We are excited to share our story with you because we recognize it is central to who we are and who we are becoming. We call Colfax, Washington, nestled in the rolling hills of the Palouse, home. We have four awesome kids that fill our days with great adventure, intense challenges and uncontainable love.
Once upon a time we were just two young people who fell in love at church summer camp. Jeremy was the bass player in the worship band and I was a 17 year old girl passionate about life. We each knew pretty immediately that we were meant for each other. And two years later after a year-long ministry internship we were married.
The day we got home from our honeymoon the pastor of our church met us in the parking lot of our apartment building and asked us to become the youth pastors of our church. I, Mary Jean, was only 19 and became the youth pastor of my friends. It was a rough transition, but eventually turned into some great years of growth and ministry.
We spent 10 years walking alongside teenagers and their families and never thought we would stop. This was a ministry we were called to. God rescued both of us when we were teenagers and we wanted to help him do the same for others. It is a season where you discover who you are, who God is and how to live in this crazy, at times scary and wonderfully beautiful world. We learned much during this season, seeing tons of different parenting styles and the effects a person’s family has on all areas of their life.
In this season we also became parents ourselves. Two truths we have learned is parenthood is the most amazingly, wonderful experience in life and the other, parenting is STUPID HARD. We would always tell our students that the best things in life were never easy, but took hard work and boy were we right! We are now Inman party of 6 with Layla, Mathis, Haven and Hudson. These four kids make us better. God consistently uses them to grow us, humble us and get us rolling with laughter. It is an amazing honor to be given the responsibility of molding and shaping these young people. They are our tribe and even through the hardest days we would never trade it!
In 2013 we felt something we thought we would never feel, God closing a chapter of youth ministry in our lives. We honestly thought we would be youth pastors well into our 80’s, but God had other plans. We embarked on a couple years of children’s and worship ministry roles where we got to continue to walk alongside families on their parenting journeys.
After 14 years in vocational ministry in the states we were asked to take a big leap of faith and join a church planting team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When we sat with our kids and prayed with them about the possibility of moving to Africa our oldest daughter who was 8 at the time cried as she prayed, “God if we move to Africa we will miss our friends, our family, our house and our pets, but we will follow you wherever you ask us to go”. And with a prayer like that what do you do but pack yourself up and move to Africa.
We hit the ground running in Ethiopia and launched our church alongside our team just 5 weeks after arriving in country. It was a crazy 17 months of building brand new relationships, doing ministry in a new context, learning how to buy groceries and drive in a city with somewhere around 8 million people. It was crazy hard and rewarding all at the same time. There were days we loved the challenge of the simple things like finding sugar or dairy products in the midst of a shortage and then there were days of great frustration when nothing you set out to do in a day got completed.
Two powerful things happened to us while living in Ethiopia. First of all, while living amongst a people that were not our own, when we would meet another American we would immediately experience a sense of connection. It didn’t matter what their thoughts were about the hot button political topics or who they voted for in the last election. The only thing that mattered was that we were Americans and we belonged to each other.
The second profound thing that happened was that before moving to Ethiopia we could not have told you what American culture really was. Maybe hamburgers and fireworks on the 4th of July… we didn’t really know. Moving to a country steeped in thousands of years of culture and tradition, where everything is called culture, from the foods you eat to the ins and outs of relationships to how you dress and your religious beliefs. All of a sudden it was clear that culture was intertwined in every area of our lives and we had fresh eyes to see our home culture as well.
Culture has a powerful impact on our relationships, our beliefs and our life decisions and it got us thinking a lot about our culture as a family. What we mean when we say family culture is the things that make us, for instance, Inman’s. I think about our vision for our family and our values that lead our decisions and worldview, and how if we are not intentional about defining these things they will be defined for us.
Our family needed this security so desperately throughout our time in Africa. The importance of knowing that we belonged to each other and that we had a clear sense of who we were was needed every day. It also helped us to see the great need for it within our home culture as well, but because the comfort level is higher we often don’t feel it in the same way.
It was Ethiopia that birthed in our hearts the idea to create an online course that will help families intentionally develop a family culture that lines up with their beliefs, their purpose and their values. A way to help parents take a hard look at their family’s way of addressing belonging, relationships, goals, emotions, money, self-care, discipline, boundaries, spiritual development and all the other key factors that make up a family culture.
We want to use our education, training and experience in the areas of family relationships, counseling and leadership to help families create a connected, wholehearted and purposeful family culture. We passionately believe that intentional family culture development is the key to many of the problems our world is facing today. If we can inspire and equip families to create deep connection, live whole-heartedly and pursue their purpose in life we know that together we can change the world.
Be a family that honors God, belongs to each other and lives life to its fullest.
Love God and make his name known.
Treat others with love and respect.
Make memories together.
Be true to who you are.
Do life big.