Sis. Mandi Massie
Mandi Massie grew up in Jacksonville, Arkansas. She attended UCA where she began as a special education major before obtaining her Master of Health Science with an emphasis in Occupational Therapy. She met her husband, Brian, while attending church in Jacksonville shortly after she was saved. They started dating at the one and only Camp Mulberry in 1999 and were married in 2003. They began their marriage living in Cabot, Arkansas, from 2003 to 2011, before moving to Nashville for four and a half years. They have since moved back to the great state of Arkansas and recently planted a church in Lonoke called the Well. They served as youth pastors in Arkansas and Tennessee before being elected National Youth Directors of the A.B. of C. where they held that title for eight years. They have three children: Ava, Emma, and Silas. I consider Mandi a dear friend. She has believed in me and the call of God on my life for as long as I’ve known her. I’m thankful to have a woman like her in my corner. She has such a heart for the Lord and His people. I know you will be blessed by her words and experiences.
What is a piece of advice that has affected your life?
Whenever Brain and I first got married, we went to church with Bro. Eric Kirkendall. He told us, “Get so involved in church that you can’t miss.” We did that, and I think it was a saving grace for us a lot of times. There are seasons that you can get lazy in your spiritual walk and it becomes easy to miss church. So, we just got so involved that we couldn’t miss. It became inconvenient to miss and have to find a replacement to teach or minister or sing.
Also, Pastor Ronald Denton talked to us early on in ministry about never opening a door for ourselves. That’s been good for us. When we were younger, especially, we were very zealous and wanted to do everything. He really taught us to be patient and wait on God to open doors and not try to force them open. I feel like that piece of advice has helped us through the years.
What is a great piece of advice you were given as a mother?
This is going to sound bad but… lower your standards and then lower them than again. What I mean by that is don’t compare yourself to other mothers and don’t insist on perfection. We have expectations going into motherhood, maybe because of social media, Pinterest, etc., that motherhood is supposed to look a certain way. But God gave you your kids specifically. Motherhood for you won’t look the same as it does for someone else. There is so much pressure on moms to just get it all right. We are so weighed down by the constant decision making that is required in motherhood. I think you just have to lower some standards, remember the most important things, and learn to let the others go. I’m married to a firefighter, and his schedule is really hard sometimes. There have been seasons that we had frozen corndogs or cereal for supper and that’s okay, of course, but not every night. There are just some things you have to let go. You have to prioritize. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Is there a boundary in your life that is non-negotiable?
Obviously, the essentials of the gospel are non-negotiable. There are things that ministry wise we have to put as essentials, and there are things that are traditions and opinions and we have to let those be traditions and opinions. The essentials of the gospel have to remain that. Besides theological, there are definitely some boundaries in our marriage that came to mind when asked that question. Brian and I have a really trustworthy marriage and we have always set up boundaries for that. We never put ourselves in positions to fail. We don’t allow ourselves to be alone with someone of the opposite sex or in a situation that would look bad or be a set up for failure. We just safeguard those things, so we never have to worry, and it never has been a worry.
What scripture have you stood on in your life or has meant the most to you?
Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
I love that so much. I think the way we have been brought up in church placed so much emphasis on certain gifts of the spirit instead of the spirit itself. I got a little confused about that in my early walk. I believe in the gifts of the spirit, but I just didn’t think that was why He gave me His spirit. This scripture is a constant reminder of why the spirit of the Lord is upon me. This scripture draws me back in and helps keep my focus on what it should be on in ministry.
1 Cor 10:43
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
This one has helped set some boundaries in my life. It helped me so much with the areas in scripture that people call gray areas. Especially because I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, I didn’t always have a real clear idea of right and wrong on some issues. This scripture helped me realize that things might not be a sin or send me to hell, but they aren’t beneficial to my Christian walk. That helped me make decisions. It was no longer is this right or wrong? Because in some cases it was hard to say if it was right or wrong. It changed my thought pattern from, “Is this right or wrong,” to “Will this benefit my walk with Christ and help me grow?” It’s not about “Can I get away with this?” In Christianity, we aren’t under the law, we live under grace. But because we have this relationship with God, and if we really love, we will want to do things that are beneficial in that relationship.
Where do you pray? What are your study habits?
When we bought our most recent house, the master bath had his and her closets. Being the aspiring minimalist that I am, Brian and I were able to share a closet. So, we turned the extra closet into a prayer closet. That was such a game changer for my prayer life. Before that I prayed, but it was not always at a consistent time or place. It was in the car, shower, bedroom, etc. But giving my prayer and study time its own place has been a game changer for me. Sometimes when I am getting ready in the morning, I get excited because I feel like Jesus is in my prayer closet and He is waiting for me. I want to hurry and get in there. There is something about having a place with no distractions that has really made a difference in my prayer life.
As far as studying, I am ADD so I have to change it up to keep it interesting. I use many different outlets. I use the Bible app and will search plans for what I am feeling or dealing with. I use RightNow Media and their Bible studies; we do some of those as a family. If we are studying for camp, instead of just having the kids memorize verses, we will take a few verses and study them as a family, so it gets in their hearts instead of just in their heads. I study in a lot of different ways because I need to. Even with praying, I don’t always pray the same way. If I am super distracted, I just write prayers because I can stay focused.
What do you think makes a strong woman, and is there a woman who embodies that quality to you?
What really makes a woman strong is not a personality thing. A woman is strong when she knows her identity in Christ and is confident in what God has called her to do. You’ve heard people throw around the term “God-fidence.” It’s not about self-confidence. It’s about knowing who you are in Christ and not being deterred by other influences. My life has been influenced by so many Godly women. I know I will get in trouble for naming names but a few that come to mind are Nancy Denton, Linda Ferguson, Emily Tipton, Jennifer Lisenbey, Angie Burks, and Jeana Beecher. These are just some of the ladies who have influenced my personal walk.
Do you make free time for yourself? If you have free time what do you do?
No, I really don’t have free time; it’s a rare thing. Brian works a complicated schedule as a firefighter, plus he was working a second job. Now, we pastor a church. I take the kids to school, and then Silas goes to school with me, so I don’t even have alone time in the car to and from work. I did a day last year by myself. I went and got my hair done, ate lunch at McAlister’s, and then went to Barnes and Noble and read a book until I had to go pick up the kids. If I did have free days, they might look something like that.
Besides Christianity and marriage, what was the best decision you ever made?
Besides the decision to have kids, my career choice, as an occupational therapist was the best decision. I started as special education, and I am so thankful I came across occupational therapy. My stepbrother that I grew up with has Cerebral Palsy, so I knew that I wanted to do something with special needs kids. The most obvious route was special education, so that’s kind of where I was veering. My stepbrother had always had occupational therapy in the school, so I never had the chance to witness it. One summer I was home with him when the occupational therapist came to the house. I was very interested in what the therapist was doing. I went back to school like the next week and changed my major. I am glad I did because I really feel like it is a ministry. It’s all about serving and helping someone find their independence and live their best life. I love what I do. It has allowed me so much flexibility. When we moved to Nashville, I was able to find a job immediately. I feel like it was a God thing that I was led into that.
Was there a season in your life that contributed to your strength?
Every season in one way or another contributes to your strength. We’ve been through a couple of different churches in our life due to moves or other situations. I gained so much under each pastor. One season that stands out was a season of loss that I went through. I lost a lot of family members in a short amount of time: two of those were brothers. It makes you look at life differently and family differently. All of these things even impacted my decision to have kids and how many. It changed the way I viewed things. My brothers were young, and I learned how fleeting life can be. We take advantage of family and opportunities when we have them. It was definitely a learning season in my life that I came out of so much stronger. There are so many times that God has used that hurt to help me minister to someone else who is going through something similar.
I really feel like our move to Nashville strengthened our marriage and our family unit. When we lived in Arkansas, we were super close to family. Moving off made us depend on each other as a husband and wife. It required us to grow up some and depend on each other more. We grew a lot in ministry too, as well as our faith. There’s just something about Pastor Dee Jay’s leadership. He is just a man of faith and believes that God can do the impossible. Our mustard seed grew there. Every season gave us something we needed to live off of next.
Strong women don’t play the victim. Sometimes we get dealt a tough hand, but you can’t play the victim and sit around and lick your wounds. A strong woman takes what she is dealt and makes the best of it. Acknowledge your emotions, give them to God, and move on.
If you don’t know Mandi, and if you haven’t figured this out already, you need to. She is an incredible person with a powerful testimony. Any woman who gives up the opportunity to have her own walk in closet is strong in my book. Mandi shared so many good nuggets in this interview; it’s hard for me to pick just one thing to hone in on. However, the scripture, “All things are lawful to me, but not all things are expedient,” she chose to speak on is one that I have heard her use many times in the past couple of years. It’s come up in conversation at her house, Camp Mulberry, and Wired Weekend and has changed my thought pattern. I believe I heard it first before my life transition from high school to college. It definitely altered the way I viewed things and certainly kept me accountable, and it still does. I don’t believe God intended us to judge the things in our adult life by right and wrong. When we were younger, or babes in Christ, we should absolutely use right or wrong. But as we mature in Christ, we must take the next step. The next step goes beyond right and wrong and requires us to think, “Is this Holy?” The Lord never tells us, “Be ye right, as I am right.” He says, “Be ye Holy, as I am Holy.” It’s less of a question of right and wrong, and more of a question of is this holy? Does this benefit my walk with Christ? Does this tarnish my witness? Will this help me win a soul? Does this draw me closer to Christ?