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My name is Melody, and this is my story.
I was the second child born to Christine and Philip in the great state of Texas. But by the time I was three, my parents were getting a divorce and remarried shortly afterwards.
My life is two sides of the same coin – my mother’s side,and my father’s side. Since I was a child, there was a distinct separation.
But looking back now, I’m pretty lucky.
I have four parents who love me and did their best in raising me. And if the divorce hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have two wonderful step-parents.
Even with two “sides,” I went to church every Sunday since the time I was in diapers and have godly grandparents on all sides.
I have fond memories of the summers my brother and I spent visiting my mom in Virginia where she moved when Peter was stationed there on bequest of the Navy. Sometimes my grandparents would drive us all the way up there and those road trips were the best. I remember going on walks, visiting Colonial Williamsburg, Washington D.C., and picking blueberries from the bushes in the backyard.
My mom also had a wardrobe and she would tell us to climb inside and “find Narnia,” or imagine it as she read those books to us. She also sewed play-dresses for me and one for every Easter Sunday.
Back in Texas, I remember the very brief time before my dad had met Laura Beth and he was a single dad. We ate many Pop-Tarts, Hamburger Helper and TV Dinners – let me tell you. He would also do his best to do my hair every morning while my brother watched cartoons (I was always jealous of Zach because he watched Power Rangers and Transformers and Spiderman while I got my hair yanked out).
My dad and my stepmom met while coaching against each other and when they were married, I was the flower girl and Zach was the “Bible boy” because he thought he was too old to be the ring bearer.
Around third grade, my little sister Peyton was born to my dad and LB and my brother Breanden was born to my mom and Peter. I was also baptized by my paternal grandfather at this time. I had said “the sinner’s prayer” probably three or four times, but it hadn’t made complete sense to me. However, in my pride, I thought that’s all there was to being a Christian. So, I went to the New Believer’s class (which my dad and stepmom taught) and was deemed “ready” by the church.
I also started reading the Bible. My mom would give my brother and me a prize for every five books of the Bible we read. I really enjoyed books like Genesis and the other books of history, and I “read” the boring books . . . Yes, I was a liar. To a kid under the age of 12, books like Leviticus and Isaiah went right over my head.
After three years in Virginia, my mom and stepdad moved to Kansas City, once again for the Navy, and my dad and LB also had another child, Asher, by the time I was ten.
My mom attended both a Methodist Church and a Baptist church and has always enjoyed singing in choirs and being a pianist. But the Methodist Church was quite large . . . It even had its own gift shop! The other church was smaller, and I liked it better and attended Sunday school classes there.
The synagogue in Kansas City was also large, and I remember celebrating Purim there one time. We dressed up in costumes, made masks and it’s basically the Jewish version of Halloween, except it is the story of Esther. Breanden was older, and he was being raised in the Jewish faith. In the summers, we went on road trips.
Years came and went until the Spring of 2011 when my life was forever changed.
As a kid, I did all the right things and was a relatively “good” kid, but I knew I was missing something.
I had heard about Jesus all of my life . . . every Sunday, in the prayer before every meal, in the car listening to Frank Peretti’s Bible stories, as we woke up listening to kid’s devotionals before breakfast and in the Bible itself . . . but this didn’t mean I knew Jesus personally. I just knew a lot about him.
I knew I was empty, and I was afraid to die.
I had always believed in Jesus and knew the Bible was true, but I didn’t understand what it meant to surrender my life to him until I was 13 years old.
At “Discipleship-Now” weekend with my youth group, we were completely immersed with the gospel and on the last night, the band sang, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” which paints a vivid picture of Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins . . . and I broke.
The band sang another refrain to the original chorus which said, “I love you for the cross, my Lord.”
And I realized . . . I didn’t.
I didn’t love him.
I knew what he did for me, and in that moment, I really understood what he did for me.
I started to cry, and I started to pray.
It wasn’t a pretty “sinner’s prayer” – it was a desperate plea for God to save me.
It was a heartbroken apology for my sins and my shame and my guilt.
It was finally asking Jesus to be Lord over my life.
And he was.
Just like that.
It’s hard to describe, but my heart was bursting so full of joy that I felt like I could fly.
I will never forget the moment God stretched down, touched my heart, and I was full of peace.
That same year, I went on my first mission trip to New Orleans, and I knew my life would be bigger than myself.
Before finishing high school, I went on 15 or so more mission trips every chance I could with my church or with grandparents. Serving on the field is where I really feel at home, alive, and like God is using me to make a difference for his glory.
I also really started to read and dig into the Word of God. The first time, I read it cover to cover in nine months. Then I read the New Testament and then the Old Testament. Then I read it backwards. And every few times I’d read it through, I’d switch up the Bible and the translation. This discipline of being with and learning from God every day was where I experienced the most spiritual growth.
Before heading off to college, there was one more thing I needed to do – be baptized. My paternal grandfather (who is one of my heroes as he and his wife served 35 years in the Dominican Republic and are now married for over 60), baptized me for the second time in front of my church family – again, but for real this time.
College came, God cleared a path and a calling for me, and I met and married my husband, Tyler Turner.
To this day, I’m beyond thankful God changed my life forever and gave me purpose and new life.
Please, talk to someone today if you no longer want to have a life that feels void.
In love and truth,
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