Kristi’s sister Penny stepped out her front door and yelled, “Dinner’s ready!”
Kristi’s two brothers Jimmy and Steve came out of the Quonset shed where they had been helping their dad, Big Jim, repair the farm tractor. As Kristi and I jumped off the swings to race inside, Jimmy quickly caught up and yelled, “last one to the house is a rotten egg!”
Kristi Shipstead was my best friend. She was the youngest of five kids, just like me. She was older than me by four months, but right then we were 4 years old. We both lived on the Montana prairie and both our dads were farmers. There was just one farm between her house and my house so she was one of my closest neighbors, living just 6 miles past us on the gravel road.
Kristi’s oldest sister, Onalee, helped her mom, Barbee, put the steaming kettle of fragrant, spicy vegetable soup and buttered bread on the table. We took our places at the table and after saying grace, we talked about our morning. I enjoyed the chatter around the table.
Kristi reached across the table for a slice of bread. Barbee immediately pursed her lips, gave her the “mom look” and scolded, “Kristi Kay! Mind your manners!” Kristi quickly pulled her hand away and said, “Pass the bread please.” I paid attention because I certainly didn’t want her mom to yell at me and use my middle name! Big Jim lit his pipe when dinner was almost done and a fragrant cloud of cherry tobacco wafted through the air. What’s your middle name, Kathy?” Barbee asked.
“I don’t know,” I responded, “but I think it is Run, because whenever I do something bad,” I put my hands on my hips and pursed my lips like Kristi’s mom to demonstrate, “Mom puts her hands on her hips and says, ‘Kathy Run!’”
Barbee laughed at my innocent response, and Onalee said, “that’s a very nice name. Kathy Run.” I slid down on my chair. I was embarrassed. I realized that probably wasn’t my name, and it sounded funny when Onalee said it. The rest of the day Penny and Onalee found many occasions to practice using my new name. “Well, Kathy Run, what are you and Kristi Kay going to do next?” “Kathy Run, your mom called and said she’s running a little late.” “Kathy Run, I see your Mom turning onto our lane!” I didn’t know what to say! I was relieved Mom was finally there. I climbed into the car, and before we reached the Shipstead’s mailbox at the end of the lane I asked Mom what my middle name was.
“Lynn,” she responded. “Kathryn Lynn”. I told her my embarrassing story. She laughed and stroked my short, bobbed hair and said, “Well, Kathryn and Kathy Run are similar.”
Whenever I saw Barbee or any of Kristi’s sisters, they always addressed me as Kathy Run from that day forward. I was mortified and hoped they would forget, but they never did. I tried to correct them, but no matter how much I protested, Kathy Run was my new name to the Shipstead family forever.
Kristi and I went to the same one-room schoolhouse through 6th grade, and we graduated to the big school in Scobey for 7th grade. We found new friends and went in different directions. Every once in a while, we would meet halfway between our homes on our horses and spend the afternoon riding the prairie. There, we were childhood best friends once again. And whenever we made our way to her house, Barbee greeted me with a twinkle in her eye and a “well, Kathy Run! How good of you to come to visit!”
Kristi and I drifted apart as we had different friends and interests throughout high school, but this was the early 1970’s and a nationwide move of God reached our little corner of the world. I surrendered my life to Jesus. When I was in college, I heard Kristi had made a commitment to the Lord as well. Kristi attended a Bible School for a year, and in my Sophomore year in college, we wound up being neighbors on the same floor of our dorm at Montana State University, 500 miles from home.
It was wonderful having her close. I had missed her friendship through high school and our friendship was rekindled. She was still much cooler than me, but there was something about “home” when I saw her. We shared a bond that went deeper than anyone else would understand.
A problem developed between several girls on our floor. I don’t remember the problem. I only remember I was upset and went into my room with no intention of ever coming out. My roommate Janet was my new best friend, and she was in class. A couple of the girls tried to get me to come out of my room, but I was not interested in the drama. I was simply too upset. They finally gave up trying to talk to me. But a short while later, a gentle knock and a familiar voice greeted me.
“Kathy Run, can I come in?” It was home. I felt like I was four years old and my four-year-old best friend was at my door. Nobody else knew that name. Kristi was the only one that was allowed to say it. And when she said it, a flood of emotion came over me. I opened the door and she came in and we talked and talked, laughed and cried, and none of the other drama mattered. I was with my friend.
Do you have a special name for the loved ones in your life? I call my husband “Honey”, he calls his friends “Bro”, and some friends call him “Bro-man”. Names are endearing and bring a feeling of love and safety. We use pet names because the person has a special place in our hearts.
God has special names for his children. He calls us “friend”. (John 15:15) He calls us “my beloved”. (Song of Songs 2:16) He calls us “sons” and “daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18) He calls us his “treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6) We are His “handiwork” or “masterpiece”. (Ephesians 2:10)
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you,” James 4:8 says.
Sit with God. He wants us to be His friend. Listen, and hear the special name he calls you. It may come in a quiet, still thought or a scripture. It may come through a friend.
You may not realize this, but God has been calling you to Himself since the beginning. He has been in every area of your life. Some of you had a loving family; your parents cared for each other and when you went to sleep at night, they whispered, “Good night, pumpkin. I love you.” Some of you can’t relate and don’t know the love of a father or mother. Even if your childhood was a nightmare, Jesus was there.
We live in a wicked world, and He is there to deliver you from the hindrances that have taunted you. He is calling you to Himself so he can take your burdens, heal your broken hearts, give you a new life, and call you His bride. A blend of good and bad make us who we are. It develops our character, and how we choose to react makes us better or bitter, strong or defeated. In Christ, all things are possible.
My father passed away a couple years ago, and I had just gotten through the beginning phase of publishing a book about my childhood years of growing up in Montana. I went home for my father’s funeral and home felt so different. Mom and Dad were now gone. Even though my mother had spent hours reading and editing my book, I wished they could see the finished product. All my brothers and sisters were there and we enjoyed reminiscing about all the treasures we experienced as children. But something was still missing.
I went to the last link I had to my parent’s generation. I went to visit Barbee. Kristi and Barbee were genuinely happy to have me, and as we sat at the kitchen table, I enjoyed a delicious meal that was in keeping with the wonderful meals Barbee served me as a child. I told her about my book and promised she would be one of the first to get a copy. She exclaimed, “Oh, I’m so happy for you, Kathy Run!
It was time to go, and I hugged Barbee. “I love you. I’ll make sure to stop next time I make it to Montana.” Barbee smiled and wished me luck. “What is the name of your book?” she asked as I stepped onto her porch.
I turned around and smiled. “Barbee, you named my book. It took me a long time to understand.” I paused and said, “It is Kathy Run.”
Thank you for sharing this story, it brought back so many of my childhood memories. God Bless!