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Oct 26 2011

More of the story

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Since college, we felt called to open the door to the Light. We were able to serve Him in bus ministry, youth ministry, and finally family ministry full time from one coast (Alaska) to the other (Boston) and many points in between. Despite our imperfections, God used us and the harvest was sweet. Seeing the transforming power of the Gospel remove the chains of sin and free people to walk with the Lord is truly one the greatest blessings we have received.

When we first arrived in our final full time ministry, we were just a young family of 3. With one other couple, we began a weekly Bible study in our home. In a little over 5 years, it multiplied to a house church of 75+ with 6 weekly small groups.There were days that each of us had 7 disciples we mentored. In addition, we were privileged studying the good news bi-weekly with just as many men and women that God had put in our path. Hectic but joyful, our physical and spiritual family had grown. we were now a family of seven and like their parents, our kids were strong willed and needed shaping. Our lives were full and happy, but there was a constant struggle to find time to do it all well. Believing a Godly leader's first test is raising his offspring to have personal faith and passion for God, our hearts were torn. Believing we were 'called' into ministry, what would He have us do? The kids were little and available any time they were awake but we knew that time was short. Could we 'be all things to all people' without sacrificing their spiritual well being? Thus we began to wrestle in prayer for an answer.

Ed clearly remembers the day he asked God to do whatever to get all our children to Heaven---even give up full time fishing for men. And as usual, He answered that petition completely out of left field! The congregation thought they were cutting staff for budget reasons, but God was just using them for His new course for us.  After an insurance job fell through, working a multiple of part time jobs late into the night, we interviewed for new ministry position in Houston..Assured that it was only a matter of details to have the position, we packed up our belongings, put them in storage and moved to Kansas.There we lived with Ed's parents to wait for the call which never came. Now if any of you have ever had to move back home, you know it was not an easy road. Put five active kids in a small three bedroom home with two retired people, and no more savings,and no job, you have a house full of stress even on a good day.  Ed polished up his resume and went on endless job interviews for jobs, but who wanted to hire a 'Preacher'? Who knows what experience colored their view, but the doors did not open. Meanwhile I was pleading with God and Ed to get us out of his parents place. Looking back, it is a wonder someone didn't have a heart attack! But here is the first of God's blessings through that, our kids got to know their grandfather well before he was struck with Alzheimer's and they took care of them as need be.

Doors began to open by God's providence.A person who knew Ed's family had just finished renovating a three bedroom house there in town. It was 2 blocks from the school so the kids could walk to school and he offered to sell it to us.Though Ed didn't have a job and little credit left, he carried the loan simply on the family's reputation. Ed's folks helped with the down payment, and we moved in with no furniture.We used what little room on our credit cards to rent a U-Haul and Ed headed out to the East Coast to get our things. On Halloween weekend, we moved in the stuff not knowing how we would pay the bills

.Ed began placing candy boxes in businesses and donating a portion of the money to Carpenter's House, a children's home. My parents got us a second car and I too began to help with the candy route. We called our business  'A DIFFERENT DIRECTION'. Money was still tight so Ed and I decided to try supplement our income.  With our love of Christian books, we used that experience to create a mobile Christian bookstore that exhibited at various religious venues within driving distance.  Then while worshiping in Wichita, someone asked if we could get some Christian tee shirts for the teens which Ed tracked down Living Epistles. They were 'the' manufacturer of early years of Christian apparel design. We had already decided to exhibit the next month at a large Christian workshop the books and music we had. So I suggested we add shirts. But Ed said we didn't have room, so we decided to step out and purchase another booth space in the cheap section of the exhibit hall for shirts. We paid cash for one box of shirts and headed out. The first morning of the event, the whole box sold so we rushed to a pay phone and ordered 2 boxes shipped over night and the rest is history!

Satan kept attacking through the years, but God has been faithful. (read the BLESSINGS post on company blog for specifics) He enabled us to raise five wonderful strong disciples of Jesus to adulthood. Each of them created our 'A DIFFERENT DIRECTION ORIGINALS' and worked hard along side Mom and Dad.They strove to do their best in whatever they did. Each of them got a college education through scholarship and their hard word. God blessed each of them with talents and opportunities to be lights wherever they go. 

Fishing for men full time was our heart, and as we watched others' abuse their positions and waste their talents in world pursuits, we wondered "Why God?"  It was like a seasoned successful basketball player who just loved the game, being benched, and watching the team lose.  A deaf ear was turned to any suggestion to try things that worked from your past. And we turned that pain inward and took it out on one another. Our marriage took the brunt of our grief and we separated for three years. You see, we didn't know what to do.  We were Christians, we loved God but there was too much anger between us. Many thought it was hopeless and there seem to be no other path but life apart.

Praise God worked through Dr. Steven Scheufler, MD, a man of faith to diagnose our depression  triggered death of a dream and changes in the body due to age and genetics. We had always believed that a Christian just 'pulls themself together with prayer' and depression was an excuse. Fortunately we have learned that just as we wouldn't expect a person with diabetes to just 'pull it together' without treatment, depression is a real medical problem.  And with proper medication and behavior modification, it can be managed. and Love and Respect Ministries. That fire refined us and our marriage. We have learned what does and doesn't promote healing in relationships.  We would love to aid others to  move from hurt to strength especially those can't afford marriage counseling or fearful that revealing problems will cost them their ministry. If we can aid you by walking along aside you, do not hesitate to contact us.

 Dan, Emily, and Nathan have added wonderful Godly mates to their lives and we rejoice in that answered prayer for them. The family continues to grow with our first grandchild and them scattering across the country in their vocations. Though not all now actively involved in A DIFFERENT DIRECTION, they occasionally use their gifts for its growth. In fact, Phil, a web designer for Ingram, has donated his skills to create this new site.  And they all still come to help Mom and Dad to continue to exhibit at Leadership Training for Christ in Dallas/Fort Worth each year. You may have seen them grow up if you attended.

Due to the economy and life changes, our years of traveling to the many Christian music festivals, home school conventions, and youth conferences like Creation East +West, Cornerstone, Spiritwest Coast, Lifefest, and so many more have probably passed. 

So thank you for being fellow workers in the kingdom of God, and if we can be an aid to you, please let us know!

Oct 21 2011

Don't Swallow Satan's Lie about Forgiveness

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 This is a response to a blog I read this morning that I wanted to share with you:

As Christians, we can walk with Him and still have deep wounds within. Childhood hurts had been buried in my heart which affected my marriage and my relationships with my parents. I had always thought ‘if they don’t ask for forgiveness, God did not expect me to forgive”. You see, I treated them with kindness what more did God want? After all, only Jesus forgave them because they didn’t know what they were doing, right? WRONG!

I think one of the hardest and yet most shaping path Jesus takes us on is forgiveness of others. We definitely embrace forgiveness from Him, but giving it to others was even something the apostles’ struggled with (Peter – 7 times, Lord?). Childhood hurts had been buried in my heart which affected my marriage and my relationships with my parents. I had always thought ‘if they don’t ask for forgiveness, God did not expect me to forgive”. But that is one of ‘lies’ Satan feeds us,  http://goo.gl/JuPNp , to keep us from the POWER of joy and freedom of forgiving others.

Praise Him, that God showed me the truth and gave me the strength to lay it at His feet. I firmly believe that obedience opened 4 of the sweetest years with my Dad and the healing of the Mother/daughter relationship.Mom’s support of my marriage has been amazing after years of feeling pulled between her and my husband. My husband laughs when I come back from a visit when I share her encouragement to be a better helpmate to him.

Daddy came to Christ and when he died earlier this year, I knew all was well between us. So my tears are not for what should of been, but joy of being together again in eternity. I dream of heavenly hugs!

Truly, by His stripes we can be healed!

Oct 15 2011

BLESSINGS

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If you read our "ABOUT" page, you know I referred to God's goodness as we committed to raise our children to love the Lord and give up full time ministry for a time. To be honest, we struggled long and hard when our hearts desire to serve was removed. But God is gracious and continues to bless even when we aren't as grateful as we should be.

 Here is just a bit of the blessings, He showered upon our kids during the lean years:  One son was a Presidential Classroom scholar, a United States Senate Youth Program scholar, University of Virginia grad, worked for Congress, now a leader of the Metro Denver Young Republicans (He was on CNN just last week), and is now headed out to JAG school for the Army Reserves. Another son received a national scholarship to go to the college of his choice totally free. There he was a part of Theatron, a traveling troupe for dramatic skits and sharing of God's word. Now a web design developer for a major company, he generously is donating his skills and time to creating the 'new' site. In addition, he is helping build the teen ministry here from 1 to 16 in the last few weeks. He is also flipping our old house using his creative abilities and prayerfully provide another source of income to share with others. Our oldest daughter is a talented Kindergarten teacher. Her husband is a gifted Middle school math and technology teacher in an inner city school. Together they coach swimming and teach the 3 yrs - 2nd graders at church. Her brother was a State High School Basketball player, Harding University Senior Class President, and with the support of his wife, is attending graduate school pursuing a European history masters. She is running a medical clinic in Arkansas. They host a small Bible study group in their home for young couples and work in developing a mens' spiritual mentoring group at their local body of believers. And last, but definitely not the least, our youngest, like her siblings, was a National Honor Society member, student government president, editor of the school paper for unprecedented three years, a Varsity basketball player, and much more. She is now a junior at Kansas University pursuing a degree in journalism while working at the Boys' and Girls' club. 

Living in this small community allowed them to hone their leadership skills and develop solid values of faith and service to othersGod is so GOOD, we thank Him for caring for us through out our parenting years despite our personal struggles in accepting His path for us.

I now believe God was preparing us to deal with ourselves and removing our need for anything but Him to have our significance. As type A personalities, there were childhood hurts that had never been healed and forgiveness that needed to be in our hearts to release the pain. Those hurts made 'success' so important whatever we did. And when we were serving God why was our marriage such hard work? Fortunately we learned to stop discipling each other and just love and respect one another and let God do the rest in His own time. 

 During those three years, we can say God still performs miracles to those who believe. The time allowed me to release my Dad from childhood expectations and get to know him deeply. Plus I had the joy of attending his baptism as he gave his life to Jesus. As he demonstrated his love to me, I began to see my childhood with new eyes and can truly say I felt so loved and precious as his daughter. When I lost him earlier this year, I am so grateful for the time we had. I can't wait for one of his 'heavenly' hugs when I arrive at Heaven's gate.

All this said, may this encourage you to write down all the blessings in your life and practice:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

So, lift your eyes to heaven, wait for your miracle. Refuse to get bitter, trust God has good in store, for He has a plan:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:11-13

God bless.

Oct 07 2011

Passion

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 Having raised 5 children to adulthood, we spent many hours driving to and attending sporting events.  Hubbie coached each of them at least once through the years.  Baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, track, and hockey equipment were strewn about our house along with skateboards at some point over the last 30 years. [ My husband was a college athlete so I guess that was to be expected. ] However, as Christians, we wanted to train our kids to understand and practice putting God first. It was a risky decision, but we felt worship and learning about God could not just be talked about, but practiced.   So Wednesday evenings, they left practice early and in tournament play, we missed Sunday morning games.  As we explained to the coaches, if they were penalized for not being available, so be it.  But God blessed the faithfulness and they were all valued players.  And when we saw that we were too involved, we pulled back.  We took a sabbatical from extra activities to make sure that they had time to be still and enjoy childhood.  

Every parent wants their child to succeed in life, but are you planting seeds of self-fulfillment and spectator faith in their heart? Do they see you make tough decisions for your spiritual health?  Are you leaving time to exercise your faith in meaningful Bible study, prayer, and service to others? Or is your commitment to your church based on convenience and fitting around community involvement and sporting activities?   Remember time is short to model for them a passion for God and if you are fortunate enough to raise a pro athlete, may they be like Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy, known for their passion for God on and off the field!

Consider  http://goo.gl/jRjXN  to help you remember that whatever you do, do it for the Lord!

Sep 09 2011

The circus of life

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After an awesome holiday break with grownup 'kiddos' and their mates, it was back to putting finishing touches on site and the highlight of the week: 3rd-5th graders!  My stint of  Bible class on Wednesday began.  It is exciting to see the Word become real in the lives of the young (which at my age refers to anyone younger than 50). We brought teens and kids all together for my lesson intro of our Bee-Attitudes series.  I found an awesome object lesson to make the point of keeping the 'Spirit of Christ' in your life ( I love using every day things to pass on Biblical concepts and this is a great resource: http://www.childrensministryacademy.com. ) PLUS it AMAZES me that many times while teaching God puts things in my head to be more effective.   I threw the bottle of soda to a teen and asked them to open it.  Needless to say, they asked for a different bottle Which gave me the chance to share what God has just revealed to me:That a person with the "spirit of Christ" can't help but to bubble over sharing Christ's love if they are 'active' in daily walking with God. Sprite unlike water sparkles with bubbles and sweetness.  Just like a disciple of Jesus is different because they have  the spark of Jesus and the sweetness it creates inside.  In addition, if you leave the cap off the Sprite it looses it fizz, just like someone who doesn't hold tight to the truth of God's word by prayer, daily study, and sharing the Good News.  

Prayerfully, the water and soda did more than wet their 'thirst' for learning about God.  I believe even the teens enjoyed having some Sprite to share! My students were excited and each wrote down 6 friends to invite for next week.

One of the Wed lesson intro times, I hope to figure a way to show 'The Butterfly Circus'.  (We don't have internet @ church building) If you haven't seen it,  take 20 minutes and watch: http://t.co/KRwPTJ7   I hope to contact Nick Vujicic and send him one of our 'Jesus Freak in the Circus of Life' shirts' in appreciation for this powerful short film.  And as you go through the Circus of Life remember your perspective will affect God's ability to use you.

Til the next rambling springs forth.....God bless and keep you!


Sep 05 2011

Thoughts to Ponder — Whose fold are you in?

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In my travels of the road of life, I have meet many 'unusual' people.  Some of which would be considered 'marching to their own drum'.   I will never forget my first time on the T in Boston when a cross dresser became a passenger. Having grown up in small town America, my exposure had been very limited.  However, over the years, God has taught me much about people.  But none is as wildly different as Lady Gaga.   She strategically draws attention to herself by her outrageous costumes and actions.  But what does that got to do with me?

The Bible calls you and me to be a "peculiar people' (I Peter 2:9-10 KJV), so does that mean to be outrageous in appearance and behavior - say like Lady G?  I have always been a bit of a drama queen, but I don't believe that is what God meant.  While Jesus walked the earth, scripture says his physical appearance was nothing that would cause you to stare (my paraphrase).  It seems to me that He stood out by in his treatment of people.  Rather than a 'holier than thou' attitude (which he obviously had the right to have), He was a compassionate person who took people where they were at and called them to be all God created them to be.

So is my treatment of others a reflection of Christ or myself?  Am I known to be 'outrageous' in my love for Christ or am I just a 'religious' person?  And in turn, do I demonstrate Christ when the storms come in my life?  Do I 'Dare to be Different' by checking my actions and heart and thus show the herd that I am part of His 'fold'? 

 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". ( Romans 12: 1-2) 

May you too ponder on these things.

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