“Happy Birthday Rebekah!” (and a timeless birthday story…)


“Happy birthday” to Rebekah; I am blessed to be saying it for the 44th time! If anyone should have a day filled with joy, peace, rest, and blessings, then it is my amazing wife. Now if we could only get together with those beautiful grandchildren…

I have a great story from that first “Happy Birthday,” back in 1977:

Rebekah and I had been dating five months, and I was in England for part of the summer. I sent a birthday card, but the mail being what it is the greeting failed to arrive on time.

Meanwhile, my future father-in-law was concerned. By this time Bob Alexander actually liked me (which is a whole other story..), and because of this he was unhappy about a young man who was – unsuccessfully – vying for Rebekah’s attention. Rick waged a summer-long campaign culminating with a dozen beautiful red roses sent to the house the day of her birthday.

Like I said, that day there was nothing from me.

Rick’s huge bouquet arrived when Rebekah was out, so Bob hurried to the flower shop, purchased a single rose, and had the sales clerk write, “Happy Birthday, Rebekah,” and sign it, “Love, Derek.”

He then put “my” rose in a prominent location.

Rebekah came home, glanced briefly and without enthusiasm at the extravagant arrangement from what’s-his-name, then lit up with excitement when she saw the single rose from me.

Mission accomplished, Bob Alexander. It was a big win!

IMG_0142Nowadays I tend to do a little better.

I still fail miserably in the present-wrapping department, but I pick out great cards, I fill them with Rebekah’s favorite gift – words, I usually find the right gift (this year it is all ukulele paraphernalia), and – yes – I remember the flowers.

But always, from that first summer of 1977 through to 2020, the simple fact of Rebekah’s birth, the anniversary of the day she came into this world, gives me so much cause for gratitude to the God who imagined, purposed, created, and filled her with a unique abundance of irrepressible life – and also to the family who raised her in such a way that she has navigated this journey with confidence, faithfulness, commitment, and joy.

Rebekah is still becoming everything God called her to be – as am I – and this particular marker is just another place to pause and reflect on the journey. She is the most authentic witness to the promise of the Good News I have ever known.

So here’s to another year of faith, hope, encouragement, and love – Derek


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