Middle Schooler Inspired by My Book, Celebrities Giving Back!

Victoria loved my book Celebrities Giving Back.

Victoria loved my book Celebrities Giving Back.

I love to talk to kids who like to read, especially when they like to read my books! Call me Proud—I am proud of my 11 non-fiction Middle Grade books. They range in subject from Greek gods to biographies on Taylor Swift to stories of famous people who help others.

Victoria liked my book called Celebrities Giving Back (Mitchell Lane). She said, “I read Mrs. Reusser’s book about Celebrities helping the needy. This book inspired me to be a better person. In the book I seen Oprah and Mr. Obama.”

Thanks, Victoria, for your kind words! I know you will help many people in your life. Books can inspire us to do good.

What book have you read that inspires you to do good?

I’m available to speak at libraries and schools. Please contact me on Facebook, Twitter or my website contact page for more information.

Veteran’s Day Salute to Family Military Members

Our daughters were with us the day John received a plaque for retiring from the Air Guard a few years ago.

Our daughters were with us the day John received a plaque for retiring from the Air Guard a few years ago.

On Veteran’s Day I want to say a special thanks to my husband, John, for serving 21 years in the United States Air Force. He retired from the 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne International Airport. He always enjoyed his time with the Air Force and influenced our son to follow his footsteps in the same branch.
Chris flies Predators by remote control.

Chris flies Predators by remote control.

Chris is a pilot of the Predators, otherwise known as drones. These planes are flown by remote control and do not have pilots in them. He’s served in Afghanistan and now is stateside.

I am proud of them and all of the other soldiers serving our country. God bless you all with health, safety and peace of mind.

Calvary Lutheran Church Helps Students Read

Pastor Jerry O’Neal ministers at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bluffton.

Pastor Jerry O’Neal ministers at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bluffton.

For the past year I’ve interviewed pastors of local churches as part of a new weekly column established by my local newspaper. This story was one of those columns. I particularly like the fact that members of the congregation have dedicated themselves to reading to children at a local school. What a vital part of the community’s needs they are addressing! Schools cannot keep up with the number of children who need read to/with. This church is helping. What can you /your church do to help children in your community?

In December 2012 the members of Calvary Lutheran Church
in Bluffton held an important congregational vote. “We voted on a new missions statement,” said Pastor Jerry O’Neal. “It is a faith statement really because at Calvary Lutheran Church Jesus is at work.”

The church, which averages 80 in attendance at worship services, approved a new outreach ministry of ‘adopting’ Lancaster Elementary School students. “We will volunteer at Lancaster in whatever ways are needed,” said O’Neal. “We will read to children, make copies for teachers, and provide refreshments for evening functions.”

Since he and his wife Amy moved their family to Bluffton in 2010, their children — Mary Grace, 14, and Andrew, 11 — have attended Norwell schools. Andrew attended Lancaster Elementary School. “I know it is a good school system and we want to support it,” said Jerry O’Neal.

A North Carolina native, O’Neal attended West Point Military Academy as a cadet after graduating from high school. The military bent was a family tradition. “Both of my grandfathers served in World War II,” he said. “One graduated from West Point. An uncle and I served together at Fort Bragg in Texas and Dad served in the National Guard.”

After graduating from West Point as an officer, O’Neal spent seven years with the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1994 he was deployed to Haiti for six weeks. His last position before being discharged in 2001 was of company commander for the 4th Infantry at Fort Hood.

Before his discharge O’Neal had thought of changing careers to become a pastor. “It was in the back of my mind since high school,” he said. “While in the military, I always attended church and served as the organist at an Episcopal church when stationed at Fort Bragg.”

Still he put it off. After his discharge, O’Neal earned a Master’s degree in operations research for math modeling. He worked a year for Delta Technology solving problems in logistics and transportation, then was employed for four years at Air Force Institution of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

He taught math at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, then pursued post-doctoral research. Though O’Neal was highly skilled in the sciences, he realized he would never be truly content until he followed his heart. “It finally seemed like the right time to become a pastor,” he said. “I was at the time of my life where I could see myself doing it long-term.”

With Amy’s support O’Neal attended Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus. Upon graduating from Trinity in 2010, Jerry O’Neal accepted the call to minister at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bluffton.

The O'Neal family has been a part of Calvary Lutheran Church since 2010.

The O’Neal family has been a part of Calvary Lutheran Church since 2010.

Calvary Lutheran Church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America synod.

Calvary Lutheran Church’s Sunday school classes meet at 9:00 a.m. and a worship service is held at 10:00 a.m. A Catechism confirmation class meets weekly for middle schoolers. “It is a three-year process during which they learn about the Bible and Lutheran theology,” said O’Neal.

The Youth groups of Calvary Lutheran Church and St. Mark’s Lutheran church in Uniondale are led by Erin Raatz. “They meet together for Bible Studies and take summer mission trips,” said O’Neal.

Proceeds from rummage sales held at the church in April and October are distributed to local ministries, including The Closet which provides clothing for people in Bluffton.

O’Neal is thrilled with the church’s response to him, his family and the church’s goals for its future. “The congregation has welcomed us with open arms,” he said. “The church is willing to set goals to strengthen its impact on the community of Bluffton. We feel God has led us here.”

Calvary Lutheran Church
1532 N. Main St.

The End

Church profile: Abundant Life Christian Center

It has been a privilege to interview several dozen pastors from my county this past year to write a series of stories for the Bluffton News-Banner newspaper about their churches. This is one story that is unusual– the pastor preaches in 2 churches in different places each Sunday a.m.! His wife is an evangelist also. Please leave a comment if you have been ministered to by this church and I’ll be sure to let the pastor know. Please consider signing up to receive these blogs by including your email address on my home page. God bless.


Scott and Michelle Ochsner minister at Abundant Life Christian Center in Bluffton and Fort Wayne Christian Center.

Scott and Michelle Ochsner minister at Abundant Life Christian Center in Bluffton and Fort Wayne Christian Center.

Beginning in January 2013, the congregation of Abundant Life Christian Center in Bluffton added a sister congregation in Fort Wayne. Scott Ochsner who has ministered at the Bluffton congregation since 2004 is the pastor at both churches.
“The previous pastor at the Fort Wayne church died in 2012,” said Ochsner. “Our congregation wanted a branch in Fort Wayne so it was a good fit.” Ochsner preaches in Bluffton at the 9:00 a.m. worship service which lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Then he and his wife, Associate Pastor Michelle Ochsner, drive to Fort Wayne where Scott repeats the same sermon at11:30 a.m. at Fort Wayne Christian Center.

The church is located at the corner of Hannah Street and US Highway 27. The Fort Wayne church has approximately 100 members while the Bluffton congregation numbers 120.

Scott Ochsner and his family moved to Indiana from Colorado in 2000. At that time he pastored a church in Decatur. “We found several people were attending who lived in Bluffton,” he said. “So in 2004 after engaging in a corporate fast to seek guidance from the Lord, the congregation founded Abundant Life Christian Center in Bluffton.”

The church is located on the south side of Bluffton beside the Dollar General store.

Ochsner’s wife, Michelle Ochsner, is a nationally known conference speaker (http://www.michelleochsnerministries.com/) who assists her husband with ministry. The Ochsners’ five children participate on the church’s worship team and with the children’s ministry. The church’s youth uses the former Star Video building situated adjacent to the main campus for meetings.

The decision to shepherd a second church was one the Abundant Life Christian Center congregation sought additional counsel for. “We are a non-denomination church but not independent,” said Ochsner who attended Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. “For any big decision we summit to the guidance of our board of trustees.” These include pastors at City on the Hill Church in Boulder, Colorado; New Life Christian Church World Outreach in Warsaw, Indiana; Calvary Christian Center in Sacramento, California. “I call these men any time our church needs to make a major decision or needs counseling and advice,” added Ochsner.

According to Ochsner, the mission of Abundant Life Christian Center is primary. “We want to impact the world for Jesus both at home and away by proclaiming the word of God with boldness in God confirming His word by signs and wonders,” he said.

One way he believes the church is impacting the world is through technology. “Thousands of people have streamed sermon podcasts from our website,” he said. The church also broadcasts sermons via radio station WZBD in Decatur.

“My goal as a pastor is to help people mature in Christ as the Bible commands,” he said. “My greatest joy is when a person gives his or her life to Jesus Christ. That compels me to do what I do.”

1409 S Main Street
Facebook: Abundant Life Christian Center

The End

Liberty Center Baptist Church: From Surviving to Thriving

In a change from my regular format of posting a devo each Sunday I’m posting a story about a local church in my area that I wrote for the Bluffton News-Banner with permission of the editor.

Each week for the past year I’ve been blessed to interview a different pastor in my county. The stories with photos are published each Friday. Believe it or not, our county, which is mostly rural, has 65 churches!

Each church has gifts and strengths and God’s blessing. There are so many opportunities for each to minister to people in need. What can you do to help your church’s mission today?


Pastor Aaron and wife Laura Westfall minister at Liberty Center Baptist Church

Pastor Aaron and wife Laura Westfall minister at Liberty Center Baptist Church

Liberty Center Baptist Church

Where is God leading us? Are we ready for it? How much do we care about people who don’t know Jesus Christ?

These questions are some that Pastor Aaron Westfall
of Liberty Center Baptist Church has asked himself and his congregation in recent months.

Liberty Center Baptist Church is located in Liberty Center, Indiana.

Liberty Center Baptist Church is located in Liberty Center, Indiana.

“We want to look at the health of our church. through prayer and seeking the Lord’s will,” he said. “We want to go from surviving to thriving and keep our eyes focused on the vision. It’s exciting to get people to trust each other to walk together.”

Westfall grew up in Liberty Center with his mother and brother. He attended church with his grandparents. After graduating from Southern Wells High School, Westfall attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he majored in Christian Ministries. “As a teen, I felt God calling me into ministry,” he said. He was licensed as a pastor in early 2011.

In October 2011, while working full time at Wayne Metals in Markle, Westfall accepted the position as pastor at Liberty Center Baptist Church.

Although he is considered part-time, Westfall’s duties include preaching each Sunday, leading Wednesday night Bible Study and church meetings, and visiting members of the congregation in need. He is the only paid staff member at the church.

Aaron and his wife Laura Westfall work as a team in caring for their three children, ages elementary and teen, and church responsibilities.

“My main concern as a pastor is to keep my priorities in line,” he said. “God is No.1, but my family has to be my focus.”

At the same time he places an emphasis on creating a welcoming atmosphere at the church. “Our vision as a congregation is to be a place where people matter and lives are changed,” he said.

To facilitate this mission he is developing leadership within the church of 70 regular attendees. “I can’t do it all,” he said. “I know everyone here wants to reach out and share their Christian faith.”

In addition to taking communion to shut-ins and praying with people, Westfall and his church have helped members of the community with food needs and Christmas presents. On Sundays the church offers special classes on relevant topics, such as parenting. During Easter week 2013, the church plans to host a Passover service that will be open to the public.

One area in the church Westfall hopes to address in 2013 is the church’s youth ministry. “We have a lot of kids in our community who could use a loving, Christian place,” he said.

Westfall has seen some growth since he’s tenure at the church. Attendance then was 45 and there have been five baptisms.
“I believe my family was led to Liberty Center Baptist Church,” said Westfall. “It’s nice to be in a place where we can use our talents to serve God.”

Sunday School: 9:10
Fellowship time with donuts & coffee: 9:45
Sunday worship: 10:15
Classes for kids and Youth are available.

3071 W Cherry Street
Liberty Center IN 46766

The End

New Fort Wayne Christian Writing Club is Off and Running!

Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
Hebrews 3:6.

Linda Wade was leader of a Christian Writing Club in Ft Wayne in the 1990s. She and others helped me so much!

Linda Wade was leader of a Christian Writing Club in Ft Wayne in the 1990s. She and others helped me so much!

Recently I’ve helped start a new Christian Writing Club in Fort Wayne Indiana. I already co-lead one in Bluffton Indiana. The distance between the two cities is approximately 25 miles. In the 1990s I belonged to a Christian Writing Club in Ft Wayne. It helped me so much that I’m now returning the favor. I’m including photos of people who helped me then, including Linda Wade (our leader) and Jim Watkins.
Jim Watkins is a talented Christian author and speaker.

Jim Watkins is a talented Christian author and speaker.

The Bluffton group has met for five years and we have a steady following of approximately 8 people per meeting. We pray for God’s blessing on the meeting, share writing news, then allow people to read for five minutes and we gently critique for 10 minutes. Several members have self-published books and others are writing for magazines and other publications. Rhonda Maller is my co-founder.

Rhonda Maller & I started the Bluffton Christian Writing Club in 2009.

Rhonda Maller & I started the Bluffton Christian Writing Club in 2009.

Fort Wayne is a much larger city and so I probably should not have been surprised when 27 people showed up for our first monthly meeting in August! A local small business admin’s well-written press releases had advertised the group in all local newspapers. Thanks, Scot and Mary!

We meet the 4th Tuesday night of each month at Waynedale Public Library, 2200 Lower Huntington Road. We meet at 6:00 p.m.

At the first meeting we shared names, types of writing we completed and what we hoped to find in the group. My friend Laura Burger thankfully took notes of everyone’s comments. That helped tremendously to serve as a reminder of ways we can pray for everyone.

With 30 minutes left we broke into groups of 5 to get to know each other and encourage each other to write with God’s blessing. We might not always write about God, but we need to pray for His presence in what we do write.

The next month we will meet as one group to begin and share news, then split into smaller groups for critiquing.

This devo is to hold myself accountable to these groups. I don’t really see myself as a leader but with 22 years of writing experience I would like to share my knowledge of writing with those who may be beginning and have a desire to learn but no one to teach them.

I’m not a world famous writer. Not everyone who attended the first meeting will return because I suspect they’ll be disappointed that we’re not handing out advice that will guarantee publication.

But for those who will work at their writing and are willing to persevere, I can say there will be rewards. It may be completing an effective paragraph for a story. It may be finding a good angle for a story. Other people can lend fresh eyes and ears to a piece that could prove to be invaluable.

There is no cost to attend either meeting. We’re friendly groups that seek to put Christ first in our lives and our writings.

If you’re interested in knowing more about either of these groups, please let me know. We’ll offer you a seat and say Welcome!

If you’re already in a Christian writing club, what benefits have you found? If you’re looking for a critique group, what steps are you taking to organize one?

Taming Temptation


Dad teaching me to brush a colt. Look at my happy face!

Dad teaching me to brush a colt. Look at my happy face! Wonder what was tempting me then?


For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18, New American Standard Bible)


The wind whistled through my ears and tears gathered in my eyes, blinding me. Desperately, I tried to grasp the reins that flopped against Lady’s neck, but they were too far away. I clung to the saddle horn, praying her foot wouldn’t find a hole in the field.


A farmer’s combine had entered the field we were walking in, but I had been too busy conversing with a fellow rider to notice. Startled by the combine’s loud noise, Lady bolted, jerking the reins out of my hands. She ran faster than we had ever gone and a fence at the end of the field loomed into view.


Lunging forward, I snatched the reins from Lady’s neck and pulled back hard. Lady fought against the pressure of the bit on her mouth, but finally stopped.


Whenever I read in the Bible about temptation, I think of my ride that day. It didn’t take much to cause Lady to lose control. Temptation is like that. When it occurs, we must call on the name of Jesus to help us resist. He has experienced every temptation and is willing to help us pull on the reins to stop from indulging in trouble.


God, temptation is everywhere. Each one of us has to face it as we strive to serve You daily. Teach us to see temptation for what it is and rely on Your strength and not our own to resist the Devil today. Amen.