I’ve mentioned Madie Skinner several times on this blog, sharing the remarkable story of how our families are inextricably entwined and asking you to pray. Sunday afternoon I met some of the members of that family for the first time as mobs converged on the Marshall square for the Miles 4 Madie event.
The tall man in the center of this photo is John Ritter, grandson of Mamie Mattern, and little Madie’s great uncle. As soon as we were introduced, he gave me a huge hug, thanked me for writing our story, and ushered me over to meet his parents (pictured on the right). His mom is Mamie’s daughter. Then he scanned the crowd for Madie’s mom, Kristin. (Sometimes it’s convenient to be tall — not that I would know from experience.) When he spotted her and her mom, he led me and Jacob across the brick street.
It’s a bit remarkable that Kristin and I hadn’t met before this event. Marshall is a small town. She’s only one year older than Jacob, and we have a lot of mutual friends and acquaintances. A dozen or so years ago I sat in the stands and watched her perform cheers at high school football games. Along with the rest of the fans, I marveled over her skill. All the Marshall cheerleaders are extremely athletic and do impressive gymnastics, but Kristin was particularly inspiring. Why? You can’t tell by looking at this photo, but her left arm is missing below the elbow and has been all her life. She’s never let that slow her down in pursuing her dreams.
When you read Kristin’s CaringBridge posts, you are immediately struck by her indomitable spirit and determination tempered by real faith in a living and sovereign God. She and her husband Matt are facing this journey with their baby daughter the same way Kristin has faced every other challenge thrown at her in life, and they’re inspiring thousands.
Sunday afternoon, people in the community came together, each paying $10 to participate in a walk-a-thon, and raising additional funds through a silent auction, jump house, basketball toss, dunking booth, face painting, t-shirts, Madie bracelets, and food. Local officials mingled with emergency personnel, teachers, hospital staff, and business people. There were elderly folks in wheelchairs and babies in strollers. News cameras and journalists documented the event. I heard they raised more than $20,000.
The money is wonderful, but I think something much more significant happened that day and is continuing to happen. Sometimes I consider how very much we don’t see — the millions of ripples that move below the surface or beyond our field of vision — and I’m speechless with amazement. How many people are being touched in deep, life-changing ways as they enter into the story of a little girl and her family?
As I mentioned in my previous post, Amanda Wynne Fancher reached out to her friend as a teen, then decided to become a nurse. She also took care of Kristin when Madie was born, and then took care of Madie when EMT’s delivered her unconscious body to the ER. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. More ripples are set in motion. More lives are touched. We couldn’t stop them if we wanted to, and we’d be fools to want to.
No one wishes suffering on a loved one. But when it comes, we can trust that it comes through the loving intentions of a good and gracious God. He sees all the ripples and what they will accomplish. He has a master plan. He holds a little girl in His hands, and every person whose heart is moved to compassion for her inevitably encounters Him.
We come before the throne of grace and pray for Madie to be healed. Can we begin to imagine all that God is doing in our own lives as we pray? “Miracle Madie” is right. In more ways than one.
You can see more photos from the Miles 4 Madie event here. Thanks for praying.