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!
With Father's Day passing this last Sunday, it got me thinking about the first night I was a father. My wife and I were in the hospital room with the portable crib close by. We were both exhausted from the events of the day and laid down to rest as our baby slept peacefully. As I attempted to go to sleep my mind kept thinking about this precious new life sleeping close by. The very act of birth changed who I was because I was now also a father. I accepted the added responsibility to care for this life and raise him with love and compassion. My mind wandered through what this meant and the hopefulness I had for what my baby's life could be.
I also vividly remember the concern I had for this baby. Was he still ok? Is there anything that could obstruct his breathing? What if I am asleep and can't respond if he needs me? These worries had me getting up multiple times to check that his little chest was going up and down. It was after some time of doing this dance from bed to crib that I found myself praying. It was in this prayerful moment where I accepted the thought and fact God gave him lungs to breath and I have to trust he can do that. It was reassuring as I was reminded that in life is power. This little baby though dependent on others is already adapting to this new world. I also recognized that no matter how hard I try I cannot always be there when things go wrong.
As a father I have to remind myself of these first moments often. When my worries sneak up into my thoughts I tell myself God has empowered us to grow and use the abilities we have in this world. Sometimes it will be difficult however we are resilient and powerful in nature. My role is helping them navigate the waters of their life while upholding their worth and value.
I'm An Imperfect Father
I am human and many times I am not at my best when it comes to parenting. Especially when there is added stress from relationships, finances, employment, etc. that impact our mood. Kids have a way of making us transform from a peaceful cat to a ferocious beast just because our litter box has been moved.
I too often overreact, jump to conclusions, blow things out of proportion, or am inconsistent in my approaches. This after the fact brings shame and guilt for not being who I hope to be as a parent. I have come to find we often do not share these thoughts which are very common. We do the best we can with what we have. But that doesn't mean we cannot work at being better and research various strategies that can help improve our approaches.
What Kids Need
Kids need love, compassion, and empathy from their caregivers. When we as parents are able to love our children and help them navigate the rough waters of their life in an empathetic way their brain responds positively. It trains their inner neural processes to feel safe knowing they have the ability to make decisions, problem solve, and work through stress. Most of our first brain development happens from age 0-4.
One study showing the impact of trauma and stress on children is the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) conducted by Kaiser Permanente in the 90's which looked at health conditions of obese people who experienced various trauma in their childhood. What they found was the higher number of traumatic experiences or household dysfunction among youth created more severe health concerns as adults. So what our children experience from the households we create and the interactions we have produce a lifelong affect. That's why its so important we uphold our children with value and worth and find ways of dealing with our own stress in effective, non-harmful ways. If you want to take the quiz and figure out your ACE score click here.
So what are some good resources to help with parenting? There are tons of information out there on the internet but here are a few.
Collaborative Problem Solving - Developed by Dr. Ross Greene and Dr. Stuart Ablon in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital as a response to the research of adverse childhood experiences by Dr. Bruce Perry. Its an approach focused on listening and creating open communication with your child while also empowering them to come up with potential solutions to concerns. If you want to learn more watch this video "Rethinking Challenging Kids".
Parenting 101 - This website was developed by the Child Development Institute which gives basic tips on parenting and how to handle various challenges.
Conscious Discipline - Is an approach focusing on creating a safe, connected, problem solving environment for your child. It works on developing choice in kids and uses moments of conflict as opportunities to teach and learn. To learn more go to the website.
God As A Father
Being a father has added a new dimension to my spirituality and understanding of God. With this added role, responsibility, and privilege I get to witness and be a part of lives growing into who they were created to be. It is truly incredible to witness the process of ongoing change. It seems everyday their perspective of the world positively impacts mine if I let it. The lessons I learn about being a father lets me continue to let go and trust in my heavenly parent.
Many times God is depicted as a male fatherly figure. This can make some uncomfortable depending on our own beliefs about the divine or our relationship with male figures growing up. The words we use try to identify the divine so we can have some contextual way to perceive God. It can be useful to try to see God in various ways to expand our understanding what God can be.
For me God as a father figure paints a picture of a loving, compassionate parent who helps me navigate the world I live in. He allows me to make decisions and learn as I decide the journey of my life. He suggests potential directions or options but ultimately the decisions are up to me. Throughout those decisions he supports and empowers me to be my best and to do it with happiness. Throughout my journey he is with me though I may not realize it.
There are times when the storms in life may be too much. During them I am always welcome to find comfort in his arms until I am able to travel again. It is in his loving arms I find peace, love, and empathy. He knows me for who I am at my core despite what roles and names I take on from the world. It is this genuine, precious life he sees and loves. His constant love abides in me.
Everyday through my kids I am reminded of this love God has for me and how he is working in my life.
Thank you for all the positive comments and those following along!
This week be thankful for the children we have in this world and say a prayer for them.
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.
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. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
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.