Hey Sweet Friends! When you hear the word “klutz” is there a face that pops up in your mind? For many, I’m sure, that face is mine, but since this is my website we’re going with a less offensive term. I prefer accident prone, thank you very much!
I think my first injury was when I was around a year old when I decided to climb out of my crib and fall directly onto my nose. Littered through the years, between one and around 24, there were more casts and doctor’s visits and x-rays than I can fully remember. Basically, if it could happen, it probably did.
Who breaks their ankle on the swim team? Kathryn does.
A ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese means broken toes? For Kathryn it does.
Crossing the street to get to the parking lot at church means a turned ankle and pulled Achilles tendon and skirts flying? Unfortunately, yes!
I did have about 13 years there between ages 24 and 37 where there were no broken bones, at least, but then at 37 there was the leaping, glass bottle of apple cider vinegar out of my fridge and, of course, I tried to stop that sucker from shattering all over my floor…with my toes.
The good news? The bottle was fine.
The bad news? My toes were not and I hobbled for a month. Rest in Peace little toenail.
Fast forward to two weeks ago for my most recent dabbling with being prone to accidents. Let me set the scene, because even in my concussed state…yes, you heard me right…even in my concussed state, even I know this would have made for good television.
At Teen Advisors we were able to host a Covid friendly Spring Retreat and I sat on a great front porch of the church we were using for the event. Complete with a porch swing and adirondack chairs, my small group was settled in talking about the different strengths God has put in us, on purpose, for His glory and the good of His Kingdom. You know, all good and life giving stuff!
About a football field’s length away sits an amazing field that belongs to the church as well. We had supplies set up for our afternoon games and free time. You know, everything you’d need to produce an obstacle course for cardboard armored gladiators. Typical youth ministry stuff!
Between the porch and said field, there is a 6ish foot wooden fence, a road, and a parking lot. The stage is set. Do you see it?
So, there we are sitting talking all good and life giving stuff and five other groups are scattered talking the same things. All of a sudden there is a commotion and several of my group members get distracted and look over to the field. From my vantage point I see several pieces of cardboard flying and then the TWO 10 foot canopies we set up are moving. In the split second it took my brain to figure out what I was seeing I thought, “How are they moving? We staked down all 8 sides, roped down another 4, AND tied those suckers together!”
Before that thought fully left my mind, they weren’t just moving anymore, they were flipping over! Flipping over the fence and now they were in the road. That is when I remember moving. With thoughts of car accidents caused by our runaway canopies I left my chair in an all out run. I remember one of my senior boys getting up at the same time but I never made it off the porch because instead of reaching full speed I was stopped by the most intense hummingbird feeder I have ever seen with the bridge of my nose. Made out of glass and metal it stopped me instantly. Alex turned to check on me, and with my hands to my face and head, I yelled “Go, go! I’ll get Aaron!” As I went inside to the bathroom to see the damage, I asked one of my co-workers to go handle the canopy situation, as another co-worker played my nurse, all while, four other small groups were meeting and we tried, unsuccessfully, not to disturb them.
With some distance, the scene is completely laughable, especially knowing that while Aaron ran to get a handle on the canopies he was thinking that I had been hit by one of them, when in actuality, I had never even made it off the porch.
But as I sit on my couch to write this post a week and some change after my concussion, I can still feel it. That’s not laughable and if I let it, I can spiral into thinking all sorts of untrue thoughts about how God takes care of others but doesn’t take care of me in the same ways. I can slip into deathly thought patterns about how I believe God to do amazing things for others, but not for me.
A lifetime of being accident prone, the hope of being a wife and mom so deferred that it almost doesn’t exist anymore, being in a family where, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen to us…that mentality is SO easy for me to slip into. And while I would love to blame the mental and emotional symptoms of a concussion listed in the packet the hospital sent me home with, I know there is more to it than that.
So what do I do when I feel myself slipping into those thoughts again? I go back to my memorial stones.
All throughout the Old Testament we read about God telling the Israelites to set up memorial stones to memorialize big moments of deliverance or miracles. Joshua, Samuel, Aaron, Jacob, and many others were told to set up stones in memory of things God had done so they could look back to them when they needed to remember.
I am so like the Israelites and we could focus on how stubborn and forgetful we are to need memorial stones or we could stand in awe that we have a God who not only knows how forgetful and stubborn we are, but also plans for it! He knows and He makes accommodations for us by telling us to set up memorial stones.
This is one of the main reasons I journal. I know how forgetful I am and there are certain things I don’t want to forget.
For years and years the biggest question of my heart was,
“God, how have I offended you so that you would withhold marriage and motherhood from me?”
In light of Heath and a whole slew of teenagers, I did not give birth to, calling me Moma Kathryn, that question does not hold up anymore. I see it for the lie it is, the enemy used for years to keep me at arms length from the Lord. I wonder if I would be able to recognize it for the lie it is if I hadn’t set up memorial stones.
As I lay in an empty house, with no television and no electronics, recovering from a concussion, feeling all kinds of sorry for myself, Willa gets up from her spot on the couch to reposition herself to be closer to me. In her breathing deep, sleepy breaths, she reminds me that she is God’s good gift to me in this season of my life and the memorial stone of her presence exposes the lie that I am alone in this.
And when the lie that God doesn’t see me or care about the little things of my life screams louder than my concussed brain can handle, I remember a little yard in a far away land where God put that lie to rest, once and for all.
In July of 2018 I found myself with a week of paid vacation but no plan and no money to go anywhere. After a more than fulfilling school year at work, I found myself with nothing to show for the year in my personal life. So with nothing to do for work for a whole week, I found myself on the couch, binge watching something mindless on Netflix and scrolling through everyone else’s highlights of vacations. I saw thumbnail after thumbnail of beautiful families and smiles and far away places and I thought, “I want a husband to take me on vacation.”
It might have been the very next day or a week later, but something happened on that couch that led me to the realization that while I was waiting on a husband who may or may not take me on vacation, because how many of married friends have husbands and they STILL don’t go on vacation, I was wasting away and I could take MYSELF on vacation! And I could do it without getting a credit card involved.
Hopefully Going It Alone and Principal Keepers made it obvious that my thought life has experienced much freedom in this area but you need to know that in the summer of 2018 this revolutionized my life and I set my sights SO HIGH!
Even now, the name of that place produces deep, Garden of Eden type, sighs.
In my mind, I was going alone. Knowing what I know now, I could have never had the trip I did without being able to split up the expenses, but in those early days I just knew I wasn’t waiting around anymore.
What started as a solo trip turned into a family affair of six, complete with my mom, brother and sister-in-law, and my cousin and her husband. We were a motley crew indeed and it took me 15 months of saving to pay for my portion. Six of those months I spent grieving Heath, so by the time I got to the airport I was fully expecting God to show up in marvelous ways.
Since this isn’t the blog I want it to be unless I’m completely honest, I have to stop here. I was fully expecting God to show up in marvelous ways for me because I was borrowing the faith of two of my friends. Patrice and Tabata prayed separately and together for this time for me. I knew that. They told me specific things they were praying for and two days before I left, Patrice prayed, out loud, in front of some student leaders and other staff members that God would romance me on this trip. Y’all, get you some friends like Patrice and Tabata! I was borrowing their confidence, but if I’m honest, I didn’t believe He would. Not deep down in my bones like I do now.
The first thing you need to know is that on no website did I read that October was the best time to visit Scotland. Sure, the temperatures start getting cooler in September but with October, come more clouds and rain. Knowing this, I would whisper prayers every time I started planning activities. So much of what I wanted to do the first half of the trip required nice weather for hikes and outdoor exploring.
I remember pulling over when we started driving into Glen Coe and the realization hit me…blue skies, white, fluffy clouds, a sun so bright I needed my sunglasses. I think I said out loud to my sister-in-law, “Jesus loves me the most!”
By the time we were leaving the Isle of Skye several days later, even the locals were talking about how unseasonably beautiful the weather was. I would get this sly smile on my face and I really started to believe that it was because I was there.
In March, when I found out about Heath I shared with people that even in my devastation, I felt more seen and loved and chosen by the Lord than I had in years. And in October, in a far away land, I was experiencing it again, in such a life giving way. At one point in our travels a rainbow literally followed us from Stirling Castle to Linlithgow Palace, 22 miles away. And yes, it was the same rainbow because I scarcely took my eyes off of it. It was magical.
After spending as much time planning for this trip as I did, I had pages and pages of notes and restaurants and things to do and see. It wasn’t until I was there, in the thick of it, that I mentioned something not on my list but lodged deeply in my heart.
I grew up on an unhealthy diet of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. And as far as I am concerned Megan Follows is THE only Anne Shirley. To me, she has always been Anne Shirley and will always be Anne Shirley, no matter how convincingly she played a really evil Queen Catherine Medici in the historically inaccurate, but equally delightful, Reign.
One of my favorite scenes in Anne of Avonlea is when Anne and Katherine Brooke are apple picking at the very end, right before she finally says yes to Gilbert Blythe. All those baskets of apples, freshly picked and Katherine Brooke looking radiant after the beauty of Green Gables, and the kindness of the women there, helped heal her.
I don’t remember how many times I viewed that scene but at some point, The desire to pick an apple off of a tree and promptly take a bite, lodged deeply into my heart. I wanted that moment.
Fast forward to us leaving the Isle of Skye and going inland, I told my travel companions this dream and asked them to keep an eye out for any apple trees now that we were leaving the seaside. My cousin said, “I don’t know, Kathryn…the season might be over.”
I deflated a little. She didn’t mean to do it. She just didn’t want me to get my hopes up for something that probably wouldn’t happen.
It could have been 5 minutes or 30 minutes later, it’s all a blur, but in my second attempt to drive on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, I hit a pothole on the shoulder, or lack thereof, of the road and blew out our back passenger’s side tire.
There are several things to note in this part of the story…
- There was no spare tire in our rental car.
- There was a tire repair kit but I had so thoroughly demolished the tire it did no good!
- There was no cell service on the side of the valley we were in. So even, turning our phones off Airplane Mode didn’t do any good.
- We were about three miles from the nearest place we could call out from.
Of course this happened on my watch! I’m the girl who broke her ankle on the swim team. Before I spiraled, which certainly happened in our hours worth of waiting, I had the wherewithal to use the car’s emergency system to send out a call. Being a French car, the unsuspecting person on the other end dealing with a frantic American woman, had a very thick accent and as he began to tell me he couldn’t help me because he couldn’t send help for a rental car that wasn’t “on the continent” I began to internally hyperventilate. “Wait! We don’t have service on our phones! There has to be something you can do! Can you put us in touch with our rental car company?”
Where that brilliant idea came from I have no idea but I just knew I couldn’t let him hang up without knowing help was coming.
I don’t know if you have ever been so thoroughly stranded but there was a moment, on the side of the road after hours of waiting for help that I looked at my mom with tears in my eyes and I said, I just want to be at home, on my couch, with my girl!
After talking to someone from our rental car company, we waited for a good hour and a half before my cousin and her husband decided to go for a hike. The good thing about Scotland is, everywhere is beautiful and thanks to the The Land Reform Act of 2003, everyone can enjoy it because it gives everyone the right to roam over land and sea, regardless of who owns the land. It’s crazy and awesome but seriously, if you see a pretty piece of land and want to hike it, in Scotland, you can! So they did.
While they were gone they decided they would stay with the car and our luggage if my mom and I wanted to walk to the Inn three miles down the road and stay the night. By this time my mom was done with not asking for help from people who were passing us. She approached a woman who had pulled off to take pictures and asked her for help. Lisa from Boston, came to our rescue by driving Moma and I to the Inn to make another phone call to our rental car company, who hadn’t actually made a call to a tow company yet, and then she drove us back to the car. She even waited around with us for a bit until we finally sent her along on her journey.
After two and a half hours, which felt like way longer, Andy showed up like the knight in tow truck armour that he was and got us taken care of in about an hour and a half. After a four hour break in our plans we were back on the road, this time with me in the passenger seat.
It took us another hour and a half in the dark and the rain to get to our Airbnb, and as we all ran with our things in the dark rain we weren’t really paying attention to our surroundings. All we wanted was a little something to eat for our bellies and our warm, dry, comfy beds.
After a good night’s sleep and a little distance from the drama of the day before, we woke up ready for a day of adventure. I remember being on Marco Polo sending an update to one of my students and I heard my cousin yell my name from the back of the house. She had gone outside to explore a little. “Kathryn! Come here!”
I hurried to the back door and she said, “Wait! Close your eyes!” Nervous, but obedient, I did as she asked as she led me around the corner of the house. “Ok, open your eyes.”
In front of me, along the back fence, on a trellis, was an apple tree…with ripe apples, ready to be picked.
I couldn’t believe it! After the craziness we had experienced the day before, God remembered?!?
No, Kathryn…go farther back. In May, when you were in the depths of grieving Heath, when you made this reservation, God knew that the day before was going to happen and He knew what this moment was going to mean to you and He provided for this moment in your life MONTHS ago!
As I grabbed onto that apple, twisted and pulled, and ate the sweetest apple with the morning dew still clinging to it, a memorial stone was erected! There can never be a question that can remain for any length of time in my heart that says God doesn’t see me, even in the mess of life.
Yes, sometimes life is hard and things are stacked against us at times. Bones break, hummingbird feeders come out of nowhere, a healthy man gets sick from something supposed to make him well, dreams don’t come true, houses burn down, failures happen, people say no, a 25 year-old man is murdered, babies die inside their momas, parents walk away from their children.
Sometimes life is hard, but here’s what I know to be true…ALL the time, God sees us and He is good and He proved that to me, once and for all with an apple tree. My memorial stone.
So this week, as I have slipped in and out of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve asked the Lord to take me back to that back yard, to the magic of being seen and fully known by Him and every time it has worked.
Not because my circumstances have changed. Nope, still on the couch and dark and quiet room is still my happy place right now. It has worked because I remember that the God who allowed me to run head first into that hummingbird feeder is the same God who provided us with Lisa from Boston to get us to the Inn to call Andy and his tow truck. He is the same God who had an apple tree waiting just for me.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:45
“For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
We will have days in the sun and days in the rain. We can expect that, but when we find ourselves soaking wet with water up to our shins, we need to remember what God has done in our lives in the sun. And we don’t need to just remember them, we need something substantial to hold onto. We need stones.
I wonder if you have any memorial stones in your life. Do you look back at them when the enemy’s lies are a little too loud? Do you see it as God’s kindness that He provides them for you because He anticipates our need for them?
He could just expect us to be better, but like new parents baby proof their home, He knows us inside and out and He knows what our hearts need in order to believe Him over the lies.
It makes me wonder, when I watched Anne of Avonlea for the 19th time and the dream of picking an apple off a tree and promptly eating it, lodged into my heart…did He smile, knowing what He had planned decades later?
And don’t let the nuances of that day get lost. The moment, standing in front of that apple tree was all the more special because my cousin told me it might not happen. It was all the more special because while the enemy tried his hardest to steal my joy the day before, my Father saw me, knew what was in my heart, and He provided in the sweetest and simplest way.
What are your memorial stones? I would love for you to share them with me in the comments! Let’s continue this conversation! Your words and stories matter to me.
Until next time, Sweet Friends,
Thank you for being here and for your grace in my concussed state.
Remember to take deep breaths.
And God has got us, concussions and all.