For the Joy {Book Club}

For the Joy {Book Club}

It’s not often we get to read a book written just for us! This month we are exploring For the Joy: 21 M Mother Stories of Real Life and Faith.

I must tell you, I’m not Aussie nor am I am mother, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to identify with the women who tell each of these stories. But I have! I have found myself smiling, tearing up, and nodding in whole-hearted agreement.

If you have had some of the same questions yourself, I think you will find your own heart moved in some way by these stories, no matter what stage of life you are in. So, the door is open wide for you to join us for book club this month as we read For the Joy!

In case you need a little more convincing, check out this note from the editors of the book, Miriam Chan and Sophia Russell.

“Whether you’re male or female, single or married, with children or without, [Kingdom worker] or not, Christian or not, these stories will draw you in. As each mother speaks of their faith in the face of adversity and experience God ministering to them in their time of need, we hope this book will help you to stand firm in your present troubles and to look ahead to the joy of future glory.”

I love that, don’t you?

This week we read stories from five women. Here’s a quick summary of each of them.

Red served on Milingimbi Island in the Northern Territory of Australia with her family and wrestled with how this would affect her children. My favorite line: “Obeying God, while not always easy, is an awesome way to live”.

Dorcas gave a beautiful picture of pressing close to the Shepherd as the lamb, which helped her and her family after dealing with a terrorist attack at her son’s school. Love this: “Remember, though, that in the midst of everything, He is utterly trustworthy. Press close”.

Penny shared how God changed her heart and shaped His call on her life in ways she wouldn’t have expected as she learned to love Nepal and then learned to find a place back in Australia. My favorite line: “I think, maybe, I could have lived like that forever. But God doesn’t always ask us to stay put, even if we’ve found something that feels like home”. Wow, yes!

Gabrielle detailed the hard and beautiful story of her little son’s accident which caused severe burns and his miraculous healing. She shared openly about her own fears and doubts. I loved her honesty and her ‘I am angry list’. “I am angry that this is the price of my decision”.

Michelle shared her journey of infertility, anxiety, and unexpected story lines. My favorite line: “Despite my distance from God, I have never wanted to let go of Him. And He certainly has not let go of me”.

Which story did you resonate with the most? Was there something you learned from one of these women as they shared? Have you had an experience like any of these women?

Here’s the schedule for the book:

May 12: Chapters 6-10

May 19: Chapters 11-16

May 26: Chapters 17-21

We are so excited to be partnering with William Carey Publishing for this book, and they are offering us a 50% off code for the e-book version of For the Joy! Click on the link HERE and use the code VABOOKCLUB50!

Photo by Thitiphum Koonjantuek on Unsplash


  1. Amanda May 4, 2020

    I’m so excited for this book and am trying to pace myself instead of devouring every story! So many of my friends talk about “mom guilt,” but I feel like theses stories really resonated with me because they address the intensity of “missionary mom guilt.” There is this strange tension between being obedient to our call as mothers and ministry/missions. I appreciated how Gabrielle’s angry list was so raw and real-especially her desire for comfort chocolate during a stressful time. Whenever we get sick here in the tropics I long for certain comforts and amenities that we do not have. Penny’s story amazed me because it was a refreshing reminder that missionary life as a mom is not always super exciting on a day-to-day basis. There are a lot of mundane components to it, but God is on the move and working through those moments. “That’s what mission focussed mothering is: day by day, living kingdom and gospel priorities without gloss or fanfare.” Can’t wait to read more!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann May 5, 2020

      I’m so glad you are loving it, Amanda! I’ve appreciated that these are not the typical overseas worker “hero” type stories, but rather women in trenches. They are so relatable! 😀

  2. Colleen May 5, 2020

    I identified most with Red and Penny, just in dealing with ‘normal’ m mum life : “this day-to-day m life, which really just consisted of me being me – was sometimes just plain hard work” and being “nuts from the humidity and being with the children 24/7”! This is my second time reading the book. Last time I was emotionally drained and all I could really take in was the struggles and the negative emotions I identified with. This time I am encouraged to see the joy in each story as each lady draws closer to God, and he to them.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann May 5, 2020

      I love that you are reading it a second time, Colleen, and coming at it from a different perspective. I didn’t usually have children in my home when I lived in SE Asia but the heat and humidity often drove me crazy! 😀 I so appreciate the honesty I’m finding in these stories.

      1. Colleen May 9, 2020

        Humidity does drive everyone crazy, and it just makes whatever is hard in your life harder, or makes things that aren’t normally a big deal into one.

  3. Karen May 5, 2020

    Wow, how timely that picture you chose for this week’s post is for me. I recently unexpectedly left the country where I’ve lived for 16 years, and am praying about whether to move to one of the neighboring countries, or whether to explore a certain area that is a completely different part of the world. I am not sure, because when I look at the pictures of the neighboring countries, I feel very homesick for them, and I think, “this is pretty close to ‘home,’ and I feel an affinity to it; it seems like I could imagine myself there, so maybe I should go there.” But in another way, I really feel drawn to this totally different part of the world, too. I’m not stressed or worried, because I know God will lead me and confirm and re-confirm, but it’s an interesting dichotomy that I’m experiencing.

    About the book, I’m not a mom, but I”m a single woman who cares a lot about the kids on our team and who has tried to be an auntie as well as to coach and be a good friend to lots of moms. I was most encouraged by the many references to the fact that we feel scared, we feel overwhelmed, we feel weak, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t calling us somewhere. It’s so good to be reminded that God hasn’t asked us to stop being human; we just need to depend on Him.


    1. Sarah Hilkemann May 5, 2020

      Karen, thank you for sharing! How neat that even the image for this post is resonating with where your heart is at the moment. Asking with you for discernment as you think about where you are headed next!
      There are so many things we experience as women that transcend our marital or parental status, and I’ve appreciated getting to see those in these stories.

  4. Rachel Kahindi May 8, 2020

    I related very much to all of these.

    I especially loved the paragraph when Gabrielle said, “Now I have found sweet release. I am a bad mum. I will not put my children in the best schools… There is no reason on earth to serve on the m field. But there is also every reason… in Christ.” From there to the end of the chapter, emphasizing the value of obedience and trust, she said “I take courage in God alone.” This is where I pitch my tent. Can I be a good mom, wife, friend, daughter? I don’t know. But I can trust God.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann May 11, 2020

      Yes, I loved that honesty too, Rachel! I know I will fail in the roles the Father has given me and yet I can trust that He is so much bigger than me and my attempts. 🙂

  5. Michelle May 9, 2020

    I’m a biological mom of one, and have an adopted adult son who has been ours since he was in 8th grade.. We fostered a boy for a year as well. My family is a bi-cultural one and we serve in my husband’s home country. So my son is a bit more bicultural than third-culture I think.

    I most appreciated Dorcas and Gabrielle’s stories. I’ve had a fair amount of trauma in my years on the field. And I have to confess that I initially thought that the lamb story was a little cliche. But then after reading more about Dorcas and her story she became so relatable. And her life and mission experience suddenly gave her an authority to speak and give advice, that I hadn’t felt at the beginning of the story. Her words and word-picture suddenly held so much power and truth.

    I’ve been too busy for book club over the last year. And as a healthcare provider this hasn’t been a season of rest for me. But I really wanted to read this book; and I’m glad that I’m making the time for it. I’m in a season where I’m tired. I don’t want to use the words burning out, but there would definitely be some truth to them. Also more jaded these days than I would like to be. It’s always a blessing and an encouragement to read/hear testimonies of women who have gone before and walked through dark valleys with the Lord as their help and comfort. And a reminder of how He can use even those most painful stories to bring hope and healing in the lives of others.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann May 11, 2020

      I’m so glad you are joining for this one, Michelle! Thank you for sharing, and also for the front-line work you are doing right now. I’m grateful that these stories are especially meaningful right now!

  6. Marissa May 10, 2020

    I found myself relating to and enjoying parts from all the stories. What Gabrielle said seemed to put my feelings into words… “I do all of this fully aware of the sacrifice; that this makes me a terrible mother in the eyes of so many.“ I find that grieving the implications of this overseas life for my newborn and (Lord willing) future kids has been one of my biggest challenges. I loved her example of embracing it and not pretending like there aren’t sacrifices that will be made along the way.
    I was also surprised at how much I seemed to relate with Michelle. Even though anxiety is not my current struggle, becoming a new mum with different expectations of the “plan” really resonates with me. Her story helped me think through my role, expectations, and values. I am also looking forward to my first home assignment to gain some perspective and find more of my identity in Him and not in just what I accomplish.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann May 11, 2020

      Thank you so much for sharing, Marissa! There is definitely that tension of making sacrifices and knowing what that means for our kids. I think finding our identity in Christ rather than in what we do is a struggle for all of us!

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