Article by: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
My dad never drinks a whole cup of anything.
A mug with an inch of cold coffee at the bottom is a tell-tale sign that he’s been in my house.
Personally, I find the habit a bit offensive.
Coffee is too important (and expensive) to be wasted!
Sometimes I drink the final inch of his cold coffee after he’s gone.
But mostly, I just do my best to smile and remind myself that someday I’ll miss those mostly-empty coffee mugs.
My father is my best friend, my hero, and my biggest cheerleader.
His influence on my life has been profound and not a day goes by where I don’t give thanks for the godly man who raised me.
So, today, as I sit across from him (and his quickly cooling coffee) at our dining room table—a burning question to ask—I am confident he will understand the magnitude of this moment.
I’ve decided it’s time to establish a non-profit to support our little ministry.
And I know exactly what I want our ministry name to be.
But before I can move forward with my plans, I must first ask my father’s permission.Sarah Koontz shares about Living by Design Ministries' humble beginnings and the inspiration behind the name.
Why “Living by Design Ministries”?
Living by Design is the name of my dad’s fifth book.
He wrote it in 2006 with his friend and mentor, Bill Ewing.
And there are a million-and-one reasons why it is my favorite book in the whole world.
I’ll never forget the first time I read Living by Design through cover-to-cover.
All I could think was, “THIS is it!”
This book contains all of the most important truths I’ve learned from these two men.
It paints a vibrant and inspirational picture of the kind of life we were created to live—one that exudes body, soul, and spiritual health.
My dad is an MD with 30+ years experience in private practice—an old-school doctor who delivered babies, cared for the elderly, and everything in-between.
He is a brilliant diagnostician with a gentle bedside manner.
Although Dr. Ray Strand has been retired for more than a decade, many of his patients still haven’t found a suitable replacement.
Because no one can replace my dad.
Bill Ewing has mentored my parents in their faith walk as long as I can remember.
He is a trained Biblical counselor and the founder of Christian Life Ministries.
But he’s more than that to me.
Bill is the man who taught me that the Bible contains EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). EVERYTHING!The Bible contains EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). EVERYTHING!
These two godly men are responsible for teaching me how to order my life according to God’s design—on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.
Any hope, vision, or counsel I am able to offer you is because they first invested in me.
I owe my health and spiritual well-being to them and they deserve much of the credit for the woman I’ve become.
So, naturally, when it came to choosing a name for our non-profit ministry, Living by Design Ministries was literally the ONLY option.
I spent weeks trying to think of something else. You would think, as a writer, I would have had 100 different ideas.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. It just had to be Living by Design.
What’s in a Name?
“So, what do you think, dad?”
“The name is yours, honey. Let me run it by Bill, but I can’t imagine he would say no.”
I cannot overstate the significance of this moment.
It felt like the passing of a generational baton.
The crushing weight of responsibility I felt was only overshadowed by the sheer joy of being entrusted with such an important message.
Living by Design Ministries is more than a name, it’s my heritage.
And as such, I want to share its deep personal significance with you today.Living by Design Ministries is more than a name, it’s my heritage. And as such, I want to share its deep personal significance with you today.
Names are important to God, which makes them important to me.
Often, when God gives an assignment to one of his children, the new task comes with a new name.
God changed Abram, (high father), to Abraham, (father of a multitude), in Genesis 17:15.
God changed Jacob, (supplanter), to Israel, (having power with God), in Genesis 32:28.
Good changed Simon, (God has heard), to Peter, (rock), in John 1:42.
These name changes indicate a new beginning or new direction in these saint’s lives.
Although I am, and forever will be, Sarah Elizabeth Koontz, my ministry life bears a new title.
This New Name Gives Us New Direction
When I write our free online Bible studies, I am representative of the name—Living by Design Ministries.
It’s not about me anymore.
It’s about the mission of Living by Design Ministries, which is to equip women to explore God’s design, embrace godly lifestyles, and exude God’s love.
This shift of focus off myself and on to the ministry has freed me from many of the insecurities and doubts that handicapped me in the past.
Our new name frees me up to be fully devoted to furthering of this message.
This New Identity Gives Us New Inspiration
There is great joy, and even greater responsibility, in bearing the name of another.
Taking my husband’s last name on our wedding day changed…
In the same way, changing our name inspired many other changes within our ministry.
Living by Design Ministries is a team effort.
It’s not just about one individual or one point-of-view any longer. It’s a community of like-minded people pursuing a common goal.
Living by Design is a value-based ministry.
Our shared belief that the Bible gives us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness drives 100% of our ministry decisions. If it’s not biblical, it doesn’t belong in this space.
Living by Design Ministries is under authority.
As a registered 501(c)(3), we operate under the governance of a qualified Board of Directors. As a Bible-teaching ministry, we have established a Pastoral Council to oversee the theological integrity of our Bible studies. These umbrellas of protection create a safe space for this ministry to grow and thrive.At Living by Design, our shared belief that the Bible gives us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness drives 100% of our ministry decisions.
Today I don’t mind the extra coffee at the bottom of the mug.
Dad was here and he gave our new ministry his blessing.
I know I have a monumental task ahead of me, but right now, I’m just grateful for the people who have invested in my life and the experiences that have prepared me for this work.
I believe with every fiber of my being that each of God’s children has a special calling on their lives.
That includes you!
I understand that life here on earth can be confusing, discouraging, and downright ugly. But we are not supposed to navigate the ups and downs of life on our own.
God has given us His Word, His Son, and His Spirit to guide and direct us.God has given us His Word, His Son, and His Spirit to guide and direct us.
Here at Living by Design Ministries we are committed to helping you learn from God’s Word, love God’s Son, and lean into God’s Spirit—so you can experience God’s beautiful design for your life too!
Let’s explore it together…