Ronda Armstrong and her husband Bill met at Des Moines First United Methodist Church, married there, and have been members for over thirty years. Ronda and Bill chase after their two cats, dance with several ballroom dance organizations, and connect with family and friends. Ronda turned to writing after retiring from her school social work career. She believes that stories heal, inspire, and build community. Her recent essays have appeared in The Des Moines Register, collections of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and in Knee High by the Fourth of July, an anthology of midwest stories. A native Kansan, Ronda credits her parents for teaching her to live a life of faith, service, and resilience.
Ronda Armstrong, a gifted writer with this meditation writers group since 2010, died November 28, 2014.
Meditations written by Ronda
Kristin Bensen became a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in 2001. She has played in Cathedral Bells and sung in Cathedral Choir. New to the Writing Team, she is excited about spending time with scripture passages and developing her creative writing skills. Kristin earned a degree in Human Development and Family Studies from South Dakota State University. She has taught toddlers and two-year-olds, collected observational research on family interactions, and worked as a special education associate. Kristin and her husband Bill just became parents, and Kristin is a stay-at-home mom for their son, Micah.
Bobbretta M. Brewton has been affiliated with St. John’s Lutheran Church since 1988. She reports that she was raised in the Baptist tradition, but settled in with the Lutherans following marriage to Cecil H. Brewton, Jr. By profession, Bobbretta is a teacher, social worker and public health administrator. Currently she is Director of Primary Health Care. She holds five degrees and is an alumni of Northeast Missouri State, Drake University and Upper Iowa University. Bobbretta is most proud of being in partnership with the Lord for equity and justice whereby she can lend a voice to those who are often times overlooked and underserved.
Victoria Carver is mother to four children and their spouses and grandmother to their ten children. She’s Senior Program and Resource Advisor at the Iowa Soybean Association. She earned a BA from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College (Boston). At 16, she was baptized and confirmed by Pastor Valbracht when she and her family joined St. John’s Lutheran Church. At 53, after a New Age detour, she turned her life over to Jesus and entered full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, while studying in Boston, and is now a parishioner at the Basilica of St. John (Des Moines). Her family is actively ecumenical: Lutheran, Evangelical Free, and Catholic.
Diane Glass is a spiritual director and retreat leader who works with men and women of all spiritual traditions. She received her training through St. Joseph’s Educational Center and Creighton University. She became a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in 2000. Co-founder of Tending Your Inner Garden, a program of creativity and spirituality for women, she companions others as they seek to deepen their connection to God and the sacred. She and her husband Jeff Means have two sons, Aaron and Tim.
Deborah Jansen loves uncovering stories and finding God in unexpected places. Her second grade teacher asked her to recite, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. . .,” and she’s been learning—and relearning—how to do that ever since. While recovering from a near-fatal car accident in 2009, she rekindled her desire to trust and live as one who is fully alive. She enjoys contributing articles to The Iowan and Iowa Gardening. She also teaches adult workshops for those who want to write or record family stories. Deborah and her husband Virgil and have been married for more than thirty years, and they’ve pedaled their way around Iowa as well as many other states in the U.S. They worship and celebrate the depth of community at Grace Fellowship in Pella, Iowa. They are proud parents of three adult children and their spouses, and they are grandparents of three strong granddaughters.
Robin Kline is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, and sees her ministry as one of hospitality. Raised in Chicago by parents who were food professionals (and Lutherans), Kline was touched early by the passion she continues to pursue: seeking the Spirit in a balance of good food, health and community. She believes in the sacredness of time spent in the kitchen, and in the transformational power of taking pleasure in fellowship and food. A registered dietitian and certified culinary professional, Kline worked in food marketing for 25 years before starting a career in food writing and consulting. An accomplished author, she has written about a cornucopia of food topics for a variety of media, such as the Washington Post, Cooking Light, Better Homes and Gardens, and Health. Kline lives in Des Moines with her husband, with whom she regularly bakes and prepares entrees for several local feeding ministries, tends an herb garden and attends faithfully the Tuesday 5:30 p.m.Centering Prayer group at St. John’s.
Bob Krause has attended St. John’s since 1998. He works as a software consultant. Bob married Jane at St. John’s in 1985. Their three daughters think St. John’s donut holes are the second best reason to get up early on Sundays. Writing for St. John’s has revived Bob’s dormant love for wordsmithing and anecdotes.
Eric Morse believes that a heart open to faith and Iowa soil allows good seed to grow. Eric’s Catholic faith has been tended and passed down through family generations. Originally from Wisconsin, Eric decided to call Iowa home after graduating from Drake University. In Iowa, Eric met and married Laura, also a transplant. Laura grew up in Illinois and became Catholic in 2007. Believers in ecumenism, the couple also attends Methodist services, the faith tradition of Laura’s family. Eric works in communications and in this ministry he seeks to be a laborer in God’s vineyard.
Rod Snavely and his wife, Kelly Schuler, have been members at St. John’s Lutheran Church since 1989. Their children, Kale and Emily, report that they have been St. John’s members for their whole lives! Rod is a graduate of the University of Iowa, and has practiced general dentistry in Des Moines since 1985. His interests include bicycling, soccer, hockey, and computers. Rod says, “Writing for the web has taught me about the craft of writing, has allowed me to extend my horizons, and has challenged me to clarify my beliefs.”
Connie Lee Whalen is a spiritual director and healing touch practitioner. She received her training through St. Joseph’s Educational Center, Creighton University and Healing Touch Spiritual Ministries and is a member of Spiritual Directors International. She has worked with men and women of diverse spiritual and cultural traditions. She joined The Cathedral Church of St. Paul in 1985 and has been active in various other Des Moines Episcopal parishes as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. In 1996 she graduated from the Ministry of Healing Program at Lutheran Hospital. Her spirituality has been essentially formed by Centering Prayer and 12-Step practice. She believes in the spiritual equality of all, the companionship of people of faith who have gone before and that each of us possesses spiritual gifts that we are meant to share. Her interests include knitting, needlework, reading, gardening, history, music and travel. She is married to Jim and is the mother of Tasha Gould.