Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ministry Update - Winter '16/'17

And just like that, we've been in eastern Kentucky for almost 6 month.  Here's what's kept us busy this winter.

December started with the church's annual Christmas Dinner.  It's a catered affair, quite unusual from the typical Baptist potluck.  The best part of the day was that James went and got Brian to enjoy the meal with us.  Brian is a church member who is in the local nursing home due to Huntington's Disease.  He has a very sweet testimony of coming to faith in Jesus.  Back when he was healthy, he was instrumental in the church's visitation program.  Because everyone knows and loves Brian, if he showed up at your door with the pastor people would let them in.  Today he is not able to do that, but is still such an encouragement. 

December also meant Christmas Play!  This year our children, youth, and a few adults put on The Christmas Guest.  If your like me, you'll know this story from Grandpa Jones on HeeHaw.  It isn't the traditional Christmas play with shepherds and angels, but it is a sweet reminder to always be aware of ways you can serve Jesus by serving those people he places in your path.  See Matthew 25:35-40 for more information.

Hudson recited a 3 stanza poem from memory at the Christmas Play.
I was very proud. :)

One of the blessings of being in Eastern KY is living just 2 hours from Hudson's paternal grandparents. 
They came to the Christmas play.  It has been great to make up for lost time with them.
 Our church assembled and gave away fruit and candy baskets around the Christmas holidays as well.  We put together 14 baskets in total.  James and I had had the honor of delivering 5 of them.  They went to both church members and unchurched neighbors: shut-ins, families grieving, unemployed, etc...  Everyone was so thankful for such a small thing.

The church also participated in a local nursing home's angel program - we purchased presents for 20-something nursing home residents and delivered them to their Christmas party.  Our church goes to the nursing home once a month to provide desserts and to just visit and encourage the people there.

After Christmas, we had the children and youth over for a party.  We had 7 kids in all and it was a wild time for sure.  Lots of running around, playing, eating, etc... 

Love these kids. And the big one, too.

At the end of the year, our sweet church member J married her sweetheart B.  They are a sweet couple who both love the Lord dearly.  We are very excited to see what God has in store for them.

In January, we started a New Believer's Sunday School class.  It was open to anyone really: new believers, old believers needing a refresher, those interested in learning more.  In total there were 5 students plus the 2 teachers.  Everyone I have spoken to was so blessed by this class.  We have had one salvation come from this class, we're just waiting for him to make it public! We plan to do one for children/youth as a one-day Saturday retreat. 

This is the curriculum we used.  It is one of 6 books.  It is excellent!

In January, James began teaching about testimonies on Wednesday night.  Church members have worked diligently and prayerfully preparing their salvation testimony and practicing it.  His goal is to make people more confident in sharing what Christ has done for them.  The eventual goal is a monthly visitation program as a church to go into the community.  That will come later, of course.

The first Saturday in February, we had a Girls' Day Out.  E and myself took 3 girls to Mona's CafĂ© in Pikeville for lunch (it was super yummy) and then had a Bible study on the book of Ruth.  The goal of the study was to explore God's definition of beauty.  It's not what you look like, by the way.  We ate, did a craft, studied Ruth, and laughed a lot!  We hope to make this Girls' Day Out a regular quarterly activity.

That first Saturday was also the Men's Prayer Breakfast.  13 men and Hudson met at church to eat, pray, and encourage one another.  James was kind enough to bring some sausage biscuits home for me and it was delicious!


Mid-February, the ladies at church met for a potluck lunch fellowship and to watch the movie War Room.  If you haven't seen it, it is a must.  Several ladies have mentioned to me personally that our church needs some kind of mentoring among our women.  So please pray for us as we seek the Lord in how to accomplish that.

Throughout January and February, our WMU collected Handbags of Blessings.  These are new or gently-used purses filled with hygiene products.  We are going to deliver them to a local women's shelter the first Friday in March. So far we have collected 15 purses and a bag or two of miscellaneous hygiene products.  You'll hear more in my Spring Update after we visit the ministry.

- We are pretty much settled.  We've been here for almost 6 months.  Major stuff is done: drivers licenses, residency, etc... 99% of the boxes are unpacked and put away (there are a few rogue ones around), and we are fairly known in the community (it always feels like home when you see someone at Walmart whom you know).
- Winter is almost over!  It can be such a dreadful time: cold, little sunshine, general ick.  However, God is still God in winter.
- Our local elementary school has agreed to let me send home flyers about upcoming events at church.  This is huge!  I am so thankful.  Hudson's grandfather played Santa for the preschool's Christmas party and Hudson was a homecoming attendant so I feel like we have made ourselves part of the school family fairly well.  It is a wonderful way for James and I to minister to the community.

- Repairs at the parsonage have made life more enjoyable:  new gutters (yay for not getting rained on at the back door), plumbing issue (yay for new more sewer smell after showering), and a new heating element thing (yay for heat).  So thankful for a church that takes care of its property.
- Benevolence.  Our church does a lot of benevolence.  This past month, we went over our budgeted benevolence by 50%.  It was questioned at business meeting and the explanation of an urgent need arose for a church member and we met it was given.  And you know what?  Everyone was thrilled.  So happy that our church had the means to help those in need. Meeting needs so we can point people to Christ is part of the church's role.

Prayer Requests
- Looking ahead to Spring, we have a lot planned.  Trip to the women's shelter, Spring Executive Board Meeting, Portraits for a new Church Directory, Youth One-day Retreat before Easter, Easter, Church Easter Egg Hunt, and some new Bible Studies.  Whew - busy times ahead!
- Mr. M - through our New Believer's class, he has dedicated his life to Christ and has talked to James about baptism.  Pray for him as he makes that decision public to the church.
- T - T is not a believer and unchurched.  I (Melissa) met her through school as her son is in Hudson's class.  Pray for both of us - me as I share the gospel with her and for her heart to be open.
- Sickness!  So many people are or have been sick.  James, Hudson, and I have all been sickly this winter at various times.  School has taken 3 days off due to sickness and our church attendance has been down due to illness as well.  Come on, spring!  We need to get outdoors and away from these germs!
- James, as always.  Being a pastor is a tough job.  It's more than just preaching (though that is the most important).  He visits people at their homes, in the hospital, etc...  There is a lot of counseling with people on various issues and generally knowing what people are going through and guiding them biblically to handle it wears on you emotionally.  Pray for him (and your pastor) to have endurance to serve the Lord well.  Mondays, in particular, are difficult.

He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'
Job 37:6

Until spring :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ministry Update - Fall 2016

To say a lot has happened since our last ministry update would be an understatement.

First, James accepted a call to pastor Mouthcard Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky. So we loaded up and traded the flat Midwest for the mountains of eastern KY.

Second, my sweet Daddy passed away.  It was sudden and unexpected. 

Third, Hudson started preschool. 

And that doesn't include the day-to-day events of learning a new area and culture, ministering in a new church and community, and every day family stuff.

So here's an update in a nutshell.

Church Life

James has been at MBC now for almost 3 months.  It's been a great three months.  We've been blessed to see three join the church, two by salvation and one by transfer of letter.  We are stoked.  James preaches Sunday AM, Sunday PM, and leads the Wednesday evening service.  I am teaching Sunday School (grades 1-3).    James is out and about in the community daily.  Weekly, he goes out on "official" visits with another church member.  It's been wonderful for him to have a partner in ministry, other than me.  It's much busier here than it was in MO.  Here's some pictures of our ministry-related activities.

We attended Senior Night at the high school's girls' Volleyball team. 

Trunk or Treat! 
We had over 160 families register and come through to get treats.
James has been busy visiting each family.

Homecoming was the first Sunday in November.
Oneida Baptist Institute were our special guests. 
Their choir sang and their president brought a message.

Our sweet friend, Amy, lives and serves the Lord in South America.
She came for our missions night to share about her work in Peru.

I attended the Baptist Women Day of Prayer at one of our sister churches.

 Our kids from church attended the performance of Willy Wonka, Jr!

Operation Christmas Child!
I haven't heard an official count yet, but at least count we had over 50 boxes.

H being baptized.

NAMB Send Relief Christmas Backpacks were delivered to the Freeda Harris Baptist Center.
These backpacks will go to children in need right here in Appalachia.

In addition to this we've attended Executive Board Meetings, had several members of our church over for dinner, made hospital and nursing home visits, visited shut-it and delinquent church members, prayed with strangers, shared the gospel, etc...  It's been a good and busy 3 months.

Home Life

Moving to KY has been a much easier transition for our family than moving to MO was.  James is thriving here.  His hometown is about 90 minutes northeast of where we are so I often joke that these are "his people."  I am learning a new culture - Nashville ain't Appalachia, y'all.  I now know the difference between the mouth of a holler and the head of the holler.  (We live at the mouth in case you were wondering.)  It's been fun (and sometimes exhausting) to learn a new community.

Our new home is mostly unpacked.  It's HUGE!  4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths - way more room than we need.  It's been a lot of fun to decorate and find new homes for things as I try to have an organized home.  Hudson particularly likes our new home because the hardwood floors make a nice foundation for his train tracks!

Hudson started preschool about 3 weeks after we moved.  I know you're probably shocked we didn't homeschool, but it has been a great decision for our family.  Hudson LOVES school.  He has the opportunity to get out of the house, learn to obey non-parental adults, and make friends.  He is learning quite a bit and overall we're satisfied.  It has also been a wonderful ministry opportunity.  We have met families we otherwise probably wouldn't know.  The admin has been very welcoming to our coming in as the church to do things for the students.

My sweet Daddy

My daddy passed September 20th, just over 2 months ago.  It was a whirlwind.  He went for back surgery which was supposed to be very simple.  In the pre-surgery tests, it was discovered that he had some spots.  Those spots turned out to be kidney cancer that had spread to many places.  He had his surgery on Friday and passed away on Tuesday.  It has been very hard for me, my sister, and our stepmom. 

So that's what life has been like the past 3 months.

Please join us in prayer:

  • Safe move to Kentucky.
  • New ministry in Mouthcard.
  • Hudson's smooth transition to a new home, new church, and new school.
  • G and H's decision to commit their life to Christ and L's decision to join our church.
  • My sister, my stepmom, and myself as we continue to grieve my daddy.  Grief is weird, it comes and go like an unwanted guest.
  • G, H, and L - our new church members.  We are planning a new members class to begin after the holidays to help encourage them in their journey of faith.
  • The D family, James has been ministering to the husband/father. He is not a believer.
  • Christmas Events:  Our church has a dinner and Christmas play planned.  Plus we will be passing out fruit baskets to needy families.  It's a great time to share the gospel as people's hearts are typically more tender during the holidays.
  • Our transition to Mouthcard - the Lord has been so faithful so far and we ask him to continue to do so.
No matter what happens always be thankful,
for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Hudson turned four about 6 weeks ago.  It's crazy to think that he has now been with us as a married couple,  longer than we've been without him.  He's growing every day, learning something new.  He's such a fun kid: friendly, witty, affectionate, spirited, and smart.  Obviously, we're still in love with our little boy!  

I finally got around to taking some pictures of our big four year old!  He's still tall and skinny at 41 inches but only 31 pounds.  If Lord blesses our plans, he'll go to preschool in the fall.  I'm already slightly nervous just thinking about it, but I know he'll do great.

Sun flare and corn!

This is his "senior picture" photo!

I like this picture because it highlights the expanse land that is the midwest.

I took this one when he wasn't looking and cheesing. 

I think this one might be my favorite.

Such a happy boy!

Hudson, your Daddy and I pray for you every day.  We pray that you will follow Jesus as a little boy, not wasting any years.  We ask God to change your determined personality to a spirit that seeks to be stubbornly obedient to Jesus, not seek your own  pleasure.  We thank him for you and all the joy you bring to everyone who meets you.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ministry Update - Spring 2016

March began with Youth Sunday - the day where our children (preschool and up) lead the services.

Our middle school and high school students taught all of our Sunday School classes.  They are always so nervous, but generally do an awesome job.  K took over the sound board, H was our worship leader, our elementary students took up offering, and our preschool students led in the offertory song.

Sadly I have zero pictures :(  Hudson had had a cold for several days leading up to Youth Sunday.  He woke up that morning at 2am (!) with a fever which meant he and I stayed home.  Serious bummer!  We had practiced the Saturday before so I was confident in their abilities to serve well, even with me not there.  The preschoolers even just asked this past Sunday if they could sing again in church soon.  Yay for hearts for service!

Easter came early this year.

Good Friday, the kids were out of school so we took them all (preschool and up) to Bonkers.  Imagine a McDonalds playplace on steroids that is Bonkers.  They played and played and played.  A good time was had by all.

The Saturday before Easter, I took the kiddos to a sister church's Easter Egg Hunt.  Each year, I want to do an egg hunt for our community.  However, it never works out so I'm learning to take that as God's sign to just take them to enjoy another church's festivities.

Our church got a new deacon in March.  Bro. D who joined our church with his sweet wife a few months before had his deacon ordination recognized.  Now Bro. J is not alone in the service of deacon.  This is good news!

March ended with us celebrating being in Missouri for 3 years.  How fun!

April went by like a flash and I honestly don't remember much of what we did in April - lol!  One thing we did do is participate in a new ministry through our association: Project Dignity.  Basically, it's a sewing ministry where we get together and make reusable/washable cloth sanitary pads for ladies overseas.  So far we've sent 150 to the Dominican Republic with some nursing students from Hannibal-LaGrange University and are now working on creating 450 to send to Panama with a former member of Providence (now in Illinois) who is going on a medical mission trip with her new church.  It's hard work, but so worth it.  Each bag has three pads, two Ziploc bags, two pair of new underwear, and a gospel presentation included.  An easy way to show that Jesus cares, even about the little (not-so-little) things ladies go through each month.

May began with preparations for Baby Dedication.  We have two babies at church, who are a month apart in age.  We had them and their families over for dinner one evening to go over Baby Dedcation stuff: what it is, what it isn't, the biblical mandate, etc...  It was a great time having all those kiddos running around.

Mother's Day came and we recognized our ladies and had baby dedication.  It was a nice service focusing on families and how God uses them in his kingdom.

James is finishing up preaching through Mark on Sunday mornings.

He just finished up Nehemiah on Sunday evenings and has started 1 Peter.  On Wednesday nights, he leads a devotion from 1 John after prayer meeting.

Five months in and children's church is going strong.  We started in January to help the little ones not have to be so still and quiet.  I put my seminary degree to use putting the curriculum together.  Each week, we watch a video story from the Jesus Storybook Bible, then do a craft, game, and sing a song based on that story.  Four ladies, our teens, and myself rotate through the weeks.  It's the most exhausting 30 minutes you'll have all week!  But it is fun to see these little ones grow in their knowledge of scripture.

Eating snacks while watching, Daniel and the Scary Sleepover.
That's Daniel and the Lion's Den for all unfamiliar with the Jesus Storybook Bible.

Lion puppets... 

Playing "What Time is Mr. Lion?" from last year's LifeWay VBS.
It's a great game! 

All in all it has been a good, albeit fast, Spring!  I love spring - the flowers, the warmer temperatures, the hustle and bustle of planting season.

Please continue to pray for our church and community:

- New Deacon, Bro. D.  He is proving to be an excellent source of encouragement for James.  They go to nursing home visitation together which has been nice as it relieves me from going!

- Baby Dedication!  I love our sweet babies, I & A.  Pray for their parents as they parent them, pray for their continued growth physically and spiritually, and pray for our church to support them by pointing them to our dear Jesus.

- Summer is coming!

- We have a new family in our community.  Technically they aren't new as they are the child and grandchildren of a current resident, but in a farming community with a declining population - any new transfer in is exciting news.  Pray for us as we reach out to them.

- Summer activities:
     - First up is Camp (June 6-10) for children grades 3+.  We are taking 8, 4 of whom are
       unchurched.  I will be teaching missions again and adding Bible Storying.
     - VBS is June 20-22.  We're doing a camping theme with Bible Stories from the book of Joshua.  I
        wrote our VBS again this year and always have such fun doing that.  Pray for our workers and
        students who will attend.
     - Mission Trip is July 10-15 in Tennessee! My heart couldn't be happier about that!
     - Pray for James and the deacons, J & D, as they seek to divide our church family amongst each            other as to better keep in contact and serve well.  While this is in the church's bylaws it has not            been done so it's a new ministry.

- Discipleship.  James meets with two guys throughout the week for one-on-one discipleship.  They     try to meet weekly as their schedules allow.  This is such an awesome ministry!

Thank you so much for your prayers.  God has been faithful to us these past 3 years and we know he will continue to be!