Tag Archives: Olympics

One Little Shoe

IMG_0168We were going camping with our two young teenage children. So we went to Sears to buy a new tent. It was when we unfolded the tent in our rec room that we found the shoe.

The tent had been folded tightly to fit into its bag. All the way inside was this little, and I mean very little, blue tennis shoe. It was a well-worn blue shoe. The sole was worn almost through. The four of us caught our breaths when we saw it. It was as if suddenly before us we could see the family who had worked making this tent. A family in Korea whose living, probably, depended on what they made from creating tents to be shipped to America.

At least one member of that family we could very well visualize. A small dark-haired child playing about as his/her parents worked. The little one could walk. This shoe appeared to have walked and run, pivoted, danced, whirled all about. In fact, it was so well worn it might have been worn by more than one child. It might have been the hand-me-down from an older sibling who, by then, was also helping make the tent.

What should I do with this little shoe? I laid it down and became involved in packing for vacation.

We did go camping. We made a lot of memories. Some might not have seemed like the ones you’d want to save,  like: “Are we almost there?” “There’s something black and white eating our eggs.” “Wake up. I think we’re floating.” But there were the swimming times, the discoveries of star fish and hermit crabs and even baby octopus. And there were stories in the dark and castles in the sand and throwing Frisbees and eating ice cream. Lots of laughter and teasing.

When we got home, there, on top of the television was the little blue shoe.

Should I just throw it away? It could not return to its owner who probably now had outgrown it anyway. And what good could one little shoe be to us? Even if we’d had a child that small.

But my heart was drawn toward this little child in Korea who had lost his shoe. I couldn’t throw it away. It kind of drifted from one spot to another, atop the bookcase, on a low table, on the mantel, here and there. I decided I would pray for the child who’d worn that shoe. I wasn’t very consistent but over the years I continued to stop every now and then, handle the little shoe and say a prayer.

When we moved four years ago I again had to make a decision whether or not to save the little blue shoe. I couldn’t discard it so here it is perched in front of some books in our den. Our children are grown with children of their own. That little child is grown, I hope, with children, too. I’ll never know what his life has been like, what kinds of troubles he’s faced, what dreams she had and whether they’ve come true or been forgotten. And he or she will never know that in America someone was praying for them. I pray that the one who wore that shoe now knows Jesus and is walking in His steps.

I know you’re expecting some kind of touching end to this story and I don’t have one. It isn’t ended yet. I still have the shoe and I’m still praying.

Watching the Korean children perform so beautifully during the Olympics, my eyes went to the corner where the little blue shoe sat, empty and still. I could just imagine a little child, the owner of that shoe, growing up–dancing, singing, skating, flying across the ice.

God knows all about the owner of the little blue tennis shoe.

 

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Thoughts on the Olympics

I’m not entirely sure why I’m so enthralled every four years when the winter Olympics play out. The competition amongst the young athletes is so invigorating and I love to become acquainted with the setting too–the snowy mountains, the palatial buildings, the side stories. My loyalty is pumped up to a high level as I pull for our very own contenders. And I just love to see the snow from the safety of my own living room! I cannot imagine myself every slicing up one side of a huge “pipe” and landing just barely on the lip to swoop back down and up again. But it’s fun to watch someone who is so daring! So–I’m a vicarious athlete!

My favorite venue is figure skating but I enjoy the fantastic skiiers, the crazy bobsledders, and the fast, so fast, speed skaters.I love to see those who have worked for years win their medals. And I can cry for those who worked so hard and ended up way down the list. I can get wrapped up in watching each one’s moves as the commentator describes their tiny, but costly mistakes or applauds their landings from four tumbles in the air to standing firm and skiing on down the slope.

But one of the best parts is the story of each Olympian. Some are truly Cinderella stories as kids from a humble background began working out as first graders or third graders and developed a dream. Behind each one is someone who particularly pushed them to stay focused on that dream, someone who kept telling them they could, someone who inspired and always, always stood behind them. Such a one was Katie Uhlaender whose Dad understood her passion for slicing down an icy, twisting track at 80 miles an hour, headfirst in the skeleton venue. You can read her story leading up to the Olympics in my favorite magazine, Guideposts, their February edition. Read how when her dad died, she thought she could no longer compete and then how she had a comeback.

So, for whatever reason this 71-year-old woman really gets “turned on” by the Olympics. I love the challenging, victorious music, I love the excitement of competition, I love to hear stories of the Olylmpian heroes, including those who didn’t win the gold as they’d so hoped. For instance, there was the brother who won bronze instead of gold but whose tears were not because of winning less than hoped but because his beloved brother had recently died. Or what about the brother whose great victory (I think he won Gold) was shared with his brother there in Russia in a passionate bear hug? That brother was the one who pushed him from the sidelines, the same brother who can’t himself compete because he has cerebral palsy.

No, I’m no athlete, never was and never will be (unless in heaven God puts me on a snowboard and sprinkles me with special power) BUT–watching these athletes do their very best makes me want to do the best with whatever I am “into.” If I’m knitting, I want to make every stitch right where it’s supposed to be! If I’m cooking, I want to turn out delectable dishes! If I’m being a friend, I want to do my best to be the friend God wants me to be. That’s what it’s all about!

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