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Melissa R.

Today, Melissa speaks to us about keeping eternal focus, the restoration of her marriage and being intentional with time.

Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: There are truly so many – but I always think of one verse when I’m asked this question: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6 When I first came to Christ as an adult, this was the first verse I learned, and I clung to it. I knew my life needed to change. Although I didn’t understand how it would change, I just knew I had to TRUST Him and that He would lead me. I believed this truth wholeheartedly and I still do!

Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I have really been focused on working on my reaction to my kids and spouse. It can be too easy to lose eternal focus as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. So, I have to be intentional and purposeful about my family’s emotional needs. Are my reactions patient, kind and loving, rather than being quick to anger? Am I allowing monotony to steal my joy? And finally, are each one of my boys (including my husband) getting what they need from me emotionally and spiritually?

Profession: I left my career outside of the home seven years ago to be a full-time stay-at-home mom and homemaker. I also took up blogging less than a year ago. Cool story: I’ve had dreams of starting a blog before blogging was “cool” *laughs* But, much like my life at the time, I had no clear direction. When I was pregnant with my second son about four years ago, God clearly spoke to me through the Holy Spirit with plans for starting “My hills and valleys” blog! Once I aligned my life with His will, He gave me the desires of my heart! I just think that’s so special. My Father, acknowledging my interests and leading me in a way that honors Him.

“Once I aligned my life with His will, He gave me the desires of my heart! I just think that’s so special.”

If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? A redemption story. God took (is still taking) all the broken pieces of my life and mending them back together. I like to use the analogy that once I surrendered my life to God, much like a puzzle. He took the scattered pieces of my life and began to form them into the image He intended.

When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? In hindsight, I see God’s calling on my life at an early age. I see people that He so intricately spun into my story. But I honestly overlooked these moments because I didn’t know any better. I was young, and I didn’t have anyone speaking faith into my life, although I had a brief stint at a Christian middle school. I remember learning about Jesus 2nd coming, and I was fearful but intrigued. Shortly thereafter, I chose to be baptized and gave my life to Christ. However, I had no idea how to have a relationship with Him nor live a life by the Holy Spirit.

How would you describe Jesus? A loving safe haven – a type of love that we can’t fathom. He is gentle but truth. He is kind, merciful and a mighty fortress. He is forgiving and sees us unlike anyone else sees us. He is my only hope in a fallen world. My light at the end of the tunnel. My Savior.

“He is gentle but truth.”

How has your relationship with Him changed you? Wow, it has changed me completely. I’ve learned to see myself as He sees me. He has given me my self-worth, which in turn has allowed me to respect myself. I carry myself in a way that brings honor to who He is in me. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I live no longer for my flesh, but I aim to live according to His purpose for me.

What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? I left my husband after seven years of marriage and filed for divorce after a period of addiction, infidelity and a lot of regrets. A dear friend of mine suggested I go to church. I reluctantly went and felt the Holy Spirit move in me to go back home to my husband. I KNEW this was God because it wasn’t what I wanted. Sure enough, due to that obedience on my part, God restored my marriage and my life!

What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Stepping out in faith. Suppressing my fears and choosing faith over fear. That act has allowed a season of spiritual growth! I was “stuck” in so many ways because I was afraid of practically everything. Fear and anxiety has crippled my life for as long as I can remember. When the pandemic hit the states, I was sickened with fear, and I knew now was the time to SUBMIT to God NOT my fears. I had so many specific scenarios in which I CHOSE faith over fear and stepping outside of that comfort zone has changed everything. Yes, a state of fear was a comfort for me. Although I wasn’t in control; I tried to be in control. Giving God control took me outside that fear zone into the faith zone.

“Giving God control took me outside that fear zone into the faith zone.”

Top three essentials: The Word of God is the bread of life. His Word sustains me, so I need this essentially to live. Also, water and food. I always say that I should have went to culinary school when I had the opportunity. I love food!

How did God speak to you recently? God recently let me know through the Holy Spirit that I needed to be more disciplined with my time. Our time is a valuable commodity, and I need to be more mindful of how I’m using my time for His glory. He does not will for me to be overly busy and stressed, rather peaceful and joyful. For me, that means not overloading my schedule with things that choke out priorities.

“Our time is a valuable commodity, and I need to be more mindful of how I’m using my time for His glory.”

Hobby: Gardening and photographing nature, which is honestly something I never thought I’d say; but here I am and loving it!

Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Staying spiritually strong is a discipline. At least in my own experience. First and foremost, being connected to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our helper, to lead us toward Christ and away from worldly desires. Read and meditating on scripture is equally as important because how can we live God’s Word if we don’t know God’s Word. We are called to be DOERS of the Word, not only hearers. And we certainly need the help of the Holy Spirit in that department. Finally, prayer. This is how we commune with God. We simply can’t have a relationship with someone we never talk to. Communion with God is how we get to know Him versus knowing of Him.

Favorite person in scripture? My favorite person in scripture is Paul. He was completely transformed from a martyr to a man sold out for Christ. He identified his attachment to the flesh along the way but still remained focused on the prize: eternal life. Although I never persecuted believers, I can heavily relate to the transformation process that occurs when you leave your old life behind and choose to walk a life of faith.

What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Since the day I saw it for myself, I have desired for others to look at me and see Christ in me. His genuine love, grace, kindness and His love for the Father. I want them to learn that with God, joy and peace can remain present in the midst of a perverse nation. I pray that I would be so filled with His light that when others look me in the eye, they see and feel God’s love.

Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday has always been the 4th of July. I think, when I was a kid, there was something so magical about summer beginning, having a BBQ, going out on the boat or swimming in a pool day then watching the sky light up. For this reason, the holiday still brings a level of nostalgia that I just adore.

A goal you have? My only goals at this juncture in my life is to continuously grow in my faith and be a living example to my kids and others. I had kids at a later age than most of my friends so I’m in the thick of it with kids. My goal is to raise them in the way they should go and it’s a big duty. I also want to nurture my marriage. We’ll see if God puts any new goals into my life, I don’t know what the future holds!

Thing you want to raise awareness about: The book of James tells us that a dead faith is worse than no faith at all. Faith must work. Faith is an action. The basis of my blog is to encourage others to grow in their faith. To exercise their faith so that spiritual growth is evident in their lives. Spiritual growth is a lifelong process that sanctifies us into the image of Jesus. We only attain spiritual growth through putting our faith into action. Living in His Spirit and suppressing our flesh. Harnessing our fears and stepping out into a dark world as the light we are called to be. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in those of us who believe. How remarkable would it be if we would embrace and live in that power!

“We only attain spiritual growth through putting our faith into action.”

What does your morning routine consist of? If I don’t exercise in the morning, chances are, it won’t get done. So, my morning routine consists of drinking my coffee, opening the Word of God and exercising my faith. Attending to some light chores then getting my physical exercise done as well. We don’t get healthy without exercising our body and we don’t become spiritually mature without exercising our faith.

What is on your nightstand? On my nightstand you will always find a hair tie, phone charger, tissues and water.

Define Christianity in a sentence: A body of imperfect people who seek to live like Jesus.

For more Melissa:

http://www.myhillsandvalleys.com
Instagram.com/myhillsandvalleys
Pinterest.com/myhillsandvalleys

Until next time, keep witnessing!

XX

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