My Friend, Wayne

In the shadow of your wings, O Lord Almighty, will I take refuge
until the storm of destruction has passed by.
Psalm 57:1

Wednesday evening, March 26th, 2014, my good friend Wayne Burlison went home to be with Jesus. Just six days before his passing, I wrote he and his wife, Lisa, this message:

For the first time since your journey with cancer began, the reality is hitting me: my friend, MY FRIEND!, is enduring this battle. I have never had a friend go through something like this, preparing to see Jesus face to face. I can’t stop the tears right now. They are mostly selfish tears, at the thought of losing you.

Wayne, I am just so thankful that we’ve become friends. I honestly consider you my big brother. I have always appreciated how you talk to me – never looking down on me because I’m younger than you, but seeing me as a peer, a friend. Thank you for that. I love all of the experiences we’ve gotten to share.

We spent two spring seasons in the pit orchestra of the high school musicals – what a privilege to be a part of that group, working hard, but also enjoying lots of laughs.

Running together. I especially remember one of the Friday evening runs when it was just you, me and Shelly S. What a fun, peaceful time that was. I love that we got to run the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon together. I remember rounding that first corner you were just ahead of me and I thought, “I’ve got to catch up to Wayne!” :) I lost sight of you in the crowd, but you were still that inspiration to push me a bit harder.


I appreciate the stock you’ve put in my musical ability and experience with the students. The many times you’ve asked my opinion on a theory book or on a student’s ability level have made me feel valued and a part of something bigger than my piano lessons.

Singing next to you on many worship teams is always a gift. Your encouraging style of leadership made practice so fun and easy going, yet focused on excellence. What a rare combination. :)

So thank you for being like the big brother I never had. You’re an important part of my life, my family, and I love you.


I knew the end was coming quickly for Wayne, having been reading Lisa’s blog updates. I just didn’t want to get the news as I was checking Facebook while on the elliptical yesterday morning. I wanted to be home, where I could let the tears come. But the tears did come, later that morning when I remembered one recent encounter with Wayne.

Just by the way he lived his life, Wayne taught me many lessons. How to lead with humility. How to love your community. How to run in Vibram Five Fingers. And even how to tie my running shoes so the laces don’t come undone. In January I wrote about my love of music and wanting to keep myself growing and challenged to learn new things. Wayne had commented on that blog post:

Got an interesting way to challenge you if you want Melanie! We do a recital together, and you can be my accompanist, and you can also do solo pieces?

I wept as I realized I would never have the opportunity to perform with Wayne; at least in this life.

I have no eloquent way to end this painful post. I have lost a dear friend. His impact on this community is widespread and people are coming to Jesus because of the way Wayne lived even while he was dying.

To live is Christ and to die is gain. 

Philippians 1:21


Biting Bullets

To some it may seem your father and I have been a bit passive in this infertility journey. There are so many tests to be taken, procedures to be performed, personal boundaries to be invaded, dollars to be spent, money to be saved, appointments to be made, advice to be followed. The options for infertile couples in the 21st century are numerous and can feel completely overwhelming. If it weren’t enough stress deciding what paths to pursue and where to draw the line of “this is as far as we’re going to take this,” there’s the financial burden. Holy Smokes treatment is pricey. Up until recently, we didn’t have the funds to back treatment of any sort. Thanks to family gifts, we were able to get a few major tests done in October 2012 (all of which came back clear/ok), but nothing more has been done. 

When some people find out we haven’t even seen a fertility specialist yet, they look at me like I’m crazy. But there was a lot of fear behind that decision to put it off.

What if we can’t afford it? (After all, the consult alone was $500 at one particular office.)

What about the disappointment? If we pursue treatment and it doesn’t work, I’ll have to deal with serious heartache. It feels safer to just put it off.

How crazy will our lives become when we actually have kids? I’m not sure I can handle it. 

It’s been almost four years of semi-trying to conceive (because honestly we could have been more intentional about tracking this and that, and testing for x.y.and.z.) And finally, Child, I’ve bitten those scary, potentially-painful bullets. I called the fertility doctor, made an appointment, got a great vibe from everyone in the office, was excited to find the expense to be half of what the other office charged. I see the doctor tomorrow morning at 9am. They already have my records of tests and bloodwork and fluoroscopy from my gyn, and I’m entering this with excitement. I don’t know what other tests or treatments might be discussed, but at least we’ll have taken the first big step.

And tonight I’m going to my first ever chiropractor appointment. Many friends in the area rave about this local practice and I’ve had lots of people insist on the benefits of regular adjustments. I’m not sold on the idea (and neither of us is a chiropractic advocate), but I’ve decided it’s non-invasive and it could help my body, so it certainly can’t hurt to try.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long, Child. It doesn’t mean my heart hasn’t desperately yearned for your arrival. It just means I’ve been afraid of diving into this unknown territory. It may also indicate that I’m afraid of needing to see a fertility specialist because that solidifies the reality that we are infertile. That’s a scary thing to say, you know.

Praying for some answers and some change. Praying for finances to cover what we deem necessary. Praying for discernment. Praying for YOU.



Sunday Pancakes

Your daddy and I had two little girl guests last Sunday afternoon. Almost every week, Madison and Jillian run up and ask if they can come to my house. Their cute faces, valid arguments, and insistent tones make it difficult to say no. Most of the time we’re exhausted already from our Sunday and still have a full afternoon and evening of youth group prep and hosting to do. It’s definitely tiring. And we technically have good reason to cherish our quiet afternoons alone. But sometimes I push myself out of the selfish (albeit oftentimes needed) habits, and say, “Yes!”

After entering our Hobbit-Hole-Home with an eager comment, “Oooooh, it’s like a secret entrance!” (we’re “garden level”), we set to work making breakfast-for-lunch.

Jillian donned an oversized apron and poured all of the ingredients for homemade pancakes.

Madison listened carefully to Kevin’s instruction about how to play guitar and strummed lovingly in the living room.

Both girls helped add chocolate chips to the pancakes and did a great job flipping them on the griddle.

After bacon, eggs, and pancakes were cleaned up and the girls had each had their fair share of flute and guitar lessons with Kevin, we settled in for 2 episodes of The Magic School Bus. (Yes, Child, we own the complete set. Your dad and I love those shows and thought they’d be a great set of dvds to keep on hand.) Jillian asked me if I would snuggle buggle with them on the couch.

So I did.


It was warm and loving and relaxing. I can’t wait to teach you how to make pancakes or how to crack an egg. I look forward to listening to your dad’s guidance as you try your hand at our myriad of instruments. I want to snuggle you more than I want anything else in this world. 



Observing Lent

“Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. So we must be reconciled with God … The season of Lent, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.”
—Henri Nouwen

Even with great effort, I cannot recall a time in my life when I did not know Jesus. What a gift this is; and a reminder of the grace of God on my life, his setting me apart, calling me out, leading me to follow. And though my heart is hidden away in the cleft of The Rock, the pursuit is never complete. Each day is an opportunity. I can choose to delve into the Living & Active Word, pursuing the lover of my soulAnd I can open my mind to new disciplines, new ways of worship, new practices of the faith.

While my current spiritual disciplines may be “new” to be, there is truly nothing new under the sun. Practices that are fresh and exciting to me today, have been used by saints for centuries. Realizing this draws me in even further because I’m aware of my communion with our faithful forebears, joining in the worship of the same God, using ancient liturgy, Scripture, and prayer.

These past few months of my spiritual journey have been different and deeper than any I can recount. Perhaps it’s the onslaught of trials I have faced, presenting me with the opportunity to see God’s grace in bright contrast to my heart’s heaviness. It is as Charles Spurgeon wrote:

God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers.

Thus, for the first time, I am entering the Lenten season with anticipation. I am attempting to examine my life and respond to the purgation the Lord may be leading me to, rather than getting caught off guard and making a hasty decision to give up this or that.

The Lenten season in particular invites us to be more intentional about returning to God on every level of our being through practices of self-examination and repentance. Then, as we renounce those aspects of the self that keep us from abandoning ourselves to God more fully, we are called into the sacred rhythm of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Ruth Haley Barton

I want to live each day with intention – the intention to pick up my cross and follow Jesus