Garvan Woodland Gardens

If you live in central Arkansas, you’ve probably heard about Garvan Woodland Gardens (https://www.garvangardens.org/). It’s a beautiful botanical garden. I was introduced to this garden when I was in high school with some dear family friends and it is just as wonderful 20 years later!

The adventure for this month came from my friend Bekah. She encouraged me to once again journey through the many paths of Garvan as it’s probably been about 2 years since I’ve been there and it is located about 45 minutes from my house. The drive is along beautiful scenic Highway 7. If you’ve ever driven it, you know what I mean. 🙂 I found a Friday afternoon in June that would work and put it on my calendar.

As I got out of my car, I was greeted by a peacock named George. 🙂

The gardens have a lot of covered trails that are beautiful! It was quiet and not busy. It gave me a sense of rest and I started to think about the times that Jesus rested. He often stepped away to pray and rest.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain

Matthew 5:1a

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.

Mark 4:35-36a

And probably the most well known is when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ had a good balance of serving and resting. As I walked around the garden for about an hour, I was reminded of the importance of rest and reflection. The garden has a self-guided tour and I visited 30 of the 49 locations that they highlighted (see map below).

There were places to sit and reflect as well as grassy areas and wooded spots. The gardens are right off a lake, so you can find plenty of water locations if that is what makes you stop and reflect.

While these gardens are cultivated by man’s hands, it is the amazing creativity of our God that allowed it to blossom and grow! I’m hoping to make it back here again soon to see the rest of the spots that I missed. I’ve uploaded a few of my favorite “stop-and-reflect” spots. If you can’t make it there yourself, maybe you can slow down and rest as you mosey through my pictures! Praying rest for you physically, spiritually, and emotionally!

Crystal Bridges

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/306737424596867465/

Most people from Arkansas have heard of the museum, Crystal Bridges (https://crystalbridges.org/). My adventure for the month was to visit. It’s about a four-hour drive from my place, so I knew this would be difficult to accomplish. I had company in during the month, as well as finishing up my work’s school year, which didn’t leave a lot of time for a trip.

I decided to check out the website and see what I could find. They actually had a virtual option for a couple of their displays. I picked a weekend that would be a little slower and decided to sit down to enjoy a virtual guide.

I was very thankful as they gave great verbal explanations of some of the pieces of art. I don’t normally have a great understanding of art, so hearing these quick explanations was very helpful in growing my appreciation for the featured pieces.

I know that there is more that I can see in person and hope to make it there sometime within the next year. I’m thankful for the challenge to expand my knowledge in areas that are weak. The Lord always continually challenges us to grow and I felt that my appreciation of art has grown.

The Lord is a creative God. I am thankful for this activity that slowed me down to appreciate the creativity God has gifted people with. You can see His creativity in the beauty of the temples that He designed, the sunsets and sunrises, the beauty in a field of flowers. May this activity remind me to slow down and see His creativity!

A Cord of Three Strands

Mom & Dad when they were dating (one of my Mom’s favorite pictures).

Lauren was kind enough to give me my challenge for this month. “#122 Scrapbook/journal.” I decided to create the photo book that I owe my parents.

My parents have been married for 45 years. Obviously, we weren’t able to have a large celebration, but we were able to have a great time with immediate family celebrating all that my parents have built.

They met in college and have been together ever since. While they have been married 45 years, they’ve been together for 48. They actually met my mom’s first weekend of college (only after my grandfather told her not to get serious with anyone right away, ha)! They dated throughout college and got married a month after my mom finished her last semester of college.

Last November, family and friends sent letters and notes celebrating Mom and Dad’s anniversary. We, as a family, were able to sit around and read through the notes. Some were from childhood friends who were in their wedding, others were from family who don’t live close. Several sent photos and one dear family friend still had the wedding invitation and program. I’ve scanned all these notes and cards and put them into a photo book. It was a joy to see how much my parents are loved!

As I was working on their photo book, I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:12b, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” My parents have sought to have the Lord be the center of their relationship. They’ll be the first to tell you that the Lord’s grace and direction has gotten them to this 45th year of marriage.

It is an honor to have them as my mom and dad! I hope someday to have a marriage that I can give to the Lord the way my parents have!

Time Capsule

My March adventure came from one of my brothers and his family, “Make a time capsule and bury it in Mom & Dad’s backyard.” I wasn’t sure how I wanted to execute this adventure. What should I put in the capsule? How long until I open it again? What container should I put it in? Can I even bury it in my parents’ backyard?

I started thinking about the purpose of a time capsule and it reminded me of Stones of Remembrance. I’ve written a blog or two about this in the past (https://adventuresofasinglepretzel.wordpress.com/stones-of-remembrance). I love the meaning behind Stones of Remembrance: thus far has the Lord brought us. That’s when it dawned on me that time capsules are just a modern version of Stones of Remembrance.

With this realization, I had a better grasp on a time capsule but was still struggling with what to put into one. I talked with some of my nieces and nephews and they had great ideas. I also realized that this blog (going back over six years) and my many journals (going all the way back to the ’90s) are my own versions of time capsules.

I decided to split this month’s adventure into a few different phases.

Phase 1 – Ask my nieces and nephews to contribute to the time capsule. They were all excited to participate. They told me the different things they wanted to include. Some ideas were changed over time, but I’m excited to do this adventure with them.

Phase 2 – Read through my past blogs and journals and remember what the Lord has done in my life. Considering that my blog has more than 60 entries, and I’ve been keeping a journal for the better part of 20 years, there was a lot to review. However, I decided to focus mainly on my journals as I hadn’t read them recently. To narrow down the time frame, I decided to find each year’s date closest to the current date. It always surprises me the things that I’ve forgotten! It was bittersweet reading through the entries of when my granddad (Gramps) passed away nine years ago. Such grief in those entries, but the Lord tenderly carried me through.

Phase 3 – Write a letter to myself describing where the Lord currently has me, so that I can read it in 7-8 years when we open the capsule again. I actually really enjoyed this! I didn’t want it to be cliche in my letter. I wanted to be honest about where I am: the hopes, the dreams, the disappointments, and what I feel the Lord is saying and doing in my life. I hope that when I read it I can remember the way the Lord has loved me!

Phase 4 – Find a cute container to hold all these items and find a spot to keep it safe. I found a fake decorative box (see above picture) at my house and thought this would be the perfect time capsule! It should be able to hold all of the fun stuff from my family. And rather than burying it, I can keep it next to my jar of monthly adventures on my shelf.

I also found it interesting that my adventure for March was to focus on remembering as Easter falls the first weekend in April. Easter weekend is filled with remembrance of all the Lord has done for us. May we never forget to take the time to remember how the Lord has helped us!

He [Samuel] named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

1 Samuel 7:12b

Psalm 118

https://real-leaders.com/grow-storms-life/

This school year has had very, very odd weather. In the fall semester, we had hurricane strength winds hit us. For some this might not be odd, but I live in a land-locked state. I’m roughly 440 miles from the closest beach, so hurricane strength winds are not a normal thing.

February 14th brought two storms that have been fondly named the Snowpocalypse of 2021. Not odd for northern states, but I live in the south. We normally get a dusting at least once a year, but these two storms in one week dumped 15 inches on us. I actually got snowed in for an entire week at my parents’ home (an hour away from my house). Thankfully, we didn’t lose power and I was able to work remotely. I’m even more grateful that my 90 year old house didn’t spring any leaks!

Then last Sunday we had a tornado warning. No watch, just a warning out of nowhere. As I grabbed my phone and started notifying staff to spread the word to students, I started trying to figure out where I would go. Tornadoes aren’t anything new. I’ve lived here long enough to know where tornadoes typically hit and the best way to take cover. My mom suggested my crawl space, ha! 🙂 I have a closet under my stairs that is in the very center of my house. I grabbed supplies and hunkered down for about 30 minutes. Rotation was seen, but never actually touched down.

After I came out of the stairway closet, and I put my house back together from my frenzied grabbing of items, I started thinking about Psalm 118. Specifically, verse 8 and 9, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord then to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Taking refuge strikes me as a physical action. I had to take refuge in the closet because of the tornado warning. I couldn’t just think about getting into the closet, I physically had to place myself there.

In some situations, I don’t have a problem taking refuge as in the tornado example above. Other situations are harder for me. One of those situations surrounded my adventure for this month. I pulled #4, “Write your own song of worship to the Lord.” When I pulled this out at the beginning of the month, it struck fear in my heart. Nothing felt comfortable! I enjoy writing, but poetry is not a language my brain understands. As I sat about trying to figure out how to write a song of worship, I tried to focus on Psalm 118 and what the author was trying to convey.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever…Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118:1, 5

These two verses conveyed what the Psalmist knew of the Lord. Hmmmmm, maybe I could do this for my song of worship. Often times the chaos of my life overwhelms me. Just like the chaos of all the weather has overwhelmed me at points this year. So I decided to try and focus on what I know of the Lord and how He is my refuge.

  • He is steadfast, even when I am not.
  • He is loving, even when I can’t feel it.
  • He is trustworthy, even when I am fearful.
  • He is security, even when I am uncertain.
  • He pursues, even when I hide.
  • He is sabbath, even when I am busy.
  • He is eternal, I am finite.

May the Lord be your refuge today.

Snail Mail Adventure

My first adventure of the year, number 3, on January 9. The challenge came from a sweet friend and co-worker, Abi. Number 3 encouraged me to “Send an anonymous letter to an acquaintance telling them someway that they have made an impact in my life.” I prayed about it for a week and decided to write a childhood friend who I haven’t seen in a while.

I wrote the letter on January 16 and dropped it into the mail the following Monday. I decided to not make it anonymous as anything coming out of Arkansas was going to be a big clue. 🙂 I decided to own it completely and be as encouraging and uplifting as I could be.

I love snail mail so this was a fun adventure for me! Plus, it brought up sweet memories of junior high and high school with my friend. 🙂 We met in 7th or 8th grade and made it through our teenage years together. She’s a precious wife and mom now and I have been blessed to call her my friend for the past 24 years. We haven’t lived in the same state for years, but I know that we’d pick right back up where we left off!

Scripture says a lot about building each other up. I think that’s why this adventure brought me so much joy! My spring semester is always crazy with everything student housing. This goal forced me to slow down and focus on building up a sister-in-Christ. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13.

Last weekend when I was home, my parents received a similar note from someone in their church. Because of my Dad’s health, they haven’t been able to worship in person for a while. A fellow member took time out of their day to write my parents and introduce themselves. This brought my parents so much joy and reminded me of my adventure. It made me wonder how many people in my own congregation haven’t been able to come to church for similar reasons. The Lord stirred my heart to continue my number 3 adventure but with a slightly different twist. I was given a list of women (from a friend at church), a mixture of ladies I know and have never met. The first letter was written this weekend.

May I always find the time to build up the Body of Christ. Who will you encourage and build upthis week?

Monthly Adventures

DISCLAIMER: There is a lot going on in the world right now. Lots to pray over. I’ve learned over the years that often times on-line is not the place to have those conversations. I would be talking at you rather then having a conversation. Thus, I am choosing to use this blog to focus on other things. If you’d like to talk with me about anything that is currently occurring (or anything else that you’d rather talk about), feel free to comment and we’ll set up a time to chat!

BLOG POST: I sat last week planning out my goals for 2021. I did this last year and had great success at getting things accomplished. As I was planning, an idea started to develop.

I started realizing that it’s easy for me to stay in my happy little comfort bubble. I go to work, I come home, I take care of my house, I go to bed to rest before doing it all again.

To combat this, I brainstormed some ways to push myself. I reached out to several friends and family members to share what they enjoy doing, what gives them life, or allows them to rest. Have I told you how amazing my family and friends are?!? I thought I’d be lucky to get maybe 12-24 good ideas. I just finished typing up all the ideas and I have 150 ideas!

I printed them off and put them into a jar (see above picture). I’m going to mix them all up and then pull one out at the beginning of every month. As long as it’s not seasonal, I’ll have to complete what I pull out. I have the entire month to complete the adventure.

Some of the ideas are outdoor adventures. Others are service oriented. Others are community based. Others are restorative or restful. I’m excited and a little nervous. I’m hoping to do some documentation of each adventure to share with those who suggested it. I’m also hoping that the Lord will use each of these adventures to grow me this year. I’m also hoping to share how the Lord shows up in each of these “adventures.”

May your 2021 be full of His presence and the growth that He desires for you!

Memory Lane IV

December 14 will be the six-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Six years and 72 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs. Last year in December, I wrote a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years. This year I’ve added the ones that I loved from 2020! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!

Memory Lane III

Quotesgram.com

December 14 was the five-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Five years and 60 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs.

Last year in December, I wrote a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years. This year I’ve added the ones that I loved from 2019! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!

Brokenness – January 2015

Being Known – February 2015

The Beauty of Change – May 2015

A Change in Prayer – July 2015

Sharing is Caring – October 2015

Unloveable – January 2016

The Elephant in the Room – February 2016

Run Wild – March 2016

Feminine – June 2016

Sometimes We Walk the Road Twice – August 2016

Right Turn…New Season – October 2016

Altar of Sacrifice – February 2017

Greatest Joy – April 2017

Heart of Stone – June 2017

Time and Promises – January 2018

$1.35 – February 2018

Running Towards the Unknown – March 2018

Plan O……BU – July 2018

A Piece of Broken Pottery – August 2018

My Dad – October 2018

Thankful for a Broken Body – February 2019

Fear Robs us of our very Selves – May 2019

Sorrow & Suffering – September 2019

Transformation – November 2019

21

Twenty-one can mean different things for different people. For me, it represents the number of times I’ve moved in my 35 years of life. Moving was never my first choice, but God in His mercy and grace has again called me to move.

Thankfully, this is just a move down the road! I’m moving from my apartment to a rental home closer to campus. It’s a 90-year-old house! The prior owners have been lovingly restoring the home! It has the original wood floors and multiple built-ins! The house has so much character! I’m also excited about the front porch and being able to walk to work!

Here are a few things the Lord has taught me in my moves.

  • I am called to grow wherever the Lord moves me
  • Moving is a great way to get ride of stuff I have not used recently
  • Moving forces me to seek help from my community and reminds me of the importance of community
  • Moving makes me think creatively on how to make my living space a home
  • Moving forces me to problem solve and figure things out on my own
  • Most of all moving forces me to press into the Lord and trust Him with my future

I should probably go back and start packing again! Here’s to hoping that move 22 isn’t around the corner. 🙂 May you see the silver lining in your own life.