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Hinkles turn old church into home

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013 12:06 p.m. CST

I don’t ever want to hear again that young people today are lazy, expect to be taken care of and are too into themselves.  Meet Chris and Bethany Hinkle of Morning Sun.  Chris is 36 and Bethany 35.  (That’s young in my book.) 

They have four boys, ranging in age from 16 to 9.  Chris is the used car manager at Shottenkirk’s in Mt. Pleasant, and Bethany operates a daycare in their home, taking care of a total of 16 children throughout the week. 

In addition to full-time employment, Chris and his boys operate a lawn-mowing and snow-removal business. They are a “John Deere family” — having two mowers and one backhoe-with-loader for light dirt work.  Chris is mechanically and electronically inclined, and works on cars and computers in his “spare time.”

With four boys in school, Chris and Bethany are obviously busy. In addition to church activities, they are heavily involved in school functions and sports. Chris, being a member of the 1995 Winfield State Champion Basketball Team, is the Junior High Basketball Coach at Winfield, where his kids attend high school.

Worn out yet? As if all this weren’t enough, five years ago, for Chris’s birthday, they bought an old 5,800 square-foot church that was close to their smaller, 1,600 square-foot house.

Their plans were to remodel the church that had been built in 1881, and move into it, making more living space for their four boys, and Bethany’s daycare.

“Yeah, right,” I thought to myself at the time.  “Maybe when the boys are all grown up, they might get it done, and be able to have their grandkids over.”

Wrong! Five years, almost to the day after they bought the church that had stood empty for 30 years, they moved into their church-home.

Of course, they had to do a lot of work on the behemoth structure — they didn’t just move into wide-open spaces. Bedrooms had to be built, stairways added, floors constructed, windows replaced, walls insulated, bathrooms installed, the building sided, shingles replaced, and the whole building rewired and plumbed.

Chris has no college training but has design software on his computer.  He did all of the designing himself, and with the help of family and friends, most of the work.

Walking into the church, I mean house, now is like walking into another building all together from what it was five years ago. No more old fashioned church kitchen! Bethany (Queen of the Castle), has a beautiful, ultra-modern, Martha-Stewart-style kitchen, complete with solid-granite counter tops, copper sink and hardwood cabinets — all designed by Chris.

Did I mention the gymnasium? Yes!  What’s a church (now home) without a gymnasium? Being a basketball family, the gymnasium couldn’t be put to better use. It even has a regulation scoreboard. Tuesday nights are two-on-two nights at the Hinkle’s. And are you ready for this? Chris installed a home-theater system in the gym that rivals — no, surpasses — most theaters. The floors and walls vibrate when the sound is cranked up.

The Hinkles are quick to cite their faith in God when it comes to all they have accomplished and the work yet to be done — and the American can-do attitude.

“This is the American dream,” Chris points out, with his arm around Bethany.  “Work hard, keep your trust in God, take it one day at at time, and never doubt what you can do.”

Bethany beams when she looks at her home and family. “Happy wife, happy life,” comes to mind.

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