Beyond The Checklist

048: How Hard Times Can Bring You Growth and a Way to Help Others || Melissa Bunkers


Darla: Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. If you’re a woman who is ready and willing to be a follower of Jesus, you’re in the right place. Join me as we dive in deep to learn how to embrace your journey on the covenant path with checkpoints instead of checklists. I’m your host Darla Trendler and I’m cheering you on. Welcome to your journey.

 Welcome to the spiritually minded women podcast. This is Darla. I’m thrilled to be here today. I say that every time, because I really just love hearing women’s stories and I love sharing them with you. And I have just met a new friend today getting ready to share her story with you. Her name is Melissa Bunkers and she has an amazing story and I’m really excited to share it with you.

So Melissa, welcome to the podcast. Do you want to just introduce yourself really quick? 

Melissa: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me today. My name is Melissa Bunkers. I’m a certified nurse [00:01:00] practitioner and a functional medicine expert. I’m the owner of revived functional medicine. And I have a passion for helping women balance their hormones, and that has come through my own journey of struggling myself and I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, actually Harrisburg, South Dakota, just outside of Sioux Falls with my wonderful husband.

As you see up here, that’s Collins and that’s Reese and we’re very busy, but it’s a blessed life. So I’m so excited to be here and to share my story with you. 

Darla: Okay. If you’re only listening to this on audio, you have to go to YouTube and see the link. She has the pictures of her cute babies above her and they are darling.

So cute. Melissa, I’m really excited to talk to you. So you had applied to be on the podcast and shared your story with me, and I’m really intrigued by it. How you set out in one path in your career. And how God helped you realize you were not going the way he wanted you to go.

And it really was a hard decision for you to make and how you shifted gears. So will you just tell me about that? What were you doing before? What did that look like for you? 

Melissa: Yeah, so I [00:02:00] started my career as a registered nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, decided to go back to school, to be a nurse practitioner, which has always been a goal of mine, had always thought, I’d be in the clinic hospital setting.

Landed an amazing job. As a nurse practitioner in the hospital setting in a surgery setting, fast paced, kind of adrenaline, I’m in emergency surgery and trauma. I thought that’s what I always wanted to do. And then I had my first daughter and about six months postpartum I had gone back to work. I was working full time.

I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to get my pre-baby body back, as women tend to do, which included intense exercise and diet and managing all the things as a wife and a mom and all of a sudden, I started experiencing extreme fatigue, anxiety, insomnia. I was like wired and tired and just felt something was off.

So I went to my doctor and she ran a few basic labs, [00:03:00] told me everything was fine and I was flabbergasted. I’m like, I am not fine. This is not okay. And I knew I had the training and some of the education to research it myself. And so I came across hormones and burnout and it led me to functional medicine.

And so over the course of about nine months, I healed myself with nutrition and lifestyle, stress management, mental health therapy, the grace of God, leading me this entire time to what my specific body needed. And now I, have so much more energy. I was able to continue working full time. I have energy for my children again.

And then as life does with children, it moved very quickly and soon we welcomed our second daughter into our family and I looked into a functional medicine program to get a specific training, but the program was thousands of dollars. My husband and I just weren’t financially prepared to [00:04:00] make that investment.

And so just moved on with life, put functional medicine on the back burner. And then one day I had a chance encounter with a brand new hairstylist that I just randomly found. And as we were chit-chatting she found out that I was a nurse practitioner and she said, have you ever considered functional medicine?

And I was just like, whoa, how did you know Goosebumps, as I’m telling you this. And I know I had goosebumps back then, too, but so that just lit the fire back in me. At that time, I looked into that functional medicine program that I had looked into before and sure enough, it had just been approved for continuing education credits for nurse practitioners, which means my current employer was going to cover that cost they were going to be able to reimburse me those thousands of dollars so that I could do the program and I was just elated. So excited. This was just a shove in the right direction. 

So I enrolled in the program in January of 2021. I was very nervous. How am I going to juggle [00:05:00] one more thing on my plate? But I couldn’t ignore the opportunity and the clear sign from Jesus Christ that this was it. This was my moment to go forward with this. So just from word of mouth, I acquired a couple of clients, friends, and family, and I was working couple of months. And then lo and behold, a random message came into my email from a local group here in Sioux falls called the wellness collective.

And they said, Hey, we heard about what you’re doing with functional medicine. How, I don’t know. Sioux falls is a city of 200,000 people. Somehow the word was getting out that I was doing this. It landed in their lap. And then they messaged me and said, We’re interested in bringing you on as an independent contractor.

And I was just like, Lord, oh my goodness. This is crazy. Again, my husband and I we were nervous. We’re not business owners or we weren’t business owners. We didn’t know how this would work, if it would work. That meant I [00:06:00] was going to be pulling out of the hospital setting.

And that’s what I had identified with for my entire life. I knew when I was a young child that I wanted to be a nurse and that always meant working in the hospital or at least in a clinic setting in the traditional setting. And here I was being called, and basically just so strongly pushed in this other direction.

And I had to sit with it and question it and just really pray on it. And I was doing a lot of journaling and just getting very quiet during that time to listen to what my next step was supposed to be. And so I, I just said, okay, I have to go for it. And so I did, and within just a few months, my schedule has completely filled up.

I am booked out five to six months for my one-on-one clients. And. It’s been nothing but blessings. Not only for me in my life and my calling, but for obviously for other women, I’ve encountered so many women who say I have the [00:07:00] same symptoms you were having and there’s this, I’m not getting the answers.

From traditional medicine that I’m searching for. And I have helped women who have been to the Mayo clinic and didn’t get answers and we’ve uncovered things for them. And now they’re on a healing journey. It’s just, the opportunities that God has given me through all of this is just, it’s amazing.

And I still struggle a little bit with that identity between pulling a, being a nurse practitioner and the hospital traditional setting versus now I’m, more moving more towards the functional medicine space. I still feel like I’m a little bit in between there because I do still work part time in the hospital.

But It’s a no brainer. The opportunities have been so abundant and he’s been so gracious in showing me the way. And I now feel more aligned with who I am and what my purpose is on this earth than at any other time in my life. So that’s the story in a nutshell.

Darla: That is amazing. So I wanna back up a little [00:08:00] bit and I wanna know. You tell this story and now you’ve gotten to where you’re at and you can see how God was guiding you. Like the chance meeting with a hairstylist, saying something and finding this group that wants to bring you in.

What were the other ways that you were just feeling like, this is what God wants me to do. What were the other signs in your life? 

Melissa: I was more emotional during that time, but not in an unstable, like that emotional side that had come out when I was burnt out like that anxiety, scary feeling

It was more like I’d be sitting up in my office here at home and just praying over, something that I had been working on for the business. And I would just become so overcome with emotion and just, and cry and goosebumps would come upon me. And it was just this intense feeling of Jesus of him being there and talking to me, and it’s only happened one other time in my life. 

And that was when I met my husband. So yeah, that, for some reason I was more emotional when I first started [00:09:00] my business and it was in a good way. It was just in a way of being so grateful and hip for him, giving me the courage and the strength to follow his path for me.

Darla: Did you have any opposition? I know seen in my life and I’ve seen through people that I’ve interviewed and people that I know that lots of times when you’re trying to do something good and you’re trying to follow God, there is an opposition called Satan who comes in and tries to thwart what you’re trying to do.

Did you ever have times where you felt that and if you did, how did you overcome that? 

Melissa: Yes, absolutely. As most humans do, we have our days where we doubt ourselves, we are more anxious and fearful and something wouldn’t go quite right in the business or, with a client that I was trying to help.

It was so easy to get into this downward spiral. Maybe I’m not meant to do this. I’m just wasting my time and my energy and how can I help these people? I’m not good enough for that. In those moments, I journaled a lot. I would literally write the feelings [00:10:00] down that I was having. So anxiety, fear, doubt those are three big ones that I remember writing down a lot. And I would literally cross out those words and write courage, strength, trust, and I’d pull up online sermons that I would find and listen to them. And so many of those messages just fit so well in those moments.

And that would be another moment of tears of just thank you, God. I needed to hear that. Thank you for calling me to this message today. And then it was just like, okay, I’m good. I’m set back on my path. And then things would start to work themselves out again. 

Darla: Oh I really love that because that’s a pattern I’ve seen in my life too. We get anxious or for me, a lot of times imposter syndrome comes in and says who do you think you are to be able to do that? And I know that’s not from God. And you get off, but it’s knowing how to turn back and how to bring him back into your life and just get back on that path and say, okay, no, I trust and I love what you did with the journaling and just writing out those words, strength and [00:11:00] trust, and, bringing those into the forefront and just knowing, Nope, I’m going to turn back.

So I think a lot of times it’s just that knowledge that there is some opposition and sometimes I view opposition as, oh yeah, I’m on the right track. Because someone doesn’t want me to do this. So I’m going to keep going. You mentioned also getting away from the Western medicine, like the traditional setting and what you were trained for and moving into something that was a little less mainstream.

Did you face any opposition from coworkers or, family, people around you saying, what are you doing and how did you deal with that? 

Melissa: Yeah, so my husband he’s wonderful, but like I kinda mentioned before, he’s not, we’re not, we weren’t a business owner. We grew up in this world where you go to work for someone else and it’s comfortable and you have a steady, reliable income every single month. There’s insurance and all those benefits offered.

And then here I was saying, I want to go out on my own and go out into the ocean without a boat and just try to make it work. [00:12:00] And he’s always been supportive, but also, it took him a little while to get on board because like I said, weren’t, business minded.

And yeah, it took him a little bit to get on board. I think growth requires us to step out of our comfort zones. And I knew that this is my dream, so it’s, I couldn’t expect him to see or to feel what I was feeling during those intense moments where I felt God talking to me. I certainly let him know that’s how I was feeling.

And then he was like, okay, okay. If that’s what you’re feeling then I’m on board. And so he’s been very supportive. 

Darla: Oh, that’s great. So what would you say to a woman who has their life all planned out is on a path and then all of a sudden they just, I think you said in the notes, I’m trying to find where you said it. That he literally sat in my lap to where I could not ignore it anymore. So what would you say to someone who’s feeling like that? Like they have been on a path and now they know that there’s a course change here. Like he’s leading them in another direction. [00:13:00] What would you say to that woman who’s feeling maybe apprehensive or doesn’t quite know, can I do this?

What advice would you give? 

Melissa: I would give the advice to get very quiet. Our lives are so busy and as women, we are everything to everyone on a daily basis, getting very quiet and turning inward and going to his word, whether that’s reading the Bible or listening to a sermon 

Just listening to slowing down and taking the time to listen to what’s on your heart because it’s there for a reason. And that reason is because that’s God’s purpose for you. And and that’s one thing I had to do is just get quiet and know that what he had put on my heart and my mind was there for a reason, even though I was scared and apprehensive.

I just, I couldn’t ignore it because he knows exactly what he’s doing. 

Darla: Yeah, that’s such good advice too, to get quiet. think you’re so right. Like we get so busy and I [00:14:00] try to have, I try to have time every morning where there’s certain things that I do. I like to meditate. I like to read scripture.

I’m a journaler like you I love to write. That’s one of the ways that I feel like he communicates with me and pray. It’s like you’re carving out time from your busy day, just for him. And to, like you said, be quiet beast. I think of that scripture be still and know that I am God.

When we’re still that’s when he can communicate with us. And not that he can’t communicate in busy crazy times because he can definitely do that. But I think it shows him. I care and I really want to know what your will for me is. And I know I have seen that in my life. I think that’s such great advice to be still and just to know, take some, be quiet and just take the time to listen to him.

that’s really great. So some of the things that you wrote in your application to be on the podcast were two things that really stood out to me were hope and courage.

What would you say about hope and courage in relation to your journey and to help others? 

Yeah. Oh, sure. So hope that things will turn out okay. Because he is [00:15:00] always good. So even in those moments, especially like for me personally, when I was burnt out and really struggling with my own health, I had to keep the hope alive that this was all for a reason and that I was going to come out stronger and better.

And with a whole new meaning of life, even through that difficult time. And that’s where this whole journey started for me. That’s absolutely, what his purpose was for me for that time in my life. So hanging on to that, that hope that no matter what he’s throwing in your path, that it’s for a reason.

And it’s for the betterment of yourself and possibly for the betterment of people around you. Courage certainly to follow what’s on your heart and on your mind, despite the fact that other people are going to question you, even someone as close to you as is maybe your spouse, your partner, and Courage to continue to step into the new role that [00:16:00] he has put in front of you.

And just knowing that whatever’s meant to be, is going to be, and that your support system will follow suit. If you just keep the courage to put one foot in front of the other. 

Yeah, so beautifully said. Melissa, this has been so wonderful to meet you and to hear your faith and your journey and how you’ve brought Jesus Christ into that journey. And I do have one final question for you, and that is how have you seen and felt the savior in your journey?

Melissa: Yeah, that’s a great question. I love that question. I have seen and felt him in all of the opportunities that like I mentioned before I wasn’t necessarily seeing them as opportunities in the moment, but now looking back and getting through kind of this whirlwind time of change, I can see just how even from the time I was little, he placed it on my heart to be a nurse, but to also have my own practice. I never knew what that was going to look like.[00:17:00]

It was always a confusing thing for me. That’s on my heart, but I don’t know where that’s going to go. That’s always been on my heart and here he’s shown up with all of these opportunities. I had to fall apart before I was able to grow into what I was supposed to become.

The chance encounter with the hairstylist, the inbox message of just, Hey, do you want to join the wellness collective, even reaching out to you and then with the podcast, you’re like, oh, great timing. I’m now interviewing, and so it’s just all of these things along the way.

Because I have trusted in him. I’ve had courage to step into this new role and he has just continued to bless me throughout with opportunities all along the way. So I cannot thank him enough. I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that I have seen and felt on this journey.

Darla: Oh, I really love how you put that. I was thinking, as you were talking, like he breaks us down sometimes first, like you had to go through [00:18:00] some hard things yourself first, like feeling like your health wasn’t right. And seeking those answers for yourself. And then when you do that, then you can help other people.

And I think so many people can relate to that, that we have these hard times in our life and then we learn from them and then he gives us the way, whatever that is, and it looks different for everybody. He gives us the way to be able to share that with other people. And I just think that is such a great opportunity that we have in our lives to be an extension of his love and share his light with those around us.

And I love how you’re doing that. It’s just, it’s remarkable. And I’m just so grateful to get to meet you, Melissa. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast. 

Melissa: It’s been a pleasure to meet you. I love what you’re doing here, spreading the message to people about God’s word.

Darla: Thank you. If anyone wants to connect with you, where can they go to do that? 

Melissa: So you can find me on Instagram at, functional med or 

Darla: great. We’ll put all that in the show notes, [00:19:00] as well as and people can go and find you. And just thank you again.

It just lifts me up so much to hear other women’s stories and to hear how the savior is working in their life. And I know that this will help someone else. So thanks so much. 

Melissa: Thank you Darla. 

Darla: And now here are this week’s journal questions. 

What signs from God are you receiving that are letting you know the direction He wants you to go? Take some time to be still and ponder and then write the impressions you receive. 

How have the hard things you have experienced in the past helped you to grow? How has Christ been beside you through challenges? How can you use your own struggles to help someone else? Journal your answers. [00:20:00]

Melissa shared how journaling helped her get through the challenges she faced while trying to change her direction in the way she knew God wanted her to go. 

One of the things Melissa did was write out the words that described the negative feelings, such as anxiety, fear and doubt. And then replacing them by writing the opposite words like courage, strength and trust. What words describe the feelings inside of you that are holding you back? Write them out and then replace those words with positive words that inspire you to continue on the path. 

I hope you enjoyed the podcast and if you did, please share it with a friend. I would love it if you would leave a review and rate it on Apple Podcasts. This actually helps more women find the podcast and embrace their own journey on the covenant path. To find more ways to be a part of the Spiritually Minded Women community, head over to spiritually minded For more [00:21:00]inspiration follow along on Instagram @spirituallymindedwomen. Have an amazing day. I’m cheering you on in your journey.