Saturday, January 23rd Grammy Award, nominee Natalie Grant, and International speaker, Charlotte Gambill, partnered with SPIRIT 105.3 to bring a sold-out, inspiring night that anyone in attendance will not soon forget!
Dare to Be is an event designed for women to come together and “Dare to Be” all that God has equipped each one of us to be. This event is designed to speak directly to each women to step out into the unknown, and aim higher, stretch further, and to trust.
Dare to Be honored a local woman for ‘Daring to Be’ despite her circumstances.
Here is Melissa’s story:
‘This sweet story begins as many do…in youth group. Melissa and Jeff met while attending Shoreline Community Church where their lives were made stronger in the Lord and their hearts grew fonder for each other. During college, things got more serious and Jeff and Melissa were married on October 5th 2002. The wedding was truly anointed and their strong desire for Jesus to be the center of their marriage was evident from day one. Over the years, they enjoyed their families, church body and friendships. Jeff, a Seattle Firefighter, followed faithfully in his father’s footsteps and had great pride in his work.
On June 10th 2005, they were beyond blessed with a beautiful baby girl named Natalie, who is now 9 years old. Then another wonderful surprise came their way on February 1st 2008. Identical twins, Derek and Brendan, brought them a double portion of joy and iced the cake for their now, family of 5.
In January 2011, Jeff felt a strange feeling when swallowing, which brought him to the doctor. Through a series of tests, they discovered that he had a heart defect and would need surgery as soon as possible. Just as this information was being processed, the Dr. revealed that they also found some masses in his esophagus. A few weeks later, on Valentine ’s Day, Jeff and Melissa were told that he had stage 4 esophageal cancer. Time stood still as the doctor told them that Jeff would have 6 months to a year to live WITH chemotherapy.
There was a hard choice to make. One that didn’t come without tearful conversations and neither allowed much time. Jeff chose to live his remaining days faithfully seeking the Lord for healing without the possible illness that chemo can bring. Jeff had a crazy peace to him. He carried his physical pain quietly, never complaining about the road he was walking down. Melissa honored his choice and battled alongside her husband. Many people, including his firefighter family were broken with this news and he was able to comfort them. Whether they visited Jeff at home, the hospital room or on the phone, he was often heard saying “I’m ok. I know where I’m going.” Countless times over the weeks to follow, worship and prayer echoed in their home. Melissa was the most gracious wife and selflessly shared her husband’s final days with anyone that wanted to be in their home. There were long nights claiming God’s promises and healing over Jeff and this precious family. They did this with a peace and confidence that Jeff would be made whole, that his body would be healed as the Lord says he can and will do.
Surrounded by friends and family, On May 6th, just 10 weeks after he was diagnosed, Jeff was healed, his body was made perfect and he was delivered into the arms of Jesus.
Jeff’s funeral was a testimony to how big he loved and was loved. The church was beyond packed with loved ones and the firefighter presence overwhelmed the place with honor. Their youth pastor and friend, Phil Rasmussen led the service and had the privilege of seeing over 100 people give their life to the Lord as he talked about Jeff’s walk of faith. Melissa and her children walked up the stage and she asked them to turn around. She told them to look out at all the people that came to support them and loved their daddy too. She was an amazing pillar.
Since Jeff was a firefighter, Melissa was honored and present to see her husband’s life remembered through many beautiful ceremonies. There was the national fallen firefighter memorial in Colorado, the Governor invited her to the capital and the Pioneer Square memorial added Jeff’s name to those that have fallen.
Life froze, but at the same time, it couldn’t. Melissa was a mommy to a then 5 year old and two 3 year olds. One of the best moms you’ll ever see. She balanced their tender hearts with the reality of loss and the even greater reality of Jesus. These past few years has seen its share of incredibly hard days, but she doesn’t miss the opportunity to claim Gods faithfulness over and over again. There are many walking down the same road of loss and she’s been able to empathize and be Jesus to them.
The following year, Natalie was having symptoms that concerned Melissa. Listening to her mother’s intuition, she brought her daughter to Children’s Hospital where Natalie was quickly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This was devastating news. It was especially hard when you’re a single mom trying to balance life with 3 kids that are still deeply grieving their father. Now, she needed to learn a whole new world of information and still be her daughter’s biggest and best cheerleader. It’s on her mind with every meal, every snack, every day and every night. The worry she carries with this disease is great, but God has been even bigger! Melissa makes sure that Natalie is not defined by her diabetes. She monitors it closely while allowing Natalie to still be a kid. That takes some pretty awesome mom skills!
Melissa would be painfully humbled to hear any of these compliments for they are words she often hands out, but never wants to hear in her direction. She’s a selfless giver and always turns a conversation back onto you. She gives anything and everything at any time. Her belongings, advice, time and even furniture seem to quietly and hilariously leave her home. Everything she has or does belongs to the Lord. Melissa has been carried, almost tangibly, by the Lord, her family and a team of friends. ‘
Thank you Melissa for being an inspiration to us all.