13). Two more pregnancy losses and he was still there, assuring me that his plan was far greater than mine. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me” (Jer. 29:11-13). I leaned on God again as our family lived through three deployments. We struggled as a family in two locations, but God gave us hope. I prayed, facedown in my Bible, on many days. In addition to my own life at home as “Mom+Dad,” I was co-leading an Army battalion Family Readiness Group of about 400 families and 400 single soldiers. There were more prayer requests than I could keep up with. I prayed, “Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you” (Psalm 25:4-5). Mentally, emotionally, and physically

Offers Refills
I headed out of the house this morning for a pre-dawn run with my iPod in hand. The crisp 22-degree temperature quickly awakened me. My head was filled with worries about my family, my aging parents, and a friend in need of prayer. The weight of these stressors felt heavy on my shoulders. I hit “play” and was off, shuffling into the darkness. Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine” began to play in my ear. “Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or, in awe of you, be still? Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘Hallelujah’? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine!” Worries temporarily displaced, I began to sing. Hands in the air, belting out in harmony, I plodded on. “Windows and Walls” by Mark Harris played next. “If Jesus means anything at all, there will be evidence between our windows and walls.” On and on I ran, singing, praying, and listening. I returned home, five miles done and my “God-refill” complete. Hope restored. For many years, God has been my


exhausted during these times, I clung to God as my source of hope. Comforter. Wonderful Counselor. Prince of Peace. As I sit here today, I still don’t have it all figured out, and my journey is far from perfect. I need a “God-refill” each and every day. I cherish the words of Paul: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us–they help

us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Rom. 5:3-5).

Almighty Father,
I put my hope in you.

Thanks, Readers,

for These Encouraging Words!
Relationships. This is the “bottom line” blessing of the Journey [magazine] touching my heart. Whether reading an article penned by a dear friend of many years or by a sister-in-Christ I have yet to meet, the Holy Spirit teaches me and knits our lives together. God’s Word is proclaimed as Truth, life applications are transparent, and encouragement is provided. I savor the words of Between the Lines as God uses them to stretch me and bind my heart with others.
-Gail, South Carolina

I love the quality of the Journey magazine. The illustrations on each page really enhance the message. So good. I’m eager to read the rest of the issue.
-Barbara, North Carolina -Nancy, Michigan

I look forward to getting my Between the Lines magazine! It always has something that relates personally to me. The authors share honest stories about their own journeys that inspire and encourage me. They share the gospel of Christ without being judgmental or critical; I feel acceptance and hope rather than fear or despair when reading it!
-Roberta, Illinois

If you’ve been encouraged by Between the Lines, please help us to spread the message of God’s hope to women far and wide. New readers can subscribe to the free quarterly magazine at Let us know what you think about Between the Lines! Drop us an e-mail message at

[Between the Lines] is an awesome, inspirational, and very easy reading magazine. I enjoy reading it because some of the writers relate to me in my daily living. The magazine brings in Bible verses with these stories, which reminds me how God has blessed me in so many ways. . . . I then enjoy passing the magazine on to my family or friends.


Does Hope Look Like?
by Mary Ann Turner My friend, a young mother grieving the death of her husband, writes an e-mail and asks this: “What does it mean to have hope in the Lord and what does it look like?” The question beckons an answer. A few days pass. I think and I pray. I offer these word-pictures reminiscent of the gospel stories of Jesus: “It looks like peace in a storm, or like a child in her father’s strong arms.” Later, I find myself alone with my thoughts and the Bible, my heart grieving too. I move further past the stories of Jesus calming the storm and calling the children to himself. To truly answer her question, I need to get to the part of the gospels that tell about Peter and John running to the tomb where Jesus was laid after his final moments on the cross. The tomb is empty. Jesus Christ is risen, just like he said. There, at the tomb, I find the answer to her question. What does hope look like? Hope looks like the empty tomb. Jesus Christ is our living hope! (1 Peter 1:3-5).


Could it be that simple? Yes, it can and it is. I crave the simplicity of Christ.

Nothing else seems to satisfy the longing of the heart—of my heart. What about you? My friend asks another question, “Sometimes I think I understand, but then, because I have hope in other relationships, I wonder if it takes away from my hope in the Lord?” Again, alone with my thoughts I ponder this. I have not worn the shoes of this woman, my friend. I want my words to be seasoned with truth because truth will always settle over us like the morning dew settles on the earth. It waters us and encourages growth. I write more: “Hope in relationships is not certain, but that does not mean we should not hope to experience the joy of relationships. It’s just that there are no guarantees in earthly relationships. I do think that God gives us the desire to share our life with others. We are created for relationship. That desire, or hope, is a good thing. Does this take away from our hope in the Lord? It is a possibility, a very real possibility. If we hope in earthly things as if they are certain or as if they can sustain us or do for us what only God can do then, yes, it can take our focus off our one true living hope—Jesus Christ.” I continue writing, revealing the hard lessons of my life, “Through the years God has taught me that he wants all of us, not just a part of who we are. He wants us to relax and rest in him. We cannot expect from people what we should only expect from God. The challenge is to wait upon him; not to get ahead or to lag behind, but to be in sync with him. But, even if we make mistakes or grow weary in waiting, he is still our living hope. Hope always rescues us. God is patient with us, he

loves us, and he will never leave us.” Jesus Christ is coming back for us. That is biblical hope. And biblical hope is certain. It’s sure. I look back over my friend’s e-mail, and I see the answer in black and white. She writes, “I have hope in the Lord to get me through each day and hope that I will have eternal life with him.” She had answered her own question. Simply. Beautifully. I see a woman clinging to the only hope that lives and loves and never lets go.


1 Peter 1:1-25
• What is our reason for praise? See verse 3. • How are we called to live? See verses 13-21. • What stands forever? See verses 24-25. • What shields us until the time of Christ’s return? See verse 4. • What is the result of our trials? See verses 6-7. • How should we love? See verse 22.
Dig into the Word of God. Write the verses on index cards to carry with you. Place them on the mirror or put them in your car. Pray for understanding before you read God’s Word. As his Word washes over you, you will be drenched in hope.


HOPE does not disappoint!
-Chris Phillips, grandmother with a grateful heart

You’ve probably heard the saying that God answers prayers with ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘wait.’ We asked members of the Journey Team to tell us about a time when God answered a prayer with ‘Yes! Absolutely! Right away! Here ya go!’

I prayed for a person to come into my life to help me with my spiritual walk. God answered that prayer with a big ‘yes!’ and sent my ‘angel’ Sharon to guide me. That was thirty years ago! I wanted God to speak to me and give me a message or blessing. He said, “I’ve blessed you with close Christian friends who lift you up and comfort you when you need it.” I know that my friends are a gift from God.
-Betty Nelson, seamstress, mom, and grandmother

One night in a campground in the middle of nowhere, my son Marcus came down with croup. We didn’t have a humidifier and had no idea what to do, so I asked God to help me. Suddenly, there was a downpour, and the humidity calmed my son’s coughing enough that he was able to breathe easily.
-Laurie van Hoof, photography lover and mom of three

“. . . Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us .“
(Rom. 5:5)


REDUCE – get the digital version via e-mail at REUSE – pass along this issue to a friend when you’re finished RECYCLE – toss in a Paper Retriever bin at Christ Church

The God of Hope
by Sandy Dunbar
While we in America are still among the most blessed people on the face of the earth, we are keenly aware that the economic downturn has negatively impacted all of our lives to some degree. From “pain at the pump” and overstretched budgets to the despair left in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters, feelings of hopelessness surface even among the most committed followers of Christ. In the midst of challenging uncertainties, do we believers really have hope? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Christians have the assurance that we serve the “God of hope” (Rom. 15:13). Paul’s prayer is one of great encouragement: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Here, the “God of hope” offers two priceless gifts—joy and peace–something that “the world can’t give nor take away!” He adds they will not come from our own strength but “by the power of the Holy Spirit” along with an overflow! Wow—what an incredible offer! However, there is one condition . . . “as we trust in Him.” Trusting God should not be difficult for a Christian, right? Wrong! Many struggle, thus experiencing a lack of hope. As a result, believers often feel like the psalmist who questioned, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why

so disturbed within me?” He then answers, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11). The acrostic below can help us remember why we can put our trust unfailingly in this God of hope:


mnipotent. “And I heard . . . the voice of a great multitude . . . saying, Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! ” (Rev. 19:6, NKJV).


elp. “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1,

eace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you . . . do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). ternal. “The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, ‘Destroy him!’” (Deut. 33:27). While volumes have been written on hope, the Word of God provides a place to anchor our souls in the midst of challenging times. Let’s choose to trust in our wonderful God of hope! Sandy’s Mature Hearts, a DVD offering hope and “scriptural promises for our beloved seniors,” can be found at major online retailers such as and


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