Author: Melissa Bradley

Your First 5 Minutes

How do you spend the first five minutes of your day? My alarm (which is also my phone) goes off at 6:00 each morning. The first thing I do is reach to turn it off… or hit snooze… and then I lay in bed a little bit longer to browse Facebook, Pinterest, or check emails. And you know what?? It is such a HUGE waste of time! The embarrassing thing is that even though I realize what a bad habit it is, it’s my routine… so I just do it anyway. Or at least I did. A few months ago, I was listening to the radio on my drive to work when the morning show host started talking about a new app. The First 5 is a free app created to encourage women to spend the first five minutes of their day in God’s Word. I instantly felt convicted about how I spent my first few minutes each morning. I downloaded the app and began using it the next morning. My alarm went off as usual (and I …

Your Kid Isn’t Perfect

I have been a mom for all of 5 years, 10 months, and 21 days. I graduated from college in less time than that, so you’d think I would have learned quite a bit by now. The truth is, in the time I’ve been a parent all I’ve really learned is that I still have no idea what I’m doing. Before I had children, I remember talking with a good friend about her own children. She said something that has always stuck with me: I don’t need my children to be the smartest or most popular kid in their class. I’m ok if they don’t make the honor roll or win awards. I just want them to love others and be kind. That was such a profound statement and I decided that I wanted to believe that statement for my own children one day. Now that I actually do have children…it’s MUCH easier said than done. In his Bible study “Raising Children Without Raising Your Blood Pressure,” pastor Rick Warren makes the statement: Kids are not things to be …

Obedience Requires Sacrifice

I have always been a rule-follower. As a child I never required harsh punishments from my parents. Just knowing I had done something to cause disappointment was enough to correct my behavior. It was important to me to know that I had the approval of my parents, teachers, and other adult role models. It didn’t take me long to figure out that if I was obedient, if I followed the advice of others and lived up to their expectations, they would like me. My parents encouraged me to a pursue a degree in the medical field and in the fall of 1999 I entered Brenau University’s Occupational Therapy program. I loved it. I enjoyed reading, studying, memorizing, and even dissecting a cadaver. My grades were top-notch and I took on leadership positions in my field of study as well as in extracurricular groups on campus. My “obedience” was bringing me a lot of success. However, as I progressed further in my studies and clinical experiences, I began to realize that occupational therapy wasn’t what I wanted to do for …

Preschool Ministry Update

What a fun and busy summer it has been for the littlest members of our church! Unless you have a preschooler in your family, you may be unaware of all the exciting things happening within our ministry. I’d like to share with you about our summer projects as well as fill you in on our upcoming plans for the fall. We kicked off summer fun during the month of May by holding our very first Preschool Playdate Service Project. Six families met at The Stewart House Assisted Living Home to plant flowers for the 40 residents currently living there. The children had so much fun choosing beautiful pots, scooping handfuls of dirt, and planting flowers. They then loaded all the plants into a red wagon and walked up and down the hallways, leaving a flower in each room to brighten the day of  “the Grandmas and Grandpas,” as we called them. . The children also had the opportunity to sing a song to the residents and teach them the Bible verse they memorized for the …

Wonder FULL

A few weeks ago, I came across this quote… “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” E.B. White I knew I had to share it. It reminded me of one of the main reasons I chose to make a career out of working with children. Children are FULL of wonder. They notice everything and ask questions about anything. Have you ever spent time with a two-year-old? You’ll be asked “Why?” approximately 937 times. And it’s not because they’re trying to be difficult, they truly want a definitive answer. “Because I said so” will not be an adequate response. Trust me. Children remind me to slow down, to notice, and to wonder. Wonder is defined as “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” I have that feeling when I hold a baby in the nursery. Their curious eyes are full of wonder at the new world around them. I have that feeling when I take the time to play with a toddler. Their little minds are amazed by watching the same …

The Price of Parenting

Today is Mother’s Day… and at Southern Hills, that also means Family Dedication Sunday. This has always been one of my favorite events, because nothing excites me more than families making the decision to intentionally shepherd their children. When parents choose to begin creating a legacy of faith to pass down to the next generation, THAT is a big deal! This year, the Children’s Ministry Team decided to incorporate a new element into our Family Dedication service. We presented each family with a jar containing exactly 936 pennies. That’s $9.36. And it’s what I’ve come to realize is the “price” of parenting. Each penny represents one of the weeks a parent has between the day a child is born and when they graduate from high school.  As a parent, no matter where you are in the journey, how will you make the time count? A jar filled with 936 pennies is heavy. And, to be honest, so is the weight of parenting. The responsibility of raising Godly children can be overwhelming. Personally, I feel even more overwhelmed when I look at the …

It Really Does Take a Village

“It takes a village to raise a child.” I’ve heard the phrase used throughout my life, but I never really gave it much thought until I had children of my own. After our oldest son was born it became apparent very quickly that there was no way Joe and I could figure out the whole “parenting thing” on our own. We read all the recommended books, asked all the right questions, and attended all the classes offered by the hospital. If grades were given for how-to-prepare-for-parenting, we would’ve been on the honor roll. So you can probably imagine our bewildered, sleep-deprived, desperate faces when we realized we had NO CLUE how to take care of this amazing miracle we had been blessed with (much less his little brother who would come along 19 months later). It was in our weakness that God revealed His strength and faithfulness. Like the Israelites, God had already placed us in a faith community that offered a wealth of support and experience. Deuteronomy 6 is a speech given by Moses …