Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January 2011 Living Well Letter

Happy New Year! We hope that you had a wonderful Christmas.

How would you like to start the new year with a life-changing event?

Looking back on 37 years of marriage, if we could change one thing, we would have started a spending plan (budget) in the very beginning of our marriage. The spending plan that we began over 20 years ago has done more for our marriage than any one step we have taken, besides our commitment to the Lord. Even though we didn’t disagree on how we spent our money and we weren’t in a lot of debt, we didn’t know where our money was going. The lack of a plan caused an underlying tension and financial insecurity.

The guru of our day was Larry Burkett. We read his books, listened to him speak, and followed the Biblical principles that he showed us. Our life has been different ever since.

Shortly after that time, Ed became a certified financial counselor through Christian Financial Concepts. He wanted to teach others what we had learned. We both studied and began teaching others about managing money according to God’s design.

We begin a new Managing Money class on Tuesday, January 4th, from 6:30-8:30. The class is four weeks total. We teach the Biblical principles and practical tools. A person or a couple’s life could you be changed forever in this class! Pray and ask God whether He is leading you to come or to sponsor someone else to come. [see details here]

We tell people that managing money isn’t rocket science; it really isn’t hard at all. A few major obstacles exist for most people: 1) a conviction of the heart—making a commitment to follow God’s direction, believing that what He wants is the best for our lives; and 2) a lack of skills in knowing how to formulate and execute the plan; and 3) a belief that someone is going to tell them how to spend your money.

What we do in reference to these obstacles: 1) we clearly present God’s heart on the issues, leaving the opportunity for people to respond; 2) we walk everyone through the steps, one at a time, and are available outside of class for additional help; and 3) we do not set the amount of money people spend on anything, that amount is between them and God and their family (if they have one)., we do not ask anyone to reveal any personal financial information in class.

It is not too late to make end of the year gifts! If the donation is mailed, the envelope must be post-marked by December 31st for us to give a tax-receipt for 2010. You may also donate online up to midnight on the last day of the year. These year-end donations fund a significant amount of ministry in the coming year.

We challenge you to consider what the Lord wants you to do during the coming year to grow closer to Him and to grow in your closest relationships.

We love and appreciate you and your support of the work God is doing through Living Well! We are excited to see what He is going to do in the year to come! May the Lord bless you in the coming year.
Our love in Christ,

Donna and Ed Edwards
P.S. Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide for the ministry through year-end giving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Fruit of the Ministry of Living Well

What a great looking family!

We do marriage and financial guidance for families such as this one.

This family had gotten into deep debt, had marital problems, and had separated. Through financial and marriage counseling, they reconciled and have come a long way towards paying off their debt.

These two precious kids can grow up in a home with mom and dad together who love them and love each other.

(used by permission)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tasting Christmas

What's a blog without recipes?

Eating and cooking spans politics, ethnicity, incomes, gender, and religious preferences.

I don't cook often these days. After 35 years of head cook at our house, my husband decided to take it on .... his reason ...
 I was hungry.

But the Christmas tradition of sugar cookies cut into shapes and decorated lies firmly within my territory.

My mother gave me this recipe for sugar cookies and I have not found one that is better. And many of my cookies cutters came from her. When the kids were little, her favorite activity with them was to make cookies ... the messier the better.
Sugar Cookies
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter
1 egg
2 ½ c. flour
¼ t. salt
1 t. soda
1 t. cream of tartar
1 t. vanilla or lemon or half & half

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla or lemon, mix well. Work in by hands sifted, dry ingredients. Chill 1 hour. Roll out ¼” thick to cut into shapes. Bake 7-10 minutes at 375 degrees . Times may vary, watch carefully. Frost or decorate.
I have found that one of the keys to successfully cutting out the cookies and transfering them to the cookies sheet is to make sure that the dough is cold. After chilling it, I usually divide the dough in half or less to roll it
out. After cutting one group of cookies out, I will make the dough into a ball again and roll it out again ONCE. After the rolling it out twice, the dough gets too warm; so I stick it back in the frig. Then after all the pieces of dough are chilled again, I will put them together in a ball and roll it out again.

After taking them out of the oven, I let them cool for two minutes, then take them off the cookies sheet and put them on a wire rack to cool. Usually, we end up decorating the cookies on a different day. Our grown-up daughter will still help decorate the cookies but doesn't take an interest in the rolling and cutting business .... too busy.

For little kids, they love getting their hands in the flour, eating some dough, and seeing the blob of dough transformed into shapes they recognize.

Many years ago, my mother saw a new product for cookie decorating in Southern Living magazine. The magazine showed gold and silver powder that could be used on the icing for a new look. Not being able to find that product locally, she called the person who had demonstrated the technique and talked to her personally about it and order some of those little jars.

The person she talked to ..... Martha Stewart, who was new on the cooking and decorating scene at that time. Those little jars were very valuable! It took some experimenting to learn how to use that powder, it's never as easy as it looks in a magazine or on TV. But I learned to mix the powder with regular, granulated sugar to get the desired outcome. Those little jars last a long time! Actually, I thought they were going to last through my lifetime.

But, this year, when we started to get out the ingredients for decorating, Jacquelyn warned me that we were out of the gold and silver. I almost had a meltdown. Since I recently lost my mother, this tradition was an emotional tie for me with her.

Rather than having a melt-down, we went to the internet. We found gold and silver sugar sprinkles online and available at a local retail store.

We don't decorate the cookies to compete in a contest....
We decorate to warm our hearts.
I always include hearts in our Christmas cookies .... what is Christmas without the heart of love?

The hearts and stars remind us why we celebrate the season.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Less Stress Christmas

How am I going to have time to get it all done?
Should I buy a gift for a friend ... we have never exchanged gifts before ... I don't want to offend her ... what if she buys me a gift?
Our son wants a car .... we can afford a bike.

Any of that sound familiar?

A couple of tips to reduce the stress of this time of year:

1. Don't charge your Christmas presents.

Only spend what you have that isn't allocated towards previous commitments (for example: mortagage, car payment) or a need (food, electricity, etc.).

We were so excited about our budget spending plan the first year that we were telling everyone how wonderful it was. That was 20 years ago and we are still telling everyone! After that first Christmas on a spending plan, a friend called to thank us for our Christmas present to them. I'm thinking ... "it wasn't that great of a present to warrant this enthusiasm." But our friend thanked us for talking about getting out of debt. She said that was the first Christmas that they had not charged their Christmas presents. After Christmas, they would have the stress of all those bills to face. She said it was their best Christmas ever.

2. Give gifts with meaning, not just something to say that I have given a gift. See our marriage blog for some ideas on gifts for your marriage. Ask yourself the question "what can I give that will still be here after I am gone?" Usually, the Gift of Presence last longer than gifts of presents. As
I look around and think about Christmas, the times we made cookies or went to the Nutcraker ballet with my mother and our kids are the memories and times I cherish the most. Who can remember the presents 20 years later? The Presence lasts forever. Or consider a gift that will bring spiritual growth, which will go with us into eternity - an Eternal Presence.

We are celebrating the Prince of Peace. I pray that I will let His Peace live in me .... a less stress Christmas.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

LIVING WELL, December 2010

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces.
(Isaiah 25:6)

The reality of this verse is a great comfort as I (Donna) go through the passing of my mother from this life to the reality of eternity with our Lord. My mother departed on November 15th. I was fortunate to spend those moments with her as she breathed her last breath. For now, the loss of her physical presence brings great grief in my life. But I believe His Promise even when I don’t feel it.

My mother had a great influence on my spiritual life. I am thankful for the many ways she taught me about Jesus and the way she demonstrated His life through hers. I think of the verse in which Paul wrote to Timothy about his legacy of faith from his mother and grandmother. The same verse could be written of my inheritance. "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother and in your mother and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." (2 Timothy 1:5 paraphrased) The faith of a Christian mother and grandmother is of great value in our lives.

I know that many of our friends, family, and supporters have prayed for us during this time of loss. We greatly appreciate your continued prayers as we go through this season of life.

As we celebrate the coming of our Lord to earth, we remember why He came.

The Bible recounts many reasons that Jesus left heaven to become a human and walk the earth. Here are a few.

Jesus came:

To reveal or make known the Father:
     All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27

   No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. John 1:18

To save the world:
    For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

To preach the good news of the kingdom of God:
    But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43

To serve and sacrifice:
   Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

To do the will of the Father:
   For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. John 6:38

To destroy the work of Satan:
    The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8

To become a high priest and atone for sin:
    For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17

To proclaim freedom for believers:
    The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. Luke 4:18

To give abundant life:
    I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10b

In December each year, many of us either make special donations to ministries or perhaps catch up on donations before year’s end. Without you and others standing with us, it is not possible for us to continue the mission the Lord has given us to strengthen marriages and families through the services of our ministry including personal guidance and classes. Would you please prayerfully consider including Living Well in your end-of-year contributions? Your prayers and financial investment enables us to move forward in 2011. (Click here to donate)

Know anyone who needs to get a better handle on their finances? We have a class starting January 4th on Tuesday nights in January. (Click here for details) Our love in Christ,

Merry Christmas! We pray that you have an opportunity to spend time with your families. May the enclosed book mark aid you in celebrating and worshipping the fullness of who Jesus is.

Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide for the ministry through year-end giving.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Good Grief

Many times I have sent the booklet, Good Grief, to friends who are going through the loss of a loved one.

Today, I decided it was time for me to read it for my own grief, not as a counselor, but as one who is experiencing the loss.

About 18 months ago, I wrote about grief (read here) after watching a couple of friends go through the loss of loved ones.

Today I read that post for myself. I ended that post with these words:

I don't know that kind of sorrow and grief,
but I know our Lord does.
And He cares. And He comforts.

That I do know.

Today, I do know the sorrow and grief. And He still cares. And he still comforts. That I do know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Proclamations by Wm Bradford & George Washington

Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made this first Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1623
"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."

William Bradford
Ye Governor of Ye Colony

First Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving


Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Power of ONE

The believer does not use God's power; God's power uses him.    Kenneth Wuest

The Power of ONE begins with our relationship with the Lord. The power to have successful relationships comes from Him into me and through me.

He promises to give me everything I need to live this life in a way that honors and glorifies Him.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

To allow His Power to live through me, I give up my agenda, my thoughts on how best to live life. I seek Him and His way. I have confidence that what He wants for me is the very best of life.

When I receive:
  • God’s love, I can love as He does (John 13:33).

  • God’s forgiveness, I can forgive as He does (Ephesians 4:32).

  • God’s acceptance, I can accept the way He does (Romans 15:7).
Many in the body of Christ have no idea what the power of God can do in them and through them to touch the lives of others. That touch can bring change for generations. God is not waiting for me or you to achieve some super-spiritual level. He is just waiting for me to open my hand and my heart to Him. His power is not exclusive to certain people. He says that He is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6)

At our dinner, one young couple, who went through our premarital class last spring and married shortly after that, shared how they both came from families with divorced parents. But that they made a commitment to make their marriage be one that honors Christ and provides a legacy of a strong marriage instead of a legacy of divorce.

Never underestimate the power of one relationship or one class to set the course for a lifetime. If God can work through us in this couple’s life, He can work through and in you!

Therefore encourage one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Power of ONE in Marriage .....

When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship. Joseph Campbell

The unity in marriage is what we call “oneness.” God describes it as “one flesh” in Genesis 2:24. The unity of marriage is not uniformity. In fact it might better be described as diversity. We are two different genders, two personalities, two backgrounds, and two sets of giftedness and experience. Two drastically different people come together to become one.

Attitudes, words, behaviors, or actions can cause a husband and wife to be divided, instead of one. But we have seen in case after case that ONE person can change the atmosphere of a marriage. ONE person who focuses on the Lord and loves unconditionally in a marriage can bring about change. That person gives up their wants/desires for what God wants, for the sake of unity and oneness.

ONE husband or wife who will love even when feeling unloved or disrespected can bring healing and unity.

How? See the first section of this blog!

Power of ONE Financially .....


Do you ever think about how many times a day you throw away or waste ONE dollar?

While doing financial guidance, we usually have people keep track of all of the money they spend. They are usually amazed at where their money is going. Most people have some kind of “black hole.”

A Sonic drink during happy hour is one of our favorite treats and it is about a dollar. If we have one every day, that’s $30/month or $365/year.

Could you use $30 more a month or $365 more a year in your budget?

If that soda costs more than a dollar, the amounts multiply dramatically.

Maybe Sonic isn’t your black hole. What about the amount of food you throw out that is uneaten, either at home or a restaurant? Do you waste a dollar a day on food?

What about the Itunes music or ring tones for your phone? They are a dollar or maybe a little more. Are they a wise investment?

Maybe you don’t waste money on food or drink or splurge on music. But how many coats or shoes are in your closet? Most of us have more than we need.

Any DOLLAR spent today wastefully cannot be spent tomorrow on something you really need.

What would happen if you saved a dollar a day instead? If you start at age 22 and save a dollar a day until 65 (assuming a 6% interest rate over the long term), you would have $72,688.54 ($56,993.54 of the total is the interest). You would gain almost $57,000 without having to work for it …. for just a dollar a day.

Does a dollar really make a difference? Looks like it does. To reap the dividends we may have to give up a momentary pleasure. Or we may have to find a way to put that dollar into something that isn’t disposable (paper plates vs. real plates, handkerchief vs. tissues).

What would a dollar a day reap for eternity?

In our ministry, if everyone who received our letter, gave a dollar more a day, we would be fully funded and be able to expand our training and teaching.

In east Africa, where we minister, you could pay the salary of a pastor for a dollar a day.

And your church would love for you to increase giving by a dollar a day!

Power of ONE Word ....

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. Napoleon Hill

Marriage is the most intimate of all relationships. I can encourage or destroy my spouse with my words. Somehow I think I am “helping” him when I criticize or correct him.

But my spouse is looking to me to affirm the good in his life, not shoot down the things with which we don’t agree. If I don’t see and encourage the positive parts of his character and his behavior, who will? Isn’t that what each of us want to receive from our spouse?

A man finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LIVING WELL, November, 2010

Giving Thanks - Thanksgiving

Sounds the same, looks the same. Are they the same?

Thanksgiving is one of our most loved holidays in America. But is Thanksgiving still about “giving thanks?” And if we are giving thanks, to whom are we giving it?

As I (Donna) look back on the last year, it has been one of the hardest years of my life.
  • A year ago, I had emergency surgery for a ruptured colon, in the hospital for a week and home for six more weeks recuperating.
  • Because of the shortfall in donations, we have not been able to take full salaries, even while paying for hospital costs.
  • My mother has faced many severe health issues; she is in ICU right now.
  • One of our young couples, to whom we are close, have a son who came down with leukemia a year ago, has been in the hospital many weeks, and has had many complications.
  • Ed had significant hearing loss in one ear.
  • Our pastor died.
  • Two months later our associate pastor of 43 years died; he was a friend and a mentor.
  • While in Africa, I came down with an intestinal bug and was ill for several days before and after we got home.
  • As we arrived home from Africa, we learned that another one of our young couples had their baby, but he had problems and died two days later.
  • My niece had her first child 14 weeks prematurely and he is still in the hospital
  • .. And last week, we learned that Ed’s sister has stage 4 lung cancer (a nonsmoker).
  • All of that does not include the challenges of parenting adult children who have stressful situations of their own.

And then we listen to the people’s problems all day. How do we do that? We have learned the Power of ONE.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
                                                                                    (Ephesians 4:4-6)

We can have personal tragedy in our own life and in the lives of those we love but still encourage others in the ways of the Lord because we know The ONE who is “over all and through all and in all.” He has given us His Power, His Strength, and His Presence.

How does this idea relate to Thanksgiving?

We can focus on the bad experiences of the last year or we can see God’s hand in the good.

We can give thanks because ….
  • I survived the emergency surgery, the African bug and am back to normal now.
  • we are able to pay our bills at home and at the ministry.
  • mother is still with us and has hopes of recovery.
  • our two young couples each experienced their tragedy with God’s grace, ministered to each other, and are beacons of faith and hope to our other young couples.
  • Ed can still hear without hearing aids.
  • after serving five months on the pastor search team, we have a pastor coming “in view of a call” next Sunday.
  • my niece’s son is still making progress, hopes to go home soon.
  • Ed’s sister still feels well and is at MD Anderson for further diagnosis this week.
  • and both our kids still love us, love the Lord, and are working towards solutions in their lives.
We choose to give thanks to The ONE!

At our dinner, we were able to share the Power of ONE through many different areas of ministry.

One young couple, Zach and Jennifer, shared the Power of ONE to change their legacy of divorce, which they inherited, to a legacy of a strong marriage for their future, starting with a premarital class. Zach's parents were divorced and he travelled from one home to the other, often across the country, even across the ocean. Jennifer's parents divorced when she was 18, when her dad left her mom unexpectedly. They are commited to each other for a lifetime, seeking to strengthen their marriage before the vows and continuing throughout their marriage.

We shared one couple’s experience of coming to Living Well for the first time. [see the video]

We shared the results one year later of the Power of ONE conference in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Hear the testimonies of pastors about how God has used what they learned last year to bring reconciliation in marriages, even after 10 years of separation, and to teach other pastors and lay people. [see the video]

We shared the Power of ONE conference in Morogoro, Tanzania, to convict pastors of sins against their wives, to bring the truth of God's design for marriage to pastors for the first time, and to encourage pastors/wives in their ministry. [see the video]

One person can make a difference!

Think of the power of one dollar to change lives, consider this …. one dollar a day.

If all the people who read this letter would donate for the first time or increase their donations by a dollar a day, we would make our budget, which means training and guiding more people.

Our love in Christ,

Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please thank our Lord with us for what He has done this year!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morogoro, Tanzania

Justin Kiwovele, country director of ALARM, Tanzania, introduces this video by sharing the impact of the Living Well ministry in Morogoro, Tanzania, June, 2010.

The pictures give a glimpse of the attentiveness and involvement of the pastors and wives attending the conference. For the first time, we had Masaai pastors attending our conferences.

A special thanks to all of those who support Living Well, so that we can continue ministering in east Africa and to Rhett and Megan O'Briant for completing our team. Their teaching, their heart, and their serving spirit came through at every moment.

Living Well in Tanzania

The power of one conference to change lives is shown through the testimonies of pastors who attended our conference in June, 20009, in Bagamayo, Tanzania.

Included are stories of how one pastor taught the material at his church and was called to teach at other churches, one pastor counseled many others and saw three couples reconcile after being separated for as much as 10 years, and how one pastors is teaching on oneness - addressing culture issues that divide the couples.

Because of the people who support our ministry, we are able to continue to go to east Africa and train many churches.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Living Well, October 2010

One person can make a difference and every person should try. John F. Kennedy

Think about who the person is that has made a positive difference in your life personally or in our world. Can you be that person to someone else or to our world?

The theme of our upcoming dinner is the Power of One (more details). Our desire is that many of those receiving our invitations will attend—to be inspired, to see what God has done through one ministry, and to be challenged for the future. Many have faithfully attended our previous six dinners. We are praying that many who have never attended will come for the first time and that all who are familiar with our ministry will invite someone new to attend with them.

Besides being inspired, we have some great food and a fun silent auction. This year’s auction includes many of our favorites from the past—restaurants, gift cards, African artisan pieces—but also some new that align with our ministry’s emphasis on marriage strengthening—marriage conference gift certificate (FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember), marriage materials, date night fun.

The event is on October 14 at our church. The silent auction and dinner are from 6:15-7:15; the ministry presentation begins at 7:15. RSVP by calling 792-2586 or email by October 7. You are welcome (and encouraged) to bring a guest - just give us their names.

As we explain our ministry to someone, they often ask how people know about us—our answer is always the same—through a personal recommendation. Even though we have a listing in the yellow pages and an internet presence, most people who utilize our services and who support us have been connected to us through someone to whom we have ministered or have joined together for ministry. Their personal recommendations affirmed their confidence in us. We are extremely grateful for that affirmation and seek to honor that confidence. We consistently review what we are teaching and saying about marriage and money to make sure we stay true to God’s Word and His heart.

We are asking you to consider who you can invite to come with you to our dinner. Consider how our ministry might make a difference in their lives.

Have you heard that the recession ended in June of 2009? Does the American public believe that statistic? Anxiety abounds in our land about the future of our economy and the direction of our government leaders. The new trend of the American people saving money (instead of spending more than they make) disturbs the “experts.”

Some reports say that young adults are abandoning marriage and the church because of economic stress. Money continues to be a huge player on the field of marriage and faith. On our blog, Living Well in Marriage ( we have two new articles. Money to Marry describes how young people are delaying marriage until they are financially secure (even though they may live together and/or having children together). Women, Money, and Fear uncovers some of women's fears in relation to money and finances, especially the "bag lady" syndrome. Both issues greatly influence marriages today.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. For some reason, the beginning of a school year seems to motivate people to seek help for their marriages. So, most of our appointment times for marriage guidance are full, although couples can still join our class. We do have some openings for financial guidance. Donna does some appointments alone with women on marriage issues, which gives Ed some openings to do financial guidance at those times. We do couple marriage guidance together.

Donna and Ed Edwards

A truly great person is the one who gives you a chance."

"To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world."

"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history."

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


October 14, 2010
6:15-7:15 Silent Auction and Dinner
7:15 Ministry Presentation
RSVP by October 7

Call (405)792-2586

Dinner Venue: Putnam City Baptist Church
11401 N Rockwell Ave
Oklahoma City

Thursday, August 26, 2010

September Letter

When was the last time you changed the oil in your car?

When was the last time you did something to maintain your marriage?

How long would your car last without any maintenance?

Why do we expect our marriages to last without maintenance?

Great marriages don’t just happen! Great marriages are developed by couples who are proactive at the beginning of their marriages and every year throughout their marriage.

When a couple in a crisis comes to us, we ask them what kind of premarital preparation they had and what they have done since the wedding to strengthen their marriage. Our hearts break when couples who have only been married two or three years are already considering divorce.

Rarely, has a couple in crisis done anything to prepare for marriage or anything to ensure the longevity of their marriage after the wedding. Don’t wait for a crisis, do something now to assure an increasing joy in your marriage - we have a class starting September 21st !

In Oklahoma, 75% of couples get married in a church, but only 25% take advantage of the $45 discount for having premarital preparation. What a great opportunity we have to get a couple started in the right direction! One out of five of these couples will divorce in the first five years of marriage. Wow! In five years, we have barely started learning about the weaving together of our two lives. We begin a Preparing for Marriage class on September 13th to help couples get a strong, healthy start to their marriages.

If you could go back and change one thing in the past about your marriage, what would it be? We have testified many times that we would have started using a spending plan (budget) much earlier in our marriage. Living according to a spending plan is the one choice that would have made a world of difference in our marriage at a much earlier age. The spending plan brought about a contentment in knowing where we were financially, a security in knowing how to plan for the future, a peace in agreeing on how to spend our income, and a freedom in knowing how to get out of debt and stay out.

The issue is not how much money I have, but what am I doing with it? And where is God in my spending and planning? Change your sense of contentment and peace, whether you are single or married! God gives an abundance of direction on the subject. Take our class on Managing Money, beginning September 15th, and find out how to live in that peace and contentment. Also, read our enclosed teaching on the benefits of a budget.

You are our strongest supporters and best advertising media! If you have never taken one of our marriage or money classes, we invite you to participate. Please pass the enclosed card along to someone who may benefit if you are unable to attend.

Thank you for your prayer support. We have received enough designated donations to cover the costs of the chairs for our classroom. We are so thankful for a nice, fully-furnished room for our classes. And God also supplied our need for a new computer - it is on the way to us!

We encourage to look at the archives in our blog to see a myriad of pictures and details about our mission trip. If you type Morogoro into the search box on this page, a list of all the entries will come up.

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. Our love in Christ.

Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please pray that the people who would benefit from our classes will find out about them and attend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Benefits of Budgeting

We believe a budget is the single most powerful tool for successful money management.

Most of us have no problem with budgets when it comes to the government, business, church, or our employer; we find ourselves skeptical of any entity that is not accountable to a financial budget. However, our thinking often changes when it comes to our personal finances.

What are the benefits to having a written spending plan, a budget?

A budget:
1. Gives us more knowledge of where are money is going, so we can spend more effectively. Properly prepared, with a steward’s attitude, a budget is designed to help us maintain “self-imposed” boundaries. A budget is a simple device to keep us from stumbling over the boundaries that guard us from financial dangers, which can threaten our families - a tool that allows us to spend with wisdom.

2. Gives us peace. Not knowing where your money goes each month can create great fear and anxiety. The budgeting process is really quite simple and takes very little time to maintain. The goal is this: to establish a level of spending for each expense category you have, allocating spendable income to those categories, and knowing where you stand at all times.

3. Reduces marital strife. Creating and utilizing a spending plan provides confidence that funds are available to pay bills on time, that funds are available for those inevitable emergencies, and that you will know how much you can spend for the things you need and want. Agreeing on and spending according to a predetermined plan eliminates much of the emotion associated with finances in marriages.

4. Brings a sense of security. Contingency funds built into your budget gives you the security of knowing you can meet your financial obligations without going into debt.

5. Gives us freedom. Financial bondage can result from a lack of money and overspending, but it can also be caused by the misuse of an abundance of money. True financial freedom requires that we all, regardless of income level, be good managers. Budgeting brings our finances under God’s control and avoids debt that result from uncontrolled spending.

Our Managing Money class will prepare you to navigate the financial roadway – finding God’s plan for Living Well. (Info on the class)

More articles on Money and forms for creating a budget.

What God says .....

God owns all that we have and wants us to be good managers of His possessions. He wants us to seek Him about how to spend all that He has given us, then to follow His plan. He wants us to see Him in every area of our life, even the way we use money.

The Bible contains lots of examples of the importance of good planning. Here are two:

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pastor Fabian, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The best part of our trips to Africa are the relationships we build. Last year, Pastor Fabian and his wife attended our conference in Bagamoyo and then our workshop in Dar es Salaam. Then, we were fortunate enough to meet at their church with them and some of their church members.

At that time, Pastor Fabian was already planning a marriage conference after receiving our training. He is a very sharp guy and very creative.

After his conference, he was asked by other churches to teach there. A bishop asked him to meet with his son and his fiance to counsel them before marriage. The bishop expressed that he wish he could have the same teaching, even after years of marriage.

Pastor Fabian's wife testified, “I thank God so much for the last seminar in Bagamoyo. I thought that these teachings have come specifically for me and my husband, to fulfill our passion and desire for marriage ministry!

Traditionally pastors and their wives do not teach or minister together, but separately. But now we have crossed that barrier very freely. We are ministering together and are getting good feedback from people saying that we are ministering together well.”
At our follow-up session this year, Pastor Fabian came with his wife and brought a special gift which he made for us.

He made this himself, a man who doesn't even have electricity. He cut the letters from leaves and varnished them to the wood.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Obstacles in Marriage, Tanzania

During each of our Pastoral Family Enrichment Conferences in east Africa, we give them a chance to discuss the challenges in having a successful marriage. Most countries express the same obstacles which the pastors in Morogoro shared this year.

When asked to detail the obstacles in marriage in Tanzania, they said:
  1. Male dominance (this issue rose to the top time after time)
  2. Customs, culture, and traditions: the people don’t know biblical principles, leaders have marital problems and don’t model godly marriage
  3. Traditions don’t encourage closeness with wife, don’t eat together, etc.
  4. Lack of biblical teaching about marriage in churches, not enough emphasis on marriage, more focused on evangelism.
  5. Poverty, Unemployment: husbands and wives transfer from region to region to find work and they are divided by their jobs.
Donna Edwards, Nickson Kalinga, and Ed Edwards teaching at Pastoral Enrichment Conference
Morogoro, Tanzania

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maasai Pastors, MOROGORO

A new experience for us was having Maasai tribesmen at our conference. We were able to recognize them by the large holes in their earlobes.

Maasai tribes live in rural areas around Morogoro. The Maasai are known for owning herds of cattle (they think that they own all the cattle in the world) and for their colorful, red garments.

Some of the Maasai men, still wearing their red garments, have moved to towns and cities to do security work, with the goal of going back to their rural home and cattle.

Some of these traditional tribesmen have come to Christ and become pastors.

The pastors are sorting out their traditional beliefs and their devotion to Christ. Their familiar red-draped fabric, beads, and enlarged earlobes are traded for suits and ties. But often they go back to their culture dress; we thought that their dress was interesting. The Maasai we encountered wore short or long pants under their familiar red, draped fabric. But other Africans explained to us that the Maasai traditional clothing leaves them “practically naked,” when they drape only one cloth around their shoulder in the most traditional way.

We did not address their attire but a more significant issue - the marriage. Their major shift in thinking is what they confessed to be a mistreatment and neglect of their wives. Their sincerity showed through the intensity of their listening and speaking.

This conference was the first conference arranged by ALARM that the Maasai pastors had attended, opening the door for them to attend many more. The Maasai pastors were so enthusiastic about the conference that they asked ALARM to come to their villages to teach.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daniel and his daughter, MOROGORO

Daniel’s daughter attended the conference with Daniel and his wife. She was the most well-behaved child we have ever had. Daniel treasures this little girl .... but her birth did not have an easy start. Daniel had gone into deep debt trying to buy a bigger house. Then, his wife had their daughter prematurely. He was unable to pay the bills along with his already existing debt; he ended up going to prison. Daniel testified to the group about how much the lesson on money meant to him and he committed to live according to God’s plan for finances.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rhett and Megan O'Briant, Living Well Team in MOROGORO

When travelling on a short-term mission trip, the people on the team can make an enormous amount of difference in the outcome and enjoyment. Rhett and Megan O’Briant accompanied us two years ago to Zambia. We appreciated their teaching skills and support overall to the mission effort. On this trip, we expanded their teaching role and the Africans loved them. Even though they are younger than most of those who attended, they were well received because of their openness and candor about their own marriage. Their willingness to do whatever was needed, from operating the video camera to carrying luggage through airports, endeared them to us forever.
Rhett and Megan at the Bethel Church with Nickson Kallinga, the pastor
Rhett and Megan use a visual aid, two large hearts and smaller hearts for each particpant. They are using the hearts to demonstrate what happens to our hearts when damaging patterns of communcation exist in our marriages.

They end with showing how God can heal those hearts through forgiveness.
From the O’Briant’s: “The participants came with an unmatched desire to learn and leave with a commitment not only to improve their marriages, but also to create marriage ministries within their churches. God’s hand was in each detail along the way.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Group Discussions

These pastors and their wives enjoyed getting to know each other as they discussed a case study about a pastor who put the priority of his ministry before his wife and children. These couples strongly identified with the pastor in the case study - a man who spent six out of seven evenings in church ministry and was not involved with his family. Their priorities changed, putting theri marriage and children above ministry, but most of all, putting their relationship with God first. Many of them realized for the first time that the activity of ministry is different than their personal relationship to the Lord.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MOROGORO Conference - Group Photo

Group Picture of Family Enrichment Conference
Presented in partnership between Living Well and ALARM
Photo includes Anna Kiwovele (left end, second row) and Justin Kiwovele (left end, front row), country directors for ALARM; Ed and Donna Edwards, Megan and Rhett O'Briant, Living Well team

A Teacher's Delight

As teachers, we love to have a group who sits attentively, takes notes, and enjoys learning. These African pastors and their wives will sit in hard chairs all day long and come back the next day, ready to do it again.
Having a toddler on her back, was no deterent for this Tanzanian woman. She faithfully took notes, even in such an uncomfortable position.
Ed Edward, Living Well, gives one of his visual lessons, while Justin Kiwovele, ALARM Tanzania Director, translates to these Tanzanian pastors and wives.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Couple Time in Morogoro

The couples are learning to look at each other and express their love and commitment to each other, while they hold hands - a very new idea to them!

We teach them to say "You are God's perfect gift for me!"


The pastors at the Morogoro conference composed a letter of gratitude for our team. This pastor, Peter, read a copy in English. Then another pastor read it in Swahili. We were overjoyed to receive the letter and to hear what God had done in their lives.

They felt as though they had a honeymoon because they were able to stay at a "hotel" with private rooms, running water, and meals - all paid by the generous supporters of Living Well.

Another highlight of their week was being able to meet many other pastors from different denominations. We work interdenominationally at all of our conferences.

The conference teachings on giving to your spouse, priorities of the pastor, and finances spoke to these couples in a very powerful way.

"Generally the whole seminar has become a healing and a challenge to all of us in many areas of our Marriage relationships."

They ended by saying:
"We promise that we will be teaching this seminar material to our church members and fellow Pastors who have not been able to attend this seminar. May the Almighty God Bless you richly."

Friday, August 06, 2010

Living the Good Life

We’re often asked how we came up with our name, Living Well.

We love that question because it gives us the opportunity to share what living well really means. Anytime you ask someone if they would live to live well, they will almost always answer “yes.” Any other answer might just be foolish. But, many don’t really know how to live well or what living well actually means.

We recently read a piece by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, which relates to this thought of living well. His topic was “Living the Good Life.” Rick says that although “living the good life” is a well-worn phrase, many people don’t really know how to define the “good life.”

He states that some people confuse the good life with “looking good.” Our society certainly idolizes beauty and we spend billions every year on beauty products, plastic surgery, dieting, hair styling, the latest styles in clothing, and the list goes on…. Many are preoccupied with appearance – as if that is all that really matters in life.

Others equate the good life with “feeling good.” Their goal is the minimize pain and maximize pleasure. And, they will use whatever it takes to achieve it: amusements, virtual realities, drugs, alcohol, entertainment, pornography, and again the list goes on……

Did you know that the pleasure and entertainment industry is now the largest industry in America? Pastor Warren says that the old 60’s phrase, “if it feels good, do it” still is in effect today!

For many, the “good life” is confused with “having the goods.”

Their main goal in life is to obtain as many goods and goodies as possible. They make as much money as they can and then spend it, sometimes even faster than they make it! There’s an old bumper sticker that says, “The one with the most toys wins.” That pretty much sums up their view of the “good life.”

Warren concludes that none of these three lifestyles actually result in the “good life.” No matter what we do, we can’t stop the aging process. Pleasure should be a by-product of the “good life,” not the goal. And, the greatest things in life are not things!

What is the "good life?"

You are God’s workmanship, created….to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. Ephesians 2:10

Living the “good life” is discovering and becoming exactly what God created you to be.

When you use your life to help others – “to do good” – and know and trust God, you will feel good.

Jesus said, “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14) The presence of Christ (The Living Well) in your life allows goodness to overflow from your life.

That’s why we say “living well” is not a lifestyle ....
it’s a life source – Jesus Christ!”

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

Someone once described the contrast between a good life and a godly life as the difference between the top of the ocean and the bottom. On top, sometimes it's like glass -- serene and calm -- and other times it's raging and stormy.

But hundreds of fathoms below, it is beautiful and consistent, always calm, always peaceful.

Bill McCartney

Shopping for a Life

Marriage has no guarantees.
If that's what you're looking for,
go live with a car battery.

Erma Bombeck

Whenever we shop for an appliance or an electronic gadget, we start researching the possibilities. The options can be overwhelming. We look at the features, read the reviews, and examine the guarantees.

We are enamored with the gadget that does more/faster than anything we have owned. About a month after we buy the latest/greatest, a new gadget is out that has even more features. Discontentment sets in, but no guarantee covers this kind of discontentment.

The business world spends millions of dollars trying to discern the next trend. Some experts describe consumers of today as more individualistic. “Personal values rule, not social ones. Consumers are promiscuous shoppers. Smart consumers aren't loyal.” (Miriam Sultzman)

The leading sellers provide the best services. The buyer can return the product - no questions asked, no penalties, full refund.

Many people are approaching marriage and shopping for a mate with the same criteria.

What are the features I want in this person (product)? What are the criteria for performance? Will the person (product) make me happy?

Very little or no thought is attributed to my part in the relationship. If my happiness wanes, something is wrong with the person (product). I have no loyalty or long-term commitment to the person (product). Another person (product) would make me happier.

Our culture and laws make it possible to discard the person (product) with no questions asked (no fault divorce). The other person has no rights to stop the process. Many want 100% satisfaction guarantee when discontentment sets in.

Are we “shopping” for a happy life - or are we committed to our spouse and to pursuing godliness?

Side Effects
Two-thirds of divorces today end low-conflict marriages. They’re ending marriages that are not characterized by abuse or violence or very serious and frequent quarreling. They’re ending marriages that are often ending for reasons like people grew apart. They’re not sure if they love each other anymore. Somebody else at work is more interesting. Sometimes they’re ending for reasons that we can be sympathetic for — the people in the marriage are hurting. But a lot of this stuff is not on the radar screen to the child. What’s on their radar screen is the day their parents come and tell them they’re getting a divorce. That’s when that child’s world falls apart. (Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds
About a third of high school girls do not expect to be successful at staying married, despite their desire for a life-time marriage.

Most people who initiate divorce are primarily concerned with their own feelings - regardless of the impact to the spouse, the children, or the society.

At the Fall, humans became self-centered and selfish, quick to blame others for their misery. Another way of life appears through God’s grace.... Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  (Matthew 5:6)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

LIVING WELL, August Letter

Back-to-school clothes and supplies cover the advertisements all around us. What style of backpack? What color of notebook? What fashion of clothes? Choices abound. We spend hours shopping for items that suit our tastes and express our personalities. A consumer mentality pervades our thinking.

Cultural and faith analysts began writing about “consumer religion” several years ago; the way Americans shop for a church, similar to shopping for a new outfit. Consumerism now describes Americans attitudes towards marriage - “consumer marriage.” We “shop” for a spouse and our marriages are evaluated as a consumer. This attitude joins with our desire to live the good life. How does this union line up with our faith? Our future? Our culture? Read the enclosure for an expansion of our thoughts on the subject.

Not only are the kids going back to school, but fall is a time for many adults to go “back to school” in learning about life. We have three classes starting in September - one for those thinking of or beginning marriage, one for the ones who are already well into their marriage, and one for people wanting to develop or sharpen their money management skills.

We have a wonderful new opportunity which makes it possible to schedule these classes. Since we moved into our current office space two years ago, we have been praying about an empty room next door/adjoining our office. The space is one room about 15’ x 22’ - a great size for a class! Recently, our landlord, (a great Christian guy) agreed to let us use the room without charge - unless someone wants to lease it (it has been vacant at least two years). If someone offers to lease it, we will have first option on leasing it ourselves. We have moved into the space believing that God will continue to provide it free or that He will raise up the funds if we should need them.

Experience tells us that we are able to reach a wider range of people - church or unchurched, different denominations - when we are able to conduct the class in a venue other than a church. Our desire is to see more people grow in the area of marriage and money. We are unable to meet with everyone who requests an evening appointment. A classroom setting enables us to multiply our efforts rather than only meeting with individuals or couples.

You are our strongest supporters and best advertising media! If you have never taken one of our marriage or money classes, we invite you to participate.

This opportunity also presents us with a challenge - we need chairs for people attending the classes (16 chairs at $371). We are thankful that we already have a projector and screen to show slides/videos for the classes. All of the teaching, training, and writing that we do requires many hours on a computer. Right now Donna is in great need of a newer computer (she could do twice as much work!). We seek your prayers to our Father in providing for this need in our ministry.

Donna has fully recovered from the African bug she brought back. We are gradually putting more pictures and information on our blog about the trip. We are thankful for the technology, which allows us share more pictures and testimonies than we can with paper and printing!

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please pray for the provision of chairs and a computer.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


It is just like I have been born again, because I can see that I was sinning against my wife.
Justin Kiwovele, ALARM Tanzania

Many pastors in Morogoro conveyed this message after our conference in Morogoro. Our host, Justin Kiwovele, the ALARM Tanzania country director told us, “Many people came, flocking to me. Telling me about Ed and Donna coming to that place [Morogoro]. ‘It is just like I have been born again, because I can see that I was sinning against my wife.’ This is the problem with our African culture. They have adapted from our culture that man is superior and that the wife is just a servant. Now, when they come to be told of God’s model of marriage, it’s just like a new thing. That’s where the husbands see that they have been doing wrong to their wives. And feeling like that they should be born again.”

That statement is why we keep going back to Africa. Thank you for your prayers and support! You were there with us - your prayers, God’s spirit speaking through us, and your support.

We never know what God has for us when we go to east Africa, but it is always more than we could ask or imagine. We had a room full of people, every chair taken. We had people who sat attentively, took notes, asked questions, and made comments through the whole week. We had pastors who had never had any teaching on marriage and a few that had studied it more extensively. One pastor had studied in the U.S. and still marveled at what God taught him. Again and again, they conveyed their belief in the teachings because of the evidence of the truth in God’s Word.

New for us at this conference were several pastors from the Maasai tribe. You may recognize them as the tall, thin Africans that herd cattle and wear bright red and blue cloth wrapped around them. They often have a large beaded necklace. The Maasai men have large holes in their earlobes, which are put there from a young age. We had several pastors in our group who wore American style clothing but also had large holes in their earlobes, illustrating the dichotomy of their lives. The Maasai are strongly patriarchal, so the marriage teachings, which elevate women to a position right after their relationship with God, bring a new level of understanding to their roles as a pastor, husband, and father. Many Maasai are coming to Christ and some are becoming pastors in their villages. However, some continue their cultural traditions including the traditional dress, which was described to us as being “practically naked.” The pastors were eager to see the truth of what God teaches about marriage and the role of ministry compared to their family priorities.

We convey the results from our trip, not to commend ourselves, but to exalt Christ who works through us.
Donna brought back an intestinal, African bug with her, but is fully recovered now. Otherwise, the team did well overall with the trip and the logistics went well as we travelled. We cannot begin to thank Rhett and Megan O’Briant enough for all that they added to the teaching and the team.

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Praise God for His blessings during our conference.