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“And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19 (NAS)

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 These young men are slaves to the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana, West Africa. Some children are as young as 3 years old. They work 14-hour days paddling fishing canoes and casting nets. Many of the children have ringworm and parasites. They do not know their last name or age. Rescuing and providing for abandoned, enslaved children in that country is the goal of Johnbull and Stacy Omorefe of Sioux Falls, S.D., through their City of Refuge Ministries.


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Living Stones News - Midwest Edition: Christian Commerce

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Christian Commerce: Quality custom furniture and cabinet business is a family affair
Christian Commerce

Superior craftsmanship is goal of Christian woodworking family.
By Allison Taylor, Living Stones News Writer

During the late ’70s Bruce Herstad started designing and constructing custom-made cabinets and furniture in a shop outside his home. Now, almost 30 years later, Herstad has turned his shop into a full-time family business.

Bruce Herstad (left), and his son, Ben, pause for a moment as they work on installing cabinets in a home in Duluth, Minn.
When he was young, Herstad worked in construction and as a pattern maker. He became interested in woodworking when one of his college professors from the University of Wisconsin taught him about building furniture. So he decided to break out on his own and start a woodworking and cabinetry business. He said he quickly discovered his niche in providing a quality of custom-made furniture and cabinets that can be very difficult to find elsewhere.

In all their years of business, the Herstads have never chosen to advertise.

“It’s all done by word of mouth,” Herstad said. “We want our customers to come knowing who we are, what we do and what prices to expect. For that to happen, word of mouth is ideal.”

Remarkably, Herstad said he has never had a bad customer. This he attributes to God.

Something else Herstad attributes to God is he has never missed a day of work due to a lack of business. During one slow winter, Herstad said he was tempted to go out and “drum up some work.” Instead, he kept plugging away and relied on God to meet his family’s needs. Sure enough, by spring customers were coming in.

“God has always blessed us,” Herstad said.

As a Christian, Herstad said he believes in complete honesty. His business has no hidden charges or service fees.

“Any good, honest, reputable business would be doing the same things,” he said.

Herstad said he became a Christian around Christmas in 1977, the same time his first son, Seth, was born. He was working in construction and a colleague invited him to attend a small-group meeting at Darrow Road Wesleyan Church, which is located south of Superior, Wis. He accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior that winter. Now, Herstad and his wife, Mary, are members of the Darrow Road Church and help lead youth meetings on Wednesday nights and on Sunday mornings.

Herstad said what separates his business from others is the quality of service. He goes to his customers’ homes, learns their design schemes, listens to their needs and discusses their options.

“I make a point of going on site to make sure that our customers’ designs will work in their space,” Herstad said. “That’s not really something other companies can do for their customers.”

Herstad has received letters from his customers thanking him for his work. One customer wrote, “Your craftsmanship is outstanding, and we are happy with the suggestions you made.” Another customer wrote, “We recommend you to our friends.”

As for his prices, Herstad said his business cannot compete with cheap cabinetry. “If I work cheap in order to compete, I am robbing my family, and that’s not right.”

Herstad’s family plays a large role in his business. Mary, who is a full-time teacher at Maranatha Christian Academy in Superior, helps by staining, finishing and painting. The Herstads have four children: Seth (31), Ben (29), Leah (23) and Hannah (21). Each of the children has put time in helping around the shop. Ben, Herstad’s second son, now works full time as a partner in the business.

Ben says he “grew up around the shop.” He began by sweeping the floors for his dad, and by the time he was 12 he started learning to use the tools. When he was 19, Ben left college to work full time in the family business. Now, he and his father are partners.

When asked about his role in the business, Ben smiled at his dad and said, “I do all the real work.” In fact, the two complement each other. While Bruce Herstad prefers meeting customers, completing paperwork, and finishing, varnishing and staining the cabinets, Ben prefers to work in the shop building the cabinets and furniture.

“It works very naturally,” Bruce said.

If Herstad does decide to retire, Ben said not to worry.

“As long as everything keeps working the way it has, I will probably just keep the business going,” Ben said.

The Herstads can be contacted at (715) 399-8866 in Superior.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, April 15 @ 00:15:00 CDT (1849 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)

Christian Commerce: Coffee, tunes and fellowship at Firehouse Underground
Christian Commerce

The Firehouse Underground and The Underground House of Prayer are not accidents. They are callings for Mike and Sue McComber.
By Veronica Stoneall, Living Stones News Writer

God is at work in His business of saving lives and caring for hurting people at Firehouse Underground in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D.

Located at 400 N. Main St., this coffee house is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 7 p.m. to midnight under the leadership of Mike and Sue Mc Comber. A new ministry, Underground House of Prayer, is also in the works.

Mike (left) and Sue McComber view their business — Firehouse Underground — as a ministry, a meeting place where they can witness to their guests.

“Firehouse is a relationship ministry. We pray each day for the opportunity to share our faith as we get to know our guests,” Sue said.

The Firehouse Underground is a social hub. It is a gathering place for teenagers, church youth groups, college students or homeless people who just walk in and have many needs in their lives. It is a gathering space for anyone needing a blessing and a safe place to hang out for a while.

Often on Friday and Saturday nights, Firehouse Underground has local Christian bands volunteer to come and share their musical gifts with the guests. Occasionally a well-known band or vocalist from another part of the country comes to perform. Having a band or vocalist play and sing is one more way to share the message of Christ to those who come.

“We pray for the presence of the Lord every night before we open,”
Sue said. “We pray for the people who will come and that we can be a blessing to them.”

UHOP, or Underground House of Prayer, is a new ministry opening side by side with Underground Firehouse. The McCombers’ vision is to have prayer rooms open 24/7.

However, for now the hours will coincide with hours for Firehouse Underground. Rooms for prayer are open now, but the McCombers’ intention is to eventually have the rooms staffed with people who can pray with the guests.

“When people know there is a place to pray, it becomes an invitation for them to draw closer to God,” Sue said.

“We hope for basic transformation of the city,” Mike said. “We know there are other people praying for the same thing. Our goal is to draw people and churches of all denominations together to worship and to love our Savior.”

UHOP is not an accident. It is a calling for the McCombers as much as the Firehouse Underground.

“We have never been the same since visiting The House of Prayer in Kansas City, Kan.,” Mike said. “It is set up for 800 people and is amazing to see and feel the presence of Christ. We have been there four times. It is our inspiration to set up our own House of Prayer here in Sioux Falls. UHOP will be tailored to the needs of Sioux Falls.

“One of our favorite Bible verses is James 4:8, which says, ‘Draw close to the Lord and He will draw close to you.’”

As children, Mike and Sue’s families both attended First Baptist Church in Sioux Falls. They remember attending the Old Firehouse coffee shop on 22nd and Minnesota as teenagers. This place had a positive affect on them. You walked in and were warmly greeted and totally accepted, no matter who you were. This kindness lived in their minds for many years.

The McCombers were later married, but they said things did not always go smoothly. Drifting away from Christ and a bout with alcohol and drugs made Mike’s life difficult. Mike was afraid to have children because he thought his drug use could cause a child to be less than perfect.

But the season of their lives changed when they returned to church and began attending Prairie Hills Covenant Church. They began coming back to the Lord, and Sue became pregnant with their first child.

“When I had a perfect daughter placed in my arms, I was transformed,” Mike said. “I was so excited, I showed everyone my beautiful baby girl. I never had the desire to drink or take drugs since. Two years later, we were blessed with a perfect baby boy.”

The McCombers said they continued to reminisce about the Old Firehouse. Twenty years had gone by, but the same picture kept coming back over and over. There was still a need in Sioux Falls for a place for teenagers.

“Open your doors and be the presence of Christ. This is for the city. By watching Roger Fredrikson at the Old Firehouse, we learned how to care,” Sue said. “We could not shake the idea for a coffee house. It was a calling.”

In March of 2000, they contacted Fredrikson, who founded the first firehouse. He helped them get started by telling them to do three
things: Get a board of directors, become incorporated and file for nonprofit status.

The Firehouse Underground opened in March 2002. The McCombers will celebrate its sixth anniversary this month with a fund-raising event called “Adding On.” This will include a banquet and program. You can contact Firehouse Underground for more information by calling (605) 335-6500.

Three faithful volunteers help the McCombers every week. Volunteers come to help from as far away as Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Youth groups volunteer to help make “Puppy Chow” to sell at the Firehouse. They may help pop popcorn, which is free each night. They may work behind the counter or help with games. Firehouse Underground also gives teenagers who need to do court-appointed community service a place to serve.

“We have a hunger to be closer with the Lord, and we do that through prayer time alone with Him and studying His Word. The Lord honors that and His Spirit fills and transforms you. We want all people to experience this,” Sue said. “We need to be filled with the fruits of the Spirit. It is our job to pray for those who need hope in their lives. This is very exciting to think of how God changes a person’s life from bad to good.”

“Our life is full in a wonderful way. It is a joy to serve in this place,” Mike said.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 18 @ 00:10:00 CDT (2092 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Honesty is the best policy for insulation company
Christian Commerce

By Robert Vokes, Living Stones News Writer

“But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience and endurance.” -- Luke 8:15

David Mesojedec was a general contractor for 10 years before going into the insulation business with his father, Mitch. He said the insulation companies he had worked with were not always timely, and that prompted and encouraged him to start his own insulation company -- Northstar Insulating Systems Inc., in Duluth, Minn. Mesojedec serves as chief executive officer and his father as chief financial officer.

Before starting his business, Mesojedec researched existing insulation systems and discovered that The Icynene Insulation System, which uses soft foam and an air-barrier system, is the industry standard, providing maximum building envelope performance.

“Icynene is the only insulation that provides a written lifetime guarantee,” he said.

After working one year as both a general contractor and a new business owner, Mesojedec found that he could not do both. He no longer serves as a general contractor, but Northstar Insulating is now the second-largest dealership in Minnesota.

“I have an advantage being a former contractor, so I know how contractors think and can meet their needs,” he said. Northstar Insulating serves both residential and commercial clients, both new and old construction.

As a Christian, Mesojedec said that honesty is the value that drives his business. He said he is fair and honest with his employees, who know that professional behavior is expected of them since they are the ones who usually interact with customers.

“I run my business in a very ethical manner, not taking business from other insulation companies unfairly,” he said. “I am a Christian businessperson doing the right thing. I try to live a Christ-like life, which directly follows through into my business practices. People know that they can trust me and my business.”

It is very important to Mesojedec that his children come to know Jesus before adulthood. Although he was raised in a Catholic family, coming to know Christ did not come easily to him.

“Although things had gotten out of control in my life, I still felt that it had to be me in control,” he said.

Mesojedec said his sister has a faith that inspires him.

“My sister found Jesus and has been a constant source of strength and a wonderful friend,” he said. “She has been an important part of my conversion.” Rather than “me in control,” Mesojedec has realized that he needed to give his life to Christ. He now surrounds himself with Christians to help him on his faith journey.

Mesojedec is married to Melanie, who is a human resource analyst at a Duluth hospital. They are the parents of 5-year-old Kaela, who attends Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth, and Dylan, who is 4 years old.

“I am doing everything possible for my children to know Jesus before they ‘have to,’” Mesojedec said.

Dave Mesojedec
Northstar Insulating Systems
1905 W. Superior St., Duluth, Minn.
(218) 525-4637

Posted by admin on Monday, February 11 @ 23:05:00 CST (1733 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce: Preserving memories and marking faith walks
Christian Commerce

Through a tragedy of her parents losing their home to fire and saving a box of old photos, Tracy Palmer became a consultant for Creative Memories.
By Veronica Stoneall, Living Stones News Writer

For 12 years, Tracy Palmer has been capturing her clients’ memories through her Creative Memories Business.

When Tracy Palmer isn’t helping preserve memories for the clients of her Creative Memories business, she keeps busy making her own memories with her family: Tracy (from left), Madeline, 12, her husband, Stuart, and Gabriel, 13.

But, to Palmer, her business is much more than a avenue to creatively freeze precious moments in time. Her work helps make a
difference in others’ lives — and their spiritual walks.

“The Bible commands us to pass on our stories and testimonies so we don’t forget God’s faithfulness and the process of sorting out our life story,” said Palmer, whose company spans the Twin Cities and beyond. Some clients come from as far away as Texas. “This brings a tremendous sense of belonging, purpose, gratitude, healing and so much more. I believe that every individual needs to be reached with our mission.

“My team of consultants are aptly named ‘Team Impact’ because of the magnitude of what we do and how the mission impacts each family that
we touch.”

Palmer believes that God has molded her business over the years. Her one-word mission statement — “Relationships” — puts people before profits. She said she relies on God to guide her business and uses tithing to her church and an openness to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her customers and team members as her claim for success.

“In my business that attracts Christians, God sends me ‘seekers’ instead,” Palmer said. “My vocation is a vehicle that He uses to quickly put me in an intimate relationship with those I serve.”

That fact continues to amaze her and increases her conviction each year regarding His purposes for her business.

While working as a nanny and wanting to start her own family, Palmer had several miscarriages before eventually being blessed with two children. Not wanting to miss out on anything with the babies, she considered 15 different home businesses and narrowed it down to three or four possibilities.

At that time, her parents’ home had burned to the ground. The volunteer firemen offered to “go inside” once. Her parents asked for
a large, pink dilapidated box of photos located under the stairs.
Palmer then made photo albums for her family.

“That was the beginning of my love for the Creative Memories mission for preserving the past, enriching the present and inspiring hope for the future,” Palmer said.

Growing up in Anoka, Minn., and being the middle child with a father who left and a stepfather who drank made life difficult for Palmer. She was a runner at heart, but needed to help her mother work. As a teenager, Palmer said she had difficulty with eating disorders, but was led to a Jesus People Church where she found Jesus Christ as a friend she could count on.

Palmer loves her Creative Memories business. She has set goals for herself and enjoys helping people create beautiful memories. It is the creative joy of using unique and different skills, natural and learned talents and passions that makes her Creative Memories business a success.

You can find out more about her business at www.mycmsite.com/tracypalmer.

Posted by admin on Monday, January 07 @ 23:05:00 CST (1116 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Nordstrom Automotive salvages cars and lives
Christian Commerce

By Gwendolyn Jacob, Living Stones News Writer

Shannon wasn’t the only one born into the Nordstrom family in 1969.
His parents, Art and Marie Nordstrom, also conceived Nordstrom’s Automotive, an auto salvage and parts business, that same year.

But like many unexpected blessings, the business wasn’t planned; it grew out of their need for a pick-up truck. The couple ran a dairy farm before they began the auto salvage business, but didn’t make enough money milking cows to buy a pick-up truck. They asked for a loan, but the loan company would only offer the Nordstroms money for a manure spreader.

Shannon (clockwise from left), Art and Marie Nordstrom view their salvage and parts business as more than just a place where someone can buy a spare part. The father-mother-son team have helped several people with their spiritual walks in the 38 years Nordstrom’s Automotive has been in business.

After being turned down, Art bought a wrecked vehicle, fixed it up and was amazed at the results. The repaired vehicle served the family well, and when they eventually sold it they made extra cash.

Thus Nordstrom’s Automotive was born.

Thirty-eight years later, the business now covers 45 acres in Garretson, S.D. According to their Web site, the farm setting is now home to approximately 7,000 vehicles of all makes and models, domestic and foreign. The unique transition from agricultural use to automotive use has left several noticeable marks: the barn warehouse is no longer used to store hay, but rather more than 400 sets of seats. The grain bins that once stored the harvest now have been customized with racking for doors, air bags, radios and a variety of glass.

Approximately 100,000 parts such as alternators, starters, wheels, AC compressors and electronic components are stored on the property.
About 400,000 parts are available via the computerized inventory.
However, with all of their parts and vehicles, the 65 employees are what the Nordstrom family hold dear.

“We’ve always said that the business is about the people more than it is about the dollar,” said Shannon. “We’ve constantly have had someone in our lives, if not numerous people in our lives, that we’ve aided through their life journey and told them about the Lord. It’s just been an amazing journey that to this day hasn’t changed any to that regard.”

Alan Machmiller, an employee of 16 years, can testify to the Nordstrom’s family goodwill. He said, “I’m just one of a number of employees that they have stepped way over the line to help and support. They are extraordinary people. Many businesses operate by the numbers and statistics of what the business is doing and things like that. They operate their business with their heart.”

Machmiller faces an unusual challenge in his family life. He has two sons with muscular dystrophy. His unique family situation influenced the Nordstroms to create Resurrected Rides, a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Nordstrom’s Automotive, in conjunction with other businesses, “tricks out” a repairable vehicle donated by Nordstrom Automotive and then sells raffle tickets during the summer to give people a chance to win the souped-up ride.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is not the only cause that Shannon, Art and Marie Nordstrom support. Their faith causes them to display their Christ-like love for people by supporting many other causes. But their faith doesn’t stop there; it helps them run their business. “We’ve got a lot weighing on us everyday—the weight of employees, the weight of finances, and the weight of a changing industry. If we didn’t have a strong faith, I joke that I would be at the bar every night,” said Shannon.

Saved at the age of three and raised in a Christian home, Shannon may not have had his strong faith in God to rely upon if his parents had not turned from their party life in 1972 to a life pattern after Jesus, their personal Savior.

Art and Marie were used to the drinking and carousing that usually pairs with the sprint car races at the short tracks. After their conversion, they discover a joy they never had before, and Art wondered if other people felt the same way he and his wife did now that they were Christians. To find out, Art took his farm tractor, which was a local icon at the racetracks because he had retrofitted it with a Ford Mustang engine, and sprayed the acronym P.T.L.A. on
the back of it. For a whole year he never told anyone what it meant.
Finally, after a year of listening to good-effort guesses, a man finally told Art that P.T.L.A. stood for...

Posted by admin on Monday, December 10 @ 23:20:00 CST (1686 reads)
(Read More... | 6600 bytes more | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)

Christian Commerce: Father and son duo upholds high standards for Carey Construction
Christian Commerce

Stanley Sayler Sr. and Stanley Sayler Jr. are partners in Carey Construction, a roofing and siding business. They also love the Lord and seek to serve Him as part of their everyday lives.
By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News Publisher

Stanley Sayler Sr. and Stanley Sayler Jr. are father and son. Both Stans were born in Bismarck, N.D., and the same doctor delivered them. They were raised in the same home in Underwood, N.D., and both graduated from Underwood High School and the “School of Hard Knocks.”

Stanley Sayler Sr. (left) and Stanley Sayler Jr. own and operate Carey Construction of Hermantown, Minn. The company’s Christian foundation, strong work ethic and penchant for quality workmanship began in 1945 with original owner Wally Carey and since the 1990s with the Saylers.

They are both Christians and co-owners of Carey Construction Inc. in Hermantown, Minn. Sitting around a table in a local restaurant, the younger Sayler quips, “We are also known as Big Stan and Little Stan,” which gives a clue to the warm and fun relationship the two men have. More seriously, he said about his father joining the company, “He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Carey Construction does residential roofing, siding, additions and remodeling. According to 32-year-old Sayler Jr., who owned the company before his father was involved, the firm tries to do one or two substantial addition projects each year.
“Usually we have a roofing crew, a siding crew and framing crew,” he said. “In the past several summers we had been running seven to eight crews, but this summer we revamped to fewer crews. We can keep closer tabs on the work and that seems to be working out better. I run the crews.”
Sayler Sr., 62, makes the project bids, gets the jobs up and running and keeps them going. He also does small projects. Prior to moving to Duluth, he was a coal miner in North Dakota for 19 years.
“When the mine closed up, I decided to come to Minnesota because all the kids and grandkids were here,” he said. “I went to work for Carey Construction in 1992; in 1996, I became a co-owner.”
As he gets older, Sayler Sr. has been trying to retire, but Sayler Jr. said, “I won’t let him. He tried to sell me his ladder rack, but I wouldn’t take it. I told him, ‘You might need that some day.’”
Carey Construction was around long before the Saylers got involved. The company was founded in 1945 by Wally and Ardeth Carey.
Sayler Jr. said that Carey had a wonderful name, and since the Saylers have owned the company, they have always tried to live up to him. This January will mark the second anniversary of the death of Wally Carey, who was nearly 80 years old. His wife, Ardeth, still lives in Duluth.
“He had some pretty big shoes to fill, and I’ve tried to live to that,” Sayler Jr. said. “We go to whatever extent we need to to work out a problem. Since 1945, we have been to court one time, and the judge threw it out because he’d seen how we’d bent over backwards to help these people.”
As Christians, the Saylers ask their workers to refrain from profanity on the job.
“We have pretty good crews,” said Sayler Sr., who attends Hermantown Community Church with his wife, Karen. “They turn out good work. People are happy with them. Seldom have we been called back.”
One important ethic the Saylers hold high is communicating with homeowners to update them daily on what is happening on the job site. If the Saylers say they are going to be there, they will be there.
Carey Construction did a remodeling project for...

Posted by admin on Monday, November 12 @ 23:35:00 CST (1344 reads)
(Read More... | 8648 bytes more | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)

Christian Commerce: Businesswoman walks in attitude of prayer
Christian Commerce

Susie Wingler brings Christ into the marketplace. Stepping out of her comfort zone and praying with people on the spot has made a big difference in her life and for those with whom she prays.
By Veronica Stoneall, Living Stones News writer

Susie Wingler and her husband and best friend of 31 years, Gerry, are the third generation to run Shipley’s Laundry and Dry Cleaners in Sioux Falls, S.D. This family business is l05 years old, and is one of a handful of businesses there to reach the century mark and remain in the original family.

Susie Wingler and her husband, Gerry, run a laundry and dry cleaning business in Sioux Falls, S.D. — a place where they strive to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pray for the needs of their customers, employees and vendors.

“Jesus Christ is the CEO of our business,” Wingler said. “Christ has laid the foundation for His love to be shared throughout our business, which has resulted in many employees, vendors and customers experiencing life-changing events.”

Wingler can recount hundreds of miracles where God has touched the lives of those around her in numerous ways. Many have experienced physical healing. Others have opened their hearts to Christ, and many people have experienced God’s divine grace and intervention.

“God just keeps opening doors and challenging me. He is limitless, and I have come to always expect the unexpected from Him,” Wingler said.

Wingler grew up in Sioux Falls and still lives there with Gerry and their two daughters, Stacy and Jennifer. Although Wingler was raised Episcopalian, she had never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus until she was 16 years old, when Gerry introduced her to the Lord.

“On our first date, we visited his church and discussed Bible verses,” Wingler said.

About a year ago, God convicted Wingler to begin praying for physical healing for others. She said she has witnessed God’s power and grace moving in an awesome way in people’s lives. Numerous backs, necks, bones, joints, shoulders, knees, etc., have been healed and restored by Christ.

This past summer at a Holy Spirit conference, Wingler was overjoyed when her daughter, Jennifer, was miraculously healed of Crohn’s disease. When people are healed physically by Christ, Wingler said they receive a burning desire to learn more about Jesus who has healed them.

Becoming involved with the Sioux Falls ministry known as Command 2, a prayer-based organization that strives to bring Christ into the workplace, has been fulfilling for Wingler. From her association with the ministry, she said she has caught the vision of the marketplace as a mission field. The concept is to use prayer along with personal interaction to introduce others to Christ’s love wherever you go. The marketplace infers that the mission field could be anything from the grocery store to your workplace or even in an airplane. Wherever people are becomes a marketplace.

Every Tuesday the Command 2 ministry hosts a luncheon at the Firehouse Underground. It is a gathering of like-minded Christians for fellowship and discussion about spreading the Good News in the marketplace and throughout the community. Command 2 also dispatches prayer teams to businesses. They use a program called “Tread” that involves people gathering in the downtown area to prayer walk the city, often stopping along the way to minister to the prayer needs of those on the streets.

One of Wingler’s goals is to help instill in others the same passion for prayer that God has placed in her heart. It is her belief that she must be obedient to God’s nudging when she encounters someone who needs the touch of the Lord. There is always an opportunity to pray for people.

One such occasion arose when...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 09 @ 00:05:00 CDT (1209 reads)
(Read More... | 6209 bytes more | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)

Christian Commerce: Like mother, like son
Christian Commerce

Mother and son operate separate businesses that help people feel better
By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News Publisher

Jim Hoeffling admits to a bit of hesitancy in 1999 when he and his mother, Sandee Hepburn, discussed sharing office space in the Blaine Business Center on Belknap Street in Superior, Wis.

Hoeffling, 39 years old, owns Twin Ports Chiropractic, and Hepburn, 60, owns Hidden Oasis Massage Therapy. The businesses are separate except for location.

Hoeffling said that massage therapy is a good complement to chiropractic care. So, after praying about it, mother and son made the move in October 2004. They agree that it has worked out well and that there have been no issues in sharing the office space.

Jim Hoeffling (left) and his mother, Sandee Hepburn, own separate but complementary ventures in the Blaine Business Center in Superior, Wis. - a chiropractic care center and a massage therapy business. Hoeffling and Hepburn teach others that God created the body with the ability to heal itself.

Hepburn and Hoeffling, who are both Christians, believe that God has given the body the ability to heal itself and that people should take responsibility for their own health. Both the masseuse and the chiropractor get great satisfaction from helping people become healthier as well as educating them on what they can do to maintain that health from within themselves.

A native of Superior now living in Maple, Wis., Hepburn received her certifications as a massage therapist from the Eagle's Nest in 1998 and from Lake Superior College in 2002. Types of therapy available at Hidden Oasis Massage Therapy include relaxation, deep-tissue massage, lymphatic drainage (which involves getting the lymphatic system
flowing) rain drop therapy (which uses pure essential oils to kill bacteria and fungus on spine area), European Rose Mud foot therapy and hot stone treatments.

A Christian since 1967, Hepburn said she tries to give customers her absolute best and to work with their problems.

"I do not discriminate among people and I treat them fairly," she said. "Sometimes I can incorporate the Lord into my work."

Hoeffling is a native of Superior now living in Carlton, Minn. He graduated from Superior High School in 1986 and from the Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Bloomington, Minn., in November 1999.
After practicing in Carlton with a partner for four years, he opened Twin Ports Chiropractic in Superior.

Hoeffling said that when people come to him he tries to find out where they are at health-wise and what they want.

"Some come in out of pain," he said. "Some want increased health nutrition. I give ideas on what they can incorporate for a healthier body."

A Christian for 30 years, Hoeffling seeks to give quality treatment to his patients.

"I pray for them even though they don't know it," he said. "I don't push Christianity down anyone's throat, but if it comes up, I talk about it.
I'm amazed how many Christian patients I have. It's a blessing."

Both Hepburn and Hoeffling agree that...

Posted by admin on Tuesday, September 11 @ 00:25:00 CDT (1261 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (August, 2007)
Christian Commerce

By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News Publisher

Midwest Transmission and Auto Repair aims for satisfied customers with its guaranteed work

As owner of Midwest Transmission and Auto Repair, Steve Matheson seeks to operate the business based on Godly values.

Steve Matheson (left) and Jason Roy are a two-man crew at Midwest Transmission and Auto Repair in Superior, Wis. Matheson, who founded the business 20 years ago, aims to run the company on Christian principles. Matheson says they think of every vehicle that comes into their shop as their mother’s car.

In October, Steve Matheson will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Midwest Transmission and Auto Repair, which he founded. Located at 801 Ogden Ave., in Superior, Wis., Midwest Transmission offers full auto repair for cars and light trucks.

Matheson, 47, who also is a firefighter for the city of Superior, relies heavily on his one employee, Jason Roy.

“I’m very fortunate to have Jason,” Matheson said. “He is a really good employee and a very good mechanic.”

Raised as a Lutheran, Matheson said he has always believed in God. His parents taught him to have good values, which he exercises in his workplace.

“We are a service-oriented business,” he said. “We do our very best for everyone who comes through the door. We treat customers the way we would want to be treated. We are honest and straightforward and stand behind our work with at least a 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty. We try to give out loaner cars if the customer needs it. We work on cars as if they were our mother’s.”

Allen Lennartson of Proctor has been a customer of Midwest Transmission and Auto Repair for about six years. He said that Matheson has done work on his transmission, his brakes and “has fixed up some other things.”

“He has a perfectly good business,” Lennartson said. “I’m absolutely satisfied with his work. He knows how to treat a customer right. He gives good explanations, and his prices are reasonable. And, I think he is a fine person.”

Steve and Lisa Matheson have been married for 23 years. She helps with the books at the end of the month and works at Seeds of Hope horse ranch north of Duluth, Minn. They have three children: Nathan, 21, Christopher, 16, and Megan, 10. The children have been home-schooled for a couple of years and have attended Maranatha Christian Academy, south of Superior, and Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth.

About 15 years ago, Matheson suffered through some hardships. He had eye surgery, and at the same time had a contractor who was messing up some work at his home. Matheson saw some of the problems but couldn’t get inspectors out to check on the work. He finally was able to replace the contractor with Carey Construction and some others who completed fixing his house.

However, going through those hardships caused Matheson to realize he couldn’t do it on his own and that he needed God’s help. He and his family then attended a service at Lakeview Covenant Church in Duluth.

“Don Perez was the pastor then,” Matheson said. “He got excited when he preached, and I wasn’t used to that. With everything he said, I thought, ‘That was really neat.’ We got the Word of God and that was the turning point for my wife and me to walk closer to God.”

The Mathesons now attend Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Duluth.

Matheson said that he seeks to carry out the values that God wants him to have.

“I have faults,” he said. “At times I look back and have seen that I could have done things differently. I just need to be in God’s Word and let the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23) shine through. I don’t always, but I try.”

The shop is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number is (715) 392-7668.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, August 14 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1407 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (July, 2007)
Christian Commerce

God used consulting company as a stepping stone to new venture
By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News publisher

Bruce Browers struggled to keep his engineering consulting businesses alive and well. But, when God called him to affiliate with an international firm, Browers stepped out in trust to walk out what he believes to be God’s personal game plan for him.

Bruce Browers listed to God’s calling to join GreenMax Capitol Advisors, an international renewal energy company.

On Tuesday, June 26, Bruce Browers was on a plane headed for Tanzania, Africa. Within the last three months, Browers became one of four owners of GreenMax Capitol Advisors, an international renewable energy company that does project development and consulting. It has headquarters in New York City and offices in Warsaw, Poland; Barcelona, Spain; Budapest, Hungary; and now Duluth, Minn. But, this was not anything Browers had planned. To him, this was a plan that God laid out for his life.

Browers, a man of God who starts each day with a cup of coffee in one hand and his Bible in the other, would have been content to continue working for his own company, Browers Consulting, LLC, a business he formed on Jan. 15, 2003, after finding himself without a job.

“I’d have been perfectly happy to go on seeing my clients in the Upper Midwest and writing their analysis,” he said. “But, I was struggling and Browers Consulting wasn’t going to be what I had hoped. I knew I had to do something different. I know (GreenMax Capitol Advisors) is what God put in front of me. I didn’t go looking for it.”

Browers received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich., in 1972, and a master’s degree in business management from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1989. After a five-year stint at Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse, Wis., Browers worked for Minnesota Power from 1977 to 2003. However, he was not able to retain his job there due to a decline in the economy.

For approximately the last four years, Browers has worked at building his engineering consulting company.

“But it was hard being a single entity trying to manage engineering projects,” Browers said.

Nearly two years ago, Browers received an e-mail from one of the owners of GreenMax Capitol Advisors requesting a conversation with him about working for the company in Africa. Browers deleted the e- mail. Two weeks later, a second e-mail came with a very serious invitation for Browers to contact GreenMax. Browers was just getting ready to type, “I’m not really interested,” when God stopped him cold.

“Through my prayer life, God spoke and said, ‘Don’t you remember asking me to send you clients? Don’t blow this guy off,’” Browers said. “So, for the past year and a half, I have been consulting for GreenMax. What I do with Browers Consulting is no different at GreenMax, but we have a team approach. Three months ago I was invited to become owner. We are in the process of figuring out how we blend Browers Consulting into GreenMax. We should have a partnership agreement by the end of the year. Browers Consulting has been a stepping stone to my involvement with GreenMax.”

Browers spent two weeks in Tanzania on behalf of the U.S. government evaluating about a dozen energy projects for future study and development. The company deals in renewable energy or biomass – such as sugar cane stalks, native plants and grasses – and some hydroelectric energy. Browers said the company is experiencing incredible business growth in East Africa.

Although GreenMax Capitol Advisors is not labeled as a Christian company, many of the values Browers had with his consulting firm will carry over to his work there. He said the Bible teaches to put the needs of others before your own, to be of service to others. Browers also likes to interact with people in a positive, kind, gentle manner.

“The response I get is that they appreciate the kindness,” he said.
“I still can be direct because I’m hired to write an opinion, which sometimes is not what my client wants to hear, but how it is delivered can be positive.”

Browers also is very dependant upon communication with God through prayer.

“We don’t pray enough,” he said. “When the jobs are particularly challenging, I pray. But we should pray over the routine stuff as well. A best day is when you see God’s hand in your work. In writing a report, the order and paragraphs come together. He brings up the right words and how to say them in a helpful way. He cares about the report.”

Although Browers doesn’t know what the future holds, he is willing to trust that this is God’s game plan for him.

“I could not not do this,” he said. “I am not interested in what it would look like if I turned God down. There is no indication in Scripture that Abraham or Moses knew God’s complete game plan for them. Like them, I’ll trust God that it will be OK.”

Browers and his wife, Mary, have been married for 34 years. They have four children and one grandchild. Browers attends Lakeside Baptist Church in Duluth, Minn. He said his family is very excited about the opportunity offered by GreenMax.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 10 @ 00:00:00 CDT (803 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (June, 2007)
Christian Commerce

Business owner integrates family, church, business
By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News publisher

King, owner of Anderson’s Lubricant, juggles family, business and church activities

— Steve King, owner of Anderson’s Lubricant

Steve King keeps busy as the owner of Anderson’s Lubricant in Superior. He applies the same Christian values to his business that he uses as a church leader, father and husband.

Steve King often wears at least three hats and wears them interchangeably. He is a family man with eight children with another one (adopted) on the way. He is a Christian man who serves in leadership roles within the church. And, he is the owner of Anderson’s Lubricant in Superior, Wis.
Founded in 1975, Anderson’s Lubricant is located at 3301 James Day Ave. in Superior, Wis. King and a partner purchased it in 1986, and two years ago, King bought out his partner.
The company’s business is sales and service of industrial lubricants to mining, paper mill, trucking and automotive-type customers. There are 51 employees. King said that the business is in a good growth mode.
“We are looking to expand in Superior and in the (Marquette) Michigan location,” he said. “We’ll be diversifying the business in Superior.
Although Anderson’s Lubricant does not advertise as a Christian business, King said the company follows Biblical principles.
“We have a very strong code of ethics,” King said. “We push honesty, integrity and not swearing, which is written into the code of ethics. 
We ask this of all employees, but especially the sales peoples because of their exposure to the public.”
King’s ability and resolve to balance his roles in his family, church and business carries over to his relationships with his employees.
“My values that I have in my home and with my family carry over to the business. Our employees are allowed time for anything they need for church or family,” he said. “We try to keep a Christian environment.”
Living the Christian life is not new to King. He grew up as a Christian and attended school through ninth grade at St. Francis Cathedral in Superior. Until recently, when he became involved with starting a new church, King and his family attended North Bay Community Church in Superior. He served as chairman of the  church board and led a Bible study as well.
Working closely in ministry with Jeff Sorvik, former pastor of North Bay Community Church who left to start Anchor Point Community Church in East Duluth, King is now one of 17 core members who are starting Rock Hill Community Church in the Hermantown, Minn., area. This is a church plant sponsored by Anchor Point Community Church.
“We have 17 members in this core group,” King said. “We began meeting as a core group the first week of June. We will be training on how to get the heart of treating Duluth as a mission. We need to know how to be missionaries inside our city and reach out to people, to be better evangelists.”
The Rock Hill Community Church has a goal to double its membership before launching as a church open to the public, which they hope to do in December.
Being part of starting a new church is certainly a calling from God. 
Another calling on his life and that of his wife, Anita, who works at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical Institute, has been the desire to adopt special needs children. The Kings currently have eight children, ranging in age from 26 to 3 years old, with an application for another being processed.
The Kings already had five children of their own when they felt called to adopt. They first applied for a girl 8 to 10 years old, but they were asked to consider adopting Cory, a 15-month-old boy who was born meth-positive and had been exposed to alcohol during his mother’s pregnancy. They also were asked to consider taking Cory’s older brother, Marcus, who was nearly 3 years old and had also been exposed to meth and alcohol prior to birth. A judge wanted to keep the brothers together.
“My wife and I are wired for adoption,” King said. “God laid the call on our hearts pretty strong.”
Within nine months of adopting Cory and Marcus, the Kings were told the boys’ birth mother also had given birth to Bryce, who also tested positive for the ill effects of meth and alcohol at birth. The Kings said, “Yes,” and with the help of family and friends over the last three years, they have made a difference in the lives of the boys.
“The boys were a mess when we got them,” King said, “but the kids are doing well now.”
In August, the Kings moved from Superior to Duluth. The children are finishing up the school year at Maranatha Christian Academy in Superior, which is a 25-mile drive for the Kings. King said that between the kids’ applications for switching schools from Maranatha to Lakeview Christian Academy this fall, the kids’ summer activities applications and a refiling of adoption papers (due to the move) for a 12- to 14-year-old girl, they have filled out between 200 and 300 pages of applications.
King said that his personality is to juggle family, church and business together.
“At any given moment,” he said, “any one of these modes could surface.”
So, whether on the job, at home or working for the Lord, King can wear any number of hats —  sometimes all at the same time.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, June 12 @ 00:00:00 CDT (782 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (May, 2007)
Christian Commerce

Living your true calling

Jim and Sue Balcum operate Balcum’s Appliance as much as a ministry with a mission as a business
By Robert Vokes, Living Stones News Writer

“As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in Him.” — 1 John 2:27

Photographer Jim Balcum aims for his business, Balcum Appliance to serve not only the local community, but also various places around the world.

Some may say that Jim Balcum is lucky — i.e., he has found and lives his calling. But he would be the first to state that this is never easy. It involves listening, obeying and being open to God’s plan.

“At times, God asks me to do things that I am very uncomfortable doing, putting me in situations that help me grow,” Balcum said.

But it wasn’t always this way. Raised in Upper New York State, Balcum left home at 18, visited a friend in the Twin Ports and decided to stay.

“I met the Lord when I was very young,” Balcum said. “But I didn’t walk with the Lord until my late 30s.”

Now 48, Balcum struggled for many years to find a true purpose in life, one that would have integrity.

Twenty-one years ago, Balcum started a business in his basement, fixing things. He found that God had given him the gift of repairing and selling used appliances.

“Many plumbers and electricians are unable to fix a washing machine, even though a washing machine has pipes, water and electrical components,” he said.

Balcum Appliance in Superior, Wis., sells used appliances and (mostly) used parts and repairs appliances. However, Balcum Appliance is not your typical business:

• Balcum tells his employees that Balcum Appliance is a Christian business with a mission to serve the local and world community, in particular Kenya and Guatemala. (Employees do not need to be Christians, although many are, but all employees must accept the mission of Balcum Appliance.)

• Inspired by the work that Rev. Joshua Chege does to help his native Kenya (see also “No Weapon Made Against You Will Prevail,” Living Stones News, December 2004, p. 3), Balcum has made helping people in Kenya a major goal and ministry of Balcum Appliance.

• Jim Balcum has neither hired nor fired any employees in the past
11 years. “God sends people to work at Balcum Appliance, and God tells them when to leave,” he said.

• Balcum shares his Christianity with his employees, often ministering to them as well

• When there is a disaster in the community, such as a fire in someone’s home, Balcum and his staff proactively determine where there may be a need for an appliance and fill that need.

• Balcum and his staff try to fill a customer’s need (not want) and will help the customer get what he or she needs, even if Balcum Appliance cannot provide it

• Balcum has learned not to question a request for an appliance for Kenya or Guatemala (or for a person in need in the Twin Ports). He understands that God is making the request

• Balcum Appliance does not have a business plan. Instead, Balcum puts his entire trust in the Lord, knowing that God will provide. As a result, Balcum Appliance does not make lots of money, but there is always enough.

• Balcum practices the philosophy of “Giving Hearts” — He does not spend any excess funds on himself or his family, but only on those in need. The first month of Balcum Appliance’s “profit” was given to help minister to people in Kenya.

Balcum has grown the business slowly during the past 15 years. His wife, Sue, is a homemaker who also does some computer work for the business. Their son, Zach, is a high school senior, being home- schooled the past two years after attending a Christian school through the 10th grade. Zach is a musician and plays at Christian & Missionary Alliance in Superior.

Kami Scott is a recent beneficiary of Balcum Appliance’s service.
When her washing machine broke, Kami asked Sue if they could repair the machine and whether she could pay for the service fee monthly over time.

“Not only did Balcum Appliance send someone to fix my washing machine the same day,” Scott said, “but they wouldn’t accept any payment for the service, knowing that I don’t have lots of resources, being in Christian ministry myself.”

Not belonging to a specific church or denomination, Jim and Sue regularly visit other churches in the Twin Ports or wherever God leads them. When they visit a church, invariably someone will approach them and say something very private and personal that he or she would not feel comfortable telling someone else. This gives Jim and Sue another opportunity to minister, in part because people instinctively trust them with very confidential information. Balcum does not find these situations comfortable, but knows that this is one way God uses him and that the Holy Spirit is present.

During the past few years, Balcum Appliance has sold used appliances and parts on eBay, which now drives about 50 percent of the business.

Because of the hard work and success using eBay, Balcum and his staff have customers in all 50 states and in 15 countries.

Jim readily gives the credit to God.

“When funds are needed, God provides,” Balcum said. “He doesn’t just ask for 10 percent (tithe), but wants 100 percent of our hearts and our worldly goods. Everything belongs to God.”

Balcum said the cost of discipleship is great, that obeying God is often difficult and that He does ask him to do some things he finds uncomfortable. When Balcum is open and talks to God, He shows Balcum where to go and how to further His Kingdom, which Balcum finds very humbling.

A major event in Balcum’s life was his attending the Prophecy Club Crusade in the Twin Cities in 2000, at which every person present received a personal prophesy. At a similar event sponsored by the Prophecy Club Crusade a year later in Des Moines, Iowa, Balcum was anointed with the gift of healing.

Balcum knows that God has a purpose in life for each of us. But the only way we can learn what our calling is is to ask God ourselves.

Just as we will each stand before God alone after we die, we each need to talk with God to find our true calling and purpose.

Balcum said everyone can have that personal relationship with Jesus that enables them to know their calling, which only God can tell them. But we also must want God to give us our individual purpose in life and show how He wants to use us for his greater glory.

Note: For those in need of a used appliance or repair, Balcum Appliance (the “Doctors of Appliancology”) is located at 724 N. Eighth St. in Superior, Wis. (715) 392-4808.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, May 08 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1702 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (April, 2007)
Christian Commerce

For the love of Dairy Queen
Living Stones News

Entrepreneurs Rick and Gloria Plaisted follow God’s leading in running DQs.

In 1975, Rick and Gloria Plaisted sold just about everything they had to raise $10,000 for a down payment on their first Dairy Queen store. Thirty-two years later, the Plaisteds are still putting the trademark “curl” on top of DQ treats in their Northland stores.

For 32 years, Rick and Gloria Plaisted have dished out hot eats and cool treats at their Dairy Queens. They have learned that faith and business walk arm in arm with each other.

Rick represents the third generation of Plaisteds to run DQs, starting with his grandparents, Marc and Myrtle, in the early 1950s.

“In 1956, when I was 6 years old, I dipped my first Dilly Bar,” Rick said. “In fact, today I am referred to as the guy who has dipped more Dilly Bars than any human being has ever seen.

“I grew up in the back room of a typical mom-and-pop-operated Dairy Queen business, and the entrepreneurial spirit my parents had, transferred to me. Dad would always remind me of the secret to success in this business. He would say, ‘Ricky, just remember … don’t sell anything you wouldn’t eat yourself,’ and, ‘There’s always hope with water and soap.’ Today, I still believe in that advice. In fact, that is the proverbial magic bullet for success in any restaurant.
People still chuckle when I share this formula with them. They just can’t believe it can be as simple as that.”

The Plaisteds’ first DQ store was in north Minneapolis. Gloria and Rick knew that after risking all they had, failure was not an option.
The 100-plus hours they worked each week were grueling, even for a young couple, but in spite of all the setbacks and sacrifices, they were living their dream of being entrepreneurs. While always maintaining a high standard of integrity in their operations and products, they went on to become multi-unit operators in the Midwest area. They are recipients of numerous awards, including the coveted Quality Purity Award for outstanding store performance.

In the early 1980s, the Plaisteds continued to develop franchises and living their dream, but it did not come without a cost.

“Working with your spouse day after day can be a strain on any marriage,” Gloria said. “It took its toll on our relationship, and I remember thinking that true success really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. If it was so great, then why do we feel so bad?”

Married as teenagers, Rick and Gloria both came from broken homes.
Together, they carried a lot of emotional baggage into their marriage, and working out all that junk while trying to run a business was a sure formula for disaster. However, they managed to prosper despite those odds.

“In 1984, we heard God’s plan of Salvation and trusted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior,” Rick said. “As we grew in the grace and knowledge of Him, we soon learned that God was the ultimate source of all that we had. Our business focus shifted. It now became the marketplace that God had intended for us, to influence others for Jesus Christ, and we learned that business and faith are part and parcel of the same thing. From the smallest details to the heavy-duty decisions, Gloria and I together commit it all to prayer. We count it a privilege to further God’s Kingdom in our marketplaces.”

In 1991, Gloria and Rick moved to the North Shore, bought the Dairy Queen in Two Harbors, Minn., and began developing northern Minnesota with purchases of the Grand Marais, Minn., Superior, Wis., and Onamia, Minn., DQs. They both take the stewardship God has given them over their businesses very seriously, including the huge numbers of people they lead and mentor. They continue to expand so that the people who work for them have room to grow. Over the years they have employed more than 35,000 people.

“Just from the small town of Two Harbors alone, there have been six individuals who started at 15 years old and have worked their way up and now manage their own stores,” Rick said. “They call themselves DQ- Lifers.”

Rick and Gloria wear other hats as well. Gloria is a freelance author, national speaker and is director of creative development for all their stores. She is the editor of Split Second News and has written various trade publications. She holds a position of leadership in the International Dairy Queen Cornerstone Task Force, which consists of eight top DQ franchisees from all over the United States and Canada, to steer and create the next generation of the DQ building designs and menus.

Rick is busy day-to-day working with all the head coaches and with future acquisitions.

“We are excited about our recent approval from International Dairy Queen to build a new DQ Grill & Chill in Hermantown. It is slated to open in the fall of 2007, pending city permitting,” Rick said.

The Plaisteds attend Grace Baptist Church in Two Harbors, have two grown children, two grandchildren and are content as lovebirds in an empty, but busy, nest.

It is obvious that they both share a passion and dedication to the DQ brand and the unique mission field God has placed before them. As Rick and Gloria go about the day doing their heavenly Father’s business, their hearts are full of thanksgiving to Jesus Christ for setting them free and for the scrumpdillyishus DQ memories that are ahead.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, April 10 @ 05:57:06 CDT (1009 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (March, 2007)
Christian Commerce

Justin’s Framing owner has a love for God and an eye for art
By TyLa Knapp, Living Stones News Writer

While operating her framing shop with joy, Margaret Manderfeld relies on God for guidance in all areas of her life.

Margaret Manderfeld believes hard work and prayer go together. Her recently relocated frame shop is now located on First Street in Duluth, Minn.

“Off the Wall!”

That’s the big, colorful new sign right above Margaret Ann Manderfeld’s business, Justin’s Custom Picture Framing, located at 614 E. First St. in Duluth, Minn.

Previously located in the Fitger’s Mall area, Manderfeld — after praying — relocated her business to First Street last summer. Although a sign out front reads, “No parking-loading zone,” her customers are always
free to park here.

The owner of the building is a Christian, something Manderfeld had prayed for.

“He was willing to work with me in getting the place ready,” she said. “I was on my knees a lot. When you are really strapped, that’s when you rely on God the most, so that was a big confirmation.”

Manderfeld had to shut her business down for six weeks while packing.

“By the grace of God,” she said, “people came from everywhere to help me. So many people from my church pitched in to help me make the big move. Without myeven having to ask, phone calls came offering the use of trucks and offers to help move the heavy equipment. Everything fell in place for me.” She said she now feels she really has a grasp of what it is to surrender everything, including her business, to God.

The large, bright new sign above the front window display invites you inside, where every wall is splashed with color, elegance, joy and beauty. The entire shop visibly illustrates the unlimited and unique methods of displaying artwork, photography, antiques and mementos.

Margaret Ann, as she signs her own artwork, has worked with acrylics and other art media since she was a child. Her love for art and her gift of a natural knack for working with color eventually led her to want to learn framing. Originally from the Twin Cities, Manderfeld moved to the Duluth area in the late 1980s.

“I was drawn to Lake Superior and the pace of the people here,” she said. “I came to Duluth every chance I got, and I felt a great pull for the people, the lake and the natural beauty of this area. I’m happy I stayed here, and I feel this was a better place to raise my children.”

Once in Duluth, Manderfeld worked at Michael’s Frame Shop in the Woodland area until 1983 when she took seven years off. Once a stay-at-home mom, she said she never anticipated being a business owner. In 1991 she worked for the former owner of Justin’s Frame shop which changed locations several times over the years. She learned on the job (having already begun learning in a frame business in the Twin cities) and eventually proved she could run the shop on her own during times the owner was away for as long as a month or more at a time.

“This way I got to know the clientele, and the time came when the owner offered me the opportunity to buy his business. When I took over the business, the transition was seamless because I kept on doing what I’d already been doing for so long,” she said. “I felt framing was a good fit for me to be able to present art."

“My biggest challenge,” Manderfeld said, “was later that year when I was in a car accident and suffered a brain injury. I still had to come to work even though I had a headache that lasted 16 weeks.”

Manderfeld still deals with the injury and has proved to herself that she can still go on.

She said, “Though it was very difficult, I was so well rehearsed in my task. It was very difficult for awhile because my brain functions changed, making it harder to form sentences and keep up with organizational changes. Though the brain injury was a huge assault on my being, there was nobody else to run the business. I could have just given up, but because I still had a young daughter at home, I learned to cope with it. It was a more difficult transition than when I bought the business.”

Working at this job so many years along with the struggle of being a single mom combined to keep Manderfeld in survival mode.

“This brought me into a much closer relationship with Jesus,” she said. “The blessing was it spurred me on to renewing my faith. I was more of a shallow Christian
before the accident, but afterwards, I drew so much closer to God.”

Manderfeld has loved art and drawing ever since she can remember. As early as first grade she did so much artwork that the nuns at her school often asked
her to make special cards for them. She never went to art college. She said her inspiration comes from the Lord and from nature.

In November, her church, Hillside Community Church, put on an exhibition to raise money for an orphanage in Liberia. She belongs to a small group of artists at church. For this special bazaar, she made eight paintings in one afternoon. Then in the course of a week, she went on to make 20 paintings of the moon on Lake
Superior using denim as the canvas, because, she said, “the color of the lake often reminds her of denim.”

She sold 14 paintings at the bazaar.

“It wasn’t about the money,” she said. “It was about serving God. My criteria for what I do is always ‘Is this from my heart, and is this from serving God?’“

Manderfeld serves God every day at work. She prays a lot on the job.

“Partly,” she said, “because of the difficulties from her brain injury.”

The ocular nerve damage in her left eye, while not affecting her vision, affects her tolerance when the light hurts her eyes.

“God always gives me the strength and the joy to keep on going. Joy is a choice,” she said, and added that she still finds joy and “gets in the happy place” while painting and raising her youngest child, Rosalie.

Rosalie, 10, is a young actress in the local Duluth theater. After recently starring in a leading role, Rosalie was cast as one of the Von Trapp children in a coming play, “The Sound of Music.”

Manderfeld’s other children are Michael, 23, who is studying to be an electrician, and a daughter Jessica, 21, who works with her in the business. She is very close to her children who are a big help to her.

“When people bring artwork in,” Manderfeld said, “they don’t always know what to do with it. I’ve been a framer for over 25 years, and color is my forte. I have clients who just bring in their art and trust my judgment.”

They first go through a process of choosing the matting. She then orders the materials and cuts the matting and molding on several huge machines in the back room. There are numerous choices; one is a linen finish laminate process that makes a print look like a canvas and also filters U.V. rays. Conservation glass also filters the
rays, and the very highest quality is museum glass, which in addition to filtering U.V. rays also has anti-reflective qualities.

Manderfeld frames objects, too, such as antiques, pocket watches, baby shoes, jewelry, almost any keepsake can be kept under glass in an artistic way. Perhaps an old broach of grandma’s that you’d never wear can be artistically displayed to look stunning on a wall. She once framed a picture of a gate, and cut grooves into the matting making it appear as if the gate came into the matting. She uses carved molding too. When she paints, she prefers acrylics because they don’t have the fumes oils have. She has participated in an art show at Knife River a few years ago where the theme was ‘light,’ and each participant entered exhibits using light in various artistic ways. She’s exhibited at the Duluth Art Institute. On one of her walls is a painting of Bob Dylan. Manderfeld has participated in several local musical tributes to him where she has sung with other local musicians.

She said, “I feel my best advertising is by word of mouth. One of my best customers comes up from the Twin Cities to have his artwork framed. Being a Christian, I am not motivated by greed. My primary focus is to serve the people and do justice to the art they bring in and to go the extra mile. Often someone may have a picture they still enjoy but just need to change the look with updated matting, perhaps in a color or style that gives the artwork a new life, as well as protection from aging.

“After all the years of presenting art,” Manderfeld said, “the novelty still hasn’t worn off on how ‘jazzed’ I get at just the right combination of colors. I love having the big storefront window to decorate with joyful colorful decor. I feel what I’m doing will outlast me. I’m creating heirlooms."

Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 13 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1026 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (February, 2007)
Christian Commerce

Christian chiropractor offers a broad range of services

Dr. Sally Stout takes a holistic approach to her chiropractic work, integrating her faith in the treatments.
By Sue DeLoach, Living Stones News Writer

Dr. Sally Stout uses Christian principles as a chiropractor in Two Harbors, Minn.

Dr. Sally Stout is no ordinary chiropractor. Her unique practice is the culmination of years living under the sovereign Lordship of the One who called her to this work. It is a step-by-step evolution of the workings of God in her life, a growing realization and commitment to His plans and purposes.

Fledgling years found Stout committing her life to Christ as a 10-year-old. An environment of tradition soon clouded her spiritual perception, but God was still in control. A science-saturated college career and an occupation in medical technology gave Stout a great base of knowledge for things to come. Then, at 21, she experienced a “lonely, scary time” as she underwent surgery to remove a golf ball-sized breast lump. She calls this her “coming home” time, realizing that she “was pinned against a wall and desperately needed Him to share her burden.”

Submitting herself to the Father’s care, Stout became spiritually alive. Prayer and a thirst for God’s Word became a compass and guide, directing her to His greater purposes for her life. A strategic move to Portland, an encounter with incapacitating tendonitis and an appointed chiropractic brush-in turned Stout’s life around. She was aggressively treated and witnessed not just the transformation of her inert arm, but the capable and compassionate skills and practice of chiropractic.

Intense training followed at Western States College of Chiropractic in Portland, and Stout said that “as I continued, I realized I was going to be doing something I was really falling in love with.”

With diploma in tow, Stout moved back in Minnesota, sharing in a large associateship, the perfect nest to be mentored by a Christian chiropractor. Combining faith in practice with ethics, character and business/patient management, Stout gained the experience she needed to venture into independent practice.

Sixteen years and a faith leap later, Stout relocated and has practiced in Two Harbors for five years.

“I would describe my practice as being holistic,” she said. “I offer nutritional counseling and quality supplemental (vitamin) therapy, acupuncture, orthotics and postural alignment, weight loss and fitness programs, extremities/foot/knee treatment and PMS/menopausal assistance.”

She treats clients from 6 weeks of age to mid-90s.

“I am constantly educating,” she said. “People seem to appreciate information, and they want to know what’s wrong and why. I believe that education is really critical and that educated patients make the best patients.

“One of my goals is that patients learn the benefits of regular, ongoing maintenance care. Even if patients initially come to me because of intense pain, when they experience increased energy, better sleep, improved spinal integrity, improved digestion and sense of well being, they discover that they are enjoying better general health and want to continue.”

The energetic and lithe Stout celebrates her health.

“I’m one of these doctors who practices what they preach,” she said.

“I certainly don’t have a perfect life, but I work at it all the time. I’m an exercise fanatic, and I believe nutrition and chiropractic, if done regularly, keeps the body in good shape, and in many cases, can prevent medical intervention. I see my chiropractor every two weeks, am very sports oriented and active — snowshoeing, hiking, dancing, racquetball, canoeing — watch what I eat and fast periodically. I try to treat my body as God’s temple. I rarely get sick!”

According to Stout, wrestling with a managed care system and its limitations is one of the biggest detriments to the chiropractic care of the patient. Of this huge disparity between the need for chiropractic and actual insurance compensation, Stout said, “Look at the big picture; we ultimately save health care a tremendous amount of money.”

Stout said that her uniqueness is not just in her holistic offerings, but also in the intensely practical integration of her faith.

“I pray for my practice,” she said. “I pray for my patients, my office and my environment. I sense negative and critical attitudes. A lot of people don’t realize that they sabotage their own health this way.

“I am still incredibly enthusiastic about what I do. It is my goal to help people in this healing journey. I can’t imagine doing anything else. The rewards of seeing people receive benefit immediately from what you’re doing, like putting a hip joint in place, are very fulfilling.”

As a “conduit hand,” Dr. Stout paints a visual picture of her concept for healing.

“My hand,” she said, “reaches out to the Creator, the Great Physician, and by His power I desire to be a conduit between the Creator and His Creation, facilitating God’s healing touch in people’s lives.”

Gratefully, Stout said that “sometimes we don’t know where He’s leading us, but when we look back we know why He’s led us this way.”

In life and in practice, Stout leans on the promises of God’s Word, anticipating and embracing His ongoing provision, standing on Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they
shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Stout looks forward to a continuing growth in practice and welcomes patients with a listening ear, caring heart and critical eye for the best treatment choices.

She can be reached at Stout Chiropractic Care, 1026 Seventh Ave., Two Harbors, Minn., (218) 834-3100, Monday-Thursday 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Posted by admin on Monday, February 12 @ 23:00:00 CST (973 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (January, 2007)
Christian Commerce

The story behind the closing of Twin Ports Bible and Book
By Mary Beth Frost, Living Stones News Writer

Bill and Joyce Alworth talk courageously and candidly about their history with the Twin Ports Bible and Book store and their heartbreaking decision to close the business last year.

Bill and Joyce Alworth are candid about their reasons for closing Twin Ports Bible and Book store early in 2006. They say it was a heart-rending decision, but add that they’ve grown spiritually from the experience.

“In recent years, some 1,000 Christian bookstores have closed their doors,” Business Week revealed in May 2005.

When Bill and Joyce Alworth, former owners of Twin Ports Bible and Book, bought the store in 1976, fresh out of college and eager to serve the Lord, they never expected to become part of those grim statistics. But last February, after ministering through their business for 30 years, the Alworths closed their doors for the last time, losing everything.

What does it do to the faith of Christians when they experience the pain and loss of business failure? Are they able to trust God after such a crushing blow? The Alworths would qualify to answer those hard questions, and if you take the time to talk with them, you will not find bitter people who shake their fists at God or claim to be victims.

Instead you will find a warm, caring Christian couple who walk close to the Lord and hold fast to a deeply rooted faith in His goodness. Through tears and occasional laughter, they talk honestly about their ongoing trial and the loving, faithful God they continue to serve and trust.

For Joyce, this faith began at the age of 5. Raised in a loving Christian home in Lester Park (Duluth, Minn.), Joyce said she was “blessed to grow up in Bethel Baptist Church where God’s Word was the core.” She has always been serious about studying God’s Word and following His will.

Joyce first met Bill Alworth in their seventh-grade band class at Ordean Junior High. Alworth was less than serious about his church experience, often sneaking out of the services to hide until they were over. As he and Joyce became closer friends, he started attending church and youth group with her, and there he heard the plan of salvation for the first time. Although he didn’t make a decision at that point, it prepared his heart for the challenges ahead.

Alworth was sent to a boys prep school in Connecticut for his ninth-grade year. By 11th grade, the drug and alcohol abuse among the students had become a serious problem. Alworth was turned off by this lifestyle and didn’t participate. As the conditions grew worse, he became anxious to return home. “I would go up to the chapel by myself and say, ‘God, help. Get me out of this situation.’ So salvation was kind of a process for me,” Alworth said.

When Alworth returned home for 12th grade at Duluth East High School, he continued attending church with Joyce and her family. It became clear to Joyce that Bill was sincere about his faith.

Joyce said, “I could see that our relationship had a lifelong possibility now. We were both believers. We were both on the same page.”

That was the foundation of their relationship when they married at the age of 20.

After Bill graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he couldn’t find a job in the Duluth or Twin Cities areas, so he looked into the possibilities of purchasing a business with inheritance money from his grandfather. When it seemed as if all the doors had closed, the Alworths received a tip that Twin Ports Bible and Book House, Inc. was for sale. Joyce felt immediately that the Christian book store was God’s way of providing both an income and a ministry for them, but Bill was more skeptical as he pursued this new lead. “I didn’t even like to read books!” he laughed.

Bill, only 24 and “as green as grass” when he bought the store, admitted that he made many mistakes during those first years. He borrowed too much money, expanded to three stores too quickly, and then was not able to efficiently manage the inventories at all the stores. Throughout the 1980s his stores also were negatively impacted by the area’s slow economy. In 1988, in what the Alworths call “a-make-or-break move,” they decided to close their three struggling stores and move into a new — and ultimately final —location near the Miller Hill Mall on Matterhorn Drive. This was a way for Bill to concentrate all his resources, finances and personal energies into one store. During the 1990s, the area’s economy stabilized, Bill applied the business skills he had learned from years of trial and error, and Joyce began working at the store. As business improved, they quickly outgrew their small space and expanded the store twice.

With steadily climbing sales, the Alworths expanded the store for the third time in 2000 and took on an expensive remodeling project. As always, Bill first carefully weighed his options, crunched numbers, sought professional advice, and prayed and agonized about the decision. By the end of 2001, it appeared that this had been a wise choice because the bookstore sales were higher than ever.

However, the first sign of trouble came in 2002 when their sales decreased by 3 percent. In a business with an average profit margin of only 2 or 3 percent, this was costly, but manageable. During 2003 and 2004, when sales continued their gradual decline, the Alworths tightened things up more, adjusting their inventory and looking for ways to run a more efficient business. Believing this downturn would be temporary, they took out a new mortgage on their home and put more of their own money into the business each year. In 2005, their sales suddenly plummeted by 20-25 percent. Bill explained it was due to a combination of factors that had been developing for years. Their best products were picked up by stores like Target, Best Buy, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. Plus, Barnes and Noble more than doubled the size of its Christian book section. Many ministries encouraged their supporters to buy books and materials directly from them. Internet sales also grew at a phenomenal rate. All these factors came together at the same time, creating what some have called “the perfect storm.” The result was devastating.

Joyce prayed over Bill many nights as he tossed and talked and moaned in his sleep from the financial strain. Finally, on Dec. 7, 2005, after years of intense hard work and prayer for things to turn around, they made the painful decision to close the store. “We were out of money and out of options,” Joyce said. “We made the awful announcement to our staff the next day.”

On Jan. 2, 2006, the shocking news hit the public as newspapers advertised the store’s going-out-of business sale. One week later, the Alworths had to let their staff go because they could no longer afford to pay them. They worked for 10 grueling hours a day, six days a week, with long lines of customers from one end of the store to the other. It was a comfort to them when three of their four children came home to help them out, and other volunteers stepped forward. Joyce often cried with customers, who expressed appreciation for the store’s many years of ministry.

Bill said, “It’s good to know we had an effect on people’s lives, because that’s what we were there for. That’s why we did what we did.” On Feb. 14, 2006, the Alworths walked away with unpaid bills and grieving hearts. They also had a battle-weary sense of relief. At an age when some couples consider early retirement, the Alworths are starting over, and still face the threat of losing their home.

Bill is thankful for his job at Explorations in Duluth, where he can use his years of experience in retail to help the owner, Ken Weyenberg. But almost one year later, he is still searching for a living wage job in management, administration or finance.

Joyce is an enthusiastic Mary Kay business woman, working diligently to develop her customer base so she can significantly contribute to their financial needs. She also continues her daily habits of Bible study and prayer.

“That’s my source of energy,” Joyce said. “Now that our own four children are married and far away, we are also energized by our involvement with many college students through Lakeview Covenant Church and international exchange programs.”

Bill said, “The spiritual side of it is that there are so many lessons to learn. People go through trials, and that’s how they grow. We really haven’t had that many trials in our life, and you wonder, when is your trial coming? So you shouldn’t be shocked when it arrives.”

Bill said he believes God is testing their faith to see if it’s real.

Joyce said, “You can have rock-solid faith in God and still have gut-wrenching days, days when you feel upbeat. Days with tears and doubts. In the midst of this tough learning opportunity, we have each other. That’s priceless.”

“I’m trusting God every day,” Bill said. “We’re not out of the woods yet. It’s all stepping stones. Faith is not trusting that everything will be easy. Faith is trusting Him to know what’s best for you.”Boxed material: Contact information for the Alworths:

If you have any job leads for Bill, or want to give the Alworths a word of encouragement, call them at (218) 722-8803 or e-mail them at wfalworth@yahoo.com. If you would like to purchase Mary Kay Skin Care and Color Cosmetics, set up an appointment for a free consultation, or receive product information, please call Joyce at (218) 340-1316. You can also visit her Web site at www.marykay.com/jmalworth, or e-mail her at jmalworth@hotmail.com.

Posted by admin on Monday, January 15 @ 23:00:00 CST (1233 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 4)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (December, 2006)
Christian Commerce

More than nuts and bolts
The Lundquist family of East End Hardware in Superior, Wis., serves God in many ways through their store, and they have plans for expanding their ministries.
By Robert Vokes, Living Stones News Writer

When Roger Lundquist and his partner opened a hardware store in South Superior in 1977, he didn't know where God would lead him and his family.

"God has a way of controlling our lives, if we only let him," he said.

Roger Lundquist, his wife, Wendy, and their son Josh are pictured at the East End Hardware, 2201 E. Fifth St., in Superior. On the right, is a small section offering Bibles and other Christian literature, and on the left side is the hardware store.

When Roger was a young man, his goal was to be rich by the age of 40. He certainly is rich now, but not in the way that the world defines riches.

Roger met his wife, Wendy, in his hardware store 24 years ago. She stayed home to raise their three children: two sons and a daughter. Kaitlyn graduated from school in June, is married and lives in Trego, Wis. Son Ryan works at Miller Hill Mall in Duluth, Minn., while Josh works with his parents in the hardware store.

Roger and his partner opened a satellite hardware store in an old movie theater in Superior's East End in 1989. After many years of stiff competition in South Superior, Roger finally quit the business several years ago, worked part time in Ashland and later taught high school and coached basketball. A few years later, his partner also quit the hardware business, which enabled Lundquist to purchase the inventory and reopen the hardware store in what had been the satellite in the East End. Wendy has been working in the store for two years and Josh for more than three years.

But this is not just a hardware store. Yes, like any good hardware store, East End Hardware features a great variety of nails, nuts and bolts, tools, etc. But when visitors first enter the business, they cannot help but notice something different in the front portion of the store, off to the right: a small, quiet area filled with Christian books, posters, materials and gifts.

This portion of the hardware store is Wendy's dream: a place of peace where people can come to get away from their stressful lives. Some day this place also will include a coffee bar and ice cream parlor. Wendy's goal is to sell the items at a very reasonable price so that all can have access to them.

"No one who has come into our hardware store has been offended by our Christian book and gift section," Wendy said. "If fact, people whom I suspect are not Christians, have purchased items in this section."

Even though the number of books is currently small, Wendy will order any book in print for a customer.

To Roger and Wendy, the hardware business is a means to a larger end.

The hardware store will enable Josh to realize goals for the East End: a broader Christian community with Christian stores of all kinds in a neighborhood that now has several bars. Josh is establishing an International House of Prayer that will have Christians praying "24/7" on the second floor of the hardware store. Josh hopes to take over the family business in about 10 years and would also like to start a Christian school and music academy.

The Lundquist family's future plans for this former movie theater also include family movies with popcorn and juice and a story time for children.

Roger and Wendy are very excited about Josh's plans for the East End, which Roger says follow God's vision for that neighborhood.

As a family running a Christian business, the Lundquists help make all who enter feel welcome, feel comfortable and ensure that they will be treated fairly and honestly. Christian music can also be heard in the store.

Roger says that he has had to learn to rely on his faith and to trust in the Lord.

"God has made a promise to take care of us," Roger said, "We must learn to trust in the Lord and do what we are called to do. We need to have the courage to go where God is leading us."

"Things can happen, and they have to start somewhere," added Wendy.

And Josh has the faith, energy, enthusiasm and youth to carry out the God's vision for the East End.

Publisher's note: Each month in the Christian Commerce section, Living Stones News features one Christian business, whose owners are Christians and apply Biblical principles.

Posted by admin on Monday, December 11 @ 23:00:00 CST (932 reads)
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Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (November, 2006)
Christian Commerce

Under new management - New owner of Explorations follows God's business lead
By Mary Beth Frost, Living Stones News Writer

As Ken Weyenberg, the new owner of Explorations, headed down a comfortably spaced aisle, through the colorful displays of toys and school curriculum, he unconsciously stopped to straighten a product that was slightly crooked on its hook and stooped to attach a bright label to a bin of teaching supplies.

After spending nearly 30 years in the grocery business, Ken Weyenberg stepped out in faith and recently became the new owner of Explorations.

"That's 30 years of habit," he said with a smile.

Weyenberg was in the grocery business for 29 years and worked for Cub Foods during 20 of those years.

"Super Value is a very good company to work for. I learned a lot and enjoyed that work," he said. "But ever since I graduated from college, I had always thought about owning and running my own business."

Weyenberg married Judy in 1983, and when his four children came along, the financial security of his corporate job kept him from pursuing his dream. But as his family grew, it became more difficult to meet the corporation's expectations to relocate. Judy and Ken moved several times with Cub Foods until they came to Duluth in 1993. That was the year God entered their lives in a new way.

Judy and Ken had been raised in religious homes, with a lot of morals in place and many rules to follow, but they had never found a personal faith in Christ. During his college years, Weyenberg's best friend invited him to a Bible study.

"I had never been to a Bible study and didn't even have a Bible at the time," Weyenberg said. "I didn't stick with it, because it was way over my head."

But this experience planted a seed in Weyenberg's mind and stayed with him through the years as he and Judy searched for a real meaning in their faith.

Then, in 1993, their babysitter invited them to visit Lakeview Covenant Church.

"After we started attending there, we realized we had found what we were searching for," Weyenberg said.

As they studied God's Word in church and through small-group Bible study, the Weyenbergs went through a process of growth and surrender and developed close relationships with other church members.

Meanwhile, the corporate pressures of managing Cub Foods, a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week business, increased for Weyenberg, and he felt it was time for a change in his life. This was confirmed in November 2005 when he was asked to relocate again.

Ken and Judy prayed for guidance during the next two months as they looked into the possibilities of buying their own business. This search resulted in clearly closed doors until January when they received a tip from a friend that the Explorations store was for sale. Within a week, the Weyenbergs were store owners with a strong sense of peace and God's leading.

"It seems like every time we prayed, there was an answer from God," Weyenberg said. "It was awesome."

Weyenberg is visibly moved when he talks about family, friends, the former owners of Explorations and many volunteers from Lakeview Covenant who spent hours cleaning, organizing and stocking their store before it opened in March.

Bill Alworth, the former owner of Twin Ports Bible and Book, was one of those volunteers from church who helped Weyenberg set up the store, right after closing his own. Weyenberg offered Alworth a temporary part-time job when the store opened, but it developed into a full-time job by September.

"Bill has been a blessing to me, my family and our store," Weyenberg said.

With Alworth's help, Weyenberg has been able to bring in a lot of the Bibles, Sunday School supplies, gifts and music that were sold at Twin Ports Bible and Book.

"Bill has been a tremendous help in choosing the right products and actually has done a lot of the orders for us along those lines," Weyenberg said.

God has provided talented employees in other areas of the store as well.

Although Judy works as a dietician at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth three or four days each week, manages a home with four children and fills in at the store whenever needed, she took on the responsibility of ordering all the educational materials and curriculum when the store first opened. Then God provided two talented kindergarten teachers during the summer who offered their expertise and experience. The store now has an extensive line of books, as well as educational materials, that include pre-calculus, algebra II and geometry.

Weyenberg heads up the toy side of the store, which he says is "so much fun for me." He looks to his children and customers for new product ideas, but hasn't changed the store's original theme.

"The core of our business is still about education and about toys that help kids move and do hands-on things and learn by exploring," he said.

This includes unique classic toys such as wooden blocks, wooden puzzles, spinning tops and jack-in-the-boxes, as well as K'Nex, Legos and craft kits for older children.

The unique qualities of the store don't end there. Upbeat contemporary Christian music fills the air. When people come in off the street, they often comment about the music, and it opens the door to conversations about spiritual things. Weyenberg appreciates this newfound freedom to talk about Christ at work and encourages his employees to do the same.

"We're open to Christian conversation. It's OK to talk about Jesus here," he said.

This freedom has come with a price, and the Weyenbergs admit to some sleepless nights when their faith was being tested.

Weyenberg said, "I would be waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep, just thinking. But that was Satan saying, ŒFinancially, you're in trouble. You can't do this.'

"In the past, when I worked for Cub, I would get up and calculate things out and make it better. And now, I just pray about it and realize that it's in God's hands, not mine. I don't control it."

Stop in to see the Weyenbergs at 201 W. Superior St. in Duluth, Minn.

They will be glad to talk to you to about the One True Owner, Manager and CEO of Explorations.

Publisher's note: Each month in the Christian Commerce section, Living Stones News features one Christian business, whose owners are Christians and apply Biblical principles.

Posted by admin on Monday, November 13 @ 23:00:00 CST (1092 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (October, 2006)
Christian Commerce

Husband and wife team offer music services DeepWater Music
From their home in Superior, Aaron and Jenny Armstrong offer a full range of musical services, including voice and instrument lessons, coaching, leading workshops and performing.
By TyLa Knapp, Living Stones News Writer

Have you longed to play a musical instrument but dreaded suffering through "Mary Had a Little Lamb"-type lessons? Do you love to sing, but if you went for lessons, you fear you would be told you have no potential?

Aaron and Jenny Armstrong use their musical gifts to help others recognize and develop their God-given musical gifts.

If so, here is good news for you!

DeepWater Music is a new Christian business that teaches people to learn and freely use the musical gifts God gave them whether they can't read a note of music or they've studied classical music for years.

DeepWater Music operates out of the home of Aaron and Jenny Armstrong in Superior, Wis. They work together as a team with one goal: to teach people to learn, sharpen and grow in sharing their musical gifts for God's glory.

Aaron Armstrong grew up in Duluth and began playing music at age of 4.

His passion and love for music grew right along with him. He first learned to play the accordion. Later, he transferred those skills to piano and eventually attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior as a music major.

He spent his early years playing in bands.

Aaron accepted Jesus into his life at 17.

"At first I was just a little fearful God might call me to do something that wouldn't include music," he said. "But I still chose to follow Him."

God gave him even more music. Aaron now plays and teaches guitar, drums, piano, voice, bass guitar, keyboards and improvisation. He coaches church praise and worship teams and composes music. He also plans to establish music and worship teaching camps and seminars. He has taught students who then have taken what they've learned to other countries. Aaron hopes to eventually train local students who will go on to teach in local areas, helping other people achieve their goals to glorify God through music.

DeepWater Music offers a 30-day pop piano crash course that consists of an informational DVD with nine CDs and a book. The Armstrongs say the book is laid out in a fresh and unique format that makes learning fun and opens up understanding even to musicians who've studied classically traditional methods for years.

DeepWater Music also offers Inspire Worship Workshops, which are group learning sessions.

Because their business reaches around the world, Aaron said, "Jenny and I call ourselves 'musicianaries,' a new term we coined combining the words musician and missionary."

Jenny is a writer currently working on several novels. She was born in Superior and grew up both in Poplar, Wis., and the country of Liberia, in west Africa, where her parents, Larry and Gail Williams, were missionaries with Youth for Christ. Aaron said she sings beautifully, too. Aaron is the teacher in the family, and Jenny is his steadying influence and business partner.

The Armstrongs complement each other in their marriage and business in a positive and enthusiastic way. Their love for God and the joy in the vision God gave them show in their words, their ready smiles, kindness and humility. The Armstrongs have been married 10 years and have four little boys: Jamison, Clay, Carter and Grant all under the age of 8. They love doing family things together.

Aaron has served as worship leader in several churches in Duluth.

DeepWater Music enables them to work with and minister to all denominations in this area. Aaron's greatest joy is helping others catch the same excitement for music and passion for worship that he has.

"I am a teacher and facilitator," he said. "I love teaching, and I am happiest when I can impart enthusiasm and help others learn to develop and use their musical gifts to serve the Lord and develop their own creative ideas."

His students range in age from about 7 and on up.

Their business name, DeepWaters, was birthed from Luke 5. "When Jesus finished speaking, he told Simon, 'Take the boat into deep water, and lower your nets to catch some fish.' Simon answered, 'Teacher, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I'll lower the nets.' After the men had done this, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. Their partners came and filled both boats until the boats nearly sank." (Luke 5:4-7) The fishermen were exhausted, yet were very quick to obey Jesus, and were greatly rewarded for it.

Deep water can represent a sense of stepping out in deeper faith and trusting God for even the seemingly impossible. Aaron used the words "expectancy" and "trust." He said he feels this means "to be ever ready and to always keep DeepWater Music obedient to God and available to our students."

Aaron plans to do this is by training some of his students to teach, thus multiplying his worship music teaching methods by reaching many more people in the area than he could alone.

The Armstrongs are involved in the Higher regional worship events, held occasionally at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center in Duluth.

These are all-city worship services where churches and denominations can come to worship the Lord shoulder-to-shoulder as one, putting aside their other issues and ascribing honor to the Lord together. In these events, they work closely with Carpenters Tools International from Wilmar, Minn.

For more information about DeepWater Music, visit its Web site: www.deepwatermusic.net or call (218) 393-9864.

Publisher's note: Each month in the Christian Commerce section, Living Stones News features one Christian business, whose owners are Christians and apply Biblical principles.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 10 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1201 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (September, 2006)
Christian Commerce

Cup 'n Saucer in Two Harbors cultivates Christian atmosphere
Located 20 miles north of Duluth, business is steeped in English tradition and flavored with Christian ambience
By Jean Granholm, Living Stones News Writer

A glass sign hangs from the ceiling just inside the door of the Cup 'n Saucer Eatery and Gift House in Two Harbors, Minn., that reads "Love, Joy, and Peace to All Who Enter Here."

That motto appears to govern how manager Susan Hansen runs her business.

Some business owners surround their customers with elevator or light FM music; but Hansen prefers to surround her customers with Christian music.

Susan Hansen, owner of Cup 'n Saucer in Two Harbors, Minn., holds one of the tea cups and saucers that are available for purchase in her shop.

While there is a definite English tea and coffee house décor, the whole building has a Christian theme.

"We have a guestbook from over the years," Hansen said, "and so many people have commented on how much they enjoy that. They can come in and sit down and have such a feeling of peace."

In the center of each lace-covered table is a sign that reads, "Sue, Penny, and staff are delighted you 're here and want you to be refreshed, appreciated, satisfied and hope you come often."  

The Cup 'n Saucer has three rooms decorated with flowers, lace and tea cups. If you prefer the outdoors, there is also a patio. The Gift House has five rooms of gifts and merchandise. There is a wide variety from tea cups and lace to rustic cabin decorations. Of course, no gift shop is complete without greeting cards.

Besides specialty coffees, tea, espresso, ice cream smoothies and pop, the regular menu includes sandwiches, salads and soup. Baked goods and desserts such as cookies, caramel rolls, mini cheesecakes and scones complete the menu. There are options for vegetarians, too. One of the house specialties is veggie nachos.

These, along with all the sandwiches on the menu, are ideas from the kids who work at the Cup 'n Saucer except the cucumber sandwiches, which came from Hansen. Sweet rye bread, a recipe from Hansen 's mother, is another house specialty. The bread is made from scratch and is an eight-hour process.

One of the things that sets Cup 'n Saucer apart from many other tea and coffee shops is an English tradition called high tea. A high tea consists of four courses served on china with fancy napkins in an upstairs room set apart for this purpose. The first course is scones, Devonshire cream and lemon curd. When customers are ready for the second course, they ring a bell that is on their table they set the pace. Some parties are there two hours or more, depending on how much time is spent visiting.

The servers, dressed in long skirts for the occasion, clear the dishes and bring a second course of soup. For the third course, every person gets a plate with a ribbon loaf centered on it surrounded by cucumber sandwiches and deviled eggs. The final course is a plate of mini desserts.

These elegant high teas are used to celebrate an anniversary, a mother-daughter outing or a time to sit and fellowship with friends. Hansen and her staff also offer little girl teas, where the girls come dressed up for a birthday party. Christmas and theme teas for occasions like Valentine's Day are fun for both guests and staff. There is no dress code for high teas some come dressed in diamonds and furs and some in jeans. A high tea requires a reservation at least three days in advance to allow for food preparation. They have served parties ranging in size from two to 40 people.

There are currently about 10 employees both adults and teenagers at Cup 'n Saucer.

"My whole life I've always loved kids," Hansen said, "so this is something that came to me where Christ can be honored and at the same time I can work with teenagers that I always wanted to be around."  

She said that she has been blessed by so many of the kids who have worked there.

"They are so much fun to work with," Hansen said.

It is probably because of this caring that the teens come back to work summer after summer. Some start at age 14 and come back every year until they graduate from high school. Others have continued to work there through college. But Hansen said it 's hard when the kids she has gotten close to leave because they 're almost like family.

"They cry when they leave, too," Hansen said, "so I know it 's not just me, but they still keep in touch. They may have moved away, but they stop in when they come back."

The Christian work environment and caring boss do more, however, than create loyal employees.

"There are kids who have worked here who have come in as nonbelievers and now are just on fire for the Lord," Hansen said. "There are some who have walked away and maybe not gone that way, but they might have learned something along the way that some day the Lord will use to touch their lives."

Outside of work, Hansen and her husband sing on the worship team in their church, Bethany Baptist.

"Worship is just like a part of you," Hansen said. "Sometimes I think about people who aren't into music. I think they miss half the worship service because it really gets your heart into the whole service."

Music is part of Hansen 's life at home, too, where playing the piano gives her a lot of comfort.

"I feel that music goes through and calms your soul."

Hansen summed up the reason for her evangelical business and lifestyle when she said, "Satan is still at work out there. That 's why I feel that everybody has got to come together right now and stand for Christ and let it be known."

The Cup 'n Saucer 's summer hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week. From October through mid-May, the hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Tuesdays through Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays.

The business is located at 802 Seventh Ave., Two Harbors, Minn., and the telephone number is (218) 834-6044.


Posted by admin on Tuesday, September 12 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1289 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (August, 2006)
Christian Commerce

Going that extra mile for others for the glory of Jesus Christ
Partnership between Catholic Community Services and the Superior Savings Bank helps first-time home buyers through the many hurdles of purchasing a house
By Mary Beth Frost, Living Stones News Writer

Jennifer Shawstad beams as she welcomes us into her new one-story home and shows us from room to room.

"It has a new roof, new siding, central air, and three bedrooms," Shawstad said. "It's very ready to move into. I closed on the house on Friday, the day before my 22nd birthday. I'm excited. Really excited."

Jennifer Shawstad (left) became a first-time homeowner with the help of Mary Sundet, vice president of residential lending at Superior Savings Bank, and a partnership with Catholic Community Services called the Superior Down Payment Assistance Program.

For Shawstad, a native Superior resident who works at St. Mary's Medical Center as a medical transcriber, it is a very happy ending to an adventure that began six months ago when, as a renter, she dared to dream of becoming a home owner.

One of Shawstad's first calls was to Sandy Al-Qudah, who is a housing counselor at Catholic Charities Bureau, Catholic Community Services' Housing Counseling Program. Al-Qudah's job is to offer assistance and information to tenants and prospective homeowners of all income levels. Her organization does not receive funding directly from the Catholic Church, and is available to anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs.

When prospective home buyers like Shawstad contact Al-Qudah, she does a preliminary screening, gives her clients a list of programs available in the community, and encourages them to shop around at various lending institutions.

One of the services that seemed to fit Shawstad's need was a grant available through Catholic Community Services called the Superior Down Payment Assistance Program. This grant is designed to help first-time home buyers who meet several eligibility requirements such as income cover the down payment and closing costs. As part of their grant requirements, Catholic Community Services partnered with Superior Savings Bank in 2001.

"We have established relationships with many local lenders, but approximately 80 percent of our low- to moderate-income clients go to Superior Savings Bank," Al-Qudah said. "They are experts in their field."

Shawstad's next call was to Mary Sundet, vice president of residential loans at Superior Savings Bank, to start the pre-approval process.

"I came in and talked to Mary and I said, 'I don't know if I'm crazy for thinking I can afford a house, but let's see. ...'" Shawstad said.

Shawstad was a typical customer for Mary, who has worked in banking for 36 years. But it is only since becoming a Christian 10 years ago that she has recognized that her work is more than just a job.

"My husband and I attended a retreat called Cursillo in the mid-90s and it opened our eyes," Sundet said. "That's when I really 'got it', that it isn't about getting up and going to church, and then coming home and doing my own thing. It's about me and Christ and my relationship with Him."

Sundet is active in the ALPHA program and missions committee at Hermantown Community Church and serves on the board of directors of the Superior Challenge Center, but she finds purpose in her job at Superior Savings Bank.

"I have gradually come to realize that this is where God wants me to be," she said. "As Superior Savings Bank became involved in affordable housing, it became more and more clear to me that I'm here to help people.

Low- and moderate-income people who thought they could never afford a home come to us.

"They figure their credit isn't good enough and they will have to rent for the rest of their lives. And then I'm able to say, 'Let's see if there is a way we can help you.'"

That's what Sundet did for Shawstad. During the pre-approval process, Sundet discovered that Shawstad was an ideal candidate for a conventional fixed-rate 30-year mortgage loan available to first-time home buyers of low- to moderate-income from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

Superior Savings Bank has handled these loans for 15 years and has become the No. 1 WHEDA lender in Douglas County.

"I could never consciously put somebody into a house payment that was not affordable for them," Sundet said. "I just know when it's right. I know when I'm working with somebody who needs a second chance. Obviously, I have to go by banking standards, but it's not just an impersonal, cut-and-dried procedure. I will try to see what there is available for people and see what can be done for them."

Superior Savings Bank President Dave Stack, a Christian who attends Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, Wis., promotes this philosophy of "going the extra mile" for customers. He allows Sundet to spend the extra time she needs with her customers to make them feel comfortable and informed. She is free to talk to customers about spiritual matters as long as they initiate the subject.

"Religion is never an issue when considering whether or not to give a person a loan," Sundet said. "We never ask what church a person attends.

These are side conversations, and are not part of the loan process."

After spending time with Sundet, and getting pre-approved, Shawstad was required to attend home buyer classes offered by Catholic Community Services and spend two hours volunteering for the SHARE program. Then she worked closely with her real estate agent, Dana Acton, who gave her many tips on what to look for in a home.

"She was great!" Shawstad said. "I've been looking for a house since January, but I finally found one. From a Christian standpoint, it seems like everything fell into place so easily. I have friends who, when they bought their houses, told me how big of a nightmare it was.

"Even after I found the house and I had the accepted offer, I was waiting for the stressful part, and I was waiting for the loads of paperwork, and it was all just taken care of. Everything fell into place like it was just meant to be."

"It's a good feeling to have helped somebody. It's so rewarding," Sundet said. "You know, there are missionaries out there on the mission field, and I could say, 'I'm just working at a bank.' But when I'm able to take time with people, and make them feel more comfortable, and help them along the way, hopefully they'll see something in me that will glorify Christ."

Publisher's note: Living Stones News will feature one Christian business each month in the Christian Commerce section. Businesses, whose owners are Christians and apply Biblical principles (honesty, integrity, fairness, equality, stewardship, etc.) to the way they do business, can make application by filling out the form accessible here. Complete the form, print a copy for your file and click submit on the bottom of the form. The form can also be printed and mailed to the address at the bottom of the form. If you do not have access to our Web site or need more information, call (218) 728-4945 and a form will be faxed or mailed to you. If your company is chosen for a feature article, you will be contacted by Living Stones News for an interview.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, August 08 @ 00:00:00 CDT (965 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (July, 2006)
Christian Commerce

God’s in control for On-Site Professional Cleaning owner
By Robert Vokes, Living Stones News Writer

“... you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Ephesians 4:17-18

All Christians would say they love God’s Word. Some remember specific passages that spoke to them at a critical time in their lives. The words in Ephesians 4:17-18 were a turning point in Christian businessman Kevin Buck’s life.

“These words really spoke to me,” Buck said. “I had to have God, who gave me a new heart. My life took a 180-degree turn to Him.”

Buck was in his teens at the time. He was raised in a Christian family, which attended a Lutheran Church where he was confirmed. He played guitar, joined a rock band and had every intention of becoming and living the life of a rock star.

However, Buck felt empty and unfulfilled. He went on a youth trip to New Orleans where he played music at the worship services. There was a spirit-filled youth director there -- a “Hippy-type” -- who made Christ relevant to Buck. He helped stir strong feelings in Buck, who believed for the first time that God was present.

Upon returning home, Buck started a Bible study in his high school that began with 10 students, ended the year with more than 100 students and well over 200 in the next two years.

“People were saved and were filled with the Holy Spirit,” Buck said.

During his college years, Buck became very active at Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Duluth, Minn., where he continued playing guitar. He played with several groups, including the Ascension Christian Music Group and Integrity Music. He also participated in the National March for Jesus Movement.

He studied philosophy and communications in college with every intention of becoming an ordained pastor. In fact, Buck was the youth pastor at a Lutheran Church in Robbinsdale, Minn., after college.

But seminary was not meant to be. God called Buck and his wife, Leslie, to Duluth to become a part of a “Giant Spiritual Wave” that is part of His 50-year plan. Buck listened to God, who told him that he was not to be a “mover and shaker,” but to participate and be supportive through worship and music.

When Kevin and Leslie moved to Duluth, neither had a job. Even though he did not have academic education or experience in business, Buck still decided to start his own company, which is very difficult to do. Statistics show that 80 percent of businesses fail during the first year.

God must be central. You will need a strong network of support, both from other people in the human world and from God in the spiritual world.
Kevin Buck

Because of his faith in God, very hard work and his entrepreneurial skill, Buck was successful. He began by buying a drapery business that he operated in his home. Drapery installation led to drapery cleaning, that led to carpet cleaning and eventually the On-Site Professional Cleaning business.

Twenty-one years later, Kevin and Leslie employ six to 12 employees and own four businesses: On-Site Professional Cleaning, Inc., On-Site Shading Systems, Inc., American Flamecoat of MN, Inc., and Bizcruises.com, Inc. On-Site Shading Systems offers sun-control shading products that are designed to eliminate unwanted glare, ultraviolet light and heat while preserving the view. On-Site Professional Cleaning features advanced carpet, rug, tile/stone, furniture and drapery cleaning processes, along with emergency flood, fire restoration and janitorial services.

As a Christian businessman, Buck said, “I do not use God as a ‘lever.’ I do not feature a ‘fish sign’ or cross in my advertising. The quality we provide and the way we treat people speak for itself. Our hard work and successful business enable me to serve God by being the worship leader at Great Lakes Gospel Church and to be involved with the Twin Ports Prayer Force.”

Buck’s five-year goal is to build the company so that he, as owner, does not need to be as involved as he currently is and to build his seminar/cruise business (Bizcruises.com, Inc.).

“I can give testimony that anything’s possible,” Buck said. “It’s all about the dream, believing that things are possible. Work the dream forwards and backwards. God must be central. You will need a strong network of support, both from other people in the human world and from God in the spiritual world.”

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 11 @ 00:00:00 CDT (982 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (June, 2006)
Christian Commerce

Flipping burgers for the King
Big Daddy's Burgers serves meals the Lord's way

“No servant can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve both God and Money.”

-- Luke 16:13

How can visitors to Big Daddy’s Burgers in Duluth’s Piedmont Heights area tell that the popular restaurant is owned and operated by a Christian businessman?

· Is it because radio station KDNW-FM 97.3, with its Christian music and daily prayer times, is the only background music that one hears?

· Is it because owner David Gonhue wears a T-shirt that says, “Never going to be as big as Jesus”?

· Is it because Gonhue often wears a baseball cap that says, “Jesus is my Boss”?

· It is because he welcomes discussions with anyone about his faith and Christianity?

· Is it because he treats people differently and creates a family atmosphere that has some saying that he is “too nice” a boss?

· Is it because many of the employees are long term, often recommending their friends to work at Big Daddy’s Burgers, even though the pay is less than employees could make elsewhere?

· Is it because Big Daddy’s Burgers is always closed on Sundays so that Gonhue, his wife and son (and any employee who wishes) can attend church, even though there would be much money to be made when the “church crowd” would visit for lunch?

All of these elements play a role in making Big Daddy’s Burgers a model of how someone can fully incorporate their faith life into their vocation.

However, it wasn’t always like this.

Like many Christians, Gonhue did not always know the Lord, but accepted Him about 10 years ago. Gonhue’s wife, Yvonne, was looking for a church that would be a place of faith for their son, Ray, who was 9 years old at the time. David and Yvonne are both musicians, having met in the Air Force where they both played trombone in the Air Force Band.

David Gonhue found that Pastor Scott Fennell at the Baptist church his family attended “spoke to him.” He and his family became involved, sharing their talents with special music on trombone. He found that he had a lot in common with Pastor Fennell, both sharing interests such as hunting and fishing.

Gonhue was working as general manager for a restaurant at the time that was too focused on selling alcohol. He later discovered that many of his friends were praying for him to find a different job. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1997, Pastor Fennell asked Gonhue about starting a Boy Scout troop (he had been an Eagle Scout). During the conversation, Gonhue knew that he wanted to be a Christian and accepted Jesus as Lord on his knees at the coffee table.

During a family trip to Disney World in February 2000, Yvonne’s parents, who owned a restaurant in Oregon, proposed to David that he purchase their restaurant. Having been raised in Duluth, David wanted his family to continue living there, so he began hunting for a suitable location, going through the arduous process of developing a business plan, securing a bank loan, working with architects and contractors and purchasing equipment. After finding the current site in November 2000, Big Daddy’s Burgers opened in March 2001.

Yvonne occasionally prepares a special menu for Big Daddy’s, but works full time as a transcriptionist at the SMDC Health System. Son Ray, who is now 19 and works full time as the afternoon manager, has worked at Big Daddy’s since he was 14 years old. Ray hopes to take over the family business some day.

David credits his background -- both as a Christian and having worked at nine other restaurants before owning his own -- as contributing to his success.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, June 13 @ 00:00:00 CDT (882 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Christian Commerce - (May, 2006)
Christian Commerce

Little Rascals is more than a children’s consignment shop
By Amy Trees - Living Stones News Writer

“Anything new today?”

That question often is asked by regulars of Little Rascals, a children’s consignment shop located at 4018 Woodland Ave. in Duluth, Minn.

Mother and daughter team bought children’s consignment shop as a ministry opportunity.
Rebecca Ballard and her daughter, Katelin, are co-owners and take turns running the shop, which is as much a ministry as it is a store.

Little Rascals specializes in quality name-brand clothing, including maternity clothes. Sizes range from infants to juniors. In addition to clothing, the shop sells gift items, accessories, toys, baby equipment and furniture.

Little Rascals accepts new people willing to consign their goods with them. They look for items that are in excellent condition and take great care in handling what is entrusted to them. They currently have 68 clients consigning with them. A consignment period runs for three months and the client receives half of the selling price, minus sales tax and handling fees. Price is determined by the condition, brand and original value of the product.

The seed for the business was planted with an ordinary run to the grocery store. Mother and daughter decided to stop in Little Rascals to browse.

“I never had an interest in the shop,” Katelin said, “but while looking around, I began getting ideas for running the business.”

While talking to the owner, they learned the business was closing. As they were leaving the shop, Rebecca asked her daughter what she thought it would take to run the business. The Ballards believe that it must have been a “God thing.”

With only a little time to make a decision, the family talked and prayed about the possibility of buying the business as a ministry opportunity. They said they experienced a feeling of peace by deciding to say “yes” to the business.

Little Rascals opened under the Ballards’ ownership in January. Each workday begins with prayer. Being Christian business owners, they enjoy the freedom of playing Christian radio and listening to worship music. The Ballards have a heart for helping others and hope to start a Mom’s group this summer. Other future ideas include parenting classes and working with photography.

Rebecca is married to Dave Ballard, pastor of Living Stones Fellowship in Duluth. The Ballards have seven children, all of whom Rebecca home-schools. She also works as a consultant for Pampered Chef by doing cooking and catalog shows.

Katelin is a full-time student studying massage therapy at Lake Superior College in Duluth. Her goal is to open her own business, hopefully near Little Rascals, and focus her work on children and pregnant women. In addition to helping her mom run the shop, Katelin works part time in the evenings as a waitress.

The Woodland Avenue location is ideal because there are many families living in the area, including the Ballards, which makes it very convenient. Many of their regular customers are neighborhood moms and child care workers, with an occasional grocery shopper from Piggly Wiggly’s.

The building owners are considering constructing a bigger building in the future, which would be an asset to Little Rascals, where business is booming and a larger space is needed. The business has grown by word of mouth, the posting of flyers and the distribution of business cards.

If you are interested in a consignment appointment, contact Rebecca or Katelin at (218) 724-3799. Little Rascals’ business hours are Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Posted by admin on Tuesday, May 16 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1465 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 0)

Christian Commerce: Quilts and gifts served up with Chai
Christian Commerce
The Little Gift House follows the Golden Rule with all its customers
By Corinne Scott, Living Stones News Publisher

The Little Gift House's owners, from left, Aimee Glonek, Jan Brown and Perri Smith stand in front of the store's quilt display.
"Going into The Little Gift Shop on Main Street in Solon Springs, Wis., is like burying your nose in something that smells wonderful," said Lisa Evans, a long-time customer, "and it's just one of the reasons I go into the store. It's the No. 1 spot for quilters. Everything you need you can find there, plus some you don't need. There is a peaceful feeling about the shop, and the people are absolutely wonderful."

The aroma of a complimentary cup of Chai tea greets customers of The Little Gift House as they browse the displays of Chai teas and fragrant candles, greeting cards, knitting and crocheting yarns, gifts for the home, kitchen utensils and homemade crafts and gifts.

A back room, added in the last five years, boasts 1,500 bolts of flannel and cotton fabrics grouped together in every color imaginable. Finished quilts in beautiful patterns and deep, rich shades of the Northland - evergreen, burgundy, browns and dark blues - hang on the walls.

The pleasant, peaceful atmosphere in the store is carefully cultivated by the three partners of the shop: Janet Brown, Perri Smith and Aimee Clonek. Brown has been an owner for about 15 years; Smith about five years; and Glonek, daughter of Perri Smith, for one year.

It's not just the aromas of Chai and candles that create the welcoming atmosphere, but it's also the owners' Christianity. They greet and acknowledge the customers when they come in, and they seek to treat people the way they would like to be treated.

The Little Gift Shop was founded in 1974 by Brown's mother and sister.
Brown said that partners have come and gone over the years with as many as seven owners at one time.

"But," she said, "The Little Gift House has always been owned by Christian women. That is where we want our focus to be. It's the No. 1 thing we consider when voting in a new partner. We've never had a major problem, and we've been asked, 'How can a group of women be so unified?' We pray individually for this store, and we meet once a month to talk and to pray.
We pray before making decisions, and we give thanks to God for the prosperity He has given us."

Glonek, who handles the finances, added that their husbands aren't involved in the business but they care about how they do business and how things are working.

"They spend time praying for us," she said. "They want us to be successful and prosper, and they put in time to help."

When the original store opened, all the homemade items crafted by women (some by men) in the community were handled on consignment. The store was open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then later until Christmas, when it would close for the winter. When the store added fabric and quilting classes five years ago, the store remained open year-round.

Smith said that the fabrics have gone over very well. Quilting and knitting are picking up, and some old art forms, such as needle point, tatting and wool rug hooking, are coming back.

"Younger people want to learn," said Smith, who teaches the quilting classes. "My last class was predominantly 24- to 30-year-old women."
Although homemade items aren't handled on consignment anymore, the shop continues to buy homemade items outright from craftspersons in other states, such as pottery items made in Iowa and some prints on canvas made by a stay-at-home mom in Minnesota.

The shop is run on Christian principles. The partners make sure items are priced fairly ,as they do not want to make a living at the expense of others. If someone is dissatisfied with a product, they'll take it back.
They visit other stores to assess the experience and bring back good customer service strategies to incorporate in their shop.

Although the partners are not outspoken about their Christianity, they aren't quiet about it either. They are adding more inspirational items, which sell so quickly. They also know their customers and can ask them what is going on in their lives. If they sense the presence of the Holy Spirit, they will stop what they are doing and pray for their customers.

Smith said that people use the store as a base for prayer requests.

"Prayer concern calls come in for us to pass along," she said. "There is a network of people with whom we share as they come in. We have felt a greater blessing on us recently."

Cindy Nelson of Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, Wis., is a regular customer of The Little Gift House. She said she is encouraged when she goes there, because the shop owners know her by name and ask about family members, which is nice.

"I like the decorative items for the home," she said. "Many have country and Northwoods themes. I've decorated my home with the Christian things I get there. It's a fragrant, pleasant atmosphere, and the owners are friendly and helpful."

Brown and her husband, Charlie, also own Swanson's Motel and Campground in Solon Springs. They have four children and two grandchildren and attend Northwoods Community Church.

Smith has lived in Solon Springs since she was 5 years old. She and her husband, Rick, have four children and four grandchildren. They attend Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, Wis.

Glonek and her husband, Jeremiah, live in Solon Springs and attend Mission Covenant Church as well.


Posted by admin on Tuesday, April 11 @ 00:00:00 CDT (1031 reads)
(Read More... | Christian Commerce | Score: 5)



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