When I saved up all my money and bought a shiny new Schwinn road bike with racing tires on it at the age of 12, I had no idea how God would use it to change my life and so many others.
But, let me back up just a bit. I grew up in Canton, Ohio, with my parents and younger brother and sister. For a short time, my 3 older brothers were around, but they are quite a bit older, so they moved out when I was young. I really didn’t bike then — there wasn’t any where to bike. However, I loved hiking, boating, and traveling with the family as well as competitive swimming and being involved in band.
In 1993, I convinced my awesome parents to leave me with 39 strangers, my Schwinn, and a bike flag, outside of Chicago, IL, on this mystery thing called “Spoke Folk.” I’d never seen a program or even met anyone who had done it. I hadn’t even been away from home, but I knew I was supposed to be there. While I had always known Christ, Spoke Folk is what set me on a path to true discipleship and an understanding of “relational ministry” that I still use today.
From 1993 until 1998 I toured each year. Without knowing it, my mission was to take someone new each year I went, which I accomplished, including my brother, sister, and the young man who would eventually propose to me. One year, when I was old enough to drive, I even managed to cram 6 people, 6 bikes, luggage for 6, and a drum kit inside of the family van in order to get to tour…it was that important!
From 1999-2000, I spent an amazing year as a missionary with Captive Free, which is a whole other story (which I’m happy to share, if you ask).
I made it back for one more tour in 2001, my second as a counselor. My new husband, Mike, and I took a youth group member that year.
Life took us in a new direction after that. I was pregnant with our oldest on the 2001 tour. Then, Mike (and I) went off to seminary which led us to live in North Carolina and Tennessee. During that time, God gifted us with four amazing boys! Early on, I was a youth minister, but eventually, I was able to stay home and minister primarily to my family.
In 2007, we took our first full-time position at an Episcopal church in West Virginia. It was a small town, so I got to do ministry in just about every denomination it seemed, which I enjoyed. We learned to be a clergy family there, as we feel our ministry involves each and every member of our family.
God brought us to Florida in 2012, which is where my dad (Mom is home with Jesus) and my younger siblings have ended up as well. We’ve done lots of different ministry since arriving. On top of that list is my return to Spoke Folk. My true cyclist, Eli, turned 15 in 2018. So, he, his older brother, Robby, and I, drove to Maryland to introduce our next generation to the ministry. They are hooked and ready to return again.
When I’m not ministering to family and friends, I really do love to bike with the family and am thankful we get to do it year round. I also love watching the boys in theater and band, hiking, traveling, disc golf, board games, cooking, playing in the community band, and lots of other things that draws us closer to God and each other.
I’m so glad to be an active part of the Spoke Folk family again and hope to be for years to come!
(A note: Our family picture is a little old, but it combines three of my favorites — family, traveling, and biking…down Pike’s Peak).