When I was a teenager, the pastor at my church preached a series about families. Each week he focused on the role of a different family member: husbands, wives, parents, children. The week he preached about parenthood I was only half listening. Parenting seemed a million years away when I was seventeen.
We turned our Bibles to Psalms 127, and in his fantastic British accent, the pastor proceeded to read verse 4: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.” I had never heard this verse and the imagery immediately caught my attention. My pastor stepped to the side of the podium and assumed the stance of a warrior. Pretending to lift a bow and arrow, he slowly pulled back his elbow and lowered his head as if lining up his target.
I was fascinated by this picture of parenthood as he went on to preach how a child is entrusted to parents for a limited time. From the beginning, a parent knows this arrow will be released into the world, and it is a parent’s responsibility to teach, train, aim, and ultimately release. As a teenager, this verse was both beautiful and unsettling.
I loved the idea that I was an arrow on the verge of being released and ready to take on the unknown. But I also loved home and was never thrilled with the idea of leaving. I got homesick every year at summer camp, and at age ten I announced I would not be going away to college. Instead, I’d stick near home and attend a local school a few miles down the road: Worsham College of Mortuary Science. It was years later when I found out what mortuary science meant that I changed that plan.
Twelve years later and this image and verse stuck with me as I became a mom for the first time. In the weeks after Charlotte was born, I traced her tiny hand onto pink cardstock and wrote that verse on her little palm. That handprint is still tucked in the pages of my Bible. I will often refer to my children as my little arrows - a reminder they are not mine for keeps, but my privilege to teach, train, aim, and ultimately release. I have found that as a mom, this verse is still both beautiful and unsettling.
About a year ago, I began making changes to update my blog. Because all things involving the world wide web take me four times longer than the average person, I have been moving at a snail’s pace. With this change, I retired my beloved 44 & Oxford, the original name for this space. But I wanted something more than the letters of my name in the new title; I wanted an arrow - that small reminder of the little arrows in my life.
I know my identity expands beyond the scope of motherhood, and the writing on this blog isn’t limited to the tales of mom life. But once I became a mom, everything else started being filtered through a different lens. Even when I’m not buckling car seats, making quesadillas, and pretending to enjoy dinosaurs, I still carry motherhood in every decision. Those little arrows are watching how I handle life. Marriage, friendships, hobbies, housework - they see it. Probably more than anyone. They are watching what I do in my free time and what passions I make time for.
I’ve talked with lots of moms who feel guilty for pursuing creative passions, and although I have a mountain of material to feel guilty about (insert long list of all the times I’ve completely lost my cool with those darlings), I don’t feel guilty for setting aside time for my own creativity. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
I want those arrows to see me make time for the people and things I love - for family dinner, for girls’ nights out, and for flying across the country to see college friends. I want them to see me make time for the body of Christ and for the marginalized in our community. I want them to see me make time for Zumba and cooking and reading and dinner guests. And I certainly want them to see me make time to write - to sit, think, and put words to those thoughts - to take a gift God gave me and give it back to Him.
I’ve been writing all my life, but started a blog only three and half years ago. I’m glad I did. Sometimes people will ask me about my writing goals, specifically if I’m going to write a book. I know I’m part of a very goal-oriented generation, so my answer to this question is always met with confusion and pushback. Yes, I make writing goals - for example, in 2019 I wanted to update this blog. Check. I wanted to sign up for a writing workshop. Check. I wanted to get away for a weekend alone for a writing retreat. Half check. (It’s booked for THIS weekend!) But when it comes to long term goals - what’s next? Where do I see myself in five years? Ten years? I have only one, vague but lofty goal:
In five years, ten years, thirty years - it is my hope that I kept going. I got up early those mornings I wanted to sleep another hour. I turned off that TV show I didn’t really care about. I sat in silence. I thought and wondered. I wrote really crummy first drafts. I learned something, and I made the second draft better. I started with a blank screen and turned it into something worth sharing. I wrote about stuff I didn’t really want to but knew I needed to.
And hopefully, my love for writing tethered to a dose of discipline will serve to aim my arrows toward their own passions. Sometimes the teaching, training, and aiming will need to come through conversations and explanations, but most of the time it will come from watching me.
And I hope they see me keep going.
So welcome to my new little corner of the internet. A place where I can keep writing.
I am forever grateful for those of you who keep reading.