" Hi, I'm Diane! Thank you for inviting me to share a bit of my story! If I had to choose one word to sum up who I am it’d be, “ordinary.” I am just a regular mom with a huge passion for her Savior. A regular day starts with greeting my heavenly Father and spending time with Him. Shortly thereafter, I spend a few minutes with my favorite man (husband, Jon) before he’s off for the day. Then I grab a quick cup of coffee (thank God for the Keurig) and a quick breakfast with my two kids (Jacob, 11 & Adriana, 8) and we’re off to school. Then I head to the office, where I am the Executive Director and Founder of Soles For Jesus, Inc."
"Don't you love how Jesus continues to use ordinary people to do His will? He blesses each of us with different gifts. How would you describe your unique role as a woman?"
"I consider my highest calling to be a wife and mother that honors the Lord. I’ve known the Lord since I was a young girl and committed my future and plans to Him many years ago. About three years ago, I went on a mission trip to Ethiopia, Africa and received a specific call from the Lord. I was standing in the simple hut of a missionary (in the midst of a prayer meeting) when Soles For Jesus was born. The name of the organization, main scripture and the specifics of the plan were downloaded in to my heart in a matter of minutes. When I exited that place, my life changed direction. I was given a mission and an assignment and SFJ is really a response of obedience. It’s His idea and His plan for this ordinary mama, so I guess that makes it unique."
" That is an incredible story, indeed! How did God continue to work his plan for Soles for Jesus through you? "
" As soon as I returned from my trip to Ethiopia, I shared about SFJ with my husband, Jon, and my dad, Art. They are business partners and have a large warehouse—and so they told me to get started and gave me a corner of the warehouse and a small office. This caused us to be up and running within a few weeks—and once our website went live, we started receiving shipments of shoes from across the country. It was astounding. Still today, we haven’t reached out asking for shoes—and we’ve already collected over 100,000 pairs of shoes! We continually send containers of 8,000 pairs of shoes to countries in Africa—and each pair is shared with a Gospel booklet written in their language. SFJ is all about what the Lord is doing, not any person. He is the one promoting and growing it. This scripture is posted in my bedroom and sums up my heart best, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision you gave me.” (Acts 26:19) I just want to be obedient to what He’s asked me to do."
" What a wonderful and specific mission, Diane! I just watched your 2012 year in review video and it brought me to tears. The name Soles for Jesus is perfect and truly, as you mentioned, God sent. Please share, what is another favorite bible passage of yours? "
" Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” There are so many favorite verses that I have—but this one hangs in the center of our home. It’s a declaration to all who visit our home and to each of us that live here every day. We are in this together and we will serve Him as a family. When one falls, we will be here to pick you up. It’s also a reminder to me of my highest calling in teaching and training my kids, so that we finish this race together. "
" Who was your greatest mentor, Diane? "
" I’ve had some great role models and mentors in my life. My parents have walked their faith out in front of me as long as I can remember. Of course they were not perfect but I saw them live their lives for Christ and honor Him in all of their decisions. I’ve also had incredible youth leaders, coaches, siblings, Bible study leaders and friends who have marked my life in a powerful way. "
" How do you balance home and your own business? "
"This has definitely been a challenge, especially during the first two years. The incredible support of my husband is the only way we’ve all survived. During these years of extreme growth and seven trips to Africa, he kept telling me that He could clearly see that the Lord was guiding me and SFJ. We both could see that clearly. Jon kept encouraging me, praying for me, helping me make dinner at times and being an incredible father to our kids when I was gone on my trips to Africa. In 2012, we hired two employees, so now my life is more balanced. I volunteer for SFJ, even though I’m the Executive Director. I feel called to this role and it’s a privilege to serve my Lord every day in this way. "
"Is there anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog’s mission, that you can comment on to encourage women?
Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
"I LOVE this verse! You picked a fantastic one for your blog’s mission. We need each other and can help each other on this journey! Let’s be women that hold each other accountable and I love the Biblical model of the older women teaching the younger women. As a young mom, I attended a Bible study for years that followed this model and the wisdom and insight that I received was priceless. I still love learning from women that are ahead of me in years. In a few weeks I’m turning 40—does this mean I’m entering the role of the “older woman” yet? Thank you for creating a place for us to do this!"
" Oh, Diane - LOL! I think that mentoring others is be based on maturity and experience, not necessarily age. What do you feel is a threat to a woman’s faithfulness at home? How can we be alert against it? "
"I believe that a huge threat to a woman’s faithfulness at home is social media (aka Facebook) and her smart phone. I am not a hater-- I’m on Facebook and also have an iPhone—but let’s be careful! I have seen first-hand friends who start communicating on Facebook with a high-school or college “x” and it led to a broken marriage and family when they walked away from their marriage to rekindle an old flame. It’s devastating. I’ve also seen friends who start texting their guy friends and before you know it, they’ve developed an emotional connection with a man who is not their husband.
Facebook is also a time-sucker. I’ve seen women neglect their duties at home or with family, as they escape and spend hours online. You can be at home with your kids but be completely withdrawn and not present. If there is one thing that I can share with those who are married, please safe guard your marriage. Jon knows all of my passwords and can pick up my phone to read my texts or emails at any time. It’s not like he does so on a regular basis but we both have access to each other’s accounts for accountability. A good measure to use for yourself is this, “Does anyone, other than my spouse, alter my mood when I see him or receive a message from him?” If so, you’re entering a danger zone. "
" Can you share an event in your life that seemed terribly difficult that God strengthened you by? "
"When I was in my junior year of high school, I cracked my sternum playing basketball and it put me out of school and on my back for six weeks. Shortly before this injury, I had a situation with a stalker who had seen my picture in the paper (for volleyball) and this started an extremely scary season of my ilfe. This man would know when I was home alone and would call. I was asked to stay on the line, so that the police could trace his call and try to catch him. I was also told to try and recognize his voice. When the police finally found him and identified who he was, they wanted me to testify against him in court for things he’d done over the phone to me and other girls before me. Also during this time, one of my closest friends died of Aids- because the medication he was taking as a hemophiliac contained contaminated blood. This all happened within six weeks and my parents were so worried about me.
But do you know what these trials did for me? They strengthened my faith tremendously! I pressed in to the heart of God and my faith became my own and very real. The Lord became my best friend, my next breath and my everything! He spoke to my heart to write a letter to the man who tried to steal my innocence over the phone and who caused me to live in fear everywhere that I went for many months. He wanted me to share Jesus with this man and also tell him that I forgave him. Can I tell you that after I did this, I was the one set free? Forgiveness and obedience frees us and great trials bring us closer to Christ, if we allow them to!"
"What a wonderful gift faith is! Only Christ could work that kind of forgiveness and strength in your heart. Amazing love! Please share, what is next for you and Soles for Jesus?"
" Since God gave me such a clear and specific mission, my answer would have to be, “more of the same.” His heart is for everyone to hear the Good News. We have so much more work to do, so we’re working hard to send more shoes and more Gospel booklets each year.
Seeing the Lord so clearly guide and provide for Soles For Jesus over the last three years has been incredible. It is miraculous how He continues to bring alongside of us the people, resources and provisions to carry out the mission He gave us. I’ve been told many times that it’s impossible to ship to Africa because of the massive amount of corruption. And yet, He continually helps us get our shipments and His Word in to places that have not yet heard about Him. As I slept in a tent a few months ago in Mozambique, I heard the villagers singing and dancing the entire night for bringing shoes and Jesus to their village. Tears kept streaming down my face and soaking my small travel pillow, as I thanked Him for allowing this ordinary mom from WI to experience His life-giving miracles in Africa. I never imagined this would be my story. My only desire is to be found faithful and obedient in each opportunity that He puts before us. I take my Boss very seriously and don’t want to let Him down. "
"Thank you, Diane, for sharing such an inspiring and moving story. It is a reminder that God has cultivated specific plans for each of us to be ambassadors for Him in our homes, communities, to the world. What a privilege and responsibility we have to tell of God's forgiveness and love for all. Romans 10:14-15, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”"
I've never said this to someone before... but Diane, Christ has given you some absolutely gorgeous feet!"