Wednesday, March 31, 2010
As I sit here reflecting on all the delightful memories that I now have to cherish from the events of recent days gone by, my heart sings with gratefulness to my God! His goodness truly overflows into and throughout every nook and corner of my life.
Memories to Treasure:
The Tickled Pink Shower
~ Shopping for pink fashion show items that I could picture bringing a smile to Tara's face
~ Making huge batches of granola for the guests' goody bags
~ Staying up until 2:30 a.m. with my mom the night before as we put dozens of finishing touches on each detail
~ Watching the heavens open and the rain pour down with intensity right after we had unloaded our multitude of items into the rented facility the morning of :-)
~ Scurrying around with friends ahead of time, setting up tables and decorating as we raced against the clock
~ Delighting in the beauty of a room transformed by pink!
~ Watching Tara enjoy herself throughout the party
~ Reveling in the laughter and sweet fellowship of dear friends
~ Hearing precious, heart-felt tributes shared by guests for the honored bride-to-be
The Maiden's Quest Reunion
~ Receiving dozens of emails from alumni stating their plans to attend and their excitement over the event
~ Sitting on the floor of Hobby Lobby with numerous scrap-booking papers spread along the aisle as I mixed and matched patterns for the Prayer Journal craft
~ Finding the perfect ribbons to match each paper
~ Shopping with a friend at Sam's Club for bulk supplies
~ Writing the name tags of each person planning to attend
~ Working alongside my mom and dad as they helped me assemble 200 craft kits (what troopers!)
~ Welcoming our dear friends, the Bridges, into our home for the weekend
~ Setting up and decorating the church in anticipation for a wonderful reunion
~ Praying with Tara, Stephen, and Kelly right before the event
~ Reconnecting with so many precious maidens and mothers as they began to arrive
~ Walking onto the platform and looking out at a sea of familiar, beloved faces
~ Weeping on the back row as a video clip was played reminding me of God's faithfulness
~ The delight of hearing Tara and Stephen's story, song, and exhortations
~ Seeing the fruit of our labors as prayer journals were lovingly created by eager hands
~ Nibbling on delicious homemade cookies :-)
~ Hugging old friends and new
~ Hearing the feedback from so many young women grateful for the encouragement they received
Tara and Stephen's Tropical Spa Shower
~ Seeing the beauty of creativity
~ Enjoying yummy food prepared by others :-)
~ Writing a song about the happy couple
~ Watching them enjoy their food at the special table-for-two
~ Listening to wise exhortations from God's Word
~ Watching the smiles and delight that new gifts for the home can bring
~ Seizing a quick moment for a hug with my beaming friend in the midst of buzzing hub-bub
Hopefully, pictures will soon be available to share with you of these happenings in life, but for now, perhaps these word-snapshots will give you an idea of life in my corner of the world lately.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Suffice it to say that life has been a whirlwind lately!
Between preparations for my good friend's bridal shower this past Saturday and organizing the upcoming Maiden's Quest reunion this coming Saturday, I have been on the go constantly.
I am so excited to report that Tara's shower was a pink success! Hopefully, pictures will be available soon. Kelly was the official photographer of the event, and I'm sure she snapped some lovely photos, capturing the fun times for a lifetime of memories!
I am also excited to report that we are expecting nearly 170 maidens and mothers for the reunion this weekend! Not only does this number far exceed my expectations, but I am utterly amazed that alumni are driving in from all over the state. We are expecting friends from the Dallas, Austin, Kerrville, and Houston areas. What a time it will be!
Tara and I would so appreciate your prayers for the reunion, specifically that the Lord would be honored and glorified by all that's said and done, and that those who come will be impacted deeply to pursue God's best in the area of purity.
On a personal note, I would also appreciate prayer for sleep. For some reason, my body has not been able to sleep much at all for the past week. Thankfully, God's grace is proving sufficient to carry me through each day with energy and strength, but I am concerned about the lack of sleep I've been getting. Even when I go to bed early, I have been spending most of each night tossing and turning. Your prayers in this area would be a blessing!
Until the next news flash...!
Monday, March 8, 2010
To a Maiden’s Quest Reunion
“The Rest of the Story”
By Tara Riddell and Stephen Craig
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Humble, TX 77396
No more frogs for
Her prince has come, and they are soon to be married!
Please join us for a joyful reunion of MQ alumni from across the city as we gather to hear Tara and Stephen share their courtship story.
In addition to edifying sessions given by the happy couple, our time together will include light refreshments, a hand-made craft, and uplifting music! You don’t want to miss this special event with a focus on the beauty of purity!
Maidens and mothers of all ages are welcome!
Guests are welcome too!
R.S.V.P. to Katrina Rebsch
(Kindly reply by March 17)
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I have barely made it past chapter three, and yet, my heart and life has already been touched and stirred as a result of what I have read. God does that all the time. He directs me to books according to the seasons of life I go through, knowing that what I read will be exactly what I need for that season.
The current season I find myself in is serious decision-making regarding future missionary work. I feel the weight of responsibility to correctly know and understand God's plan and follow His pathway. As I am in the midst of seeking his will and praying for direction, K.P.'s book has contained a timely message that I read right on the heels of a powerful quiet time with the Lord. God is continually placing quotes, sermons, and circumstantial confirmations into my life that are providing more and more clarity in my understanding of how He is directing my future. While there are yet many unknowns, I am walking by faith and not by sight as He continues to reveal one step at a time.
Some of these passages from Against the Wind were so profound in my life, I cannot keep them to myself but feel urged to share them here in this blog.
From Chapter Two: "Called By God"
There is a definite difference between a profession and a call:
~ A job, a profession, is one you choose;
a ministry is one Christ chooses for you.
~ A job depends on your abilities;
a ministry depends on your availability to God.
~ In a job, you expect to receive something - a salary;
in a ministry you expect to give.
~ A job well done brings you self-esteem;
a ministry well done brings honor to Jesus Christ.
~ In a job you give something to get something;
in a ministry you return something that has already been given to you.
~ A job well done has temporal rewards;
a ministry well done has eternal rewards.
Are you called? Have you heard the Lord Jesus call you, saying, "Come follow Me, be with Me, and I will send you out for ministry?" The person you become, the decisions you make, the manner in which you behave, and your attitude toward the Lord's work all depend on the deep conviction that you have been called by God.
Are you called? Take courage in the truth of that call, and let it be your assurance. Despite the weaknesses you see in yourself or the difficulty that may come in the work, you can fulfill the purposes of God. For "God, who has called you...is faithful." (1 Cor. 1:9)
What then is a call? It is a burden that never leaves you. Nothing can shake that burden from your hear or mind. It affects every part of your life, and by it you see all else. It inspires you to joyfully forsake all to pursue it, just like the man who found the pearl of great price and sold everything he had just to buy it (see Matthew 13:45-46).
When we have received a call from the Lord, our lives will bear the fruit of it - the fruit of assurance, ownership, pure motivation, and seeking only the Lord's approval.
The one who is called says, "It is my Jesus' kingdom. It is my burden. If I receive some kind of financial help, that's great. If I do not, no problem. I don't care. I will do it anyway." It is the call that gives you the motivation to journey on. Salary and benefits do not compel you; difficulties do not sway you. The knowledge that God is faithful that He has called you is enough.
Is pleasing God the compelling motivation of your life?
Is Jesus your sole passion?
Do you know you have been called by Him for the work of the ministry?
Does your life show the reality of that calling and burden?
May we all seek to please Him alone, that all of our decisions, emotions, and daily steps would be controlled by this one factor: "I am called by the Lord, He has chosen me. I am not my own, but His. I will follow Him all the days of my life."
~ K.P. Yohannan
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Today was the second time I was summoned to a courthouse downtown in order to provide jury service in my city. I went prepared with stacks of Gospel tracts and prayed that the Lord would provide an open door to speak with someone about salvation.
As the day went by, I was able to give out a few tracts here and there, but a one-on-one conversation with someone about the Gospel didn't look like it was going to happen. Various people with whom I tried to build relationships already claimed to be Christians.
Towards the end of the experience, as the attorneys were meeting privately to make their final selections, and the group of us stood around outside the courtroom waiting, an opportunity finally came...and rather unexpectedly. A young man struck up a friendly conversation with me. We started out talking about jury summons in general, and then progressed into more personal matters like occupations, interests, and ambitions in life.
Some time into our conversation about every-day things, the bailiff overseeing our particular trial strode into the lobby where we were gathered and announced that the panel of potential jurors would be brought back into the courtroom in 8 minutes where the final selections would be announced. I thought to myself, "8 minutes...I wonder if I can share the Gospel with this guy in 8 minutes? Well, we'll see what God does!"
I asked the young man if he had aspirations towards a permanent future in the landscaping business he works in, and he in turn asked me if I planned to continue long term at the pregnancy center. I casually mentioned my desire to become a missionary to a Spanish-speaking country. We rabbit-trailed off on the subject of Spanish, and then he came back and asked me if I was specifically a Christian missionary?
I smiled to myself. Bingo. Open door here I come! :-)
"Yes," I replied. "What about you? Do you have a Christian background or a particular religious affiliation?"
He smiled kind of sheepishly, looked at the ground, and then mumbled something about how he used to go to church but doesn't anymore...he has his own beliefs now. With genuine interest, I asked him what his "own beliefs" are. He said he believes in a Deity...of some sort. He believes there is a God, he's just not sure if it's Buddha, Alla, the God of Christianity, or what.
I then asked him what he thinks will happen when someone dies. Again, a vague, I-don't-really-know answer: "Well, I hope there's something like a heaven...and I guess I think there's some place like a hell too."
"So what about you?" I asked. "If you were to die today, on the way home, where would you go?"
Another sheepish smile with a glance at the floor. "I don't know....maybe purgatory?...or maybe hell I guess...I haven't really been on speaking terms with God lately."
I asked him if he had ever considered his verdict in light of God's Law - the 10 Commandments specifically. He expressed a degree of familiarity with these and we started to go through them. It was hard for him to admit that he had broken them. He did admit to lying (a long time ago) and to committing adultery through lust, as Jesus defined it, but he thought himself pretty innocent on all other accounts. I shared with him about the verse in James which talks about how when we've broken one commandment, we've broken them all, giving the analogy of a chain with one broken link. He seemed familiar with this verse too, and agreed, stating himself that to God all sins are equal and one is not worse than another.
At this point in the conversation, I decided to get personal and share my testimony of how God opened my eyes to show me my need for a Savior when I was 14. I thought maybe it would be meaningful to this fellow, Jack, since my testimony includes the starting place of thinking myself to be a good person, trusting in my own works. I shared the Scripture verses God used to convict me of sin and to show me the answer to my search for truth about where I would go when I die. Jesus was the answer to my sin problem, and only through personal faith in His atoning death on the cross for me could my sins be forgiven. Jack nodded and said, "Yeah...yeah," quite a few times throughout my brief story.
Next, he told me that his past church experience included being a part of groups that "spoke in tongues" and he asked me what I thought about that. We had a great discussion on the matter, and it came to light that he understood the Bible's teachings on the matter, saw unbiblical usage of "tongues" in his circles, and basically left the church at that point. He mentioned it not only being unbiblical but weird and strange to him.
I asked him if his belief that all deities are basically the same God stemmed from a desire to be "tolerant" and accepting of everyone. He said yes. He had heard a notion somewhere that there is only one God and all deities throughout the world are that same God just in different cultural settings. Somehow that belief made sense to him and stuck.
"But how can that be, since there are so many differences in the belief systems and descriptions of these various gods?" I asked. "They can't all be right if there are so many differences."
He admitted he didn't really know how to reconcile this concept.
Since he seemed to have a familiarity with the Bible, I asked what he did with verses like Jesus' claim to be "the way, the truth, and the light," in light of this belief. He kind of chuckled and said he wasn't sure.
"Do you believe the Bible to be the truth?" I asked next.
"I believe it contains wisdom and knowledge," he replied. "It's got good ideas about how to live your life. Basic Information Before Leaving Earth is how I've heard it put. But I haven't examined the claims of the Koran or Buddhism, so I don't really know what those other books say in comparison."
"It sounds like you sure have a lot of "I-don't-knows" that constitute your beliefs," I said with a smile. He admitted to this with another sheepish chuckle and agreement with me.
"Here's something to think about," I said. "If what I believe (not because it's my opinion, but because of what the Bible says) is wrong, then I'll go the grave when I die and my whole life will have been wasted. But if I'm right, and Jesus is the only way to heaven, then when I die, I will see Him and be with Him in heaven. If what you believe is wrong, well, you'll be paying for a long time. Eternity is a long time to be wrong."
"Yeah, I've heard that before," he said.
"One thing I can tell you," I said to him, "is that God says, "Seek me and you shall find me." If you truly seek Him, and seek for truth, He'll reveal Himself to you." I dug around in my purse and pulled out the Atheist Test tract. "Here. Perhaps this will get you started on your journey."
He took the tract gratefully and immediately began reading it. As he did, the bailiff came back out and told us that it was time to reconvene in the courtroom. People in our group ribbed him about the projected 8 minutes he had mentioned turning into a much longer time (more like 20 minutes or so).
I smiled to myself. I knew exactly why those 8 minutes got stretched. That was a Holy Spirit stretch.
As I left the courtroom a few minutes later, having been dismissed from serving on the jury, my heart was singing. The Lord is so good! It was exciting to witness His answer to my prayer for an open door of opportunity to speak of Him...especially at a time in the day that was unexpected...and initiated by a young man that I never would have dreamed would be interested in discussing spiritual matters.
If you think of Jack, please pray that the Holy Spirit will draw him to a personal, transforming faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He seems like a young man who is searching for answers.