Thirty Pieces of My Thirty Years #12: Rachel

Rachel and I with friends in DC (Rudy, Bethany, and Dave)

Visiting Rachel in Arizona (with our good friend Brynne)

When I first met Miss Rachel Kraines, I wasn't so sure we'd be friends. It was the first month of freshmen year, perhaps even the first week. Through a welcome week table, I'd made contact with a Navigator staff woman named Karly, who told me about a freshmen women's Bible study she was leading. I agreed to meet her and some of the other girls who were interested for a trip to a local dairy for ice cream.

As it turned out, the other girls had all met before and were already telling inside jokes about freshmen adventures like making macaroni and cheese in a coffeepot and randomly deciding to try out for the rugby team. Everyone was loud and energetic and full of laughter, and I wasn't sure I fit.

Little did I know at the time that through this very freshmen Bible study, Rachel would quickly grow to become one of my best friends. We were never roommates in college, but we (and our friends Becky and Eva, also from that Bible study) were inseparable throughout our freshmen year, meeting daily in the cafeteria for meals, spending our weekends watching movies, ordering pizza at midnight, and just hanging out. Rachel and I remained close throughout college and ended up deciding to move to DC together after graduation. We were roommates there for a year and a half before Rachel's job moved her to her current hometown of Phoenix, AZ.

Remember how I said in a previous post that I have a lot of friends who are NOT like me? Well Rachel is one of those friends. We share a similar heart and passion for ministry and come from similar families, but our personalities are almost total opposites. Rachel is an off-the-charts extrovert; I love people, but need my space. Rachel loves to be spontaneous; I am a master planner. Rachel's not afraid to try new things or meet new people; it takes effort for me to step out of my comfort zone.

Because Rachel is so different than me, her friendship has challenged me in so many good ways. It's thanks to Rachel that I:

*Engaged in such crazy college activities as "duck hunting" - which involved her, Becky, and I running around a farm we were visiting for a campus ministry retreat to try to catch a duck to put in the guys' cabin. Honestly, I have no idea why that ever sounded like a good idea, but Rachel is the kind of person who can convince you that almost anything will be fun. If it weren't for her, my college career would have certainly been a lot more boring. Rachel taught me that every day could be an adventure and that taking risks could be fun - even if you never did catch a duck.

*Survived my first years in DC. The transition from college to working world wasn't easy for either Rachel or I, but I know that it was so much easier than it might have been thanks to her energy and partnership as we explored our new home and season of life. I'll never forget driving the wrong way down one-way streets in DC, grocery shopping together, putting together boxed furniture on the kitchen floor, and of course, lots and lots of conversations about church, ministry, boys, and work. I learned a lot from Rachel in those years - how to cook with garlic and olive oil, how to decide what meals to make based on what is on sale at the grocery store, how to paint a house, and how to train for a race.

*Ask good questions. When Rachel and I lived together, I watched her with the endless stream of friends and co-workers who showed up at our house. I listened to how she talked with them and how she drew them out about what they were thinking and feeling. And I learned to follow her example. I think this is the most enduring way that Rachel has shaped my life - knowing her taught me to be a good friend, to ask genuine, open-ended questions that invited other to respond.

Thank you Rachel for the many ways you have shaped my life for the better and for the joyful, others-focused way you live your life.