Today, Melanie speaks to us about her grandmother’s remarkable legacy, Colossians 3:23 which seems to be a mantra in her life, her passion for photography and new projects, and her Bible Journal Study Group.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a southern Missouri Christian home. Homeschooled from kindergarten, until I graduated high school. I have two younger siblings; we lived in a little countryside neighborhood, so we grew up barefoot, climbing trees and catching frogs. As I got older, I discovered a love for reading and that started keeping me inside, more and more. We were very sheltered from the outside world as you can imagine, but I’ve learned to be thankful for this. Not all children experience such spiritual protection or such a safe home.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT
I am in love with this passage, at the moment. If we would just flee to God as our refuge and safe place, He will set before us hope! And that hope will be an anchor for our soul and would lead us into the presence of God! I just can’t get enough of this scripture, right now.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Overcoming anxiety has been a big thing for me, right now. Anxiety often comes when we are afraid of the unknown. When we refuse to come to terms with something. But once the unknown becomes known, there is no need for anxiety anymore. Fleeing to God and going places I may not want to go to in prayer. Opening up the hurts I don’t want to think about and letting Him become my refuge and give me Hope; This is where growth can happen for everyone of us. This is the place where anxiety has to disappear!
Profession: I’m first and foremost a stay-at-home mamma! I have two sweeties: a boy and a girl, and I’m so thankful to be able to stay at home with them.
I discovered photography when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I got a job the month. I turned 16 bussing tables in order to save for my first DSLR. And that has been my main thing, ever since. I focus mainly on seniors and portraits are my favorite. But I have to say I’m starting to get new opportunities and interests budding in my life, and I’m not afraid to branch out and try new things!
I believe in trying new things. I believe that if something doesn’t feel right or if you don’t like something, there’s always something better for you. You just have to get out of the box. And don’t be afraid to try new things and to do whatever feels right for you at the moment. That’s how a lot of CEO’s have discovered their true passion and calling. We shouldn’t let society cause us to feel stuck where we are and not able to discover new things.
Soon, I’m going to be trying out becoming a freelance transcriber. There are so many opportunities online now days, and I’m very passionate about learning about them.
“I believe in trying new things.”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Probably, Lord Take My Reins. The name of the first song I wrote, my blog and Instagram. I feel like that is what God has been leading me to do for a few years now. Teaching me how to let go of control. Teaching me to take refuge in him as he takes the reins of my life and leads me down paths I can’t see down.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? The first time I really felt like I encountered God, I was probably about 9. It was at kids camp, of course. I went down to the altar and felt God fill me with His spirit. It was just me in God.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Bible Journaling for sure! Before I discovered this study method, I would randomly open the Bible and read through passages not really retaining anything or understanding what I was reading. Not only has this method opened up my abilities to study the Word of God, it is giving me opportunities to help others and has made me excited to dig into the word each and every day.
Starting Bible Journal Study Groups in my church has also helped me grow spiritually. When you are hearing new perspectives and brain storming with other believers from different backgrounds and ages, how can you do anything but grow?
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?):
I don’t make enough time for reading, but the book I am currently on right now is Own Your Everyday by Jordan Dooley. This lady will change your life. I love the SHE podcast that she hosts, and I love reading her Instagram posts. She’s very inspirational. So far, her book has already blown my mind. I’m learning all about the mental roadblocks that hold me back and cause imposter syndrome, comparison and perfectionism.
My favorite quote is, “As I looked more closely at my own life, I found a toxic trio made up of insecurities, expectations, and the pressure to prove… When I operate from these places, I don’t love like I should. I don’t notice the divine moments God invites me into. I don’t work well but rather just work hard… It’s usually my mindset not my skillset that holds me back.”
Top three essentials: An instrument is probably number 1 (whether it be my piano, ukulele or guitar). I must have an instrument on hand to play randomly. It calms my nerves and helps me express myself to God.
Prescription sunglasses is the other thing I make high priority for. Not only do you feel fabulous wearing them, even if your hair is a mess, but I hate squinting in the sun so it’s very practical as well.
Third, I’d say YouTube. I love being inspired, and there are so many inspiring people on YouTube. I really enjoy seeing people doing new things and creating the life they love.
Hobby: I have way too many hobbies, as you’ve probably caught on to, by now. I like to say I can do a lot of things but I can’t reach pro level at anything because I get distracted by something else. I crochet, Bible Journal, do photography, write music, play piano, guitar and ukulele, I love watercolor painting and blogging.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Study the Bible, pray and be plugged into a church where the Spirit flows freely. You can’t be spiritual without connecting to God’s Spirit.
“You can’t be spiritual without connecting to God’s Spirit.”
Favorite person in scripture? Esther is one of my favorite stories and people in the Bible. I love the amount of faith she had to prepare a feast for the king before she even went into Him. She prepared for the Miracle in advance. THAT is faith God has no choice but to back up.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to learn how to live for God [with] their whole heart. That worshiping and living for God can be a lifestyle. Colossians 3:23 says to do everything heartily as to the Lord. “Heartily” there means with your soul. With all your emotions, desires and passions. It says to do everything passionately, as if for the Lord! Not for the attention of others. Not for other people to see but unto God and God alone!
How do you leave your mark on your community? My name means a “Divine Spark,” and I’d love to know that I have inspired my community with my music, my photography, my Bible Journal Study Groups and also with entrepreneurship! I feel very humbled by the idea that I could “leave a mark on my community” because I have a rich history of a wonderful lady that was my grandma who left an incredible mark on this community. She was one of the founders of the local food bank and ran it with love and compassion for years. Helping the poor was her calling in life, and I’d love to help people myself, someday. Inspiring people to take their abilities and talents and create a new life for themselves.
Favorite holiday? I love Christmas best, I think. I just love the anticipation, snuggling up in the warm house under a blanket with a cup of something hot watching a Christmas movie. In the past, I’ve let winter be a season of impatience and depression, but I want to change my perspective and see it more as a time of rest, from now on.
“In the past, I’ve let winter be a season of impatience and depression, but I want to change my perspective and see it more as a time of rest, from now on.”
A goal you have? One of our major life goals is to build a house while at the same time staying debt free. We would love to be able to live simply in our own little home, being able to homeschool our kids and travel with them as a part of their curriculum.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Something we’ve done for years, even before we even had our kids, was make a pallet of blankets in the living room floor, popped some pop corn and had a movie night. Now, of course, we do it for the kids, and they love the time spent with us.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: One thing that has been on my heart lately is mental health and anxiety. I believe going to a counselor should be as normal as going to the doctor when your sick. Especially in the Christian community. Everyone could benefit from going to a counselor. Every church should have a counselor on staff. Mindsets, habits and hurts from our past all team up to keep us from living the best life possible. Getting an outside source is sometimes the best thing you can do to move forward and identify the things we need to work on.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity should be more then a belief in Christ. It is lifestyle of devotion and worship. A Christian should be seeking more then a pass into heaven but to please God in everything that we do. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23) Heartily here means with our souls. With all our affections, desires and emotions. As Christians, we should be living with passion! All for the Glory of God!
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Until next time, keep witnessing!