My Boxing Gloves and My New Fight…

I decided it was high time to clean out my closet.  Imagine: shoes everywhere, hats, purses, and clothes that I haven’t worn in 12 years—count them,12. Some things I choose to hang on to for sentimental reasons. I get that from my dad, Rick (who even cried when it was time to sell and buy a new mattress).  As I was going through the many layers of things and deciphering what needs to stay, what needs to go, what can be sold and what should be given away, I came across my boxing gloves.

A little over 8 years ago, before I had my son Hutch, I was in the best shape of my life. I took boxing and I loved it. I loved the excitement in the ring. I loved hitting the pads. I loved learning how to react quickly and effectively to take someone out.  I loved the fight.  As I stared at these gloves that I’ve only used a few times since then (I can no longer do any high impact exercise because of a back injury), I realized I still have all too much been drawn to the fight in my life.

Only now I have loved the fight in the arena of the everyday, in-person, or online. Social media has been a training ground and ring for quick, reactive come backs to get the most bang for my 140 characters. I see it happen every day and I am just as guilty as the next friend. As I stared at the boxing gloves and knew it was time to let them go, I knew fighting was something I need to outgrow as well.

I don’t want to fight anymore. It’s not accomplishing anything. Sure it feels good in the moment to fight back, to react, to one up each other with a scripture or doctrine here and throw a critique there. But this isn’t who I am or what I am called to be.  This hopeful, peacemaking nature that I am created in is beginning to finally mature and bring itself out.  My life can be a better defense than my words.


…Read the rest here


Timothy’s Gift – an update and appeal…

Timothy’s Gift – an update and appeal…

In less than 2 weeks I will be standing in front of some 300 men with no extra agenda on our end except to entertain them with some of the best singers and players around, to lift their spirits, and to remind them of their worth as a child of God.

Timothy’s Gift HOPE TOUR will be on it’s 7th concert tour down to institutions in Florida. With this tour from June 16-20th, we will complete 68 programs with touching well over 15000 inmates and staff in less than 2 years.
That means over 15000 have been reminded of their worth and their hope.
Hope, we have seen, is infectious.  After we leave each institution, hope has continued to spread.  The legacy of Timothy’s Gift is one that what we start in a 2 hour program will be carried out long after we leave those grounds.  The encouragement from inmate to staff and vice versa, the hope and realization of possible change, the light of worth and this outlook on themselves and others, once ignited, spreads.  We recognize our place in this process and we recognize the need for your place.  Your partnership with us helps to sustain the level of excellence that we have been able to achieve in our prison outreach. This heart of our mission and level of excellence that we bring continues to give us favor with the Department of Corrections in both Florida and Tennessee.   We’ve heard from staff  “In the 28 years I’ve worked in the Dept. of Corrections, I’ve never seen anything in the likes of the talent and hearts of TG.” “You all have encouraged us as much as you’ve encouraged the inmates!”  We’ve heard countless times of inmates, “This is the first time in over 20 years that I’ve felt hope.”  “You’ve reminded us that we are not forgotten.”  “I’ve never heard music like this!”  “I’ve haven’t smiled like this in a long time.”  “Today made me feel like I will actually make it in here.”

This June HOPE tour, Ron Miller and I are taking in another incredible cast of singers, musicians and volunteers including Melinda Doolittle (American Idol -3rd place finalist from Season 6) and Michael Passons (founder of the American Music Award winning Christian group, Avalon).  These wonderful people choose to jump on a bus for long travel days, stay in moderate accommodations and make next to nothing.  They choose to be a part not because of the benefits for them.  They choose to be a part because they believe not only in the mission of Timothy’s Gift but also because they have seen the results of our previous work.  We are able to be the hands, feet, the face, the voice, and the smile of God.  We are able to show these men and women the love of Jesus first hand.
For this 5 day trip, we will be going into 10 institutions (8 of which have never experienced the Hope Tour).  We will arrive at some prisons before the sun even rises and then drive on that afternoon to encourage more at another institution before the sun sets.
For this June HOPE tour we are needing another $2318.00 to cover the rest of our expenses.  I’m asking if you would consider extending your financial support.
Timothy’s Gift has been the most life-giving ministry that I’ve even been a part of.  I wish I could take you all with me. If only you could experience what I have experienced.  If only you could just look into the eyes of the least of these and then realize that this is exactly what LOVE does.  Love extends.  Love reaches out. Love goes into the darkest of places to reveal as much light as possible.  That’s our call and I’m asking if you would join us. 
Thank you for your thoughts and support.
P.O. Box 111642
Nashville, TN 37222
filled with hope, Melissa

a few of my favorites from 2013…

2013 was an amazing year and I came across some amazing art.  I wanted to pass along some of my favorite pieces from the year.

In no particular order…

Civil Wars – The Civil Wars 

This whole album was brilliant for me (and Ben).  We actually bought the CD and listened to it in it’s entirety, over and over on our drive from Nashville to Hot Springs, NC for the Wild Goose Festival in June.  Only note is that I prefer the original recording of Civil War’s “From This Valley” from MercyLand:Hymns for the Rest of us.  The new version is a tad over produced for my liking.



What a movie!  For me this is Disney at it’s absolute best.  Wonderful story with suspense, surprise, great and unique characters AND it’s like a broadway musical in animation.  Both Hutch and Haven loved it as well. This will be a cherished favorite for years.


Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – The Heist

I have grown to love and appreciate the art of rap (probably because Ben is such a fan and can do a mean karaoke version of most 90’s rap songs – but I digress ). This album was full of insight, empathy, lyrical challenge to the listener and great dance tracks.  I just loved it and listened to it a lot.  My kids love a lot of it too so we were even more thankful when Kidzbop came out with a couple kids version of Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold us.  But the kids still prefer the original.  can’t blame them…


The Underground Church – Reclaiming the Subversive Ways of Jesus by Robin Meyers

This year I was a horrible reader.  I had no follow through.  I finished all of 4 books which is very unlike me.  I started a hundred and just never finished due to my lack of prioritizing my life. Ugh.  I will do better in 2014 because reading is so fulfilling and life giving to me. Robin Meyers has been one of my favorite authors and every time I made time to read this book I was madly underlining things.  So when I finally finished this book on New years Day I was so elated.  It is full of all that I hope to be as a follower of Christ and all I hope our church to be as well.  I can’t recommend it enough to EVERYONE.  It’s needed for challenge or reassurance or probably both.  I will read it again in 2014 and quickly this time.


Justin Timberlake – 20/20 experience album and concert

Oh Justin.  Chalk it up to my love and respect of great performers, great pop music, skilled dancers, flawless vocals, excellent musicians, and all around love of enjoying watching others enjoy themselves and that equals my affinity towards JT.  He is all of those things.  This album is great. The concert was equally as good.  (My birthday/anniversary present from Ben was very, very close tickets in Nashville – points for BEN!) enough.  enough.


Lee Daniel’s The Butler

This film was everything I needed it to be.  I have a heart for the underdog, the outcast, the less than…so in this film, which tells the story of one man’s long journey of justice slowly but surely being fulfilled, I was brought into the story with him, wanted justice even more after watching, and enjoyed celebrating what has come to fruition in our nation.  Say what you will about it, but I was more than pleased.


Hunger Games: Catching Fire

These books (which I read in the beginning of 2012) were some of my favorite fiction in years.  I was excited about the first movie and after watching was left disappointed but my love of Catniss wouldn’t change.  But this new movie was epic.  Catching Fire can stand on it’s own as a great movie, without need of loving the book and tolerating the movies.  Great suspense and drama and special effects.  It’s a must see for me.


The Croods

I LOVE this movie.  I think it’s brilliant and hilarious.  I usually am not a fan of kids movies and I see more kids movies than anything these days.  This movie was just great.  I think the storyline was interesting and the emphasis on moving forward as life throws new experiences and dangers at you and being open to change and anything new, will get me every time.  Yes. Yes. Yes.




Wake me Up –  Avicii  – trust everyone’s experience no matter their age.  Feel all of life now.   “I didn’t know I was lost”.

Oceans (Where feet may fail)  – I really am not a fan of most Christian music.  I know. I know.  I think that is because it’s all I mostly listen to in researching music for the church/my job.   I have to search and search for songs that are both wonderful lyrically, musically interesting, and corporate.  sigh.  I wish I was a better song writer.  ha.  All that to say this song took a while to grow on me but I have to tell you now I LOVE IT.  I need it.  Our church loves it as well.  Get on the band wagon.  trust me. :)

Say Something – A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera – oh.  Pure vocals from both artists.  Clear, crisp.  the lyrics just pull you in and make you long as well.  It’s a little transcendent for me.  I have felt this towards both other humans and towards God.  I can’t wait to have the opportunity to use the song.

Stay – Mikky Ekko, RihannaI appreciate angst, pure longing and passion.  I think this record has all three. When they performed it live at the Grammy’s I finally loved Rihanna as a live performer, and it was mesmerizing.    The best songs are just that.  Simple.  Honest.  Captivating.

All of Me – John Legend  I have always loved John Legend. I have followed his beautiful, quirky and funny wife on instagram and their love story.  This is the song he wrote for her for their wedding.  Love it.



Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity by David M. Felten and Jeff Proctor-Murphy 

The easiest way to explain my love of this book is that it gives a wonderful, concise overview of where I am now in my spiritual journey.  It’s easy to read, descriptive, explanatory, moving and challenging.  Even though I whole heartedly know that labels run out, I think this gives insight into the heart of the progressive faith.

So cheers to more reading, listening, more art… more beauty in 2014!!


Best – Melissa

Spring – 2013

Spring – 2013



Unknown-3Unknown-4Unknown-10Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist

Cindy Morgan – Hymns and Spirituals

 Andrew Greer – Angel Band:the Hymn Sessions

 Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

Johnny Swim – any of it.  


Unknown-6Unknown-5   A year with Thomas Merton

To Bless the Space Between Us  – John O’Donohue


Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime – Phyllis Tickle

  A Better Atonement – Tony Jones




 Rob Bell – he spoke at Vanderbilt and it was pretty intriguing. 

 More and more artwork by my little artist, Hutch.  

 Change in my body because I’m being intentional about working out   again. :)



Guilty Pleasure


   The Rachel Zoe Project

(can’t help it)

Fall 2012


The Brilliance
Advent, Vol.1

Hymns for the Rest of Us


The Lumineers
The Lumineers



Divine Hours for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

For All God’s Worth by N.T. Wright


Too much negativity and division on social media. It saddens my heart. let’s live united #shalom

The Voice I love Amanda Brown. @Amanda__Brown  #Girlswhorock :)

Hutch and Haven at Gymnastics – they both love it and they are actually good!

Grey’s AnatomyIt’s back! the drama, the love, the emotion. Oh Shonda Rhimes @shondarhimes – this is you at your best.

Guilty Pleasure

all things pumpkin. all things.  :)

September 2012


Bryan and Katie Torwalt
CD Heaven on Earth specific songs – Glorious, Holy Spirit, He is Faithful (great church music)

Alabama Shakes
CD Boys and Girls (it’s just good)

CD Birdy (dinner music)

Phillip Phillips
Song – Home – (PS no shame at all – I’m a fan)

Sleeping at Last
anything he does (heard them on SYTYCD)


Bright Evening Star by Madeline L’Engle
(I’m moved completely by this women’s voice on paper)

Divine Hours, Summer by Phyllis Tickle
(I need this prayer book to keep me grounded and feel connected)


Weather changing
(beautiful to watch and feel. I just had to note)

Hutch finding and claiming his first “girl friend”
sweet innocence with love notes and pictures (too much for this Momma to take)

Batman, The Dark Knight Rises
(ridiculous – can’t wait to see again)

So You Think You Can Dance
(do I need to explain?! talent, art, heart, dedication)

Guilty Pleasure


(there I said it)