I really wanted to blog about Melissa’s big day, but never was able to fully write what I wanted to say about the weekend back with my church-family. Luckily, Allison wrote this first…
MelZims by Allison Lebo
For a week I have tried to blog about one of the greatest weekends of my life. But in the same way that you had to touch the hot stove top even when your mom told you not to, feeling is always better than telling or hearing. You never want to put words to experiences that are so rich, for fear they won’t do it justice. But I will try.
Last weekend I drove across the state from Pittsburgh to my hometown of Bucks County for the wedding of one of my lifelong best friends, the friend formerly known as Melissa Walters. As I raced against the clock on the PA Turnpike traveling straight from work to the rehearsal, I started to cry alone in my car before I even reached the church. I had “tied up all of the loose ends” at work and listened to a significant amount of rap music on the highway before I let myself really think about where I was headed. To the church that I grew up in. To my family. To the people I grew up with—Melissa, and Katie, and LeighEllen, and Eric Keller. Tears of incredible joy marked my realization that this is the place and these are the people who taught me to love Jesus.
Sometimes in life you sort of “get” how the Lord is refining you and growing you in a certain season. In my days of junior high and high school, I always knew that I had something special in my church community. But it hasn’t been until now—five years removed from the days where we would see each other every week for youth group, small group, Sunday football, and endless games of Dutch Blitz—that I’ve realized how formative those years really were for me.
Memories came flooding back to me as we gathered for a weekend to celebrate “the one we always knew would be first”…
Kneeling at that alter on Thursday nights after Eric had made us laugh for 30 minutes straight but then for 1 minute spoke to our souls in a way that made them long for eternal things.
Playing music alongside Heather each week and learning to lead people in to the presence of God. Band practices that ran late so that when the service came we knew the songs well enough that we could really worship, too. The one night where we couldn’t leave the song “All I Need is You”, and we sang that for the entire worship set.
Meeting with our small group on Friday nights because Adie assured us that there’s no better way a high-schooler could spend their Friday nights than face down on a basement floor worshipping Christ and talking about Him.
Sitting in Dom’s every Sunday after church before the back room was open and there were never enough seats. But it didn’t matter because the entire restaurant was filled with people you loved so everyone just sat anywhere you could find a seat.
Spending our Thursday nights during summers home from college together in the Loesser’s family room, singing at the top of our lungs and learning from Chris and Christine how to pray for each other.
Many of these things seemed routine at the time, but it is so evident to me now that those were moments where my heart was being chiseled by my Creator.
And so, as the wedding ceremony proceeded, I stood at the exact alter where the Lord first started to take hold of me alongside the girls who had been there, and I wept as we watched Melissa walk steadily down the aisle in white. Not because this was the end of a chapter, but because we had been together since the beginning. (And I do mean wept—not the cute wedding tears that form in the corners of your eyes during “Canon in D,” I mean streams of freshly applied mascara.)We partied the night away behind second-floor windows that overlooked one of the most beautiful views of Bucks County and that poured in sunlight and then moonlight as the evening went on. We twisted and wobbled with each others’ parents while our youth pastor/wedding officiator cleared the floor to perform “Billy Jean” and our friend Steve dropped the beats. You don’t realize how full your heart can be until it overflows on weekends like that.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”