At age 16, by God's grace I was saved. My parents had just divorced and I was in a new state and new school. Mansfield High School. A new friend shared Christ with me at school before track practice. That same friend made sure I was at church for the next several months. First Baptist, Mansfield, Arkansas. It was there at FBC Mansfield that God used a group of friends and adults to disciple in me a girl who loved the Lord and loved being a Southern Baptist. At that church I learned how to be a godly wife, teach my children about Jesus, and love sharing His Word through teaching and evangelism (not that I have ever been proficient at any of these!). Hospitality, love for His Word, and community in a group of believers was cultivated in me that church. I can remember KNOWING and telling my mom I wanted to be in ministry when I grow up (I am sure she thought I was nuts!). No clue that my main man at the time would become my husband and God would choose us to serve him through full-time ministry together. Totally overwhelmed by His grace.
|FBC Mansfield, AR youth group|
Mission Trip to Dauphin Island, AL
God would take Warren, Tyler, and me to Denison, Texas for a season of our life to call us to go wherever, whenever, and however. I wish I had a picture, but I know God chose to engrave it on my mind forever. Our little Tyler was 20 months old and his tiny little knees knelt down on that hideous pink carpet in our apartment with Warren and me and we made that commitment with God as a family. Wherever. Whenever. However. God used a Texas Southern Baptist Church and its people to help us see His plan. Parkside Baptist Church. We were there for only a year and a half but God used this time to reveal His call on our life. God's grace.
|Tyler and me at VBS at Parkside Baptist Church|
11 1/2 years is what He gave us at Waldron. Definitely one of the toughest things we have ever done. Leaving local ministry with family. God used our time in Waldron, AR to cultivate, mature, grow, disciple, encourage, love, forgive, and be comforted. First Baptist Church Waldron mourned the death of our parents with us, celebrated the birth of 2 of our children with us, rejoiced in the salvation of 2 of our children with us. Waldron is where our children call home. We poured every fiber of our being into the student and children's ministry there. We stacked chairs, moved tables, unlocked doors, started ministries, traveled miles, and had the privilege to love on an Arkansas Southern Baptist Church with all of our hearts. Our home there was filled with ones we consider spiritual children. God's grace.
|FBC Waldron students, 2010|
This past Wednesday, I was on my way to Hampton to the place where I am doing my field experience for school this semester. The Ouachita River was absolutely stunning. I just wanted to stop on the bridge and stare. The sun was rising in the distance, the trees were beginning to show signs of color, and the water had a little "steam" rising from it. Gorgeous. (Even though the trees are too tall to see sunsets, South Arkansas is still pretty.) Just before this, Warren and I sat in PJ's coffee shop on the square in El Dorado and enjoyed this community we have called home for 3 1/2 years. We love our walks at Mystic Creek, Sunday lunches with friends at Poppy's Pizza, and sitting on the porch of Laredo Grill. Murphy money for Benchmark scores has always been great to get too! Our children have some of the best friends anyone could ever have here. One of the many great things about following Christ is the heart bond we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our time in El Dorado serving at an Arkansas Southern Baptist Church has been sweet. We have seen students, parents, and our own daughter saved and baptized here. We have been blessed to see students grow, serve, and be passionate about Jesus. We have traveled miles with students and watched families want to be in church together. Immanuel Baptist Church has a heart for others. Inside the walls you find that there is very selfless people. People who took care of us so we could make memories, people who have never hesitated to give for students to be provided for, people who will fill shoe boxes, and people who don't mind going wherever needed to love people.
We have also experienced community in El Dorado. We have had the privilege to share the love of Christ on the baseball field, in social organizations, school system, and sports stadiums and arenas. We have never been anywhere where God has opened doors like these before.
|IBC ski 2012, Durango|
And now He sends us to love the Arkansas Southern Baptist Church from a totally different position than we have ever been in. A place of a missionary. We will get to love on and encourage Southern Baptist Churches all through the state of Arkansas. We will soon begin our journey together as a family in Little Rock. Warren will be a strategist on the Evangelism and Church Growth Team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. (www.absc.org) I have never felt more like Sarah, Abraham's wife, than I do now. We have no idea where we will live, but HE does! As we look in the land we are heading, only giants we see. God knows this very well and is leading us safely in. God's grace.
"At this also my heart trembles,
And leaps from its place.
God thunders with His voice wondrously,
Doing great things which we cannot comprehend.
Listen to this, O Melissa, (my addition, it really says Job :))
Stand and consider the wonders of God."
"Now you shall see what I will do..."
Whenever, Wherever. However. We will go.
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling...
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide my self in Thee."
-Augustus M. Toplady, 1776
|Generations of student ministry.|
From our very first student in 1999 to our present day student in 2013.