Terry and I both grew up on opposite sides of Tucson, Arizona and led very different lives. As a child, Terry grew up, the oldest son of three boys in a home which taught him about Jesus since birth. His father was a pastor. He went to church each Sunday and grew up surrounded by loving Christian people who are his friends to this day. I grew up, the youngest of five children and by the time I was a little girl, our family stopped going to the Salvation Army. When my siblings left home, my parents had turned to drinking more and more. Most nights, we had people around our kitchen table, drinking. My father made good money as a construction worker, but it was used for alcohol. I spent my time outside and often hanging out at our neighbor’s house. On Sunday mornings, I would see a church bus going past our house and silently wished I could go see what church was like.
When I was just 12, my life changed dramatically and I was sent to live with my sister in California. I cringe to think about where I would be if I had not made that move. I was entering Jr. High and at that time and really was on my own.
During that first year in California, my life did a 180 degree turn! I suddenly was going to church, had responsibilities and accountability! But as I wrote earlier, this was a year of great positive change for me as Jesus entered my life in April of 1974. When Christ came into this young girl’s life, He changed me in so many ways. Rather than look for affection in any guy who might pass by, I learned to be purposeful in looking for someone to be my lifelong partner. I had read of the importance of making a list of what you would want in a husband. Those things which are non-negotioables should be understood BEFORE you ever meet the person. That way you can blow away all the chaff and be ready for Mr. Right, right?
Well, I made my list secretly and publicly declared myself a member of the “Old Maids ’til the Rapture Club”.
In the summer of 1975, I returned to Tucson to visit my parents who had since divorced. During my visit, I wanted to go to church, so my dad took me to the only church we were aware of besides Salvation Army–Bethel Baptist. Reverend McCorkle, my brother-in-law’s grandfather, planted that church while holding down a railroad job. At this time, Pastor Bob Dalrymple and his family had been at that church for nearly ten years. During the morning service, a high school girl reached out to me and invited me to the Youth “Sing and Sip” that night. Suprisingly, I accepted her invitation.
I remember, that night, seeing a young man leading the singing. He was ridiculously goofy. Sang the “Noah/Floody-Floody” song with his pants rolled up. Crowed like Peter Pan singing “Chirp Your Cares Away”! Neither of these skills were on “Jeannie’s List for a Life Partner”. However, what I saw was the love that this young man had for Jesus, his leadership abilities and his desire to serve the Lord. Sitting in a hard wooden seat that summer night, I prayed, “Lord, if I am ever to marry, I want to marry that guy.” I asked the friend who invited me about the goofy song leader. I learned he wanted to be a youth pastor and he had a girl friend.
I returned to California, never approaching that young man and went on with my life.
During my later high school years, God continued to do His work in my life. I went through a Navigator’s Discipleship series and spent a summer in Argentina assisting our missionaries with various projects. By the end of that summer, I decided I wanted to serve the Lord in missions. I am certain I could have had a full scholarship to Colorado State University, but I wanted to be closer to my parents, so chose to attend Southwestern College in Phoenix, Arizona.
During that first week, we had a night to welcome the Freshman Class. As a newby, I was part of a trio. (Terry usually inserts a bunch of hyperbole here, but I have to say, I did a better job singing than that crooner I had seen in Tucson!) When the evening was over, the Freshmen lined up and upper classmen were to come and welcome the youngsters to the college. I vividly recall a young man approaching me. I could not forget…it was the crooner…and I remembered my prayer! I thought, “I got to get rid of this guy. I want to go to the mission field and he wants to be a youth pastor. This is one of the non-negotiables on my list!” He came straight up to me and said, “Hi, my name is Terry Dalrymple. What do you want to do with your life?”
And I guess you will need to find out what the answer was! Did I give up my non-negotiables? Was this the beginning to the answer of my prayer? You may figure out the answers as we are going on 39 years this July? Last question. Should I dare let Terry finish the story?