Saturday, January 28, 2012

Connect with Carol Sparks

RUBY: How long have you attended Troy United Methodist Church? 
Carol:  We moved to Troy when I was 1. My parents started attending the Troy United Methodist Church right away. That was when the church was the little white building along Main Street. I think it is fair to say that I don’t remember much about that church building.

RUBY: What drew you to this church?
Carol:  The people. The people in this church have been a part of my family as long as I can remember. Because I grew in up in this church (my family having joined the church when I was only 1 year old), I have had continued support and prayers from the members from my childhood through the present. When I went away to college and law school, I was absent for 7 years (except those weekends when I was home visiting). But when I became settled and returned to the church, the people embraced me, watched me get married, and supported our growing family. I continue to be drawn to this church daily as a safe and inviting place where my children can learn about God and be supported and loved by this wonderful church family.
RUBY: Which service do you typically attend?
Carol:  We attend the 9 am service, and most recently have been attending the Wednesday night Youth Service at 6:30 in the Family Life Center.

RUBY: Share a favorite Bible verse and/or song, and why this is a favorite.
Carol:  "If your heart is broken, youll find God right there; if youre kicked in the gut, hell help you catch your breath.Psalm 34:18
Pastor Kurt Stone shared this verse with Jon and I after we lost our twin sons on Valentines Day 2008. It was difficult for me to acknowledge the truth of those words on that day, but over time I did.

Carol Sparks pictured far right.

RUBY: Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I heard that you have an awe-inspiring tradition in your family as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Carol:  Well, it has definitely become a tradition, but not through our own efforts. Really, it is a tradition that has evolved through the grace of the Holy Spirit. After we lost our twins in 2008, we started a search for answers on how could this have happened to us. 
Our previous pregnancy was complication free; in fact, Hannah was born 2 days late on Valentine’s Day 2006. Our search for answers left us with the conclusion that there was no really good answer. The doctors, who I truly believe are the best of the best, told us that I was unable to carry the twins full term because “there were two.” Without underestimating the true miracle of life that only God can explain, I just couldn’t believe that with all of the advances in medicine, the doctors’ explanation was good enough. So, Jon and I agreed that there was an obvious need to support medical research relating to the complications of a multiples pregnancy and birth. To do this we formed a nonprofit organization and decided to hold an annual fundraiser on Valentine’s Day weekend every year to celebrate the possibility of life! Afterall, we have 3 reasons to celebrate. Hannah turns 6 this coming Valentine’s Day, and Cale and Nathan are celebrating their 4th year of eternal life in heaven.
RUBY: Can you give us the specifics on the upcoming fundraiser for people who may be interested?
What: Fourth Annual Hearts for Hope Dinner and Silent Auction
When: Saturday, February 11, 2012 from 6:30pm to midnight (bidding starts at 6:30 and ends at 10:00)
Where: The LeClaire Room (on the Lewis and Clark Campus, across from Market Basket), 600 Troy Road, Edwardsville, IL 62025
Why: To raise money for medical research relating to complications of a multiples pregnancy and birth
How: Go to to purchase your tickets today ($65/each or $500/table of 8). Ticket sales end on Sunday, January 29th.

Lee Russo centerpieces may be reserved at

RUBY: Chad, Colette, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Faith at Home event at Troy UMC for 2 and 3 year-olds. Would you mind explaining Faith at Home and how you became involved in this ministry?
Carol:  I was first introduced to David Roderick and the concept of Family Ministry when I was serving on the Staff Parish Committee. With two young kids, I was eager to learn how to shape home to allow room for Gods plans. A few years ago, David asked me to read a book and then get together to discuss it. After only a few chapters in, I was sold. I knew that without a doubt there was a calling on my heart to help resource families that longed for the same sort of home that I did. The Faith@Home events are designed to give families one opportunity each year (for each child) to participate together in a practical way to invite God into their homes. I love that the mission of the Troy United Methodist Church is to exist to invite others on a journey with Jesus. It stands to reason that no one can journey with Jesus if He doesnt get an invitation to come along. So, Faith@Home events give families practical ways to invite Jesus into their homes and give room for the Holy Spirit to go to work within their lives.

RUBY: Our family is so grateful for all of the delicious dinners we have received through the Care Ministry. Would you mind telling us more about this and how one may participate in delivering meals as well as how one may receive meals?
Carol:  The Care Ministry is a great ministry that puts into action the truth that we are the hands and feet of God. The CareCalendar is a resource that the church uses to organize needs a family may have during a time of illness, surgery, recovery, or inability. I am truly a fan of this, and I am a previous recipient of its blessings! When I was pregnant with Jaden, I was on bedrest for 4 months, and the church truly supported my family by use of this resource. When a family is in need, the church will ask someone to organize the calendar, and the word will be quickly spread (church bulletin, e-Reach, Facebook, emails, etc.) for helpers. I have learned that the CareCalendar is as much of a blessing for those who receive from it as those who give through it. I think we are all wanting to give, but sometimes we just don’t know who or how to help!
RUBY: Who has inspired you as a mentor and why?
My parents. Many of you may know my parents, Fred and Jeanie Parsons. From their examples, I have learned the importance of education and the ins and outs and ups and downs of the business world. With their support, I earned my law degree and eventually started my own practice. They are my only clients that solicit my legal advice and repay me with knowledgeable business advice and Sunday dinners! From them, I have also learned the importance of giving – giving of oneself to your spouse, to your children, to your family, and to God and giving of your treasures in a way that honors and worships God. I am so thankful that my parents continue to mentor me so that I can each day be a better wife, mother, and follower of Christ.

RUBY: Tell us more about your family.
Jon and I live in Saint Jacob with our daughters, Hannah and Jaden. Hannah attends Silver Creek Elementary as a kindergartener, and Jaden attends First Step Preschool in the 2s class. Jon is the Senior VP of Operations at Midwest Railcar in Maryville, IL, a private railcar lessor with a fleet of over 10,000 railcars. I work for myself part-time at Sparks Law Office, P.C. to advise small business owners on their legal needs and to assist individuals with estate planning.
RUBY: How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?
Carol:  I can be reached via email at or or via phone at 618-920-2715.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Connect with Sarah "Miss Sarah" Bohnenstiehl

RUBY: How long have you attended Troy United Methodist Church? 
Sarah:  a little over a year

RUBY: What drew you to this church?  
Sarah:  We first attended the preschool, and then we tried the VBS in 2010, and the children loved it.   The people were so friendly and the church was very kid and family- oriented.  We wanted a church home that  felt like an extended family, and we found that at Troy.

RUBY: Which service do you typically attend? 
Sarah:  9:00

RUBY: Share a favorite Bible verse and/or inspirational song, and why this is a favorite.   
Sarah:  The song "Sweet Mercies," which is a kids praise song we sing at school.  It is one of my favorites because I used to catch my daughter singing it when she thought no one was looking. 

RUBY: Tell us about your involvement at Troy UMC and in the community.  
Sarah:  Teacher's Aid in the 2-year-old class with Mrs. Mary at 1st Step Learning Center, and I co-lead a Daisy troop.

RUBY: I know you are an avid reader. Name a favorite book, and why it is your favorite.  
Sarah:  As far as fiction...I am a huge zombie fan.  For non- fiction, I would have to say The Lady and the Panda.  It was shocking to read how animals were treated in the early days of zoos.  Also it was a grim reminder that the best intentions of people are not always in the best interest of animals.

RUBY: What would you try if you had no fear?  
Sarah:  cliff diving
RUBY: Tell us about your family.  
Sarah:  I met my husband Kris in 1997, and we got married in 1999.   We had Ava in 2005 and Jacob in 2008.  We have a lot of pets.  We  have a weekly family game night, and in nice weather, we spend most  of our time outside.

RUBY: How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?  
Sarah:  e-mail me at

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Connect with Deb Inman

Deb Inman pictured far right.
RUBY:  How long have you been attending Troy UMC?
Deb:  We started attending troy umc in august of 2002 
RUBY:  What drew you to this church?
Deb:  We were drawn to this church by previous experience with the
church--Carl spent the night with a youth group several years before.
And I felt led to this church.

RUBY:  Which service do you typically attend?
Deb:  Most often I attend the 9 am service, but I am usually here for all
three services.

RUBY:  Share a favorite Bible verse, and why this is a favorite.
Deb:  Matthew 7:7
   "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the
door will be opened to you."
An encouragement and reminder to me that our God is a loving and
responsive God and that prayer DOES make a difference.

RUBY:  Tell us about your family.
Deb:  My Family is awesome.  They love the Lord and live lives that reflect
that.  Erica and Camden and Derek live in Philly. Camden is a Phd
student at Westminister Seminary, and Erica is a stay-at-home mom after
being the Director of Development for the Philadelphia Rescue Mission.
Joshua and Lisa and Colby live in Orlando.  Gregory has recently
graduated from siue and has a job in O'Fallon, MO.  He is engaged to be
married in June.  Lauren teaches high school science in O'Fallon.
And my best friend Carl is enjoying being a grandpa.

RUBY:  You are the Director of Lay Ministry.  What exactly does this
Deb:  Director of Lay Ministry--mmmm--the job responsibilities are fluid =:)
My primary purpose is to help people discover their spiritual gifts and
to find a place in ministry that is a good fit. I believe that there is
a ministry role for each of us and that we are all called to serve in
some capacity--and I feel called to help folks discover what that is.
I also have responsibility for adult studies, hospitality, food service,
custodial/facility use issues, trustee liaison, pastoral care
coordination and miscellaneous details as they arise.

RUBY:  What's the best way to spend a rainy weekend?
Deb:  I like to cook soup and build a fire in the fire place and snuggle down
and spend time with whoever is around.

RUBY:  Do you have a special Christmas tradition you would like to share?
Deb:  We have for several years--wrapped all of each person's gifts in the
same paper.(no names on pkgs)  On Christmas morning the kids stack the
gifts in piles and guess which pile if for which person based on the
paper and the pile.  They always are able to figure it out.  After the
gifts have been opened, we make waffles with strawberries and whipped
cream and lots of bacon.

RUBY:  How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?
Deb:  I am anxious to hear from Ruby readers at my desk on my phone
667-6241 at my desk
974-8010 on my cell

Monday, January 16, 2012

Connect with Mary Kennett

RUBY: How long have you attended Troy UMC?

Mary: I have been attending TUMC since Feb. 2004. The weekend we moved to Troy was Fire-up weekend, and we had friends from our home church attending so it made for an easy transition! We enjoyed it, so we have been coming back ever since.

RUBY: What drew you to this church?

Mary: The Praise band, and how friendly everyone was. We felt very welcomed!

RUBY:  Which service do you typically attend?

Mary: 9 O’clock service.

RUBY:  Share a favorite Bible verse, and why this is a favorite.

Mary: And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  -Matthew 19:26
I think of this verse when things get challenging in life, and it makes things seem a little easier knowing God is always there with me.

RUBY: For me personally, your enthusiastic participation doing hair at the Get Pinked Party was overwhelming. Tell us about your involvement with hair.

Mary: Well I went back to cosmetology school in 2007. It was something I have always been drawn to and wanted to do. I really enjoy what I can do and like seeing what I can create. Besides it is always fun meeting new people and making them feel a little better!

RUBY: You personally touched the life of my daughter teaching at 1st Step Learning Center. Would you tell us more about your teaching?

Mary:  Well I have my teaching degree in Special Education, and when it became hard to find a teaching job, I went back to school for cosmetology, but I was put on bed rest while I was pregnant with my daughter and lost my job. When I started looking for a new job, it was not an easy task. Kim [McGrath] called me and said they were looking for some new teachers, so I applied, and the rest is history.

RUBY: Any other connections you would like to share?

Mary:  Well some of the best connections I have made through Troy UMC were the ones I made when I was on bed rest. The church was very helpful in setting up a care calendar to provide us meals, and also rides to the doctor so Ryan would not have to take time off weekly for my appointments. I met some amazing people through that, and they are still close to our family today!

RUBY: Tell us about your family.

Mary:  Well my husband Ryan and I have been married for 8 years, and we have a beautiful daughter named Annalee (aka Annie). My husband works with computers, and he also plays in the praise band at the 9 o’clock service. Annie will be 2 in January, and she is full of energy, and I love spending time with her!

RUBY: What do you think Heaven will be like?

Mary:  Well I do believe in Heaven, and I think it is going to be wonderful! Lots of time spent worshiping and doing the things we love. I think it will be nice not to see suffering and poverty. Hopefully there will be reunions with loved ones as well.

RUBY: How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?

Mary:  You can contact me by email at either or or phone at 618-977-4230

Leading and Loving It: FREE Online Women's Conference

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dear Lord . . .

Thank you for providing nourishing food for our bodies and uplifting moments together.  You are the source of all joy.  Keep our eyes fixed on You.  In Jesus' name, Amen.  (life:  beautiful 28).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Connect with Julie Ford

1.  How long have you attended Troy UMC?
I have attended TUMC for a little over two years now, and I love this church.

2.  What drew you to this church?
I started attending TUMC because this is the church my husband attended.

3.  Which service do you typically attend?
I normally attend 9:00 am, I love the Praise & Worship part of the service.  The first time I attended TUMC, I attended the 10:30 service which I really loved also, it reminded me when our family would go to my Grandpa's church in Herrin, Illinois, the Troy 10:30 service was so sweet and the people were so welcoming, I felt like I belonged there.

4.  Share one of your favorite Bible verses, and explain why it means so much to you.
I have many verses that are held in my heart, but I will have to say the verse which means the most to me is Jeremiah 29:11, '"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."'  - this was the first Bible verse I memorized and many times in my life I have held tight to the verse because I know God has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not harm me.

My other Bible verse that runs close to Jeremiah 29:11 is Phil 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and position, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  I memorized this verse a few months before many very stressful events happened to me; God knew I would need this to keep me going forward.  Not only did the Bible verse give me peace, it gave me strength to keep going.

5.  Tell us about your family.
I am the wife of Jim Ford, I am a mother to Jordan, Jenna, Justin Summers, who were all born in Ft Worth, Texas.  My children are mostly out of the house, my oldest son Jordan lives in Adana, Turkey serving in USAF.  My daughter Jenna is a senior at McKendree University studying psychology, my youngest son Justin attends SIUE and he is a manager at Wehrenberg Theatres.  I am a step mom to Jim's kids Matthew;16 X-Box fein, Zach; freshman in High School-study guru & Kaitlyn; 8th grader world class gymnast. I also have (four) four-legged children.

6.  What led you to your involvement in the Women's Ministry as the Events Coordinator?

I have a passion for women's ministry; I worked with the women at my previous church and really loved it.  I thought after getting married and moving to Troy that I would not have the opportunity to work with women's ministry, but luckily I was wrong.  I love to encourage women; we have a lot on our plates at all times and whenever there is something special created with women in mind, it makes me want to work hard and make things especially nice.  I want to encourage all women to attend Bible Studies, attend anything that is for women; we need each other.

7.  The Women's Retreat at Lake Williamson was a huge success.  What do you have planned for us in the future?
Thank you for saying that; it was a combined effort plus we prayed over the event which makes all the difference in the world to events being successful or not.  Stay tuned for future events for the ladies.

8.  How did you give thanks this Thanksgiving?

Our Thanksgiving was celebrated at our home with 17 of Jim's family and two of my children; I was thankful for the opportunity to serve others and host the dinner, but I was missing my oldest son; this was the first Thanksgiving without him; let this be a warning to all mothers - "The days are long, but the years are short" - I read this on Courtney Doctor's website about her children leaving the nest.  It is so true, but never did I realize it until my kids started leaving home.  I am very thankful to Jesus who has orchestrated my life; I don't want it any other way.

9.  How may we contact you to make a further connection?

I can be reached at my email address: and would love to hear about any ideas for our ladies at Troy UMC.

Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I will do a new thing;  now it shall spring forth;  shall ye not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Faithful Fitness Classes Beginning January 20th

A fitness class is scheduled to meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm beginning on January 10. The class will also meet on Saturdays from 9:30 - 10:30 am. Cost for the class $20 per month or $3.00 for drop in. There is also a $5.00 registration / equipment fee. You can come to all three sessions, or you can choose the time that works for YOU. Each session is identical.  All welcome!

For more information, contact Adrian at 618-667-6241 or