Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Top 10 Moments of My Life

After putting a lot of thought into the January blog topic Brenda sent me, I was sure this month would be much easier. However, the February topic was also extremely thought-provoking! Obviously, there are many more than 10 significant moments in my life, so it took me some time to choose which to share here!


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The Most Important of All - My faith is a huge part of my life and who I am. While I don't believe you have to attend church to be a Christian, I do know that it certainly helps. I've literally been in church all my life! I was born on a Friday afternoon in rural Mississippi, and Mama & Daddy brought me to church on Sunday morning. (Yes, really!)

1. Salvation - I really can't tell you the date or time or place of the very most important event of my life, the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior. I always claim that there are two kinds of Christians in the world - the ones who know the exact moment they were saved, and those of us who grew up in church and kept repeating the prayer of salvation until we grew in our faith enough to realize that we had been accepted as a child of God. I'm definitely in the second category.

My salvation experience occurred sometime in early elementary school. Nothing in life can compare to having a relationship with the Lord. I'm so thankful that I was born to parents who took me to church and taught me about Jesus!

2. Baptism - As the age of 10, I asked to be baptized in our little church in southeast Texas. I understood that this was an important step in a Christian's life. In my church we practiced baptism by immersion. I can still remember stepping down into the water in the baptistry, the ruffle on my lightweight red dress with white polka dots (made by Mama, handed down from my older sister) floating in the water so I had to push it down so it would get soaked and stay down, the pastor waiting to dunk me under the water, holding my nose as I went under the water, and rising soaking wet and excited.

I realize that there's some debate about baptism as many religions have different practices. My personal view on this is that I don't really care if you were sprinkled, dunked, or half-drowned . . . the main thing is that you have a personal relationship with Christ. Baptism doesn't save you, Jesus does.

Education - As a little girl, I wanted to go to school when my older sister started first grade, so Mama put me in a private kindergarten at the age of four. Since that time, I've always enjoyed school and consider myself a lifelong learner.

3. High School Graduation - There was never any doubt about whether or not I would graduate from high school as it was the main goal Mama had for her three girls. Mama dropped out of school in the tenth grade, so it was important to her that we all graduate. I was a cum laude graduate, ranked number 13 out of 500+ students, so rather than being superstitious, I've always felt that 13 was one of my lucky numbers. (P. S. When I was in high school, Mama studied for and passed the GED test to receive her high school equivalency certificate!)

4. BBA Graduation  - When I walked across the stage to receive my Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Management, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. In all honesty, I was going through a very difficult time in my life that year, but nothing could diminish the excitement and accomplishment I felt earning a four-year degree (in seven years!) while working full-time and trying to hide/survive an abusive marriage.


5. MBA Graduation - I hadn't thought much about getting a graduate degree until Robbie decided to return to school and complete his bachelor's degree after we'd been married a couple of years. I enrolled and earned my Master of Business Administration degree with a major in Management in two years, while also teaching 8th grade! (Robbie earned his BBA in 2 1/2 years and graduated summa cum laude just six months after me, maintaining an overload of courses and even working as CFO for an out-of-town company the final year year and a half!) One FUN thing that happened my last semester was that we were both inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society on the same day! [We are definitely educationally equally yoked!]

The Love of my Life - My list of highlights would not be complete without all the wonderful moments I've shared with Robbie over the past 15+ years. Here are just three that stand out among the many.

6. Robbie's Proposal - On an Friday in early October, I arrived in Rockwall for a weekend visit with Robbie. My sweetheart walked into the living room carrying the ruby tray from his grandparent's 40th anniversary. The tray held their ruby vase filled with red roses, their ruby champagne flutes, two small red heart-shaped candles, a scattering of Hershey kisses, and an alabaster box lined with velvet. The alabaster box held a beautiful engagement ring and a platinum & diamond cross necklace - to signify God's importance in our relationship. (I haven't recreated it perfectly here, but you get the idea.) Robbie got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. After several failed relationships and the stigma of divorce, I might have been a little nervous, but I knew this was the man God had chosen for me. I said Yes!

7. Our Wedding - Our wedding day dawned bright and beautiful and EXTREMELY COLD! We took a sleigh ride out to a secluded spot on the frozen Bow River in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The marriage commissioner, Rick Kunelius and the photographer, Malcolm Carmichael, hiked out across the frozen river to meet us. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Our sleigh driver, Jamie, was wonderful. He said the temperature during the ceremony was about minus 10 degrees Celsius (that's about 15 degrees Fahrenheit) - and that was before the wind chill factor!!! Jamie was kind enough to loan Robbie his ski cap and Melissa his gloves during the sleigh ride. Rick performed a beautiful ceremony ending with "May your love be as pure as the snow on our mountain peaks, and as enduring as the rock of these mountains amongst which you have chosen to be wed."

8. Ten Year Anniversary Cruise - We took our first (and so far only) cruise to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We enjoy traveling together and had a great time just hanging out on board, reading, relaxing, enjoying the time away from computers and cell phones. By that time in our lives, it felt liked we'd always been together, yet the ten years seems to have gone so quickly, too. It's hard to believe that was 5 years ago!

Big Steps for Me* - There were a lot of other moments that have been significant in my life. I chose the two below because each of them helped me to grow and learn and become the confident person I am today.

9. Trip To New York & Boston with Elinor - While I'd flown a few times and been on quite a few vacations by the time I was 31, I'd never taken a trip that wasn't with my family or (ex)spouse. When my friend Elinor mentioned that she wanted to travel to New York again someday, I suggested that the two of us go while I was on my summer break from teaching at the local community college. It was really the first time I'd made all the plans for a trip - plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. Traveling as a single woman was a new experience for me, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Elinor and I had a fantastic time - we laughed, we cried, we walked, we rode (sometimes the wrong bus!), we saw Broadway shows, we spent a day in Boston, we toured museums, we ate new foods (like Central Park strawberries) . . . and I fell in love with traveling! [Some of you may remember my tribute to Elinor, who passed away in 2011. I miss her still!]

Many of you know that Robbie and I love to travel and try to get away on road trips and vacations as often as possible. He is the best traveling companion, especially when things go a little awry. While I don't mind going away for a weekend crop or to visit my family or overnight to teach Bible journaling, I prefer to spend my time (at home and traveling) with my sweetheart. However, it was that trip with Elinor that gave me the confidence to occasionally take off for a scrapbooking event in California, or four days in New York with girlfriends, or a long weekend retreat with my sister this coming fall!

10. Writing and Presenting the God is Calling You Retreat Curriculum - After we'd spent several days searching for a curriculum for an upcoming ladies' retreat in 2012, I told my friend Dawn that I would just write the curriculum myself when I returned from our summer vacation. It sounded so simple at the time, but it turned out to be much more difficult that I thought it would. Sitting in front of a blank computer screen with a blank paper pad and Bibles and study notes organized on the table, I felt a slight panic at the arrogance I felt when I said I'd take on this task. However, after much time in prayer, the Lord was faithful and gave me the messages He wanted shared during that 2-day retreat. Each time I began to question whether I was on the right track, He provided just the right scripture or quote or phone call of encouragement to remind me that He was in control.

Although I'd taught and lead and even written some short Bible studies over the preceding ten years, this retreat was a huge step for me as I also organized and presented the materials. I was fortunate to have the help of our ladies' ministry team, but I (voluntary) took on the responsibility for the message and format of the event. Our pastor and his wife were expecting their fourth child the week of the retreat, so they had entrusted this event to me and the ministry team. I will forever be grateful for their trust and confidence as I grew immeasurably as a Christian and a teacher and a writer and a speaker through the process of preparing this curriculum.

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After I completed my list, I asked Robbie what his top 10 would be and was delighted that our lists are so similar. He said salvation/baptism, meeting me, our wedding, celebrating our 15th anniversary, BBA & MBA degrees, traveling internationally, and being part of the executive team at two companies that were successfully sold to larger companies.


What would say are the top 10 moments of your life? Please share in the comments!

9 comments:

Barbara Eads said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your list. I think you've nailed the most important ones for sure! I'll need to put some thought in to mine.

Patio Postcards said...

Such a lovely recap. I did not know you were married Alberta - Banff is certainly one of the most beautiful spots & it is a favourite of mine but in the summer. :)

Karen said...

It's a beautiful list and thoughtfully composed! I knew you'd had a winter wedding in Banff, but I had no idea how cold it really was! Like Mary-Lou, I think I prefer Banff in the summer.

Jane said...

I feel I know you a little better having read your list. I was baptised by immersion when I was 22yrs having become a christian when I was 12yrs. My parents didn't go to church so I think your story is lovely.

Sian said...

I really enjoyed reading your list and then thinking about its challenge. Ten moments? I'm thinking!

Brenda Kay said...

Love the pics from our childhood, and I'm sure reflecting on all these moments was such fun. Looking forward to next months prompt, since I am having so much fun inserting a little something extra into your blog this year.

Cate Brickell said...

wow, I learnt some new things about you, thank you for sharing, and allowing us into your journey!

Unknown said...

What an awesome way to really get to know someone. Beautiful life!

alexa said...

How lovely to be allowed to know more of you (and Robbie!) and of what is so special to you. I am amazed at your thoughtfulness and the detail. I'd no idea the two of you got married in the snow ... and many congratulations on your persistence and determination in studying and completing your degrees with so much else happening in your life. Very inspiring.