I remember when

So, my little sister is getting married in June. She’s not so little anymore… I’m thrilled that she’s found someone who her heart loves and who loves her immensely in return. Dustin’s an incredible guy (and a very lucky one).

I got a notice about her bridal shower yesterday and ever since I’ve been flooded with memories of growing up with Courtlandt. She’s always been my very best friend and my partner in crime. I brought the crime, the mischief, and the ideas, and she was always my partner, regardless of our mission. She always believed in me and trusted me, even if I was leading an escapade out through our two story window. There is no more faithful friend or follower.

My very first memory of her, I think, is not of meeting her at the hospital, or of bringing her home, though I do remember being thrilled to have been given a sister. My first clear memory is of Court when she was about six or seven months old. She fit perfectly in my hot pink retro flower baby carriage. I remember pushing her around our living room and I remember being so proud that she was my sister. She wore a jumper and a big floppy straw hat and I thought she was the cutest thing ever.

And there are thousands of memories, thousands of moments just like that. I remember talking her into so much. And I remember taking her punishment as well as my own on so many occasions because I “was the one who talked her into” whatever mischief she had been part of. She was always content to be with me and to do whatever I was doing. There are memories of countless tea parties; dance parties with our Minnie Mouse dolls; dressing up in pearls, heels, and veils; rollerblading on the front porch; blackberry picking; learning to ride our bikes without training wheels on that horrid gravel driveway; horseback riding; long days at our desks in the school room; escaping through our bedroom window when Mom thought we were napping; picnics in the woods; and of lots of time in trees in the back yard. We cut holes in our frilly socks to make dresses for our barbies, dreamed up a million scenarios to pretend we were part of, made a home of the little house in the backyard, stood on stools to learn to cook, and we wore matching clothes for so long that I think it amounts to almost half of our lives thus far.

There were times that we argued, I’m sure, but I don’t remember them. And I think we both remember the two single times that she got into trouble that didn’t involve me. I hate to out her publicly, but I think she lied only twice as a child and was caught both times. Once she thought it would be really fun to pull all of the cotton swabs off of the Q-tips but wouldn’t admit to Dad that she had done it (I think she blamed Taylor), and the other time she ate peppermints without permission. I know… truly evil, right? I used to think she was perfect in every way, and then she confirmed it when she surpassed my graduating GPA with her perfect score of 4.0. She’s literally a genius.

I could never capture completely all that Courtney has meant to me. She’s loved me through life’s rough times, rejoiced with me in my successes, and prayed like crazy every time I’ve ever needed prayer. We attended Lee College together and studied abroad in England together in 2005. We followed that trip to England with another trip to England, France, and Italy following my college graduation and I know we’ll never forget our three weeks alone together in Europe. These are the memories that make a lifetime. Sisterhood is definitely one of the most precious things we’ve ever been given. All of these memories make up a woven existence, a shared life, that can’t be broken even by distance and infrequent phone calls.

Now I get to serve as her maid of honor and I’m thrilled to watch her enter this new stage of her life and experience the incredible gift of marriage. I have to admit that it’s strange to think that she’ll enter a stage of life ahead of me but I’m so excited to have the opportunity to watch her grow and learn from her experiences. One day we’ll switch places and I’ll have her standing with me as I become one with someone as well and I can’t even begin to express the joy that knowledge brings to my heart.

My mom was always right. My sister is the best friend I’ll ever have.

The Church – the global perspective

What I have been thinking and feeling recently isn’t new or revolutionary, but I think many times it’s overlooked and forgotten and I know that it’s usually one of the furthest thoughts from my mind. For the last couple of weeks I’ve found my heart increasingly burdened for the Church around the world.

In fact, it’s been on my heart so much that I almost repurchased the book Jesus Freaks while out shopping in PA with Josh a couple of weeks ago (and I totally should have gone with that impulse purchase). As I continue to study the Church and read books about ministry, it’s become glaringly clear to me that it’s almost like we’re entirely separate from our brothers and sisters around the world… as though we’re members of a different body.

Yesterday a video was posted by Cornerstone Church Simi Valley, and has subsequently been taken down while the church verifies the authenticity. However, regardless of whether or not that video was actually showing the beatings of believers, persecution like that does take place and you can visit http://www.persecution.com/ to learn more about the persecution of the Church worldwide. I only watched about 20 seconds of it before I just couldn’t bear to watch any more and I began crying at my desk.

Then, last night at the Gathering, I was reminded once again that we are all part of ONE body. We’re the body of Christ.

Romans 12:4 “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

And though we’re many members, we’re all necessary – 1 Corinthians 12:14-27:

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

I feel we need to reconnect with these people. Their stories might not be well known on earth, but we’ll know their names in heaven. Please join me in praying for the people all around the world who labor and suffer for the sake of Christ. Not that God would necessarily take away their suffering, but that He would be their Provider, their Peace, and their Hope.