TEMPLE TERRACE — Patina Ripkey has gone through multiple stages in her life to get where she is today.
The director of worship and arts at Temple Terrace United Methodist Church documented many of them during her keynote speech at the recent 41st annual Community Prayer Breakfast, sponsored by the Temple Terrace Woman’s Club, at the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club.
While her church challenges each of its members to be an instrument of hope in the community, it took years for Ripkey to realize her personal reality of that vision.
For the singer/musician it was a step-by-step process, and at times she back-pedaled rather than moved forward. Although Ripkey proclaimed herself a Christian at 14, it wasn’t until years later, she said, that she truly acknowledged the power of prayer. Moreover, it took her a while to discover the importance of listening and taking to heart God’s answers to her prayers.
“I married a person that I shouldn’t have,” said Ripkey, noting he was addicted to drugs and pornography. She had a daughter with that man.
She eventually dissolved the marriage but her feelings of shame and unworthiness stuck with her years after the divorce.
“I stepped away from the church and it took me a long time to get rid of the baggage,” Ripkey said.
But as time passed, she reconnected with a higher power and her life began to turn around.
“I was a new person,” she said. “I even had a dream that Jesus was looking at me and he said, ‘I am so proud of you.’”
Then, in a short period of time, she suffered the national heartbreak of Sept. 11 and lost a boss whom she deeply admired, her father and a dear friend, who died from a fall.
It was a stage, she said, when she found it difficult to pray.
“But while I was driving one day, God told me I would never be alone,” said Ripkey.
From that point forward, good things began to happen. She began reading her Bible again, joined a small group at the church and turned to the piano and singing as a means to express her gratefulness to God.
In August of 2004 she was offered her position at the church, and her second husband, who’d been out of work, finally found employment.
“God answered my prayers,” she said.
Ripkey delights in telling her story, knowing that she is able to serve as an instrument of hope to others throughout the community.
“Nothing is impossible with God at the center of your life,” she said.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.