Category Archives: Profiles

Katherine’s Beautiful Grace

katherine kertcher

Have you ever met someone in your life that was a gift from God?  I have on many occasions.

Today I want to share with you one of those people that have inspired my life.  Many years ago when I was at work, a woman came in with her daughter to get her hair done.  She sat in my chair and immediately I felt something different.  She carried grace and poise that very few people possess..  I’ll never forget our conversation that day.  I was young and just married and everything that she said was pertinent to my life. She was a well full of knowledge and experience that I greatly needed then and would later.  Her words have given me comfort through many of my most challenging moments in life. At the end of our enriching conversation I asked her what she thought of her hair. She had shown me a picture and asked me to copy it exactly.  She smiled and warmly replied that she could not see her hair, but was sure that it looked great. Throughout our entire conversation I had no idea that this woman was mostly blind.  She asked me to stand in front of her. She then began to feel my face with her hands and commented, “You are beautiful.”  I had never had anyone look at me that way before.

Tears filled my eyes as I felt the love pouring out of this incredible woman.  I was touched by her ability to still reach out to others despite the physical limitations she had.  I, in fact, had no idea that she had any limitations at all because of the grace and beauty she embraced her situation with.

This woman has remained a dear friend of mine throughout the last 11 years of my life.  Her words and friendship have aided me in several of my life experiences.  She has been an example to me of how to face this life with beautiful grace.

The other day I was blessed to see my dear friend again.  Her kind daughter met me and we all spent lunch together.  I felt so blessed to be there.  I don’t think either of them knew how much it meant to me that they would take the time to be with me.

Katherine has built a strong family legacy growing up in a family of five and later raising her own four beautiful children with her husband. Being 96 years of age, her ability to recall is not as keen so she doesn’t always remember her visitors. As our time together was coming to a close I asked her if there was one thing that she could say and leave with all of us here what would it be.

After a moment to think she broke the silence with a very clear and powerful reply,  “Don’t let go of the past, hold on to the present, and dream of the future.”

This statement is said in so many ways… but her version was profound!  The look in her eyes told me that she knew from experience how precious time is.  Our time here and what we do with it is a gift.  Cherish all of our memories and grow from them.  The present is brief so stop to smell the roses.  The world can shut us down sometimes, but never be afraid to dream of your future. Never let fear lead your life.

We are not victims of our circumstances; we create them.  We have to be so careful with the time that we have.  Don’t let things fill up your time that have no real impact on your life.

Quality is far better than quantity when measured with time.

You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself!

I am forever grateful for Katherine’s example and friendship in my life. Let’s all leave a legacy, just like Katherine, with the time that we are given.

Kindness is contagious, spread it everywhere you go.

Joy

Person of the Week – 11/27/2012

JD Hartman

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JD is a remarkable young man from the Austin area. He is an amazing example of strength and courage to everyone around him. The following is a letter written by his mother to the staff of the new school he is attending this year.

On October 11, 2008, JD was involved in a terrible near drowning accident in our family hot tub. It is still unknown how the accident happened in such a short amount of time. The hot tub is just over 3 ft deep and JD who was 5 ft tall at the time was a very strong swimmer. John (Dad) removed JD from the hot tub and began CPR while calling 911. The EMS team was responsible for restarting JD’s heart and breathing for him. As a result of the accident JD has suffered an Anoxic Brain Injury. Anoxia is loss of oxygen to the brain and is different from Traumatic Brain Injury, which is usually due to trauma to a portion of the brain. Anoxia covers more like a blanket, not just a single area. JD has made tremendous strides since that day that changed our lives forever.

Before the accident, JD was active in soccer, school, and church. JD loves school, his friends, and Texas Longhorns and is a special kid. JD has 3 sisters, Macy (14 yrs), Catherine (11yrs), and Clare (6 yrs), who love him dearly. As a family we are doing all we can to ensure JD has the very best opportunity to make a full recovery. He received umbilical cord stem cells in November of 2009 in San Diego. We started seeing results from those in 5 weeks and still continue to see vast improvement. The school system, community and our church family have been wonderful. We are grateful for every kind word of encouragement, prayer and unselfish act that we have received.

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Today, JD undergoes extensive physical, occupational therapy along with various other treatments. The injury has left JD with extreme tone and spasticity in his muscles-his body is very tight with his arms, wrists and feet at fixed positions. JD is confined to a wheelchair for now and he is fed through a g-tube in his abdomen. It is important to note, that JD “knows what is going on” in the environment around him. He responds as best he can, with the limitations his body has. JD hears, listens, and takes in more than we could imagine. JD’s peers and classmates make his school life a wonderful component of his recovery. Talking to him like he is one of the class, or just saying hi when they see him encourages him greatly. JD loves to smile and will give you a big one when he is happy.

In closing, our family is grateful for having our son with us today. We have found a new life in him and our faith holds us up each day. We believe JD will make a remarkable recovery, it will just be a slow process and in God’s perfect timing. Our hope is to help those around us better understand this type of injury and recovery process and better communicate what has happened and is happening with JD. We have a website for JD’s recovery that we update frequently if you would like to visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jdhartman.

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Person of the Week 10/4/2012

Avery Beth

Avery could not wait to come into this world. I think that is why she was born in the car. She was ready. I also believe this is why her stay in the NICU only lasted 6 days. Avery was fighting with all of her strength to be on this Earth. She learned to regulate her oxygen, her temperature and learned how to eat in six days which is no small feat when you are born with Down syndrome. She is strong.

Within a half an hour after birth, we were told that we had a baby girl and she was showing physical markers of Down syndrome. I was told when I was completely alone and therefore I barely allowed the nurse’s words to pierce my brain or my heart. It was simply too frightening.

But now that time has passed and the shock has worn off, Avery has ultimately healed that frightening wound. Just by being herself and being a part of our family. She is almost 6 months old now and she has proven herself stronger than I ever could have imagined. From the very moment I met her she has imparted that to me – strength. And she has given me peace. She emanates it. You cannot help but feel at peace being in her presence. Try it – you will see.

One of her greatest gifts is bringing out the very best in those around her. Or even those who have never met her. Strangers. There is a love from her that I believe others can feel and they want to return it to her. It is a hard-fought gift that I am infinitely grateful for.

Avery also has a joy that know no bounds. Her smile appears the minute I pick her up, even if she is hungry or tired or in pain. She smiles through it all and is patient with me who makes her wait to eat at times, or her brothers who smother her with kisses, or her sister who carries her everywhere, or her Dad who makes her snuggle even after her bed time.

Down syndrome seemed so scary to me at her birth. And while I understand there is much more to this than I know and more to worry about in relation to Down syndrome, it is just a portion of who Avery is. She is my daughter. She is joyful, loving, patient, and strong. She is many things. And she is a person with Down syndrome. Not the other way round.

Kristi W. (Avery’s Mom)

Note from Kae: Get involved! Come join in the fun at the Color Me Rad 5K and benefit Special Olympics – helping sweet kids like Avery achieve!

What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name?

The power of a name and its value has long been immortalized in prose, poetry, and religious ceremony.

Everyone recognizes themselves or others by an eponym or other label.

The question is: how does a name influence a person’s character?

We’ll be getting to know the inspiring individuals that are our friends and neighbors by profiling each as a “Person of the Week.” By giving them a forum to tell their story, we hope to strengthen their character as well as our own.