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contents summer 2010
04 06 09 10 21 22 24 34
Contributors speak up From the Editor Forward Hello Effect Lifegroup Spotlight Reviews
12 The Party
Look for your friends (and yourself!) in the photo collage from the first big celebration in our new building. Clip out these winning recipes and impress your family by whipping up some delicious treats.
16 Impossible Celebrations
When the going gets tough, the tough…throw a party! There’s more to celebrate than you might think, so get those balloons and streamers ready.
18 Color Your World
Everyone should have a little corner of heaven in their backyard. Ken Bintliff shares his tips for creating a space you can enjoy this summer.
26 The Path of Life
The gentle love of Jesus healed Kristin’s heart after years of pain. But could it heal the hearts of street children in the slums of Africa? There was only one way to find out.
30 Freedom Gait
Faith Elliott is a hero of sorts, due to her work with handicapped children and adults at 7 Star Therapeutic Riding Center. But the real heroes are four-legged and partial to hay.
Five years ago, she set off for New York City with a suitcase and a dream. Now Cara's back in Amarillo, making life a little sweeter for everyone around her.
Cover Photography by Joseph Schlabs
the people we couldn't do without
Kate has a heart for mentoring young women and a ministry that’s reaching women from different walks of life. You can check out her blog, “A White Stone: Meditations on Womanhood, Romance and Pursuing Christ,” at http:// awhitestoneblog. wordpress.com. Husband David is a Trinity Fellowship pastor, and together they minister every Tuesday night at North, Trinity’s ministry for young adults.
When situations in her life reach crisis level, Amy has found 4
writing helps her cope. Not only is it therapeutic, but she says writing also has illuminated areas in her heart and mind that need the peace and balm of God. Her “Impossible Celebrations” story was born out of the desire to pass on to her kids a legacy of celebrating life no matter what the circumstances. Learn more about Amy and her family by reading her blog at http:// balmingilead.typepad. com.
18 years. When he finds time to get away from it all, he can usually be found bow hunting, fly fishing or backpacking.
Michelle admits she has never had much of a culinary interest, but her best friend has gotten her hooked on TV cooking shows. Now she has become a Food Network junkie, which helped her in researching another Food Network junkie and telling her story about following a dream. Someday Michelle hopes to gain enough confidence to try out some new recipes on her three kids—Emily, Andrew and Aaron.
Ken and his wife, Valerie, share a passion for the outdoors and love to spend time hiking, trail running and bicycling. Next time you’re admiring the landscaping around our campus, you’ll know who to thank, because that’s Ken’s job at Trinity Fellowship. He has worked in the landscaping field for
horses with his neighbors in the countryside near Fort Worth. Recently he spent a day getting up close and personal with horses at the 7 Star Therapeutic Riding Center to bring us the story of this worthwhile organization. Kelly earned a journalism degree at WTAMU, and today, he works in the field of education and is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Nita, have been married for 27 years. They have one daughter, Faith
Kelly grew up riding
Last month, Kathlyn graduated from Arbor Christian Academy and now has her sights on college in the fall. For this issue, she brings us a story about how young
people can make a difference in the world around them—even in places far, far away. Kathlyn has a heart for missions and loves to get to know people from other cultures and backgrounds.
Christa has a passion for all aspects of design: clothing, hair and makeup. She loved the years she spent working with a fashion designer, but these days she is living (and loving!) a different kind of life— as wife to Raymond and mom to two sons and a brand new baby daughter. Even with her busy schedule, Christa still finds time to tap into her creative side and do makeup for our connect magazine photo shoots.
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what you thought of our last issue
What a wonderful, beautiful way to help us all ‘connect’ to one another and to our greater community.
At church and in the community Every time I pick up a new copy of Connect magazine, I get excited. I love reading about and getting to know our church leaders and hearing the interesting and inspiring stories of the people I probably worship with every weekend. Connect is done with such quality and creativity. It’s yet another example of how believers should always strive for excellence in what they do for others and for the Kingdom. What a wonderful, beautiful way to help us all “connect” to one another and to our greater community. Amy McDade
Hope for broken families How blessed I am to receive and read your magazine, actually cover to cover! It is beautifully done, along with touching and interesting articles. The article “Hope Belongs,” written by Amy Schniederjan, touched me deeply. I have sent her article to families going through the brokenness of divorce. That has, in turn, spoken deeply to their souls. May you be blessed as you all make a difference in the kingdom. Brenda T. Messiah’s House 6
Feast for the eyes I want to tell you how much I have enjoyed Connect magazine. The stories of deliverance are wonderful. Whenever I think I have a problem, I can look and see the way God has rescued someone with a problem worse than mine. It reminds me that nothing is too hard for Him and gives me courage to rely on Him more fully. I enjoy the good recipes, and even the advertisements are enticing. I also love the creativity with which the magazine comes together. From the pictures to the setup, it is a feast for the eyes. I would say, “Good job,” but then, God’s kids acting like their Father always produces wonderful things. Keep it up. Kathy Stevens
We Love Mail! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Drop us a note and let us know what you think of this issue of connect magazine. Email us at email@example.com, or write us at Connect Magazine, 5000 Hollywood Road, Amarillo TX 79118. And don’t forget to fill out the online survey (see page 41 for details) so you can be qualified for the drawing to win an iPad.
Family Medicine Centers has always been there for us to make sure we can be there
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Amarillo · Canyon · Pampa
from the editor kelli bullard
I am always amazed at the quality of people who live in this community. You all are the best!
I find it fascinating to meet people from different cultures. Whether it’s the culture of another country or a lifestyle outside what’s familiar to me, it’s always fun and interesting. Recently, I experienced a culture clash of sorts. In one weekend, I attended a baby shower for a Vietnamese couple, interviewed a Messianic Jew from Israel, went to a seminar about the Hispanic population growth, and had breakfast with some authentic Texas cowboys. All I can say is, wow, I really learned a lot! And I enjoyed every minute of it. Whenever we put together an issue of connect magazine, our purpose is to help you get to know people you might not get a chance to meet face-to-face. By hearing their stories, you get to see the many ways God is working in people’s lives every day—in this church, in our
community and even in other parts of the world. In this issue of connect, you’ll meet Cara Linn Bowling and hear her sweet story of love and adventure. You’ll get to listen in as three of Trinity’s elders talk about how the eldership achieves unity in every decision they make. We’ll also take you around the globe to find out how ordinary people from Trinity Fellowship are having an extraordinary impact on the lives of people in places like Kenya, Africa and North Korea. Closer to home, a backyard cookout provided the perfect setting for us to discover the secrets to grilling a fabulous steak. It just so happens that our research required us to eat some delicious steak in the process. (Have I mentioned that I love my job?) And who knows— our steakmaster’s challenge may become an annual event! A few months ago we enjoyed our first-ever churchwide get-together in our new building. “The Party” was a huge success, and the food contests revealed that there are lots of great cooks in this church. We’re happy to bring you their winning recipes, so you can try them out at home. Don’t forget to go online and fill out a short survey so you can be qualified to win an iPad. We would love to hear from you and find out what you would like to see in future issues of connect magazine. We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. To expand on a thought that elder Steve Myers shared in this issue, I am always amazed at the quality of people who live in this community. You all are the best!
forward looking ahead
grab hold POSSIBILITIES of the
trinity fellowship's Pastor of children's ministry
When I graduated from college, I held a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry, and I had no clue what I was supposed to do. I felt nothing like a biologist, and I knew I wasn’t a chemist. When the athletic department of the college approached me about sticking around to pursue graduate studies, I grasped onto this as an answer to my dilemma. Fortunately, even when we have no idea what to do, God always has a plan for us, though sometimes we don’t see it. He reminds us of this in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I spent the next two years developing relationships with people who helped me focus and begin a professional career, but it was still nothing like the dream that God had placed in my heart as a kid. When I was ten years old, I knew that one day I would use the things I was passionate about to share the good news of Jesus with others. What I didn’t know was that God had already planned many experiences that He wanted to take me through before I would get to walk in that dream. I was getting to do the things I was passionate about, but I wasn’t getting to share Jesus (like I thought I was supposed to).
Over the next twelve years I worked in four different professions before I was sent to do what I had believed for so long that God had called me to do. The funny thing is that once I was in that place, I found out rather quickly how much I needed all the things I had learned and experienced in order to accomplish what God was asking me to do. God has His ways of doing things, and we don’t always understand them. But if we refuse to grab hold of the possibilities, we could be missing out on something spectacular. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” It is often hard for us to trust God’s way over our own. However, He may be using those times as an opportunity to teach us something, rid us of something, connect us with someone, reveal something to us, or sharpen and polish us somehow. And we don’t always know what He is doing until we enter in with Him and give our very best. God can then take our dreams and make them come true with color and special effects beyond our imagination. So always hold your hands open to God, and then you will be ready and able to grasp whatever He has for you.
P ANHANDLE R ESTAURANT G ROUP U NIQUE . D INING . E XPERIENCES
M AKE Y OUR E VENT M EMORABLE! ENGAGEMENT PARTIES . REHEARSAL DINNERS . WEDDING RECEPTIONS
Catering Every Food Imaginable . 806.322.6262
snapshots from "The party"
Photography by Joseph Schlabs
winning recipes from "the party"
Esther’s husband, Don, says she has a happy, outgoing, giving personality. It matches her ability to make sweets, including her award-winning Texas Brownies as well as candies and other desserts. These rich, cakelike brownies are requested at all family and school events.
Texas Brownies 2 sticks margarine 4 tablespoons cocoa 1 cup water 2 cups flour 2 cups sugar
“Baking is my passion; cooking is just boring to me,” says Roxie. She has kept this recipe for years, and used to make these cookies for her girls when they were little. Once assembled, these delicious sandwich cookies can be refrigerated or frozen.
My Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 eggs 1 cup sour cream (8 oz. container)
1 teaspoon baking soda Chopped nuts (optional)
In a medium saucepan, combine first three ingredients (margarine, cocoa and water); bring mixture to a boil. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, sour cream, eggs, baking soda, and nuts if desired. Add hot mixture and beat well. Pour into greased jellyroll pan. Bake at 350˚ for 20 minutes. Prepare icing (recipe below) and pour over warm brownies.
1 tablespoon cocoa 1 stick margarine 1 tablespoon milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
3½ cups all-purpose flour, unsifted 1½ teaspoons baking soda 1½ cups butter, softened 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed ½ cup granulated sugar 1 large pkg. chocolate instant pudding 1½ teaspoons vanilla 3 eggs 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 1½ cups chopped pecans
Mix flour with soda. In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugars, pudding mix and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture, then stir in chips and nuts. Batter will be stiff. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheet about 2’’ apart. Bake at 350˚ for 8–10 minutes.
1½ cups creamy peanut butter 2 sticks butter, softened 1⅔ cups powdered sugar
Mix first three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil; remove from heat and add vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat with a mixer. Continue to add powdered sugar until icing is desired consistency.
In large mixing bowl, beat the peanut butter until smooth. Add butter and continue beating until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add the powdered sugar in ½-cup increments and mix until combined. Spread frosting onto the flat side of a cookie and top with another cookie.
“I’m a competitive person and I like to win,” Roger says. “I use only the best ingredients.” His favorite meals include rib eye steak and chili, so he combined them to create his first-place winning recipe. Cooking and baking are a big part of his family’s life (wife Roxie won the cookie category, and their daughter Sabra received honorable mention for her cake).
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon nutmeg 1 tablespoon cumin ½ teaspoon onion powder
2 lbs. ground beef, 90/10 2 rib eyes, 10-12 oz. each 4 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ancho chilies (dried & ground) 1 teaspoon garlic salt
8 oz. water 8 oz. can tomato sauce 8 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chilies (original)
In a large skillet, brown ground beef with salt and pepper. Use same skillet throughout cooking process. Add combined dry spices (less salt and pepper already used) to meat; add tomato sauce, water, and diced tomatoes and green chilies. Simmer on low. While chili is simmering, take room temperature rib eyes, season with salt and pepper and grill on an open flame grill until medium rare, about 4–5 minutes on each side. Let steaks rest 5 minutes. Slice into ½-inch cubes. Add to chili and continue to simmer for up to thirty minutes if you can wait that long!
This pie is a combination of a recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook and one from Anita’s mother-in-law, Grandma Jean. “I love to cook, and my family is so sweet and appreciative of my country cooking,” Anita says. “They’d rather have me fix their favorite meal for special occasions in place of presents or dinner out. I enjoy pleasing them.”
Perfect Pie Crust makes two crusts
2½ cups all purpose flour ¼ teaspoon fine salt 3 tablespoons granulated sugar ¼ to ½ cup ice water ¼ cup lard (diced and ice cold) 12 tablespoons butter (diced and ice cold) In food processor, mix flour, salt and sugar with two pulses. Add lard and butter, then pulse till butter and lard looks like small peas (about 5 pulses). Add ice water while pulsing (start with 1/4 cup then add extra if dough is not forming; you don't want it to be to sticky). When mixture starts sticking to the sides, or as it begins to come together, remove from food processor. Form mixture into two equal disks; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minute. On a floured surface, roll out disk into a 10- to 11-inch circle. Place in pie pan and bake at 425 degrees for 12–15 minutes, until lightly browned.
6 egg whites, chilled ½ tsp. vanilla ½ tsp. cream of tartar ¼ cup sugar
Coconut Cream Pie 2 cups granulated sugar ½ cup cornstarch ¼ teaspoon salt 3 cups milk 4 eggs 3 tablespoons butter
1½ teaspoon vanilla 1½ cups flaked coconut (½ cup for the top of meringue) 9-inch baked pastry shell and meringue for pie
For filling, in a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn starch, and salt; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat Separate egg yolks from whites; set whites aside for meringue. Beat egg yolks slightly. Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into yolks, Return egg mixture to saucepan; bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup flaked coconut, butter and vanilla. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell.
In a mixer bowl, beat the egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar at medium speed with an electric mixer about 1 minute or till soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar about a tablespoon at a time. Beat on high till sugar is dissolved and stiff, glossy peaks form. Immediately spread meringue over pie. Sprinkle with ½ cup coconut flakes. Bake at 400⁰ till peaks are light brown. Let pie cool before cutting.
“I love baking and cooking, and it’s how I express my love for others,” says Amanda. “It’s my love language.” Amanda’s mom handed down the recipe, and Amanda tweaked it to produce this superb cake. It has been in cake walks, birthdays and school functions but never a contest, she tells us.
Pineapple Sunshine Cake 8 oz. carton whipped topping 8 oz. carton sour cream 20 oz. can crushed pineapple 1 pkg. no-bake cheesecake mix
Jose’s wife, Michelle, says he is the main chef of the home, but his specialty is an original recipe of his mother’s that he has improved on to become the best salsa in town.
Extreme Heat Salsa
4 to 5 jalapeno peppers 3 to 4 serrano peppers 1 habanero pepper 1 small onion 1 tsp. garlic salt 28 oz. can whole tomatoes Fresh cilantro (1 bunch)
(cheesecake pkt. only)
11 oz. can mandarin oranges with juice 1 box yellow cake mix 4 eggs 1 cup canola oil Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl and refrigerate. Add eggs, oil and oranges to cake mix. Beat and bake according to the directions on the box. Cool cake for 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely. Frost cake with refrigerated mixture. Be sure to keep cake refrigerated.
Remove stems from peppers and cilantro. Boil peppers until the color changes from dark green to light green or until you can smell them. Drain a little of the juice from the can of whole tomatoes. Place all ingredients into blender and blend to desired consistency.
Mango Habanero Variation Prepare Extreme Heat recipe as directed, then fill one mason jar with salsa and set aside to eat later. Add 1-½ to 2 cups mango chunks to remaining salsa in blender and process until well blended. Enjoy!
by Amy Schniederjan I threw a party recently. It wasn’t a birthday or an anniversary or even a get-together with friends. It was a party celebrating the impossible. Let me explain. You see, I recently finished studying the book of Esther in the Bible. Dramatic and intriguing, the entire story reads like a best-selling novel. I watched as Esther and Mordecai relied on their faith in God to deliver their people from Haman’s evil edict that condemned all Jews to death. When Esther exposed Haman’s plot to the king, it was Haman who was condemned to death and not the Jews. For me, one of the most moving parts of the story occurs in Esther 9:19 regarding Purim, which was the celebration of the Jews the day after they got relief from their foes. As one scholar said, “The Jews did not commemorate the day of their victorious battle, but [they celebrated] the day on which they rested from their enemies.” I love this idea of a deliberate day of joy after the battle. I am more than ready to celebrate victories regarding the situations that I've been praying for (fighting for, really) in the spiritual realm. But these prayers have not been answered yet. The battle is still on. Oh, but I am ready for some relief. I am ready for a day of joy. And lately a few of these prayers have
...celebrating the battles that God has already won. 16
been hard to pray because I've become discouraged—discouraged that what I'm praying for is nearly hopeless in the earthly realm. Impossible, quite frankly. Yet these are the words I’ve heard echoing in my mind: GOD IS THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE. I know this is what I must believe, even when I feel like giving up hope. Though my impossible victory may be a long time coming, who's to say that I can't celebrate a time or two in the midst of all this warfare? Why can’t I take a day or even an hour to just turn on the praise music, make a pan of brownies and give thanks to God for the victory that has already been won in the heavenly realm? So a few months ago, this is what I did: I set aside a day for celebration. My heart-wrenching, soul-wearying prayers had not been answered yet. The victories had not been won—on earth. But I set aside this day not only to petition God for His impossible miracles, but also to thank Him for those miracles as if they had already been won. Because, friends, they’ve already been won. What made this day even more special was that I wasn’t just verbally speaking these miracles into existence—I was acting the part. I made a big meal. I prepared my favorite dessert, and I turned
on the praise music. I even made a big celebration poster, let the kids decorate it with stickers, and hung it over the island in my kitchen. And, friends, I even got out my good china. I wanted to make party hats, but I thought my husband might revolt. The day went better than I expected. While it was tricky to keep myself from thinking about all the complicated issues and what-ifs of my prayers, it was a relief to just celebrate and to purposely, actively rejoice. The kids were thrilled because they got to help “decorate” the house—right down to the green and yellow John Deere balloons we found in the back of the wrapping drawer. My husband came home that evening to a family rockin’ out to praise music and a banquet spread on the table. It was a party. A party celebrating the
battles that God has already won. Why I haven’t done this sooner baffles me. Why I don’t believe like this on a daily basis infuriates me. My prayers are still “waiting in the wings,” but I know God is taking care of them all. And that’s why we're going to do this every two or three months here at the Schniederjan house. It's time to actively celebrate those unseen victories. It’s time to celebrate the prayers God has answered in the past and also celebrate the prayers He is answering right now in the heavenly realm. Our God is the God of the unseen. He is the God of miracles. He is the God of the impossible. So get your party hat on. The battle has been won. 17
color yourWORLD by Ken Bintliff
Psalm 84:5–7 has been my banner scripture since the first time I read it. Verse six of this passage reads: “Passing through the valley of Baca [weeping], they make it a spring, the early rain also covers it with blessings” (NASB). I believe this verse speaks not only of our calling to be a blessing wherever we are but also of our innate, God-given desire to bring life, color and vibrancy to the places where we live and travel. All the beauty in nature speaks of God’s grace and of the vibrant, abundant life He has blessed us with. This has to be why so many of us get so excited about planting and even preparing to plant our gardens. It’s something I believe God has instilled in us, to come alongside Him and experience something of His marvelous creative power. Maybe it’s even a parallel to His regenerative work in us. The Lord is not satisfied until every area of our lives is filled with the vibrant color and life of the Holy Spirit. So look around your yard and see if there is a need for life and color there. No two places are alike because of location, structures, shape, etc. So with the same care God gives to every detail of our lives, we can look at the details of this spot in order to bring sustainable life to this valley in need of a spring.
Map It Out
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of space you want to create. Some ideas are: A quiet sitting area or place to admire
An attraction for birds or butterflies
A vegetable garden
Let It Shine
As you choose your plants, you’ll need to consider what kind of sun exposure you have: Full sun, partial sun or shade?
Morning or afternoon sun?
How many hours of sun?
Full sun provides a great place for a vegetable garden. A shady area could make a nice sitting area in the summer and a cozy spot in the winter to warm up next to a chiminea or fire pit.
Pick and Choose
With some research, you can find plants that will thrive at almost any exposure level. Many gardeners are discovering the realm of exotic and/or xeric plants (a type of plant that is adapted to a dry habitat). These plants come in every growth pattern from fine, tiny-bloomed, groundhugging plants to large, flowering shrubs to trees of every size. Native plants are often thought of as desert-type plants; however, many of them will grow well in shade and partial sun, as well as in wet conditions.
Dig It Out
Once you’ve picked out your plants, the next step is to grab a shovel and get busy. Till up any grass, or strip it off.
Excavate the soil (about 12” to 18” for most plants and shrubs).
Watch for utility lines (phone and cable lines can be very shallow).
Call Texas 811 at 1-800-545-6005 to have your lines located BEFORE you start tilling or digging.
Shape the Bed
Keep in mind walls, outbuildings, walks, curbs, and even trees and pets. Elevate the bed with stone (my favorite), railroad ties, landscape timbers, etc.
If your bed borders a wall, be sure water will drain away from the structure.
Keep an eye out for irrigation lines (or call a licensed irrigator).
The Trick to Tilling
Now we come to our favorite part…yes, the tilling! My dad taught me to till by hand with a shovel, but you can also use a tiller. Just be sure to rent a decent-sized machine, not one of the little twocycle tillers you see on TV with the person gingerly guiding the machine with one hand. That’s a lie straight from the enemy’s camp!
Sprinkle or Drip?
The drip system is the best irrigation method for these reasons: Less evaporation, therefore less water waste.
Overspray can damage foliage, so it’s more beneficial.
Less chance of damage to concrete, wood and asphalt.
Make sure you take into account the needs of the plants, remembering that moderation is a big key. Whether you water with a hose or have an irrigation system installed, use it in moderation.
Down and Dirty
Our soil in the Texas Panhandle is predominately clay, so you’ll need to add something to loosen the texture. Through my years in landscaping, I have come to the conclusion that manure-based amendments are not the best way to go. I prefer to use composted cotton seed burs like Soilmenders in Tulia provides. Masonry sand and/or pea gravel may be added if drainage is a concern.
Time to Plant
Once the soil is prepared, the irrigation is decided upon and the plants have been chosen, it is time for the really fun part. Lay out your plants in patterns to make sure of spacing, design and quantity.
Dig holes wide enough for root development and deep enough so the top of the root ball is slightly above ground level.
Enjoy Your Space!
Our old rule was: “Plant ’em a little high and they won’t die. Plant ’em a little low and they won’t grow!”
Now that you’ve put in many hours of planning and work, it won’t be long till you enjoy the fruits of your labors. Soon you’ll take a bite of that juicy, ripe tomato you grew yourself. Or sit in your garden and watch a butterfly or hummingbird that’s checking out your flowers. Following your desire to “make springs in the valley” has a tangible payoff. And it’s a godly endeavor that blesses everyone who sees and experiences it.
we'd like you to meet...
trinity fellowship's director of information technology
•••••••••••••••••••••••••• Born : Marilia, Sao Paulo, Brazil Family : Married to Chris
Brons; proud owner of the cutest Maltese in the world, Rocky Balboa Brons.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••• Book : The Barbarian Way
by Erwin McManus and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems; West Texas A&M University
Person : Chris Brons, the absolute best gift God could possibly have granted me besides Jesus! His solid character, compassionate heart and brilliant mind make my heart swell!
Hobbies : Reading, writing,
traveling, geocaching, foreign languages
Food : Brazilian,
Salvation : July 1997, my
Musical Artist : If
Education : Bachelor
On my Playlist : Leah Mari, Brian & Jenn Johnson, Priscilla Ahn, Corinne Bailey Rae, Colbie Caillat, Misty Edwards, and messages from Bill Johnson, Erwin McManus, and Graham Cooke. What fascinates me : The
ocean—so majestic, powerful and beautiful. Outer space—vast, grand, resplendent. Fire—it is always “dancing” and showing off dazzlingly beautiful colors. Different cultures—God's fingerprints on the faces of different people show me His heart for the world. With all four of my “fascinations,” God’s creativity and regal power are so obvious and glorious that they blow my mind away!
Greek, Syrian, Mexican and Italian! I LOVE food! they don’t growl and scream, I will probably like them unless it is country, then...no way! (sorry, Texans)
TV Show : The Amazing Race; DOG The Bounty Hunter Movie : Gone with the Wind and Braveheart Actor : Vince
Actress : Sandra
Place to Pray : My Sports team : If
bedroom or patio
I say anything other than the Dallas Cowboys, I will be in serious trouble!
•••••••••••••••••••••••••• Best advice given to me : Dream. My life motto : Keep
never give up!
Three people I would like to have dinner with : Bill Gates because he
dared to dream big and changed the world. Bono because he is bringing political and social changes to Africa, and he is Bono! Graham Cooke because he is revolutionary and brilliant.
An interesting fact about me : Nerd
fact: When I was a sophomore in high school, I took a 4-hour admittance exam for Law School and passed. I was called in by admissions to start the enrollment process, but I couldn’t finish it because I did not have a high school diploma yet! Cool fact: I am half Italian and half Arabic...I have relatives in Brazil, Italy and Syria. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Just ask my husband about “My Big Fat Italian Family”! Whew...
My heroes : Ronald Reagan... “If we ever
forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
expressions of care & compassion
Kids for Change
by Kathlyn Hall
Give a child a handful of quarters and he’ll probably beg Mom to take him by the convenience store to spend it on candy or a toy. One group of children has broken that stereotype by
giving their spare change to help children in another corner of the world. Last summer, Trinity’s Children’s Ministry, K!DS, began donating extra money every week. Children emptied their pockets and filled a clear plastic tube built by Trinity’s maintenance crew. This 6-foot-tall tube was nearly running over within a few months. The vision for K!DS for Change began a year ago, when Pastor Terri Powell heard of a cause that her hairdresser, Jolena Watson, had going on in North Korea. After hearing Jolena’s vision, Pastor Ralph Vasquez agreed with Pastor Terri that it was a worthy cause, and they decided to join her efforts. Outside North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang lies a village of 35,000 people, Jangpoong. Unlike the United States, the people of this village do not have constant access to grocery stores or markets. With harsh weather conditions and a food shortage, the people are in desperate need of nourishment. When Jolena heard about their plight, she partnered with an organization known as GRS, as well as the North Korean Minister of Agriculture, to provide families with milk-producing goats. Jolena has raised enough funds to supply the village with a minimum of 150 goats. However, the process of this provision is not as simple as it sounds. The native goats of this region are hardy, but they do not produce milk. So GRS imported milk-producing Alpine goats at a cost of approximately $10,000 per goat (including the expense of agricultural experts, veterinarian meds and equipment). Due to the extreme conditions, the goats did not survive. Now, through artificial insemination, they have created a hybrid breed of goat that is hardy and produces milk, at a fraction of the cost—only $180 per goat.
K!DS for Change raised $1,427 and donated $1,000 of it to supply six goats to these North Korean families. Each goat can produce enough milk for 5.5 servings a day, so these six goats will produce 33 servings of milk a day. In a year’s time, that adds up to 10,000 servings. Needy children are first in line to receive the milk; second are lactating mothers, then the sick and the elderly. In addition to drinking the milk, the families will use it to make cheese and yogurt. With the remaining $400, K!DS for Change is sponsoring
two children through Savior’s Tear ministry in Nicaragua. The sponsorship pays for these children’s education, school supplies, uniforms, and meals. Pastor Ralph hopes that our kids will have the chance to connect with the Nicaraguan children through letters and pictures. Today if you stop by Children’s Ministry, you’ll see that the tubes are filling up again. They plan to use the money to sponsor more children in Nicaragua, and they’re keeping their ears open for other worthy causes. “The biggest thing is the fact that these kids have gained a new confidence,” says Pastor Ralph. “Instead of saying, ‘I’m just a kid; what can I do?’ They look at themselves differently now; they’re confident they can change the world.”
Photography by Joseph Schlabs
SMILES FOR LIFE BELL STREET
7201 West 34th Avenue • Amarillo, Texas 79109 • (p) 806.353.2113 • amachildrensdentistry.com
lifegroups @ trinity the view from inside
Better Together LEADERs: Terry & Catherine Meck HOSTs: Lindol meets: Bi-weekly through the summer Location: Call Catherine (806)220-3322
& Nancy Dyer
“We’ve been married for eighteen years, and the first fifteen were World War II,” says Terry Meck, motioning toward his wife, Catherine. “We both have had failed marriages, so we came into this relationship with a lot of baggage, most of it based on a fear of rejection.” Three years ago, their marriage took a turn when they started attending a lifegroup led by George and Teela Malkuch. Through a process of being mentored, as a couple and individually, Terry and Catherine learned foundational principles that completely changed their relationship. “George and Teela spoke into our marriage and motivated us not to stay where we were because they saw the potential in us,” says Catherine. Today their marriage is stronger and healthier than it’s ever been, and they have 24
started their own lifegroup, Better Together, in hopes of helping other couples. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons, and God has been faithful to us. Now we want to share what we’ve learned,” Terry says. The group is made up of couples with a wide range of ages and experience—some who have been married less than a year and others who are celebrating 30+ years together. And helping improve marriages isn’t the only motivation for Catherine and Terry. They moved to Texas from Delaware eleven years ago, leaving behind family and friends. Today they consider lifegroup members their family and hope to provide that for other couples as well. “I have found that a lot of people don’t have family here in Amarillo, so that’s what we want our lifegroup to be,” says Terry. “It’s about building relationships and establishing trust so when you have a need, you know who to call.”
Their Wednesday night meetings start out with dessert and coffee, and a time to chat about what’s happened during the week. Then they discuss a chapter of the book they are studying (they just finished This Momentary Marriage by John Piper), and they finish the evening by praying for specific needs. At least once a month they plan a fun activity like bowling or dinner at a restaurant. Recently, they spent a Sunday afternoon at a ranch outside of Canyon, with horseback riding, skeet shooting, volleyball and a cookout. Better Together plans to meet throughout the summer and would love to have new couples join them. “If your group isn’t meeting this summer, come visit and meet some new people. We’ll have fun, play volleyball and laugh,” Catherine says. “It’s a great way to get to know a wide variety of people from other lifegroups.”
Photography by Joseph Schlabs
OPPOSITE PAGE From left:
Catherine Meck Ted McVaugh , Terry Meck & Bob Vinson Nancy Dyer THIS PAGE From left:
Lorraine Pistocco Wisdom & Ginger Owusu Lindol Dyer
The morning sun rises over Africa as the thick smells of breakfast blend with the stench of burning trash. Sewage runs openly through the narrow paths between the one-room shanty homes. Nairobi, Kenya, is home to the largest slums in Africa. Most of those who live in these slums are children, and most of these children are born with AIDS. At the very heart of the Mitumba slums of Nairobi is a school for street children. But for these children school is so much more than a place to learn. It is a health clinic for their broken bodies, a balm for their broken hearts, and a sweet refuge where they experience the love of their Savior, Jesus. And for the orphans of Mitumba, it is also home. It is here that Kristin Watson of Amarillo, Texas, spent nearly all her waking hours this past year, surrounded by hundreds of children. Six days a week, Kristin commuted for two hours to the dangerous slums to teach the orphans of Mitumba, where every morning she arrived to huge grins and excited waves. She knew what kind of abuse
and abandonment these children faced and was always amazed by their smiles. “When I come here,” one boy told her, “I feel loved. And I feel like I don’t have to do anything to be loved.” Kristin easily recognized the pain behind the eyes of the children she taught. As a child she too had experienced brokenness and pain. She had very little confidence growing up, and she never imagined speaking about the brokenness of her past with anyone. God was someone far away from her, and when she was hurting He was blind and silent. She just did not think He cared. One Saturday night, years before she would ever see the African slums, Kristin walked into Trinity Fellowship Church. She was a freshman in college, and with brokenness and pain just beneath the surface of her shy demeanor, she came searching. She came hoping for something to fill the emptiness, and that night a pastor named Jimmy Evans just happened to be preaching about forgiveness. This broken nineteen-yearold woman had no idea that God was going to do a miracle in her heart that night. But at some point during the
by Kate Ritchie sermon, Kristin realized that she had been crying as the pastor spoke. That night, God changed Kristin’s life forever. He put her on a new path. She opened her heart up to Jesus, and His gentle healing and passionate love came in and healed her heart. For the first time in her life, Kristin experienced the love of God. She realized that throughout all her hurt and pain, He had never left her side. Jesus had taken her heart of stone and given her the ability to forgive. Kristin began to regularly attend Trinity and eventually got involved in North, the young adult ministry. As she served and loved her Healer, Kristin began to blossom. “I realized that confidence comes from humbly being on your knees in prayer. God grew my confidence each time I said yes to Him,” she recounts. And soon God began to stretch Kristin in ways she never expected. In 2008, Kristin was attending North one night as Pastor David Ritchie asked 27
God grew my confidence each time I said yes to Him. - kristin watson
for willing young adults to travel to Juarez, Mexico, and build houses for homeless families. She knew that saying yes this time would definitely be a sacrifice. None of her friends were planning to go on the trip, yet Kristin knew that God was asking her to go. So she said yes and soon found herself in a van traveling south of the border. After a long day of building under
the brutal Mexican sun, Kristin’s mission team returned to the warehouse where they were staying and dispersed for cold showers and rest. It had been a hard day. Kristin laid her sleeping bag on the cool concrete floor, surrounded by people she had known for only a few days, and with pen and paper in hand, she began to relinquish the worry and fear in her heart. She praised God for all that He was doing in and through her. As she wrote, the gentle peace of God began to fill her heart, and He placed a clear, new path in front of her. It was there, in those quiet moments with
Jesus, that He called Kristin to Africa. She knew she could trust Him, and once again, she said yes. The next several months were full of fears and fretful preparations. Many times Kristin wondered if she was really ready. Being a young, single woman, she considered the risks and dangers that surely lay ahead of her. But through all her fears, she still felt God’s peace leading and protecting her. With many tears and faith-filled prayers on May 23, 2009, Kristin Watson got on a plane and flew twenty-three hours across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa. When she arrived, Kristin was welcomed into the home of a Kenyan pastor and his family. Soon she began teaching in a small Christian school, Rural Evangelistic Ministries. The first few days in Nairobi, Kenya, were hard, but as the days and months passed, she began to love her new home. But most of all, she began to love the children who filed into her classroom each day. The Mitumba slums of Nairobi teach the children of the streets to quietly accept their lives of pain. Through the harsh experiences of abuse and rejection, many of their tender hearts had become hard stones. However, as she taught the
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children day after day for a year, Kristin reached many of these hurting children with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God used her willing and compassionate heart to change their hearts. Each Saturday, Kristin traveled back to Mitumba, on her day off, to teach the children’s Bible School. Many times, Kristin was able to pray and counsel the children through deep places of hurt and pain. One particular Saturday has been stamped into her memory forever. On that specific day, God laid it on Kristin’s heart to speak about forgiveness. She spoke openly about how God had healed her own heart of stone, about how Jesus had loved her so much, that He took the painful stones in her heart and replaced them with His love and healing. She told them about how Jesus had given her the ability to forgive and how through that forgiveness, she had been set free from the pain of her past. Many of the children were amazed by Kristin’s testimony. They had never heard an adult speak so openly about pain and healing. Forgiveness was a bold act, something they were not often taught. A young girl who had experienced terrible abuse came to
Kristin. She had been searching for that kind of healing, for the ability to forgive. She needed the love of Jesus that day, as did so many of the children. The gentle healing and passionate love of Jesus swept through the school that Saturday afternoon, just as it did in Kristin’s heart so many years ago. Kristin admits that receiving the confidence to follow God’s calling did not happen all at once. The difficulties she faced living in Africa brought up old wounds and rejection from her past. But Kristin now knows deep within that she is not the weak girl she had always seen herself to be. “He taught me who I am because of Christ,” Kristin will tell you. “I am His child, His daughter, and He is everything. I realized that all I need is Him.” When she went to Kenya, Kristin thought she was just going to teach. But God showed her that He was going to take everything she had been through in her life and use it for His glory. And because she said yes to God, Kristin now knows that she can trust Him with the path of her life.
North Is Heading South North will be going to Juarez, Mexico, this summer to build houses and share the love of Christ. We are partnering with Casas por Cristo to provide shelter for three families that are in desperate need. Young adults, ages 18 – 29, are invited to join us July 28 – August 1, and the cost is only $275. So grab your passport and start packing! Contact Meg firstname.lastname@example.org
come join us on Tuesday nights North meets every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in the North Ministry Center Auditorium. Don’t miss the next series called “The Spirit” June 8 – July 27 and learn what it looks like to live a spirit-filled life.
freedom GAIT by Kelly Hunt
East of Amarillo, the relentless wind forces the prairie grass over and downward, shaking cars travelling on Pullman Road and blasting any tree seed that dares to take root. But try as it might, the wind cannot penetrate the red brick of the modern horse arena that looms over the Lavas Terra Firma ranch. Inside the arena, a young girl is fighting her own battleâ€”one as intense as the battle between the wind and brick. And she refuses to give up. Slowly, she lifts her feet, her muscles rigid and jerky, as she climbs the stepping blocks one at a time. At the top, she stretches her good arm upward and grabs the saddle horn, her brain fighting to keep her muscles under control. Leather creaks, and the distance seems like a million miles. But her jaw is set. She is going to ride this horseâ€”cerebral palsy or not.
Photography by Joseph Schlabs
Her eyes flash with determination. After a moment, she pulls on the saddle horn and swings her leg over, carefully straightening her back. She nudges the horse with her good leg; the horse lurches forward into a walktrot and circles the arena. For the moment, she is free. A smile spreads across her face. She has beaten her worst enemy. This girlâ€™s triumph does not go unnoticed by Faith Elliott, whose boots-and-jeans-clad figure is a familiar one in the arena at Lavas Terra Firma ranch. Faith is the Executive Director of 7 Star Therapeutic Riding Center, a non-profit organization that offers therapeutic riding to those with physical and mental challenges. In fact, victories like this are the reason she joined the center in the first place. Faith's journey here was an unlikely combination of two
top picture: From Left
Faith Elliott and Brigitta Bogan picture below:
Simon Martin things in her life, like that television commercial where chocolate and peanut butter accidentally get mixed together to form a sweet taste. As a young girl, she spent her summers around horses in Houston, Texas, riding a paso fino stallion, a horse prized for its smooth, fourbeat, lateral, ambling gait, especially popular for trail riding. After working at a guest ranch in Colorado and then moving back to Amarillo to go to school, she did substitute teaching for special education classes and in the process found another love besides horses. “I loved the kids,” she says. “It was really rewarding to be around them, to see how simplistic their lives are and how they are thankful for everything.” When her mother told her about a marketing director position that was available at the 7 Star Therapeutic Riding Center, she realized that, like chocolate and peanut butter, it was the best of both worlds. Soon she became the Executive Director, with duties involving everything from instruction to paperwork to taking care of the horses. In the arena, Faith’s eyes follow the girl and the horse, a shiny, black Tennessee walker named Dove, chosen specifically because her gait is a perfect match for those with cerebral palsy, a disease in which the brain lacks control over the muscles. As Dove moves, the girl’s body moves in concert, developing balance, strength and coordination. Keeping watch over the girl, Faith explains that the movement, or "gait," of the horse is reciprocal with, or mirrors, the girl’s movements. A horse actually mimics human walking. “For example, you take someone who
cannot walk as well as the average person and put them on a horse, and as the horse gives that back-and-forth movement, it organizes the rider’s thoughts in the brain,” Faith says. This process can also break a rider’s barrier to speech. In scientific terms, it involves the limbic system, a set of brain structures which support emotion, behavior, long-term memory and olfaction, the sense of smell. Of course, Dove doesn’t understand all this but she does keep a nice, even gait. Faith leaves the horse and the girl with one of the center’s two instructors, who like Faith is NARHA certified*, and walks over to the next building which houses the stables. She strides to a metal pipe gate where three horses turn to face her. “They think they’re getting food,” she says. Behind the horses is the open, treeless expanse of the Panhandle as far as the eye can see. At the gate is Talk, a 29-year-old quarter horse that once participated in cattle gatherings and is now considered a great babysitter to children. Next to him is Tom, a chestnut quarter horse with a roping background, and Smoothie, a gelding once used exclusively in cutting competition. “Smoothie was an orphan,” Faith says, patting the horse affectionately. “That •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 7 Star Therapeutic Riding Center offers therapeutic riding to disabled children, adults and now veterans. New programs, such as the veterans program, focus on helping those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan learn basic horsemanship skills. This summer, 7 Star will also be offering a pony camp for both disabled and able-bodied children. These camps will be offered the second and fourth weeks in June. Check the website for the latest updates, www.7starhorsetherapy.org.
Photography by Joseph Schlabs
might explain why he likes children and people in general.” Dove, Talk, Tom and Smoothie were donated to the center for the purpose of therapy. Volunteers, who are always sought after, have a large part in helping the clients by side walking and leading and taking care of the horses since therapies are in session Monday through Friday. Faith returns to the stable building to show off the tack room lined with saddles and shelves filled with brushes and bridles and other equipment neatly stacked in rows. The sweet smell of leather and oil fills the room. Looking around, Faith explains that clients mount the horses for 30-minute sessions to build up their riding muscles, beginning with extra-safe equipment like blankets and break-away stirrups before graduating to saddles. Volunteers that side walk support the clients and make sure that nobody falls off. The arena floor is covered by soft dirt and a sand mixture. Adjusting some brushes on the shelves, Faith says that adults and children alike come to the center with issues like mental retardation, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, bipolar disorder and other challenges. “It’s rewarding for me,” she says. “There’s just something about our clients that I admire. They are so happy and hard-working when they come here.” Perhaps Faith’s satisfaction comes most often when she witnesses a client overcome a physical or mental obstacle. Each time a little girl refuses to give up until she has pulled herself into the saddle, another victory is won. And as the girl nudges her horse into a trot, her frail body matching its every movement, the battle is almost forgotten. She beams with happiness, and Faith can’t help but smile too, as the earth pounds with the steady rhythm of freedom. *NARHA is the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. Just as other professions use accreditation and licensing systems to improve the well-being of their industries, therapeutic equine professionals have a distinction of their own thanks to NARHA’s Premier Accredited Center Program.
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karen evans recommends...
co-host of Marriage today along with husband, Pastor jimmy evans
I love to read. When I was approached to review books that I have read, I was delighted. I attribute my love of books to my mother. While I was growing up, she was always reading some big, thick book, usually the newest fiction. It fascinated me, and I wanted to know what was so intriguing inside a heavy book full of white paper and black print. Thankfully, she insisted we find out for ourselves. Without TV or other technical
distractions, I began an adventure with words in print that to this day brings me great joy. Recently I spent time with a friend discussing the Scriptures about loving God and others. She said I should read Primal. (Thankfully, my father gave me a Kindle last year, so I was able to immediately download it.) The author is Mark Batterson, who is a young pastor who has written other books as well. Basically, this bookâ€™s purpose is to stir up our passion to not only return to our first love but also to discover why it is so
important. He writes about how we all have Godgiven ways to love that are uniquely ours, but we can also learn to love in ways that are not so easy for us. The author uses a lot of his own love language in this book. If you have desired for your love of God to grow to the point that you love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, this book will inspire you. Batterson gives a lot of insight and uses the history of past Christians to help us learn and be motivated to obey the commandments of loving God and others. Good reading. I love to read Christian fiction too. I will admit some of the books I have read have been mindless. What captures me is a really good author and content that has meaning, purpose and redeeming qualities. Recently I came across an author named Charles Martin. The first book I read of his was Wrapped In Rain. His writing is not for the faint of heart. He tells his stories with such emotion and detail that for some it may be over the top. (I am not squeamish, and I love hospital and survivor stories on TV too.) What I enjoyed about this book is the way he takes a very sad, tragic story and weaves in forgiveness, unconditional love and grace, as well as redemption. The stories in all of Martin’s books that I have read so far are fresh and new. His characters are amazing too. One of the main characters in Wrapped in Rain is Miss Ella. She is a nanny to two young boys who have an abusive, absent father. This is one of her quotes to the boys: “Life is a battle, but you can’t fight it with your fists. You got to fight it with your heart.” I loved this book!
sweet SP T by Michelle Akins
Picture this: your birthday cake sits in front of you, and it is amazing. It’s a tower of tiers covered with silky white fondant and topped with spectacular circles of blue, red, purple, green and yellow. This is not just a cake. It’s a work of art, and you almost hate to cut it. But cut it you will, because as beautiful as it looks, you know it tastes even more delicious. Your first slice reveals layers of rich red velvet cake separated by sweet buttercream frosting. Then you take the first delectable bite, bringing a satisfied smile. Or maybe it’s not your birthday. Cara Linn Bowling can design and bake you an anniversary cake, a Fourth of July cake or, of course, a wedding cake. And if red velvet isn’t your favorite, you can choose lemon, strawberry, chocolate or even nutty pumpkin. Cara Linn Cakes fulfills the dreams of a little girl who used to love to get into her mother’s kitchen and bake—and bake, and bake, and bake. She made cookies, brownies, fudge—not to mention messes—but mostly she loved to make cakes. After high school, this little girl went to culinary school. Then came the day that changed everything. Five years ago, twenty-year-old Cara Linn Packard set off for New York City with little more than a suitcase and a dream. Inspired by Elisa Strauss, a cake designer she had seen on an episode of “Food Network Challenge,” Cara 36
Linn managed to turn her admiration into a three-month internship at Confetti Cakes, Strauss’ New York City custom bakery. Cara Linn was willing to work for no pay while she learned from a master of this craft. The internship was everything she dreamed it would be, but life in the Big Apple gave Cara Linn more than a little culture shock. She grew up in the Texas Panhandle and went to culinary school in a small town in Louisiana, so she knew that life in NYC would require some adjusting. The first big surprise came when she discovered that even with cash in her pocket, she could not rent an apartment without proof of employment. (Needless to say, an unpaid internship did not count.) This rule forced Cara Linn, along with her brother and two of their cousins, to spend their first few nights hotel hopping. As a result, the
Photography by Joseph Schlabs
Cara Linn Bowling pipes icing onto one of her special creations.
money that was supposed to support her for three months was all but gone in three weeks. For a while, Cara Linn and her friends woke up in the morning not knowing where they would lay their heads that night. But somehow they always ended up with a place to stay. They did not spend even one night in a bus station, on a park bench, or on the street. “I learned,” says Cara Linn, “that God loves to show off and come through.” At the end of the planned threemonth adventure, Cara Linn’s brother and cousins went back to Texas. But she had found a home in New York City. With her internship complete, a local restaurant offered her a job as a pastry chef. But even at this point, with a paying job and (finally) a place to live, making ends meet continued to be difficult. “I lived by faith the entire time,” she comments. She supplemented her income with catering side jobs, which always seemed to come when she most needed the money. And every now and then, she designed and baked cakes for her friends. It was when Cara Linn was once again looking for an apartment that the Lord came through in a big way. She had decided to live in Brooklyn because it was a little quieter than the always-frenetic Manhattan, and the rent there was more reasonable. Still, the process was exhausting. At her fourth stop, an apartment that was neither what she wanted nor within her budget, a frustrated Cara Linn just wanted to sign a lease and get it over with. But the still, small voice inside her said, “One more.” So she went to one last apartment. This apartment had two stories, and the lower floor included a separate entrance. Next to the reasonable rent, Cara Linn liked this feature of the apartment best because, as word had spread from friends to acquaintances to strangers about what she did with cake, she had finally formed her own company, Cara Linn, Inc. Here, where the Holy Spirit led her, Cara Linn had space to consult with clients and hold cake-decorating classes. 38
Her business flourished. Eventually she hired an assistant, and when her mom came to visit she would help out as well. As Cara Linn went from barely making it financially to starting her own business, from having no place to live to finding the perfect apartment, she developed a deep intimacy with the Lord. She woke up one morning with the words faith, cake, and Jesus running through her head. The words didn’t seem to go together, but to Cara Linn they made sense. As she explains, “Faith is what I live by, cake is how I get by and Jesus is my one true love and the reason for it all.” Over the next couple of years, Cara Linn wrote the book Faith, Cake, and Jesus, pouring out of her heart all that she was learning about hearing the Lord’s voice, seeing Him answer prayer, and living out the dreams He puts in the hearts of His children. She self-published the book last year. In April, 2009, Cara met James Bowling. Her mother, Dianne, had met James at the Amarillo House of Prayer, and she was impressed enough to bring him along on her trip to New York that spring. Cara enjoyed getting to know James. He was friendly and generous, and he seemed to have a sincere relationship with Jesus. James helped run his family’s business in Amarillo, and he offered to lend some of his expertise to Cara Linn, Inc. One of James’ first contributions to the company was the invention of the Extreme CakeOver, their prophetic cake ministry. The CakeOver recipient, who has been selected by a contest or nominated by a friend, is first prayed over by the Cake Squad—Cara Linn, mom Dianne, James and a few other Spiritfilled friends. Each member of the Cake Squad asks God for a prophetic word. Cara Linn prays over the words and then sketches a cake that illustrates what the Holy Spirit has spoken over and about this person. If it’s a long-distance CakeOver, she simply mails the sketch as a picture of the Lord’s words. But for local CakeOver clients, the cake may take an even more tangible, sweeter form.
In June, James traveled back to New York City to help launch the first Extreme CakeOver. It was a huge success. But shortly after James’ visit, Cara Linn’s longtime assistant quit. She hadn’t seen it coming, and it threw her for a loop. How was she going to continue to succeed without the person who had been her right hand for so long? The answer to her prayer came in an unexpected way. James called and said, “I think the Lord is telling me to move to New York and help you as long as you need me to.” It was an incredible offer, one Cara Linn was in no position to refuse. Miraculously (literally!), James found an apartment in the same building, right above hers. Every morning for weeks, James would come downstairs and work for hours in her kitchen. According to Cara Linn, he even became quite skilled at rolling fondant! Over those weeks, Cara Linn’s feelings for James deepened and changed. Here was a man who genuinely loved God, and after 39
all those hours upon hours working together, she realized that what she felt for him was more than just friendship. On the day that she confessed her feelings, James was relieved to tell her that he felt the same way. By August, they were engaged. As she had in summers past, Cara Linn came back to Amarillo to conduct classes for friends, acquaintances and others who had heard about her work through word of mouth. On that trip, Amarillo felt more like home than it had at any time in the last five years. And strangely, when she got back to the City—the place that had ignited her dreams—it no longer felt like home at all. James agreed—the Lord was calling them both back to Amarillo. They left New York City in early November, 2009, and later that month they were married at the Amarillo House of Prayer. As a wedding gift, Cara Linn’s sister offered to plan the entire wedding. All Cara Linn had to do—naturally—was bake the wedding cake. (To see pictures of the wedding cake and groom’s cake, go to caralinn–thesweetlife.blogspot.com.) So Cara Linn, Inc. has set up shop in Amarillo, using extra space James purchased for the family business long before he knew he would have a cakedesigner wife who would need it. Just as she did in New York City, Cara Linn holds cake-decorating classes and sells custom cakes and sweet treats (think cheesecake lollipops—yum!) for special occasions. Cara Linn loves what she does, and her goal in all of it is to encourage and inspire her clients, students, friends, readers—pretty much everyone she comes in contact with—to live from what she likes to call “the sweet spot,” that place in the center of God’s purpose and calling. It’s easy to see that Cara Linn has found her sweet spot, not just because her dreams are coming true, but because she operates from a heart knit to Jesus’, a heart that hears His voice and obeys. And, for all of us, that is the sweetest spot of all. 40
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