I was raised in a Christian home, received Christ at a young age, and was baptized around age eleven. Unfortunately, however, my view of Christianity in my early years was skewed—I thought God wanted me to keep a list of rules (wrong!) rather than pursue relationship with a Savior whose grace and beauty move us to live a holy and pure life for Him simply because we love Him. But, with a wrong view of God and His expectations for us (and yes, also as a stubborn girl and natural rebel), I always had my eye on “the list”—the things we weren’t supposed to do . . . and of course I wanted to do them!
I once heard a message by Chuck Swindoll in which he said that if you don’t break your daughters at a young age, God will have to break them when they are older. Well, that was me! After high school, I attended a Christian university for a couple of years, but then dropped out and began some wild living in my early 20's when I Iived down south. At that time, I began living a worldly life, living for self, pursing the things that would make ME happy . . . but even then God was calling me back.
A friend was attending L’Abri Fellowship in Massachusetts, and she invited me to visit. If you’re not familiar with L’Abri, it’s helpful to know that it’s a Christian retreat center at which students can stay on the property to study and work for up to two months. It is a wonderful, lovely, friendly, and peaceful place led and run by believers who also love art, music, literature, philosophy, nature, good food, conversation, and people. All are welcome at L’Abri—believers, seekers, even scoffers, I’m sure!—and my time there was so refreshing and encouraging. Here I began to see Jesus in a new light—Here I began to see and taste His grace. At L’Abri I had definitely felt the love of Christ in a new way, and God used this time to begin to soften my heart and draw me back to Him.
Fast forward to the mid-90’s, when I came back home to Wisconsin from Massachusetts and returned to university (U.Wisconsin – Stevens Point) to finish my degree in English Lit. Around that time, I also got married, but had chosen unwisely, marrying a man who was not a believer in Christ. After several years of difficulty, the marriage dissolved; at the time I was pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing through Minnesota State University-Mankato, and when things fell apart I returned home to Wisconsin Rapids and to my dad’s home.
God proved Himself so gracious in all of this. As my marriage fell apart and I returned to my father’s house at age 31 (I had a litany I would rehearse to myself of things I was without: husband, family, children, career, home, and purpose, I thought), God showed up to me in such clear, insistent, and brilliant ways. He began to teach me from His Word, and through His church, and He began to teach me about Himself—His love, His patience, His gracious nature, His attention to the details of my life—as He provided all that I needed, and more: a great church family, who loved me and reached out to me; great new friends who loved Jesus and showed me His love; wonderful pastors who cared for, taught, and led me; wonderful family (especially my dad—he is the best!), who encouraged me, laughed with me, showed me love, and so much more.
The past eight years have been the best ones of my life. Not always easy ones, but so good in that they have allowed me to learn Christ more fully—to learn His Word, to know Him, to grow strong in Him, to serve Him, and to be able to teach others. Last year I had the privilege of finishing seminary through Central Baptist Theological seminary in Plymouth, MN with a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (counseling emphasis) and of becoming a certified biblical counselor through NANC. I have also had the greater privilege of serving in my church (Calvary Baptist in Wisconsin Rapids) this last year as a biblical counselor, and it has been such a blessing and honor to work with ladies whom I consider my good friends, as we have learned together how to better please and follow God.
I am so blessed that in the midst of all of these things, God has given me a second chance at marriage, and an opportunity to do marriage right as He has prepared me to become Dan Melvin’s wife. ;) I so look forward to serving the Lord with him, and I give God the glory for what He’s done in (and is doing!) in our lives. I am excited for this new chapter with Dan and look forward to what more God is going to do!