If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you know I trust my pal Kristy (formerly known as KLM, now KLR) and frequently quote her wisdom. So, in honor of her 30-somethingth birthday, a brief history of my first other half. (Because she was around before JJ.)

There was that time when she agreed to help me lead a Good Sex retreat. We woke up with our normal extrovert headaches in a cold building, formerly a granary, and I was snuggled up close. We had a brief chat about her need for personal space. We also discussed the fact that when Jesus sent the legion of demons into the pigs, he had full power and authority to have sent them into antelopes or earthworms instead, but instead He chose pigs. Thus, we shouldn’t eat bacon. It was a young and immature decision that we later reversed.

There was the time we went to Ichthus. I took an early crew and she came later with a few other students. The rains that year were so severe that we barely made it into camp. It was pouring and muddy. We had packed an air mattress and I put it in the back of my dad’s truck instead of a tent because there was limited tent space and I wanted more distance between me and the mud. Of course, the cap to the air mattress remained in Upper Sandusky. I had a rash on my eye. It was so muddy that the trucks to empty the porta-potties couldn’t get in to do their thing, which made our “facilities” a tad disgusting. One student went to use them and had to puke before turning around for much-needed relief. So as Kristy arrived I felt relief to have an ally. She told me that because they couldn’t get into the camp the night before she had to take the other students and stay in a hotel. “But don’t worry, I slept on the floor.” Oh, you mean that dry, warm, floor with running water nearby? Such a dear. Did I mention I had a rash on my eye? The irony is that we had made t-shirts for the students (on M.A.S.H. military patterned shirts) that said: R.A.S.H. “Rain and Sweat for Him.” We never made another themed t-shirt.

There was that time soon after she got her new job that she was invited to the Holiday Party in Chicago. A room and dinner for 2 was paid for so we went. We shopped the Mile and froze walking over the bridge to get to the deep dish pizza place. We discovered the Grand Lux Cafe, which we returned to each and every time we visited the Windy City (which was a surprisingly high number of times). We went there with other friends at a later date, a trip for the purpose of seeing David Crowder (of course) but serving to give a healing balm to my hurting heart as I had recently miscarried.

There was that time we drove all the way to Kings Island to watch David Crowder. We stopped for dinner, meandered through the park without riding a single ride and watched him open the show. We were two of a few people who stood and sang apologized to our neighbors for “what is about to happen.” Then Michael W. Smith came out and we sat down while everyone else bee-bopped around. We got bored by the third song and drove all the way back home.

There was the time we took a bunch of kids to Lakeside, for the first time. All the girls in a single house with one bathroom. David (“Daaaaaaviddddd”) was in charge of the boys. We met every evening to talk about the Yay Gods and the Help Gods of our time there and I heard some of the most mature requests from our students. KLM would log all these things and post them to our Xanga page for parents to follow along. We had purchased a cord that gave us the teeniest bit of internet through her old flip phone cell. She would read the emails and wishes of the parents and we would howl as Sue would break into some sort of drama about DOOL and Holly had to tell us that she was keeping us up on Days of our Lives. I watched one of my students express that he had made a decision to follow Jesus that week. We drove home, exhausted, stopping at Applebee’s to drink and swear that we would never return, only to make a list of things we wanted to differently next year. She told me that if we ever leave Lakeside wanting to come back, we’re not doing it right, because it takes everything you have to love so strongly all week long. I’ve adapted that wisdom in many of the ways in which I try to contribute to the church and world.

There was that time we drove to Monica, PA, quite possibly the strangest little city we’ve ever been to, for one of our final David Crowder escapades. We finally met him and had our picture taken. Since we were traveling just the two of us, we had to hand the camera to a stranger to snap the pic and we were sorely disappointed later.

When a stranger says, "I don't know how to use this kind of camera," a word to the wise: believe him.

When a stranger says, “I don’t know how to use this kind of camera,” a word to the wise: believe him.

It was in Monica that we ate at a shady “Italian” restaurant and when we returned to the hotel room we found we didn’t bring an opener for our favorite Chilean red. I think she somehow rigged something with a fork just before I threatened to break open the neck of the bottle. Since then I travel with a wine opener in my toiletries bag, right beside the toothpaste, as a necessity.

There was that time when we decided we were ready to add to our household and we adopted a dog together. We created our own version of a pre-nup and said the dog would go with her when we parted ways. We found the mangy Dinah at the local humane society and loved her boundless energy, even when she ripped up my dining room carpet. After Dinah – and KLM – moved out and JJ moved in, I found the house much too quiet and insisted on getting a dog right away.

There was that time that in the midst of her grief I told her to “find joy.” I was the worst kind of Christian and friend. Somehow she both forgave me – without even having to tell me – and loved me anyway. She is the best kind of Christian and friend.

There was that time that we sat on my couch with a glass of wine and solved the problems of the world. Actually, “that time” was all the time. It was the best way to end the day.

There was that time we decided to just start a Bible study and invited a few other ladies that we adored to come over and gab and talk about angels and Jesus and raising kids and husbands and sex. So we met every week. Even at 8:00 at night.

There was that time that the Bible study decided to meet at Los Arcos because something bad had just happened (and I cannot even recall what it was) and we drowned our sorrows in a pitcher or… so…. of margaritas. At least one 16-year-old was summoned to retrieve his mother. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

There was that time we lost a beloved friend. She had been in the hospital and I stood in the back of the church as the pastor’s wife got the call and we needed to get the service over so the pastor could make it to Columbus. KLM was the lay leader up front and we were signing that it was an emergency. I remember her making the sign for “dead” and I said “no” only to find later that indeed, it had been fatal.

There was that time that we went to the weddings of our “kids.” We sat together at Slim’s and giggled like school girls until his mother came down the aisle and the we sobbed like babies 80% in pure joy at watching this young life grow up and 20% in sorrow that the days of that young life, and our precious time with him, were long past.

There was that time that I made a half-hearted comment about starting a book club, which our friend Jill took seriously. Suddenly this time she and I met with 4 other women to talk about books and babies and life and food became a highlight of my month. I had never been in a book club before – I barely knew what one was – and yet we found ourselves in the world’s best.

KLM hasn’t taught me everything I know, but she’s taught me the best of what I know. I seek her opinion on the things that require deep thought. Of course, I give her advance notice because she doesn’t like me to spring it on her, but she comes back with wise, gracious and hilarious perspective.

As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely rarely suggest products or things to make your life better. Instead, let me advertise friends like this. They exist. Seek them out, treasure them and remember to text them back. Because they will become one of your most precious commodities.

May you know someone of great wisdom, humor and forgiveness. May they sharpen your dullness and soften your pointy-ness. May they save you from yourself more than once and may they accompany you through the darkest and brightest places in life. And may they still love you when you post it on the interwebs.

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