Rhonda Ranae Thompson was born on January 29, 1959 to parents James and Shirley DuVall. Jesus celebrated that day and all the following days of her life. Her older sister, Cheryl, and younger brother, Kent, were the first of innumerable friendships she would grow throughout her lifetime. Rhonda had many cousins, all of which would spend every Friday night together at Ma’s house and wake up to donuts every Saturday morning. She treasured those fond memories of sleepovers and holidays crowded into the smallest spaces with so many full hearts.
James and Shirley were intentional with their children about making the most of life, and living that life alongside Jesus. They would spend hours on their bed with their 3 children reading and discussing Bible stories. Along with others planting seeds of salvation, her parents were the ones who led Rhonda to know the Lord.
Anyone who knows Rhonda, knows how much she LOVES her birthday. It all comes down to cake and ice cream really, and as birthdays go, her favorite and best one was the year she turned 8 years old. It was Sunday, January 29, 1967 when Rhonda heard God calling out her name. She was sitting in a morning church service when she felt the tug on her heart and could not wait for Brother Welch to extend the invitation, at which Rhonda eagerly accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. She was baptized that night and as she came up out of the water she exclaimed to her mom (who was standing atop the stairs waiting for her with a towel), “Mom! This is the BEST birthday gift ever!!” Unknowing, the entire congregation also heard her make this claim and filled with laughter and celebration. That night they celebrated not only Rhonda’s physical birthday, but her spiritual birthday as well, of course with cake and ice cream, her favorite.
The icing for that cake came when she met Randy Robin Thompson, HER man, her Mufasa, her Boss Hogg, the absolute love of her life. They had countless adventures over their 40+ years together, but Rhonda treasured most the accountability Randy was for her with her walk with God. Where her parents left off in teaching her about Jesus as her Savior, it was through life with Randy that she learned about Jesus as her Lord. Together they learned how to let go of things and let God be in control, how to listen to His calls on their lives, how to follow and obey those calls, and how to share the Gospel with others. Their relationship was built on the foundation of God and through that, the world is a better place.
The next two scoops of glorious ice cream came through Randy and Rhonda’s children, Stacy Nicole and Chad Eric. These two beautiful gifts from God made her entire life worth living to the fullest that much more meaningful. The legacy of love and trusting in God that was passed to Rhonda from her parents, was then passed onto Stacy and Chad. The relationships did not stop growing with them however, but continued as Stacy married Matt Peters and Chad married Taylir Ross. Once again, the Lord showed his faithfulness through these marriages. The way Matt and Taylir love Rhonda’s children was why she loved them as her own.
And for the cherry on top. Rhonda’s grandchildren. The lights of her life. Caiden Lee, Huxley James Earl, Stryker Flint Robin, and Andi Rene. She played from sun up to sun down, and then continued to have fun and spoil them even more. She adored being their Nini; getting to love and enjoy every moment she could with these kiddos without the responsibility of having to “parent” them. She honored and loved the responsibility of sharing about Jesus with those beautiful children, however. Once again, continuing to foster those relationships and grow not only her walk with God, but everyone’s around her.
Outside of family, Rhonda was an elementary school secretary at Eastlake Elementary. Talk about leaving her mark. “Miss Rhonda” was the person children would come to on their best days and on their worst days. She loved those children and that staff like they were her own, and they all knew that. Another instance where God’s light is shining through her.
So what should we take away from Rhonda’s life? What did she teach us? What can we learn from her, even today as she is not physically with us any longer? This is what she wants us all to know:
1.RUN to Jesus when He calls your name. Do not ignore it, even if you don’t understand it, RUN to Him because He is waiting with arms wide open.
2.Learn to trust Him as your Savior and as your Lord.
3.Be intentional with your time and your relationships. God is a god of relationships and wants His children to love and be loved. Invest in each other and challenge each other to grow.
4.Learn to worship and HAVE FUN while doing it! Live life in a way that makes Your Father smile!
5.Always, always, always celebrate with cake and ice cream.