Last night, my three sisters, one brother-in-law, and two nephews braved the elements and joined us in an impromptu going-away party for Zac. Two of my sisters left their car at the top of our hill and walked the quarter-mile downhill, across the trail, and back up hill, slogging through the remnants of all that snowfall last week. But no one wanted to miss the gathering.
I really can’t believe my oldest child is somehow old enough to sail away on a fishing boat headed for the Bering Sea. I still remember playing “watch out for the shark” when he was just a tiny, curly-haired boy. Our carpet was the sea back then, and the sharks (or “snarks,” as Zac called them), were always just slow enough that he could safely scamper across that sea to the safety of my arms.
Lord, help me. That’s the only way I’m going to make it through the next three months … or five. He’s at the mercy of the American Seafoods Company. If they want to stay and catch a few more, he has to stay too. I don’t think I could stand the thought of all those months ahead of us (he’s only been aboard the Katie Ann for three hours and forty-six minutes as I write this) if I didn’t really believe that he belongs to God. I mean, really believe.
I spent some time talking with my sweet, wise, beautiful friend, Cathy Taylor, yesterday. She knows all about this new adventure. She’s been my sounding board ever since Zac first uttered the words, “I think I might like to go fishing.” Cathy is a kindred spirit on so many levels. She’s a fellow pastor’s wife, which, all by itself, puts her in a very small pool of women who know my particular needs and struggles. But she’s also raised four incredible people of her own, and she knows the pain and frustration — and the ultimate joy — of getting our children through those fishbowl years, when it seems that everyone has an opinion about what the pastor’s kid should and shouldn’t do. All that, and I just genuinely love Cathy. She has a beautiful soul, and I am blessed that she is such a close friend.
So I’m telling Cathy yesterday that I’m trying not to let all the “what ifs” of this sea journey steal my breath. And she says, calmly — as though she isn’t uttering the most profound words I’ve heard in a long while — “Well, he’s either in God’s hands, or he isn’t.” And just like that, I had my anchor. Or maybe buoy is the better word. That sentence is what will keep me afloat while Zac is “out there.” He’s either in God’s hands, or he isn’t … and I know that he is.
“We have to trust our kids to God every time they walk out the door,” she continued. And I remember all those frightening moments during Zac’s teen years, when I would wake in the night to the awareness that I needed to pray, that my boy needed an intercessor. And I would stare at the ceiling and pray my fears away, until my heart calmed at the sure knowledge that the much better Parent would watch him through the night for me.
I will make myself remember that. And I’m going to tell myself that Zac is just out living the adventure I’ve been singing to him for all of his 22 years. Somehow, amidst all the other lullabies, Zac latched onto Wynken, Blynken and Nod when he was just a toddler. “Sing Wynken,” he’d say, most every night. So I would. I’d sing about the three little sailors who set off in their wooden shoe to catch herring. He loved that song. He still does. And now it passes to Zac’s son. Just last week, while I was feeding Gage and rocking, I sang it to him. Zac, sitting across the room, laid his head back on the couch, closed his eyes, and visibly relaxed. I think he would have fallen asleep by the last line if the front door hadn’t opened then, interrupting our song.
I suppose somewhere here, I should share a recipe. Last night was a simple affair: Papa Murphy’s pizza and nachos, which four of us sisters watched going into the oven, and then all promptly forgot. We ended up calling them “Cajun nachos.” They sit today, uneaten, on my counter.
But I did decide, last minute (this was an impromptu gathering, remember?) to make a cake for Zac. This could not be easier. I mean that. Next time you see a sailor off, here’s a suggestion:
Jello Poke Cake
- 1 box Betty Crocker’s Super Moist white cake
- 3 egg whites
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 small box jello of your choice * (I used strawberry)
- 1 cup boiling waer
- 2/3 cup ice cubes
- 1 8 oz container Cool Whip
Make the cake as per the instructions on the box, using the egg whites, oil, and 1 1/4 cup water. Bake till done, then immediately put in freezer. (Alternately, you could let it sit on the counter for an hour … but I was in a big, hot hurry, so I put mine in the freezer. Worked great. ) When completely cooked (this took 30 minutes in the freezer), poke all over with a fork.
Mix Jello and 1 cup boiling water; stir till dissolved. Add the 2/3 cup ice cubes and stir till the ice has melted. Poor the Jello over the cake slowly, giving it time to absorb. Make sure you loosen all the edges of the pan so the Jello can get down the sides.
Cool in fridge for 1-2 hours. Frost with Cool Whip and serve.
Note: I used the small package of Jello this time, but I’m going to use the large package next time. I can’t find my original recipe, but it seems to me that when I used to make this before, it had a whole lot more Jello in it.
Wynken, Blynken And Nod
Wynken and Blynken and Nod one night sailed off on a wooden shoe
Sailed down a river of crystal light into a sea of dew
“Where are you going and what do you wish?” the old moon asked the three
“We’ve come to fish for the herring fish that live in this beautiful sea.”
“Nets of silver and gold have we,” said Wynken, Blynken and Nod
The old moon laughed and sang a song as they rocked in their wooden shoe
And the wind that sped them all night long ruffled the waves of dew
While the little stars were the Herring fish that lived in the beautiful sea
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish, never a feared are we.”
So sang the stars to the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken and Nod
So all night long their nets they threw to the stars in the twinkling foam
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe bringing the fishermen home
T’was all so pretty a sight it seemed as if it could not be
And some folks thought it a dream they dreamed as they sailed on the beautiful sea
But I shall name you the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken and Nod
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes and Nod is a weary head
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies is a wee one’s trundle bed
So shut your eyes while mummy sings of beautiful sights that be
And you will see all the wonderful things as you rock in your misty sea
Just like the fishermen three … Wynken, Blynken and Nod