"I grew up on a fruit farm with a dad who showed me what honest, hard work looked like & a mom who demonstrated how to really love Jesus & love people. As a kid, I spent more hours outside than in. I built forts out of sticks (or snow), caught Chickadees (& let them go), studied tadpoles & snacked on snap peas out of the garden. Middle & high school days were dominated by sports & student council, but the weekends were on a mini-bike or cross-country skis. After studying biology & physical education, I graduated from Hope College in 1991 with a teaching degree, & passionately led an elementary classroom for six years. Then, for more than 12 years, I served as a family pastor & built hundreds of amazing new relationships. I am currently working on a book & ministry consulting materials in partnership with the Reformed Church in America. (www.growfamilyministry.com)
After marrying Chris (a brilliant chemist) in 1994 & having Emma (now 23), Caleb (21) & Isaac (19), God led me into family ministry, serving three different churches in Kalamazoo. During this time, He also brought Lydia (15) & Mae (14) into our lives, both adopted from China. My husband & five kids bring me tremendous joy!
Along with some amazing friends, I enjoy dreaming big & finding ways to make the world more beautiful. I find God to be very real & incredibly creative...providing me with the inspiration & motivation to tackle each day."
"Although we enjoyed many years of Kalamazoo neighborhood living, in 2012 we decided to get back to our country-lovin’ roots. After purchasing our wooded 27 acre parcel near Oshtemo, we broke ground on our current house & made it home in 2014. A year later we had our barn built. Then we adopted an obnoxious stray goat named “Pedro” & Beltz Barnyard was born.
This property has unleashed our outdoor passions including hunting, bonfiring, hiking, gardening, antique-tinkering & critter-collecting. We host family & church gatherings as often as we can, inviting others to enjoy our “peaceful” woodsy world.
Our annual Barn Market, with 24 craft & vintage vendors, happens the third Saturday of May, drawing hundreds of visitors. This event raises thousands of dollars for local charity. We also volunteer as a foster family for the SPCA of Southwest Michigan. We have welcomed, cared for & bid a bittersweet farewell to more than 1oo dogs.
In 2018 we expanded our vision to include a summertime barnyard experience called Camp Whimsy. This is where VBS, wilderness camp & nature appreciation are woven into one. Through first-hand experiences & interactions with God’s creation, kids & families are introduced to a simpler, more intentional way of approaching the world around them.
By combining our love of nature & call to ministry, we’ve been able to touch many lives. Young ones, broken ones, curious ones & challenged ones...even furry & feathered ones.
Our vision is to let God’s creative story continue to unfold around us & through us, offering our home & farm for His work & His glory.
Thank you for sharing in this adventure with us!"