Saturday, August 28, 2010

Perfect Timing

This particular blog entry isn't so much about my something to say, but more about something to share... and God's perfect timing... and His perfect care of a 14yo girl very special to me.    "I know the plans I have for you...."

On Monday afternoon, the kids and I were trying to think of something fun to do on their last "free" day of summer.  Our efforts were a little hampered by the fact that it was incredibly hot out... and Jess was insisting she wanted to do something outside.  The rest of us, I have to admit, were telling her "no way!"  But as a guilt-ridden mother (wondering why I hadn't just planned something ahead of time), I pulled out my phone and typed "Lake Georgetown Boat Rental" into the Google search-bar.   Yes, those of you familiar with Lake Georgetown probably know that pretty much nothing fits that search.  But the search did pull up an article on Lake Georgetown which mentioned a fishing guide who worked the area.  As my kids complained from the backseat that we were just sitting there (not doing anything), I clicked onto the website for Holding the Line Guide Services.  I was intrigued --  Bob Maindelle is a local children's pastor who offers "Kids Fish Too!" trips at a very reasonable cost, and free to kids of our active servicemen.  Not that we qualify for that last part, but it hints at something about the man behind it.  Very cool.  I figured I might just have to arrange a fishing trip for my daughter (who had been missing fishing at my parents' home in Indiana since we'd arrived back in Texas four weeks ago).

Later that evening at home, I clicked through the website on my laptop and saw a tiny blurb at the bottom of one of the pages that mentioned "Custom Trips."   It read "If you've got something out of the ordinary in mind ... like bowfishing for gar, jugfishing for catfish, flycasting to carp or drum ... just let me know. I've probably done it and would be glad to introduce you to these pursuits. Sorry, no requests for ice fishing can be accommodated."  I laughed at the last line, but one word really caught my attention:  "bowfishing."  Jess has been taking archery lessons for almost two years and has been researching bow-fishing for several months.  In fact, she had just last week purchased (with her own money) a bow-fishing arrow and line.  Honestly, I thought she was a little nuts at the time... where on earth would we take her bow-fishing?  She was going to have money invested in gear that we would have no way to use....  Uh huh... yeah.  Ye of little faith, Mom!  I should know better....

So...  sitting at my laptop, looking at a website for a guy who obviously does well with kids (video on his site cinched that), with a family-friendly outfit and reasonable kids' pricing... and the word "bow-fishing" on his website... what else could I do?  A series of questions and emails later I was realizing that Bob had more than just a cursory familiarity with bow-fishing (which, honestly was was all I had been expecting) and I was sure I wanted to do this for Jess.  The problem was... the best time is a weekday night while it's hot out -- the season pretty much winds down at the end of September.  Uh... weekday night?  And I'm finding this out the night before school starts?  Ugh!   Not happy!  But on Tuesday while Jess is at school I ask more questions and talk with Carl... we are really hesitant on the weekday night thing, but know how great this could be for Jess...  we finally come to the conclusion that if we're going to do it, this week might be best -- hopefully the first week of school will have the least homework.  The only day we can do it would be Thursday, so I talk with Bob about that night, with the note that I'll need to talk to Jess about it when she comes home from her first day of high school.   

When I pick the girls up, Jess laments that all of her not-fun or hard classes were that day, why couldn't she have ONE fun class?  But... doing the math in my head I realized... that means her easy classes will be Friday this week... and the homework from the "hard" classes on Thursday won't be due until Monday!  How much more perfectly could that work out?  So I tell Jess about my conversations with Bob and of course she jumps on it with both feet. :)  A quick confirmation to Bob and we're set for Thursday night:  8-12pm near Salado -- an hour away.  On a school night.  We're nuts, right?  But... the first week of high school as a freshman had been kind of rough for Jess with several disappointments... so the timing of this bow-fishing trip seemed perfect.  Something to look forward to, and working perfectly with her class schedule, and only a few days after her bow-fishing gear had arrived.  Yup... God's looking out for my little girl. :)

When we arrived on Thursday, Bob worked with Jess, helping her get set up -- even putting some of his equipment on her bow.  Then the target practice -- shooting into water is vastly different than shooting at a target.  First -- and probably the hardest to learn to deal with -- is the refraction.  Water bends the light rays so that things are not really where they look like they are.  The rule of thumb Bob gave us was: shoot an inch low for every 10ft away your target is, and another inch low for every foot deep your target is.  That's a lot of math to be thinking about on the fly!  Bob was great working with her and she managed to hit the underwater target a few times before we headed out to find the fish.  It was a GORGEOUS night for it.  When we'd first pulled up, I'd noted a slight chop to the water and my heart had sunk a little - calm water would be best.  But when Bob took us out to the other side of the lake, the chop disappeared -- perfectly smooth.  The moon was up, the temps were comfortable, the sounds of wildlife around the lake (including some vocal coyotes), the smell and sounds of water... I think I could've been happy just lying out on the boat all night!  

Jess was out there for another purpose, though, and so the hunt began.. As we motored across the water, talking with Bob, we found he'd started bow-fishing when he was 11!   Bob took us right to the object of her pursuit and over the course of the night we saw (and Jess shot at) several gar and carp.  We saw a nice-sized drum, but it quickly darted into deeper water where we couldn't see him.  I was really glad for Bob's experience -- the water and terrain was much different than what I had grown up with, and I would've had a hard time spotting the fish without his help.  Let alone all the other guidance he gave Jess!   

Several of her shots over the next few hours came close -- she had really good left/right control, but that refraction (not to mention a moving target and limited vision) took some getting used to.  At one point she hit one, but lost it.  As we got closer and closer to that 12pm deadline,  I found myself silently praying "just one, God... just one."  And the closer we got, the more urgent that prayer got.  But all in His timing, right?  At about 11:50, Bob spied another fish and pointed Jess towards it...  she took her stance... sighted in... drew back... released... and I heard the water churn and my daughter, slightly surprised and unsure, turn to Bob and ask "What do I do now?"  :)  Bob coached her through letting the fish run and tire itself before pulling it back towards the boat.  He then instructed Carl to take the bow while Jess pulled the line in (by hand... we hadn't invested in a reel).  When it got closer, Bob handed me the spotlight so he could use both hands on the net... and when he pulled up the net I could see why.  The size of the fish really surprised me.  She'd put her arrow in the middle of a 9.25lb, 23.25" small-mouth Buffalo.  That may not seem so big hearing the stats... until you see it hanging from my daughter's hands!  Bob has filled out the paperwork and it looks like my little girl will hold the water-body record for a Jr Angler Bow-fish at Stillhouse Reservoir.  Very cool.

We arrived home after 2am with one very tired girl, but very happy girl.  The next afternoon, she was already looking up angling records, local lake info, and lamenting the fact that we don't have a boat.  The fish may have been on the receiving end of that shot... but my daughter is the one hooked. :)   And looking back, I can hardly believe how perfectly God arranged it all.  Perfect timing with school - needing something "good" this week; perfect timing with equipment -- having just received her stuff in the mail mere days before;  perfect timing with her classes -- knowing she'd have all weekend to do the homework in her "hard" courses; perfect guide in Bob (I really can't imagine anyone better out there to show her the ropes); perfect night -- weather and lack of boat traffic;  perfect timing for the catch -- late enough in the night for a build-up without the let-down of spending too long afterwards without a repeat; and one perfect shot for one perfectly ecstatic girl.  So what are the chances that all of that was coincidence -- along with the "accidental" discovery of Holding the Line Guide Services (and the perfect timing of finding it)?  Yeah... I thought not. 

Jesus always did have a special spot in his heart for fishermen, didn't he?   :)