Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Birthday Triple Play

Sometimes you can KNOW something for years without ever truly being AWARE of it. It is not new knowledge to me that three of my friends, from three different eras of my life, were born on September 10th. What had never really occurred to me, however, is that ALL three of them were born on September 10th. That makes this a much more special day than I had ever realized. It's a birthday triple play!

Lisa Ramos Moran has been in my life so long that I don't actually remember when we met. It was probably junior high school, but it could have been earlier and it may have been a bit later. Lisa became a part of the New Garden Friends Meeting youth group around the same time I did (1972), and we shared many friends and many adventures. Everyone who was part of that group has a special place in my heart, and Lisa is no different. We were together on a New York trip in high school when she met the love her life, Dan Moran. They have been married 30 years now and have an amazing family. She has given her life to ministry and the service of others and is making a huge difference in the lives of so many young people. Lisa and I shared one special bond in high school, one little tradition that has never been forgotten. Anytime we would see each other we offered up this loving greeting- I would say "RAM IT Ramos!" and she would respond, "JAM IT Jones!" Now that's love. Happy birthday, Lisa. For the next few weeks, you are as old as I am!

Leigh Ann Everhart Venable was a camper at Quaker Lake Camp my first summer as a counselor in 1978. The first thing I remember about Leigh Ann was seeing her in the swimming pool on Sunday afternoon and thinking to myself that she could not possibly be a camper- she looked too old. The second thing I remember was eavesdropping on a conversation she was having with Cynthia Davis about a party one of them had been to. So I was able to embarrass her right off the bat! We became good friends that week, even surviving a prank where my guys stole her suitcase and hid it in a corn field.That closeness continued when we mourned the loss of another camper in car wreck later that summer. She was later with me when I drove a van from NC to NYC and helped keep me calm in the madness. There was also a legendary 6 hour brain game on the way back- but I will spare her the humiliation of saying WHY it took so long! As the years passed, we remained friends, and eventually worked together on the QLC staff. For reasons that cannot be rationally explained she married my good friend Terry Venable 29 years ago and I was honored to be in their wedding just as Terry was later in ours. Shortly after we left Springfield Friends Meeting, Terry became the pastor there and Leigh Ann and I struck a deal. If I didn't tell anyone at SFM any stories about her, she wouldn't tell any about me. It was a pact we each gladly honored.  When anyone first met Leigh Ann back in those QLC days their immediate response was to comment on her beauty. Once you got to know her you realized that the beauty ran clear to the bone- and it still does. Happy birthday, Leigh Ann! And notice I am not mentioning any numbers...

Todd Willis was a junior in high school when Marilyn and I arrived in Kissimmee in 1994. He was the son of the senior pastor and an important part of that group. He immediately became one of my favorite people, despite accidently telling us to "GET OUTA TOWN!" on our third night in Florida. He cheated at every game we ever played; he had terrible luck with the ladies; and he was a leader in helping to bring that group back from the edge of extinction. When I was going to wait a tear before planning a New York trip, he pestered me to do in his senior year- and I did. His lovely wife Kristin has told me she feels like she was on that trip because she has heard his stories so many times. He visited us in Chicago right before his wedding. He has been a huge support to me through all of my trials, writing a beautiful letter for me that carried extra weight because he is an attorney. He and his family have recently moved back to Florida, and we cannot wait to hang with them again soon. Happy birthday, Todd! And don't cheat blowing out the candles...

Three wonderful people. Three birthdays. Three eras. Lisa and Leigh Ann know each other through Quaker circles, but neither of them know Todd. Celebrating with them reminds me how varied and blessed my life has been. And while they were part of my life at different times, we have a shared faith that binds us- and we'll always have New York! I am so blessed to know each of them. May this day be full of joy and blessings in their honor!!!

Because of Jesus,


  1. I love you, Carl Jones! (or should I say "jam it, Jones- means the same thing!) To make your world seem even smaller, I start at Centre Friends on Monday as their Youth/Associate Pastor with Terry on staff (Leigh Ann too- spouses of pastors count as staff! :-)). Thanks for honoring me in your blog! <3 My love to you and yours!! Take care....

    1. Awwww...nothing like a "Jam it, Jones!" to make my day. And wow- small world indeed! Centre was the first place that ever hired me to be a youth worker. So glad that you, Terry and Leigh Ann will be shaking up the Quakes of NC together!

  2. Anonymous9/10/2014

    Thanks, Big C! I laughed out loud. And I am happy to report I didn't have to cheat at blowing out the candles -- not that I am above it. Graciously, there were only four candles on my cake. :) Can't wait to hang out. I will text you so we can get something in the books. My best to the Jones family!


    1. I agree, Todd. 4 candles was VERY gracious! Looking forward to seeing you soon!


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