Tomorrow is the birthday of another of 'the girls,' one whom, for the sake of this post, I'll simply call Rally. Of the seven of them, I've known Rally the longest, or at least of her, I should say. I first heard about her at my dinner table when I was in the fourth grade because she was in my mother's class that year. My mother found her charming and energetic, an athletic tomboy who wanted to play sports with the boys and (usually) beat them at their games. And what my mother first noticed about Rally were core characteristics about her that didn't change for...well, forever, I suppose.
The other day, when I was looking through old pictures, I found a class picture of Beve and his sixth grade class, and there's Rally, right in the front row. Now most of the girls in that class looked a little awkward, I have to tell you, which is what girls often look like when they reach the age when their bodies begin to change and grow and they hardly know what's happening to them. But Rally--she stuck out like a perfectly formed, perky girl-next-door who completely skipped that awkward stage. Or just blew right through it because she was too busy racing around some athletic field to give awkward a chance.
Rally is the fifth daughter in a family of ten children, and has always been able to hold her own among them. Indeed, she can hold a crowd like she was born to it. From the time I first knew her there was an aura about her that made people want to be around her. It's a bit hard to explain, but she has a sense of the absurd, a style that is completely inimitable and a laugh that pulls others in. For a small, quick person, she's larger than life, Rally is. In fact I remember a slumber party from the end of sixth grade--at Kim Mooney's house where, if there'd been a mike, she would have been the last comic standing, because we laughed until we cried at everything that came out of her mouth.
But there's another side of her, and that side I didn't get to know until years after high school. In fact, though we were friends back then, we only shared a couple of rather significant (although strange) moments, like a night we went to the drive-in in her family's little pick-up and happened upon a classmate in his car. We pounded on his car's front window, then noticed that his girlfriend was sitting on his lap...and we'd interrupted them in a VERY compromising position. It was more than awkward. I think I raced almost as fast as Rally away from that car that night. But generally we mostly spent time together only when all the girls got together--and often that was in her family's large family room, where we took pictures and ate cake. However, on October 12, 1973 (I know this because I found the card the other day when I found my prayer cards) I committed myself to praying that Rally come to Christ. I wrote her name in bold black letters on a 3x5 card and I started praying.
And God was faithful. Not to me, but to her. She did come to Christ, I mean. I don't know when exactly, but by the time we were both living in Tacoma in the late 1980s, raising small children (well, the first of hers, at least), she was in love with Jesus. By the co-incidence that is really only Christ, we lived almost within walking distance of each other. And spoke almost daily for a couple of years. I needed her so much at that time. God knew how much. I was sometimes so over my head with the demands of the three rug-rats of mine, and talking to her calmed me--often. Because Rally is a mother. A mother of seven now (though only 3-4 then). It's a role she was born to. If she was born to anything it was this. To be their mother, to laugh with them, encourage them, grow with them, love them. One only has to be around her for a moment to know that they are everything to her. They are the jewel in her crown. And our relationship in those early mothering days completely changed from the superficial friendship it had been as teens. She is a friend of my heart now, more than I ever knew before. Though she still laughs deeply and has an inimitable style, she has a depth that draws me in. She feels and cares and loves and has her heart broken for others.
I'm exceedingly glad that I got to know Rally as a child and that God put her back into my life as an adult. This twice-given gift has been one of the great highlights of my life. Thank God. Yes, I thank God for you, Rally. I love you.