Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Laughing in the Wind

When Brooks and I were at Monet’s house in France, I bought a little rug embellished by a French saying which now graces our lake house. It depicts a gust of wind scuttling a small sailboat across a lake. I wish my memory were better so that I could quote the saying exactly. It starts, “Le vent souvent souffle ton bateau...” Anyway, the gist of it is something about laughing in the wind...like making lemonade when life gives you lemons.

In the midst of many tears of sorrow, many dull aching heart wounds, many moments of outright despair, we’ve still been laughing in the wind. People around here probably think we’re lunatics. Our family has always had a problem with Church Laughs. Actually, it began with my husband’s family. He and his little sister would find something wildly hysterical at an extremely inappropriate moment, such as when the fat lady sang or at a funeral. The laughter would build up inside of them until tears would be running down their cheeks from the effort of trying to hold it in. It would usually erupt as a really embarrassingly loud snort laugh, which would result in the dreaded Church Pinch. This trait has rubbed off on me (or maybe intensified...I already had the predisposition) and been passed down to our children. Particularly one of them. She laughed so hard and so long when a poor gentleman let one slip out at the movie theater that I had to leave. That was after three Church Pinches had been ineffective.

So even here, even now, we will sometimes find ourselves laughing so loudly that we fear eviction. Especially if that middle child is around regaling us with stories from her crazy life. Or when Kat’s Samford friend Ann Bradford makes me do the Russian dance in the hospital room. Or when James sees the enlarged picture of himself on the wall of Katherine’s room and starts whole-body shaking with excitement. It’s especially wonderful when Katherine makes us laugh. Even with a half-paralyzed face, she can still manage to make such a funny one that we just die laughing. Sometimes through the tears.

We still celebrate, too. If you wait until life is perfect to do so, you’ll never get around to it. There’s always something to be stressed or sad about. But there’s usually something to celebrate as well. Since this trip began, we’ve celebrated several graduations and pregnancies, a first Mother's Day, first Father’s Day, and a birthday. Sometimes we’ve just celebrated life, in all of its crazy mixed-up manifestations. I celebrate the California weather almost daily, even if I only get to experience it for a couple of minutes. I celebrate the fact that every time my grandson sees me, he laughs.

It is a vail of sorrows down here for sure. But there are enough hints and glimpses of how it was and how it will be that we can start the party now, in between and in the midst of the crises. We’ll still find something to laugh about, even in these gale-force winds.

...the Son of Man came enjoying life...


“...And the beggars and saints
Will embrace and dive into
Sweet communion
And the Father will laugh
Laugh till he cries
Home at last
Goodbye false notions
Of independence
Welcome me security...”

from “All Fall Down,” Sarah Masen


Katie B said...

I hope you don't mind if I quote you later in life..."We still celebrate, too. If you wait until life is perfect to do so, you’ll never get around to it. There’s always something to be stressed or sad about. But there’s usually something to celebrate as well." ... It really hit me that that's what's important. Don't wait for perfection.

I feel connected to your family yet can't place it. I'm 2 years younger than Katherine and went to Oconee County schools in GA then went to Samford where I started as a theatre major and I've now moved to the west coast (Oregon) and have pretty much been "stalking" you thru Facebook and your blog to keep updated on Katherine. Thank you for taking the time to share your life so that we can learn from it and try our best to help you by praying. We do care about you =)

Much love,
Katie Bullock

Carol Ann Vaughn Cross said...

We continue to pray for ALL of the Arnold women and the men they love . . . :) and to thank God for you and for all of your openness and art for life, especially now. Thank you for sharing so much with us. I can see Katherine's roll of the eyes and trying to make funny faces! Thank you for being you. Love, Carol Ann Vaughn Cross

Ashley, Rob and baby Robbie said...

I stumbled across your blog via a link on a friend's blog, so I do not know you personally. But know that I pray for you and your entire family. Katherine is, and always will be, under the watchful eye of our Heavenly Father as she walks through this trial. Take courage that the God of the Scriptures is who He says He is, and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Peace and blessings to you and your family...


Anonymous said...

Found your blog by God's perfect design.
My five month old son,also named sweet baby James, just went through succesful heart surgery and we just got home from two weeks in ICU.
I found your blog and love your honesty and want you to know that this mother's heart will take up for your's and Katherine's. I will be praying in earnest for God's glory to be revealed in her complete healing.
May God keep you strong and bless baby James. Much love, Kelly Robinson, Fl

laura said...

That was the most poignant and beautifully written blog! It's amazing how much power to uplift God gives in the midst of our trials. I found your blog through a friend of a friend & I constantly pray and update my family, friends, and co-workers about Katherine & the power of the Lord's healing! Keep celebrating!

Much love from Texas,

oby dupree said...

Kim, I can honestly tell you that your entries are the most impressive words I've ever read...You have a God given talent that needs to be persued. I feel as though I am experiencing everything you are when I read your blogs. That's a place I can't stay long, but you make me feel so so strong by your strength. I remember when Sharon was so sick how I became such a stronger person and at a young age learned that God sustained me when I could not even breathe. You have done a wonderful job and we are all so proud of you. My family continues to pray daily for you and yours. Kat is so amazing. I can only imagine how proud you are of her. I love you, Oby

Julie Powell Caldwell said...

You are a writer. You must also be a reader :) For all the things I thank you for, this morning I'll say "thank you for making me look up the definition of 'vail'" because I knew you didn't confuse words. With anyone else I would have self-corrected to "veil".

I liked this addition to the end of the list of definitions:

- to lower often as a sign of respect or submission

Much love and prayer,
Julie Powell Caldwell

Alisa said...


Another thank you. That's all.

Kristen said...

Hi Kim. I have touched by what you write. I posted on my blog a blog award for you (and a few others). I know you aren't blogging for awards, but someone sent it to me--so I am passing it on to other blogs I enjoy. I really do appreciate what you write and so do others. God Bless. kristen

Patti said...

My family laughs at the oddest things and usually at times when most people would cry. I think it’s a reflex. We laugh when we want to cry. Laughing has helped us through many difficult life situations.

I lost my child 14 months ago in an automobile accident. God responded to my heart cries of why?! Deep in my soul I heard these answers to my questions. Why did you leave me here without him? Answer: To glorify My Father in heaven. But how can I do that when it hurts so much? Answer: My grace is sufficient for you. But what am I am going to do with out him to encourage me, to make me laugh, to be my friend, my son? Answer: My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.
God does. God is. God knows.

I have not stopped praying for you, Katherine, Jason and all the family since I first heard of the surgery. God is using your families to bring revival and draw His children to Him in prayer and intimacy.

One of my son's favorite songs was one by Rita Springer, Worth it All. I pray that one day, in heaven, when you look at the multitude who were saved because of Katherine, Jason or you, that you will say, it was worth it all.

I am trusting that I will say that too.

oby dupree said...


alexholmes said...

My cute cousin Kim. It has been too long since I've been to your blog site. However, it is blog's like this that make marvel at you guys' strength. It really helps us keep things in persepective and see that we serve a God who is mighty to save and a God who is mighty to perform miracles. During the hustle and bustle of my own life, I tend to put God on the backburner and do my own thing, forgetting that in the long-run, and even the short-run, God has orchestrated a perfect Will for my life and those who follow Him.

Our prayers continue to be with Katherine, Jay, and James during these tough times. Please give Katherine a kiss for me and let her know that we continue to think about her. We love you and thank you for your humerous, yet humble spirit, despite the troubled waters.

Your cousin,
Alex Holmes