This Is How God Works: Part 2

This Is How God Works Part 2 After celebrating Cassidy’s incredible efforts with swim team this past summer, she decided she wanted to pursue the Westerville swim club in the fall.  This would be much harder than the summer season, but she was up for the challenge.  I was so proud of her intentions and her desire to give it a try!

After her efforts fueled with adrenalin and nerves landed her on the team, we began the season with relentless practices and tough coaches.  There were tears, and as she barely survived the first round of brutal practices, I told her she could quit.  Maybe this was just too much.  But once again, I was reminded and convicted of her determination…

She was not going to give up.

I watched with angst and horror as her face turned red lap after lap with no rest and her stroke became sloppy and the other swimmers passed her over and over again.  Every single practice was incredibly trying on her precious body and spirit.  The coaches and this league were different than the summer league.  There were no soft spots to be had, no hugging and praising and certainly no grace for the weary and worn.

My girl persevered.

Around October, it took a turn for the worse.  They started doing breathing training that did Cassidy in.  Her eyes blood shot and her face burning red, she simply couldn’t complete strokes without taking air and flip turns without a breath before.  If you can’t do what they ask, there are consequences of additional laps.  This was tough people, unbelievable tough.

At one point during practice, she kept looking over toward me with her face bulging red and a look of horror.  I went over to her, and got her out of the pool and took her into the locker room.  She broke down in tears saying “I can’t do it mommy!  They are going to make me do a 400 if I don’t!  I can’t DO IT!!”

Right then and there I realized that this swim club was either going to make or break her.  And I’ll be damned if it broke her.  I told her to get OUT of the pool and take a break in the locker room whenever she couldn’t endure the brutal workouts.  I told her this was about MAKING her, not BREAKING her.  She was to do her best, and when it got to be too much- she needed to give herself grace, where they did not.  She agreed with relief and defeat.  I knew she wanted so badly to keep up with the other swimmers, and I sensed her desperate need to rise to the bar they held too high.

I talked to the coaches about her lung capacity and the limitations she has.  They understood, but there is no compassion in this club. None.  This was a very different world for Cassidy to navigate.  There were more practices where they threatened Cass and other swimmers with push-ups and additional laps, when they failed to produce what the coaches instructed them to do… all of which affected her deeply.  She was worn and torn in this new relentless and real world.   For the first time, my precious girl couldn’t use her bright eyes and warm smile to succeed.

Cass remarkably endured.  But not without pain, tears, and anxiety over it all.   I often wanted to just pull her out of the pool and walk AWAY from it all, to protect my baby.  But I knew it was a good experience for her to be able to withstand tough people and persevere through overcoming such intense obstacles.  As heartbreaking as it was for me to see her suffer, I also saw the birth of what she was discovering….

Her potential and strength.

Unlike the summer meets, there are no ribbons for placing 6th, 7th, 8th etc.  if you don’t place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, you do not get a ribbon.  This was and still is hard for Cass to accept, because she wants nothing more than a ribbon.  Each meet, she swims her heart out and comes in last.  And before each meet, she is so nervous, insecure and desperate for just ONE ribbon of reward in exchange for her hard work all these months.

Before every meet, we have our ‘thing’ and it goes like this:

“Cassidy, are YOU a SWIMMER?”

“Yes mom.”


“Yes mom. (Sigh)”



“This year, we celebrate that you are a SWIMMER and an ATHLETE!!!”

Although she sometimes rolls her eyes and laughs under her breath with a “MOM… not again!”  I want nothing more than to ingrain this into her heart.  She is becoming a swimmer and an athlete and THIS is huge.  My precious daughter is building a new identity and I see the tiny bits of pride growing deep within her heart.  I don’t care if she swims another lap after this season, I just want her to embrace this victory over her health.  I want her to be able to say, “I did that swim club.”  And I know she does too….

A month ago, she swam a 500 at a long distance meet. (20 laps Yes. I know…  If you only knew- her practices start with 1000 warm up- WARM UP, people!  Two hours of nonstop swimming…we counted 150 laps in one practice.  Seeing how she could barely make it across the pool in the beginning of the summer, this alone was unmistakably a miracle.)  Every practice I watched in angst and in awe of her not giving up.  Needless to say, she is a limp noodle when she finishes every practice.

On our way to the long distance meet, she expressed once again how she wanted so badly to place in this meet.  This is my cue to start our thing…

“Cassidy, are you a SWIMMER?”

“Are you an ATHLETE?”

“Do all swimmers and athletes WIN?”

It was a crowded meet and during her warm up, she looked tired and sloppy.  I worried. 

I always do.

Her event was last, and I could tell she was nervous.  Off to a good start she held THIRD place through the agonizing first 18 laps!!!!  I was SO proud of her, and I could hear Cade screaming in the bleachers!  I was on deck by the side of the pool, as I watched her swim her 18th lap, keeping her third place by a body’s length!  Could this be it?  Was she going to finally get a ribbon?!  Oh, how I wanted this for her, more than anything else in the world.

When she touched that end, she had two more laps to go and she would finally achieve something she desperately wanted…


Then the unthinkable happened.  My girl- my precious swimmer and athlete STOPPED.

She thought she was done with the race, only she had two more laps to go.  I froze.  I asked the counter what she was doing and she said she had no idea.  I looked over at the coach who was screaming “GOOOOO!!!!!”  Cass jolted with a panic and started to swim her final laps…

Now losing her third place position.

My heart twisted and broke in a million pieces.  I ran to the other side of the pool and pushed through the crowds of timers and officials to find my babygirl as she got out of the water… awaiting her despair and defeat.

She found me, and sank into my arms with tears of self hatred and shame, “Why oh WHY did I do THAT MOMMY?!”

I held her so tight.  Every part of me wanted to scream and cry too.

I walked her to the locker room and we passed the bleachers and heard her dad and brother and grandma and grandpa yelling from above…

She didn’t even look up.  She was broken.  I didn’t know how she would  ever recover from this.

In the locker room, I held her as she cried and I cried too. 

Then something happened.

God came in. 

“Cassidy, you know how we always recognize how God has blessed you so much throughout your life?  You know when it’s been really bad for you, and then something amazing happens and we are SO grateful God helped you?”

“Yeah.”  (Through tears)

“This girl who came in third instead of you?  I believe in the deepest parts of my heart, that God knew she needed the blessing more than you today.  We don’t know what is going on in her life.  Perhaps she is being bullied or has family problems?  Whatever it is, God knew you would be okay- because you have had such a great year.  She needed this blessing more than you… THAT’S why God stopped you. You are SO blessed with love and your health and your family.  God knew you would be sad, but He also knew you would understand.  Maybe we can find it in our hearts to be grateful God blessed her… instead of you.”

Casssidy’s eyes grew big and wide, she nodded as if she was realizing the same truth God seemed to speak into both our hearts. She stopped crying and everything about her changed.

She got it.

And so did I.

Although sadness still lingered in the air, a sense of joyful surrender offered a new breath of life into both our hearts that almost resembled a celebration.  There was good to be had in this circumstance.  We saw it clearly, and I thanked God for that revelation that healed and transformed my sweet girl’s heart.

I was so proud.  So proud.

We went out to dinner after the meet, and decided to count our blessings as we do, without writing them down for our blessings jar.  There were so many to share, because we had just celebrated Thanksgiving!  After Cass took her turn sharing all the activities of the Holiday weekend, It was Derek’s turn.  Before he could say a word, Cass interrupted saying she forgot the biggest blessing of all…

“That I didn’t come in third place today.”

Yes, my friends.  She said those exact words.

Take it in, like I did.  I had to ask her to repeat it, because I was just that astounded she even thought that to be a blessing.  I stared at Derek in disbelief and tears. I kept looking at her as she explained once again, how the girl who came in third needed the blessing most.

This is how God works.

My daughter was able to stretch outside herself to not only accept but also embrace her ‘failure’ as a sacrificial blessing to another.  A girl we believed needed third place more than Cass.

My ten-year-old not only found resolve in this devastating experience, but she celebrated her defeat as a blessing.


I think we can all learn something from her, don’t you?

Thata girl, Cass.  You WON, love.  You won.


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  1. says

    Wow, wow, wow!! Lots more tears. Cass wins the award for persistance! Thanks to Mommy’s support, beautiful words and hugs, Cass saw the good in losing 3rd place. How genius of you to think that God wanted another little girl to have the ribbon. Never thought of it that way. I’ll have to use this thought process in my dealings. Huge hugs to you and Cass. God Love’s with you:)

    • says

      AW! I just LOVE that you are right in this with me and my girl, Manal!!! You are such a LOVE to share such encouraging words! And YES- use it! It’s really a good and important lesson for all to learn, really! Even us. ;0)

      Lord knows I need to learn it almost every day… (Seriously)

  2. says

    What a wonderful way of looking at it. And so beautiful that she understood, and that it made sense and made GOOD of how the meet ended.

    SO glad she has you, forever her champion 😀

    • says

      i don’t think there is a better “thankful” than this… I am SO thankful she gets it. And SO thankful God showed up….


      He always shows up. Even when we don’t see Him, feel Him or hear Him.

      This time, I am MOST thankful we saw, heard and felt ALL of Him. 🙂

  3. says

    Wow! So beautiful. And such a blessing that she could see the good in losing. And such a blessing that she is more than capable of coming in third or better!
    Love to all of you!

  4. says

    Wow, I think we could totally learn so much from Cassidy. Seriously, she is such an inspiration and I can’t tell you enough how I loved reading this whole thing and especially the ending. Thanks for sharing Chris and have a great weekend, too!! 🙂

  5. says

    Girl…you are KILLING ME!! I am literally blubbering here. First of all, I am in awe of you. To take in what happened and put it in that context. You are sure that child that came in third needed it and God knew. And I have no doubt you are right. I know that’s what happened. But then for your sweet, sweet wonderful girl who has worked so hard and overcome so much…for her to wholeheartedly embrace that and feel it’s truth and be so happy about it…oh man. I have no words for how wonderful and loving she is. She is quite a young lady.
    I hope this all made sense. I am just so moved and trying to type through tears. Whew. You guys are doing this whole “life” thing right. –Lisa

    • says

      I love you. Crazy CRAZY love you. Adore you. Seriously crazy love you. You made complete sense, and I love you. Did I say that? I do. Really.

      That’s all. 🙂

  6. says

    I need to remember not to read this series before I take G to school. Tears! What a story, Chris. And as a mom, you handled that situation perfectly. Something made Cass stop that day. I like to think that there’s a reason for these things to happen as well. It’s wonderful to hear that Cass accepted the loss of the ribbon so gracefully. I hope the next part includes a win though. I’m rooting for Cass!

  7. says

    O.M.GOodness she is amazing!! She just taught me a thing or two. It’s so true that we forget others need things too and sometimes that’s why God didn’t give us what we want. Finding that silver lining is tough sometime but she found it and shines because if it. She deserves a ribbon for her spirit drive and kindness. Way yo go mom, you should be so proud

    • says

      Oh do I agree, she deserves a ribbon for ‘spirit drive and kindness’- I LOVE that Kerry!! You are a love to say that. And I only pray this is the beginning of her “getting it” and realizing she has great potential for beautiful things in her life, with her beautiful heart.

  8. says

    What a beautiful story! And more importantly, what a beautiful life lesson. That ribbon we always want. Those trophies we love to celebrate. That sense of accomplishment. Those are real feelings and they are ok. But to have a moment when you get the ultimate trophy- hearing God’s voice- is HUGE! What a beautiful lesson. And what’s even better is that God’s not done. This isn’t the end of her story. That ribbon, that victory will still be in her future!
    (Happy to meet you through BlogU!)

    • says

      AMEN TO THAT!!!! Oh, how I love your comment Vicky!!! You are so right… God’s certainly not done!!! Thank you so much for sharing such beautiful words and encouragement. 🙂

    • says

      I am LOVING the exclamation points!!!!!! I use them more than YOU!!!!! 🙂 I think a story like this deserves them too! Thank you so much Jessica!!!!

  9. says

    This is not the first time I heard this story – when you first told me, it gave me the chills. And this post is giving me the chills. It takes a lot to graciously accept not being the winner. I can’t even call this defeat – because this is NOT defeat. Cass’ graceful acceptance of not taking third – of basically giving third place to someone else – is a triumph in itself. I love this girl just as much as I love her mama.

    • says

      AW!! I love that you love her as much as her mama!! 😉 And her mama loves you even MORE than that. XOXOXO

      I am so glad she really got it. Oh, how I pray her heart continues to grow in the same “direction” through her teen years!! *Oy*

  10. says

    Oh my gosh Chris this brought tears streaming down my face. What an incredible outlook. This has taught me an important lesson about dealing with losing and falling behind and how to help my children deal with those things too! Blessings!!

    • says

      Oh thank you SO much Alexa!! It’s never an easy thing, seeing your baby cry and feel that defeat. But boy oh boy… when it turns into something beautiful like it did for us? PRICELESS. 🙂

  11. says

    Wow. I started sobbing when “God came in”. You’ve got a blessed girl on your hands there. What a joy that she “gets it” when so many adults don’t. You’ll be greatly rewarded for instilling the Spirit in your children – blessed by them and by Him. Wonderful beautiful story!

    • says

      Thank you SO much my friend. I can only hope and pray she continues to grow in Him and keep her heart open to learning and realizing the beauty of God’s Grace and Love for others. I know we have a long road ahead of us (LORDHELPME through the teen years) but I pray I am building that foundation for her now.

      (ps: I am STILL thinking about and praying about my guest post… I PROMISE I haven’t forgotten!!) 😉

  12. says

    Wow! I’ve learned quite a few lessons myself from this post. Lessons that will prepare me to deal with my own children as they face struggles. It’s so great that you can navigate her through what seems like failure to finding the blessing for her and someone else. This is a testament to your parenting and Cassidy resilience is a byproduct of that. Such a beautiful story.

    • says

      Thank you SO much Hope!! It’s amazing how God leads us in our parenting through those hard moments… I am SO grateful I have His guidance through it all. I know there will be many many more lessons ahead. Oh yes. Praying about that now! 🙂

    • says

      Thanks so much Kristen!!! You know there are times when you think that you might be doing something right… and I thank GOD for this time- cause she needed me and Him more than anything at that moment. I hope more moments like this happen so she can really form her true identity in giving and nurturing a heart for others.

  13. says

    My family is trying to figure out why I’m crying while Duck Dynasty is on – I will tell them later!
    I read this whole story with a tightness in my chest and then when you talked about the meet where she was in 3rd for 18 of 20 laps I totally lost it. The way you handled that situation completely blew me away. And the fact that Cassidy listed not getting 3rd as a blessing speaks volumes of you and her!!!

    • says

      Oh I am laughing SO hard at the visual of you crying while the boys are looking at you like “WTH??” Too cute!! Oh how I love that you are always ALWAYS right there ‘in it’ with me… every time, Kim. Thank you SO much for always sharing your heart with mine. It means everything to me. XOXO

  14. Tammy says

    I just love this story so much! SO much! It’s so Cass, and so you! My heart just swells! Love you guys so much!

    • says

      AW! You are so so sweet WPB- HSHS!!!!! (LOL!!) I loved sharing it with you in person, and oh how I love that you are my ‘real life’ person who experiences all of my ‘stuff’ with me… and then sees it in writing. I get you here and there! I am so blessed by that Tammy! SO blessed by you always taking the time to read… even when you know it all already. THANK YOU!!!!! XOXOXOXO

    • says

      Isn’t IT??!! Oh, my heart still patters when I think of this story and how she was able to blindside me with that blessing! I just absolutely love it when God comes in!!! 🙂 (And somehow He always does…)

  15. says

    Cassidy is amazing, Chris and so are you. She has grown so much through this process. What a strong young lady. I can’t wait to see where the fire she has inside takes her. 🙂

    • says

      Oh you are just so so kind Jennifer!! I can’t wait to see where she goes with that heart too!!! It has been an incredible experience for her, and I. on so many levels, she has grown through it. And I am so grateful for that!

    • says

      I can only imagine how you get this, my new dear precious friend!!! If you ever feel comfortable and inspired to write for my devotional series on faith stories, I would be so incredibly honored to have you. No pressure at ALL. I believe your story is powerful and my readers and I would be blessed by it.

      I am so grateful we have connected. Truly!!! 🙂

    • says

      Isn’t it amazing!!!??? Oh, it just gets me every time. We talk about it still, as she is so nervous before every single meet. I am so grateful she has the heart to be able to reach beyond the winning… and see God’s work in it all. Just such a BLESSING like you said. I pray it continues… 🙂

  16. says

    I see so much thankfulness and pride in this post……and really really deservedly so! Cassidy is really coming into her own, and may she always grow, reach out and achieve. Thanks for sharing with us this week!

    • says

      Thanks so much for being here and celebrating in my sweet girl’s growth… I am so very proud of the person she is becoming and most of all her heart. 🙂

  17. says

    I swam on a swim team and knew exactly what you were describing about those practices. They are a far cry from summer swim leagues. That daughter of yours is one special girl. It’s part of who she is, yet you do such a good job of nurturing it and leading her to be the person God made her to be.

    • says

      Thank you SO much Christine!! Those practices are BRUTAL!!!! I just can’t believe these kids can endure such a work out. It amazes me every single time…

  18. says

    This gave me goosebumps 1,000 times over my dear dear friend. That you were wise enough to know that maybe the other girl needed it more, and to impart your amazing wisdom on your daughter when she was bent on beating herself up. Lovely and amazing. Every time I’m here, I feel happy and know that life is huge. Please tell me that you are considering writing an Our Land post. It will be better for your voice.

    • says

      I haven’t stopped thinking about sharing over at your precious Our Land series!!! I will absolutely do that! SO honored… 🙂

      Let me think on it… and I will most definitely send something to you by the end of the month. I love love love that you get all of this- ALL of it!! So grateful for you, my dear friend. Truly. XOXOXO

  19. says

    Just WOW! Oh that I had the faith of this wonderful child, and the wisdom of her mommy to help her turn her sense of defeat into a moment of grace and gratitude! You were both winners in my book, and I just know that in the trials of life ahead she will remember that sometimes winning the ribbon isn’t the real prize, it is in being able to put someone else before ourselves and still feel blessed! Very inspiring post, thank you for sharing!

    • says

      Oh Josie! I just love your response to this story! Thank you for your beautiful words… truly! I do hope and pray that she continues to grow a heart for others and God, so she can reap all the “True” ribbons in her lifetime. There are ENDLESS opportunities for that very thing! 🙂

  20. says

    It’s so hard isn’t it? Sometimes we have to let them fall down in order for them to get stronger by standing back up! My daughter is a dancer, which means auditions and obviously not everyone makes the cut. She has persevered through some CRUSHING auditions where she thought she nailed it and did not make the cut. She’s now set a goal for herself to move up in class level from pre-advanced to advanced. I have made a vow to NOT talk to the studio owner anymore, it’s all up to her! Gosh it’s hard, the mama bear wants to step in!

  21. says

    I honestly wouldn’t have thought to look at the loss that way, Chris – wow. But I will remember that next time I’m in a situation like Cassidy was in. She definitely was a winner that day, despite not coming home with a medal.

  22. says

    Chris – not only have you blessed your beautiful daughter’s life through your love, example and being the BEST mom EVER – but you have blessed all our lives by sharing this AMAZING story!! How you took this situation and looked at it through such compassionate eyes – through God’s eyes. Amazing. Simply amazing.

  23. says

    LOVE IT Chris!! What a beautiful second part to a beautiful story!! Your girl surely did win that day! She learned a lesson that will carry her through this life! Too funny because awhile ago, our youngest son missed the deadline to apply for one of the colleges he wanted to go to. I sat Him down and told him that he has to look at the bigger picture. Who knows, God might have prevented him from going to that school because something tragic might have happened to him on campus..who knows? God surely does! 🙂 I always say things happen for a reason. If more parents would teach their children the valuable lesson you taught your daughter…their children wouldn’t unravel when things don’t go their way. Hip hip hooray for Cassidy…the true winner that day!! xoxoxo

  24. says

    I don’t even have words to express how amazing of a story this is…your daughter…wow! Your parenting…wow. God…wow. So cool. Chris, what a story of courage and tenacity and grace.

  25. says

    Oh Chris, I can’t even begin to tell you what I am feeling right now…I have tears coming down my face. This is so beautiful! I love how you and Cassidy turned this into someone else’s needs…so powerful!!

    • says

      I am SO glad you got to read it and share in this beautiful moment with us, Michelle!! I tear up still, every time I think about it or read a new comment from a friend who “gets it”. Like you…

  26. says

    OK, not sure how I missed this when you first published it, but OMG, this is amazing! Your daughter is such a beautiful example of grace and perserverance! Having said that, I swam on a year-round swim club years ago. They were tough, but not that tough. It makes me a little upset when coaches forget that they’re coaching kids and not professional athletes! I’m glad Cassidy pushed through and found an amazing reward in her race, even though she didn’t get a ribbon!

    • says

      AW! You are SUCH a dear to read it!! I can’t remember if you caught part 3? If not- oh it’s really quite wonderful!!!

      The swim season is rather brutal- but everyone else seems to be doing just fine!!?? These kids are amazingly strong- I don’t know how they do it at such a young age! Pretty remarkable really…

  27. says

    Your daughter sounds so amazing. But, seeing as you are her mom, I don’t question why. 🙂 Such an inspiring story. It’s so hard to watch our kids make mistakes, and have to learn from them…but your attitude and hers was inspiring!

    • says

      It was such an emotional night… and we still talk about and remember it as one of our best experiences of her swim year. She just had her long distance meet last weekend… and we talked about it all over again. She DID swim all her laps this time. Bless her heart!! I swear she has this precious glow about her when we remember what happened… she knows in her heart, the other girl needed to win.

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