by Leslee Stewart

“White Christmas” is one of my favorite holiday movies. In it, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen play the Haynes sisters and get to dance and sing with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. In one of my favorite scenes, they sing this classic song about sisters.

[jwplayer mediaid=”2099″] 

“Sisters” (click to go directly to the YouTube video of “Sisters”) 

When my sister and I were little, we used to watch that scene over and over each Christmas. In no time, we had it memorized and would sing it, word for word, inflections and all. We never did the feathered fan dance, but I remember us singing it on road trips to pass the time.

When I think back about that movie, those sisters and specifically, that song, I always wished my sister and I were like the Haynes sisters. “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters….” But reality is my sister and I have spent most of our lives at odds with each other. 

When I came on the scene, she was already in kindergarten. With more than five years separating us, I grew up believing she was the authority on everything. She was the one who taught me what was cool. She introduced me to great 80s music and not-so-great 80s fashion (Hello, shoulder pads and stirrup pants!). I remember always wanting to be wherever she was. Looking back, I can only imagine how annoying I must have been. It didn’t seem to matter how hard she dropped hints that she needed her space, I just didn’t have a clue.

I remember about this time my mom (who is the older of two girls), telling me that one day, when we were both grown-ups, my sister and I would be great friends. That’s what had happened between my mom and her sister, and it was going to happen with me and my sister. So that’s where I hung my hope – that one day we would be friends. One day we would be “devoted sisters,” just like the ones in the movies.

If only it were that simple.

It’s been more than 25 years since my sister and I lived under the same roof. And in that quarter of a decade, we’ve both changed a lot. She moved half way across the country at 18, finished college, married, and started a family. I, on the other hand, kept closer to home, close to our parents, living only a mile away from them at one point in my marriage. 

Over the years, we’ve made different choices about how we want to live our lives – choices that have disappointed one another because they didn’t line up with what we thought was best for that person’s life. It’s been a rough journey and we’ve had seasons where we didn’t communicate at all because the hurts were too deep. But through it all, God has been faithful. It’s been hard, but little by little we are working to try and restore our relationship.

For me, God’s been revealing that even though my relationship with my sister isn’t storybook perfect, He has a plan for it. His plan has required me to give up my plan for what our relationship should look like. He’s asked me to let go of the need to be in control, to quit trying to avoid all manner of conflict and to stop being “fake” in order to safeguard my heart. He’s shown me that I need to show love and respect to my sister, even when I disagree with her. He’s challenged me to be kind to her, especially when I don’t feel like it. He’s made me stamp out the embers of jealousy when they’ve tried to ignite my heart.

Most importantly, God has shown me that I can’t give up on my sister because He’s never given up on me. Our relationship is to be treasured, cultivated and cherished. No matter how rocky the soil of our hearts might seem, I know God will bring a harvest of blessing to my relationship with my sister as long as I don’t give up.

Are there women in your family (or friends) who you’ve wanted to give up on? What has God been showing you about these relationships? Share your comments below!


Leslee Stewart oversees small groups for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

One Step Closer

by Dani Catherine 

“What are you reading?” my friend, Ashley, asked as I was sitting in her chair at her hair salon reading the Bible. That was the moment that opened the door for me to share my faith.

Ashley and I met when we were both fresh out of high school.  We would talk occasionally and even though then we weren’t close, I knew that we would be.  In 2011, at 23, Ashley was diagnosed with liver cancer. I wasn’t living home at the time, so I was out of the loop. I will never forget getting a text message from my brother saying, “Ash has liver cancer, can you please pray for her?” That started our journey together.

I moved back home shortly after she had surgery and was considered in remission.  When Ashley and I finally reconnected, although she masks it very well with her bubbly personality and beautiful smile, I saw sadness and fear.  Did she know that God’s protection was on her? Did she know that people have been praying for her health? Did she even know Jesus? She reminded me of me when I wasn’t following Christ.  At times, I wanted to walk away because I saw so much of me in her.  But nobody gave up on me when I was lost and there was no way I was going to leave her.

We spent almost everyday together the summer of 2012 and even though at times it was hard for me to be with her, I continued to love her.  She would call me a “Holy Roller”, use foul language that would make my ears bleed, and turn down every invitation to church and bible study, but I was not going to let the enemy win; I was going to fight for her and be patient doing so.  I was going to find a common ground and let CHRIST save her.

On Thanksgiving, one month after her yearly check up, she called me and told me she was throwing up blood. I dropped everything I was doing, fell to my knees and prayed.  I thought her cancer was back and that this was going to be it. While I drove her to the hospital and as she was leaning over in pain, I placed my hand on her and prayed that God would show her His mighty hand of healing and protection. When she was admitted to the hospital, she asked me “Did you pray for me?” and I said “Yes” and she looked at me and said “Thank you, sis.” She had to undergo some vigorous tests, and by the grace of God, her cancer wasn’t back.

I got to share my faith with Ashley a lot after that medical scare and I truly believe she was starting to see Gods hand in her life.  She moved away to be with her family, and it was hard for me to not have her bubbly personality and witty attitude in my life everyday, but mostly, it was hard for me because I felt like my job wasn’t done.

A few months ago, I got a text from Ashley with a list… it was a prayer list.  She went from making fun of me for praying before meals to having a prayer list. That was a HUGE step for her! My heart sings every time I think about that moment; that was Ashley taking steps towards growing in her faith and knowing Christ.

God led me to Ashley at the perfect time to plant a seed that is growing everyday. Our friendship has been a struggle at times, but I am blessed that God led me to her. As her walk with Christ is still developing, I know that she is one step closer to knowing who her Savior truly is. 

I know it may be hard at times to have friendships with non-believers, but remember that God has placed you in their life for a reason. Stand firm in your faith, and when you feel like walking away, don’t let the enemy win! Plant the seed and show them to the truth.

Have you ever felt God leading you to minister to a non-believer? If so, how did you stand firm in your faith? Share your thoughts and comments below! 



Dani Catherine is the Communications Coordinator for the Beautiful Ministry, as well as a full time Substance Abuse Therapist. Dani loves to bake, eat ice cream, paint, snap photos and spend time with her loved ones. 

Women at War

By Kristin Bonham

Our Beautiful Blog series this month is all about the relationships we have with other women.

               Mothers                 Daughters                 Sisters                       

               Mothers-in-law           Friends                  Co-workers

Many women either don’t have positive female relationships or have struggled and fought to develop them with good and bad outcomes.  We hope you will be encouraged by our writer’s experiences and what God wants for our relationships with each other.  


A great place to start our series is with the book, Women at War by Jan Greenwood. Jan begins by revealing there is a battle for our identity as women.  Our enemy is strategizing against us and wants us to reject God’s design for us.  Satan wants us to form agreements with his lies about us and other women and works to pit us against each other.  He schemes to use our brokenness to hurt each other and the sad part is, we fall for it. 

Jan talks about our first experience relating with another female… our mothers.  She shares how she discovered patterns in her life as a young woman that stemmed from what she learned growing up.  She offers hope in the way God brought her to healing and how she and her mom became generation changers for those coming after them. 

I think about my own journey in trying to change habits and patterns in my life. The relationships I had growing up with friends were tough and I now see how hurtful we were to each other.  As a young woman, I realized that we were no different and could be just as hurtful.  Satan used my insecurities and past experiences to keep me from opening up and being real with anyone.  I didn’t trust women and kept my heart guarded.  I had been hurt in the past and would keep that from happening again!

I started a pattern of avoiding conflict and putting up walls.  If my friends did something that hurt my feelings, I would tell myself all the reasons why they did it and just move on.  I would NEVER say anything to them because surely I had done things that hurt their feelings so who am I to bring it up?  The truth is that when we avoid the confrontation, no one has the opportunity to change.  So, I did it…  I told two of my closest friends that they had hurt my feelings.  I was shaking and nervous and thinking I wanted to back out but I did it anyway.  There was more understanding than judgment and forgiveness had a powerful way of bringing us together.   

I learned how much I need these relationships in my life and how valuable good council and encouragement from a girlfriend is.  I have been challenged to work on my blind spots and cheered on to be all God created me to be.  I realized that avoiding the conflicts was making my relationships superficial and being honest and talking things through wasn’t easy but it was worth it. 

When I know my true identity in Christ, I am able to look past the initial insecurities and walls and see that standing on the other side, is a woman who is just like me with her weapons in her hands waiting to see what I’m going to do…  will I fight for her or against her?  Am I going to be an enemy or a friend?  I recognize that that I could be a leader in this fight FOR each other!  But will I?



If you are reading this thinking, “You don’t know what happened to me… or you weren’t raised by my mom.  Or it’s too late for me and my daughters”, I want to encourage you.  I know that sometimes things don’t get resolved.  The other person may not be ready to talk it through or if they are no longer living, the conversations cannot happen.  

Our only hope is in Jesus.  We can find freedom, change patterns, break cycles and forge new beginnings in our relationships because of Jesus.  There may be some unresolved hurt or pain that only He can speak to.  He wants to be our healer and the one who defines us.  We have the choice to let Him in and allow other women into our lives to help us move toward freedom. 

I recommend that every woman read Women at War. Jan’s book speaks truth that relates to any season of life.  You will be encouraged to recognize the battles you have been fighting and let the Holy Spirit bring healing and hope to change the direction of your relationships. 

Question:  How can you be a better friend and fight for the relationships in your life?

Kristin Bonham is a pastor’s wife and the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Family Church. She and Chris have been married for 25 years and have three children; Taylor, Abby and Casey.  She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Chris. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with her family and friends around the table.