September 2008


Also, not a/an eulogy.  (I looked online and saw it both ways so…it was basically no help.)

My dear friend Emi came to hang out this past week.  You know someone is a true friend when they act like it’s no big deal that your house is a wreck and you make them sit on the floor and all you have to feed them is frozen pizza.  (I have eaten frozen pizza four times this week, by the way, although I do typically cook it first.)  Incidentally, Emi is in the process of moving too.  She brought us French magnetic poetry, which is awesome.  Emi has a lot of great qualities, and the fact that she gives very cool and useful gifts illustrates that.

I met Emi when we were in junior high, I think.  She is really fun and does things that need doing, simply because they need to be done.  “Somebody’s got to do it,” she would say.  Somebody had to play keyboard for our youth choir, and she knew a wee bit of piano but since nobody more qualified stepped up she did it.  And it was fine.  When many of our peers (myself included) were feeling disconnected at church, somebody needed to do something, so she organized an informal Bible study that fit the bill perfectly.  In high school we used to sit around during down time on mission trips or camp with another girl named Laurie and sing harmonies, although probably none of us would have claimed to have a great voice.  Considering our non-vocal team status they always turned out surprisingly well.  Emi and I were working at a weekend youth thing a year or two later when we found out Laurie had cancer, and that was the end of the harmonies.

Emi has phenomenal taste.  I mean, she is in a league with Audrey Hepburn.  Everything from clothes to makeup to friends to music to movies – if she recommends it, you know it is a solid choice.  I asked her to help me pick out Jake’s wedding present for this reason, and it was a hit.  But beyond that, she is a really great person.  I guess being half Japanese and half Irish doesn’t hurt, because there is a lot of awesomeness in that combination.  She has a lot of wisdom, lets you borrow her socks at frisbee if you forget yours (another sign of true friendship), lets you borrow her ipod to DJ your wedding reception if you are not cool enough to own one, lets you borrow her clothes that are so much more tasteful and stylish than your own, and drives you around when you don’t have a car.  Reading over that I sound like an Emi mooch, but the thing about Emi is she is so cheerful about giving or being helpful in any way.  And she is not too proud to let people help her too, which is a rarity.  Also she is very cute, has a lovely smile, and is a great athlete.

Once at Bible study she said something that has stuck with me: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”  At the time she was talking about how the church (as in Christians, not a particular church) neglects their duty of caring for people and then complains about how the government does it, but this has since really shaped the way I think about and act in all sorts of areas.  If there is something that is just not right, whether it’s litter or people going hungry when others are throwing away tons of food, instead of waiting for someone else to do something or complaining about it, I should get up and do it myself.  Somebody’s got to.

I had lunch with Mrs. Ragan a while back.  She was my Sunday school teacher in junior high and kept up with me and “the group” through high school til now.  We ate at a nice little tearoom and chatted about life.  Mrs. Ragan, who wants me to call her by her first name now that I am an adult and all, is the first person who comes to mind when I think about mentors, although we never initiated a formal mentoring relationship.  Her home is always lovely and cozy and homey, and she did give me a few cooking lessons wherein I created my very first omelets.  She is full of wise advice, but only if you ask for it.  Otherwise she just listens, and asks questions because she is so interested in what you have to say.  She only talks about herself if you ask.  She is a very young person, despite having a passel of grandkids, and has a very cool job at a ministry that has her constantly traveling to places like Uganda and Russia and Yemen.

Mrs. Ragan Kathy (that is SO hard for me!) taught me how to TP houses.  She hates that I tell people that, because all my friends will talk about some deep spiritual lesson they learned from her and I always bring up the vandalism.  But I don’t mean that she taught me to deface private property; what I mean is that she is really the person who showed me that Christians could have fun, that being a Christian could be fun.  “Don’t get mad, get even!” she cheerfully admonished regarding our slumber party antics.  (Speaking of which, let me say that I hosted ONE slumber party for teenage girls in the five years I was a youth worker.  That was enough for me.  Mrs. Ragan Kathy is a brave, brave person.)  She taught us to pray for our future husbands when we were in high school, and she came to our weddings (or, if she couldn’t, she called the bride that morning to offer her warm congratulations, a prayer of blessing, and any necessary calming).  At my wedding shower she gave me some delightfully soft, fluffy towels and a dozen candles – for romance, she said.  She laughs easily, loans books and doesn’t bug you about returning them, always has just finished reading something fascinating, is a treasure trove of wisdom and wonderful stories, takes life in stride, consistently encourages, and I hope to be a bit like her someday, when I grow up.  I love her lots and lots.

me & Mrs. Ragan

me & Mrs. Ragan

Note: Jake said this sounds like a eulogy (an eulogy?) but it is not. To my knowledge, Mrs. Ragan Kathy is alive and kicking. “Farewell” refers to the fact that I will likely not see her again before hopping the pond.

Lisa and I ran 20 miles yesterday.

We survived.

Which is a good thing – a very, very good thing.  It is really thrilling to know you can ask your body to do something like that, and it will, and you will live to tell about it.  The problem is that a marathon is 26.2 miles.  And I, despite an excellent verbal score on the SAT, do not have the vocabulary to describe the utter exhaustion one’s legs feel after an endeavor of that magnitude, nor the excruciating pain in one’s feet – never mind trying to run with a case of plantar fasciitis.  So, I am very proud of this accomplishment and also more than a little concerned about running a full-blown marathon in 3 weeks.  I don’t know if I can do it, and there’s only one way to find out.

Well, not really on France, but it made me think of it:

It will often look as though Christ is defeated.  That’s the way it looked on Good Friday.  He let himself be libeled and harassed and scorned and shoved around and killed.  But in it all He was in control…So it will always be.  If China was closed for forty years to Western missionaries, it was not as though Jesus accidentally slipped and fell into the tomb.  He stepped in.  And when it was sealed over, he saved fifty million Chinese from inside-without Western missionaries.  And when it was time, he pushed the stone away so we could see what he had done.

When it looks as though he is buried for good, Jesus is doing something awesome in the dark…The world thinks Jesus is done for-out of the way.  They think his Word is buried and his plans have failed.

But Jesus is at work in the dark places…He lets himself be buried, and he comes out in power when and where he pleases.  And his hands are full of fruit made in the dark.

Jesus, use us to push back the darkness, to roll the stone away…

With the increased effort of the extra miles, you can’t take a lot of other stress while training for a marathon.  This isn’t a good time for extensive travel, changing jobs, moving your family…

Um…what about all of the above at once?

Oops.

Um…did I do that right?

OK this happened last week, but today I have a good internet signal so I can write about it.  Last weekend Scott & Mentanna asked if some of their friends could stay with us, so as not to be in the path of Gustav.  We have an extra room, so we said sure.  And began frantically cleaning the extra room, because it has been my running headquarters for several weeks now and before that was sort of “storage” for anything else that didn’t have a place, so walking from the door to the back corner required acrobatic ability that would turn Nastia green with envy.

I am always nervous about being a hostess, because my family did not do much “entertaining” while I was growing up and I’m really not sure what to do.  I mean, I know to put clean sheets on the bed and hide the junk that was previously strewn about, but that’s about all.  I forget that Jake & I are weird, so we never have ice in the freezer and we only get a few Spanish stations on our TV.  Of course I think of things a bit too late (would you like ice?  Oh wait, we don’t have any…I invited French people to my home and didn’t even bother to attempt to procure some coffee for them, what kind of idiot am I?), but in reality I think it turns out OK.  I have a sound roof on a house that is not in the direct path of a major storm, and at the time that was the most important thing.  When I invite people over for dinner, we may not have ice for drinks (oh wait…forgot those too…we almost always drink water…) or side items, but the entree is decent and the plates are clean.

Anyway, Mikael and Alice just moved to Lafayette, Louisiana from Paris (the real one, not the one in Texas).  Mikael is teaching French in an elementary school.  They had only been here 3 or 4 weeks when they had to evacuate because of Gustav.  It was really neat to talk to them about the differences in our cultures, and I think we were able to help each other a bit – we explained why you would want to call it a rooster instead of a cock, they told us to prepare to eat a lot of pork (we are mainly poultry eaters).  We told them to make sure they experience Chick-fil-A on their tour of American fast food, they told us to not expect any hamburgers in France.  They sampled authentic Tex-Mex, tasted homemade ice cream at my family’s Labor Day celebration, and explored Ft. Worth and Dallas (although Jake & I were lame at giving them pointers, because we are homebodies and also very boring).

We had a lot of fun hanging out with them…and now we have our first French friends!  Without even leaving the house!

P.S. You can see a pictures here, but the text is in French so good luck.  I hope they said nice things about us…

Yesterday I ran 18 miles.  All. by. myself.

thankyouverymuch.

Special thanks to Team in Training for the icy-cold, juicy and delicious orange slices provided at 13.75 miles.

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