Happy Birthday! Two years old already. Well that went by pretty fast.
I want to tell you a story that I hope you will always remember. 37 years ago today there was a royal wedding that took place in England between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. It was a wedding that was doomed from the start because Prince Charles loved someone else – another woman who was a third party in their marriage. The marriage lasted 15 years but was over long before the divorce took place.
3 days after they got married, on August 1, 1981, there was another royal wedding that took place in Kernersville, NC. It was between Prince Shay and Princess Linda – also known to you as Pop Pop and Nona. You see, they were indeed royalty because they were children of the King of Kings. And as it turns out there was a third party involved in their marriage as well. But instead of dooming their marriage this third party invigorated and strengthened their marriage and enabled them to love each other more than was humanly possible. That third party was the Holy Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit dwells within everyone who has surrendered their life to the Lord – those whom the Lord has rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into His kingdom of light when they acknowledged His death and resurrection on their behalf.
One day you are going to be thinking about getting married yourself. My hope and prayer is that you will look for a woman who is led by the Holy Spirit. Someone who’s first priority will be to the Lord and who loves Him with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. Someone who can be as awesome a wife to you as Nona has been to me.
Again, happy birthday to you. It has been a joy having you live with us this past year. And I am looking forward to lots of memory making in the years to come.
– A group called The Bee Gees had the #1 hit at the time
– M*A*S*H*, Dallas, and Three’s Company were 3 of the top TV shows that year
– Jimmy Carter was president
– The Pittsburg Steelers and the Pittsburg Pirates were both World Champions
– A gallon of gas cost 88 cents
– A house that would cost $200k today would have cost $70k then
– Adam Levine, Pink, and Kourtney Kardashian were born that year
– McDonalds introduced the Happy Meal
– There was no such thing as Google or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or Yahoo or email or the internet.
– No one had a computer in their house or owned a mobile phone.
I had just finished my junior year at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She had just finished her junior year at UNC-Greensboro. Our parents were living 25 minutes away from each other in NC. (My folks had moved to NC after my high school graduation but I was still living in my home town of Aiken, SC.) But we didn’t meet in either NC or SC. We met half way across the country in Galveston, Texas. Here’s how the Lord orchestrated our meeting way out there…
During my time at Tulane I had been involved with an organization called Campus Crusade for Christ (these days it is just called CRU). They offered projects during the summer all over the country where college students would come together for 2 months to do evangelism and discipleship. Nona had been introduced to CRU by her sister Anne who had been on a CRU project in Panama City, FL during the summer of 1978. Both of us applied to go on the same project – to Myrtle Beach, SC, which was only a few hours from where we both lived. Both of us were turned down. Both of us were offered the opportunity instead to go on a beach project in Galveston, TX. She immediately accepted. I immediately declined.
And we would have never met unless the Lord had intervened in a way that I will never forget. There have been several times in my life where God got my attention in a very unexpected way. This was the second time.
In the Spring of ’79 I was lying on a couch in my dorm room one afternoon after classes and listening to a song by Keith Green when God spoke to me in perhaps the loudest “still small voice” that I have ever heard. He very clearly said to me, “Go to Galveston! I’m not going to tell you why, just GO!” I was stunned because I had already made up my mind NOT to go. I had already told CRU that I wasn’t going. But I wasn’t going for my own selfish reasons. I had not really consulted the Lord on my decision. Now I was being forced to choose obedience to God or follow the waywardness of my fickle heart.
So I went. And it was in Galveston that I met this cute little blond gal who loved God and who wanted to serve Him and was willing to put up with my eccentricities. We were both working day jobs – she was a waitress at a pancake house and I was behind the counter at a McDonalds. After work one day we started chatting while sitting outside of the school house where we were lodging. And so it began.
The Lord took us 1150 miles away from where our parents were living so that we could meet, fall in love, and begin our life together. And here we are almost 37 years later still going strong with lots of memories to look back on and lots more still to be made.
So here are a few takeaways that I hope you will ponder as you grow up and grow older:
Learn to discern God’s still small voice – He generally speaks quietly. Which means you need to practice a discipline of quietness and solitude to hear Him.
Don’t make any decision apart from the Lord – I almost didn’t meet your Nona because I thought I knew what was best for me instead of Him.
Expect the unexpected – God will often drop unexpected blessings in your lap when you are serving Him and following His ways. I did not go to Texas looking for a wife. But that is where God provided for me because I chose obedience.
2 weeks ago I celebrated my 60th birthday. Today, your Nona joins me in the 60 year old club. We have been married for almost 37 of those years. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Your Nona was definitely made especially for me. She is the perfect “fit” for me. She is an awesome wife, mother, and grandmother. I wanted to write down some things about her that you may or may not know – you can ask her more about these some time when you are older.
She was born at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem and then grew up in Kernersville, NC.
She had childhood TB (tuberculosis) when she was 2 years old. For some reason she began asking for a pink Christmas tree at this time but got a pink angel that still adorns our Christmas tree each year.
She grew up with a mom and a dad who loved each other, with 2 older sisters that she is very close to, and a beloved dog (a dachshund) named Snoopy.
She was a cheerleader for the Kernersville Raiders in the Pop Warner League.
She attended East Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem and was the valedictorian of her graduating class in 1976.
She was Chief of the Eaglettes – a dance team that performed with the marching band at her high school football games.
She graduated from UNC-Greensboro in 1980 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.
She attended NC State University where she received her Master’s Degree in Counseling.
She grew up attending Sedge Garden United Methodist Church. She became a follower of Jesus through the influence of her sister Anne while in college. And then began attending a baptist church after we got married.
She loves the Lord, treasures His Word, and is continually learning what it means to abide in Christ.
She met the man who would be her future husband (that would be me) in Galveston, Texas on a Campus Crusade for Christ Beach Project in June of 1979.
She began running that summer when she saw me running and didn’t stop for 35 years – until I encouraged her to transition to walking in her late 50s.
She broke her back when she was in college.
She worked as a medical receptionist for a surgeon before she became a mom.
She loves being a mom. She has 3 awesome kids who have grown up to be 3 awesome adults who became awesome parents themselves with awesome kids of their own.
She spent many years meeting with other moms each week to pray for your parents (and the other mom’s kids) – which accounts in no small way as to why your parents are so awesome.
She was a stay at home mom until your parents were fairly independent then worked as a school counselor at Carrington Middle School for about 13 years.
She just retired from that job so that she has more time to hang out with you and to help your parents anyway that she can.
She has generally had good health but was involved in a scooter accident in India in 2011 that has caused some ongoing issues.
She has lived in 5 cities: Kernersville NC (1958-1976), Greensboro NC (1976-1980), Raleigh NC (1980-1981), Ipswich MA (1981-1983), Raleigh NC (1983-1993), and Durham, NC (1993- present)
She watches very little television but she does love 2 shows: Jeopardy and The Amazing Race.
She loves to cook and bake and make Nona bread for you. She loves to work outside in the yard and to grow flowers – especially Iris’ because they were favorites of her Mom.
She is meticulous when it comes to details and especially values organization.
She is a beach lover (Sunset Beach is her favorite) and especially loves the weeks at the beach that she can spend with you.
She considers herself incredibly blessed and lives gratefully for all that the Lord has done for her and in her.
Her grandma name for you all came about this way: None of the options that she came up were approved by your parents so as grandchild #1 approached we had NONAme. So she became Nona.
You will notice from these pictures that she is still a stunning woman even in her “senior” years. She has most definitely aged better than me.
Hopefully you will have a chance to talk to her today and wish her a very happy birthday. I promise that it will be the highlight of her day.