About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Along The Way

April 26, 2007.

That is the day that will mark Brian's 20 year anniversary at the Winton Rd. First Church of God. Hard to believe we've been at the same church for that long. Shoot, it's hard to believe we're old enough to have been anywhere that long. I still feel 20-something on most days.

Another memorial date is nearing as well. Although we've been at Winton Rd. for 20 years, Brian (and I) have been in ministry for nearly 25 years. Now that can really make a person feel old. It's been an interesting journey. Well no, actually, it's been a wild ride.

We started out dirt poor. We lived in a run-down ratty trailer park that most people wouldn't live in so gypsies moved in - and so did we. People think I'm kidding when I say we lived with gypsies, but I assure you, I am not kidding. We ate commodity cheese and butter and a lot of spaghetti because it was cheap. We were surrounded by every kind of human suffering. The girl in the trailer across from us overdosed, the lady in the trailer next to us was raped by an intruder, and Jessy, the little boy who hung out at our place was hit by a car and we left dinner on the table and ran to the hospital. It seemed like every night the gypsies would fight in the streets outside our trailer.

We worked with street thugs. No kidding. Our "youth group" consisted of drug dealers, street kids, a few good church kids and one 80-something year-old man. We didn't meet at church but in a run-down building down the street from the church. Kids would sometimes just wander in wondering what was going on. Sometimes they stayed because they sensed someone cared about them there. At our very first youth meeting, a fist fight broke out.

There was a kid in the youth group named Bam Bam. That was his legal name. Really. He wasn't around for long - he was a drug dealer that was sentenced to prison. His best friend who lived here and there and sometimes on the street, came to church and met Jesus. I'll never forget him passing out paper and pencils to the youth and demanding them to write to Bam Bam to encourage him because it's what Jesus would want for us to do. He was very forceful about it. Everyone wrote for fear of being beaten up if they didn't.

From there we went to another state and worked with millionaire's kids. Now that was a challenge! The street kids were easy by comparison. I remember really screwing up and losing my temper and calling them spoiled brats. I later apologized. Nothing like apologizing to kids. Especially spoiled kids. Espeically when you were right in what you said but wrong in the way you said it. We were wined and dined and treated very well by the rich people there. One of our parishioners rented the civic center for a private party, put bales of hay on the floor and had a well-known country band play for the party. We rode on their yachts, flew in their private planes, ate with them in fine restraunts at their expense and then drove home in our broken-down AMC Spirit.

From there we went to sweet home Alabama. There we met up with a rather nasty thing called the KKK and all other forms of evil. There was porn rings, devil worshipers, and worst of all, religious church people. I volunteered at a Crisis Pregnancy Center and brought my clients to church with me. The problem, one of hte was black and our church was white. I was told that was not to be done. I did it anyway. I brought one client to church with me. She was white but from the "wrong side of the tracks". She was tattooed and her teeth were rotted out. Her baby was born in November and in December she was "Mary" in the church Christmas play and her baby was baby Jesus. I thought it was perfect. There are stories galore about Alabama but those will have to wait for another time. In short - we were asked to leave. We did.

Then it was on to Winton Rd. where we've been for the past 20 years. We've raised our kids in this church. My oldest had the same youth leaders I had when I was kid and the same pastor that was here when I was a kid, is still the senior pastor. This congregation has watched me grow up in more than one way. They were here when I was a 14 year old kid playing on the soft-ball team and as their associate pastor's wife they've gone with me through depression and eating disorders without judgement. They allow me to wear jeans and listen to rock music. They do not expect me to fit into any mold but allow me to be who God wants me to be. It's not a perfect church by any means. Some days I want to knock heads together and ask them what they're thinking. No, it's not a perfect church at all, but it's a good one.
*Update* David asked in the comment section to hear more about Alabama. In a nutshell, it was like this .... the rural town where we were was a hotbed of evil. It was where the headquarters for KKK was located. We were told that city leaders were involved in Satanism. We were told by the captian of the police dept. (a good friend) that a child porn ring operated out of there and that it was linked to organized crime. Before we arrived, our congregation had decided to change locations and purchased a 5 acre stretch of land on the Interstate. It was all heavily wooded. They discoverd that the property was where the Satanist met to hold their whatever it is they did. They offered sacrifices to Satan in an attempt to ward off the church. Didn't work.
The congregation sold their old property to a black church - that upset the locals too and the windows of the parsonage were shot out to make that point. Weird, crazy, supernatural stuff happened there. When we first went there we were told about it and I thought they were off their rocker. It sounded like stuff kids tell each other around campfires to spook each other. Soon. Very soon, we were believers too. I've never seen or experienced anything like that before or since. But in the middle of all that evil, the Church arose. Not any one particular congregation - they were part of the problem - but the real Church came together across racial and denominational lines and I've never seen anything like that before either. The only time I saw something like that since then was after Hurricane Katrina hit.


Lorna said...

wonderful glimpse into ministry. Thanks

David Cho said...

There was porn rings, devil worshipers, and worst of all, religious church people.


What a ride it has been! And it's far from over. Thank you so much for sharing. Would love more of the Alabama story.

For some reason, bloglines has stopped picking up new entries from your blog.

Brian Buriff said...

Wow - what a collection of memories, many of which have faded in my mind over time. Thankyou for once again taking my hand and walking me down through memory lane. I will copy and past what you've written into a separate document for my archives.

Remember sleeping in front of the refrigerator at night in the Middletown mobile home? We had no air conditioning in that tin can.

Amber said...

Yes, I remmber sleeping in front of the fridge. We were literally SICK from the heat. That was a BAD memory to be sure. I think my mom and dad gave us a small window air conditioning unit after that.