Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Pictures!

The night before I left for Team Processing, Mandy suprised me with a small family party including my two closest friends: Alisa and Erika (I hadn't seen Erika for at least 6 months!). It was wonderful!

Mandy ordered a cute cookie cake with the Olympic Rings frosted on top! I think our group devoured the whole cookie in one sitting!

It was just so nice to have my family and two friends together before I left! It was such a special gift!

I have a screen flashing in front of me "7 days 13 hrs until the Olympic Games in Beijing China." I can't believe it's almost here! I am so excied for the Opening Ceremonies! Until then... we're busy training away.

We got this morning off so I was able to sleep in and have a great quiet time! We practiced his afternoon, but it rained on and off. So during the heavy rain periods we would wait under the roof. Then Butch threw a little, soft rubber ball at me. This began a game of ball that EVERYONE participated in at some point (even Coach Lee!) which evolved into a twisted form of baseball. I was pitching, Brady was catcher and Butch was at bat, putting to use his stabilizer rod. We had such fun! When the rain subsided, we returned to training. As I stated earlier, today was rough. But I know the Lord has a plan that He is working out in my life. I wold like to say, I am so happy to have Khatuna on the team! Khatuna was so encouraging to me and tried to help, giving me pointers on my shooting and emphasizing the positive. She is so kind to me and often knows what I need to hear to get me into focus before I compete, as long as I'm not competing with her ;-) She is a dear friend to me. So... I will continue as I wrote earlier. And follow my sister's instructions before leaving: Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. Thanks Mand! Exactly what I needed to hear ;-)


First, I want to thank all of you for your encouraging comments, your prayers and your continual support. It means so much to me to know I have so many standing behind me and giving me strength to press on!

I am convinced that to fear the Lord is easy to talk about... but quite another thing to walk out. Proverbs 3:7 "Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil." I am learning that to fear God is to trust Him at ALL times in EVERY situation. Recognizing that He is God, and I am not. But to trust like that... is tough. Not because God is questionable- He is unbelievably faithful! Even when we are not. But it's tough because it is such habit to operate out of our own, limited, understanding and finite power to reason.

Today my trust was put to the test. It was a simple practice day. Nothing special. But during my practice matches with my teammate, Khatuna, I did not shoot to my standards. Immediately the doubts and fears invaded. It was a real struggle. But thanks be to God, He gives me strength in my weakness. It is through the battles you see His faithfulness. But we walk by faith. It's not a smooth and easy path. It is believing - the substance of things not seen, the evidence of thing hoped for. I trust God that He will direct my paths as I compete here in China. Even when things aren't looking so great. I have been crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live for me but for Him. So I also no longer shoot for me, but for His glory. So along with dying to self, I am also dying to my doubts and fears and I have decided to walk (and shoot) in a constant trust in Him. And may He mold my heart to follow these words.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm in Beijing!!!

It has been too long since my last post! I have SOOO much to catch up on! I have been incredibly busy since I left Tucson and haven't had the time to write! So... here we go....

I came home from Tucson having only 5 days before leaving for Team Processing. It was Frontier Days week... to only increase my busy-ness ;-)But it was so much fun and a great distraction for just before leaving. A good friend came into town for the weekend. We had a great visit, going to Rocky Mountain National Park with my family for the afternoon (which was exceptionally beautiful) then later in the evening we went to the Taylor Swift concert. It was so much fun! I was given free VIP tickets for standing room as a gift for being an Olympian! Beth Edwards and Dave Johanson are to thank for that special eveing!
Monday morning, I attended our traditional Pancake Breakfast with my family in downtown Cheyenne. It was delicious! The next day I rode in the Frontier Days Parade as the U.S. Olympian from Cheyenne. I received so much support from on-lookers! So many people wishing me good luck and "Go USA!" It was a great motivation to me! Later that day my family and I went to the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo. Again, thanks to Beth Edwards, my family and friend and I enjoyed another memorable expereince before my departure. The last day at home I WATCHED the parade then ate lunch with my family and the Smith ladies. In between all these activities I was continuing to train and attempt to complete all my preparations for leaving the country. This was a bit of a stressful time for me. Too much to do in half the time I needed. My family was incredibly supportive and helpful during this time, trying to do as much as they could FOR me to cut down my load. There were others during this time who also encouraged me and lifted me up. Don Rabska, our assistant Olympic Coach sent me many emails filled with positive reinforcement and great conversations. Sue Smith encouraged me with scripture and has been praying for me faithfully (as I know many others are as well). And Beth Edwards... that woman just inspires me so much! She has spoken a word in due season to me so many times! Her words have encouraged me and her example of a positive, sweet-spirited woman challenges me. I just want to say thank you to EVERYONE who has encouraged me, written notes, emailed, prayed for and supported me. The Lord has strenthened me through all of you! And I am so grateful for every bit of input you have had in my life.
On Friday I left very early for San Jose where I met my team and went through Team Processing. It was so goog to be back with the team again, like coming back to my second family. In team processing I received SO MUCH clothing! I had to send a 37lb. box home because I couldn't fit everything in my bag! We had a suprise visit from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who came in while we were fitting our clothing. My teammate, Khatuna, and I got our picture with him. It was a building excitement being with all the athletes as we were getting ready for the Olympics. The overall anticipation was rising.
Later in the evening, after re-packing, I had a spur of the moment visit from my Aunt Jo and three cousins! It was so good to see them after a minimum of two years since our last visit. We went out for hot tea and some catching up. My cousin, Kristen, was married only a few weeks ago while I was in France. So this was my opportunity to meet her husband who seemed to be a very kind man.

We left early the next morning for Beijing. The flight went so quickly because I slept for over half the flight! There was a young mother and her two month-old sitting in front of me. The baby was SO GOOD during the flight and her mother let me hold her for a few minutes before we got off the plane.

When we landed they announced that the Beijing airport is now the largest building in the world for square footage. And when we deplaned, I was so impressed! The airport looks amazing! But that was just the beginning. We were taken to the Olympic Village after receiving our bags, of which we hardly had to carry at all because the chinese people are SO helpful. They were anxious to do ANYTHING to help us out and were so excited to have us! They took us into the Village which, I must say, is amazing!!! It's beauiful, decorated in a definite chinese style. We came in on the opening day of the village...we were some of the first to arrive! The food is excellent and our accomodations very comfortable. So far it's been a two thumbs up for China on everything.

Training is going really well. The venue is beautiful and only a few minutes drive from the Village. My shooting has been better and better each day and my confidence seems to rise with my shooting quality. Everyone has been very supportive and I am increasing in excitement for all that's to come. Each day more and more people come into the village and I look forward to meeting more people and making new friends.

I will write more in the days to come now that I'm in Beijing and am getting settled. I'll have more time to update. But now I must get to bed since, as you can see, I'm beginning to ramble. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Exciting Times

Yesterday we had quite the exciting experience! After lunch, my coach and I went back outside to finish my training, and tuning, at the long distance. It had begun to rain so we headed for the overhang to wait the storm out. An incredible thunderstorm ensued! It was awe inspiring! The rain POURED! We stood on the tables under the overhang to keep from getting wet. There was lots of thunder too. No attempting to shoot then! No way! There was a loud crack and we realized a nearby power line had been struck and was smoking. We watched for about 20min. as the outdoor archery range flooded. Once the rain lightened we ran inside to finish shooting at thirty meters distance.

I'm still keeping very busy training. Up early in the morning to be the heat, or at least warm up with the day, shooting high quantities of arrows and still working on tuning. We haven't found a combination in my equipment that is outstanding yet, so we will keep trying till we do. In the meantime I'm working (as well as my dad and a couple friends) on finding a scope sponsor. My previous scope I was using blew over at the last leg of the Olympic Trials in a strong wind storm. So now I am looking for companies who may be interested in supporting me with equipment as I compete in the Games.

It's a Grind, coffee shop, has been a stop for me every few nights. Here I can have a coffee or tea and catch up on all of my internet activity. Sunday night, as I was leaving, there was a small group of people gathered outside singing worship songs with a guitar. I joined the group, sang with and met the people who were immediate friends due to that familiarity we share in the Body of Christ. It was so refreshing meeting these brothers and sisters in the Lord and joining them as we worshiped Him together! Tonight, they were at the coffee shop again so we talked and sat and sang. Oh how I loved this sweet but short time we shared in the Lord's presence! Such an encouragement it was to me! And we sang old praise songs I haven't heard since I was a little girl.

I am currently reading Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It is an allegorical tale of the Christian life. It is so good!!! It seems to very specifically parallel my walk with Christ at this time... almost to the point where it is strange how accurately the story corresponds to the events in my life right now. The story follows a girl named Much-Afraid and her journey to the High Places as she's led by the Good Shepherd to the Kingdom of Love. Currently she's going through the forest of Danger and Tribulation. She is being taunted by her enemies Self-Pity, Craven Fear, and Pride as she encounters storms in this forest. But she holds steady to her faithful companions: Sorrow and Suffering. The Shepherd Himself assigned these companions to her. And the Shepherd is ever present when she calls to Him for help. He will rescue her, challenge her faith and speak truth into her life from the Scriptures. This story continues to encourage me as I encounter the storms in the forest of Danger and Tribulation.

I must go now and get to bed... after I help with the end of a Scrabble game. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Finally.. Day off

Training in Tucson has been very good. I am working on tuning my bows with my coach. We are working on getting my back up bow (the red one) in better shape, and we're putting together a new one PSE had waiting for me when I arrived. It is a silvery purple color. That combined with the almost lavender shade sight I have mounted to it... provoked the title "Pixie Dust." I think it's quite appropriate... if you think of a wonderful thought! ;-) Pixie is beginning to shoot well and is looking to become my primary bow.

Today was incredibly hot and humid! Being my sixth training day in a row, I was exhausted. It was a struggle just to finish my training schedule today! I fell into bed when I got home for a nap. I am so grateful for my long awaited rest day tomorrow. I will be going to church in the morning with several girlfriends from here in Tucson. I am so excited! I go to Victory Assembly of God while I'm here. And I LOVE this church!!! It feels like home. Here is the link to the church:
Last Sunday, Pastor Zane spoke on our godly heritage, our founding fathers and our responsibility as the church in America to pray for our country and to be involved as much as possible. I'm only here periodically, but I consider it my home church when I'm in Tucson.

I've been keeping busy having fun with friends in balancing out my training time. Last night Antje, Jenny and I had a girls' night and watched a chick flick after sitting out on the back porch in the warm evening, talking and watching the lightning storm over the nearby mountains. Tonight I went to dinner at Nicole and Allen Rasor's house. We had a wonderful time visiting and catching up. Then we all put little Caleb to bed, but not before our dance party (Caleb loves to sing and dance to the music of the Three Tenors. Caleb is 2 yrs. old).

I have another week left of training in Tucson before I go home. My coach is working so hard to get my equipment (and me) ready. A few days ago, he and I were interviewed by the local NBC station and made it on the 6pm news the next day. Between that and the recent newspaper article on he and I... many people are recognizing me here and congratulating me on my success. When I got out of my car at my coach's house, his neighbor met and greeted me so that she could congratulate me and say good luck.

I must get to bed now. This has been tricky for me this past several weeks. And getting up at 6am every day only makes it that much more important to sleep. And prepare for my day off tomorrow! YAY!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Party Time

On Thursday last week, my dear friend and biggest fan, Dr. Bob Farr, threw a party in my honor celebrating my making of a second Olympic Archery Team. It was a wonderful party! And it was so good to see friends and meet some new ones. Everyone was very kind, very supportive and greatly encouraging. Senator Barrasso had a represenative from his office attend the party and wish me well. Dr. Farr also read letters of congratulations and high compliments from Congresswoman Barbara Cubin, Senator Mike Enzi, Governor Freudenthal and Mayor Jack Spiker. I was overwhelmed! I then gave a short explanation of archery competition, how to shoot a bow and a summary of my experiences as a member of the U.S. Archery Team. I introduced my family as well as my first coach, John Wilson, who was able to attend. Later, I did a shooting demo at balloons. This was after considering to shoot an apple off Dr. Farr's head but thinking better of it ;-) (not really, bu it was fun to pretend). Many guests gave generous gifts to help relieve the finacial burden of my family traveling to Beijing to support me as I compete in the Games. I would like to say thank you to all who gave and all who attended the party to support me. This was such an encouragement to me and makes me even more excited about representing the U.S. at the Olympics!

My family and I had a wonderful Fourth of July. We met with friends for dinner and later watched the fireworks from the interstate (yes, we pulled off the freeway and watched with about 150 other people with the same idea). Then rushed home to pack for my trip the next day.

Now I'm in Tucson, training and working on equipment. We (my coach, Alexander, and I) are setting up a new bow to take to China. I am very excited about a new set-up and to get to know the personality of this new bow ;-) It is so incredibly HOT down here. And Tucson is in their rainy season so it's strangely humid as well. It is fabulous preparation for China! I am really enjoying being down here. I am able to work hard and focus in on shooting and direct preparation. Plus with the weather as it is, makes for beautiful skies and breathtaking sunsets! Though it's a high training time and I'm working hard, it's relaxing being here in a way too. Alexander and I have had some great conversations and I am really preparing well mentally for the competition to come. In the evenings, I am often over at Colton and Antje's house. Good friends are those who will take you in at any hour, feed you constantly, listen to your archery ramblings, and still welcome you back each time ;-) Thanks guys!

I had an interview today with a local Tucson station, Channel 4 news, that went very well. Though it was very hot in the sun and I was drippping. I believe it will air tomorrow around he 6pm hour.

I better get to bed since we have to start early each day to beat the heat.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Steve Gatto... No one can make me laugh like Gatto... our male compound shooter on the team. The Cat man. He brings out the squeaky hinge in me like no one else can.


In my last post I asked for prayer that I would understand what the Lord is doing and why if possible. He both comforted and strengthened me this morning during my quiet time. I want to record some of the passages that seemed so directly for me today:

Ps. 32:6-11

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when You may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance.
(God speaking) I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
(David speaking again) Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Ps. 94:17-19, 22

If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, "My foot slips," Your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.
vs.22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.

Ps. 125:1-2
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore.

These verses spoke directly to my trial. The Lord gave me such a great sense of His sovereignty and power in my life. There is no "by chance." He has purposes and plans in and through everything. And it's not up to us! It is His work, because it is His plan. I surrendered my will over to Him and asked that He would help me to walk in surrender to His will. It doesn't mean I won't go through stuff, that I won't be confused, disappointed, frustrated and even hurt sometimes. But He is working toward the big picture in all these things. I am so blessed that He would consider me. That He would take the time and care to work in my life, to allow trials as they come to mold me and make me more like Christ... to make me His maidservant. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."

There is nothing more I desire than to please my Lord. I thank God for the difficulties and for stretching me to the limit. Because that's when I find Him the most real and active in my life. So I will continue to trust Him in all things. Even when I don't understand. Because I know that He is powerfully working in me to produce a greater weight of glory and a steadfast faith as my love and devotion to Him grows tenderly deeper. Oh the Lord is so good! So kind and faithful! I thank Him for lifting my heart to joy.

Home Again

We just returned from France. In the Team competition the USA Women's recurve shot really well. We qualified our team in 10th place so our first match was against Japan who was the 7th ranked. We all shot really well (Karen, Khatuna and me)and scored a 208 to win! We shot well in our next match also against 3rd ranked China. But our consistent 209 was not enough to defeat China's very impressive 222. We finished in 8th place but were very pleased with our shooting.

Mandy and I continued to thoroughly enjoy our stay in Agen. We did a lot of walking and sight seeing.... and LOTS of card games. We had a day off while we were there and took a train to Bordeaux where we walked all over and toured Saint Andre's Cathedral. The last day our whole Team turned out to watch Jamie Van Natta, US Women's Compound shooter, compete in the Bronze medal match where she shot very well and won. The finals were held outside at night with artificial lighting... gave competing a ew twist. Mandy and I returned with no trouble to speak of. All our flights went smoothly and all of our luggage arrived the same time we did.

Now begins the direct preparation for Beijing. I am very excited and will be traveling to Tucson this weekend to spend two weeks with my coach. I am looking forward to this trip as it will help me to focus and really prepare well for the Games. But I am asking for prayer because I have entered a time of great struggle right now. Please pray that God will give me the strength I need and the confidence in Jesus Christ to walk through this valley. Also... I need understanding as to what the Lord is doing through what I am experiencing, what I am to learn or the reason for this if I am to know. It is a good thing His grace is sufficient for me and that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, because I'm going to need it! But in all circumstances, I take up the shield of faith with which I can quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. The darts are flying. But thank you, to all my brothers and sisters in Christ who are praying for me and standing with me through all of this. God is faithful!