I have recently returned to a childhood love of mine. Archery! It had been so long that I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Back in summer camp I took the elective using a traditional recurve. I enjoyed myself so much that I have kept my scoring chart in my keepsake box all these years later. I loved that in this sport you are mostly competing against yourself.
Now, my husband has introduced me to the world of the compound bow! I'll admit that I was skeptical at first about all the bells and whistles. I still think there is something timeless about the recurve, but the satisfying *thwack* as the arrow hits the target is even more satisfying at higher speeds.
My husband got me a bow in my favorite color as an early Mother's Day gift along with a lesson with his Archery Mentor, Jim Brown. The man is a born teacher and he generously passes on his knowledge to others. (Thanks Jim!) Adding this hobby back into my life has brought an unexpected peace.
Yes, you can fling arrows at the target, but accuracy is greatly enhanced by technique and regular practice. This is true about many things in life. I was surprised to see how these techniques could be paralleled to those in my spiritual life.
Noch an arrow - I like to mentally place a prayer or care as I clip to the string. For me this is a spiritual act of casting my cares before the Lord and takes my practice into a meditative place. When I loose that arrow, my prayers are in God's hands.
Stance - Often times I am in such a rush to draw. I would then end up shuffling my feet into a more comfortable position. Not only does this break the flow, it is dangerous! Planting my feet first ensures that I don't trip and send an arrow launching prematurely.
Draw - Clipping in securely, raising the bow by pushing with one hand and drawing back fully with the other. As my muscles become accustom to the motion it becomes smoother and good posture becomes a habit. I tuck my three fingers for more stability. This also keeps me from gripping the bow and getting struck by the string.
Anchor - Placing my knuckles in a comfortable and consistent spot allows me to see through the peep clearly and be consistent. I remove dangling jewelry and keep a hair-tie or hat for my hair for those windy days.
Breathe - A steady breath or two here keeps me from jumping the gun with a jerky release and allows time for me to tune out my surroundings. Breathing is also a reminder to be in the moment and focus on enjoying life. Shooting outside in nature with fresh air is refreshing!
Pin, Bubble & Squeeze Release - I set the pin on the spot I want, glance at the bubble and adjust if need be and then back at the pin before squeezing my release. I am still working on slowly making a fist rather than punching my release.
HOLD - This is hard! It is easy to want to drop the bow and see if the arrow hit its mark. My husband reminds me that I don't need to see, but that I need to trust my bow. He brought to my attention that I was dropping my bow prematurely. He jokingly threatened to rap me across the shins with an arrow if I did it again. The threat was enough to keep me from doing it again.
Noch an arrow - put on the armor of God
Stance - through prayer we check our relationship with God
Draw - strength is found by pressing into God
Anchor - God's word is our never changing anchor
Breathe - Allowing His presence to bring peace so we can enjoy the moment
Pin-Bubble-Release - Targeting & balancing our priorities so we can succeed
Hold - Trust in Him to make things happen and keep us well aimed.
I'm thankful for the many voices who have patiently advised me over the years on proper technique. Bad habits can be really hard to unlearn, so most recently I am grateful for my husband's coaching. I hear his voice repeating my checklist even when he isn't present. Thankful to do life with a great tribe!
It has been a while since I wrote. Can't say I really feel guilty about that.
Starting up school, celebrating our tenth anniversary and surviving a hurricane took precedence over writing for a while.
We have all these ideals. The ideal way to start school. The romantic getaway appropriate for a decade of matrimony. What trials we expose our children to. We see what others do and we dream of what we might do, but until you are there and juggle the variables you really have no clue.
I remember pre-children watching people discipline their children and I'll admit - I judged. Until I had my own toddler throw a tantrum in public I had no clue what other variables played into the decisions and reactions of parents. I just assumed I would have the infinite patience and wisdom to be a tough but loving mom. We all have our ideal way we would do something, but what we have to keep in perspective is whether we ourselves are in our ideal state when said situation comes into play. This school year started off with a new board game. It was a flop. I'd like to say the first week was easy with everyone wanting to learn, but homeschool involved typical, cantankerous children just like public school. It takes us a few weeks find our rhythm.
I had this idea of what romantic vacation I wanted to take for our tenth anniversary, but time constraints, sitters, energy, and finances did not cooperate. Face-time is key....no not on your phone, but shoulder-to-shoulder enjoyment and laughter go way further in marriage sustenance than any perfect trip to the Bahamas. Because we tried that trip to the Bahamas for our fifth. Ha! What those Instagram photos won't show you is the hurricane that changed the course of our ship, the food poisoning that ruins your night of passion, and the inconsiderate wall mates who make too much noise for your to get proper sleep. Smile - this is the trip of a lifetime - snap! This time we got two nights to ourselves in the city, saw a show, swam and held hands. It wasn't nearly as Instagram glamorous, but I'm so thankful that after a decade we still dream and laugh together.
The real storms blow in and you are watching the weatherman attempt to predict and you realize he is no better off that you were trying to judge a situation from the outside with no idea what the variables really are. All you can do is patiently weigh out the pros and cons of staying or evacuating. The last hurricane was predicated as a direct hit at cat 4 maybe cat 5, so we chose to go. It wasn't fun, but we were safe. This time was all over the place in its predictions, but we chose to stay. We had a night of high winds and nerves were a little jittery, but life resumed the next day.
The thirties have hit hard with three kids, one income, and a mortgage, but my perfectionism still runs strong despite life upping the game. As part of my hurricane prep, I borrowed a puzzle. I normally love puzzles; I find them calming. This 2000 monster was making me angry despite a few friends helping her and there. It was mocking me from our only table four days later! I got down to just the sky which was one solid night color....absolutely no shading left. Just endless blue-black. Ugh! My ideal was in its completion. It would bring satisfaction! I always complete the things I start! I called my mother...
Earlier in the week, we had been discussing photo albums. I had helped mom scan them all, but she was having a hard time parting with the physical albums. I told her to have a bonfire and set herself free. She could keep her favorites, but she wasn't required to keep every photo from 6 decades. She has dreams, goals, and ambitions! It is hard to do the things you need to when you are carrying around baggage. So essentially I absolved her guilt about needing to hang onto every heirloom. She has all the photos online and can take her time making keepsake books to give away as we have children, but in the meantime travel and live lighter.
This time, she asked me a few questions... "Is the puzzle bringing you joy? (Not anymore!) Will it really bring you a sense of accomplishment? (For a few seconds, maybe minutes.) Are there other things that you would rather be doing? (Yes!) Then break it apart and relish it!" So, I did. I broke apart the pieces and felt very satisfied in choosing NOT TO DO SOMETHING! I didn't finish! I didn't complete that checkbox!
And yes, as a thirty-four-year-old, I needed my mom to absolve me from completing a puzzle! I will admit it. I call her pretty regularly to absolve me of guilt for lots of things: not being the best wife, the most patient mother, having the cleanest house, or people-pleasing. I just need to hear another sane person tell me I am not crazy for giving up or being human. I know God absolves me of it all, but sometimes you just need an audible voice.
So, I am back to my mantra with some tweaks -
Walk humbly with God today and do the work at my hands.
But I am learning to ask more questions about the word work...
How important is this work?
Does it really need to be done? ... by me?
What will happen if I don't complete it?
Work sometimes means to create and invest, not just drudgery. So...
What do I feel God is calling me to do today? - Everyone/everything else can wait!
There are a few things that help turn my day around. Music is a big one. I am a shower singer. I love to sing and thankfully my kids are a kind audience. They don't tell me to be quiet or intimidate me into silence. In fact they joyously join in with singing and dancing when we turn on our favorite pandora channel. Thankful for our little portable speaker that allows us to take our dance party all over the house and backyard. Music soothes me and often it is songs or hymns from my childhood that are my favorite. I have noticed my oldest child enjoy singing in the shower as well. The tradition passes on. ;) Sing when you are happy, sing when you are sad... or just let the music wash your soul!
Another, new favorite atmosphere enhancer is my aromatherapy diffuser. The smells are nice, but I think it is more the colorful lighting than even the fragrances that make me happy. I can lock it on my favorite soothing teal color or let it flip through the rainbow slowly. I am still learning what fragrances we like (and not to put too many drops in!), but I am loving the addition to our living room. The quality of air is so important. My husband installed a pallet screen door and we love this in Spring and Fall, allowing fresh air to pass through! But this time of year when it is too hot and muggy to open the screen door, the diffuser helps us feel like we are breathing healthy fragrances in at least even if the fresh breeze is absent.
My husband and I love to surround ourselves with beautiful textures. He has a favorite fleece blanket he prefers to sleep under rather than sheets. Our children love texture as well. Our youngest can tell the difference between his special fleece blanket and the one we have as a backup! We love nature. We have made many pieces of furniture out of recycled pallets this past year. Nature is beautiful so why not bring it indoors as much as possible? Functional and self-made are the kind of projects we enjoy - If you can make it pretty, so much the better! Carpentry runs in the family and my husband has quickly turned into quite the Mr. Fix-it. Nothing sexier than a man wielding tools!
The other atmosphere enhancer is flavor! The fresh smell of brewing coffee in the morning (you know you hear the Folgers jingle in your head...go ahead and hum it, I will wait), freshly baked cookies - yum! or the dissolving of a dark chocolate kiss - yes these are all a few favorite pick-me-ups in our household. If you slap uplifting slogans on all your favorite mugs and verses on your walls then - Amen! We are trying to add healthier recipes to our arsenal and fresh herbs and spices smell amazing. Sometimes a little flavor is all you need to hit those health goals. This would explain our flavored sparkling water addiction. Those little bubbles fill you up and black cherry flavored water is always a win!
These are a few of the way we have been shaping our atmosphere.
What are some of your favorite pick-me-ups? What do you like to diffuse?
I love to read! I normally have a stack of books beside my bed, a packed kindle list, and my Overdrive account has a holds list that is maxed out. Overdrive links to your local library and allows you to read digital copies. Kindle offers weekly deals that keep me well stocked with digital books. I confess I don't go anywhere without a book of some sort! While my husband pumps gas I am getting a quick chapter in. I will sneak away to the bathroom to get a page or two read. I am occasionally up to 2 AM with my screen dimmed to finish the end of a book. The addiction is real people!
I like to read a bit of everything. I try to balance out my fiction and non-fiction. I am not against audibles, podcasts, documentaries and Youtube clips added into the mix, but books are my favorite. With three young kids, it is easiest to read off my phone, but my purse often contains at least one paperback. At night I try to read a book on paper, so I am not delaying my sleep until 2 AM. I couldn't even begin to list all the great books I have read recently, but I picked a few of my favorites to share below:
Share with me your recent reads!
I am always looking for the next good book.
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....