Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blind Trust

I didn’t sleep well last night. While it was still dark outside, I woke up to what has become a familiar sight. The back of my apartment faces out onto a pretty Mediterranean-style courtyard. Being one who is extremely affected by surroundings, the aesthetics of my little balcony view have been a gift of comfort and restoration. I love flowers, greenery, and flowing water...all of which are a part of this scene. The courtyard is gently lit at night, which is a mixed blessing. A little light manages to creep in through my window blinds all night long. Although perfect darkness is best for someone with sleep issues, there is a striking silver lining: the configuration of the window panes causes a massive-looking cross to shine in over my tiny room and cover the bed I sleep in.

Seeing that vision in the dark was a fitting way to start the day. I realize that the last few blogs I’ve written have kind of been downers. The past 2 or 3 weeks have been a period which an adorable friend of Kat and Jay’s refers to as “The Honeymoon’s Over.” It’s just the territory we’re in right now. On any trip, there are sections where the scenery gets ugly. You have no choice but to keep on truckin’ down the highway til you’re through it. We will.

Later in the morning, I picked up my Bible and started reading where I’d left off. It happened to be about Daniel in the lion’s den. I had a flashback of Katherine’s Sunday School class performing the story...must have been about 4th grade or so. As ubiquitously highlighted as some passages are, it always amazes me how there’s still something new that leaps out with each fresh reading. Today it was this sentence: “Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.” (Dan. 6:23) Not even a scratch??? From a den full of hungry lions?

Shortly after that, I walked past a little Beth Moore devotional book I’d just received and picked it up to flip through it. I opened it to the day’s reading. The scripture at the top was: “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31) Beth wrote, “The Hebrew word for trust means “to bind together by be gathered together, to be joined.” If we want to keep a renewed strength, the Bible tells us to draw so close to the presence of God that we’re practically twisted to Him.” Oh, Beth, how I wish I could stay that tangled up in God, my arms entwined around His neck, my legs around his waist, my face hidden in His shoulder.

My youngest daughter, Grace, was a mischievous little monkey when she was a toddler. I can’t tell you how many times we had to call Poison Control or the E R. She had 4 modes of operation: 1.) Crying 2.) Sleeping 3.) Doing Something Dangerous or 4.) Being Held. Before we even knew what “Multi-Tasking” was, I had developed the skill of being able to talk on the phone with one hand and stir a boiling pot with the other, oblivious to the little blonde appendage hanging off of me. She held my neck in a choke-hold while my waist was cinched by a tight seatbelt of skinny long legs, feet locked behind my back. (No wonder my spine’s a mess now! She’ll have to take care of me in my old age.) If I tried to put her down, those legs would tighten like a broken shoulder strap that just gets tighter and tighter the more you try to loosen it. But no matter what I happened to be doing, Grace felt safer in that place than any other.

James is like that now, although he’s not yet old enough to reach his legs around. My grandson and I have a special little deal going. I’m guessing that, on his part, it’s for complex reasons; on my part, I’m simply completely, stupidly smitten. I talked to James when he was still in-utero long-distance from Georgia to California. I made Katherine hold the phone to her baby bump while I squealed nonsense over the phone. Then, it just happened that I was the first family member to hold him after his birth. Katherine was still involved in the ‘after’ part of the birth process and Jay was taking pictures, when the Neonatologist turned around and said “Would Grandma like to hold him?” (No, Grandma wouldn’t like to hold that perfect little bundle of joy...Right.) As soon as I took him, he opened his beautiful bright eyes and looked straight into mine. We bonded even more during the tumultuous first week of his life, fleeing the raging Malibu fires engulfing Pepperdine. I was blessed by getting to spend quality time with him on several other occasions before our world turned upside down, the last less than 2 weeks before it happened. So I guess it is not surprising that in the first confusing days after Katherine’s surgery, that abruptly-weaned baby should sniff some similar DNA and emotionally latch on to the substitute with Mommy’s hair. (The latching, although precious in some ways, has been problematic in others. There was a time when James did not recognize Katherine and was very frightened by all the machines attached to her. When I tried to get him close enough for her to touch him, he would cry and grab a handful of my hair in each fist, bury his face in it, and try to crawl up into me. Thank God he is beautifully re-bonding with her, and is sweeter with her than anyone else...angelically so.) Anyway, the fact remains that James still feels safe with me. He can be hollering up a storm as someone else holds him, but quiets down when I take him. He trusts me to protect him from whatever frightens him, whether it’s a stranger, a loud noise, or an unfamiliar experience.

This was demonstrated during his first swim. Brooks and I took him down to the apartment pool and I eased him in with me. At first he clung to my neck, but as we got in deeper I loosened his grip until we were just holding hands. I whirled and swirled him around in the cool water until he laughed with joy. He kept his eyes locked on mine the whole time, as if to say, “You better not let go,” but it was evident that he trusted me not to. He just relaxed and let me pull him through the water, finally resting in a face-up float. He didn’t even cry when water went up his nose.

I learn so much from children. My own have helped me understand how much God loves me. “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him ...” (Matt. 7:11)

I am scared about many things right now, sometimes so much that the fear awakens me before the light of morning. But the first thing I see is the shadow of the cross shining in the dark. When I turn on the lights, it disappears. It is only in the darkest times that it is visible, reminding me that the cross remains over me and all my household as I sleep. The blood spilled from that cross covers me, cleanses me, heals me, frees me, fills me.

The nightly apparition simultaneously appears to be a large “t,” pointing me back to the morning’s readings on the pivotal issue of TRUST. Do I trust Him or not? Do I trust in the provisions the cross has secured for me? Do I trust His promises to hold true? Like Daniel, will my trust in Him keep me and mine from harm? Will I choose to take the advice of Job’s wife, or am I going to learn to echo Job: “Though you slay me (or worse, my child), I WILL TRUST IN YOU”? God, will I trust that you are still with me when I can’t see you in the cold, clinical light of another daunting the sight of the cross disappears with morning’s light?

I am going to try to follow James’ example and just cling to my Daddy with all my might. I’m going to try to get more tangled up in Him than the hopelessly tangled necklace in the bottom of my jewelry box. I am going to wrap myself around His Name and His waist and trust Him to teach me to swim.


Meg said...

Even in your valley it is evident that God is teaching you. I believe that it's really helpful that you're a wonderful listener and observer. Your glass is evidently half full rather than half empty as you're able to see the love from the cross in your room, in your precious grandson, in your memories of your children....YOu still have hope. That's a God thing.
Thinking of you and praying for you and your family, especially precious Katherine,
Meg Brooke, Catherine Brooke's mom from Katherine's Samford days

tatiana said...

hi katherine's mom,
keep on truckin'.... that's exactly what i wrote when i signed katherine's guestbook.... through the very lengthy process of my avm, i have kept Christ in my heart, mind, body & soul.... remember your strength through Him.... katherine is a bright light that shines on 4 all of us 2 c.... keep the faith & know that the grace of God is w/ your katherine, allowing her the will 2 persevere.... my mom & i continuosly pray 4 u & your family.... 4 peace & understanding & above all, hope....
luv & blessings,
tatiana reyes :) said...

Hi Kim its your "internet friend"
Suzi...I did the Beth Moore study on Daniel some pretty powerful stuff.
What a long road you all are on! are we there yet? are we there yet? My prayer is that sooner than later you will all arrive victorious...I pray for you often and much...please call if you want to just take a walk, or have someone to listen. In faith S

tatiana said...

Trust in Him always!.... :)

Julie Powell Caldwell said...

Thank you so much for your continued and honest sharing. We often witness other people's faith in the aftermath through an abbreviated telling of which we all already know the end. To be able walk through this with you and witness your faith while much is yet unseen and unknown is such a privilege.


Katherine said...

Hi! I'm Katherine Ball and I know your Katherine from Samford.
I'll never forget the first time I met her my freshman year [she was a sophomore]. Come to find out, we were both Camp DeSoto and Chickasaw tribe alums. Only, I went first term and she went for second term. I'll never forget going back to our "Home Above the Clouds" as a counselor the summer following Katherine. Phil, Marsha, Jennifer Miller and several of the 2nd-year counselors went on and on about what a special, amazingly Godly woman Katherine is. Of course, I couldn't help but to chime in with agreement.
Although we were not close friends, she always had such an affect on me. Katherine is one of the few people I have met in my
lifetime who exudes such an unwavering fire for Jesus. I strive daily to be as consumed by my Lord as precious Katherine is.
Kim, I am praying fervently for Katherine, Jay, James, you and the rest of the family as you guys maneuver through this crisis.
James 1:2-5 (NASB):
"Consider it pure joy, my brethen, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
In Christ,
Katherine Ball

Lori said...

I am so grateful you share your private thoughts and Katherine's journey with helps more people than you both can imagine. Katherine's strength is inspiring. James is so lucky to have such a strong mother who is confronted with challenges yet has faith in God and the favor with which He will bless her and her new family. When we obsess on the negative, and don't appreciate steps of progress, although they may be tiny steps, we miss an opportunity to allow God to do His work. Having faith, trusting in Him, is the key.

My family, including our special Alan, pray for Katherine, Jay, James, and the extended family daily. Alan is my blessing....and I know God hears his special prayers.

Love from Athens,
Lori and family

dawn said...


Just wanted to say that I'm thinking about you, you're family and of course, beautiful Katherine. It feels like I haven't seen you all in a while and I just wanted you to know that Katherine, Jay and your families are on the forefront of my mind and in my every prayer.

Kim, your writing is so poignant and fluid. Thanks for sharing your heart and your inner world with me.



Lauren said...

Not only swim...but to fly high with new wings in the face of the storm. I have read and experienced this storm's raging waves wash over you only to find each of you standing stronger than before. I have witnessed the fear, the pain, and all that the enemy has brought on you, only to see deeper, personal relationships with the Savior.There is no doubt that now, as the eagle pulls the soft down from her nest, and the thistles begin to prick, that each of you will climb to the edge of your familiar safe place, and then soar into supernatural places with your Father. Many miracles, and God-born testimonies will be written and spoken for the glory of our God. Oh, how much He must trust you,...and your Katherine. What a plade of honor He has given each of you and trusted you with, in this pit of pain. I too, have experienced being brought to naught, until I finally knew, that I knew, "Yay, though He slay me, yet will I serve HIM!"

I have grown to love you all, and your words have strengthened, and reminded me that He is Lord of all, and of every situation. Daily He renews my faith, as He has yours. Thank you for pouring out your soul, and sharing this incredible experience.

You remain in my prayers,
Lauren Webb (a Louisiana Grandmama)

michelle said...

Thanks for the message, oh how beautiful!!! Keep waiting for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27: 14). I know Katherine will heal and I am glad I am apart of her life even though I do not know her in person. You and your family will continuously be in my prayers. Love In Christ, Michelle

Cathy Flagg said...

Kim: My daughter Maggie has just sent me the information on your beautiful Katherine. While being stunned and devastated, I know she is in wonderful hands and that her precious baby will have a bond with you that will be life long. We are praying for all of you and I am heartened to see that Katherine continues to make progress. Love to all, Cathy Flagg