Hope for the Hard

Through the last number of years I have been learning  the art of pressing on through adversity. I really shouldn’t call it “art” because so often it has been a teeth grinding, hand over hand, pressing onward that has looked far from inspiring. Most times it has been simply putting one foot in front of the other and walking forward when everything within me wanted to quit.

Nearly 2 years ago I was told I was dying. That is a story for a whole different post…or book. Needless to say it was shocking. I knew I was sick, even really sick, but I did not feel like I was dying. The truth is life in my world physically had been hard for a number of years. Unexplained illnesses and surgeries and pain have always been my world. Never easy but in a weird way, normal. In the pushing and the walking and even the crawling I’ve come to learn a few things about journeying through the difficult.

I think many of us have believed the lie that tells us the hard stuff is all about getting through it. We long and even ache for the other side where life isn’t so tough, where the journey doesn’t hurt quite so much. The reality is life was never meant to be easy. Living in a fallen sinful world means that the majority of the time life will be hard. And there is beauty in that. 1 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

What we do with the hard is entirely up to us. I could ask the cliché question, “will you allow it to make you or break you?”. What will you do with the hard? It’s easy to stop, turn, even give up. As Christians we’re especially good at doing those things while wrapping our excuses in good “Christian language”. “We feel called a different way”. “I’m just needing a break right now”. “The Lord is calling me elsewhere”. We wrap it neatly in a bow and feel good. And yet I wonder, I wonder if we don’t most often take the easy way out?

What if we began to walk through the hard. What if we grabbed on and didn’t let go. What if we didn’t stop when it got hard? What if we began to journey for the journey, not just with the outcome in sight? What if?


What if we looked different than this world and walked forward with grace and authenticity? Admitting it’s not easy and still going forwards speaks loudly in our world. What if?

What if we looked different than the typical Christian and loved out loud in the midst of the hard. What if we, instead of shaking our fist at God and drawing inward, turned and gave him praise because he is good? What if?

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk  through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Your journey may not mirror my own but that doesn’t make it any more or less hard. You may need to walk through heart ache, job struggles, personal hidden issues, ministry, marriage, etc. Your journey is valid and you never walk through it alone. As you push forward, on the days when you want to give up may you hear the whisper of the One who created you saying, “I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.” Isaiah 41:9. Keep going.

Missing Reviews

Since the publishing of Missing I have been blown away by the response it has received. Publishing is such a vulnerable thing. The “baby” you’ve been slaving away on for over a year is finally out and strangers can read it (gasp!) and pass judgement. Who would have known it would feel so insecure. I also love it. From the e-mails I’ve received, to the people I met at CPC, to the pictures of the book on Instagram, I am blessed. Below are a few reviews off Amazon. If you’ve read it, I’d love for you to add your own voice to the reviews. Haven’t bought it yet? Get on over here and buy it!



“Fantastic book, equal parts candid, sobering, anecdotal, factual, and funny. The challenges we are facing with Millennials and their faith is not something that developed quickly nor will it be something that is adequately corrected quickly. The roots of that sobering reality stem back to the formational years of faith and Melissa provides key stats, stories, and big picture solutions to seeing that tide change. Particularly appreciated the call to facilitate kids learning to hear the voice of God, makes me think of Samuel as a young kid. If you have kids, work with kids, or find yourself in a local church, read this book! It will encourage you, challenge you and give you practical ways to see lifelong faith developed in the tender hearts of kids when they are most open to the gospel.”


“Finished the book in one sitting and closed it feeling convicted and wanting to act. I am a youth ministry major, and I see myself using this book not only at camp, where I also work, but also in whatever I end up doing. There is nothing more important than the next generation, including youth and children. Don’t underestimate your kids, they go through more and know more than you expect. I say everyone should read this; it will open your eyes to our problems and start you down the road to a solution (aka: Jesus). It’s not long, so just pick it up and read it, it’s worth your time.”


“As a pastor in a local church, I would highly recommend this book to everyone involved in any type of ministry. To be honest, it took me by surprise. Some of Melissa’s ideas were to say the least…eye-opening! It has caused me to rethink the way that we do church. Children are not the church of the future. They are the church of today! let’s allow them to be a part of it.”


“I first met Mel when she interned at our church about 10 years ago. She stayed with my wife and I for a period during her internship and she now stays with us a few days every year while she’s in Florida. I’ve known from the beginning that Mel was gifted from The Gift Giver and her first book MISSING is profound evidence of that giftedness. Therefore…I encourage…although I’d really like to command…”every” Jesus follower to read over and over again this gift (delivered through Mel), from The Gift Giver…for it has many treasures His people have been searching for and are in desperate need of! After all…it’s a gift…receive it!!!”
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The Author


I’ve got an itch to write. The writing things is always in me but usually I operate at such a fast pace it’s hard to make time for it. Now I’m sitting in the most comfy chair in my house nursing a cold and snug as a bug under the heated throw blanket my sister got me for Christmas and I want to write. What exactly, I’m not quite sure. I have about 50 blog posts in my head and on notes scattered in notebooks, my carryon bag, my phone, and my purse and yet none of those are hitting me just right today.

Like something out of a Christmas movie my book miraculously arrived on my doorstep Christmas eve. Everything was so uncertain I hadn’t told a soul that it might arrive in time for Christmas. I had been secretly checking the UPS tracking numbers every 5 minutes for two days straight. I had grand plans of giving wrapped packages on Christmas morning to each in my family but by the time I actually held my book in my shaking hands I knew I couldn’t wait. I rushed to my parent’s house after hastily throwing books into random gift bags with no tissues. I made up some random excuse about an “early Christmas present” for everyone and had them open them all at once. My brother-in-law and best friend cried, my grandparents demanded autographs, my parent’s and sister started reading immediately, and I stood there beaming with joy that I could share it all with them. The joy was in the sharing, not the accomplishment.

During one of our holiday meals our family sat together eating and laughing and talking and then we started sharing the highlights of our year. On the heels of my book being published it seemed like I would have an easy “highlight” to share. As I listened and reflected my book was the furthest thing from my mind. As my family shared about how God had used them through the year and the lessons they had learned my heart resonated with them. And when it was my turn I pointed back to my summer loving on kids. It’s funny how some of the worst meals of my year, the absolute worst beds of my year, and the never ending bugs were overshadowed by the beauty of loving kids and pointing them to Jesus. As I’ve reflected I’ve realized a book written, a blog published, a message spoken, a video recorded mean very little in light of lives touched. What stood out the most in my year were the tears cried with a child, the stories heard while rocking on a porch, the prayers whispered over bent heads, the joy seen in a soul who finally found Jesus. The names, the faces, the stories, and the God who orchestrates it all.

Maybe this turned into a bit of a New Year post. And maybe I just needed to write to process. My prayer for 2015 is for less of me and more of Him. For more wild moments that draw me closer to him, more stories heard, more grace given, more of Him in my ear and less of my own voice. At the end of 2015 may I be more in love with the Author of my story than I am with my story.

The Gift of Words

Perhaps the greatest gift one can receive is seeing God at work in the life of someone you have prayed for a journeyed with. Is there anything better? Yes I’m still hoping for some new slippers and a glue gun and I think I’ll forever be holding out for the new car I’ve asked for every year, but in all honesty I’d rather see God at work in the life of a kid.

I met Camille over the summer. She showed up at 2 of my summer camps. We hit it off and we’ve e-mailed back and forth for the last 6 months. She signs her emails “Camille the Awesome”, sends me photos of her new haircut, and generally keeps me posted on life. When her greatest fear was dying we emailed back and forth about that. I suggested a book and her mom bought it for her. She just sent me a poem she wrote that was inspired by the book she read and our chats about heaven. I’m blessed and I think you will be too.


by Camille K. Age 12

A place where there is no sin,
A place where we can begin again.

A place of joy and laughter,
Where we can live happily ever after.

A New Jerusalem fully intact,
Where we will spend our new life, in fact.

An everlasting love straight from God,
Love more beautiful than a goldenrod.

All we have to do is believe,
And there will be a path for you and me.

Heaven is a real place I swear,
And God himself will welcome you there.

Family, friends, and animals will be there too,
Making their second debut.

In Heaven we will be one big family,
So we will do things very thankfully.

God will love us and we will love him,
In that amazing place called Heaven.

May your heart be encouraged, may your vision be strong, may your spirit be encouraged, and may you sense his love abounding over you this Christmas. Merry Christmas!

10 Scripture Passages for Children’s Ministry

I was recently asked to guest speak about kid’s ministry in a college hermeneutics class. After I stopped laughing (and googling how to spell hermeneutics) I faced the challenge head on. I believe proper scripture interpretation matters the most at a child’s level. Remember, they’re deep in the formation of their mind, their spiritual identity, and their beliefs. We, as people who love and lead kids, must be doing it responsibly. With that in mind, here are 10 scripture passages that I use to form my philosophy of ministry to kids.


1. Matthew 18:5-6 And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Teaching kids is a huge responsibility. We must take it seriously and do it well. Prepare well, speak truth, and remember they are God’s kids first.

2. 2 Corinthians 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. I have a great treasure and I am fragile. My weaknesses and imperfections are not an excuse for not allowing God to use me to share the treasure. My power comes through Him and that’s the way it should be.

3. 2 Corinthians 4:13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” I’m not called to have it all figured out, I’m simply called to be obedient. When the days get hard and long and I lose focus I still believe in God so therefore, I speak.

4. Deuteronomy 6:4 Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. The passing on of faith is not just the parent’s responsibility, it is the Church’s responsibility. It says, “listen, O Israel”, not “listen, O parents”. Parents are the #1 spiritual influencers in their kids’ lives but we as the Church are called to pass on faith to the next generation.

5. Matthew 19: 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Kids have access to Jesus. Jesus intentionally loved on and blessed kids. He didn’t take time out of his work to love kids, it was his work.

6. Psalm 78:5-7 For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. 
We are called to, and absolutely must, tell the stories of faith to this generation. Kids today can argue against the Bible and against religion but they can not argue with my own personal stories of faith. Tell stories.

7. 1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Kids are not too young to set an example. Kids must not be underestimated. Set the bar high for them.

8. Luke 2:49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Kids desire to learn from God and about God. they’re hungry for Him.

9. 1 Samuel 3:10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.” Kids can hear God’s voice. They are able to hear from God and do what he says.

10. Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”  Kids do not receive a mini Holy Spirit. They receive the same Holy Spirit we do. That should change our perception and change how we do ministry to them.

 There are many other verse I could add. What would you add? I’d love to hear from you.