#PreApproved Writer of the Week: Janis Van Keuren

January 27, 2015 | 9 comments

#PreApproved Sisterhood Series



Every Tuesday night, one of our PreApproved sisters shares her story on letting go of a love idol.

Together, we’re giving up our love idols, and we’re not taking them back.

We are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are #preapproved.

Letting Go 
Janis Van Keuren

Last year when Jennifer launched a team for the release of her new book, “Love Idol,” each of us was challenged to find the idol lurking in our personal lives and surrender it to the Lord. At first blush, it seemed obvious to me that my idol was the approval of others and wanting recognition for my work. It was logical. I’d always been a people pleaser. The oldest child driven to prove her worth.

Then the Lord began to peel back the layers I had used to cloak the real idol choking my life and turning my eyes away from finding the full measure of love that awaited me in Christ’s arms.

I wrestled with the Lord as He began revealing the chains binding my heart. I squirmed in my easy chair, shrinking away from His whispers and gentle probing.

“Oh Lord,” I’d reason with Him. “Can’t we just let it go with an acceptable plague like wanting attention? Do you really need to make this change in me, and what will everyone think?”

But I knew the issue went deeper to the core of who I am. While I was buoyed up by the accolades of my colleagues, my real worth was found in motherhood. My countenance rose and fell on the smiles of our sons and the warmth of their relationships with me. When icy winds threatened our fragile relationships, my heart would grieve as it looked for fulfillment in their approval of me and where I ranked in the status of motherhood in their eyes.

This seeking is never ending because as a mother you are always questioning if you loved them enough. Did I really teach them about how much Jesus loves them? Did I give them the security they needed? Was I encouraging or one of their worst critics?

And as those once sweet, cuddly youngsters turned into young adults, the tearing away for independence shredded my heart. I went from kissing away their “owies” to kissing away our relationship.

I longed for the times we laughed together. Times I was a sounding board for their decisions. Times of making warm family memories that filled my heart with all the love I needed.

It was time to “Let go” of grasping for that love. Of needing it to fill my empty tank of approval and purpose.

Don’t you just hate those two words—Let Go? They echo in my head like a needle stuck in a record track. It came from friends, from counselors, from books. And now I was hearing it from the Lord. That need for their love was taking His place in my heart—and probably had for a long time.

At the beginning of 2014, the Lord gave me my one word for the year—“Love.” But I knew I couldn’t love completely until I had opened my heart to the Lord’s love. Then the “Love Idol” challenge was launched to find our love in Jesus. At the end of summer, our church held its Women’s Retreat and the theme was—drum roll—“Love Without Measure.” Could the Lord have spoken more clearly to me? I doubt it. It was at the retreat that I fell into His loving arms ready to receive the only love that can satisfy.

I haven’t achieved perfect surrender, but the Lord has me on His path to wholeness.

St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

I’m Janis Van Keuren and I am loved, pre-approved, and found worthy in the Lord.

Just when Janis thought her writing was going nowhere, the Lord drew her into a Christian organization to be one of their writers for events that serve the city from education to social service and government. Without realizing it, she had just stepped into her God-sized dream. You can find Janis writing about snapshots of God in her everyday life at Heart-Filled Moments and in freelance pieces around the web. She’s also wife to a humorous and patient husband and Mom to two adopted adult sons. 


Click here to find out more about the Love Idol movement.

Click here to purchase the book that inspired the movement.

Click here to join us on Facebook as we lay down our Love Idols and declare our #preapproved status in Christ.



Click here to print the black and white preapproved cutouts.
Place these where ever your Love Idols have lurked!

A pink PreApproved printable: to frame, to put on your refrigerator, to give to a friend.
Click here to print. My gift to you, brave soul!

by | January 27, 2015 | 9 comments


  1. Mary Zatkalik

    Beautifully written, Janis. I don’t like “let go” either; let’s take it our of our vocabulary. I rejoice with you in the freedom of truly knowing whose we are and how much He loves us!

    • Janis Van Keuren

      Mary~thank you for coming by tonight and sharing your thoughts. Oh I would love to cut those painful words, “let go” out of our language. But it seems that God works in the most beautiful ways when His grace releases my hand from grasping something other than His love.

  2. JViola79

    Beautiful post, Janis. I am always amazed at how we so quickly assume letting go equates with loss. Yet God asks us to let go in order to work in ways beyond what we can imagine. He so desires to give us more, filling every longing of our hearts. May God continue to bless you & your family. Can I just say, I am so grateful God crossed our paths as your words have blessed me so very often!

    • Janis Van Keuren

      Joanne, it’s been a blessing reading the wisdom of your words and experiencing the depth of your love for God. I always come away from one of your posts with something new God is calling me to in my life. Thank you, friend, for stopping by!

  3. Mary Doshay

    Janis, this so touched my heart. It is a good lesson for all of us to learn. We really need to be willing to allow God to speak to us and change us. He doesn’t do us to hurt us but to draw us closer to Him and be more Christ like. You have such a beautiful way with words. God has truly gifted you.

    • Janis Van Keuren

      Thanks, Mary for reading this post as you know the struggle I had here. Sometimes we don’t sit still long enough to listen to the Lord’s love call and we go flying off to our next project. You make a good point about the Father’s desire to just draw us closer to Him and to make us more like Christ. Thanks, friend, for visiting.

  4. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    Janis, my “one word” for this year is ‘release’. How about that for letting go? And while my first reaction is much the same as yours, I also know that letting go and releasing also means that the things (or people) I’ve been hanging onto really belong in Christ’s hands, and that when I let go, I’ve created room in my open palms for Christ to fill it again with His love.
    Thank you for sharing with transparency and honesty.

    • Janis Van Keuren

      Caryn~I don’t know that I would like my whole focus for the year to be on that word. Yet it is like you say~only in releasing can our hands and hearts be filled with God’s love. Interestingly enough, my one word for this year is “All.” God wants all of my heart.
      Thank you for relating to those difficult words of “letting go,” and may you find His love overflows your expectations of releasing.
      Blessings on you, Caryn, as you journey through this year.

  5. Julie Meyer

    Janis, Oh how my heart is filled with joy that you have journeyed toward the true freedom in knowing Jesus’ all fulfilling love. This one was definitely the challenge of your life. I have watched you blossom as you obediently answered the directions the Lord was asking of you. You can’t imagine how proud I am of you. Your writing is just a wonderful way of sharing your God given gift with the world. Oh how he Loves you so!


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