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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To Every Parent Who Has Ever Temporarily Lost Or Misplaced Their Child

Yesterday, I experienced one of the most terrifying moments of a parent.  It ranks right up there with the time we turned around and our 2 year old was missing at a corn maze farm which was right off of a busy road and had a pond on the land.

But, yesterday, while paddle boating in Green Bay, my older two children drifted out of my site.





We started out with my older two children in one boat, and my youngest in a boat with me.  I helped get the boats in the water, and then I began to paddle away with my youngest while my older two paddled to my right.  It wasn't long into our journey that my younger daughter was too scared of all the choppy waves, and I opted to situate her on the shore while I paddled around for about 15 minutes in the cove near the beach, just to get some exercise.

When I returned to the shore, and locked up our boat, I turned around and my older two children were no where in sight.  I didn't panic at first, but I did notice that the winds were picking up and the bay opened up into deeper water with bigger boats over the horizon, which is as far as I could see.


I immediately walked back to the condo we were renting to grab my close-up lens camera, because I knew my eyes were not doing the job well enough and I needed to see far.

My younger daughter and I walked up on the hillside and all around to get several angles where I could zoom in with my camera to any object that looked like a paddle boat.

...I saw nothing but motor boats and sail boats.

Time was passing, and the winds were picking up, and the clouds were looking slightly iffy as if the possibility of rain could not be too far fetched.  I began to pray and watch and pray and watch.  My eyes were starting to hurt from watching the water, and I was becoming seasick watching the waves.

...Still no sight of my children.

By this time, more time had passed and I didn't know what to do.  To complicate matters, we are in a section of Door County in Wisconsin where, for some reason, my iPhone AT&T data plan and phone connection is non-existent.  My husband was out performing three musical jobs, and there was no way to reach him.  Still, I tried as I managed to catch a wifi signal from the condos and message:

"Pls. Pray"

That's all he would get just moments before starting his third performance of the day.  I didn't mean to worry him so as to not perform well, but I didn't know what to do.  Still, the only message that went through was the initial "Pls. Pray", to which I attempted to follow up with  more detail.  I think he got at least one of the detailed messages, and he did pray.

...Still, more time passed.  I sat down on an andirondack chair where I could get a good view of the bay.  I wondered, "What should I do?"  I then, tried to stay calm and think rationally:

  • They are in a boat that doesn't tip easily
  • They are both wearing life jackets
  • They both are good swimmers
  • There have been few, but enough motor and sailboats passing by that surely one would see two young paddle boaters in distress.
But, then my mind went to other thoughts:

  • What if they hit a rip tide?  Do they remember what to do?
  • What if they are stuck in the middle of the deeper part of the bay?
  • Where are they?
  • Why won't God give me a sign to put my mind at ease?
I began to pray more and plead God to bring them back safely to me.  I began to ask my younger daughter things like:

  • My older daughter has common sense, doesn't she?
  • My son surely can problem solve thanks to games like Minecraft and Sonic.
I didn't know if they were fighting, at which point I knew all was lost, or if they were working together.  I didn't know if they had pulled off to the other side on a beach and were just having fun.  I didn't know.

...They were out of my sight, and I didn't know if they were safe.

This is every parent's nightmare, but especially terrifying for a homeschooling parent like me because my children have been out of my sight very few times in their 6, 11, and 13 years of life.  For the most part, I have been with my children - at least one of them - 24/7 for 13 years, with only a few times when they were at a grandparent's house so my hubby and I could catch a rare night out.

I had to trust and I had to rely on God to bring them back safe, and I had to trust that the things I had taught them would come to the forefront of their minds.

.



Almost 3 hours after we left the beach, I saw this - The most beautiful sight I have seen in a long time.

They were still a way off from returning, but they were safe.

Turned out, they had only gone about a half hour or so out, and were close to the shore (I still don't know why I couldn't see them).  When they turned to come back, the winds had picked up, and their boat was taking on water.  They were stuck.

That is water in the boat, where their feet were pedaling.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is more than half way filled because of how the waves were splashing over the boat.





Here's the best part of the story (aside from the obvious praise that they returned safely, of course):


  • They didn't fight - They worked together.
  • Together, they took turns bailing water out of their boat with their shoes.
  • Together, they waded near the shore and pulled the boat, knowing what proper leverage to use, until they could safely get the boat to slightly deeper waters to pedal back.
One of the first things my daughter said to me was how she knew there was a possible storm coming because of the bubbles and waves in the water, which she knew because of something I had read to her in her science book.






Thank you, God!  Thank you for returning my children to me safe.  I now have a glimpse of how it will feel to send them off to college, hoping that the foundations I have spent years laying will come to fruition in their lives.

Today gave me hope that they will be just fine!

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