Mr. and Mrs. Refuge
The Refuges are proof that when God has designed a mate for you, He will ultimately lead you to that mate if you let Him take control. Lawrence Michael met his future wife at an Exxon station in New Orleans where she was working. He says, “This beautiful attendant stepped from behind the counter in Daisy Duke shorts and asked ‘How’s your day going?’ I thought to myself, ‘I can’t mess this up.’ and I responded ‘It’s going well now!’. The two exchanged names. “I told her I felt like I knew her from somewhere.” says Mike. After a few dates, Sharon and Michael realized they in fact had met each other before. “Her sister owned a restaurant on Tulane Ave. that I used to frequent and she worked there. I had tried to meet and talk to her before.” Says Michael. Michael and Sharon were married on June 9, 1979. Sharon says, “Our wedding was literally planned overnight. I remember I worked on my wedding day. I worked at Hibernia bank. We had been discussing getting married and the pastor who married us called me at work on a Friday and said ‘I have an opening tomorrow if you two still want to get married’. I called Mike and said ‘You’re getting married tomorrow.’ I worked Saturday morning, got off an hour early and we got married that afternoon. Mike adds, “I forgot my tie so somebody gave me a big white tie to wear.” Sharon adds, “We didn’t have a wedding cake so Mike’s mom went around the corner to McKenzie’s and had them to wipe ‘Happy Birthday’ off of a birthday cake and write ‘Congratulations Mike and Shinny’ on the birthday cake.” Mike adds, “I took the time to ask God for the kind of wife I wanted and I got what I wanted. God put us together because after I met her on Tulane Ave. years prior, I thought I’d never see her again.” His first stipulation for a wife? “She HAD to be a New Orleans Saints fan. That was number one.” he jokingly adds. The Refuges advises couples to “Put God FIRST in your relationship. Shinny (as he affectionately calls his wife) and I got saved together. We were both raised to love and honor God but I was Baptist and she was Catholic. We became non-denominational Christians together.” He adds, “In our marriage, things that I am weak in she is strong in and vice versa. Marriage is about balance. You have to be willing to be wrong sometimes even when you are right. I give in most of the time.” Sharon adds, “Communication is key. Marriage is something you have to work on daily. Don’t take each other for granted.” As the Refuges prepare to celebrate 34 years of marriage, they are careful to keep the romance alive in their union. They enjoy going to the movies together, attending church social events, going to jazz clubs and THEY LOVE THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. They begin to sing together as they recall their song, “Say You Love Me” by DJ Rogers. Mrs. Refuge advises women, “I don’t know who came up with this women’s lib stuff but let your husband be the man of the house. That’s biblical. Love, respect, and communication are key in a successful marriage.” Mike adds, “Understand your mate will change as times change. You will fight but as long as you are fighting through the tough times together you will be okay.” Mrs. Refuge says, “Mike loves a good meal, having all of my attention and being with me.” Mr. Refuge adds, “She likes the same things as I do; having all of my attention and she loves surprise gifts.” Sharon adds, “I leave him little “I Love You” notes on his honey-do instructions and around the house because your spouse needs to hear that often.” Mike says, “After all these years we have learned to transform arguments into funny moments! It’s about keeping it fun and always growing with your mate. My wife and I both like to have fun. We both come from huge families so we love just being with family.” The Refuges urge younger married couples to “Find strength in one another and always respect each other through the good and bad times.” They have built a legacy through their children and grandchildren. They have one son, two daughters, and 7 grandchildren. The Refuges were born and raised in New Orleans but have lived in California for over 25 years. “We miss our family. It bothers us that we are away from our children and grandchildren but we have planted the seed of God in them that our parents planted in us. We are proud that our marriage is a union our children can use as an example. Yes, long marriages still exist.” The Refuges are in the process of moving back South to be with their children and grandchildren. They add, “We cover our entire family with the blood of Jesus.” The Refuges attend Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California.