Thirty years ago today I was invited to be the “special guest” at the 18th birthday dinner of a new friend who I had known for just a couple of months as a freshman at the University of the Pacific. We had met in August of 1980 where we lived a few doors down from each other in Grace Covell Dormitory on campus. We didn’t really have much in common other than our living situation. She was a “local” having arrived at UOP from the nearby city of Lodi and I had come from San Diego which was almost 500 miles away (and my parents had moved 3000 miles away to the state of Virginia shortly after I began college!) She grew up in a large, loud, “beer on tap” in the basement, Catholic family and I was raised with a “prim and proper”, teetotaling, Protestant heritage. She was a talented, intense and competitive athlete who was attending college on a softball scholarship, I was an average field hockey player who simply enjoyed the game and thought it would be a “fun” to play in college. She was labeled a “wild” girl and I had a “good” girl reputation. She wore athletic sweats 24/7 and I was often found dressed in Izod shirts and penny loafers.
But despite our differences I enjoyed her company and she appeared to find me amusing. Still I was surprised to be the only “non” family member asked to join her very special birthday dinner at The Big Yellow House here in Stockton. After all she had many life long friends in the area and an entire UOP softball team to choose from….why me? I accepted her sweet invitation seeing it as an opportunity to build our friendship and be a blessing to her on her special day (as well as my commitment to never pass up a chance to not eat a meal in the dorm cafeteria!).
It seems that God, in His providence, was setting the stage for not only a lifelong friendship but for us to eventually become bound together as forever family. You see, my freshman friend was none other than, Jennae Lambdin who two years later became my sister in Christ and six years later became my sister-in-law! Who knew that as I sat around that dinner table listening to all the simultaneous lively conversations, the abundant laughter, course jesting and birthday toasts that this family would one day be mine? (I certainly would have never entertained such a concept) I felt oddly out of place and vastly different from the Lambdin clan and yet at the same time accepted and loved simply because I was Jennae’s friend. That day – November 15, 1980 was the beginning of my “adoption” into this family, who even years before it was evident that I would officially become a “Lambdin” (marrying Dan was not something I ever considered for the first five years I knew him…but you can read that story here - My God Inspired Love Story), they were my home away from home.
Certainly not me!
Jennae? Not likely since I was not even her first choice to invite to her birthday dinner.
Dan? hmmmm…I think not (He had his mind on other things than his sister’s strange “religious” friend)
The Lambdin’s? They probably do not even remember that I was there that night.
No, none of us were even the slightest bit aware of the great beginnings that were set into motion that special evening.
Yet God knew!
I am thankful today that both Jennae and I were open to a friendship of complete opposites. I am thankful that the Lambdin family had (and still has) a warm ”welcome sign” to anyone who wants to be a part of their lives. I am thankful that I chose to join in a celebration only knowing one person at the party. (how often in our insecurity do we say “no, thank you” to new or potentially uncomfortable situations where we won’t know anyone?) But mostly I am thankful for God’s leading, guidance and providential hand in my life.
Each and everyday there are the possibilities of new beginnings, potential life changing relationships, experiences (both good & bad) and inspirations that may set things in motion that will change the course of our lives. Often you never know, until much further down the road, how the things that happen today will greatly impact your life.
Follow God. Listen to His whispers in your heart. Embrace new opportunities, new experiences and new friendships. Life truly is a God inspired adventure!
Happy birthday to my dear friend of 30 years, my sweet sister in Christ and my amazing sister-in-law…Jennae Marie Lambdin!