Sojourning Sister: Jeri Paden

Take a look into the life of one of our dear First Free sisters, Jeri Paden!

For those of us who do not know you:

How long have you attended First Free?

I’ve been attending First Free since the fall of 2001, and serve periodically on the worship team.
Tell us a little about your family (spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc), where you grew up, and what you do these days (work? ministry? hobbies? etc?).
My husband Paul is an engineer, and he has worked at Spirit Aerosystems for about a year and a half.  We moved here from the Dallas area in 2001 for him to take a job with Raytheon, and 8 weeks later he got hit by a layoff.  God quickly provided a contract position with Boeing, where he worked for 6 years before going to Hawker Beechcraft, and he was there for several years before another layoff.  That time it took 14 months for him to find a job, since he wanted to stay here in Wichita, and God again showed Himself so powerful & faithful.
We don’t have any children, and my only sibling, an older brother, died many years ago.  My mom still lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where I grew up listening to rocket tests for NASA’s space program on nearby Redstone Arsenal.  Paul & I now live on 80 acres near Towanda, most of which is farmed by someone else.  We have lots of animals, just none we are responsible to feed:  ducks, pheasants, turkeys, assorted other birds, coyotes, woodchucks, deer…
I think I have the best job possible:  I teach the daytime BSF class on the east side of Wichita, so I get to spend lots of hours in God’s Word, and work with a wonderful group of leaders.  When I find some spare time, I love to read, do assorted craft projects, and play in the dirt – I have an ongoing landscaping project that has kept me busy during the last couple of years.
Has there been a scripture reference/verse/passage that God has used to impact your life in a significant and lasting way? How and why did it speak to you so mightily? (this could include something recent, or one of those life-changing ah-ha moments)
It’s hard to choose only one Scripture passage, but one that has been an ongoing source of encouragement to me for years is Job 19:25, which may sound like an odd place to find a favorite verse.  In the midst of his questioning & discouragement, Job says “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth.”  That puts absolutely everything else into perspective – no matter what happens in my life or in the world around me, He is in charge, is at work, and will return personally to claim His people.  It reminds me this is all so temporary, and my life needs to be all about Him, & preparing for that wonderful day when He “stands upon the earth.”
In Him, Jeri

Staff Highlight: Mary Trousdale

Mary TMary Trousdale is the Student Ministry Administrative Assistant at First Free. She has worked faithfully with our youth for several years. Enjoy reading her sweet story below! Thank you, Mary!!

1) You have invested in the lives of many teens for many years, unto God’s glory. What motivates your desire to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in this capacity?

Because of the Gospel, I have a strong desire to take the love that God showed me on the cross to others. I am motivated to work with teenagers because I have seen how the world influences so many teens in a negative way. I would have loved to have had strong godly woman in my life during my teen years.  I want to be a positive influence that shows teen girls the truth of the Gospel, that they are loved by our Heavenly Father, that they have been created by Him for His purpose and that they can make a difference in this world.

2) How has God increased your faith through this?

My faith is increased by living the Gospel and sharing my life with teen girls. As I look back over the years, with 14 of them in this ministry, my faith has been growing. I struggled through a move to Kansas which took me away from everything that I knew (and thought that I needed), the death of both my parents and my brother, and the constant changes and demands of marriage and raising a family. Because of these life experiences, I can lead the young women in the ministry to trust God to be with them at all times. My faith is stronger now because I can see God has been with me every step of the way. To keep my faith strong, I know that I have to be in God’s word and stay focused on the Gospel message.

3) How can the women of First Free be praying for you?

I covet the prayers of other women for me to have peace and trust in my God’s care and providence over all that happens in my life and strength and confidence to tell others about His love and grace.


Sister Sojourner: Brenda Laird

One of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet is Brenda Laird. Her smiles are infectious and bring much joy! Take a peek into her life and heart below. Thank you, Brenda, for the abounding joy in the Lord that you share!!

For those of us who do not know  you:

How long have you attended First Free? 

I’ve been  attending First Free since September of 1994.

Tell us a little about  your family (spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc), where you grew up, and  what you “do” these days (work? ministry? hobbies? etc?).

I grew up around Lincoln KS where my dad farmed and my  mom stayed home with my 3 older sisters and me.   After high school I went to  Sterling College and got a degree in Business Administration.  Clayton & I have been married for 14  years and have 4 kids…Chloe will be 12 in May, Aubrey is 10, Isaac is 8 and  Phoebe just turned 2 in January.  I  worked in the business world for about 7 years before Chloe was born and after  that, being a wife and full time mom became my career.  Last fall I started working with First  Friends here at church doing their administrative work for a few hours each  week.  I’ve served in Awana in  several different clubs over the years and right now I’m the Sparks  secretary.  Clayton and I are  involved with First Watch ABF and I have enjoyed being a part of a Tuesday  Connection Bible study group for many years.  I like playing piano for fun, baking  when I have time, and enjoying a good movie with my husband.

Has there been a scripture  reference/verse/passage that God has used to impact your life in a significant  and lasting way? How and why did it speak to you so mightily? (this could  include something recent, or one of those life-changing “ah-ha” moments)

One of my favorite scripture passages is Philippians 4:6-8. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in  everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to  God.  And the peace of God which  transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ  Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever  is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is  lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think  about such things.”

These  verses always have encouraged me to give my concerns to God and to keep my mind  focused on things that would please him.  A friend of mine during my college days said something that has stayed  with me over the years as we were talking about things going on at that busy  time in our lives.  She told me “If  you have time to worry about it, then you have time to pray about it!”.  It has been a reminder to me  to replace my worry with a prayer of faith instead.  I can trust the one who was willing to die for  me, to take care of me in this life.

Traditions Tea: Lynn Nolte

Lynn Nolte3The last of our sweet ladies who were honored at November’s Traditions Tea was Lynn Nolte. Many thanks to Evanelle Olinger for her time gathering Lynn’s story for us!

Lynn Nolte, interview by Evanelle Olinger

Lynn grew up in a big family with parents who encouraged creativity and individuality.  However, there was no spiritual training in her home other than Sunday school and church. By the time she was the mother of four children her marriage was in trouble and it was then that she gave her life to Christ as the result of her friendship with a dear Christian woman. Lynn’s husband, Wink, found the Lord shortly after and went to work for George Fooshee and their lives completely changed.  Through Wink’s new job God sent a wonderful woman to Lynn who taught her to love her husband and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to her husband, so that no one would malign the Word of God. (Sounds like words from Titus 2, doesn’t it? J)  Marjean Fooshee was that wonderful woman. Marjean gave wise advice and was 100% committed to the Lord and to their friendship. Together they poured over Scripture and study materials, and became deeply involved in women’s ministry, teaching the Christian Home Class to many women throughout the city of Wichita.

When Wink gave his life to God and became a godly example, Lynn and Wink began leading and teaching Bible studies and classes together. Wink’s disciplined life gave Lynn a good example of how to live out God’s Word every day.

God has blessed Wink and Lynn’s marriage with three sons and one daughter, Steve, David, Susan, and Doug. All the children are strong believers and have blessed Wink and Lynn with 17 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Susan and her daughter, Victoria, are here with Lynn today.

As Lynn’s children started leaving home she pursued an art career and has taught classes to both children and adults at Botanica, the Center for the Arts, and in her home.  She’s been a Botanica poster winner, participated in numerous art fairs and shows and just recently designed her own web page: Lynn continues to use her artistic talents together with Marty Penner as they are in charge of the art gallery in the Worship Center hallway.

Lynn’s involvement at First Free over the years has included children’s ministry- teaching 3rd grade Sunday school, and art classes during Vacation Bible School.  She’s worked in Women’s ministry, leading women’s Bible studies, teaching classes with Wink and mentoring younger women. An important behind the scene job was to support Wink as he was an elder in at First Free

Her advice to Women of First Free: Spend time daily with the Lord, memorize and meditate on His Word! Joshua 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  Success comes to us as we take Christ in!