Thursday, August 2, 2012


After two and a half weeks of suffering, stress, and boredom, the Olympics came as a welcome distraction for all of us.

Sunday night, we were in Katherine’s room (the family room) watching the swimming competition. I was happy about the timing, because I’d been working with James on his swimming the day before. He’s been totally fearless around water since birth. My goal is to get him “drown-proof.” So far, he’s learned to dog-paddle on the surface, and ‘tadpole’ under the surface. He moves around fairly well in the water, but I keep trying to get him to use his arms more. I was thrilled to see all those big, strong Olympian arms propelling the athletes to the finish line. I thought they might make a greater visual impression on James than grandma’s demonstration of the butterfly or breast-stroke.

We tried to get James interested in watching by cheering on the USA. I found a flag to wave. It’s funny how kids have to learn affiliation. (Our team needs to win.) It made me a little sad to destroy the preschool innocence of everyone being a winner.

But such is the way of the world. The fact that someone “wins” means that someone must “lose.” I’m not going to get all philosophical about it now. At the time, I just wanted James to be engaged with the swimmers. Get him invested in watching so he could observe the powerful arm strokes.

So we cheered and cheered for Team USA and our friends. “Are we the winners, Mimi?” James asked. (“We” won the Bronze in that one.)

I thought Katherine watched a bit pensively. I imagined how hard it must be for her to witness the human body at the apex of freedom, movement and performance, when hers is so restricted and broken. So painful.

While the athletes were collecting their medals, something possessed me to run to the stairs going down to the basement and snatch a picture off the wall. I wanted James to see that his mom is a winner, too.

The picture was taken at our girls’ beloved Camp DeSoto in Mentone, Alabama. It was the only year when all three girls were there at the same time. It was Katherine’s senior year, Grace’s first year. That summer, Katherine received the honor of being elected “Chief” of her tribe. Her two sisters were also loyal “Chickasaws.”

The ‘Olympics’ of Camp DeSoto is an intense competition between the Creeks, Cherokees, and Chickasaws. Various events go on throughout the session. It is done in a spirit of loving Christian fun, but the loyalty to one’s individual tribe builds to a crescendo during the competition for the Cup.  

I got to witness the final night as a “backdoor blessing.” Grace got terribly sick the last week of camp. She was living in the infirmary. After a few days, the director called and said I needed to come. I high-tailed it up to the mountain and rented a room in a funky old boarding house, where I coddled my baby until she felt a little better. She was devastated about missing the end of the tribal competition. By the final night, we decided she was well enough to participate.

It’s a good thing she did: The Chicks won the cup.

I’m so glad Grace got sick so I could see it. The victory joy was wild. I tried to capture it from my seat in the balcony. (Forgive the quality. Our printer’s broken, so these are photos of bad photos. But you get the idea.)

I handed James the picture of his mom and aunts from that happy night, and he ran to show Katherine. “My mom’s a winner!” he announced as the TV crowd cheered for the Olympians.

A few minutes later, I noticed a tear trickle down Katherine’s face. She tried to whisk it away before anyone noticed.

Did the picture trigger it? Too much Before-and-After?

Later that night, Katherine made it upstairs for the first time since her surgery. It was a long, tiring, painful process. She had to go up seated backwards, holding the hurt leg out in front. She thought it would be worth it to get her first real shower in weeks.

But once upstairs, she started really crying.

It’s all just too much.

I was relieved. She needed to get it out. I did what moms always do: I hugged her and gave her a pep talk. (In other words, threw out some scripture. Frankly, I don’t have much positive to say at this point.)

I reminded her of that mysterious verse that had come to me when writing It’s All Good: “It has been granted unto you… to suffer.” (Phil. 1:29)

 A boon.

boon <a noun
1. something to be thankful for; blessing; benefit.
2. something that is asked; a favor sought.

(i.e. “He asked a boon of the king.”)

No matter how much it appears to be just the opposite, the King has granted Katherine a boon. A special blessing of suffering. He has shown her His favor. He has entrusted her with a difficult job. He has chosen her for His special purposes.

It helps us to be reminded of these things now. The eternal perspective is the only one that makes any sense at all.

This week, as I’ve cheered and shared in the joy of Olympic medalists, I’ve contemplated this question:

Who are the real winners?

It’s not the ones who get all the glory and fame in the world.

Ultimately, the victor’s laurel goes to those who just finish whatever race is laid out before them. The ones who, with God’s help, bear their pain and suffering, and allow it to be used for His glory and for the good of their teammates. Those who keep the faith even when they’ve lost the laurels that don’t last.

I think my kid’s a real winner.


“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1:12)
"...I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."   (II Timothy 4:7-8).

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  ( I Corinthians 9:25)


Re-reading this, it all sounds vaguely familiar. I think I’ve already shared about Camp DeSoto somewhere. And maybe talked about the “boon” concept.  The joys of old age: everything is new again. Oh well. I need to be reminded of these things right now. Because I forget.

Note to parents of girls 8-16: If you're looking for a wonderful, life-changing experience for your daughter, send her to Camp DeSoto next summer. It will impact her for life. Seeds were planted in Katherine's heart there that are bearing fruit even now. (And in the lives of my other two girls.)


Emily Ferris said...

Oh my goodness ... serious tears! As a Camp Desoto girl myself (Katherine & I were counselors together!) & a bit Olympics obsessed myself, this puts it ALL in perspective. Thank God He has already won the battle & we can be "more than conquerors" through Him! Thank you for your words, as always! I continue to pray for your family.

Anonymous said...

I have followed Katherine since her stroke. I find her and your family to be amazing.
Please know that I check in all the time and was very sad about Katherine's fall. It just doesn't seem fair , she has been through SO much.
Let her know that here in PA I am thinking about her !
PS My children are competitive swimmers and we are really enjoying the Olympics too .

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your words, Kim. I don't read blogs much ever but I have yours and Katherine's on my bookmark bar. I check them every day. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration. God is good. Your perspective has shaped me over the past few years.

Thoughts and prayers from Dallas, Tx.

The Retarded Mother said...

I can't believe how much I needed--- and was probably unconsciously yearning to read this "message" today. This hit a tender spot with me on this very day. Thank you. Huge love to all of those under your roof--and in your heart. Marianne

Anonymous said...

It really IS all too much.

Katherine is such a beautiful, warm, strong human being, and it's painful even for me, a stranger, to see her suffering. It can't be easy for her devoted-- and very dashing-- husband, either. I noticed that they are re-living positive memories on their blog, and think that is a wise thing to do.

Katherine is a phenomenal young woman, and I sure hope she is holding her head high, knowing how much she is not only cared for, but also respected. (I have kept the focus on Miss Katherine because I think that's what a mother's heart wants, but I hope life eases up for you, too.)


Deborah said...

As usual l am in awe of what you write and how your soul is always laid out for us to see and hear. l have always admired you from the moment l met you in 1990. You were full of grace and kindness in fact so much so that l felt intimidated to be near you. But all these many years later l realize it was a shame that l felt that way as it kept me from sharing some of my life with you. l must say seeing you and Brooks unexpectedly outside of Kiawah Island this past June was truly a God event. Thank you for all that you give to others and for giving us Katherine who l find incredible!!! God bless your family each and everyone!! xoxo
p.s. l look forward to heaven where there will be no time restraints to spend time with one another and so many other reasons including Katherine's complete healing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, gosh...such wisdom. You have a gift from God.