• My Life

    A Year Ago

    Just over a year ago I was returning from a three-week vacation. It sounds wonderful. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, the catalyst to take three weeks was less than wonderful. I was on empty – once again. In 2006, I struggled with depression brought on by excessive work, nearly non-existent boundaries, lack of rest, and relationships that depleted my soul. How crazy to sum up that very difficult, long, and painful journey into a single sentence. Yet, I celebrate the summation because it is a testimony to the deserts that feel like death valley when you’re walking them but on the other side look more like a rocky beach leading to a life-giving ocean we would have missed had we not gone on the walk. A year ago, 10 years after my first journey, I found myself at the entrance to death valley again, having ignored all the warning signs along the way. But things looked regrettably familiar to me and before I…

  • My Life

    My Word for 2018

    A few years ago, I decided to forego the annual resolution gig. Not that I was always good about making resolutions or keeping them. Resolutions tend to make me focus on behavioral changes which doesn’t always last and often results in guilt rather than growth. Honestly, if I made it to February with a resolution intact, I would celebrate that as a win. Five years ago, I stumbled upon some folks who had sworn off resolutions and, instead, were beginning each new year with a theme word – a word they would aspire to; a word they would grow toward rather than a behavior they would run away from. I liked the idea. A lot. 2014 was my first year with a theme word and it made all the difference. Choosing one word gave me a focus that no resolution every had. It gave me a clarity about decision-making. It gave me a plumb line by which I measured growth and movement.…

  • Faith Reflections

    Watching Somebody Love

    “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz I love this line from Donald Miller’s book. Miller was talking about how some people learn to love something – like jazz music or God – because they witness someone loving jazz music or God and it moves you. You can’t argue with it and sometimes it doesn’t make sense yet the evidence is in front of you in how a person loves. A few summers ago our youth group worked with a guy named Joe while on mission in Oklahoma City. Joe was a volunteer with a food bank and was in charge of their community garden. Joe loves vegetables and dirt and compost. He loves worms and fish waste and all things organic. Joe loves sustainable living and the natural world. I bet, at Joe’s house, he powers his toaster with a bike and…

  • Faith Reflections,  My Life

    Back in the Boat

    Several years ago I attempted to learn to water ski. Some friends had the cabin and the connections – an awesome lady who was a professional water skier and a ski instructor. The plan came together with ease and I said yes – eager to try something to new. But there was a big part of me that was afraid. I wanted to learn to ski but water skiing involves water apparently. I’m not a fan of water since a rafting trip went terribly wrong in 1997. I was on a youth mission trip to Wyoming and we were rafting the Snake River near Jackson Hole. My raft of youth and adults hit some the most intense rapids at the same time a gust of wind blew – flipping our boat and flinging us all into the water. Despite what I knew about using my hands to guide myself to the edge of the raft, the rapids moved the boat continuously, preventing…

  • Faith Reflections

    I Got This, God

    Several years ago I went to a counselor for the first time because I had been struggling with depression for over a year. It took me awhile to admit I needed to see someone and it was only when things got really bad that I finally made the call. I remember clearly the first session in this nice woman’s office. I cried for quite awhile and then I said the only thing that I could say that would free me to share with her my struggles: I just need you to know that I’m going to feel really bad about coming in here and talking about myself and not asking once about you. But I know I’m suppose to do that because I’m paying you for this time but I just need you to know that I do care about you and I hope that you are doing okay and that you have someone to go to, too. Those were…

  • Faith Reflections

    Love Languages

    My sister and I have several things in common. We are in helping professions, we consider chocolate a gift from God, and we adore her kids. Oh, and we both think we have an awesome sister. We are also uniquely different. I like to stay up late; she doesn’t. She always did her homework first thing; I did mine last. I enjoy the great outdoors; she prefers a world free of bugs and insects. Another way we are different is expressions of love. I love fresh flowers and a beautiful bouquet brightens my week. My sister could care less for flowers that will be dead in four days. So, when I want to honor her by showing up with a gift in her first-grade classroom, the only bouquet I have is one made of Diet Dr. Pepper, chocolate and new school supplies. Part of really loving someone is knowing what pleases them. It requires paying attention to the little things…

  • Faith Reflections

    Checking Off the Right Stuff

    Hi. My name is Melissa and I’m a list person. (Hello, Melissa.) I love lists. I believe in lists. If I do something and it wasn’t on my list, I write it on my list so I can have the satisfaction of marking it off my list. When I complete a task, a simple check mark fails to capture the profound awesomeness of my productivity and efficiency. I eradicate it from existence with the repetitive stroke of my pen or, even better, a single stroke of an extra wide sharpie that has the final word even as it vanquishes all others. I hear cheers from imaginary friends as I stand under a glittery rain shower of confetti. Ate breakfast? Done. Brushed my teeth? Completed. Closed my garage? It. Is. Finished, y’all. Success looks a lot like productivity to me. If I don’t look closely, I get duped into thinking I matter because of what I do, that I am worthy…

  • Faith Reflections,  My Life

    Basketball and God

    I doubt many folks think of God when they think of basketball. I’m sure a multitude of prayers have been lifted up from courts and stands across the nation with the desperate hope of a buzzer-beating shot. But on the daily, not so much. I certainly didn’t relate the two until a couple of months ago. I was in the middle of a personal retreat, wrestling with my soul-crushing inability to allow God’s love to define my worth rather than work and ministry. It was an agonizing couple of days struggling to traverse the deep canyon from head knowledge to heart knowledge. My head knows God’s unconditional love constitutes my worth. My heart, however, tends to think God is far too nice to hurt my feelings by telling me how much I’ve disappointed him. Maybe God doesn’t even realize he is disappointed. Maybe he isn’t being honest with himself. But I know. Which makes me feel worse so I work even harder to be worthy of His love and…

  • Church Ministry,  Sermons

    Dying to Live: A Sermon

    Preached on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Missouri. Click here to listen to the audio. Luke 9:18-27 We are launching a new sermon series today titled “Because of Christ, everything has changed.” This series is the second in a series of sermons related to our Setting Sail visioning process. Over the past two years we have prayed and dreamed together about what God is calling us to be and do and now we are launching out in faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, setting sail in obedience and anticipation of God’s dreams for us. Today we begin our focus on Life-Changing Faith. Our preferred future is that First Baptist Church leads every person to follow the Way of Christ, discover their giftedness, and experience continual life transformation. All generations are rooted in a Biblical, hope-filled faith and experience the joy and significance of service. In short, we follow Christ. And because of…