Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jessica!

Today is my sister’s birthday, so I thought I’d post something in her honor today.  My sister’s name is Jessica and she turns 33 years old today.  She is an amazing person in so many ways and I thought it would be fun to take a walk down “memory lane” and remember some of the funny and memorable events in our lives together!

For much of our life, Jess and I were thought to be twins by many people.  When we were little, our mom would dress us in similar clothes and fix our hair the same.  People everywhere would get us mixed up.  Even as a little child, I would answer to Melissa or Jessica.  Even today, when someone hollers out “Jessica”, I usually turn my head.  Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to tell which one of us is Melissa and which one of us is Jessica – but I don’t mind being mistaken for her!

I have so many memories with my sister.  Memories of playing as children, fighting as children, getting in trouble together as children, or getting spanked together as children!  Jess was always a good big sister, for the most part.  I have one specific memory of Jessica “tending my wounds” after one of my many bicycle accidents.  I wasn’t exactly the most graceful of children and I seemed to wreck my bike more often than the average kid.  Most of the time, Mom or Dad were home to take care of my cuts and bruises.  But one day, I did a nose-dive into the road by our house and skinned up my knee really good.  When I came home crying, Jessica was the only one in the house.  She proceeded to clean my knee, which was pretty bad, as I screamed and hollered for her to stop.  She quietly explained that it had to be done so I didn’t get an infection – but still I cried!  Jess always took good care of me!

There’s another unforgettable memory that resulted in me and my sister both being grounded for the entire rest of the summer.  In my parent’s defense, we deserved it!  We played often with one of the neighborhood girls and ran around town together during the summer while our parents were at work.  One day, we got this bright idea to go taunt a dog that was penned up.  Now, this was no ordinary dog and it was a very stupid thing to do.  But we were kids and thought it would be fun, plus we knew we wouldn’t get caught!  Well, we walked right up to the pen of this Doberman pincher dog and started taunting it.  This dog was so mean that the owners had signs up all over their yard saying, “Do Not Trespass” and “Beware: Dog”.  But, we knew we were safe because it was penned up – not smart.  Well, the more we taunted it, the more riled up the dog got.  As we were leaving (and laughing hysterically), the owner came out and yelled, “Don’t go anywhere!  I’m calling your parents!”  Now, my hometown is small enough that everyone knows our parents, and we knew that we were going to be in BIG trouble.  So, Mom comes home from work and says, “Wait til your Dad gets home.”  Oh no, we’ve really done it now.  Well, we got grounded for the entire rest of the summer.  That meant we couldn’t even leave the yard!  How boring!  So, we laugh now but at the time, it was a pretty crazy thing to do!
Jessica LOVES to go shopping.  She is a Black Friday fanatic and a yard sale addict!  I don’t know how many times she talked me into yard saling with her on Saturday mornings in Willisville or Steeleville or Percy or anywhere there was a yard sale!  She convinved me TWO times to go Black Friday shopping with her and I hated it – but had fun with her!  She made the comment this year that she wished I was there with her on Black Friday, even though I would have complained the whole time -- very true!

There were tons of times that Jess would call me on Saturdays and ask if I wanted to go to Fairview Heights to Target with her.  My first question was always, “How much do you need to get?”  Usually the answer was, “Oh, I need to return a shirt or grab a few things from the grocery section.  Nothing much.  We won’t be gone long.”  As soon as I got in her car and we had left my apartment (and I was stuck), she would usually inform me that there were a few other stops she had to make.  Our quick shopping trip almost always turned into an all-day shopping event, which she loved and I didn’t!  I love her company but not shopping!

My sister has given me two wonderful nephews and one wonderful niece that I love very much.  I miss them everyday I don’t see them and I so wished that we were closer so I could spend more time with them.  

 Derek is 12 now (Wow) and plays basketball and cross country.  

Calleigh is 3 ½ now and quite the “Girly-Girl”.   

  Austin is almost 16 months old and he is working on walking.  

 I miss so many milestones in their lives by being away – but it does make our visits lots of fun when we’re home with them!

When Jess and Mike got engaged, she asked me to be her Maid of Honor.  I said that I would do this under one condition – I would NOT wear a pink dress!  At the time, I could not stand wearing pink and it’s her favorite color.  She promised not to pick pink.  Instead, she picked the absolute most uncomfortable dresses you could ever imagine and made us wear them instead!  But I love her anyway!

When Shawn and I got engaged, we planned our wedding in just over 4 months so it was pretty busy.  Shawn and I decided to pick 2 songs to dance to on our wedding day.  He had already picked one and asked me to pick the other.  So, Jess and I drove home from one of those “short” shopping trips and listened to every song on her phone (over 400, if I remember right), trying to find the perfect song.  When we got to Sparta, we still had a bunch of songs to listen to so she drove around Sparta with me for about an hour until we found the perfect song.  We knew it was perfect when both of us got teary-eyed!
Since Shawn and I moved to Iowa, I talk to Jess almost every single day.  I miss her so much and she is very faithful about calling often.  That first year and a half away from her was extremely hard.  Every day is hard to be away from her but that time was especially hard.  After Austin was born, he was in the hospital for 6 months and then unable to leave their house for about 3 more months.  So during that time, she wasn’t able to come visit us in Iowa at all!  She got to come for Shawn’s ordination weekend in February last year but there were about 15 other people that weekend from Illinois.  A great weekend, but not for “sister time”.  So, we both struggled with her “being stuck” and unable to come visit us.  Well, little did I know that she and Shawn were planning quite the surprise!  Shawn and I came home one day in May from a doctor’s appointment and found her and the 3 kids hiding behind the kitchen counter.  When I walked in the door, she told me that they were here for the whole week!  A whole week – that was great!  I still think about those days sometimes as I walk around our big house – it was so fun to have her and the kids here to fill it up!  Only the very best of sisters would drive over 400 miles by herself with 3 children – two of them under the age of 3 – all for the love of sisters!

There are so many memories that I have with my sister that I can’t even begin to record them all here.  I would need to write a book to fully explain the impact that she has had on my life.  But one thing is for sure – she is the BEST sister I could have ever had and I am so very thankful to have her in my life! 

I love you, Jess!  Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


One of the reasons I named my blog what it’s named comes from the song, “Macedonia.”  It's been on my heart a lot lately, especially after our Mission Feast Sunday and an election that revealed a divided, dissatisfied nation. 

So, here’s a tribute to the song that’s helped me look at the world from a completely different standpoint than what I'm used to...and helped me to see that just sitting in my nice, happy world isn't going to cut it when I claim to live for Christ.  I, and everyone else who claims to be a Christian, has to get out of our nice, happy world and have a heart for the souls who are dying and don't even know it!  So, go find your Macedonia - and be blessed in the sharing of the Gospel!

The song – Macedonia (emphasis added by me)
The vision of a dying world is vast before our eyes;
We feel the heartbeat of its need, We hear its feeble cries
Lord Jesus Christ, revive Thy church in this her crucial hour!
Lord Jesus Christ, awake Thy church with Spirit-given power.

The savage hugs his god of stone and fears descent of night;
The city dweller cringes lone amid the garish light
Lord Jesus Christ, arouse Thy church to see their mute distress
Lord Jesus Christ, equip Thy church with love and tenderness.

Today, as understanding bounds are stretched on every hand
O clothe Thy Word in bright, new sounds and speed it o'er the land
Lord Jesus Christ, empower us to preach by every means!
Lord Jesus Christ, embolden us in near and distant scenes.

The warning bell of judgment tolls, above us looms the cross
Around are ever dying souls - how great, how great the loss!
O Lord, constrain and move Thy church the glad news to impart!
And Lord, as Thou dost stir Thy church begin within my heart.

Macedonia is right outside our front doors, literally!  So, what are we doing right now to reach the “ever dying souls”?  Don’t you feel the great loss of so many souls who don’t know our Lord?  Don’t you hurt for their loss and their awful destiny that is sure to come?  If you do feel the loss and grieve from it, then join me in praying that we, as Christ-followers, would begin to “preach the Gospel by every means”.  What does that look like?  Not quite sure, except trying to be Christ to everyone in every setting – whether at home, work, on Facebook, in the grocery store, in your car, at the doctor’s office, everywhere!  “Dying souls” are everywhere! 

 "During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."  Acts 16:9-10

Lord Jesus Christ, empower and embolden us to preach by every means…

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Not Mine, But His

As I was practicing songs for our worship tomorrow, I saw that we would be singing an especially appropriate one for me right now.  I’ve been wrestling with what God has for me right now in this life, at this moment – since what I thought He had for me is no more, for now.  I still don’t know – and so I wait.  But my prayer has been that the Lord would show me His way through this pilgrimage that is life, and not my way.  And so, the song and my heart sing:

Teach me Thy way, O Lord, teach me Thy way!
Thy guiding grace afford - teach me Thy way!
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav’nly light, teach me Thy way!

Teach me Thy way, O Lord, teach me Thy way!
When earthly joys depart, teach me Thy way!
In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress,
In failure or success, teach me Thy way!

When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy way!
When storms o’erspread the skies, teach me Thy way!
Shine thro’ the cloud and rain, thro’ sorrow, toil and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!

Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way!
Where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy way!
Until the race is run, until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won, teach me Thy way!

My true heart’s desire in this storm of life is that I would see God’s ways as being best – especially in my day to day life.  So, how does that happen?  Well, I’ve found that no other peace surpasses the peace that I find when I’m in prayer, asking for God’s help in my life – falling to my knees, lifting up my head, and putting my life into the hands of my Maker.  There, I find real peace.  There, I find real rest.  There, I find real purpose and fulfillment.  No matter what this life brings – I can have peace and rest, knowing that God’s ways are going to be carried out.  And those ways are much better than anything I could plan, as Isaiah so clearly states:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

So, join me in praying that we would walk more by faith, and less by sight.  Because frankly, what good can this world offer that our eyes see?  Only by seeing through faith, do we see what is actually worth seeing…and then, and only then, will we know God’s way, and not our own.