Teresa was a self-proclaimed tomboy growing up. She always ran with the boys. In fact, she found herself praying that God would just let her wake up a boy. However, God, in His infinite wisdom, knew exactly what He was doing when He formed her this way. It was this tomboy behavior that attracted Billy. As if he were wearing glasses, Billy was sitting on the couch and lowered his head just a bit, raised his eyebrows, looked up at me from beneath those brows, pointed a finger, and thinking of softball said, “That girl could play.”
In that moment, even though I didn’t know Billy as a teenager and have never seen a photo of teenage Billy Wilcox, I promise I was seeing a teenage Billy sitting on his couch. He was impressed and fawning over the skills of a teenaged Teresa, still completely in enamored and in love.
Billy Wilcox is a man that I, for one, was shocked…no stunned….no flabbergasted to hear was shy and backward as a kid. Never would I have dreamed he would be the guy who sat in Teresa’s home in the middle of winter with their heat blaring and never remove his coat. I know I’m not alone in my astonishment. He is the person today we know as full of life and zeal and can talk to anyone at anytime.
Teresa is a woman so full of compassion, warmth, and a zest for Christ that you feel compelled to be a better person each time you are with her. She’s the type of person who makes you feel you can be more than you are without really even trying to do so. Something about her makes you feel like you can rise to that challenge. You feel closer to God just having been near her. And she will categorically deny every bit of that!
Billy is an amazing person. Teresa alone is spectacular. But, together? Together, these two wonderful individuals create a partnership that embodies what God wants for our marriages. Are they perfect? No. They’ll be the first to tell you that. However, they strive everyday in their personal lives and in their marriage to do right by God.
They have been married since December 1, 1972. Amazingly, though, they didn’t even see one another coming.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
This beloved scripture gives all Christian parents hope and solace. We pray this scripture with faith that what we teach them while they are young will stick with them when they grow.
Teresa and Billy couldn’t have grown into the married couple they are today without the foundation they had as children. “Every time the doors were open, we were in church,” Teresa said as Billy nodded in agreement. Each of their families made sure their children knew the importance of hearing the Word and spending time in fellowship with other believers.
Both Billy’s and Teresa’s parents instilled in each of them a normalcy and routine of attending church, but also something more. They also instilled a love and desire to be with others in church. In fact, it was in the church parking lot in a car where the first sparks of interest were ignited for Billy and Teresa.
It was the summer before Teresa’s sophomore year in school, and Billy was about to be a senior. They’d grown up with one another and had always been that constant presence in one another’s lives. However, that night, Billy had been at a fast pitch game. Their parents and some other members of church were together, and Teresa ended up in the backseat of a car between Billy and Johnny with Peggy in the front seat all listening to music. In that moment of teenage innocent fun, the tiniest thought entered Teresa’s mind, “Hmmm, he’s pretty cute.”
Then, as typical teenage communication pre-texting era would go, a friend informed Teresa that Billy was going to ask her on the church hayride. However, typical Billy — their words, not mine — he waited until the day of the hayride to ask. Now, as is true for many households, Teresa wasn’t supposed to date until she was sixteen. However, because it was Billy, it was okay. Proverbs 22:1 tells us “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” I’d hazard a guess that Billy is thankful for the worth of his good reputation at that moment in time. I know he would tell you that having Teresa in his life in this way is worth more than any treasures in the world.
Without the upbringing Billy had, he wouldn’t have had the reputation and good name he did to win over Teresa’s parents.
As Billy recalled Sunday mornings with his father, I immediately pictured one of those movies with young men in their best trousers, button down shirt, and tie. Older men wore their nicely pressed slacks, dress shoes, and ties. Modeling for their sons what a gentleman should dress like going to church. I imagine a time when “Sunday Best” really meant something. I suppose this is all because Billy specifically recalled his dad polishing his shoes on Sunday morning before church. Then, they would walk to church. People would stop to try and offer them a ride, but they insisted on walking, and this is something BIlly remembers fondly. It was fun to him to walk to church.
The benefit of a good upbringing is that it bleeds and seeps into the future. For Billy and Teresa, it bled into the future children they would have, which seeped into the rearing of the grandchildren whose toys have a special place in their home now.
Those Christian values aren’t always the easiest thing to follow, though, once you grow and get out on your own. Therein lies the beauty and hope of that Proverb. However, sometimes, that Proverb gets a little help.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews reminds us that we should encourage one another to act in love and carry out good deeds. It tells us not to give up meeting with other believers, as many are in the habit of doing. So many of us, my husband and myself included, get out on our own and have that first taste of freedom. With it, we want to use every second we can for our own desires instead of meeting with other Christians, and we obviously aren’t the first generations to do so.
This very typical urge to backslide was something even these two weren’t immune from. However, Billy pointed out that Teresa was the one early on who urged them to continue going to church every Sunday. For Teresa, Sundays weren’t a difficult time of fellowship to give up. It was the norm for her and Billy. Sunday nights were when they do most of their dating. After study group and Sunday evening service, they’d go to “The Dairy Queen” in Bonnieville. For them growing up, if the doors were open, they were in the church. For Teresa, that was still true, and she brought Billy with her.
Billy and Teresa spent some time debating who exactly was the spiritual head of their household. Both were adamant that what the other said wasn’t true. The real truth of the matter is that their motto, their mantra, “You and me, and me and you,” is what makes their spiritual life go ‘round.
The other thing that makes their spiritual life go ‘round? The way they encourage one another.
“Teresa studies. I shoot from the hip,” Billy summed it up.
“I like to think we complement each other,” Teresa added.
They definitely make a team. They spur one another toward love in everything. Whatever they do, they do it together. Billy coached; Teresa kept books. Billy was on a committee; Teresa helped with ideas and reports. Billy even claimed he was just the figurehead in it all and Teresa did all the work, to which she said, “That’s not true.
For twelve years these two led the youth group at our church. This is the same youth group that gave innumerable (well, I’m sure I could put a number to it if I tried really hard, but you get the point….) young men and young women a place to go and enjoy Christian fellowship together so they can spur one another toward love and good deeds. Thanks to the leadership of Billy and Teresa, many of those youth experienced what it was like to do God’s work through missions for the first time. They learned how to play and participate in athletics in a clean and fun way with other believers with Billy while learning the Gospel from Teresa’s lessons. Together, they provided the whole package. Though they gave up leading the youth group, they still work together in Sunday school. Their teamwork is inspiring.
The way they encourage one another to act in a Christlike way is inspiring. The more inspiring part of this is that they act this way in every part of their life, not just in church. Behind their dining room table is a ledge on which they’ve displayed some of their most precious treasures.
There are plaster handprints from grandchildren, decorative plates, photos, gifts from bygone years, and an oval framed painting.
Taped to the back of the painting is a note handwritten by Teresa. The note details a story these two don’t want to ever forget. They were out to eat one night, just the two of them. While out, they saw a Jaguar than ran over the curb, and behind the wheel was an elderly man. He seemed somewhat confused. Something inside Billy and Teresa, Someone inside Billy and Teresa, didn’t feel comfortable letting him drive himself home.
Billy used this opportunity not only to drive a Jaguar, but he and Teresa also spent time talking with this man, whose name turned out to be Smoky Trails. When they took him back to his antique shop, he felt led to give them some token of appreciation. The painting he gave them that day still sits in their kitchen. It symbolizes their good deed and the way they encourage one another to be Christ-like. They encourage one another and others always. That type of faith is something that they will always have to fall back on.
Sitting and talking with Billy and Teresa revealed the contentment with which they can look back on their marriage and life together. They agree that they can owe their blessings in full to God and His grace. When we meet again, we will look at how God has worked through them, in them, and seen them through other moments of their marriage.
Yes, you read that right. I’m not finished telling their story. There’s just too much still to share. Until then…..