There is always hope - Hidden Treasures and Riches

There is always hope

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Tope: With me on the show is a special guest. She’s an award-winning author, teacher coach, and a therapist and counselor for over, for with over 40 years of experience. She’s served over 33 years in various roles in ministry, and she’s current, currently serves at a local church. She’s a mom to seven and a grandma to 10. Wow. She is truly multi-talented. And that’s just not, that’s not all of it. She’s weathered many stumps in life and is no stranger to adversity. She’s faced multiple health and personal challenges and has survived a cancer diagnosis, diverse single parenting, and homelessness, but through all these fierce sums of. It was the word of God that brought her comfort. Dr. Mel is passionate about helping you reach your next step so you can have a fulfilling life.

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Dr. Mel: Well, thank you, topi. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here and to share what God has laid on my heart with.

Tope: Okay. Thank you. So to just get us warm, warmed up a little bit, just tell us a little known fact about yourself.

Dr. Mel: Well, I’m from Maine, so I am a country girl at heart, even though I live in the urban area right now and have for the last 15 years. I very much am a country girl. I like to garden, I like to hunt, I like to fish. I like to camp.

Tope: That’s neat. So you like to, you like, you like outdoors. That’s what I’m hearing.

Dr. Mel: That’s right. Outdoors.

Tope: Yeah, me too. I like outdoors, gardening, and going for walks in nature. Yeah. That’s really good. So for our guests, I mean, for our show today, I would like to start us off by asking you to share with our listeners one of your God stories. I know you have many God stories. Share one of your God stories. That’s helped you learn to understand and empathize with others. That’s really had a great impact on you.

Dr. Mel: There, you’re right. There are a lot I think that I would want to share. And it seems maybe a bit extreme, but I would share about when I was homeless and had to just expect God to move or I didn’t know what to do. So I had moved out of my home. I had been married for 25 years, but that situation warranted me having to leave and take my children and so, spent a few months bouncing around on my friend’s couches and my kids kind of curled up in different extra bedrooms and rented a home for a short time, but that wasn’t gonna work. So I ended up moving to Connecticut and was living in a tent with my kids in the campground that we had often camped at, and then bought a camp. And then became a staff person and eventually moved into the lodge and took over, you know, the condominium there.

There was a, a solid six months where we really didn’t have a home. And, and I would say that after having a stable home for 25 years there was a, a year and a half of just not knowing where we would. How I would feed them. Mm-hmm. , how I would keep them warm in New England. Any of those types of things.

So when I hear of women who are in a situation where they have to get out and they don’t know where to go, it’s easy for me to be able to minister to them and to give ideas, find resources. Think outside the box and find a way to make it. Homelessness. I can relate to that a little bit.

Tope: So you, here, you were married for 25 years. and then you found yourself homeless and had to live in tent with children and not knowing. And so, tell us a little bit more, how did you see God move intangible ways during that time when you were homeless?

Dr. Mel: Well, you know, I was sitting there, and I just, I believe that our relationship with the Key. If we do not know who he is and we do not know what the word of God says, then we have really nothing to hang onto. We’re grasping at straws, but when we know that he is Jehovah Gyra, mm-hmm. that he says he will never leave us forsaken and begging for bread, that he’s always gonna plan in a future for our lives, then it’s easy to begin to trust.

And so that’s what I did, and I saw him, as I just kind of described, move me from a couch to, Hey, my friend has a home. Are you interested? She gave it to me for several months without. Having to pay rent. And then I found freelance writing jobs, so I paid her rent. Then I moved to Connecticut, and I started over, but then I had the opportunity to buy a travel trailer, and then from there, I had the opportunity.

God moved incrementally…

So God moved incrementally and then eventually brought my now husband. Through that same situation in the campground and brought my now husband and, and here I am in a completely stable, God-centered situation, but it was always holding on to the different scriptures and saying, I know who he is and he will not leave me and he will not forsake me. And He has a plan for myself and my kids, and we are just going to have to listen carefully to his voice and follow those steps as difficult as they are. Hmm. Follow those steps as difficult as they are. Wow. So what I, I’m hearing is one, you had a relationship, a solid relationship with the. And that’s what helped us, helped you to weather that season of homelessness and taking God’s word.

Taking him at his word, knowing him. Knowing him for who. He says he’s not doubting, not wavering, just saying, Lord, I may not understand, but I’m standing on this ward that you are Jehovah Gyre, the provider.

Tope: So at listeners, if you are listening to us, maybe you find yourself, I don’t know, in homelessness or some other situation like that today, having a solid foundation with God can help us weather the storms of life. It is, this is where we find hope and anchor. And so Dr. Mel as we, we continue our conversation, what experiences. Has shaped the work that you are doing today. Again, I know that you’ve got multiple angles you could go with this question, so you, are free to share whichever one, but what experiences had the most impact and helped you in the work that you’re doing today?

Dr. Mel: Well, I minister to people with a lot of different situations and I, I’ll say this, I used to say, It, whatever your situation, I’ve probably encountered it and I used to question God, like, why are you allowing me to go through these trials and tribulations and things as some people go through one type or another type. But I’ve been through pretty wide range of situations. Mm-hmm. and I used to say, well, I can relate to everyone except for someone who’s had a child that’s gone to jail or a child who has died. And then I got a call just almost two years ago to the day that my daughter was in jail.

And, and I, well, she hadn’t, she was under arrest. She had not been moved to jail yet. She was in an emergency room. It turns out, unbeknownst to me she, you know, she loved the Lord. She was teaching Bible studies and all that, but was apparently an alcoholic and it increased during COVID. And so she ended up committing felonies because she had my granddaughter in the car and, and was facing up to 10 years in jail. You know, nobody wants that call. She’s going to jail and it’s going to be for a long time. And the hand of God once again moved, you know, I know how to, if there’s anything I’ve learned, I’ve learned how to do spiritual warfare. And so we prayed and she was in jail for a while and then she was under house arrest. And, and God graciously allowed her to do an outpatient Treatment court. It’s a pilot project. Mm-hmm. . And so she is working her way through that and has been clean and sober for these two years, but had been an alcoholic for 20 years and I didn’t know.

God has miraculously healed me…

So I could talk about a lot of different things. You know, we’ve, I’ve, I’ve struggled with the domestic situations. I’ve faced a cancer diagnosis multiple times over and not had that progressed. God has miraculously healed me through those. I have struggled and I think, you know, you get weary at times just mm-hmm. tired of. Trudging through this pilgrimage. God has us on and we have to look, we have to lift up our eyes. Right? We have to find a way to overcome these adversities.

And the answer to that is you better know who God is, who you are, yes. Who the enemy is, and what authority we have over him. And we just rise above it.

Tope: Thank you for, for sharing that. So you mentioned spiritual warfare. I, I know that not a, I believe that not a lot of people know what that is, what that’s like. So can you tell us a little bit more about what spiritual, what’s spiritual warfare and what’s like to do that battle?

Dr. Mel: Well, what it is is a recognition, first of all, that Satan is not just, you know, the depiction that we often hear in Sunday school class, but that he is very real. He, and that he has the power and authority. He’s the prince of the airwaves, and God gave him temporarily that power and authority. And if we do not know that we are a child of God that has authority over. Satan, the enemy of our soul. Mm-hmm. then we’re, he just runs rampant through our lives. So learning who we are in Christ and what authority we can impose upon the enemy to put him to flight so that he can no longer destroy our thought life can no longer cause anxiety and depression, steal our joy, you know, and even mess with our, our finances, our marriages, our relationships, all to, to put that under our feet. Mm-hmm. and to say he’s. He’s the defeated foe. Yes. And that we will not succumb to his tricks anymore.

Tope: That’s a whole process. And I’ll say, you know, I’m still learning, aren’t you? It’s, it’s like, me Too, 30-some-odd years later and I’m still learning and he’ll trick me up every now and then. I was like, ah. We see this is not from God, this is from Satan, and it’s time to get rid of that. Thank you again for sharing that. That about spiritual warfare. So it’s recognizing the enemy for who is recognizing Satan. For who, because many times in the church we are not taught, we just Oh yeah. Citizens out. What’s that like? What’s, I mean, what’s that about? And how do we, when we find out him attacking us, because in John 10 10, he says, the enemy Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

And he, everything you’ve mentioned just now, he wants to steal our joy, kill our, I mean, kill destroy our lives and just wreck havoc. And, but Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Full life, fulfilling life. Not waiting till heaven, but beginning from right here now, today.

That’s what I just had you say. And so how do we then knowing that we’re in battle knowing that we know the word of. Practically, how do we do that? How do we stand on that word? Because a lot of us growing up in the church, and if you, you are familiar with spiritual warfare, you know what to do, but many of our listeners out there may not even have an idea what that looks like.

So give us practically how do you practicalize that or operationalize that in your life? Okay, well, the, I just mentioned about, you know, negative thoughts. Mm-hmm. So I guess I’ll start there. Yeah. Particularly today, I think this is time, it’s a timely question. Mm-hmm. Because in today’s society, fear is, Huge.

Mm-hmm. people are scared of what’s coming down the pike. Mm-hmm. , they, you know, not just Covid, but now we’ve got economic things and global things going on. Fear is a very real thing. And the anxiety, you know, in terms of mental health, and I’ve done a lot of mental health work over these years. Mm-hmm. , it is at an high.

People are petrified. And so I, when I’m working with people, I. Those are negative thoughts that are coming into your mind. You have to learn to take those captive. Mm-hmm. , you have to sec, what is it? Second Corinthians ten five. Ten five. Ten five. And it is like we have to learn to take those thoughts captive.

And in a practical way. What that means to me is if the, you know, the enemy, if it’s not God speaking in our minds, then it’s the enemy. Mm-hmm. . And so let’s say that it’s. You know, you have this thought, you hear like I’ll use a practical example here. I paid 3 89 for oil two weeks ago. Mm-hmm. , right now it’s up to $6 a gallon here in Connecticut, $6 a gallon.

Now, if I let fear start to take over, I’m gonna start thinking like things like, oh my goodness, $6 a gallon, it’s gonna cost me $2,000. There’s no way I’m gonna be able to do that. We’re gonna freeze the death this winter, blah. Stop, , stop. I have to stop myself and think like, that is not, where is that coming from?

And before, if I did not take hold of that, then. I would be off the rails within a half an hour or an hour. And you imagine people dwell on these things mm-hmm. throughout the day, and then maybe into the week they don’t sleep because they, they’re mulling it over and it grows like a monster, like mm-hmm.

And so you have to stop and say no. Mm-hmm. , what does God say? Mm-hmm. . Oh, I remember. God says he is Jehovah Gyra. He will provide Amen. And he will not leave the righteous. And so you can think that way and say, okay, thank you Lord. Yes, that you are going to somehow make this oil last. Yes. Thank you Lord, that you are going to bring extra income our way to provide during the middle of inflation.

Yes. Thank you Lord that you are gonna take care of me because I. Seeking you and I’m doing everything to serve you in the kingdom. Thank you Lord. And that puts the enemy to flight. Yes. Yes, yes. Thank you for sharing that, that that is a really practical example. Very tangible. Someone can take that with them.

So stand on that word. Know who you are in Christ. Know who Christ is, know his word. Have that word in your mind all the time, and use that when those negative thoughts before they train this station, stop it and just say, what does the word of God? Go back to the word, ask the Lord for the word to help you.

So your mind is stayed on him. Wow. Yes. Thank, thank you. So now let me ask you this. What’s brought you joy as you’ve gone through many difficult seasons in life? What’s brought you joy during your difficult seasons? Can I say him the Lord? You know it. Because there have been times when there has been no one else.

You know when, there have been times when people who sh, you know, I would say believers even who have turned against me in situations not understanding fully what the reality and the truths were. Mm-hmm. , even they, so there have been times, you know, You find yourself by yourself. Mm-hmm. for whatever reason.

And that relationship has to be first and foremost. And when you know that he has your life in the palm of his hands and that he has a plan to use you despite whatever’s going on. In what seems like crazy circumstances. Circumstances that can’t be overcome. Yes. There’s great joy in realizing we still get to serve him.

We still get to minister to other people even while we’re struggling through whatever our particular circumstances. And to me, that brings great joy. It’s like the enemy can’t steal that there’s no circumstance on. That can take away joy. And I used to teach that there’s a difference between happiness and joy.

Yeah. Happiness is based on our circumstances. Well, I’m not always happy in whatever circumstance I find myself in, but I can still have joy. That deep-rooted knowledge of who God is and who I am to him. Mm-hmm. and the relationship we have says nothing’s shaken that mm-hmm. I might go through disease, trauma rises, loss, all the things we’ve talked about, homelessness, and a long, long list of adversities that people deal with.

Mm-hmm. and nothing can take away the. Wow. So it’s him that, again, everything we’re talking about today is centering on God. Him having him from Square Center in the middle of your life and everything else anchored to him and that joy comes from him. So it’s not in the circumstances, it’s not in any, anything else.

Not even in material things. These are all temporary stuff, but deep joy comes from the Lord. And so what I, what I was hearing you describe was the joy of the Lord is my strength. You just described that so well as you shared your story. So let me ask you this. You have written four books. You are an, you are an award-winning button.

You’ve written four books. And so I’m gonna ask you, I know when we have children, We don’t, people can say, oh, which one? No, we don’t have favorite rights. We just love all our children. But I would ask you for your four books, which is your favorite, right? And tell us why you wrote it and why the topic’s important to you.

Oh, it is hard, isn’t it? We can’t have favorites. So I’ll say my, my favorite one is the one I’m working on now. It’s not out yet, so we won’t , we won’t talk about that. Okay. And that is on overcoming adversity. It’s the type of stuff we’re talking about now. Okay. I would say it’s not as much a book as I just did my, I did my dissertation work just pre pandemic and it’s on today’s youth culture and the reason that’s so near and dear to my heart. I’ve worked with youth all these years and their families in one way or another. If you’re working with people, you’re dealing with youth and families, and I’m seeing so much of the struggle that families are having is tracing back to today’s youth culture is very different than even.

You know, I raised my kids just a few years back. Mm-hmm. , it’s very different. The technology has changed. Mm-hmm. , and they’ve got it at their fingertips. Mm-hmm. the drug culture. Mm-hmm. is not any longer, you know, hiding out in a back alley, but it’s mm-hmm. front and center. The schools have got their hands full.

The social. Issues that we’re facing. There’s just so much. And so part of what I do is to work with the families, the parents particularly, not that I can’t work with the youth, but I think the Lord has shifted me into working more with the parents and educating them and equipping, equipping them, and bringing forth truths that says, Listen, you need to be equipped if you don’t know what’s going on.

If you know, I used an example during a Facebook Live the other day talking about the very popular Roblox that a lot of kids are playing right now. An app on their phone and almost every child has it. Well, there was a very subtle shift a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s 13 and under. Or 13, you have to be 13 to play, not 12.

That very subtle shift. If a parent does not know that that happened, they don’t know that. It just opened up all the adult mature content for a seven or eight-year-old. My granddaughter who’s been, you know, the playing that and now because they shifted the age one year, it opens it wide open. So educating and trying to keep people abreast and encouraging and exhorting, like you have got to be involved. You’ve gotta keep your eyes open and you’ve gotta subscribe to newsletters. Do whatever you gotta do to stay on the cutting edge because people are very savvy. Mm-hmm. and, and teens. It’s our job to protect our kids and our teenagers and parents think they are.

It’s an evil world we live in, and the most atrocious things that we can’t even conceive in our minds are being put in the minds of our children. Mm-hmm. and our grandchildren. And so I would say that work has become a springboard and a platform for part of what I’m doing now. That I, I believe you’re doing really interesting work right there because the family the family is a foundation of the society and if the family, as the family goes, so the society goes and the enemy, I think for the last.

However many years it’s been attacking the family steadily bringing disintegration in homes. And then with the culture that we have today where, you know, everyone has a smartphone. A seven-year-old has a smartphone. I mean, it’s, it’s. It’s common. And so as parents being able to monitor that to, to still sort of, because at the, at those younger ages, that’s a window to shape and mold those children to give them the values.

Otherwise, you know, the world takes over and so I, I wanna commend you and thank you for that wonderful work that you are doing. It’s, it’s, it’s really important and so needed today and I hope that many more people, you know, we take up that work of working with parents, helping them to to. The next generation and at least break the cycle of, you know, drug abuse all kinds of stuff that, that’s out there that our young people are facing today.

So I, I wanna thank you for that. So as we round up, I would like to ask you, what’s one treasure that you could live with our listeners to encourage them in any current circumstances, trials, adversities that they may be? What’s one thing that you would leave for them? One, one treasure that you’ll leave for them?

Let’s say that, you know, there’s always hope. God always has an answer. There’s always hope because, and, and you know, he left us the Bible as our blueprint. Mm-hmm. and so learning. That word and learning how to use a concordance. I mean, you don’t have to memorize every verse in the Bible, but we certainly have to be equipped of how to utilize it to find the answers, because there’s nothing that we’re facing that he does not give answers for.

So no matter how hopeless a circumstance is, we need to realize that God sees what we don’t. And he’s got a plan and. always hope, and it is not to harm us, it is for good. And that, you know, like Romans 8:28 says, he works all things together for good. There’s always hope. There’s an expected positive end to whatever we are facing.

There is always hope..

Tope: Oh, thank you so much for that. So there is always hope. So listeners, if you are out there today struggling whatever the challenge is, may be, there is always hope. What we see right now, we just see a little bit for God has the bigger picture and we can hang in there, trust him, lean on him, getting community, getting the word.

Dr. Mel: I know that there is always hope. I think. That word hope summarizes our discussion today because everything we’ve talked about from, you know surviving adversity, surviving homelessness difficult seasons of life, even working with youth, all of that is all about hope. Our hope in God so we can anchor ourselves in.

So Dr. Mel, thank you again. So let me ask you, as we are rounding up our conversation, where can people connect with you? I think the easiest way is to just go to my website and it’s so simplistic cuz we were taught to keep it simple, right? Yeah. drmelva.com. There you can find all the social links, you can find email links.

So I just say go to the website, browse the website. But that’s the starting point. It’s the easiest way to find me. Thank you. Well, Dr. Mel thank you for coming on the show today and sharing your story with us. Such a blessing. Such a blessing. Thank you for having me. You’re welcome. So, hey friends you can find Dr. Mel at [email protected]. I hope Dr. Mel’s story empowers you to hang onto hope and to know that you are loved and you can tap into the treasures in your trials.

There is always Hope. You may also Listen to the podcast interview.

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