So, What Were You Doing 30 Years Ago??

Monumental anniversaries are powerful forces for so many reasons. They not only cause us to remember and, to what extent we are able, relive the big moment that originally stole the show. They also snap a quick shot of an era of our lives. Like most any other, a tangy cocktail of an era both sweet and bitter, both beautiful and terrible. Such is life. But several times in the course of a long stay, a wonder comes along that blankets the whole tumultuous season in a smiling sun’s rays.

Right about this time of day 30 years ago, I sat in the waiting room of my OBGYN’s office with one thing on my mind: I meant to have a baby that day or else. My man worked in the oil field with BJ Hughes and they were sending him off for a month in two weeks, just when she was due. If she was on time, I was on my own. BUT, if she had a little nudging, the four of us – Keith, Amanda (our nearly-3-year-old daughter and the biggest dream-come-true of my 25 year-old life), this new little creature that had swung on my bottom ribs like monkey bars for months, and I would have 14 days together. Those were the stakes.

High indeed.

So early that morning, my big sister, Gay, came to Victoria, Texas where we’d been transferred with BJ Hughes, and together we went on a brisk little – well, as much as I hate to admit to it – jog to very deliberately see if we could get some action going. There is absolutely nothing about this approach that I’d recommend to an expectant mother no matter how great with child she is. Those were the 80’s when the pendulum had swung WAY to the left and we were advised to do any physical activity in our pregnancies that we’d been accustomed to doing at the time we conceived. That was for normal people. Not me. Most women didn’t teach high impact advanced aerobics classes. What I’m recommending is this: sit down the moment you realize you’re expecting and get up when you head to the hospital.

Because here’s what happened: I trained up a child in utero in the way she would go and when she was born, she did not depart from it. She stretched, rolled, tumbled, jumped, lunged, and high kicked so wildly from five months’ gestation to full term that I lived nonstop at my maximum target heart rate particularly when I climbed into bed at night. I sang in the choir at First Baptist Church in Victoria and, in those latter days, my blue choir robe came alive like a 3-D illustration of the raging sea in Mark 4, only not once did Jesus stand up from the boat and say, “Please be still!” Or was that “peace be still”??

It was prophetic. That child would demand the training wheels off her bicycle two days before her 3rd birthday then ride off on it like she was born to be wild.

Because she was.

Dr. Mabry took one look at me, peered over the sheet draped across my swollen tummy and said, “Is your husband in town?”

“Yes, sir! As a matter of fact he is!”

“Good, because I’m about to break this water and put you in the hospital. This child is on her way.”

I’d asked God for a boy. In fact, I did it just right. I used all the biblical terminology. I prayed in faith without doubting and summed it up confidently with, “In Jesus’ Name.” I made sure I asked before conception so we could start out with the appropriate gender and God wouldn’t have to go to any extra trouble. I persevered in asking until the circle formed perfectly on the bottom of the EPT test tube then I sat back, smiled, claimed it…and, yes, named it: Brandon Keith Moore.

At seven months along, my OB nurse, good friend, and sonogram technician, said, “Beth, I’m telling you, I think this is a girl.” I went home undeterred, sat back on the couch and said to the Lord with utter confidence, “This is not hard for you. In fact, nothing is too difficult for Thee!” (Using proper King James English is always most effective for times such as this.) “Change it,” I chirped then got very still to see if I felt anything.


“It’s a girl,” I told Keith when he came in from work that night.

“Are you sure?”


“How do you know?”

“I just know. That’s what they told me at the doctor’s office. And I asked God to change her into a boy and He didn’t. I could tell. I could tell He didn’t, that is.”

Young, strong, tan, black-headed, right winged, and at the peak of machismo as a 26 year old man tends to be, Keith grumbled something then looked up at me and said, “Well, then, we’ll have a girl.”

Good. Good plan.

The loud speaker went off over the grounds of BJ Hughes calling Keith Moore to the telephone. The kind with the black curly cord that was actually attached to the wall. “It’s your wife,” his supervisor said. “She said she needs to talk to you right away.”

“Hello?” Sounding a little frantic.

“Hey! Wanna have a baby today?”


“Yes, today. My parents are on their way to stay with Amanda. I’m packing. You better come get me.”

And he did.

Mamas push their babies into the world and then just keep on pushing.

We think we know just what we want them to be and just what will make them happy and we push and push and push and push, red-faced, grimacing, and threatening our husbands who got us into this shape. We just keep doing the thing we were doing the hours and minutes before they were born.

And, thank GOD, sometimes it doesn’t work.

I suppose Melissa would be at the peak of her professional basketball career if she kept going where I was pushing. And I’d be chaplain of the team. And assistant coach. Or head coach.

But she’s always had a mind of her own.

A fine one. Like her big sister’s.

I gave my heart away 30 years ago today for the second time in my life. Totally. Withholding nothing. Complete abandon. Both times to squirming little creatures that didn’t even weigh as much as their Daddy’s career trout.

I sat across a white-linened table from both of them 2 days ago, sharing three desserts, coffee and teas and I got lost in them all over again. Lost in their laughter. In the color of their eyes. In the way they use words. And sip out of a cup. Such a flawed woman. Such an embarrassing past. So many insecurities. Secrets that make me nauseous. And yet there before me, grace welled up in two distinct heaps, like twins born three years apart. Twins who only look a smidge alike. Twins as similar as salt and pepper…as homemade peach-vanilla ice cream and pico de gallo. Twins only because they each broke into my fortress, shimmied down the side, and ran off with my heart.

We asked the waiter at the restaurant if we could sit by a window because we needed to keep an eye on my car. We were seriously certain someone would want to steal the clothes we’d just bought from Anthropologie. Yes, all three of us. Of course, the birthday girl got the most but the three Moore women have always liked to do things together. So, we all got presents.

Just like Keith, Amanda, and I did 30 years ago today.

That very day a pair of ocean green eyes opened to this beautiful and terrible earth and none of us who know her well have ever seen life the same again.


And, as for Keith Moore?? Well, he wouldn’t trade that baby girl for a world full of fine sons.

And, whatever happened to that professional women’s basketball star? Well, a good friend of ours gave her a fragile centuries-old piece of Torah scroll a few days ago for her birthday.

And the child commenced to read it to me.





325 Responses to “So, What Were You Doing 30 Years Ago??”

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  1. 201
    Connie Miller says:

    I so identify with this post. My first born daughter will turn 30 on September 18th, my second born daughter will have turned 28 the day before on September 17th. They were born 2 years and 4 hours apart.

    I recently read on Pinterest a note to a daughter that said, “You are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.”

    I like that imagery. They know what our hearts sound like, just like somehow we know our own Mother’s heartbeat in some subconscious way.

  2. 202
    Melissa says:

    30 years ago today… I would have been a 7 month old squirming in her mother’s arms. She also named me Melissa. I’m rather fond of that name. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy birthday to your daughter! Having ‘just’ turned 30 myself, I must say it’s a fun year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 203
    Pamela Sheldon says:

    I had tears in my eyes by the end – I have four beautiful daughters and know just what you’re talking about! Girl children who grow up to be amazing adults can only be a gift from God.

  4. 204
    Beth says:

    What a lovely testament to your daughter! Beth your God given ability to communicate is becoming like mature vegetation…breath-taking and full of depth….rich in texture.You turn a phrase and i’m delighted as a fellow word-lover. May your words never cease to construct a banner of His face!

    Happy Birthday Melissa! You have been given a rich heritage…a story demonstrating the One with the power to raise lives from the pit to the pathway.

    May you both feel His blessing today ~
    Beth Moss

  5. 205
    Maria says:

    Love it!! Happy Birthday to your baby girl!!!

  6. 206
    Suzie Lind says:

    What a beautiful birthday post!

  7. 207
    Joan says:


    It was exactly 30 years ago on July 20th, but February 14th…my first born…my beautiful Kelly…came into the life of my husband and me. The love is instant. It’s forever….it’s no holds barred…
    I was so worried when my next was due…would I have enough love to go around?? Now I know it’s a silly question..I had enough for my son, and my twin girls…Life has never been the same…it’s only been better!!

  8. 208
    Kim Feth says:

    God is so gracious to give you two precious girls, and so gracious to bring our 11-year-old son home safe from camp and announcing, “I’m so much closer to God”.

  9. 209
    Annette says:

    My baby will be 30 in a few days–can’t even begin to imagine where those 30 years evaporated, but this I know. He stole my heart. Nothing like a baby in your arms flesh of flesh–and now I hold his baby girl in my arms and shake my head in awe.

    Melissa, happy birthday. Sending hugs and praying blessings over those beautiful green eyes of yours. Sure love you guys. ~Annette

  10. 210
    Eileen says:

    Dearest Beth,

    As usual, I am in tears at your lovely testament and tale of the arrival of Melissa! Your gift of words just bring me to tears and pull at my heart strings ๐Ÿ™‚ We are so blessed to be moms and I thank Jesus everyday for His gift of children, lent to me to love, love, and love some more!! Please write another book, something like “Feathers In My Nest”, I loved that book….I know, in your “spare time”, ha ha! Much love and blessings to you always ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 211
    Lisa says:

    Happy Birthday to Melissa. I know your heart is beaming when you look at your girls! Time sure does pass by us very quickly. I have no girls all boys, always wanted a girl. Now my middle son is getting married next Saturday and I will have a daughter finally. I am excited about that.

  12. 212
    Nancy says:

    What a precious memory of one of the most important days of your life. All of us who are mamas could relate to how our lives are forever changed through the joy of giving birth. Happy Birthday to you, Melissa!! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us!!

  13. 213
    Stacy says:

    What a beautiful picture you painted for us. Happy Birthday to your precious woman child. I found out 5 1/2 years ago I was pregnant with a woman child and boy did that make me nervous. I wanted no part of having a teenage daughter. But God prepared me and now I have a 5 year old little diva that I love dearly. She thinks she is a teenager already but i hold dearly to my faith that with God all things are possible. Thanks for sharing. By the way, it is so dear to me that she sits next to me in bed and reads her beginners bible:)

  14. 214
    Colleen says:

    Well, now my tear ducts have been fully flushed! I can check that off the list for the day!


    Happy birthday to Melissa.

  15. 215
    Becky says:

    Happy Birthday to Melissa. My oldest will be 30 next year,and just had her birthday July 15. I thank her for making me a mom,and I apologize to her because she was my guinea pig!

  16. 216
    Nicole says:

    What a beautiful birthday post!

    Melissa, happy birthday. I am so thankful for your gift of words. Thank you for your contribution to the James study. You and your mom inspire me and the words of James are continuing to work their way into my life, preaching little sermons throughout my days.
    Also thank you for your blog post quite awhile ago on imaginations. It has stuck with me and caused me to work through some negative imaginations. Seeing the other side of the coin was so helpful. May God continue to grow you more and more in His likeness.

  17. 217
    Heather says:

    what a beautiful post. i would have been nine years old 30 years ago and just about driving my mother crazy. we aren’t close but i can relate having four daughters of my own. the picture did me in at the end…i lost it =) so precious. i just had a baby 2 months ago and those first few moments are priceless.thank you for sharing.

  18. 218
    Jenny says:

    What a beautiful post Beth! I recently turned 37 and am in the midst of childrearing. There are days that are so long and they are so on my nerves that I wonder why God ever thought it was a good idea to give me children. But then I look into those big green eyes of one daughter and the hazel eyes of her sister and brother (one of the wonders of God is how this brown eyed, brunette ended up with green and hazel eyed children!) and can’t believe how blessed I am. Thanks for the reminder that the messiness of the journey is worth it.

  19. 219
    jewels says:

    WOW! I laughed and cried! Thank you for sharing this! I am 31 and about to deliver my 4th baby and move to Texas (from cali) all with one and a half months to go. Life is crazy and has been full of fear, excitement, insecurity, and hope. This post has blessed my heart and encouraged me to Trust the Lord’s perfect plan and enjoy the process, the now! Thank you! What a beautiful testimony of God’s amazing grace! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to sip some tea and share a dessert with my girls someday! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you! Many blessings!

  20. 220
    Suzanne G. says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your daughter(s)….but also what an encouragement for mothers! This blog post is “one” of the many reasons why I love you dear, sweet Beth Moore:)!!!!!

  21. 221
    Beth says:

    30 years ago this November came my first born daughter. Such a blessing I could not fully understand because I was not a Christian. 5 years later my second daughter was born. I had received my precious Jesus as Lord and Savior when my first born was nearing her 1st birthday so I had a much greater understanding of the pure, outpouring of God himself on my world that day! Like you, I sit with my girls and marvel at who they are in Christ and that He so graciously has allowed me to take this journey in life with them. My own Mother died when I was 5 and it was not until I was 11 that my precious and beloved Aunt Ruby claimed me as her own! Not only did God give me daughters but restored a mother/daughter relationship that I had missed early in life. He is good, so very good. Then…..5 1/2 years ago……Grace. Our first grandchild. As I laid in bed that first night of her birth my eyes would not stop leaking as I prayed prayers of thanksgiving! Not crying, mind you! I was actually experiencing “Joy Overflowing”. When the Joy cannot be contained!! Mercy, He is good!

  22. 222
    Joanne says:

    That’s so beautiful.

  23. 223
    Joan says:

    I’m so blessed by your love for the Lord and your family and how you express it. I pray that your marraige and family continue to spiritually grow stronger with deeper bonds of love and God surrounds all your precious relationships with His protection.

  24. 224
    Sarah says:

    What a blessing! Thanks for sharing!

  25. 225
    Lynn says:

    Let’s see, 30 years ago I was newly married to my knight in shining armour. We were crammed into the tiny one-bedroom apartment from my single days and looking for a larger place.

    I was determined to be June Cleaver (minus pearls and high heels) — like many children fromm dysfunctional families of origin, my role models were the perfect TV wives and mothers.

    I wanted a happy home full of laughter, love, acceptance, and of course children! Greg wasn’t about to become Ward Cleaver (“I always hated that show!” he said) but he liked children.

    28 years ago, our beautiful daughter was born. Things didn’t turn out as expected and I had a c-section. Greg was sick and faded away long before I went to the operating room. I always regretted that he was not there to hold my hand when the baby arrived. He was stretched out on a sofa in the waiting room, moaning that he was dying. He returned to life long enough to admire the squalling, red-haired bundle brought in by a nurse, then went back to dying. Turned out he had a raging sinus infection.

    That beautiful baby is now engaged to be married to a wonderful man.

  26. 226
    Nikkia Bell says:

    What was I doing 30 years ago?? Hmmm…let’s see…well, I’m 29 now…so that would mean that I wasn’t even born yet! ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder if I’m the youngest commenter here!

  27. 227

    After reading this blog entry and realizing a smile was firmly in place the whole time, I remembered something from our May 2012 conference in Sighisoara, Romania. We had just finished watching the Introduction video of “Living Beyond Yourself, Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit” with Romanian subtitles. You used a great descriptive expression, “Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmmm!” That about sums it up about your precious bundles all grown up. Love God’s sweet grace and mercy poured out over all of us. We are desperately lost without it.

  28. 228
    Colette says:

    Oh my gosh!! What a beautiful picture and post! Happy Birthday to Melissa!! 30 years ago I had just graduated from H.S. and had an abusive boyfriend! I was a lost, worldly soul! But little did I know what God would have in store for me over the next 30 years!! I would meet my soul mate and have 2 beautiful baby boys! I would learn through all of them how to be selfless!! I was challenged to think about someone besides myself and my life would change forever in those 30 years, and for the better!!! God blessed me HUGE!
    I did not know what my babies were going to be until they were born and with my second I thought for sure I was having a girl….. but surprise we had another boy! And I truly believe God gives you what you are supposed to have! So I will always be the only Princess of my household!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ At least until grandchildren!! Which I am not in any big hurry for! I will be patient!!
    Thanks for reminding me of the last 30 years!! And how time flies when you are having fun!!!

  29. 229
    Cindy says:

    What a sweet mama you are. The mama who gave birth to me 30 years and 2 months ago just left my house after helping me clean as I prepare for my first baby. She is such an amazing women. We washed walls and the fridge and scrubed the floor. She is thrilled to see her baby having a baby. And this post excites me as I dream about why my baby boy will become. A vet? A doctor? A preacher? A singer? A Farmer like his daddy? May God’s plans for this little man prevail. Thank you for sharing the love you have for Melissa!!

  30. 230
    Katherine says:

    love how you have your earrings in and your make-up on to greet that precious baby!

  31. 231
    carla says:

    That is the sweetest proudest Momma talk ever, What a blessing, my oldest daughter turns 32 next week and we have celebrated with pedi and manis together for many years. Daughters are awesome gifts are they not?

  32. 232
    Rosa says:

    30 years ago on July the 20th, I was 1 day short of 8 years old. I am kind of partial to those with July birthdays. Happy belated birthday Melissa.

  33. 233
    Sondra says:

    Thirty years ago, I was developing beautiful friendships for a lifetime while earning a degree at Ouachita Baptist University. If given the chance, that would be one season of my life that I would love to revisit. There are just too many wonderful memories, to reflect on just one!

  34. 234
    Lindsey says:

    Melissa is only one day older than me!!!! I am pressure my mom was in labor when you were bringing her into world. Happy 30th Melissa! His best is yet to come!

  35. 235
    Cyndi Pape says:

    Oh..God Bless You..This so mayed me cry .I have two wonderful dauthers and on their birthdays I always think of the day they were born and how our hearts beat together ..still in and out of my body…My mother is with the Loed but she so loved my girls and me too…I miss you very much…My oldest daughter Holly sent this to me …And by God’s grace my two daughters are both Christians…I love them and him very much…Thank You Holly …and Beth….

    • 235.1
      Holly Winkler says:

      Cyndi – my mom.
      God made her my mommy for a reason. He knew I would need a strong woman in my life, and He choose her for me! My mom calls me every birthday and reminds me that on that very day it snowed 6 inches (Oct 27) and having a birthday so close to Halloween, she would always make that day special at home and school. Beth, thank you for all your encouragement, and honesty. Someday in our lives (probably in Heaven), I will get to have coffee with you, and maybe my mom can join us. Two of the most important women in my life and coffee, that would be priceless… ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. 236
    Cherilynn says:

    I LOVE your gift of words, Mama Beth!!

    Happy Birthday, Melissa!!!

    • 236.1
      Cherilynn says:

      oh – 30 years ago I was 14 and getting ready to go into the 9th grade
      I am now going on a trip down memory lane ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. 237
    Darlene says:

    30 years ago…I’m sure I was anxiously awaiting unwrapping my birthday presents. BUT 6 years ago this Thursday (the 26th) I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my beautiful little girl, Teagan. I was settled in at the hospital on my 30th Birthday and waiting, waiting for her to make her entrance. I don’t personally recommend laboring on your birthday but what a perfect gift. I decided that it wouldn’t be fair for her to share her birthday so I will just stay 29, celebrate her and watch her grow!

    Happy Birthday Melissa and Teagan!

  38. 238
    Valerie says:

    What a sweet story! I hope that you have this saved for her to keep always! I carried on the tradition of my “birthday story” to my kids….every birthday, we relive the day as it happened, and if there are pictures available, we gush over them….we have movies too, but not of the actual birth, just the sweet time right after they were born! Mine are 21 and 17, and I have inherited 3 sweet 12 year olds from my second husband, and I totally insist on his retelling of their birthday stories also!

  39. 239
    Jennifer Olmstead says:

    What a sweet post, dear Mama Beth !

    Happy Birthday, Melissa ! You sure looked tiny covered in that baby blanket…

    On July 20, 1982, I was 14 years old, and would be starting 9th grade at Junior High School. Sometimes I wonder if they should keep 9th grade students out of high schools ? At that time, my parents, 3 older sisters, and I were getting really “psyched up” for our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado. We would be traveling there in our “new to us used RV” in approximately 1 week. We were considered to be “flat-landers” who enjoyed a handful of day hikes in the mountains. I recall feeling extremely “close” to God there, seeing all of of HIS magnificent grandeur !

    In Christ’s Love,

    Jennifer O.

    Southern Wisconsin

  40. 240
    Nancy, RDH mom says:


  41. 241
    Karla says:

    I just read ANOTHER birth story on another one of my favorite blogs to read. Check it out: This gal is a FAB writer and it was so fun to read in detail and humor both of your birthing stories. Thank you!

  42. 242
    Lynne Jones says:

    What a beautiful story and picture. Beth – are you wearing earrings during child birth? Giggle.

    My own daughter turned 25 this past May, also with ocean green eyes. I’m so in love with her, too.

    May God richly bless and use them both to further His kingdom.

  43. 243
    Cona says:

    Beth, I just want to say thank you for being so real when you share with us. I have 5 children—5 boys, whom I love ALL very dearly and wouldn’t trade any of them for the world! But I have to say, when we found out #3 and #5 were, yet again boys, I know I mourned(literally) for a week. See, #4 we didn’t find out what he was cause we were ABSOLUTELY sure he was our girl! My youngest is now 3 1/2 and we are happy, but every once in awhile, like when I read your post about Amanda’s birth, the hurt comes up again. I told my husband “see, I guess its okay…God didn’t answer Beth’s prayers about a baby either!” Of course, I’ve gotten the comments before like…oh, you will have lots of daughter-in-laws and granddaughters, but I know in my heart that’s not the same. See, I have a wonderful relationship with my mother and just wanted that with a daughter of my own too! I don’t mean to sound whiney, I am fine with all my boys! But it was so nice to hear that I was not alone in my yearning for a girl or as in your case boy! And, YES, with 5 boys at 41 years of age, we are DONE, not trying for that girl anymore!!! LOL Thanks again for sharing and I hope Melissa had a very wonderful birthday!

  44. 244
    Mona says:

    Happy belated birthday Melissa! Wow – 30 years ago was about when Randy Stonehill came out with a song called “Turning 30.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Where was I 30 year ago? I happened to be a summer missionary on the lower east side of Manhattan in a little ministry center located in a small storefront, called “Graffiti”. Now I am not a pianist by any means, but I remember playing songs and hymns on the children’s electric organ, that had been given to the ministry center, during our sunday morning worship times. Ha! That was a great summer which really impacted my life. Graffiti is not just a ministry anymore; it’s a full fledged church! My husband and I got to visit it just last year when we were in NYC for a conference.

    It was also the summer that one of my heroes of the faith saw Jesus face to face…Keith Green. Wow – talk about a flashback.

  45. 245
    emily says:

    30 years ago I was 2 and today I have a two year old of my own. Even on the worst mama days there is hope in her sweet face.

  46. 246
    Susan says:

    You wore earrings when you were having your baby??? I can’t believe it. If I’d had earrings on, I’d have thrown them at someone. (Doctor, nurse, hubby–anyone close enough to hit.)
    Of course, I did have a book through most of my labor with my third one. The nurse wrestled it out of my hand in time for delivery, though.
    I enjoyed seeing your daughters birth through your eyes.

  47. 247
    Danielle says:

    This made me cry. I am a new mama to a perfect baby girl too and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for her.

  48. 248
    Warm in Alaska says:

    Beth – I read this on my i-phone within a couple hours of you posting it and wanted to respond – but not to pluck out the letters on my phone. It’s such a beautiful and fun remembrance to Melissa! I love that she can read Hebrew!! I would love to drag her into the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem and have her go at the Hebrew on the Isaiah scroll. What a gift she’s given herself and those she’ll pour into by learning the original text! Happy Birthday, Melissa!

    The line, however, that most struck me from your post was, “… this beautiful, terrible earth.” Because it is so. Beautiful. And terrible. The day escaped me before I was able to get back online and I woke up the next morning to the horrible news from Colorado. I kept thinking of your words, through the images and accounts of what occurred – beautiful and terrible.

    God, have mercy on us.

  49. 249
    Andrea says:

    Beth, that’s such a beautiful photo and story. Thank you for sharing! I wasn’t even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes 30 years ago. My big sister was though. She’ll be 30 in October. I imagine my mom hoped she had a little more time before I was born… haha. We’re 14 months apart!

  50. 250
    Chris in PA says:

    Well, the only thing you can end that awesome post with is, AMEN. Happy Birthday Melissa! Blessings

    • 250.1
      Chris in PA says:

      Oh, 30 years ago I was getting married. I can’t tell you how many times people are asking me, “so what is the secret to staying married for 30 years?”.

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