What’s Your “How We Met” Story?


My beloved mom turned 93 this week.  It was hard losing my dad 10 years ago, but we have been so blessed to have Mom live less than a mile from us since then. This  September she’ll be even closer when she moves to western North Carolina with us following our retirement.

I’ve always been intrigued by the story of how my parents met. Decades before internet dating sites, how could a farmer’s son from Illinois meet a city girl from St. Paul?

The year was 1944, and the country was at war. Truman Wallem, 23, was serving in the South Pacific. 19-year-old Eunice Thorson had entered civil service as the first female employee of the St. Paul Fire Department. As a pretty young woman working in a sea of men, I asked Mom once if she had ever experienced sexual harassment. “The fire inspectors all treated me like their little sister,” she commented, surprised by my question. “It was a different time.”

That it was. A set of  stolen rings were turned in to the Civil Service building, and a photographer from the St. Paul Dispatch came by to snap a photo. Mom was recruited to pose holding the rings for the paper.

Copies of that particular edition somehow found their way into my dad’s barracks overseas where he noticed her Norwegian last name and the striking photo (as did other serviceman), and wrote Mom a wartime letter (as did quite a few others!) Mom wasn’t inclined to respond to any of them, but my grandmother urged her “to support the war effort.” Mom began a correspondence with the earnest young Christian serviceman from Illinois. Five years later they were married.

Don’t you just love a good this-is-how-we-met story?

I wouldn’t be here if God had not brought my parents together. More importantly, I would not be who I am today if God had not brought me to himself.

These are my favorite how-we-met stories: the ways that God’s people enter a relationship with the One who will change their lives for all eternity.

Following Billy Graham’s death several weeks ago, countless “Billy” stories appeared in print and online relating his role in introducing them to the Savior he loved and served. Here’s the one that intrigued me: an op-ed piece by former president George W. Bush that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

“God’s work within me began in earnest with Billy’s outreach,” Bush wrote. “His care and his teachings were the real beginning of my faith walk — and the start of the end of my drinking. I couldn’t have given up alcohol on my own. But in 1986, at 40, I finally found the strength to quit. That strength came from love I had felt from my earliest days and from faith I didn’t fully discover until my later years.

President Bush commented that he thought that reading the Bible might help make him a better person, but a conversation with Billy Graham introduced him to a spiritual concept far more profound. Graham explained, “One should strive to be better, but we’re all sinners who earn God’s love not through our good deeds, but through His grace.”

Graham’s gift to Bush? A copy of The Living Bible personally inscribed with a reference to Philippians 1:6. God’s gift to Bush? The gift of eternal life.

Don’t you just love a great how-we-met story?