My Story

I first knew Jesus as the Man who Calmed the Sea. I knew the wildness of the sea, having grown up on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, and I didn’t know any man who could order it to be still. When my grandmother first read me the story, I wanted to know more about this Man.

On the only day I ever attended a Vacation Bible School, a man stood in front of the church and told about the Man called Jesus who could not only calm the sea, but forgive my sin: “He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” I knew I was a sinner, but when they asked us to get out of our seats and come forward, I was too afraid.

It was a sorrowful ride home. I thought I had missed my chance, but there in the quiet of the backseat, I knew that I needed Jesus. I prayed and dedicated my life to Him, and I have never been the same. Jesus calmed the sea within.

I wrote most of my fiction work, “Gasparilla’s Key and the Revenge of the Purple Mermaid” while living in south Florida, looking out at the waves on which the famed privateer Jose Gaspar sailed. I yearned for that type of adventure.

As a teenager, I was invited to go on a mission trip to a camp in South Dakota for Native Americans. My friends and I lead worship and performed several skits to share the Gospel and encourage Native believers. I met several teen girls from Spirit Lake Nation that summer, and I wrote to them throughout the year. Serving the Lord that summer was not exactly the pirate adventure I had been thinking of- it was even better!

Every summer after that, I was invited back to the Dakotas, traveling to the Spirit Lake Nation for the first time in 2000 to help at Dakota Baptist Church. My grandfather also got involved, and he helped design a new church building for Dakota Baptist in Fort Totten. The old building, which had been built the same year I was born, was flooding. We helped build the new building and were there for its dedication. We continued to build relationships with the people. The Lord’s steadfast love for them and for me overwhelmed me. I knew I wanted to share His love with them as often as I could.

Paul and I got married in Orlando, Fl in 2004. He worked as a civil engineer. I got my bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, earning the University of Central Florida’s nonfiction writing award the year I graduated. I volunteered with Child Evangelism Fellowship and in our local church. One night in 2006, our pastor asked Paul if he had ever considered going into the ministry. We prayed about this. At about the same time, the folks at Dakota Baptist called and asked if we would be interested in pastoring the church when the former pastor retired. We knew the Lord’s plan was coming together in a way we could never have brought about ourselves.

In May of 2006, we moved. We love serving the Lord in the Spirit Lake Nation. The Lord has shown me how much I needed the believers in Dakota Baptist Church to disciple me and lead me closer to Him. The Lord has held me close as I have mourned, rejoiced, failed, and persevered. I wrote about some of our journey in my devotional work, “God on a Shelf” and in my collection of essays, articles, and holiday devotions entitled, “In His Light.” I love sharing about the Man who Calms the Sea- and me- with women who struggle with addiction and children who have been neglected and abused in our community.

Our four children have been born here, and what a joy it is to see them join us in the work. We do summer outreach to children and families together. We host events and worship together at the church. It is a blessing to be able to serve the Lord together on this grand adventure.

The land here didn’t look inhabitable when we made our first winter visit on a snowy February day when windchills were -50, but it has proven even more fruitful that we could have imagined. Abiding in the Lord Jesus has produced similar fruit in my life. He has transformed me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share His work with you through my writing. Thank you also for your prayers for us.

I write to glorify the Lord and tell the story of all He has done in my life. You can find my weekly column in the Devils’ Lake Journal. It has also appeared in Home Educating Family magazine and in the Baptist Press. I have five published books. You can view them here.


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