“Reach for your dream, and God will supernaturally empower you for such a time as this.”
These were the inspirational words spoken to Mary Martin Nelson, by her former pastor Tommy Barnett. Since hearing this message, she has never stopped reaching for her dreams.
Her story began in California, where she was born and raised. She eventually married the love of her life, Emil, after completing her associate of arts degree. They raised two beautiful daughters, Melissa and Michelle.
After her daughters completed high school she started performing in musicals and broadway plays. She even won a talent contest hosted by Pat Boone.
Using her talents, she started a small entertaining business, “Mary and Company”. The business quickly grew to over 700 accounts. Her husband and daughter Michelle both helped with the business; entertaining for legislative events, government functions and conventions in several cities.
Faith and family have been the guiding forces in Mary Martin Nelson's life.
While traveling the country with a program called MAPS, Mary and her husband landed in Tennessee at the “Rose of Sharon” ministry. The MAPS program coordinates volunteers to assist churches and ministry institutions with construction and evangelism projects.
It was during this time that Mary and her husband realized God had brought them to Tennessee for a reason. They would eventually make Tennessee their home.
“I have never seen such hospitable, warm, and caring people than I have in Tennessee,” says Nelson.
After returning to California, she recorded her first album “For Such A Time As This”, and started to become a regular on the Miss Senior California scene. Marilyn Collier, director of Miss Senior California became a mentor to Mary.
The Miss Senior pageants are open to any women who has reached the “Age of Elegance”, 60 years and over. Contestants are mature, elegant and graceful women who are full of joy. Mary competed in the Miss Senior pageants for a decade before finally moving to Tennessee.
When Mary and her husband decided to sell their house, they were surprised how long the process took. About a year went by before they made the final sale. Soon after, they rented a motorhome and made the long journey to Tennessee.
Traveling with 5 dogs, 4 adults and 3 puppies, it was not an easy trip for the family. In March 2017 Mary and her family arrived in Atoka. They had just recently bought a house, sight unseen, in a nice quiet subdivision.
Driving for the popular ride sharing service, Uber, became a way for the family to not only make money, but also learn about the area. While out and about, Mary saw a sign for the River of Life church. She was hooked after one visit. Pastor Greg Temke and the congregation have become “home” for Nelson and her family.
“I love the lord Jesus Christ with all my heart and all my soul. I have been so blessed,” Nelson says.
Reflecting on her experiences, Nelson takes time to give credit where credit is due.
“Wanda Bellow-she is responsible for getting me to this point,” Nelson says.
Bellow is involved with the Tipton County Commission on Aging, Tipton Arts Council, and also a former Miss Senior Tipton County pageant winner.
The Miss Senior America Pageant will be held in Crossville, Tenn. on Saturday, April 14. Mary Martin Nelson will be there representing Miss West Tennessee. She is excited to meet Mrs. Frances Brooks, director for Miss Senior Tennessee.
When asked about her favorite part of the pageant process, she had this to say.
“My favorite process is going to the pageant and meeting all of these wonderful women. We are able to share our philosophies. I just love the camaraderie with the sisterhood.”