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Kimbree Houston, 18, of Lubbock, Texas, brushes her horse, Sunshine.
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Photo provided by Bob Mize

Despite setbacks, Texan teen perseveres


Socially marginalized and rejected by her peers, Kimbree Houston was in third grade when she began writing suicide letters to her counselor. For Kimbree, a member of the Quaker Avenue Church of Christ in this West Texas city, life had not been easy.

Weighing just 1 pound, 15 ounces at birth, she was the size of a can of soda. She spent her first three months in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Kimbree Houston

Kimbree Houston

Then, when she was 1, a physical therapist noticed her legs were different lengths. X-rays revealed she had hip dysplasia, meaning her hip ball was outside of the socket and turned the wrong way. At age 2, doctors placed a permanent feeding tube into her stomach to help her gain weight.

More x-rays revealed she had severe scoliosis, a 98 percent S-shaped curve in her back. When she was 3, doctors noticed aberrant eating habits in Kimbree. She had tubes in her mouth and throat for so long that she struggled physically and emotionally when anything would touch her mouth.

One year, Kimbree and her mom, Tori, spent the entire summer in the hospital. Those letters she wrote in third grade led to a conference between her mom and the counselor. Because of the nature of the threat, the counselor had a responsibility to talk to Kimbree’s mom.

Kimbree struggled to understand why God allowed her conditions. She was then held back. She’s always had modified classes and tests and is academically behind compared to those her same age. An excess of oxygen in the NICU caused some damage to her brain, making her struggle with short-term memory.

Today, at age 18, she has survived multiple surgeries and so many trips to Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas that her mother quit counting and journaling after the 40th visit. She has had body casts, a halo brace and growing rods, which remain in her back today. Kimbree weighs just 70 pounds, is a junior in high school and is on the school golf team. She has continued to struggle with her eating over the years, even battling anorexia and bulimia at times.

Bob Mize

Bob Mize

Those who know her, who have witnessed her journey, say her life demonstrates that there are many things and many people to live for, especially for believers. Kimbree has chosen happiness.

She has excelled on the high school golf team. In fact, her doctors are astounded that she can make her body move in the ways a golf swing requires. Not only has she overcome that obstacle, but she recently obtained her driver’s license.

Recently, Kimbree and her grandparents came to dinner at our house. I learned she has a miniature horse, which was given to her by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association when she was very young. I asked her if I could meet the horse. She agreed.

Kimbree drove her mother and me to the stables in the country to see her very beautiful horse, Sunshine. It was a special experience. I give thanks that the Lord has shown a little girl with serious setbacks in life that it is worth persevering, that God and life are good.

Kimbree Houston has excelled at golf, despite her medical challenges.

Kimbree Houston has excelled at golf, despite her medical challenges.

BOB MIZE is a chaplain, minister and freelance writer who lives in Lubbock, Texas. He can be reached at [email protected].

Filed under: Eating Disorder Features Hip Dysplasia Kimbree Houston Opinion perseverance Top Stories trials Views

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