What is the world coming to…

I have been trying to cut out more and more processed foods from my diet for years…I have failed miserably on the fast food front this year, but I don’t keep too much of it in my house now. You can never unlearn things and wow…the things that go into our food…it is crazy. I am not an organic/grass fed nut, but if/when I can I am certainly going that direction.

Anyways…I saw this video and normally wouldn’t share something like this except that it is so beautifully made and this little video for Chipotle Mexican Grill about processed foods tugged my heard strings and actually made me want to cry. Give it a watch…the music and animation are so good!

What’s Next

I can’t believe it has already been eight months since I moved home. I am not going to say much about the past months except that they were much harder than I could have imagined. When I left, I knew God was telling me to come home and I just had to hold onto that. I still miss all my kids and when ever I think of them it still brings me to tears…I am crying even just writing about it now…but God is so good and has given me so much. Even through the tears I have hope and joy in where God has placed me now.

Last I wrote…I was working at CORRAL as the program manager for an equine assisted therapy center for at-risk teenage girls. I loved the ministry there, but really had a heart to work towards foster care…the hours and pay made that impossible, so after a few months I took a new job. I have been back at the farm every Saturday to do an optional Bible study with a few of the girls who stay after programming for an hour or so. It has been great and I have had so many different people from church come with me to make it all possible. I hope to continue to have opportunities to be a part of these girls lives.
Since January I have been doing marketing for a commercial photographer from our sister church in Durham, NC. It has been a great opportunity to grow and work in many areas as well as getting to learn from an amazing photographer! My boss is great and again…God has been so faithful!
I started looking for a place where I could take in kids, but rent was so high for multi bedrooms and after living in Mexico for the last few years…I didn’t qualify for a home loan.  After a while I just stopped looking and thought I would try again in a few months…but a couple weeks later some friends bought a house and offered to let me rent their three bedroom home. It is so perfect for my needs and I plan to spend the next year getting certified and ready to take in foster children. God has already supplied a roommate for this year to help with rent while I replace my dying car and furnish and get the house ready for kids.
I have seen God’s hand in every step of this process and it gives me even more faith to move forward towards foster care. He has already provided almost all the main furnishings for my new house and I am excited to see where he leads over the next year! I am planning on trying to keep updates on this blog about what he is doing and information on what it takes to become a certified foster parent.

Hope the few of you out there who still read this will enjoy this new adventure with me!

new business ventures




As many of you know…I did some part time photography before moving down to Mexico. I am attempting to start back into that again to help supplement my income. In the past I never even covered the cost of my equipment or website, so this time around I did more research to see what I would actually need to charge to make a profit. I wish I could afford to work as I did before, but I can’t. There are a lot of costs and a major time commitment to being able to stay on top of the market and keeping up with the learning curve of shooting and editing images. That being said, I am offering a great Family and Friends-Portfolio Building Discount from now through the end of the year. $100 for a 1 hour sitting and it includes a DVD of all your images. When I have my online galleries up and going, I will also put your pictures up there as well. I will offer similar discounts on special “photo days” in the future where I will try to shoot 6-8 sessions in a day at a specific location, so hopefully this will still be an offer everyone can use.

So, anyways. Please check out my new website http://www.bymelissajoy.com and if you are on facebook, you can like my new fb site at http://www.facebook.com/bymelissajoy. If you would like to be on my mailing list for future discounts and offers please send a quick e-mail to info@bymelissajoy.com.

I want to send a special thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging and helpful over the years while I was getting started in photography. I still have so much to learn, but I never would have even tried without all the encouragement I received from family and friends like you! Thanks!

the in between

I moved back to my old home in North Carolina about six weeks ago. I left behind all the children I love at Rancho 3M and started life over again in my old hometown. Over the last few weeks I have moved in, started a new job/ministry, am trying to get a side business up and going, have rejoined my old church and reconnected with many old friends. I am not exactly sure where to start, but since I get the most questions about my new job…I will start there.
I am working as the Program Manager for CORRAL Riding Academy, an equine assisted therapy facility that works with at-risk teenage girls. I know that God opened this door and I am excited to be working with a christian organization. I knew going in that I had soooooo much to learn and that this job was going to push and stretch me in many new ways. I like my job and am excited to see what the future holds, but have to admit that I am overwhelmed and maybe even a bit stressed trying to learn everything and keep the masses of information and observations straight in my head.  I did not know going in that I would spend much of my time actually tutoring many of the girls and this has also opened a bucket of inadequacies…thank you Google for helping me through algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry and history tutoring sessions. I am actually enjoying learning the math stuff again and try whenever possible to give the other topics to one of the volunteer tutors. If you are interested in volunteering as a tutor or would like to learn more about this ministry you can visit their website at corralriding.org.

Life in general has been going well. I planned ahead of time to jump in and hit the ground running so that I would stay busy and not have too much time to think and miss all my little kids back in Mexico. I think it has helped and even though I don’t feel like I am completely able to emotionally engage with my friends, church and job, I am able to enjoy it. I have a new homegroup with several couples that I was in youth group with way back when and I am excited to reconnect with them as well as the new couples I don’t really know yet. I am going to be teaching in the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school class soon and am looking forward to working with children again. Things are different. The church has changed, people have come and gone, my friends are married and have beautiful children, the kids I once worked with are all grown up and even though I learned to drive here…I keep making wrong turns. But I expected the changes and while it is hard to have to try to find out where you belong all over again…I am a different person than I was four years ago and I am excited to see exactly what God has for me here.

I will try to keep everyone updated as life unfolds. No promises to do it regularly since you all know how I am about that, but by God’s grace I will have many stories of His faithfulness to report in the years to come. Puppy pictures and my new photography business info coming soon!

The Lord had a change of plans…

This is the most recent support/newsletter I sent out in case anyone isn’t on my e-mail list.

Well, once again the Lord has shown me that my ways are not His ways! As of the last newsletter I sent out my family and I were planning to head back to NC in early October, but things changed a little and I am actually going to be heading back next week. I will be leaving here on September 10 and hopefully arrive in North Caroline by September 12.

A couple of weeks ago after a friend heard I would be heading back to North Carolina, she told me about a job opening working with at-risk teenage girls at a horse farm. Needless to say I was intrigued and threw together a quick resume and sent it off. I didn’t know if I had any chance of getting the job, but after several interviews I was offered the position of Program Manager. There will be a rather steep learning curve, but in the end I will be a kind of case manager/program organizer. I will get to work with the girls, their families/schools/social workers/etc. as well as organizing, working with and I think eventually training volunteers. This is an amazing ministry opportunity as well as a huge learning and growing experience for me. I am crazy nervous and excited. As you might guess, this job won’t pay much at all, especially in the beginning, but I know the Lord has led me here and have faith that He will provide!

So here is my plan (Lord willing) to get through the next few months:

Part One:
I need help! Basically I’m broke. I can afford to get back home, but that’s about it. I will be staying with my brother, but there are many basic costs that I have to pay for in the first month (vehicle registration, license, gas to work, food, and I am going to need a few clothes, etc.).  My new job will pay monthly so I will only have about a week and a half of pay to get by on till early November.

As hard as it is to ask, I have prayed a lot about it and I need some help. If anyone is willing to help me get back on my feet, I would be so blessed! I had originally asked for support through the month of September and if anyone feels the Lord calling them to this (even though I won’t be working at the Ranch the whole month), it would be a huge means of grace in my life right now!

The other issue is that if you send the money through Rancho 3M it will take a while to get back to me. If anyone is willing to forgo a tax deductible receipt and send it directly to me in NC, that would be an even bigger help!
Melissa Schlax
972 SIlverberry
Pittsboro, NC  27312

Part Two:
I am going to try to pick up some side work doing child, senior and family photography. I know I have a few faithful fans from years ago who might be willing to hire me even though I don’t have any kind of web-site or portfolio online. Please tell friends, I could REALLY use the business!!!!  (I hope to have an official web-site/portfolio up, but it may take a few months)

Melissa Joy Photography
Photo Blitz

Friday, September 14 – Saturday September 15
JC Raulston Arboretum

$100 includes: sitting fee, 1 hr photo session, DVD of all finished images
This is a special start up/portfolio building offer!!!!

If you have any questions or would like to set up a photo session please contact me at mschlax@gmail.com or 919-606-8302.

I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and support over the past years and these past few weeks waiting for this job! You all have been a huge part of my ministry here and I am blessed to have been able to serve these kids. I love them so much and hope you will continue with me to keep them in your prayers for years to come. The Lord has a special plan for their lives and I have been privileged beyond measure for the opportunity to see even just a little bit of it!

I re-wrote this e-mail multiple times, so I hope my heart comes across and not just a plea for money. I am in faith that the Lord will supply and more than anything would ask for your prayers during these next weeks as I leave behind the children I have grown to love. While I know this is the Lord’s will, it is going to be a heart-breaking transition and I need your prayers for both me and all my little loved ones here!


Well, I have been putting this off for months. At first I didn’t write because we just didn’t know what the Lord wanted us to do and the last few weeks I keep putting it off because once it is out there it is just so much more real. But it is going to happen and it is real, so here it is. My family and I will be leaving our home here at Rancho 3M and moving back to North Carolina this fall.  I never thought this day would come, but here it is. I am excited about starting over back home in NC, but have not really let myself face the reality of leaving. My goal for now is to live each day to the fullest and deal with everything else as it comes. God has given grace for every trial so far and I know He will walk through this as well.

Here is my newsletter if you would like to read more about this decision.

July 2012 Newsletter

Summer Birthday Party

Sooo….I am in a crazy rush. I know I haven’t written anything lately and that is because there are so many things up in the air, but I promise to write soon and update everyone.  Meanwhile, please enjoy some pictures from our recent Birthday Party!

reading in April

So, I’m late again with my book update. For now, I am just going to be happy that it is getting up at all.

Kisses From Katie

This was an amazing book about a girl who went to Uganda and ended up with 14 girls and a ministry that helps get impoverished children into school as well as a meals and showers.  Her focus on Jesus as she walked through each new trial was so inspiring. I went back and forth from tears of joy and excitement to tears of discouragement as I read because this is the kind of life I had always imagined for myself growing up. But even as I read she was constantly reminding me of God’s sovereignty through the joyful and hard times of life and I came away so blessed and challenged to live every moment to bring the love of Jesus to those around me. Many missionary books can be more about the work and adventure, but this one was saturated no by the work Katie is doing but by the work Jesus is doing in her life and in those around her. Great Read!!!


Lost in the Middle

Ok, so I haven’t finished this book and no I am not going through a midlife crisis, but Phil Sasser gave it to me and it might be one of the most encouraging books I have read in a couple of years.  It just talks about dealing with life when it doesn’t turn out exactly like you planned.  Definantly don’t wait for midlife to read this book. I will try to put up a few more excerpts as I read it, but here is one I read today.

The problem is not that you are demanding too much from God; the problem is that tragically, you are willing to settle for far to little. Our dreams are puny in comparison with the amazing things Gods wants for us. God’s “dream” stretches from before the foundation of the earth through human history and on into eternity. It includes the ultimate war and the greatest victory. it solves your greatest problem and gives you reason to get up in the morning with hope. It guarantees your place in the most magnificent celebreation in the universe. It imparts stunning wisdom and gorgeous love. God’s dream fixes what has been broken and reconciles what has been divided. It unites you with the Lord Creator, the Sovereign Savior, the Great I Am. It is more than you could ever ask for, bigger than our biggest dreams, and beyond the furthest reaches of our imaginations. It assures us that we will be liberated from personal slavery and unalterable personal destruction. Yet, in our blindness we are more attracted to our little self-designated dreams, and we experience great personal anguish when they slip through our hands.

Audio Books:

Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galations

This was also from a reading list I got from Phil Sasser (I will try to post that later). It was really good and remarkably easy to listen to and understand. I now see everything I look at through through law and grace. I was blessed  and hope you will be too. This book is free on librivox.org and though it has several different readers none of them are bad.


The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Ok, so this book has no real eternal value, but is just a great and fun read…or in this case listen. I have read this book numerous times and it is a fun adventure about a man who helps french aristocrats escape the guillotine during the french revolution. This version is free on librivox.org…if you click on the picture it will take you to a version recorded all by the same reader and she is VERY good!

Parade and Dancing

Today the town hosted a Cinco de Mayo festival and parade in town and the kids from the school participated  in the parade and the dancing in the town square.  This time our kindergarten class and the elementry dancing team preformed for the ceremonies. The kinders were adorable and everyone loved them. The elementary had a few wardrobe malfunctions (dresses falling down) due to the new off shoulder dress style. I was not a fan of the new dresses or parts of the dance, but the kids had fun and I hope they will make a few adjustments before the next dance.

I hope you enjoy the pictures…I know there are WAY too many, but with so many subjects it is hard to narrow it down.

spring break part 2

Well, it has taken long enough to get these photos up, but in my defense…I have to take my computer to town because our internet at the Ranch is limited and uploading pictures uses it up too fast.

So, here are the rest of the pictures from our fun on spring break.  We had a pizza and movie night, make chalk paint, went to the park and had ice cream, did some work and just plain old hung out and had fun.  I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I do!