Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fear fades as faith deepens

A happy ending to an eventful canoe trip!
 Ask any mama and I'm confident they'll tell you there is nothing worse than being gripped with fear for your child's well being- whether it's because they're sick, hurt, or there has been a life-threatening accident.  For real, I can't think of a single thing that can knock the wind out of me more than when I'm concerned for Jude's health or safety! Within each us there is this crazy little voice that whispers worse case scenarios to our souls and if this voice is given enough attention, the fear can spiral itself out of control. In the book, Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker says in regard to parental worry, that “preparedness is a funny thing: there’s only so much of it a soul can stand because the problem with bracing for the worst is you have to imagine it first!”  How true is that?! 

That brings me to our canoe "adventure" from this past weekend! (o; Overall, we had an incredible weekend camping with Matthew and Courtney at the beautiful Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma! It refreshed our spirits to be in the outdoors and be in the midst of great company! Let me first preface this whole story by saying that in the grand scheme of things, our little canoe mishap this weekend, is exactly that... little. Especially given that some of you reading this have truly experienced close calls, heartache, and loss on levels that I can't even begin to imagine. More than anything, I'm just trying to process through all the thoughts that have been triggered because of this situation- and writing helps me do that. 

On Friday, we all decided we would hit up the local canoe and kayak rental company and it would be fun to take a trip down the river. Matthew and Courtney would take the kayaks and Joshua, Jude, and I would take a canoe. It made sense- the canoe fit the three of us in one boat and the kayaks were intended to be for only one person. We decided to sit Jude in the middle of the canoe on the floor of it, and he tucked his legs under the wooden bar that went from one side of the boat to the other.  I was sitting up front on the seat and Joshua took the back seat. We were excited and set to go as we pushed off the sandy bank. And we were off down the river... well... kinda... Joshua and I quickly realized that our communication skills for directing this stupid boat were, let's just say.... lacking! Given the fact that I think Joshua and I both sort of pride ourselves on being outdoorsy and river savvy, the tension between the two of us was a bit high as I swear I was paddling on the correct side and so does Joshua- YET our boat wasn't listening! Let's just blame it on the boat for the sake of having something to blame our poor steering skills on! (o; My friend Sunny refers to these boats as "divorce canoe's".... and I think she is spot on! It was like steering a giant log down the river. 

Well, ready or not, our first set of rapids was approaching! Somehow we managed to bang our way off the rocks, no doubt looking like the most ungraceful paddlers ever! But I thought to myself, "Okay, we got this- we made it through that without tipping, we're good to go!" Joshua and I continued to work on our communication skills (or lack there of) before the next set of rapids that were around the bend of the river. I'd love to tell you how much we improved, BUT... not so much! (Seriously, per-marital counseling should require canoe paddling-101!)  I'm trying to scope out the rocks we're approaching so we can have a game plan on how to weave our way around them through the rapids. Much to my demise, it quickly became apparent as we got closer and closer... there was NO WAY to make it through this rapid without hitting the rocks, the canoe just wasn't able to cut and maneuver around them all. So before we new it, we were turned sideways pinned up against a giant rock. It caused us to loose our balance and shift our weight where the current quickly caught the lip of the canoe and immediately started pouring water into our boat. Joshua and I both fell out and I quickly was trying to get myself in position to grab Jude, knowing that he would be scared. He has never been in white water before, only pools and lakes, so this is a whole new thing to him. He had his life jacket on, so I wasn't so much concerned about him going under, as I was about him just getting too far downstream without me. 

Well... turns out, Jude didn't fall out of the canoe like Joshua and I did- instead he was pinned IN the canoe, because his body was wedged under the wooden bar that he was sitting under and the current was pushing him up against the bar while the boat was engulfed with water and sinking! Thankfully, Joshua and I were both able to put our feet down in the rushing water and stop ourselves from going down river. (The "lifeguard swift water safety side of me" wants to chime in here and say that typically one should NEVER put your feet down in white water because of foot entrapment- but given our predicament, it was necessary- but normally, not a smart move! The water was about chest deep on me, and the rapid itself was maybe a class ONE, if that- so nothing crazy at all! BUT rushing water is such a powerful thing, and should never be underestimated!) So... Jude's huge eyes are locked in on me and he's totally in panic mode. I'm holding the canoe on it's side so that it doesn't completely flip over with Jude inside it and I look up at Joshua with that intense look of, "You better get our boy out of there NOW!" Joshua quickly grabs the shoulders of Jude's life jacket and yanks as hard as he can against the current to pull him back up to the surface and into his arms! The relief that flooded my heart once Jude was out of the boat is like none other! Don't get me wrong, we were still in quite the predicament, standing in the middle of the river, with a canoe completely submerged, my paddle down river somewhere along with my shoes, and grasping for Joshua's bag that had our video camera and some clothes in it. BUT at that point, I didn't care about anything else besides the fact that our boy was out of the boat and in our arms! Joshua handed Jude over to me while he tried to hang onto the nose of the canoe that was the only portion of the boat still above water, so that it didn't go down the river without us. Jude is crying, scared and cold, shaking in my arms with the water rushing around us. I can't pick my feet up and try and walk to the edge because the current is too strong and it'll sweep me off my feet, so I'm "stuck" in a sense and Joshua and I are looking at each other like "Now what?!" It's right about this time that I spotted Matthew who was able to paddle his kayak upriver to us and help out- which I'm seriously so grateful for, because I don't know what we would have done if he wasn't with us! Matthew and I were able to carefully put my shaken up child on the nose of his kayak for him to take to safety. Joshua and I were then able to figure out our game plan for pulling our stupid canoe up on the same stupid rock (can you tell I'm a fan of the canoe and the rock?!) that had flipped us in order to empty it out. Meanwhile, little did I know that Courtney had managed to go downriver and snag my paddle and both my flip flops! What a gal!

After we got the canoe pulled back to the surface and emptied out, we made our way over to the boulder on the side of the river where Matthew had safely sat Jude and told him to stay put. It was one of those moments as a parent where the image of your frightened child breaks your heart. Jude had his knees curled up to his chest shaking, cold, and crying. I quickly realized that our parenting skills needed to step it up a level because we now had to somehow convince our child to get back in the boat and go another 3 hours down the river all the while validating his fears. No pressure! I just kept thinking to myself, "Don't jack this up Hil, this could be a defining moment in Jude's life where he either thinks we helped him overcome his fears OR we traumatized the poor kid for life!" Matthew suggested that we switch up boats and try putting Jude in one of our laps on the kayak. It sounded like a GREAT idea to me considering I wanted to chuck this darn canoe on the river bank and kick it a few times! So we traded boats and Jude reluctantly climbed into daddy's lap in the kayak to continue down the river.  Daddy and Jude spent a lot of time praying for courage and safety while riding in that kayak- and despite a little detour where Jude and I got out to hike around one last rapid, Jude recovered and ended up having a great time on the lower half of the river! Answered prayers for sure, as I was envisioning a LONG day of fearful crying!

That brings me to today- several days later and images of my sweet son's fear-filled eyes staring up at me while the canoe filled with water still flash in my mind. I hate it. It sucks the life right out of me. I'm not one to freak out during an emergency, it's actually ingrained in me to want to run to an emergency and respond with all my years a lifeguard trainer- BUT it's afterwards when I'm processing the whole thing, it tears me up. The "what ifs" haunt me as I play through every scenario. It goes back to the quote, “preparedness is a funny thing: there’s only so much of it a soul can stand because the problem with bracing for the worst is you have to imagine it first!” 

That being said, I am continually reminded that Jude is not my own- God is gracious enough to let me borrow him for his time on earth. This brings peace to my unsettled mama's heart. Yes, life is fleeting and things can drastically change in the blink of an eye but I also have also been reminded that fear fades as my faith deepens. I pray that God continues to wipe away the "what ifs" from my mind and instead fills my thoughts with His faithfulness and goodness. God protected precious Jude that day on the river and I am forever grateful! Gosh I love this kid!
Nice calm water = Happy Jude (o;


  1. What a scary moment in time but what LOVE and faith permeate this entire blog post! Very cool stuff. Thank you for sharing it with the world!

  2. Oh my goodness, the lifeguard in me is coming out too! :) SO THANKFUL that ya'll are ok!!! "Fear fades as faith deepens"...LOVE that! So true...thanks for sharing, sweet friend!

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