Second Shot at Life
Moody Radio and wife of former basketball coach team up to help Mel reconnect with Christ in midst of difficult life journey
by Nancy Huffine / April 14, 2023
* Mel’s last name is withheld at her request.
Twila Paris. 4Him. Kathy Troccoli. All were Christian music voices heard regularly on Moody Radio in the 1990s, and all were part of *Mel’s childhood memories.
“I remember hearing those, you know, ’90s kind of popular (artists),” Mel recalls. “My mom would always listen to Dr. Tony Evans in the car whenever we were going somewhere. I think she just picked that time of day to make sure she could hear him especially.”
Growing up outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mel was raised in church and attended a Christian school for much of her childhood. The influence of faith and believers was always present somewhere in her young life, including through the mentoring of Mark Mowery, her middle school basketball coach.
“He was never way too harsh,“ she says, “but he was driven for the sport to make us the best we could be and to give glory to God.”
Though she didn’t know the coach’s wife, Karen, well at the time, Mel remembers, “And then his wife—everybody knew she was such a sweetheart.”
Turned off by Christianity
In her teen years, Mel’s journey of faith—and her life in general—began to take some difficult turns. “I went through a lot of deep hurt and just kind of got turned off by Christianity,” she says. “And then in my 20s, I kind of distanced myself more after my first abusive marriage.”
By her mid-30s, she was raising two children, working full time, and struggling in a second abusive marriage when God opened a door that allowed someone from her past to bring hope into her present situation. Mel’s former coach and his wife began frequenting the restaurant where she worked.
She recalls the first time she saw them: “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I don't know if you remember me,’ and he said, ‘I do!’ He said my name!” Even Karen, Coach Mowery’s wife, recognized Mel. “She said, ‘Oh, I remember you, too!’ So I guess she had her eye on all the players, and I never realized it!”
Months went by, and each time the coach and his wife came to the restaurant, Karen would make a point of seeking out Mel.
“I was having a lot of personal trouble at the time,” Mel says. “If I was having a really bad day, I might mention it. Karen would always refer to a Scripture. She just had this constant light coming out of her personality. And even when she was talking about something serious, you just could see her looking at you with such love, in the love of Christ. She just loved people.”
A lifeline for Mel
Karen was not only a good listener, she became an encourager to Mel.
“She just kind of encouraged me to keep seeking the Lord and to keep getting in the Word and to just stay faithful.”
Karen reminded Mel that God hadn’t abandoned her. “She said that the stuff that I didn't have figured out, God would lead me to the answers,” Mel says, “and He would make a way out if I was in trouble, and things like that.”
Sadly, while Karen’s words felt like a lifeline to Mel, they would be cut short. One day in 2015, Mel received the news that Karen had suddenly passed away at age 55.
“I wish I had gone home and written all (her words) down,” Mel laments. “But I didn't have the mind to do that.” Instead, Mel found herself sitting at Karen’s funeral listening to others’ words.
She heard Karen’s grown children talk about her influence in their lives and in the lives of their small children. Karen would often drive her grandchildren to school to help their busy moms.
“She would bless them each morning with that blessing from Numbers (6:24-26): ‘The Lord bless you and keep you . . .’” Mel says. “ The speaker said Karen would always have Moody Radio on in the car, and something just really zapped me when they said that about Moody Radio. Over the years, I had kind of written it off.
“And I thought, this is one of the people that I need to try and be like as a woman, as a mother, as a Christian.”
As she listened to others’ recollections of Karen during the funeral, Mel felt like God was saying, “These are cues for you, Mel.”
Mel started blessing her own children, and she started tuning in again to Moody Radio’s Chattanooga station, WMBW, with them. “I grew up listening to the voice of Tony Evans, and my children listen to his voice now,” she says. Chris Brooks is also a favorite. When she listens to his Equipped radio show weekdays at noon CST, she says, “I can always understand everything. I'm not confused by his verbiage or anything, ever.”
“I don't really think I can keep getting through what I'm still working through and healing from without being constantly pointed back to the Word,” Mel says. “With Moody Radio I’m being shown how to navigate everything that's surrounding me.
“I'm finishing my degree right now and raising three incredible kids, and I'm a single mom. I'm trying to get our life started over from having escaped a second abusive situation. It's taken some years, and that's OK. Sometimes it's just overwhelming.”
Keeping her heart and mind in the right place
Mel feels that “If you're not plugged into something that can ground you, it's going to eat you alive. If I didn't have a place like Moody to go to where I can be instructed and just kind of spoken to through whatever God wants me to hear that day. . . . It's like whatever program is on Moody that day, I get in the car, and they start talking about exactly what I needed to hear.”
Mel knows why she’s listening to Moody Radio today, and she doesn’t hesitate to add why she’ll be listening tomorrow: “To keep my heart and my mind in the right place.”