Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Few Brave Souls!

I started writing a book today about what the world calls children with disabilities and why I think they are really here! There is some fishing....some humor...and some Jesus. Check out the first few pages and let me know what you think?

Chapter 1- Cody

I’ve been wanting to write this book for some time now, and I’ve decided to just sit down and hammer it out! You see, I know this topic will bring a ton of emotions to the surface for many readers. This is a good thing and I am prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly.

I first started thinking about this “Brave Souls” idea about 7 years ago when I met my wife Tammy and got to spend time with her brother Chris’ boy Cody. Cody has been diagnosed as Autistic and is in the higher functioning part of the spectrum. This was my first experience with Autism and I really didn’t have any prejudices or preconceived notions about Autism and this turned out to be a good thing.

Since then I have had many great experiences with Cody and other children with disabilities and I can honestly tell you that these experiences have been some of the greatest and most memorable.

Fishing with Cody was quite the adventure! Cody heard me talking about fishing on the Shenandoah River with my teenage son Justin and asked me if I would take him sometime. I instantly said “Heck Yeah!” to which I got a look from my wife and an “are you sure you wanna do that” look from his parents. Evidentially they thought I was getting myself in a little over my head and…well…they were probably right to some extent but neither I nor Cody really cared!

The day came and I drove to pick him up and he was sure enough ready to go! His Dad said he had been up for hours and talking about it for days. Those of you with Autism experience are smiling right now because you know exactly what he must have been like. We loaded up my truck with fishing gear, suntan lotion, food, drink and anything else we thought we might need for a 3 or 4 hour excursion just a few miles down the road.

When we arrived at the river the excitement of the day and the Autistic version of a fishing excursion hit me in the head like a sledge hammer! You see…I was thinking about where we would park and set up to fish in a way that would be productive for catching fish. I soon learned that was the farthest thing from Cody’s mind!

We pulled into Watermelon Park in Berryville, Virginia and drove down to a spot that the lady at the bait store said would hold a lot of smallmouth bass. She told me that they have fishing tournaments nearly every weekend and after the weigh in they release all the fish right there. I was really fired up about the possibility of catching some really nice fish. I unloaded the gear and got Cody’s rod ready to go and had it all baited up with a big fat night crawler when I looked up and there he was… Knee deep in the river chasing bream around trying to catch them with his hands!

My first reaction was to get mad. All that splashing around in the water was surely running off any decent sized fish that we were going to catch. When I yelled “Cody” he turned around and I saw the biggest smile I have ever seen on a kids face. He said “Uncle Steve…are these the fish we’re gonna catch?” It was in that moment that I realized that my day was going to go in a completely different direction than I had planned. I just laughed and said “Yes they are! Come on over here and get your rod and let’s start fishing for them”. We spent a little time learning how to cast which ended up being what Cody now considers fishing. That’s exactly what Cody did….cast and reel it in….cast and reel it in! I tried to explain that the fish wouldn’t have time to bite the hook if he didn’t let it sit there a while and he would say “OK Uncle Steve”. I spent the next few hours baiting hooks and watching Cody “fish”. He would turn to me every now and then a say “Uncle Steve…we’re fishing aren’t we” and I would say “yes we are Cody….yes we are!”

Needless to say we didn’t actually catch any fish that day. We got a bunch of sun, went through a tub of night crawlers and got hung up a few times on the rocks. The last half hour or so we were actually doing what most people would call swimming! I learned a great lesson in life that day about taking the oars out of the water and just floating down life’s stream. A ten year old Autistic boy taught me how to trust God and receive a blessing that I will never forget.

There were two choices I could have made that day. The one I made or I could have chosen to “fish” my way and suffered the consequences. I could have possibly caught some fish but Cody would have been miserable and I’m pretty sure he would never want to go “fishing” again. I am so grateful to Cody for teaching me how to “fish” that day and now I make it a point to get up every day and go “fishing”! I can’t help but think of all the times Jesus encourages us to come to him, and life, as a child. I never really understood what that meant until that day I went “fishing” with Cody. For the first time I truly understood and felt exactly what Jesus was talking about in those particular red words in the Bible. I also now understand why he warned us about causing these “little ones” or “the least” among us to sin.

I am so glad that I made the choice I made that day! I got to experience the pure joy of a child doing what children are supposed to do. I basked in the peace that flowed from that joy and I am now able to write about it in a way that could possibly help someone else. And the love…what love I got to see in Cody’s smile and the words I heard all the way home. Cody also taught me how God co-creates our entire world if we only allow it to occur. Cody didn’t know he was co-creating with God and may not ever know about this book but he could be the inspiration that causes a chain of events to unfold that are unknown to anyone now. That’s the great part about coming to life as a child…. if we are living life as we are intended we won’t know either…until it happens…and then we say WOW!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pirates & Outlaws!

I recently wrote a song which was inspired by my new relationship with Fly Rod Chronicles TV show, Brazos River Ranch and all of my experiences growing up just having to be in,on and around water all the time!

Please check out the video below and understand that it was recorded on a laptop! The studio version will be out soon and available for purchase through FlyRodChronicles.TV,iTunes, Amazon and others.

Please leave a comment about your experiences growing up and share with all of us!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hog Days Of Summer!

What a great weekend it was! My birthday on Saturday....Fathers Day on Sunday...and great fishing with my friend James Montgomery of The Fly Rod Chronicles TV show.

We've been having nice cool nights lately and it looks like the bass in James' 10 acre pond are really liking it! We were using blood red worms on a Carolina rig and they just hammered it. I caught this little 5 pound hog late in the morning just as it was getting a little hot.....Happy Birthday to me!

Thanks to everyone who wished me Happy Birthday on Facebook and LinkedIn! The hunting and fishing community are such great people and I am so blessed to be able to not only make a living doing what I love but to also be able to call so many of you my FRIENDS!