Ears to Hear

My daughter, the bride, had been gone all day shopping for her wedding when I text-ed her from home: “Be sure to Stop and Eat.”

She returned my text: “How did you know?”

I replied, “Because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

IMG_5693Since Thanksgiving, wedding plans in addition to getting ready for Christmas and out-of-town guests, made me feel like Santa who’s “making a list and checking it twice.” Only the list never seemed to end.

I had to make myself STOP and FEAST on God’s Word. With my soul fed, I was able to continue the race for one more day. I admit my running took greater priority as the month wore on, but still, I’d attempt to grab a morsel of scripture, breathe a prayer.

My husband calls me a Jack Russell Terrier. Like those dogs, my personality leans towards hyper when I have an agenda. When I take the time to “Be still” and sit at my Master’s feet, I’m calm, but only momentarily. The doorbell rings, and I’m running and yapping again.

Knowing I would get overwhelmed, hosting a wedding and Christmas dinner within three days of each other, I did not want to be a Jack Russell Terrier. I prayed to have “the mind of Christ,” to be loving, kind, humble, have a servant’s heart.

I even embraced the advice of a Safeway clerk who told me “major on the majors and minor on the minors.”

“People won’t remember what you served for dinner,” she said, as she handed me a two-foot grocery receipt. “They’ll remember being together, and how you welcomed them into your home.”

She was right.

The wedding day was beautiful beyond words even for this author, but by Christmas day, I was running on empty. I could only “major on the majors.”

Whenever my pride pointed out my shortcomings, minor things became major in my head which led to fear of what others thought about me.

Pride and fear are NOT the “mind of Christ.”

So instead of listening to the tape of accusations in my head, I asked God to breathe for me and listened to the …

Laughter in the room as the bride and groom’s two families became one.

Twelve voices singing  carols to celebrate our Lord’s birth.

Spoken prayers and stories shared.

Love and joy fill the air.

By God granting me ears to hear, the Jack Russell Terrier within me remained more calm even in this.

“He keeps in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

What if?

“What color bathing suit was your son wearing?”

 The Sheriff’s voice on the other end of my cell phone is calm, matter of fact. He can’t see my wrinkled brow as I struggle to recall the photo I’d taken of my son four hours earlier.

He was standing ankle deep in the river wearing a red life vest and…

“Black knee-length swim trunks.”

“How much does he weigh?”

Am I really having this conversation? I’ve never dialed 911 to report a missing person, or in this case, persons. My teenage son went river rafting with my grown daughter and her boyfriend.

And now I’m standing on a tall embankment, with my husband, staring down at the river’s swift current. Thankfully, the water is shallow, but the boulders on the riverbed would have slowed their progress; made the trip challenging.

What if the raft deflated? What if someone’s injured? What if they’re stranded on a riverbank?

“I wouldn’t bother you Sheriff, but they should have been here an hour ago. And the sun is setting!”

My voice is steady, but there are high-pitched voices in my head: What if they got separated from each other? What if their raft was carried further down river?

Warm skin tingles as dusk settles over the mountains, ushering in a cool breeze. What if they have to spend the night outdoors?

“Stay by your phone,” he says. “I’m calling search and rescue.”

His words conjure horrific news reports. I tell myself, Don’t go there!

My husband and I drive a short distance along a gravel road that parallels the river. We stop, searching the horizon for signs of life.

Within minutes, my heart jumps. “A beige raft!”

“How many people?”

“I only see two.”

I wave my arms like sheets in the wind until my daughter waves back with her paddle.

“Three, I see three people!”

 My husband hurries down the dirt path to the river’s edge while I notify the Sheriff. “We found them!”

Three exhausted, dripping wet, shivering bodies walk into my eager embrace. They reassure us, “We weren’t in danger.” But relief is written on their somber faces.

A half hour later, back at camp, night is dark as coal. Tears stream down my cheeks as I praise God for protecting our children, and sparing us from the multitude of what ifs that could have happened. But didn’t.

  “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22, 23)