I’m Melissa. Come on in. Sit down. Kick your shoes off if you like. I want you to feel at home here.
I wish I could invite you to my favorite spot out on the upstairs back porch. We could sit in the trees together. Drinking of the beauty and the goodness of God. Maybe even a decaf coffee (girl can’t hold her caffeine over here!), tea, or fresh-crafted smoothie. None of those? Tell me what you like.
We could laugh at the squirrels in a dizzying chase as they run through the maze of branches. Talk about life and what brings you here.
I’d love to get to know you more. This is a safe and sacred space.
I received my name after being born. Not because my parents wanted to see my face before giving it. But because my mom just knew I was a boy. Surprise! No “Sam” here. Just “Melissa.”
Drawing and writing were my favorite pastimes growing up. I had a small art scholarship to take to any college I wanted. I started, but never finished.
Life experience has been my teacher. I’ve been testing and growing in the lab.
I married my highschool sweetheart at 19 years old. He continued college while I birthed our four wildly and gloriously unique children, five and a half years apart, to be exact. We are boomerangs in the strangest way: Andy and I grew up in Georgia, moved to Tennessee where we had our family, then moved back to settle roots in Georgia; the kids were all born in Tennessee, had to move back to Georgia with us, of course, and now all four have flown their young adult wings back to Tennessee!
fun crazy fact: we moved seven times in the first seven years of marriage!
Our eldest daughter and bonus son recently gave us our first grandbabies – twins! Holding them makes every care in their Mia’s and Papa’s world melt away. They are a heavenly piece of redemption.
Our family’s story is full of great joys. It is also full of deep wounds.
Little Melissa wore the same full-face grin you see in the black and white welcome photo of me (at the top) effortlessly. Until. Something shifted. A light was extinguished, and a smile was lost. Verbal and emotional abuse and many sexual assaults stole the innocence of my childhood and adolescent years. I felt dirty and unworthy of love.
I just knew I was nothing more than a huge disappointment to God, and certain I would be to everyone else if they knew. So, I hid what happened to me. It’s also why I hid my sixth grade picture in a stack; I cannot bear the emptiness of the young face staring back at me.
Little did I know, God was planning and preparing my rescue all along.
My healing began when I came out of hiding. Secrets hidden in darkness lose their power when brought into the light. However, the telling alone does not do the complete work of healing. We need God and others to help us face our pain to decipher the messages of our wounds. There’s a recording of lies that plays on repeat in our minds that were spoken in those vulnerable spaces, making them feel so true.
Our true self gets buried underneath the ashes of many pains; the ones we inflicted upon our self, the ones others inflicted, and the enemy’s cruel infliction of pain upon pain. But, like a prisoner, we can be set free.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”Isaiah 61:1-3
The anointed One, Jesus, came to heal me. He is healing me still. It is an intentional interaction between us that I have sought for the past two decades. With His help, I continue to learn how to thrive.
About the time I felt secure in God’s love again, that security was tested...
…when two of our daughters were in a tragic 4-wheeler accident. The youngest child’s face was crushed, resulting in a string of 11 reconstructive surgeries over a span of eight years, with long, crazy recoveries. The oldest daughter was driving and was injured, too. Just one year into the process of surgeries, we lost our home during the Great Recession. Already broken, we were then displaced. Homeless. Our whole family was traumatized by everything that happened, each in his/her own way.
So much of my faith was tested and questioned and wrought. I began to plea:
Many healing answers have come. We are no longer reeling as we once were, but we are still mending.
In all of this, I’ve held onto pain throughout my life so long ‘til it broke my body. Chronic illnesses have exploded within me. Once vibrant and healthy, I’ve nearly forgotten what it feels like to be well.
I began asking Jesus to come, again, to every unhealed place left within me. To come for the little girl, the teenage girl, the mama who just wants her family to be OK. To minister to me again the ministry of Isaiah 61. I am finding pain and joy coexist. No matter how many times deferred hope made my heart sick; hope keeps rising despite it.
And, I got my smile back. Because, Jesus.
It is from these pages of my story and my family’s story that I write. Ultimately, God is the Author. The Word that guides my words, I impart to you. Hoping words here will invite you into deeper healing and holiness, too.
Dear, brave one, come join me on the upstairs back porch. Let us ask the questions of God, let us pray for Truth, and find the answers together. It would be a grace to sit with you.
While I pray and strive to be Truth Learner and a Truth Teller, I won’t always get it right. Please offer grace and mercy when that happens. Side note: a middle school English teacher told me I should become an English teacher myself. Apparently, my knack for near perfect grammar back then and storytelling caught her attention. I did say near. Excuse the proverbial typos that sneak onto the pages. The version on my screen competes with the version in my head!