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Oceans For Emotions: Not what you catch, it's what you learn

By By Elaine Wheat
June 29, 2012 at 1:29 a.m.

Elaine Wheat

Editor's note: This week's column is written by my granddaughter, Dyanne Wheat, 27. She works in South Korea as a preschool teacher and loves the Lord, teaching and the beach as much as I do.

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"

- Phillipians 1:6

Miniature rock runners, known to others as water shoes, skidded across the sandy beach as my sister and I sprinted with freedom and joy. The summer heat only confirmed our need to spend days and days at the beach.

As the sunrays beamed down on our suntanned, sunlotioned little bodies, we splashed in the water, hunted for coral and sand dollars, ate pimento cheese sandwiches that gritted between our teeth, and fished and crabbed to our hearts delight.

We could not have been more content.

These are some of the greatest, most precious memories I have. What makes them so special is that I don't own them, I share them - with treasured people in my life.

We walked out to the pier, fishing rods in hands, making sure the hook stayed attached to the rod and not to any body parts. My sister, Marilyn, and I had a knack for catching everything but fish: trees, logs, other fishing poles, shirts, fishing lines and almost anything else you can think of.

Granny was patient. She taught us how to bait our hook and not our fingers, how to hold the pole the correct way and how to cast.

"Now pull the pole ... behind you, not beside you. Keep your finger on the line. Ack. OK, reel up the line again. Pull back. Hold on to the line. And now gently, gently swing it forward like a rainbow and let the pressure off of the line. Stoop. You gotta let go of the line. Try again. Remember ..."

Over and over again, we practiced the perfect cast. Once we had that "mastered" she taught us how to watch the bobber. Sometimes I think I took this too seriously and went cross-eyed. Up and down with the waves it would go, and our little heads would bob up and down with it.

She wanted so badly to teach us how to reel in a fish, but so far, all I had caught that day was my own shoe. But, as it turned out, this would be a special day. Granny had bided time as she taught us about the strange, but amazingly camouflaged, flat flounder fish.

The moment came. I don't know if it was more miraculous for me or for Granny. My bob went underwater. And it didn't come up.

"Granny, I got a fish," I screamed. "I got a fish."

Granny ran over to me and began talking me through reeling in a fish, "Wind the reel up. Pull back. Wind it up ..."

Slowly and surely, we worked together, reeling in my very first fish.

"Look at that ... a red fish," Dad exclaimed.

Beaming from ear to ear, I held my fish up, still dangling on my rod and reel. Mom snapped a picture. Before I even had time to fully enjoy that fish, Granny measured it and informed me we had to throw it back. Red fish have limits, you know. Mine was not too long, as most fisherman would exaggerate, but it was too short.

As it swam back in the water and shot away, it didn't matter to me that I had to release it. I learned that day about process. About family. About perseverance. And about how God is also concerned with our process of learning and growing.

Dear Lord, please help me remember that even if we catch our shoe a few times, you are there to encourage us and keep us going. Even when we have to throw back a fish, you are still proud of us. Help me remember that the mark of success is not necessarily what we catch but what we learn while in the process of fishing.

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