Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

The Remarkable Work of God

I am sitting in a leather love seat looking out my sliding glass door at Mt. Elbert, one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. In the foreground, off my deck, hummingbirds flit around a birch tree’s branches looking, it seems to me, for the nectar that must have been provided by the previous tenant. I make a mental note that I need to hang a feeder. 

I now live in Leadville, Colorado. At 10,150 feet it’s the highest incorporated town in the United States. I am here to be the pastor of St. George Episcopal Mission and grant-writer for their food ministry. It’s a part time job, that came with a substantial cut in pay, prestige, and church size. On a good Sunday we have 12 people in worship, but we feed 350 people a week through our community meals and provide food for about 4000 people a year through our onsite and mobile food pantry. 

It’s a long way from my former life as lead pastor of First UMC of Arlington Heights. It took a 1100-mile drive, weeks of sorting and packing, interviews with the church and Episcopal Bishop, creating a budget spreadsheet to see if I could make the money work, and endless conversations with friends and advisors asking, “how crazy is this?” to get here. 

For years, I’d been saying if I could do anything it would be move to the mountains and write. That desire showed up in conversations with friends, with my financial planner, with my spiritual director. But I couldn’t seem to make a move. It was like I was living in the dream where you want to run, but your legs are filled with concrete. I was stuck. Any move felt too risky. Would I make friends? How could I make it financially on my own. It’s embarrassing to admit now, but I thought the only way to live my dream was to find a husband who would support me. 

When I turned 55, I remembered with a jolt that my father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 62. “I could have just 7 good years left.” Acquaintances in their mid-60’s had new health issues that derailed retirement plans. A couple odd results on routine screenings that turned out to be nothing serious My own body reminded me that there are no guarantees. 

I stopped just wishing my life were different and began exploring options. The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to be the lead pastor of a large suburban congregation with a better view. I wanted spaciousness for a more expansive and creative life. I wanted a new adventure. 

And Way opened. A friend’s Episcopal church in the mountains became open. Their Bishop said yes to a Methodist. The church could offer a slightly larger position for just enough more money. But Way didn’t just open in the world. It opened in me. I experienced a loosening of what I thought I needed. A growing willingness to take a risk. To embrace my life. To trust that I could be happy. That was the most remarkable work of God. 


  1. Norma Lee Kerns Barnhart

    So good to get this confirmation of your journey west and knowing it is the right thing. This is inspiring to even me living where I live and enjoying my life in the woods and on the river — a place I never planned to be. I want to write and have entertained family and friends for several weeks—time to get back to my routine. Writing has been my “Way.” I hope it becomes a big part of your life now too.
    I look forward to hearing from you as you put your thoughts on the page. Keep your eyes on the mountains.

    • admin

      Thanks,Norma Lee! I am so grateful of your encouragement that day at clergy session! I’ve missed our writing dates and look forward to your book as soon as you’re ready to share it!

  2. Sherrie Lowly


    • admin

      thanks so much,Sherrie.

  3. Darrow Woods

    I was very excited for you, when I read about your plan to move to Leadville. It is wonderful that now that you are there, you are growing in awareness of the rightness of the fit! The fact that you’ve made the move partly because of the connection you made with Amy, back when we all met, helps me feel connected to the adventure.

    • admin

      Thanks, Darrow. That class at Kenyon really was a game changer for me! It’s been fun to watch your writing continue and develop.

      • Gretchen Boyer

        Life seems to be full of never ending surprises! I love seeing how “You do You” is developing! I feel brand new with a touch of hard-earned wisdom too. Expansive, profound delight and wonder! Yippee 🥳

        • admin

          Gretchen, sounds like you are on an important journey of your own. I look forward to hearing about it!

  4. Joyce Bieritz

    Another fun entry. It sounds like you have jumped right in and are doing the things you had planned, one step at a time. I’m proud of your courage and perseverance. You can certainly do this. I miss your weekly messages and encouragement, but it feels right that you are making it all happen. Keep these pieces coming!

  5. Mary Ann Laforet

    You are following your bliss and making a difference in CO rather than IL. Sounds like you are off to a good start!

    • admin

      that means a lot! Thank you!

  6. Jean Wood

    Thank you for sharing insights on your journey. It surely was a leap of faith. I knew that your dad’s illness played a role, even though it was not major. My brother was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He is married to my husband Barry’s sister. Since both men have/had that disease, each of our collective 4 sons have an uncle and a father with it. It is something for them to ponder in mid life, as have you.

  7. Linda Schueler

    I enjoy reading your words and am so happy for you and admire your courage. I do miss your messages and your smile.

    • admin

      Thank you, Linda. I miss the people at FUMCAH too.

  8. Julie Boggess

    You are small in stature but mighty in courage and spirit! It is beautiful that you went with it and stepped through doors that opened for you. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • admin

      Thank you, Julie. I’m so glad to be here.

  9. Darlene Cools

    I’m not a writer but I appreciate your giving to others through your words. Your move did not surprise me even though I do not know you as well as others do. This seems like a good fit for you.I’m glad you are listening to that inner voice and I will continue to hold you in prayer as your journey continues.

    • admin

      Thanks, Darlene. I’ve been encourage by the times people have said, “this makes perfect sense!” Thank you!

  10. Ron Reed

    I admire your courage to explore your dreams.

    • admin

      Thanks, Ron.

  11. Thom Frerk

    “The willingness to take a risk, “ just yesterday I was looking at the most pivotal moments of my life where I passed on the opportunity and it was all because of fear of change or economic fear. Thanks for the reminder money is just a tool, It only becomes an obstacle if you let it and our ability to be capable and succeed only flounders when we freeze in fear

    • admin

      You’re absolutely right about money — it’s a tool. And we need that tool to do important things for us. for me, figuring out how much I need is a constant journey.

  12. Harry Nicol

    I loved this, Melissa. I love that you started a new adventure taking a pretty big risk. I’ve taken some risks through a winding career & have no regrets & a lot of gratitude. I’ve long admired how you do your life. This move is evidence my admiration has been well founded. I wish you well!

    • admin

      Thanks, Harry. Your comments mean a lot!


  13. Bobbi

    An amazing journey for an amazing faith filled woman. You inspire us all! So happy for you – taking this leap to Colorado!

    • admin

      Thanks, Bobbi!

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