Just around the bend…

Beaver’s Bend, Broken Bow…

Well it’s Sunday and we are driving the second ½ of our way back home from our little excursion.  The second ½ being definitively less appealing (thereby allowing some “blogging in the midst of a thing” time) because the first hours we were surrounded by every color of tree and every shade of blue mountain driving the Talimena through the Ouachita Mountains.  I think every 2 minutes one of us made some statement resembling the one stated 2 minutes before… “This is soooooooooo beautiful!!!!!”  It truly was breathtaking.

Yesterday was a full day spent sightseeing, kayaking, eating way too much catfish and other fried seafood at one of the local spots (enough about that), an evening hike, and then winding down with a glass of wine to the tune of Twilight, which we of course had taken the time to drive into town earlier & grab since it just came out. Soooooooo, the kayaking rapids weren’t too dangerous, but just wild enough to send both my compadres into topsy turvy tragedies.  Leen went over and under first – only after attempting to save Amanda from a cage of rocks that were holding her back.  A few onlookers attempted to offer helpful advice which only spawned choice obscenities from a completely soaked wet and FREEZING Arlene who had all but lost her kayak.  Then went Amanda, the former soldier, and her Army tailored tongue was no less immune to the Arctic iceberg water she found herself in.  I didn’t ever fully tip my kayak, but certainly came way too close many times.  I was actually the one who said I’d be just fine if I turned over in my kayak… all the more adventurous right?  Some of the trip was calm and simply scenic, but other times were truly RAPID and fit to be matched with the soundtrack of some hardcore metal tunes from the likes of Metallica or a screaming Linkin’ Park song.  It was actually a gorgeous day, just perfect!!  Only when your warm blooded skin went beneath the water did you feel the excruciating – and I DO mean excruciating pain of the river that had yet to be preparing for Spring or Summer weather.  Oh it was truly an unforgettable adventure!!  The four miles was hardly enough.  Next time we will head for the 8 mile trip that includes even heavier rapids… well… that is, when the water warms up a bit 🙂  Some friends caught up with us on facebook updates and mobile uploads and it seems Kelli and Kristi are already down for Colorado so maybe we’ll head there for the raft challenge after the parentals move there in a few months. ….Colorado…. anyone?

Jace was just too young for the kayaking thing but judging by the way she tears up the roller coasters, I have a feeling she’d eat some raft rapids for breakfast!

Anyhoo, I had some alone time this morning, which I so absolutely love… I woke up a few hours before the girls and everything in me was not down with settling for my morning quiet time to be had in the lodge…  I’m not wasting a minute in this beautiful place by staying inside  – – however, the girls were OUT.  I knew they were beat and so as not to disturb their sleeping in, I threw on a cap and hoody, grabbed my keys and headed out to who knows where… but I knew it would be beautiful when I got there.

I drove a bit, found a cute little donut hut and grabbed the girls some donuts (they were as soft and delish as Krispy Kreme) made me a sweet and creamy coffee, then headed down the winding forest roads, to find a “spot”.  It didn’t take long, good spots aren’t hard to find in Beaver’s Bend.

I so relish doing some daily, normal, run of the mill thing in a new place.  Like running.  Running can be exhilarating, but after a while a change of scenery is just what I need.  The helliptical and a flat screen is great in the winter, but to run downtown – early when the city life is still sleeping (even better with Sarah), or around a park in Arlington, or mmmmmm in Jerez, Mexico, along a side view of mountains … there – you could care less how many miles you have to go or what your pace is.  It goes without saying (although I  just did) to do an ordinary thing in an extraordinary place can be just what the soul is thirsting for.

My morning quiet time is typically done on my couch.  No offense to my couch – it is hands down the most yummy couch in existence…. or at least among all that I found in my year long search J  And I did consider the many hours of solitude in prayer or scripture soaking I would do on it… to be sure – comfort was critical.  But this morning I had the opportunity to find myself alone on a nice flat rock among the birds and squirrels with only the trees hovering.  Perfect.

I started off praying… more like worshipping… how could I not begin with adoration with the view.  Then I opened up my Disciple Cycle notebook and began Week 2 / Day 1, this being the 4th time in my life to go down the discipling journey with this book.  Each time (well we never finished that 3rd round did we?) has been an experience of unique life change and growth, and each experienced with a different group of amazing friends therewith to share personal and unified, depth defying transparency as well as connect together with invisible, yet sacred ties and the kind of soul sharing found among the likes of C.S. Lewis and The Inklings 🙂

I was eager to get started with the new week.  New week – new scripture to choose and not just memorize but hide in your heart and apply.  Only this week was different than the others.  Every week you get to choose one of three passages to be your memory verse, which is just always fun, but when I opened my book to the page of our new week, there was only one scripture…2 Corinthians 5:21.  Realizing I already have that one down, I was a little disappointed, but diverted my attention to the lesson hoping another scripture would stand out so I could work on something new.  Sure enough, the first passage is right out of Philippians 3 where my life verse is found – verses 7-8.  But the passage is verses 9 on – the ones after, and I have always thought I’d like to finish the scripture “thought” and memorize those but have never taken the challenge with it being a bit lengthy.  Laziness.  So, with a new challenge my disappointment fades and I sort through the lesson.

Paul is my guy.  He is the “biblical character” (and why do we say character as if they’re in some kind of fiction tale?) that I identify with the most.  He so gets it, and yet he’s so very human.  His passion for Christ is insane no doubt because of the suffering he has endured which always seems to only bring Him closer to his Maker.  His heart is fully Christ’s but his human nature gives him struggle to “do what he doesn’t want to and not do what he does want to”.  The lesson goes on about this in our lives – how we strive, press on, and pursue with all our might to attain what is already ours in Christ.  That’s me.  That’s us.  We have this righteousness and as humans we are wretched sinners to say the least. We are by no means there, but through life’s journey we are being perfected day by day toward Christlikeness… and yet we are  – I am – truly the “least of these”.  Needless to say, the lesson spoke encouragement to my very soul and I have no doubt I’ll be processing it for days.  Scratch that  – for the rest of my life 🙂

After a lengthy bit of time on that rock, I hopped back in the car to head back down the winding forest roads and ended our date with a serenade of Obsession by Crowder.  That song always makes me think of Brooke 🙂  Immediately as the song ended, my phone rang and a sleepy Mandy Lou said “Where are you?”  Perfect timing.

Back at the Lodge we got our warm showers, faux Krispy Kreme donuts and headed out for more sight seeing, some photography fun, enjoyed the lunch special at the best hole in the wall place I’ve seen – complete with Lilly our waitress who reminded me vividly of ….Alice…. from Mel’s diner, and then began our scenic route through the Talimena.

I’d take time to go through Hi’s and Lows but our weekend was truly one big HIGH with only the kind of lows (such as that freezing river water) that you can look back at and laugh 🙂

There is nothing like a great road trip spent with even greater friends  – music blaring – singing from the top of your lungs with besties, slamming each other’s driving skills, the wide open spaces, the adventurous escapades, stories spilling, and just being somewhere “else” for a moment in time.

And there’s nothing like going home.

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