Our guest blogger this week is Mellissa Ann Myers. She is 48 years old and has been sober for almost 7 years. Mellissa works as a Case Manager for Valeo Behavioral Healthcare; the adult mental health center for Shawnee County. She loves the social work aspect of this job and being able to help clients. Mellissa is also a classic movie buff and lives in Topeka, Kansas with her husband Justin. We are so thankful to have Mellissa share her heart and story with us today about how she found God and how it changed her life.
On January 9th 2013, I was done; done with life. I was ready to end it all. I was strung out on meth and drinking every day. I had lost all hope and had nowhere to turn. I was alone, jobless and homeless. The only way I earned any money was by selling the drug I was using, but my habit always came first so I didn’t make a lot of money. What little money I did make, I used to buy liquor so I could come down, sleep for a few hours and get back to hustling.
On this particular night I was crashing in a trap house and it was disgusting, roach infested and filthy!! But, it was a roof over my head and it was so cold outside so it was better than that. I had enough dope for a few days, I was high but decided I needed to be higher because my surroundings made me sick. The roaches were everywhere and when I went to pull out my gear to make up a shot, roaches started crawling out of my bag. It was horrible. I started to cry. I hated myself for where I was at and all I wanted to do was stay numb.
Everything hurt, my body was ravaged by meth and alcohol and I was just an empty shell of the person I used to be. The tears came again and they wouldn’t stop. I became angry because the tears were clouding my eyes and I couldn’t mix my shot. I told myself I was worthless and to stop being a baby and I immediately stopped crying. I hadn’t cried for a very long time so it was very uncomfortable.
As I sat there getting ready to stick a needle in my arm, I heard a voice say, “I’m here.” Most people know meth and lack of sleep cause delusions and that is what I thought it was; it wasn’t. Those two words gave me what I needed to stop what I was doing, get on my knees and cry out to God for help. “God if that was you please hear my cry, I don’t want to die and I can’t live like this anymore please free me from this hell I am in.”
At that moment my phone rang and it was a woman I had met at an AA meeting. (A meeting I went to only to get a cup of coffee and out of the cold.) Immediately this woman told me that God put me on her heart and so she decided to call to see if I was ok. I started crying and for the first time in a long time I was able to be honest and say, “No, I am not ok, I need help and I’m ready.”
This amazing woman came to me and took me out of that hell hole and helped me find my way. When I told her about hearing what I heard she let me know that, this is how God works. At that moment I knew I had no other choice but to surrender my life and will to God if I wanted to live.
I have not faltered from His path and have remained sober for the last 6 years; almost seven. This is the longest I have ever been sober since the age of 14. God blesses me everyday with another day of sobriety and I am so grateful!!!! His blessings are endless!!! Because of God I am a better person; I live my life for Him because He gave so much for me. This is only part of my story, but for me the most important part. This is what led me to believe in God again and how I got to where I am today!
Mellissa your vulnerability is incredible! Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us. Our faiths become stronger when we are able to hear stories like yours.
This week listen to that still small voice leading you. Is there someone who needs your support right now? Go an be that support!
Happy New Year! Let us give thanks for the year that has unfolded and take time to envision what 2020 can be for us. Last year we posted about Spiritual Goal Setting. I encourage you to take a look at the article to identify what goals may work for you in this coming year and how to set them.
I find it important to reflect on what has happened this year. Let's look closer at some of the awesome content from the blog.
This last year I took on the endeavor of providing an in depth look at various spiritual practices each month. I will continue to do this in 2020 to expand our ideas of what a spiritual practice is. Spiritual practices help connect us with God and shape our discipleship. Continuing to find what practices work for us in our busy lives is imperative so that we can continue our spiritual formation. So lets quickly list the ones I covered this last year with links to the posts. I encourage you to find the ones that work for you and practice them.
1. Exercise and Movement
2. Dwelling in the Word
5. Neighborhood Walking
6. Intentional Breathing
7. Being in Nature
I want to thank the wonderful guest bloggers we had this year who I have listed below. I have added links to their posts and encourage you to read them. 2020 will bring some new voices to the blog with lots of unique perspectives. The first post of the year will be a guest blogger sharing her awesome story of finding God in her life.
William Ottens "Diversity and Your Bookshelf"
Justin Delong "The Welcoming Mission of Jesus"
Emily Hartford "Finding God's Spirit in Parenting"
Steve Hensley "The Similarities Between Comedy and Church"
Dakota Matthes "Dakota's Faith Journey"
James O'Neil DeAtley "What Do You Wish To See? A Divine Invitation to Awakened Life"
Caleb Brian "A Glimmer in Time: A Snapshot of Science and Religion"
Anna Rider Gard "The Connection"
New Year Hopes
This coming year may each of us move forward along our faith journey. May we let our curiosity run wild as we ask the difficult questions. May we find joy in the simplistic things around us. May we value the people we are with and pay attention to the spirit speaking through them. May we search for a deeper connection with the divine.
May we experience joy, love, and happiness. May we suffer the best we can during difficult times. May we be comforted and loved unconditionally in our not so good moments. May we give our time and talent to others. May we find a faith community to journey with. May we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to those around us connecting us deeper to them. May we walk confidently knowing we are loved for who we are. May we believe we are valued and have worth despite any worldly events that unfold. May we live love each day!
Thank you to all those that have contributed to the blog this year and those who continue to follow us each week!
Go out and celebrate the New Year!
Our guest blogger this week is Anna Elizabeth Rider Gard. Anna is a lifelong Community of Christ member from the Independence, Missouri area. Anna attended Graceland University and graduated with degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education K-12. Anna went onto receive her Masters of Music at Kansas State University. She is now an Elementary Music teacher at Blackburn Elementary. Anna spends much of her time outside of work with her husband Tanner and her cats Katniss and J.K. She also sings as a Soprano for the Center Place Singers. We are so excited to have Anna share how music connects her with God.
Growing Up With Ministry of Music
Baby memories are very uncommon…the earliest I can remember was when I was 2 years old. And before that all I can remember is warmth. This warmth I know is from unconditional love, first given to my parents from the Lord and then passed from them to me.
My parents are both organists and love classical music. I’m not talking about the genres of classic rock or country, but classical as in J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, G.F. Handel, and the list goes on from there. I grew up with the sounds of these composers’ minds, perhaps their feelings, and thoughts of life (we will never fully know). My parents filled my life with a musical energy and passion for it that as a child little did I know would develop into a love for life. However it was not just music, it became a passion for giving to others in a way I’m still trying to understand. What I speak of is a beautiful presence called Ministry of Music.
Feeling The First Connection
The first time I felt the connection to God through music was singing in children’s choir at church. At that time, I’m not sure how profound it felt to sing with a group of my church family peers, although I remember feeling the love of the congregation. And how appreciative they always seemed when I sang with the choir and then eventually singing solo, ministry of music.
The second time I felt the connection was through campfire songs. Whether we were singing silly or serious songs, God was right there singing through the words and the people around me. It has come to be such a comfort over the years. During my school years, I really struggled with test taking, so my parents decided to take me to a therapist. I would go and talk to this man about test anxiety. The final question he asked me was… “Where is a place you could be that will take your anxiety away?” My thoughts went immediately to a campfire at church camp. There is a calm and joy in the atmosphere of campfire. It is the community, music and spirit that surrounds all those who witness its passion and power.
As a young kid, I don’t think I really understood music ministry was such a powerful strength to help lift people up. As a high schooler, I was invited to come and sing solo at many congregations in the Independence, MO community. Each time I sang for a congregation, it became easier to share my love of music and put my true feelings into my voice.
My Community – Center Place Singers
At the end of my college years, like many students, who wish to some day be a teacher, I was doing my student teaching back home in Independence, MO. I was invited by a church choir to come and sing with them. This wasn’t any church choir; this was the Center Place Singers. CPS was a group I had grown up listening to and coming to their Independence famous “chicken dinners,” in which they would serve the food and then sing. Their main service though was and is ministry of music at local congregations around the area. This group helped me continue singing in a community at a time when I felt quite alone. They became a blessing and I quickly grew to love each of the members with all my heart.
After I graduated college and got married, my husband, Tanner and I moved to Manhattan, KS where I pursued a master’s degree and at the time was unable to sing with CPS. Once I finished my graduate degree, Tanner and I decided to move back to our hometown, Independence, MO. And I was back singing with CPS again.
Currently I have been singing with the Center Place Singers for 4 ½ years. We have recorded songs for the church hymnal, recorded our own album at Graceland University, Carol Hall, and have had many beautiful ministry experiences singing in many places around the Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa areas. I can’t really put into words what these people have done for my life, but I will say God has made each of us for this body of Christ that has made so much of an impact on my life and many others. Together our music gives warmth and unconditional love to all who hear us. And for that I am eternally grateful.
Beliefs of How Music Connects Me to God
I believe the creator gave us music to have a universal language for the world. Music connects each of us to all of the connections through various subjects. To count the rhythm is to understand math. To develop understanding of sound waves is to be a scientist. For a composer to add words or leave it instrumental they create reading. To listen to music and add dance and movement gives physical development. Using this universal language to understand many cultures becomes social studies which creates peace among all peoples. As a music teacher, I see each of my students slowly start to make these connections and then use it to give them understanding. In my opinion to make music is how we feel God’s joy for all.
I have always felt to sing is to share a little bit of your self each time. Each persons voice is unique and gives flight to the soul to share it with others because it is so personal. God gave me this gift not to keep it for myself, but share it with others. When I share music ministry there are times people clap for me as though it is a performance. Sometimes they approach me and tell me how much it meant to them for me to share my gifts. A few times I have had people ask, “Does it bother you to receive applause?” I always say, “no, because the clapping I know is not for me, but instead for the glory of God. The almighty gave me the gift of music and singing so I could share it and use it for the Lord’s glory.” And I will continue to do so all the days of my life.
It is a deep understanding of warmth and unconditional love. I know for my whole life I will continue to try and make sense of this music connecting me to God. As I write this, I know in my whole heart that God gives me strength and this understanding of his love. The connection is so deep and so vast that nothing we do will separate us from the divine. Music gives God a vessel unlike any other connection to unify people as one. When I sing, I feel the warmth within the middle of my body and the energy expands outward filling the space around me.
11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
- Psalm 30:11-12 - New Living Translation (NLT)
My Musical Testimony
My Master Hath A Garden
Music by Eric H. Thiman & Words - Anonymous
My Master hath a garden, Fulfilled with divers flowers,
Where thou may’st gather poesies gay, All times and hours.
Here not is heard but paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, and lute, With cymbal, and timbrel,
and the gentle sounding flute.
Oh! Jesus, Lord, my heal and weal, My bliss complete,
Make Thou my heart Thy garden plot, True, fair, and neat;
That I may hear this music clear,
Harp, dulcimer and lute, With cymbal, and timbrel,
And the gentle sounding flute.
Before each and every ministry of music and performance, my mother and father would always quote the following words written by J.S.Bach and G.F. Handel at the end of their compositions: S. D. G. (Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God alone).
These two composers have been a large part of my musical beginnings. In learning that they used these words as a focus for each of their sacred works has become a lifelong focus for my music connecting me to the Lord. When I use this focus, I in turn feel God’s blessings and strength. There have been times I am unwell, but the Lord is always right there guiding my voice with divine direction and grace. Also, other times I struggle with the understanding of song text and what the deeper meaning may be. It is usually made clear either right before I sing a song or while I am giving my music ministry. This is definitely the Lord giving a blessing of understanding and connection to his unfailing grace.
We each have our blessings, gifts and what connects us to the Lord. And when we find our connections to God, we are richly blessed with a lifelong understanding of unconditional love.
A big thank you to Anna sharing her gifts and passions with us. May we all use Music to connect with the divine.
This week find music that speaks to you and listen to God in the midst of it.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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Copyright Midlands Mission Center 2020
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