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Oceans For Emotions: Lord, help me not to say no

By By Elaine Wheat
March 2, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 1, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.

Elaine Wheat

"The Lord will bless his people with peace."

- Psalms 29:11

This week is my favorite week because I get to celebrate two of my favorite religious experiences. Lent and the state girls' basketball playoffs. Some people may not realize that the girls' state basketball playoffs is a religious experience, but I am willing to guess that there are more fervent prayers prayed at the state tournament per capita than any other mega-church.

Coach Jan Lahodny, the Mother Superior Coach while coaching Victoria in the finals against South Oak Cliff, admitted to me after the game that during those last three minutes, she sacrificed and gave up fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In the last 10 seconds with a two-point spread, she got seriously religious over this and promised God she would give up water, vitamins and oxygen for just this win.

Her team won, and God just thanked her for the thought.

When Coach Lahodny first found out that I had been offered a coaching position in middle school, which we named the "Crain First Lady Comits," she said she had to talk to me before I could get the job. I told her where I lived, and she said she would be there in 10 minutes. She stormed in the door, and said I only have one question, "Will you coach my program exactly like I tell you?"

I meekly promised I would. After all, I had never been to state with two different teams or any teams. All I said was, "Coach Lahodny, I'd be a fool not to."

After the winning was over, she stormed back in my apartment and demanded, "Coach Wheat, take me fishing. I have never been saltwater fishing." Before I promised her I would take her fishing, she had to make me a promise. I said, "Promise me that you will fish exactly like I tell you."

I took her fishing the next Saturday, and the first thing I taught her was the "fisherman's shuffle," how to drag your feet across the ocean floor and not step on shells or rays. She asked me, "Why do I have to do that?" All I said was, "Because I told you to."

We fished out there for about a half-hour when Jan finally said, "Elaine, you are older than I am, and my legs are killing me."

I tried to explain to her that you stop once you get here to fish. Those brown Bohemian eyes stared at me as she stood in the muddy water hole she had dug up still shuffling her feet. I tied the bait bucket on her, and I had the dip net on me in a minute.

I asked her which way the tide was running, and she said she had no earthly idea. I said, "Ask your bait bucket. He will tell you." I saw her start to pick up the bait bucket like she was going to listen to it like a shell, and I just couldn't let her do it. Worship and admiration run deep. I said, "I will teach you this, bait buckets float away from you in the way that the tide is running." I wanted her friendship to last forever.

I caught a large sheepshead after this and told my rookie water wonder that it is a rule that anyone who had never caught a saltwater fish had to string the first fish caught and tie it on them. She minded, and I got a lot of laughs out of the water dances I saw her perform when it would go through her legs.

I thought I had seen all her best moves when her team would get a foul that the referee would see that she didn't. Maybe the water just added to the effect.

Dear Lord, Coach Jan Lahodny is the only person who I know that I never said, "No" to. God, help me to raise my own level of respect for you to that degree. Forgive this sin in me.

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