As trouble after trouble piled on, Dianne could have given up and given in under the weight, but God broke through again and again. Life did not immediately transform into sunshine and roses, but God used all the heartache and pain to mold her into the person she is today.
Dianne is a middle child of 5, raised on an acreage in central Alberta with farm animals for food as well as pets. Her mom baked and sewed and taught Sunday School in a United Church and God was part of her family’s foundation. All was well until Dianne was about 11. Her mother had medical issues that made her home life increasingly difficult. Dianne began to spend more and more time at a friend’s house. This was a Christian family and through them, Dianne began to attend Bowden Missionary Church and when she was about 12, she went to James River Bible Camp. “I went forward at the altar call. They were playing Softly and Tenderly, and I was crying and praying for my mom at the altar. I accepted Christ that night, and it lasted for a couple of months.” This had no lasting significance…or so she thought.
A longing for more
Dianne struggled through her teen years and life became a series of parties, drugs, and alcohol. She dropped out of high school in grade 10 and left home at 16. Settling in Innisfail, she got a job at a hardware store. At 17, she began a relationship, and in time the couple moved to Calgary. Despite being in the grip of drugs and alcohol, deep inside Dianne knew this wasn’t the life she wanted. “I knew I wanted more. I wanted kids and the proverbial white picket fence.”
Her first step was out of her rocky relationship. Her brother was a new believer and he led her to Jesus on February 27, 1987, and then helped her move to Stettler where her parents and he lived. She stopped partying, read the Bible front to back, did a daily one-to-one discipleship class with her pastor’s wife, and was baptized. God had her attention, but she hadn’t fully surrendered her ex-boyfriend.
The couple reconciled and then she conceived their first child. When Jillian was 9 months old, they got married and settled in Bowden where they lived in the old Missionary Church Manse and she opened a hair salon. Life was hard over the next 10 years as she tried to live for the Lord amid unrelenting challenges in the marriage. On top of everything else, the heartbreak of two tubal pregnancies followed the birth of their daughter.
In 1995 their son Theo was born. By 1999 Diane knew they could not remain together as a family any longer. She left Bowden in February of 2000 with the kids, then 11 and 4, and moved to Hanna to be closer to her sister who also had younger children.
God opens doors and brings healing
Dianne and her kids found comfort and support at the Alliance Church in Hanna. “I went through their DivorceCare course 3 times”, says Dianne. “The second time to catch what I missed the first time, and the 3rdtime to be able to help others and for the connection and support I found there.” With a young family to support Dianne had opened a hair salon in Hanna, but a new problem cropped up. Her hands and eyes started reacting to the chemicals in the products. While talking about this with a client one day, the woman asked her, “What would you like to do instead?” to which Dianne replied, “I’d like to be an addictions counsellor.” “Why don’t you do it?” said the client. Dianne had a few reasons why not, such as lack of education and other hurdles. “That sounds like fear to me,” said the woman.
That did it. God used this challenge to spur Dianne on to what He had waiting in store for her, and He began to open doors. This began in early 2001. She had to take English 30 by correspondence, to be accepted into college and by June she wrote the exam at the high school. There were other hurdles, including a move, and what to do with her shop. While having her hair cut in another salon in Hanna, she mentioned to the stylist that she was thinking of moving, but she’d have to sell her shop. Two days later that very same stylist bought the shop, and she was able to work alongside the new owner while selling her house and preparing to move.
In July 2001, the small family moved to Medicine Hat. Dianne began studying for her Addictions Counsellor diploma and got a job hairdressing to pay the bills. Through a work connection, a new man came into her life, and they married in 2003. She graduated in December 2004 and was hired on contract at Hillcrest Church in January 2005.
She began as Counsellor and then in June she became the Director of Connect Ministries which included Stephen’s Ministry, and oversight of the support and recovery groups. As Dianne continued in pastoral roles at Hillcrest, she applied for ministerial credentials and was certified in 2008. She felt she needed further education and started attending Briercrest Seminary obtaining her certificate in the seminary, becoming licensed in 2011. She continued working and earned a Masters in Leadership and Management in 2013, and was ordained in 2014. Dianne served at Hillcrest from 2005 to the end of October 2015. She had several pastoral roles including recovery pastor, life groups pastor, connections and assimilation pastor, and eventually, she became part of the lead team. Her final position there was co-pastor for a year while the church did some restructuring.
During a much-deserved sabbatical in the summer of 2015 heartbreak struck again when she learned her husband was involved with someone else. The church extended her sabbatical and they tried to work through the devastation; however, Dianne did not return to Hillcrest and instead launched into private practice in January of 2016.
With her new counselling practice, came the realization that she needed more education, and she began a master’s in counselling. Halfway through, it became painfully apparent that their relationship had come to an end. She finished her degree and filed for divorce.
An Agent of Hope
Continuing in her private practice, Standing Stones, Dianne counsels with expertise in a wide array of life problems. People come for individual and couple’s therapy, help with grief and loss and blended family issues. She helps those trapped in all manner of addictions, and trauma as well as those who are the betrayed partners. Dianne is open about her own journey, non-judgmental, brings a sense of humour to her sessions, and is results-oriented. And she says, “I listen to the Spirit as I counsel.”
As she looks back at the hard, rocky patches strewn through her years, she says, “I honestly don’t know how to do life without Him.” God’s open doors have brought healing in her own life, and purpose. “I love my work, says Dianne, especially the ‘aha’ moments when people have a change of perspective and I see them move from victim to victor. I get to be an agent of hope, helping hurting people.”
More About Dianne
Although dealing daily with trauma in the lives of her clients, Dianne has learned not to take on other people’s problems and bring them home. To relax, Dianne enjoys quilting, canasta with her friends, and building puzzles. At church, she serves on the board. The kids, now adults, are both on their own.
As an Enrich Facilitator, Dianne will walk with pastors who are working with individuals and couples struggling with the harmful effects of addiction, family dysfunction, and infidelity. She is available to do group training and can offer suggestions for those setting up Recovery or support groups. She is a great resource for sex addiction and partner betrayal.
To connect with Dianne and see the full list of Enrichment opportunities she offers, please visit emccenrich.ca.