Growing up in a Southern Baptist home provided me with much of the guidance I’d need to become a woman of God – but I didn’t always follow the direction my parents gave me over the years. After marrying my high school sweetheart, I thought I’d be able to make Him into the man of God that I desired. Unfortunately, I had never learned what it meant to be a woman of God so why did I expect Him to be something that I wasn’t? After a number of years of ups and downs in our marriage, we divorced. A year later, I learned my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Within two years, I lost the two things that meant the most to me at that time, my husband and my mother.
I became angry at God and set out on a quest to rebel and ignore His convicting power over my life. Fortunately, God didn’t ignore me and neither did my Christian friends who prayed for me and held me accountable for many of my actions over the next few years. Within a few years, I had run out of steam and made my way back into the loving arms of the one who loved me still and with a love like no other – Jesus Christ. I rededicated my life to Him and began attending a new church that offered many opportunities to grow in my faith and how to share my faith with others.
A few years later I’d met a new friend, Melanie Watt, and she shared that when she was 12 years old, she’d felt a call on her life to start a small ranch, using horses, with troubled kids. At the time, she was around 42 years old and teaching special education in the public school system. Even though I had been married, I never had any children so the concept of working with kids was of no interest to me personally, but praying for her was. I agreed to pray for her regarding this belief and committed to supporting her in seeking God’s direction for her life. I actually told Melanie that I’d be happy to pray for her, but said ‘don’t ask me to get involved’. Well, lesson learned: Never tell God what you’re going to do or not do!
Within a few years, I began to see the Lord working in an amazing way as things began falling into place. Melanie had set up a meeting with some friends at our church and shared the idea with them. Everyone was very supportive and the Lord confirmed that He was guiding her in bringing about the dream she’d had when she was only 12 years old. Many people prayed and others offered to volunteer and help in any way they could. Melanie felt led to call the ministry ‘Hope Remains Youth Ranch’ and within another couple of years after our nonprofit status and 501(c)(3) was obtained, there was enough money in the bank that she believed it was time to step out on faith and quit her job in the school system.
I found myself drawn into the ministry as I have watched God do some amazing things over the years. After 34 years at a local public utility, I had the opportunity to take early retirement and begin working full time at Hope Remains. My idea of not getting involved has caused me to eat those words on many occasions as I have found myself very much in love with what God is doing here at the ranch! I’m serving in the background in so many ways even though I have very little direct contact with the kids. I know the Lord allowed Melanie and me to meet all those years ago and I’m thankful that I have seen Him change lives on and off the ranch. Mine was one of them!
What is your favorite thing about your job? My favorite thing is knowing that I’m a part of what God is doing to grow His kingdom! In my former occupation, I was very fulfilled, but the work didn’t bring me the satisfaction I have today of knowing each day I’m giving my best for His glory! My responsibilities are varied and I love the randomness of things that I get to do. When I get a chance, I find myself escaping and getting on the bush hog or zero-turn mower at the ranch, which I also love doing.
What is a random fact about you? In Junior High School, I was voted the “Wittiest” at the end of my 9th grade. I’m not sure if it was because everyone was laughing at me or if they were always laughing because of me. I love people with a sense of humor and that’s a trait I got from my Dad.