Where Grace Reigns with Annissa Jones
By Evelyn Tinsley
Meet Annissa Jones
By definition, grace is a pleasing or attractive quality, or it may be defined as a manifestation of favor. Grace is also described as unmerited favor. No matter how you define it, in the life of any Christian, the grace of God is welcomed! In the lives of mothers like Annissa Jones, grace reigns! The Abundant Life featured mother for this week is Annissa Jones, one woman who knows something about the grace of God.
Annissa enjoys life as a wife, a mother and a professional. She is married to John “JT” Jones, her childhood sweetheart. They have been married for 16 years and they are the proud parents of their daughter, Pearson. Annissa was 15 when she and JT met at a high school basketball game. Their stories of how they met and what happened next are told a little differently depending on whose telling their side of the story. But, after a good laugh, they both agree that they shared a mutual attraction to one another. However, Annissa was not allowed to date, so, her relationship with JT would have to stay in the “friend zone” for a few years.
It was Annissa’s lifelong dream to become a Nurse. She loved taking care of her family and one trip to the doctor’s office planted a seed of aspiration. Unfortunately, life would take a turn for the worse. Obstacles would grow like weeds around her. Would Annissa be able to remain focused in light of the trials that waited to confront her? Only by grace.
Any spiritually mature Christian can tell you about God’s grace. They have witnessed grace, lived in its favor, and been renewed by its power. Likewise, any spiritually mature Christian can also tell you about sin. They have witnessed its destruction, lived in its shame and been crushed by its weight. In all its forms, sin is a destructive force that reigns until death. But our lives are not defined by sin when we are rescued by His grace. When sin strikes a furious blow in the life of a child of God, we can know without doubt that grace reigns in equal measure.
Where grace reigns, Queens are born. Annissa is someone who exudes grace. For me, it’s the graceful way in which she carries herself. But it is clear that her regal demeanor did not come from a life of ease or privilege. In the beginning, her mom and dad provided a stable home. “I was a Daddy’s girl” Annissa remembers. Then one family tragedy sparked a terrible domino effect and her life was changed forever. Death, betrayal and alcoholism were unwelcomed thieves of Annissa’s joyful home and they threatened to rob her of a bright future.
Young Annissa found love and stability with her grandparents and their homes became her home. There was “Mama”, her paternal grandmother, who lived in Red Springs, NC and “Gramma” and “Gramps”, her maternal grandparents, who lived in Lumberton, NC. Annissa split her time between the two cities, residing in Red Springs during the week days and living in Lumberton during the summers, holidays and weekends. In addition, she shared an enduring bond with “Ma Pearson”, her great-grandmother. Annissa lived with Ma Pearson and fondly remembers sharing a bed with her great-grandmother until she was 9 years old.
In Red Springs, Annissa’s grandmother worked two and three jobs to provide for herself and her family. On Sundays, after church, her Mama would invite her friends over for Avon meetings. Annissa and her sister provided the entertainment. “We’d dance to Michael Jackson”, Annissa fondly recollects. Her grandmother allowed her to play in the marching band at school. And after school, she could go and visit with friends. For Annissa, life in Red Springs and Lumberton were two very different experiences.
Annissa’s visits to Lumberton meant working alongside her grandmother who taught her how to do yard work, garden and keep a home. “When I came to her house, I knew I was going to have to work”, Annissa recollects. But Annissa was not afraid of hard work. Each Thursday at 7:00 am, Annissa rose with her Gramma to do laundry and yardwork. Gramma was very particular about how the lawn was maintained. “She liked that fresh-cut, golf-course look”, Annissa specified. It was a 3-hour task that Annissa completed with a push mower. After the lawn was cut, laundry was washed and hung outside to dry. Of course, all the laundry had to be ironed and put away too. “I loved the structure and being a part of a two-parent household”, Annissa admits.
Overtime, a painful shyness dominated Annissa’s young life. In school, Annissa’s fair skin tone and alluring features grabbed the attention of her peers at the predominantly black school she attended. Her appearance made her popular with the guys but unpopular with the girls. She was the target of mean girls and bullies. At one point, one girl tried to set Annissa’s hair on fire. Trips to the girl’s bathroom turned into opportunities for bullies to find Annissa alone and act out their jealous rages. In response, Annissa learned to defend herself and to fight when necessary.
This tumultuous reality did not fit Annissa’s vision for herself or the life she wanted. “I wasn’t a fighter.”, Annissa explains, “I wanted to help people. I wanted to be a nurse” Fighting for survival created an internal conflict for Annissa that made her want to withdraw and disappear. But the people in her life would not allow that to happen. People like her grandmothers and college instructors insisted that she push forward confidently.
The Dream That Grace Made
Annissa’s dream of becoming a nurse became a reality when she earned her degree in Nursing from Harding University. She arrived at Harding as a Freshman with clenched fists, ready to defend herself from the attacks that had defined much of her childhood experience. However, by the time her Senior year concluded, Annissa overcame the troubles of her past. She embraced the peace and acceptance she experienced at Harding. She thrived in that environment and gained confidence within herself to be the Queen that grace was destined to make her.
Annissa loves spending time with JT and Pearson. They worship together at the Sharpe Road Church of Christ where Annissa, serves on multiple ministries. Last year, the Jones family enjoyed a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida and they look forward to returning. Their next trip will likely be a beach trip to Garden City, South Carolina. Annissa highly recommends it.