Let me begin by saying that when I was around 8 or 9 years old, I got "saved" and was baptized. I walked that aisle right along with my friend and cousin at the time. I wanted to get up in that big water tank just like they did, It was the thing to do. I had no true understanding what it all meant, but my Mama was happy and I continued on like I always did. I mean how much change can a 8 or 9 year old make? Then I hit the teen years.
When I was around sixteen years old I went to Church camp in Florida. I almost didn't go because I had run fever all the way up until the time we left. Before I hopped on that bus with dreams of white sand and blue waves my Daddy told me, "If you start feeling bad, call me and I will come get you." We pulled up to this camp and even the chaperons wanted to call my Daddy. The mattresses were stained, the showers were dark and moldy. I didn't see anything resembling white sand.....just some brown mud/dirt with dingy water. I wasn't allowed to call home, which in my mind even now is deplorable and it angered my parents, but it was the best thing that could have happened. After the first two days the shock of our environment was gone and we were totally immersed in JESUS. It was one of the most amazing experiences and although I don't remember the date I can say that at this point I DID accept Jesus as my personal Savior. But sadly I did not grow....I wilted.
Mama had us in Church every time there was an opportunity, but the world is a powerful thing, especially during teen and college years. I sat in Church on Sunday mornings and even sang specials after weekends of having a "good" time. Then at the very young age of 19 I moved half-way around the world and got married. There were no available Churches that I knew of that were not Catholic and they certainly didn't speak English. There was a small group that met on base but after the married "leader" hit on me that wasn't an option. My Bible remained on my nightstand unopened, my prayers stopped and all Godly influence was gone. Living in Belgium was a great experience, but it wasn't worth the chaos, havoc and pain that bombarded my life. After a very rough three years I was divorced and back home.
That was over 20 years ago and since then I met and married a wonderful man, and God has given me three beautiful children. God knew what He was doing when he gave me Shannon and Chris. In some ways they saved me from myself. My focus changed from myself and my problems to them. This is when my journey back to God began. It has taken so long to find my way. I dropped into Churches for a few Sundays, but wondered if there was a better one out there. I have opened my Bible and got on fire and read and studied for a few weeks then quit. I've been lukewarm. I prayed to God for more children and God blessed us with two more, but I didn't keep up my end of the bargain. It's only by His grace and mercy that He hasn't taken any of them from me permanently.
Recently when I walked into True Life Church, I did not know a soul. It was an amazing, comfortable and cozy feeling. After that first visit I was not able to return because my Daddy had two strokes and he became my family's main priority. During this time I woke each morning to see my Mamaw, who was never particularly religious while growing up, having her morning devotions. During one of the many nights in the hospital, Daddy and I talked about decisions we made and his Salvation. My Daddy hasn't gone to Church in years, but the community Churches had him on prayer lists, visited and did so much to minister to us.All of these things were just more nudges to the right path.
My thoughts became more consumed with finding the missing piece of my life. I was overwhelmed and stressed beyond belief by many different circumstances. I was so very close to giving up. Thankfully God had placed people in my life whose life changing examples, or words of encouragement to no one in particular through social media, became my life preserver.
When things settled with Daddy I went back to True Life and took my family and this is where you will find us every Sunday morning. I am so happy to say that after so many, many years of wandering aimlessly this journey has come to an end and I have started a new one. I have found my Home and I have also found my Father again. I am proud to say that Sunday, February 22....I hit my knees at the alter and re-dedicated my life to The Lord, I will follow this decision in baptism on March 8.
So now you know me....the REAL me. I'm still Melissa, daughter of Thomas Sanderford and Bernadette Miller, but I'm also the daughter of a King. I'm not a Christian because I am better than anyone. I'm a very flawed and imperfect individual that needs Christ's constant forgiveness. I will mess up, I will do things wrong....but I have no doubt that my Father will pick me up and dust me off when I fall. He will give me a swift kick when I need to get it together, and he has his loving arms around me when I need comfort.
I'm blessed. I'm redeemed. I'm heaven bound. Thanks be to God.