MeMe Perdue has worn many hats in both her personal and professional life. A collegiate athlete, a daughter, a mother, a wife, an advocate for healthier living. Now, Perdue hopes to combine her Earthly roles as the trailhead of a spiritual journey. She is helping launch a new Biblical study program to merge both her professional life as an advocate for a healthy mind and body with her personal belief of a healthy spirit.
“I’ve been able to take everything that I’ve done in my care, professionally, and everything I believe in my heart with my faith and combine it,” Perude said. “I think that’s the whole point of where God has been trying to take me for a very long time. It’s unusual to be able to take everything you love and put it into one effort.”
For Perdue, the journey began its current path in 2006, when she was moved to do a Bible study focused on spiritual health and tie it in to living abundantly by having good physical, mental and social health. Perdue said the first step to combining the elements comes from being spiritually healthy, which can help bring the others into harmony.
But Perdue had a difficult time bringing harmony to both her personal calling and her role with Pennyrile Allied Community Services.
“The job I had — with a nutrition and physical activity program — I kept wanting to merge the two, but I couldn’t because I was defined under state guidelines to not bring that component in,” Perdue said. “It was driving me crazy. This Bible study has been that effort to merge all of it, to take all the important messages and put them in one .”
Perdue began working in her free time to create what would eventually become In His Image. In time, her role at PACS changed from encouraging physical and nutritional health to helping others cope with mental and emotional stress. Working under the Family Preservation Program, Perdue supervises social workers who go into homes to look for signs of abuse or neglect.
“That’s hard and that’s part of mental health, so I’m still dealing with a side of life that I love — which is that whole person — but I’m still confined by those restrictions that I can’t take the whole message,” Perdue said. “I love what I do at PACS, they’ve been fantastic to me. It’s just I feel like I can’t share the punchline. We can share these wonderful programs we have with them, but when you’ve got state and federal funds and you can’t share what I feel like is what can really take you to the finish line.”
But last year, another personal change once again pushed Perdue in a different direction and a step closer to fulfilling her goal.
Perdue struggled with her mother’s health through 2012, rallying with her family through 10 months of recovery. Her mother, a retired psychiatric nurse, passed away Dec. 12.
After that, Perdue said she became extremely motivated to finish what she started in 2006 in memory of her mother who emulated that balanced lifestyle.
Perdue dedicated the foreword in the In His Image study guide to her mother, citing her mother’s passing as a signpost that it was time to complete the seven-year project. Helping her in that goal were three other women, Amanda Bassingthwaite, Linda Johnson and Rose Shields. Together the four formed FourSight Wellness as a means to publish the guide and help promote the concept of living an abundant life through mental, physical, social and spiritual health.
“No matter where you are physically, no matter where you are spiritually, no matter where you are emotionally, mentally, socially — you can change all of that and be better and live better today than you live yesterday,” Perdue said. “I’m looking at this from mid-life, thinking I’ve got more living behind me than I do ahead of me, and I want to make sure those years ahead of me are better than the ones I’ve left behind. I want to be able to leave that same legacy for my children that my mother left for me. I want for every person to be able to do that.”
To that end, Perdue and others will launch In His Image next month. The conference will be held at Eddyville First Baptist Church on Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. Caldwell-Lyon Baptist Association churches will come together to take part in the conference. Perdue, whose husband Tim is pastor at Eddyville First Baptist, said more events are planned as the message spreads by word-of-mouth and church associations.
“This is kind of the kick-off to the whole Bible study,” Perdue said. “We’ve got them scheduled in Kentucky and North Carolina, and other states are coming on as well. The kick-offs are not just happening in churches. We’ve got a school district that’s doing one, we’ve got YMCA’s that are taking it on as a Bible study. We have community groups. But I want it to all start here.
“I don’t want to say this is just a Bible study, it’s more than that,” Perude said. “It’s really an effort to help people understand how to live abundantly and how to help their community live abundantly. It’s an outreach effort and it’s an inward one, too.”
Perdue said that may mean different things to different people and in different areas.
“Every community is like a family, and every family is different,” Perdue said. “What we need in Lyon County may not be what Perry County needs, or Hazard, or Letcher County. So as we go to these communities and get their church champions or their community planning team set, we ask them what is their community needs. In eastern Kentucky they have a focus on how they can fight drugs. Where we’re using it for a physical fitness program, they are using it to fight drug addiction.”
Perdue said the multi-use aspect of the study has helped it spread quickly.
The conference will include the Bible study, a luncheon, giveaways and health screenings. Professionals will be on hand to give direction and referrals for screenings indicating a follow up is needed.