Relentlessly pursuing peace and reconciliation among all peoples in all places for all things.
Blog: Happy Birthday Nikki!
Today is Nikki’s xxth birthday. I’ve learned a few things in 33 years of marriage – one is not to tell how old your wife is or how much they weigh! But today, December 8, is the day she was born on. She’s had quite a life. I was recently asked how to spell her name because someone saw it “N I K K I” in one place and “N I K I” in another place. Her family spelled it one way, but the birth certificate said another. Her mom was killed in a car wreck when Nikki was 5 – which is how her family had spelled it – but the birth certificate they presented when she went to school said “N I K I” and with her mom gone no one knew the exact way it was to be spelled.
Like me, she grew up in deep East Texas – in Lindale, Texas. At that time a town of 1036 people. I met her when my dad moved to pastor the church there that her and her family went to, First Baptist. We were both in middle school. I was taken by her. She was quiet and very beautiful. With her mom gone, her dad’s parents moved in so her dad could work and her grandmother from then on out would assume the role of her mom – MamaNita, along later with her step-mother Mary Ann. People confuse shy for quiet – she’s not shy, and not even quiet most of the time now. She was probably trying to figure everything out in a fast changing childhood. We dated in High School. Both of us went to Baylor and graduated. She became a school teacher, I became a seminary student and pastor and we married. From there we took a quick jaunt to Arkansas to serve on a church staff a little over a year, and then to DFW and specifically Keller to plant Northwood Church in 1985.
We’ve had quite a life together. Our first focus was simply to get Northwood off the ground. In 1992 we began to start churches out of Northwood and Nikki wound up working with the church planters wives. In 1998 she took her first trip to Vietnam and has been going ever since. After years of being actively involved in our women’s ministry she has headed it up the past few years. In addition, she travels all over the world, sometimes with me – sometimes without me – and teaches, trains, and builds bridges with women in different cultures and circumstances. People meeting us will often ask, “Do you travel with him?” Her response generally is, “I do sometimes, but I also travel without him!” She’s been a great wife, a great mom, a great pastors wife, a great minister, and a great leader. Why?
1. She didn’t allow a challenging childhood in loosing her mom destroy her. Nikki’s tough. She had to be. Many people have hard things happen and it makes them bitter or give up or settle for a lot less. That didn’t happen to Nikki. That didn’t mean she didn’t struggle or have challenges growing up. She took all that pain and difficulty and turned it into something very positive.
2. She has always been willing to do whatever was necessary in whatever situation to move herself, Northwood, or me forward. She had worked in our womens ministry for years, and when she was asked by one of the pastors on staff to head it up she talked to Trina Jenkins who did FBC Glenarden’s womens ministry to get some counsel – and then took it on full force. Our women’s ministry has flourished and grown like never before. She’s not afraid of work and she’s not afraid of a challenge. Neither does she have to be or even like to be up front.
3. She has always been willing to expand her horizons and discover new things. When she first went to Vietnam she wasn’t taken with it like I was. Now, she goes more than me, without me and works in Hanoi but also up in the mountains. She travels without me globally to Middle-East and other places to teach health, hygene, and other things. She hosts visiting diplomats, business leaders, government leaders, education leaders from around the world at our church and in our home.
4. Nikki has always put others first be it family, work, or ministry. We’ve become friends with a lady who for years was homeless, we watch out for her. But recently Nikki was telling me how rich her worship is and how she loves to sit with her in church. She loves to wash the feet of others.
5. I’ve watched Nikki grow as a person and in her relationship with God. Most people try to maintain – not Nikki, it has to always get better, improve, or grow. Nikki is both a learner and a lover of life.
Tuesday night there a dinner honoring one of my hero’s Bob Buford. Bob started an organization called “Leadership Network” 30 years ago. To be in it, your church had to be at least a thousand. We were barely 300, I don’t know why they invited us, but they did. Maybe because he’s from Tyler and wanted to give a country boy a break. I was asked to speak briefly about what I did at our church and around the world and how Bob had helped me in all of that. As usual when it was over, someone asked “Do you travel with him?” Her answer, “Yes, but I go on my own as well.” As we were driving home she reminded me of a story how Bob Buford had impacted her as well. Leadership Network hosted a gathering of 30 pastors wives and Nikki was invited. It was people like Lynne Hybels, Kay Warren, etc., Nikki was very nervous. She had told me her greatest fear would be having to speak somewhere where Ruth Graham was, Mrs. Billy Graham, but that wasn’t going to happen so she would be ok. The phone rang, and a lady asked Nikki if she’d bring a devotional, it was Billy Graham’s sister-in-law. NOW she was panicked. She went, and she did a great job. She told me, doing that with those women moved me to another level, and it did.
We all love you Nikki – HAPPY BIRTHDAY – LET’S PARTY!!!!!
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.