Thursday, December 21, 2006

October 1986 -- The List (Part Nine)

This is the key to this whole story, and I almost forgot to put it in!

If you have been following the story of my courtship and marriage, you may remember the list I compiled, mentioned in this post. This was a list of characteristics I wanted in a husband. I made the list the summer before Tom and I got together, put it away in a box, and eventually forgot about it.

Once Tom and I set the date for our marriage, I began to sort all my stuff, packing what I needed to ship to Georgia (where Tom had already gone to prepare a home for us), and packing what I didn't need to leave with my parents. As I was sorting through one box, I came across the list. I read through it and was absolutely astounded that God had given me every single characteristic I asked for, in Tom! Even the frivolous ones that my dad said shouldn't matter. I wish I had that list now. I have no idea what happened to it, but here are the ones I can remember (I think originally there were seven):

1. He must be a Christian.
2. He must be a Calvinistic Baptist.
3. He must be a pastor.
4. He must have brown, curly hair.
5. He must have blue eyes.

Now, a word about Number Three:

Tom really didn't know about being a pastor. He was a bit reluctant to seriously consider this as a career choice, so I was taking this by faith.

You may remember that God had made it plain to Tom that He wanted Tom to do a certain thing, and Tom said no. It was at this point that Tom says the lights went out and he was plunged into spiritual darkness until he said yes and obeyed the Lord. What was it God wanted Tom to do? I know you're curious, and since it has everything to do with this story, I'll tell you.

God wanted Tom to go to Georgia and attend what was then Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. (It is now Peachtree Baptist Church.) They have a college and seminary there, and we planned for Tom to start classes there. By this time, Tom had no problem attending Mt. Pisgah, but he continued to wrestle with the idea of taking classes. Since he had run his own bookstore, he had read a lot, and was mostly self-taught in matters of theology. We began to realize that Tom had practically all the book learning he needed; what he lacked was practice, and experience with a biblically functioning local church.

In Georgia, we learned how a local church should function. (To this day we hold Peachtree Baptist up as an example of how a church should function, and recommend their college/seminary to every young person who asks our opinion--and to some who don't ;) .) We spent five years there, during which time Tom preached in the jails, in the nursing home, and in chapel services at the Christian day school. He also taught high school math and science in the school, and learned definitely that teaching math and science was NOT what he was to do. Sometimes he also taught the adult Sunday school class.

By the time we left Georgia, we had developed a burden for church planting, and were ready to head for Canada to work with Native Peoples. The Lord had a round-about way of getting us to Canada, however. First we went to Ohio to work with Tom's home church. That did not go well, so we moved to Texas. From there we were sent to New York state, where we tried to start a church. This door did not open up for us, though we tried to keep at it, praying all the while for God to give us direction. In answer, God used a can of beer in a Walmart parking lot to lead us to the church where we now are, in Canada. (We are not specifically working with Native Peoples, but there is a reservation nearby, for which we are praying.)

On September 3, 2000, Tom preached his first sermon as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, thus fulfilling Number Three on my list.

"The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad" (Psalm 126:3).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Our mystery Christmas visitor strikes again

Every year since we've been in Canada, a mysterious somebody has left us a gift. The card is never signed except for some expressions of love and appreciation. There is always candy for the children (conveniently packaged so that Tom and I get some, too ;) ), and a generous collection of $20s.

This morning when I opened the door to let the cat out, there was the bag on the front porch. Same goodies, same handwriting on the card. May God bless the giver, who has learned that "it is better to give than to receive," and who probably doesn't even want our thanks. They have our thanks anyway.

I love to be an anonymous giver. It is really fun to give somebody something, without them knowing where it came from. If you've never done it yourself, I suggest you try it. It's a lot of fun for both parties, but I think the giver has the most fun.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pictures of us, 20 years ago (Part Eight)

This is Tom and me in my grandma's apartment, probably sometime in July, 1986. My dad was candidating at a church nearby, and we went along for the ride. At that church there was a little girl named Abby, who called us "the twenty-year-old woman and the thirty-year-old man."

We were married Thanks- giving Day, 1986, at home. My parents were scheduled to move over Christmas that same year, so we were not able to have a church wedding. I didn't really care; a marriage is more important than a wedding, anyway.

Pictured with us are (left to right) my Grandma Rudisill (Dad's mom), my Grandma Caulk (Mom's mom), and Tom's mother, Marie. By coincidence they all wore blue dresses, which looked really nice.

I'd like to know who started this custom, and why! Here we bow to tradition, and feed each other cake. However, we did NOT smear it on each other, like my brother did at his wedding.

My mom made the cakes. We also had turkey casserole and cranberry salad, since it was Thanksgiving. I don't remember if we had pumpkin pie, but we did get a couple of pecan pies as a gift from a lady in my church.

Notice Tom's suit jacket. It's the same one he wore for his high school graduation pictures, 10 years before our wedding! I made my dress, and my mom made my veil.

Hopefully I'll have more pictures soon, along with a post about my thoughts on courtship, dating, and matchmaking. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The beginning

Today is the start of one MAJOR project. Can't tell what it is yet, but will let you know all about it when it's done. I would have marked the calendar, but all the 2006 calendars are about to be thrown away. I will give you a hint: it has to do with clutter. No, I did NOT just now give it away. You will have to check back later to see what this is all about.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness" is NOT a quote from the Bible, but I wonder if you can find a verse that sort of means that, and in more ways than one.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Daddy, dip your finger in the water

I hesitated somewhat to post this, but decided to go ahead. This is a sad and sobering post. It is also a request for prayer.

Today my husband will bury another of his brothers. This brother died in his sins. Oh Lord! When will the plague of death be stayed for this family? How long before You turn from Your fierce anger and save members of Tom's family? O Lord, in wrath remember mercy! There are five brothers left, along with their families. Please pray that God will have mercy. Pray for Holy Spirit conviction of sin. Out of all Tom's large family, he is the only one who is saved. He has already lost his father, his only sister and another brother to the judgment of God. We believe his mother is with the Lord, and possibly his step-dad.

Tom's step-dad was raised in a Presbyterian home, with a godly mother who took him faithfully to church every Sunday. I don't know why or how, but he turned away from all that. Tom was about ten or so when Pop married Tom's mother. He was totally antagonistic toward anything to do with religion in any way. After Tom was converted, he refused to allow Tom to read the Bible to him, or to pray with him. Just before he died we think God had mercy and saved him. Tom read to him from the book of John and prayed with him as he lay on his deathbed, and for the first time he wanted to hear the Scriptures read. Later a Christian nurse told how she had talked with him about the Lord, and had prayed with him. She said he also prayed that God would save him. That is our hope.

However, Pop died without ever saying anything to his children about the Lord. The title for this post is a line from a song I once heard on the radio. The song tells the story of a man who is sleeping, and dreams that his child is calling for a drink of water. As he goes to give his child a drink, he realizes that his child is calling to him from the place of torment, asking his father to dip his finger in some water to cool his tongue. I first heard that song during the week that Pop lay dying of cancer. I couldn't help but think of all the knowledge this man had about the Lord and the way of salvation, that he deliberately withheld from his children.

Pray for Tom today, and in the weeks to come, but especially today, that he might be able to speak to his family of the hope that lies within him. Oh, that God would have mercy on this family!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

August 1986 -- "We were like them that dream" (Part Seven)

The Announcement was made one night during the August conference at Maranatha. My dad stood on a chair in the fellowship hall after the service, raised his hands, and in a loud voice said, "May I have your attention please?"

Normally, when my dad says that, everyone gets quiet and waits for some important announcement. Then, when everyone's looking at him, my dad will say, "Thank you. I just love attention." And then he will get off the chair and go back to whatever he was doing before. You have to know my dad. He is never annoying or egotistical. Things like that usually only make him more lovable.

This time, though, he said, "Someone else wants your attention." He then looked at us, expecting Tom to explain. Tom was not really prepared for this, but he managed to make The Announcement. We got a lot of applause, congrats, hugs, well-wishes, that kind of thing. And a bit of ribbing and teasing, too.

Later, though, some people suggested to my mom that wasn't this a bit sudden? Didn't we need time to get to know each other better? My mom just quietly referred them to Isaac and Rebekah, who had never even seen each other until the day they married. Rebekah Walker's dad, Pat Horner, puts it this way:

Short thoughts on courtship and long does "courtship" last?

Taken from the biblical account of Isaac and Rebekah--

1. Help her get off the camel.

2. Say I do.

3. Take her into the tent.

Is it the Lord's will for me to be with this person? If the answer is yes, then marry them already!!!

Our thoughts, exactly. Tom observed that we had a lifetime to "get to know each other." We knew enough to get married on; the rest would come later.

In the very first post of this series, I quoted Psalm 126. The first verse says, "When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream." In a later post, I noted the spiritual depression Tom went through, which was a direct result of his saying NO to God. He says that when he said NO, all the lights went out. After he said YES, all the lights came back on, and the very first blessing God gave him was me (see Proverbs 18:22). After years of praying for a wife, God granted his request as Tom yielded to His will. God had turned the captivity back in Tom's life, opening up a whole new life of blessing.

For me, the "captivity" was singleness. A fellow college student had told me that before God would give me a husband, I would have to be willing to be single, perhaps for life. But I just couldn't accept that. I was definitely NOT willing to be single the rest of my life! I struggled a lot then with what God might require of me. I had to learn the truth of Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." I did not need to resign myself to a life of singleness in order to be "rewarded" with marriage. I only needed to have the Lord as my soul's delight. My primary focus had to be on Him, not on marriage. Once I stopped trying to "find someone" and learned to wait on God's timing, He gave me Tom.

to be continued. . .

Monday, December 11, 2006

July 1986 -- "You'd better take good care of her!" (Part Six)

For those of you who have been following this story, I apologize for taking so long to come back to it. My two oldest sons have taken over my computer. For you who are new, I suggest clicking "My courtship and marriage" on the sidebar to get the beginning of this story.

I came home from my aunt's house 100 per cent positive that my being with Tom was of the Lord, and I was ready to follow Tom's lead in how this "relationship" progressed. I put "relationship" in quotes partly because I don't really like that word (it implies more than friendship, but not necessarily long-term commitment). Also, words like "relationship" and "courtship" were not common buzzwords then. I didn't like calling Tom my "boyfriend" either, since that also did not suggest long-term commitment. So I just didn't bother with labels; instead, I concentrated on making sure I was ready for marriage, in case that's where this led (and I was pretty certain it would).

I started working at the camp, volunteering my time. I was able to be at all the camp services, and fellowship with people I'd known half my life. Since Tom was on vacation at the time, he came to stay at the camp, and we spent a lot of time together. It was at this time, I think, that I learned that Tom and I had played ping-pong the year before. I was shocked. I had absolutely no memory of it at all. They said I beat him soundly, and kept asking if Tom had gotten any practice since then, in order to beat me this year. Even Tom was teasing me about it! Apparently I was so adamantly opposed to the very idea of having anything to do with him that I completely blocked it out of my memory.

We became engaged one night during the second week of July, 1986. We were sitting on a bridge in the little village up from the camp, talking about this and that. Tom was silent for a few minutes, and I asked him what he was thinking. He said he was wondering if it was too premature to ask me to marry him! I told him I was willing, but he would have to ask my dad. We decided not to say anything to anyone until then. Meanwhile, we continued to get to know each other through conversation, studying Ephesians, and watching each other interact with others in different situations.

Tom and I met with my parents the next week, I think. The four of us sat together on the floor of my parents' large bedroom and talked things through. Tom had a lot of questions to answer, and we had details to work out. I think we talked for well over an hour. When we were finished, and had my parents' blessing, we went downstairs to tell my grandmother. She hugged us both, and with tears of happiness in her eyes, she wagged her finger at Tom and said,

"You'd better take good care of her!"

to be continued. . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

From the Pastor's Desk--"One-Legged Missionary"

From today's bulletin:

A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China.

"With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" asked Taylor.

"I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott.

He was accepted.

This afternoon I did some internet research about George Scott. I came up with this interesting fact: Mr. Scott's first Chinese evangelist was paralyzed.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Friday, December 08, 2006

A must-see video

My brother-in-Christ, Rand, just put this video on his blog. Now I'm putting it on mine. If you are an average North American teenager, watch this video. If you are the parent of an average North American teenager, watch this video with your teen. It is almost an hour long, so make sure you have time to watch this, giving it the attention it deserves.

Paul Washer preaching at a youth conference in Alabama, in 2002.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

From the Pastor's Desk--True Revival

from today's bulletin. . .

We hear much about revival these days, but the heart of revival is the Lordship of Christ. A mere emotional upheaval, a spurt of religious excitement, is not revival. When Christians become convicted of rebellion against the rule of Christ in their lives, confess their sins, renounce self, take the cross and let Jesus have the first and last word in everything, that is revival, by whatever name you call it.