Rusty Riddle is a one-of-a kind – she and this crew of women who have been meeting for years to study the Bible, pray, and live life together.  I love Rusty dearly … and not only because she is mom to one of my closest friends and my partner-in-crime, Jill, and is the owner of our little patch of garden heaven.  I asked Rusty to share today about her group of women and the relationships that they have with one another because I believe it’s the kind of thing we all want – connection, friendship, and honesty.  Rusty blogs at http://rbriddle-blog.blogspot.com, but she’s not just a writer.  Be sure to read to the bottom of this post for instructions for a very special giveaway from b’s baubles & necessities!

My friends, my Bible Study friends answer many needs in my life. For instance, I have a deep desire for intimate relationships with those of like minds, thoughts and beliefs. What makes my Bible Study “girlfriends” so special is the fact no thought is given to age differences, and we are in no particular brackets, no sectioning off, or even divided by qualities or abilities. We are just us, all melded together, forever friends.

We are a group of “trusted” friends; anything mentioned around our table of a personal nature is guarded and private, and kept among us.

We have been “liquid” through the years; members have come and gone in an easy flow as each has found it was a “fit” for her life for a season

Being involved in a Christian group comprised of all ages, abilities and differing original belief foundations is a treat from my Lord. I find as a blessing the fact we have evolved into a solid unit where love grows. Lives become intertwined.  Friendships capture and bind hearts without imprisoning the spirit when based on growing in Christ. They are liberating and lasting, even when separations, temporary absences or final times together occur.

Our “oh so special” group of friends have experienced the beautiful touch of God in many ways. We all turned into “Mother Hen” when we found one young woman was having a (surprise) third baby! This little girl turned out to be one of God’s special blessings; He presented a treasure for us all. We fell in love with her and were all her adopted Mothers.  We met many years with her right there with us.

During the years, we have experienced many happy times of deep joy and pleasure drawing the cords of friendship even tighter.

There have been hard times. We second handedly experienced a hurtful divorce in a close way, as we became sounding boards, and listening ears.  Together with our friend we rode the waves of emotion, and shared “sea-deep” grief.  The outcome was not good, but God in His wisdom gave direction, gave growth and strengthened faith, hers and ours.

We have had learning times, wonderful and difficult experiences. A young mother with a family background of an Eastern Religion came to us with an open heart seeking truth. Through the years she spent with us, she learned to read English, and she studied the bible.  She asked us many questions, and eventually gave her heart to Jesus. During this time, her baby boy went in a swimming pool without being noticed and drowned. She went down, way down in her spirit, but with God’s help, she came up again and had a stronger resolve to know Jesus, and be reunited with her son someday in heaven.

 Through our prayers for her family, we became a fortress wall she could lean on and draw strength from; a blessing of friendship.

There was a special friend.

 “It was suddenly quiet around the crowded oak breakfast table.” We had just learned the cancer was back, there was nothing to say, nothing to do, but to love her, to pray and be there for her. She had been with us off and on for a couple of years and had recently been saved, due to the witness of a dear church member, and it was real, and it was strong, and then this…

Her background was not the typical “kid growing up in church,” but she had married into a family where that was the norm. Despite many rocky times experienced as a couple, they were on their way to finding the “real” life.

We loved her; she was our friend. For weeks and months we ministered to her, and she, in her determined strength, ministered to us. There was one memorable day when one by one, at her urging, we each touched her, felt the death in her breast; she wanted us to know, and be aware of killer cancer.

One day, I received a call from my daughter who lived across the street from her, and chill after chill rippled over me as I ran up the street to my friend’s house. I found the hospice woman was at the foot of the bed quietly singing the old hymns; the husband was on his knees by her side.

This was my friend. A special Bible Study friend; we had all shared so much, and here she was, lying in a semi coma.  I asked if I could speak to her, and I sat at the edge of her bed and had a general conversation, as if we were just visiting and would be together at the meeting tomorrow. I mentioned another friend and our study leader, who was here by now, she began to stir; her husband fell on his knees once more, and tried to rouse her to full wakefulness, but she was just too tired to come back.

The room was still except for the quiet humming. It was filled with a waiting hush; a strange sensation came over me; I felt in this hot, crowded room, there were others.  Were they angels, or saved love ones who had gone on before? Could a heavenly choir have come to usher her home? The moment passed and so did she; my friend was now at peace in the arms of Jesus.

Oh the fun times we’ve had. On one fantastic mission trip we participated in, while we raced down the highway, I bit into a candy, and the crown from my front tooth was decorating the remaining half when I removed the bar from my mouth! Clearly there was no turning back. I finally calmed down a-mid the raucous laughter. As a result of the missing tooth I enjoyed a particular closeness, and special connection to many of the mountain women we ministered to that week.

When we love our friends with the love of Christ, nothing can ever  sever those relationships, they glow and shine, and fill lonely spaces, and even if they dim in the shadow of passing time and distance, the joy  of memories  shared can move our spirits and in our hearts, we are together again.

“Hey girls, I will always have your laughter ringing in my ears; God bless; love you!”

An additional (unforgettable) note:

Our small, close, and intimate group has experienced the unfathomable. A dear member, a friend left us. We ministered to her over the years during her high times, (getting the answers she desired) and low times (when doubts and fears assailed her.) Although she would, in either case, drop away from us for a while. Eventually, she slipped from this earth to stand before God at a time of her own choosing.

Her story, from my prospective can be found here:

http://rbriddle-blog.blogspot.com/2011/03/s-i-will-call-you-sparrow-you-are.html

Now for the fun part!  If you will comment on this post (not on Facebook or Twitter – right here) before 12:00 pm central time on Friday, July 12, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win this beautiful bracelet – one of Rusty’s original creations!  We’ll annouce the winner on Friday afternoon.  If you live in Owensboro or happen to be passing through, you can also pick up b’s baubles & necessities at C-ing Polkadots.1061885_10200422746664996_1595781764_n[1]

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