J.R., who recently turned 7, had an “it’s-tough-being-a-kid” day the other day. It began well as we decided to go fishing on a nearby State-owned lake. I had bought new rods-and-reels for his sister and him, in an attempt to reduce the chances of tangling. (I am convinced the toddler poles they have had for years were designed with quality to last for 4 days, and they had long since expired.) He was so excited! As soon as we pushed off from the dock, his line was in the water, trailing behind the boat.
When we were almost across the lake, J.R. excitedly announced, “Mom! I let out all the line of my whole reel!”
“J.R.!!” His brother scolded, in the way that only a big brother could. “If you catch a fish now, you won’t be able to bring it in!”
J.R. quickly tried to bring in the line, only to find that the new reel wasn’t reeling.
By now, we were being blown toward the opposite shoreline, so I told him I would help as soon as I got the boat to a safe place. Unbeknownst to me, he was worried he was going to catch a fish, so he had begun pulling the line in by hand. While I diverted the boat from submerged objects, and fought the wind’s desire for me to hit land, an hour’s worth of work collected behind me: J.R. pulled the entire 150 feet into the boat. As if descending on its prey, the fishing line tangled the boat along with Christine’s line while gathering as a rat’s nest on the boat’s floor.
“Oh good, Mom, I got all the way to my lure!” he naively informed me.
As I turned to him, I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the first ten minutes of the trip, he had managed to take three of us out of fishing ability.
I fought my urge to yell, “What were you thinking?!” as I let the boat bang up against a branch, which I knew would hold us in one place while I battled the tangle. I knew if I showed my frustration, he would melt down. He wasn’t trying to be a problem.
This was just one of those “kid” moments. You know the kind? He was only being a kid. His inept ability to maneuver a line or assess the situation was affecting us all. It wasn’t his disobedience, a foul heart or purposeful mischief. I had seen it before: once, he left the water running and overflowed the sink to the basement. Another time, he had tried to clean up his own mess and only made it messier. Times like these are when we moms have a lot of power: We can yell and scream due to our selfish frustration, teaching any child within ear-shot that anger should be used when things don’t go OUR way, or we can save our anger for something more important –something which is eternal. I tried to work on the solution in silence, to keep the moment teachable.
“Sorry, Mom,” he assured me while I pulled line apart, one inch at a time. I would have loved to simply cut it loose, but it was the entire spool of line, so he wouldn’t have been able to fish. I worked some more and managed to get it free from the boat and from Christine’s line. I gave J.R. my pole so he could at least fish, while I stayed focused on the ball of twined line in the bottom of the boat.
Just as I got the tangled mass to a point where I could cut it and still have enough with which to fish, I realized we needed to depart our fishing spot and head to the dock, in case the wind slowed our crossing of the lake. I didn’t want to be late for picking up my eldest, Casey.
We were back at the dock without delay, so we had 10 minutes to spare.
“Can we PLEASE fish from shore for a few minutes?” Nate asked.
“Sure, “ I said. We loaded the gear into the truck, and drove toward the park exit. There was a sandy shoreline, which we had wanted to try, next to the exiting driveway.
When I came to the alluring fishing spot, there was one fisherman already there, enjoying the serenity of the natural surroundings of ducks and geese with ducklings and goslings. This fifty yards of beach was decked out with park benches. A canopy of trees provided shade as well as homes for the squirrels that raced in every direction.
The man sat there in silence. His shirtless body was decorated with tattoos, covered slightly by the long hair flowing from his hat. In his fifties with deeply tanned skin, he looked like this was not his first day at the pond.
“You can fish anywhere, kids, but please stay far from that man. Let him have his peace.” I said as I handed each a pole and glanced at the clock to mentally note the 10 minutes I would get to read while they fished before we needed to go pick up their brother.
BEFORE I EVEN OPENED MY BOOK, I looked up to see poor J.R., now with his line ACROSS the man’s line. I couldn’t believe it! I had only given one direction: “Stay away from that guy. Give him space. You can go anywhere except where his line is.” It sounded like a scene from Peter Rabbit, and J.R. was going to miss out on blackberries and milk for dinner!
This could get ugly. I feared, glancing at the guy as he stood to assess the situation.
I quickly descended the hill to the water’s edge, and began pleading forgiveness for my son’s error.
“I am sorry. I think his cast went in a different direction than he intended.” I said.
“Well it’s ok. I was his age once,” the stranger replied. “How’s he going to learn if he doesn’t try?”
Tears welled in my heart as I appreciated this stranger’s grace. The man’s kind answer to my son affected me all day. When a driver cut me off, a friend forgot a promised delivery, or a waitress messed up my order, I thought, “Hey, I was ‘young’ once too.”
Pass it on.
It is amazing the distance of the ripples in the water where it falls.
May God bless your day as you bless others with grace,
Ephesians 1:7 For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God,
Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.
Wow Terri! What a great analogy to learn from! I was just thinking about how many men and women’s lives you affect with these blogs. Then I thought about how many children’s lives you touch with such encouragements in the Truth! What a harvest my friend! What a harvest! Thank you for this picture of grace to be remembered in the
most trying of times. God Bless!
What great examples of grace. I truly enjoy your stories & the messages within the stories.
Thankyou for that excellent story about Grace! You write so descriptively that I can almost feel the wind pushing my boat and I can feel the wad of line coiled at my feet! How wonderful that the fisherman – who could have been so easily stereotyped- was the very man to show your son grace. It reminds me of the way Jesus would have shown grace when He was fishing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee! So, keep writing my friend. You are such a blessing! (MY hubby, Terry, loves to fish, so I just bought myself a PINK fishing rod so I can sit in the boat with him and watch my bobber!! Hopefully, I will learn HOW to slow down and relax with him!) Fishing license, first, then, I’ll let you know how it goes!! Happy Memorial Day- remember WHY we have FREEDOM! Nancy
What a great reminder that our chlidren (and everyone around us) need grace from us. Especially when we don’t feel like it.
Great point! As a mother of 5, the youngest two being twin boys age 4, it is “law on myself and grace to those it come in contact with” usually at warp speed! God bless.
I absolutely love your blogs Terry!
When I am faced with difficult parenting situations, I often think, “What would Terry do?” or “How would Terry respond?” I admire your grace and also your parenting insight very much and I have learned much from your wisdom!
I often joke with Team mates that I would like a bracelet with WWTD on it… What Would Terry Do? It would be a great reminder to me to stop and analyse the situation before I react and have to apologize later!
Thanks a bunch!
So Terri, when is the first book being written? Your writing is flawless and you definitely know how to move and inspire readers! I love fishing; J.R’s fishing experiences sound like something I did just last year lol. Whenever I fish with my dad my line is always getting caught in something, tangled and crossing my dad’s line. And every time this happens my dad responds with grace as he passes his pole to me and fixes my line. Tell J.R you are never too old to need grace! Thanks for your amazing stories!
That’s awesome. Simply put too and thank you for sharing these, I love reading them after my bible on my phone in the mornings before my feet even leave my bed. What a way to start the morning
Wow Terri. You have me in tears again. Thanks so much for your beautiful transparent stories that teach us to be more like Christ. I needed that today!
Thank you so much for sharing this story Terri. I know now that using anger instead of GRACE, does not get the desired result from my child, in fact it makes this 10 times worse. I am so grateful for grace and for our Lord and Savior who gives it to us so freely. Blessings to you and your family!
Terri… You are a masterful story teller and a blessing to thousands. I can just feel your frustration and yet patience and love at the same time as you looked down at the ball of fishing line, etc, etc… in the bottom of the boat! Grace begets grace….pass it on!
Love this…simply love this!! Great reminder for every parent, spouse, caretaker of the aged, driver, customer, employer, employee, etc. I often have to remind myself when I feel victimized by someone else’s behavior that I have no idea what trials weigh them down. There are stories in every car that passes by and every house along every street.
Wow, so many lessons to be learned in this post! Thank you so much for the reminder of grace toward our children and strangers alike.
Well said, point taken, thank you. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your life’s journeys with us. I believe many of my mom moments have been more graceful because of your stories and teaching throughout the years.
I know you think you aren’t perfect, but in these blogs, you model parenting perfection for us to follow! I was at a museum in CT of the Pequot Indians and one of the exhibits had a mom talking about her playful son on the roof of their hut. She said (roughly quoted) “we discipline our children kindly, because after all, they are children and shouldn’t be expected to behave like little adults!” I remind myself of that every day I have my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter and her younger cousins visiting. And I enjoy them more because of it! Thanks so much for the same reminders in your blogs, and yes, when will you have your book?
Oh my did i need this today, only I wish I had read it earlier this afternoon when my choleric sanguine nine year old was making kool-aid for lunch (which she loves to do and have us all guess the flavor) I yelled in anger at the “stupidest” of things. In the moment, it was I have to tell you this all the time, over and over again. When honestly, she was just being 9, yet I judged and scolded her as if she were 43 like me. Yet, this article provided perspective and caused me to take her aside, apologize and hug her only to receive “Oh momma it aint no big deal, don’t get all mushy on me”
GRACE given to me….wow!!
Thanks for this Terri! Your blog is amazing!
Thank You Terri for always having saying things that open my eyes!! There will be times when I will think of this post and it will remind me to always have Grace!!
I hear your sweet voice in each blog!! YOUR amazing and GOD sure has a beautiful way of coming through you into our HEARTS!! Much LOVE to you and thanks again!! YOUR a Blessing to all!!
Great post Terri! Your messages are so inspiring for me as a new mother of twin boys. I have a sanguine phlegmatic and a driven choleric and my oh my when I sit at night and reflect, I have you to thank to teach me patience and guidance as a mother. Thank you.
Terri! Beautiful, Wonderful “young” moments to remember forever. You’ll turn around and he’ll be graduating from highschool. You are a wonderful mom and i want to be just like you when i grow up! Amazing writing. I seriously cant wait for you to write your first book!!!! May I suggest Motherhood as your first topic???? 🙂 love and miss u, Laurie Campau
That’s a great sentiment to remember. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Such a great reminder to me in one of my greatest struggles – patience with my sanguine daughter and the natural chaos she leaves quite unintentionally in her wake on a very regular basis! 🙂
A true lesson to behold for all ages! Thanks for sharing it with the world.
Can you please create a book with your blog entries that would be in the top 50 book list for sure!
LOVE THIS!!!! we are a fishing family and this happens every time we are out on the boat or off of shore….
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Pass it on indeed!
What a great story reminding us to lead our life with grace. Definitely needed to hear this message today.
Thank you so much for your inspiring words!