The Netmaker's Daughter

The Netmaker's Daughter

by Lisa Buttrum

Daddy tried college, but was so shy and homesick that he couldn’t stand being away from the farm. So he came back home, went for a stint in the Navy as a radar Operator on a ship in the Mediterranean during the Korean war, then went about the business of learning to make and repair shrimp nets in McClellanville, SC. In my mind he was a bit of a celebrity. No one else did what he did in the area where we lived. He had customers up and down the East Coast from Florida to North Carolina.

I loved watching him. The netting material was purchased much like you would purchase a huge bolt of cloth. He had a notebook where he would have already drawn and worked out the pattern for the finished product. He would sit with his pocket knife and cut the large bolts into the right sized pieces by using the small squares of the netting based on his mathematical calculation. You could see his mouth moving sometimes as he counted the number of squares cut, then he would change direction and start cutting more. Once all the pieces were cut he would start sewing them together. This required a needle. Having a mother who sewed a lot of our clothing, and a grandmother who was a seamstress at one point, I thought his needles were pretty funny looking. They were several inches long, made of plastic, and you could load the twine on them. My brother and I were often hired to “thread” the needles for five cents each. That way he didn’t have to take the time to do it the next day.

Daddy would often work at night in the den where we all watched TV together as a family. He had a nail in the wall that he would hang the netting on and stand and sew the seams together, and we would thread the needles. He had a net shop that was his “office” during the day where he would either make new nets or repair old nets. Sometimes he would stop by the dock on the way home and make net repairs right there on the boats. In the shop and in the trees in our yard he hung strings with “S” hooks on the end to hang the big cables on. Then he would attach the finished net to to the cables so that those shrimp boats could drag it in the water for the catch. These nets were 30 to 50 ft. wide. There were also barrels of “dip“ for the finished product. In the old days the dip consisted of a black tar, and later on they invented something better that was green and didn’t smell quite as bad. This dip protected the nets from being submerged and wet for long periods of time to help them last a whole lot longer.

In the winter, when there were no shrimp boats needing new nets or repairs, Daddy would go out into the creeks and get clams and oysters to sell. He used these 12 ft. long handled tongs that were put together like a pair of scissors with a garden rake looking apparatus on the bottom end of each handle. We would go out in our boat, or as Daddy called it “the bateau”. When I went my job was culling. We would have a “culling board” laid over the bow of the boat which was really just a piece of plywood with a couple of boards nailed to it on the edges to catch things from falling off. Daddy would scrape the bottom of the creek with the tongs, hold the handles together tightly and pull up the catch and dump it on the board. I had to separate the clams from the oysters. Then I had to take a piece of flat iron about 2 inches wide and 6 inches long, and break off the larger oysters to make them singles. The leftover smaller clusters went into a different batch. You got more money for singles. So at the end of the day we would have bags of clams, that had been counted carefully, and the bags of oysters. You got a certain amount per clam, and the oysters would be weighed. I can still remember the scratchy feel and strong smell of the burlap sacks.

I had no idea at the time what a treasure I had growing up on the farm, in the middle of the woods, with a much different life than most of the other people I knew. We grew our own vegetables and harvested a lot of produce every summer. We helped Mama can so very many jars of fresh deliciousness that we took for granted. The fact that we had no air conditioning in our house was not a deterrent in that kitchen. We never had much money, but some things just can’t be purchased. I know that now.

Over the last several years I would hear God whisper to me on occasion, “you are the net maker’s daughter.” That would set my mind and imagination spinning. Yes, my daddy was the net maker. Yes, You, Abba Father, have made us all fishers of men. I always thought it was cool that my dad made nets, and Jesus chose fisherman to be his disciples. I loved the places in the Bible where fishing and nets were so much a part of the story. Or being out in the boat, in the water. I always felt so at home with those parts of Scripture. But what does it mean to be the net maker’s daughter? I can’t tell you how many times I asked over the years for God to reveal to me what He was saying…

A few weeks ago I was getting ready to go and play for Soaking Prayer ministry time at the Grace Center. I was lying in bed thinking about what I would be saying that morning and the music I would be playing and singing. I don’t know what brought my mind to the box that is under my bed, full of treasures and memories. In that box is the last piece of netting that my father worked on before he died. It has a threaded needle attached to the seam that he had started to sew. I heard God say it again “you are the net maker’s daughter”. And once again I asked, with a little frustration, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? This time I got an answer. I heard Him say:

“The nets your daddy made were to catch shrimp and fish from the sea. You have different nets. I give you music and words. They come from me. You have heard me singing to you. You heard me tell you a long time ago that I never meant for you to perform. That you were to share what I give you and give Me all of the glory. So these nets of music are yours to cast out at My bidding. And once you have cast these nets out, I pull them in Myself and capture the hearts of people.” I was completely overwhelmed.

I have always loved music. I’ve always felt drawn to it. As a small child I would just pick out melodies on the piano at random. Later I took up guitar and sometimes it truly felt as if it were a part of me. The times when my heart has been the hardest, the only thing that could get in was music. Sometimes as much as I didn’t want to be softened, I had no defense against music. And I have always associated the power of music with the power of God. I have fought that at times, wanted to make it my own and not His but to no avail. I could run, but He was always there wherever I went.

There has been at times a melancholy envy in my heart toward those who could make music, perform music, and have people around them appreciate what they could do. I’ve always been a little odd and awkward, but throughout the years God has blessed me with those few who understood my music and understood me. That encouragement kept me going at times. That and the fire I know He put in me to press into His music. What I hear Him sing. My attempts to create on my own have lead nowhere. I find if I quiet myself and listen, especially early in the morning, I can hear His music.

Music is only one of many, many ways He can capture hearts. Everyone has gifts given to them as sons and daughters for that purpose, to be fishers of men. We all have nets varying in size, shape, type, pattern, color. So now, after all these years, I have a greater picture of His plan for me. He is providing opportunities for me to serve Him. People tell me they feel His presence when I play and sing His songs. He crafts His musical nets and gives them to me to cast out. Then He pulls them in. I am the Netmaker’s Daughter.

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Lisa Dawsey Buttrum lives in Mt Pleasant, SC with her husband Kent. She is a singer-songwriter, a praise and worship leader for several ministries including the OSL Charleston Chapter, prayer minster, and loves playing live prophetic music for Soaking Prayer events. You might find her walking on the beach or among the flowers… probably singing.

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The Netmaker's Daughter