Monday, July 24, 2017

Arkansas Adventure

It is hot in July in Arkansas -and I absolutely love it.  There are rivers and lakes and mountains and streams that flow to and from them.  One of those rivers remains in the condition it was created.  In 1972 the Buffalo River was designated the Nation’s first ever National River, keeping it protected from any developments.  Apparently, some people had wanted to dam the river (which did happen to nearby rivers) and others did not support the idea.  So they fought and won.  Ever since then many people have been able to enjoy this protected river - as a result of their efforts.
Tiffany and I began at Buffalo Point Wilderness Campground.  When we arrived, we chose a seemingly level campsite, but with a great view, looking out to the bluffs on the other side over the Buffalo River.  We quick-pitched the tent then repelled (backwards) twenty feet down the side of the sandy river bank while holding on (with everything I had) to an exposed tree root.  I thought I was going to flop and roll, but somehow managed. Already an adventure.
The water was so cool, calm, and clear.  Sweet Buffalo River.  I dove my whole self right into her, then floated on my back looking up at the towering bluffs and ridges.  The clear blue sky.  The puffy white clouds.  The soft current.  So perfectly perfect.
We ascended further down the embankment on a less steep slope, thank goodness.
We got our water hydration packs on and set out to hike the Campground Trail, which we had just learned was there (thanks to the map on a wooden board).  It led (apparently) to the Overlook Trail, which sounded promising.  I looooved this trail.  We had a stick to clear out spiderwebs because there were just tons of
them, but the way the trail went from stone steps- to mulch- to grass- then to flat rock - was just amazing and alive.  It felt of Arkansas.

The “overlook“ was a rock balcony overlooking the river. It was breathtaking.
After pausing to enjoy it, we continued on up the trail to where it crossed the road and the Indian Rockhouse Trailhead began.  We knew we didn’t have time to hike that whole trail before the sun set, so we just hiked to the waterfall (on the map) and back down to the Campground Trail.  We showered, made a fire, ate soup, and fell asleep in the tent to the sound of the very loud insects.
The next morning we got up and packed up camp and took our sweet time.  Which was lovely...but we knew this could cost us later in the day, due to our schedule.  We laid out all of our gear, clothes, and food in the parking lot and carefully determined which items were worthy of carrying in our packs through the long trail.  Then we drove back up the mountain and parked at the Indian Rockhouse Trailhead, ready to complete it’s full 3.5 miles this time.  The Indian Rockhouse was just about the coolest natural structure I’ve ever seen.   No one was there at this time and we seemed very small in its capacity.  Ancient people had gathered there, held ceremonies, and just respected it well - which was something so incredible- and I wanted to absorb it.  I just wanted to be still and feel the memories the Rock House held.
Indian Rockhouse

We headed back out to finish the loop and saw a natural bathtub right off the trail.  Tiffany almost convinced me we should make the time to sit in it, but we sufficed for splashing our faces in the fresh stream that crossed the trail a ways up, where the deer kept eyes on us.  After we got off that trail, we drove to the Buffalo Point Ranger Station.  We let them know where we were going, for how long, and that our car would be at Dillard’s Ferry (aka Hwy 14 Bridge, aka 14, aka The Bridge) for two days.  We gave emergency contact info.  It was already afternoon and the lady was surprised that we were about to set out just now to hike the 6.1 trail (plus the mile that leads down the road to Spring Creek Primitive Campground after the trail ends).  She said the trail should be mostly empty, as most people don’t hike it this time of year, due to heat, chiggers, and other nuisance insects.  We stopped by Wild Bill’s Outfitters and paid our fees for bug spray with  deet, much to our dismay.

I think we actually got on the BRT (Buffalo River Trail) around 2:30pm.  Which was fine.  Except the trail looked like a road for a little while, and then broke off into the woods (I did see that, but didn’t realize it was the trail), and so we continued on the road about .5 miles out of the way, and when we realized this, had to turn around and retrace our steps.  We did this mostly in silence.  Our packs were heavy, the sun hot, and we had wasted precious time hiking an extra mile.

We felt relief about half a mile into the woods.  The trail was beautiful and we began to feel its natural pull as it moved us along and eventually we began to ascend it’s mountain.  Up, up, up.  For two miles we went up!  At times we could look over to our right side and see down the side of the mountain as it dropped a good fifty feet in places.  Our heavy packs were strapped to us tight.  One slip/fall could result in some very serious complications.
Near the end of the ascent, and around mile two (we think), we began to see clearings off to our right, views that flew out beyond the ridges and river canyon.  Mountains beyond the mountains.  We kept pausing every forty feet or so, it was so spectacular, these small sightings through the lush summer foliage.  When we reached a clearing with a nice flat rock jutting out the side of the mountain, we dropped our packs and ate our snack/dinner.  It was exhilarating sitting up that high.  950 feet we estimated.  We could see kayaks and canoes floating lazily by, so deep below us.  Had they just put in?  This late in the day?  We could hear them talking, and they had no idea.
After trying (again) to capture the landscape though a small lens, but knowing our eyes could really only receive this beauty directly, we set back off.  Up a little further was a larger clearing with a fire-pit in the direct sun.  It must be the Lookout marked on the map.  We paused briefly, but kept going.  Into and around the mountain this time.  The terrain changed once again.  The sun was behind the mountain and we were in the shade.  Then the rocks rose up large and the trail became marked with stone steps placed by people, markers that let us know we were still on it.  We marched into the low elbow creases of the mountain, then back out, up and around, and then again through the next one. 

Then the forest, and the trail itself, became lush with green.  Two miles of lush, thick grass.  Chiggers.  I knew they’d be relentless, no matter how much deet we applied.  Then the trail turned weird around mile four.  It was like a tractor had come in to clear it out and left all of the debris lying in its wake, which really looked like a Trail Tornado.  We came to a large tree lying directly across the trail, and we couldn’t see around it at all.  Tiffany was certain that the trail was on the other side of it, but we had no way of knowing unless we climbed up and around it, which was no easy task, and certainly woke up ALL of the chiggers in the deep woods.  Sure enough, when we’d climbed to other side there was the Trail Tornado, still ripped and splintered and leading us onward.  We climbed up, up, and up. The trail was wide, but surprisingly still held many spider webs.  I should mention that we were never on any portion of the trail without the lead person donning a “spidey stick” (a long stick with many branches protruding at the end to catch and wrap up the spider’s web).  They definitely helped, but their webs still managed to reach us, sometimes full ones by surprise, other times they’d just float back, or the stick would fill up and we’d have to replace it with a new stick.  This was certainly a sport in itself.

By this time, we have no more “life” conversations left to cover between the two of us.  We’ve discussed and caught up with each other's lives and now we just share this adventure, speaking only of the trek, the location of the sun, how we’re doing on water, food, and energy.  We’re holding up well. I can feel the blisters forming on my feet, but I don’t mention it. The sun always looks high in the sky when we climb a ridge and get sight of it.  Near mile five, Tiffany is leading and turns around to inquire, “if we get to this campground (Spring Creek) would there be a good chance we can get into the water?”  I assure her there is an excellent chance.  We’ve been high above the Buffalo River this entire trail, but the campground is a river access, so yes.  She confidently proclaims that she thinks we can reach it before nightfall.  We know we’ve got a mile to get to the road and then another mile down to the river.  So we press on.  We are dirty and grimy and sweaty and reaching water motivates our steps.
We come out onto the road as dusk begins on the white gravel and Tiffany cheers We Made It! I’m walking quickly -we still have another mile to get down this road before it gets dark and I really want to assess the campground in some kind of daylight.  I’m toting a lot less water.  I’ve drank almost 3L.  When we reach Spring Creek we quickly explore.  There are two vehicles in the parking lot, one bathroom, no running water, and a weird clearing up on the right beyond the parking lot.  We head left to the river.  There is a campsite very close to the river with great big trees to hang our hammocks from.  The floor is packed with moist river sand in every direction and big, tall trees that go on forever down the west bank.  We drop our packs on the picnic table and hang our hammocks.  The fireflies are curious of us and come close to investigate these strangers to their river land.  Their lights are a lucid blueish-green as they glow along the river’s edge in a magical dance where dusk meets night.
Tiffany grabs her environmentally-friendly soap and flies to the river.  She must have.  Because one moment I was talking to her about it and the next I hear her splashing and exclaiming in the river!  I laugh and head down our little embankment to clean up too.  We are the only ones here.  This part of the river has a steady current and I can’t fully get in, as it barely comes to my knees.  I try to get as wet as possible, but when I try to sit I get carried by the strong current.  So we just splash ourselves, pass the soap, and laugh at our river-washing antics.  I put my whole head in and almost fall over twice, but it felt so good.
We drip dry by the fire, and eat dinner.
Sometime before ten (we think- as we kept our phones off most of the time to preserve battery life) we hear the cars coming to collect the other cars.  Spring Creek Road is the only road we can hear cars coming from, and we hear them for a long time before they appear.  There are no other noises, lights, or sounds out here.  We walk to the river again to look up at the stars, uninhibited by anything but the moon’s glow.  They are brilliantly bright.  I want to stare at them all night.  But I am so tired.
Into the hammocks.  Right to sleep like a baby.
For about twenty minutes.
Then a loud BAM! SCREECH! And I reach over and grab my pepper spray and ready it for attack!
Tiffany shines a light to where the noise came from at our picnic table.  I think that’s a crazy idea! Now they’ll know where we are!
It's a pesky raccoon.
She runs it off and I fall back asleep, but it’s a relentless scrounger who sees real opportunity here. After he gets into her pack and tries to drag it off twice, we hang both packs on the pole and bid him adieu.
Sleep, sweet sleep.  River running.  Swinging in the hammock. Drifting...
Sometime in the really early morning I awoke and thought I heard someone walking up river.  My only thought was, “Why is someone walking in the river in the middle of the night?”  I went right back to sleep.
When dawn broke we slowly came to in our mist-filled enchanted forest.  We look over at each other in amazement.  We really slept here!  Here! In the midst of the deep heart of the Lower Buffalo River, right along its glory.  We remember where we are and what we’ve done and it seems like a dream we wake into.
Hammock Camping
We determine that it had been a bear walking upstream in the middle of the night, as Tiffany had observed it with much more clarity than I could have mustered.  
Two kayakers arrive and ready themselves to put in the river.  We lounge in our hammocks, unnoticed.  I think of asking them for water, but I hate to ask anyone for anything, and I feel foolishly embarrassed for not bringing enough water on such a long trek, so I just run through it in my head.  After they leave, we get up for breakfast.  I have one water bottle left.  I’ll need to go boil water for my oatmeal and tea.  I hear a vehicle.  Five minutes later it appears and it’s a park ranger.  What luck!  I’ll just go explain my situation to him/her and maybe get some extra water for the hike back!  But as I walk from the river to the road, the truck turns around and heads right back out of the campground!  Nooooo!  I run toward the clearing and wave my arms!  Hey! Hey! Over here!  Nothing. It felt like I was in a movie.  On an island.  Parched and dying.  Almost rescued.  Almost.

I return, empty-handed.  The reality of the situation, and the weight of my unpreparedness and inability to provide for my own self becomes very apparent.  I cry a little.  I try to explain this to Tiffany.  I think she’s trying not to laugh at me, as she remains quietly busy.  I need a moment, I say, and walk away to take a break.  I find a line to hang our wet clothes on in the sun.  She assures me again that we have the LifeStraw and a fire to boil water with.  We won’t die.  This is true.

Less than an hour goes by and trucks arrive with floaters, canoes, kayaks, and one giant raft.  I stalk the situation.  Everything comes off the trailers except one canoe.  I see the guy packing up to leave and race to the road to intercede.  I explain my situation to this guy who doesn’t seem to think I’m too crazy, but just wants to know, “what do you need lady?”  I need water.  “Do you want to hike or float back to 14?”  Float? Why, YES, good idea!  But I have no money, no ID, no debit card, and a dead battery in my cell phone.  He puts my info into his phone, hands me a portable charger for my phone, leaves the extra canoe, and says he’ll be back.  The floaters (women and children) are left there along the river bank to wait for him to bring back their men.  I think of asking them to borrow their sunscreen because I know how easy it is to burn on the river.  I compare myself to the scrounging raccoon.

When canoe guy shows back up he puts the party of twenty-five into the river to float and returns to settle matters with us.  He tells us it’s a short 4.5 mile float back to 14 and recommends stopping at a creek on the left after the black bluff to hike up to explore a bit. I ask him about the water bottles he offered earlier.  He says, “Oh no….the price on that is jacked now!” He laughs and brings us down three ice cold Life Waters and two Gatorades.  We agree to go to the his store after the float and sign the canoe rental contract.  It’s out of the way and we’ll have to drive a different route home, but it’s such a minor inconvenience in light of what we’re about to get to do!

We get our big packs ready and secure them under the wooden bars that cross the canoe’s middle.  We don’t have a waterproof anything, but Tiffany has a small thick plastic drawstring bag that we put our phones into in case water gets splashed into the canoe.  We leave no trace at the campsite and put into the river.  It’s a perfect day to float.
We cannot believe we are on the Buffalo!  We dip our hats into it and put them on our heads to stay cool.  We can see fifteen feet straight to the bottom.  Huge rocks!  Enormous fish!  We look up to the right and see the ridge-line and mountain Look Out point and can hardly believe we were up that high the day before!  We were there!  Way up there!  Now we’re floating below and it’s incredible!

She’s in front and I in back, we have never canoed together before, and neither of us has had much recent experience.  But it’s the Buffalo and it just calmly carries a vessel, requiring very little effort from its visitors.  We float on the dream, amazed at the creation of this pristine wonder.
We stopped and swam, had lunch in the shade, and took our sweet time, knowing this was such a different day than we had expected it to be.

We almost missed the creek our travel adviser had described.  We had to paddle a little back upstream to it, as it apparently it hadn’t really looked like much to stop at, but we had time, so we banked our canoe again and hiked up the creek.  It was beautiful there.  I sat right in the creek bed and then laid back into it.  It was less than a foot deep and the running water gave it a remote natural spa experience.  Literally.  I relaxed and did not float away and the water poured all around me and flowed underneath me as I looked up at the trees swaying in the breeze on the rocky hillside. The little fish came and nibbled at my legs.  
I was certainly in Heaven and could not move.  All of me relaxed into all of this creation.  Tiffany must've thought the idea good and came and joined me.  We closed our eyes and stayed there for a long time.  We didn’t talk, but knew-  this was sanctuary.  A real life moment treasure of Heaven on Earth, the kind that has no price, but that brings the things of dreams -of serenity, peace, and delight colliding with present reality.  An Oasis of Time and Treasure.
We walk back to the canoe and head down the river for the last mile and a half.  We share a smile, contented beyond words.

As we round the next bend I see a kayaker ahead paddling into more rapid waters.  I mention this to Tiffany and as we approach we realize that we should have started paddling before reaching this away from the tree that is in the middle of the river.  The current picks up and dips down right next to the tree and that is exactly where we are headed.  We both see this happening and try to steer away, but it is too late and we are heading right to the tree as our canoe dips and sides up next to it.  We both believe it’s going to bump into the long tree trunk and right itself into the current and it might have.  Except we both leaned to the right to avoid hitting our heads on the protruding branches and limbs.  And in slow motion, over goes the canoe.
My right knee goes down into the rocks as the canoe pushes over us as we try to stand and balance ourselves.  The water is only waist deep, thank goodness, as we heave the water-filled canoe back over.  I look around and assess what’s floating.  Towel.  Bottle. Sleeping bag.  Paddle.  Paddles!  Grab the paddles I tell Tiffany!  She does and throws them into the canoe.  I have no idea where I learned this but I once heard that if you lose your paddles you’ve lost the possibility of retrieving anything.  We haul the canoe to the opposite bank and flip it over.  The packs never budged.  They were wedged tightly under the bars with the life vests under them.  Our phones though!  They were in the plastic bag set under the rim of Tiffany’s backpack cover, but they weren’t IN anything or secured to anything!  Tiffany looks for it and it’s not there.  The phones are gone.  They either sank shortly after falling out or floated a ways down, then sank, or who knows.  We never tested its floatiness….

There’s nothing to do but put back into the river and float.  We can attempt to retrieve some of our debris.  What else was in that bag though?  OH Noooooo..the car keys!  I had put them in there because of the lock clicker!  Oh good grief.  Now we have no way to get into the car and no phone to call anyone to tell them about it when we get back to The Bridge.
The weight of this is heavy as we humbly realize that we are still on this side of Heaven.  The fallen Earth side.
We keep floating and pick up a flip flop.  Then the sleeping bag, which is so heavy I have to lean to the right for Tiffany to heave it in on the left.  It drains slowly.  What are we going to do? Tiffany offers that we could paddle back upstream and look for the bag.  I don’t think that would materialize.  Another flip flop.  We sit with it: the weight of the several things we could have done differently.  Maybe my phone had backed up our photos to google cloud on that one brief connection I had.   Maybe all of our trip photos are lost.  Tiffany says the memories are better anyway.  I agree.  She looks back at me.  It’s just stuff, I say.  I don’t know how to explain it.  But we’re still on the river.  It’s still a beautiful day, and we have had the most amazing adventure!  Phones.  Keys.  Pictures.  It’s all just convenience.  Nothing can steal the true joy from this trip.  And we agree that we’ll not be ending it like that.

When we reach the end, we bank our canoe and Tiffany exclaims We Made It!
We begin to haul our packs out and prepare for the long wait to get in contact with someone who can come get us into the car.  We talk about laying out the wet items to dry for the duration.  I find my lost shirt stuffed under the packs and as Tiffany moves her pack, there is the plastic bag with the phones and key still inside.  Damp, but all intact.
Our jaws must’ve dropped to the river rocks. Our eyes bulged.  Whaaaaaaaat? Was all I could say!  What?  Whaaaaat?  What?   I didn’t know any other words apparently.  Finally, Tiffany takes out my key, which I’d strategically strapped to a blue bungee cord (for obvious unknown reasons) and presents it to me and says, “Here’s your KEY!”

We take one last picture with her phone, throw our packs back on one last time and trek to the car, pop open the trunk, and proceed to drive the scenic route back.  We stopped at Crockett’s Country Store in Harriet to sign the canoe rental contract, and thus complete the end of the adventure….
...except for when we pulled over at a scenic overlook pass where we could see the expanse of mountains flow on and on - nearly in every direction except behind us on the road.  We had no words, but knew SO deeply that the Creator of all we could see here, dwells here -and everywhere -and gives good gifts, in great abundance--and we received them, and overflow with joy to tell of them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The End of the Last Summer - the Beginning of the New School Year

We stayed at home all day today.  Since that rarely happens, it's notable.  I'm cleaning out Brielle's room.  We've hoped to paint it all summer, but now with so little time left, it feels like "crunch time."  Time to prepare.  Time to fit it all in.  Time to enjoy every last second.  Time to do something fun!
For me, that every last second is an all-encompassing time.  Josh will go into his Senior year of high school. Tyler will enter as a freshman.  And Brielle will begin Kindergarten - at a public school, something I never thought would happen.  I can't read the above sentences without getting choked up and tears making their way back again.  Earlier this afternoon, I had a moment.  While cleaning B's room I got to the books and had to stop.  I realized that I've been collecting (used) books for years with the intent to homeschool her.  I imagined teaching her, spending out our days learning, delving, exploring - right now- when she's just a sweet little sponge.  Before she dislikes learning any particular subject.
I thought I was at peace with our decision, and now my mind is like a whirlwind of second-guessing everything!  Should we really be sending her off to public school?  Should I be driving half-way across town to take Tyler to different school- just because we believe he's being given a greater opportunity?  Even if he dislikes the whole idea immensely?  Are we making the best decisions as parents with these children God has entrusted to us?
Parenting is such an emotional event sometimes.  Last night I was reading my friend's blog and thought, wow.....  She is doing exactly what she's supposed to be doing and she knows it.  AND she LOVES it! (She's homeschooling, of course.)  When I was a young mom with children, I had no idea there were other options than public school (unless you could afford private school).  Yet, when I put our firstborn on the bus that first day, my heart fell to my stomach.  I felt it fall.  I released him to the world, and it scared and baffled me.  That was twelve years ago.
Now that I'm older, I know more things.  My mommy-friends know things also.  They and I have talked about such.  We've felt torn and questioned everything.   We love our children immensely and desire the absolute best for them.  We've prayed and prayed.  Some of them chose to homeschool, some public school, and some private school.
Sometimes I am afraid I feel jealous.  This pains me, as deep down I know we all make the best decisions -for our unique families.
I'm still cleaning B's bedroom and she is all over the place, making messes in the living room, then the kitchen and I get frustrated.  Honestly, why all the mess?  I think to myself I should have waited until she started school: then I could clean without distractions.  I want school to start and I feel guilty.  Was I not just crying to homeschool her?  I'm so confused.
Then this song comes on and I realize.
I am moving into new ministry position this Fall, one that I have been a part of the past five years, but  will now be directing.  I'm certain this is God's plan and place for me.  I know I need to be available for our teen sons.  I know God gave me this wonderful life, full of blessings and responsibilities that He has entrusted me with.  I know He has a plan and a purpose.  And I know that trusting Him this upcoming year - and every consecutive year - is absolutely necessary.   I inhale deeply.  I exhale through tears of joy and I praise Him for the blessings that I have been given.  Thank You God- Thank You God.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summary of Josh's Mission Trip to Guayama!!!!

Josh and his team had a wonderful experience in Guayama, Puerto Rico last week!  I know that God heard your prayers as you lifted them up!  Many of his group were on their first mission trip ever.  The week has not worn off of them yet.  Randomly, Josh will say, "I miss Puerto Rico" or "I miss Charlie."  I know now that he's not just missing this island (where part of his family & heritage come from) but the island, the team of friends that formed a family while there, the natives who showed them love and joy while they worked, the efforts they collectively accomplished, the lunch breaks on the bay, and on and on......God showed them so much!
I didn't get any updates from Josh during the week.  His friend Brooke posted picture updates online, but I didn't really know what the stories were until Josh came home and sporadically told them.
130 Participants of July 15-19 Guayama, Puerto Rico
World Changers
Last Monday they arrived in Guayama at World Changers --a mission camp where projects are organized in each location (they are many all over the U.S. & the world).  They lodged in a church building - the guys in one large room (a balcony actually) and the girls in another.  Apparently cots had just been donated the week before, so they were the first group to use them.  The showered in makeshift showers outdoors.  There were 130 participants from eight states that attended this week of World Changers.  They were placed into groups of six to twelve people then went out on their "assignment."
The "Plumb Bobs" at Phillipe's house
Josh (and Brooke) were in the "Plumb Bobs" group.  Their group went to Philippe's house.  Philippe's niece, Mildred, went with this group.  The Plumb Bobs spent all four days there.  At first I thought, "how much work can eleven people do at one man's small house?"  But after seeing the pictures, it is obvious they had plenty to do for four days, and they did a great job.  Josh said Philippe was at first reluctant and wary of the group.  He didn't want them in the house much, only cleaning up the yard (aka jungle) outside and allowing them in to clean the kitchen.  But by day three he was sitting out on his porch anticipating their arrival and excited to see them coming!
They worked hard.  They only stopped for breaks when they tired.  Two participants in their group (who had been to four other World Changer camps sites) said this was the "least-complaining" most "hardest working" group they'd been with yet.  Though labor-intensive, Josh said the weather was great and they could feel the constant breeze coming up from the ocean a mile away.
Josh & Brooke taking a lunch break on
the bay.
They loaded up everyday at lunchtime and went to the bay where picnic tables under brick pavilions were located, not far from Philippe's home.  While there on one of the first days they met Charlie.  Charlie did not have a job, just a bike.  He asked Mildred what they were doing, and she told him.  He asked if he could come along?   She said that would be fine, but not to get in the way.  She said he'd have to work too and not be lazy.  Charlie agreed.
Charlie on site holding a crab!
(There is a video where he caught an iguana!)
When they returned to Philippe's house to chop down the yard with machetes, Charlie jumped right in.  Josh said he was the funniest guy.  He loved to laugh and to make others laugh.  And he chopped down most of the yard, a task Josh said would have taken the rest of the group a very long time to do!  By the end of the week Charlie
Bananas in Phillipe's back yard!
definitely became a part of their Plumb Bobs group it seems.  And though he had joined them to pass time and have fun, he affected their time there greatly, and they had a powerful influence on him as well, as Charlie was able to see Christ's love by spending time around this awesome group of young servants.  Josh didn't give me the full story, but did say that Charlie was not a Christian when they met him, but that he was by the end of the week.  Praise God!
Josh giving the basketball to Joshua.
sThe highlight of Josh's week:  The twelve year old (also named Joshua) who dribbled his basketball everywhere he went.  The basketball was tattered and worn, but the kid didn't care.  Here, when a basketball gets that worn, Josh will throw it out, as it's no longer worth playing or practicing with.  This may seem like some kind of snooty Westerner thing, but this is his sport, and quality of ball does matter, just like a marathon runner's shoes would.   So, the next trip to the local store Josh purchased a basketball for the boy, and his face -when Josh handed it to him- was the highlight of the trip for him.
Cage, Josh, & Michelle
On Friday it rained, so they couldn't work much, Josh took advantage of this and took a long nap.  On Saturday morning they left and headed to San Juan to enjoy an day of hiking, swimming in a waterfall, and sight-seeing.
Overall, from the stories I have heard (which you have now read), it seems to have been an awesome mission trip for all involved!  God is so amazing!  We are so thankful for everyone who supported Josh & his team, financially, in prayer, through encouragement, in EVERYTHING!
There is a web page of the week produced from World Changers if you want even more information.  The video is great - but long.  So we marked the "time starts" if you want to specifically see Josh's team:  minutes timed in at 4:17 & 4:45 (on this one look carefully at Philippe's face full of excitement!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Smearing Calendars and Summer Whirlwinds

Wow, the days are just flying by.  Calendar pages are being flipped and summer is smearing right before is.  It was just April!  Now it's mid-June!?!  The Clarksville Downtown Market started with a BANG!  Loved it!  Love my new location on the lower level parking lot.  The traffic volume is higher and so my inventory is being taken out - which is SO GREAT!  It also means more work (to main that kind of inventory level) which was not the case last year.   Last year (on the upper upper lot) I had time to work on things, chat with other vendors, even walk around and shop a bit.  This year - very seldom do I get a break - and I'm super happy about it, because God is so good!   And the coolest part is that I love creating and sharing it with appreciative customers.  It's like art flowing from my life into theirs.  It's so beautiful.  I love talking to people and hearing their responses, their suggestions, and their ideas.  I like hearing about their lives!  It enhances me to be even more creative in my work.  I love it!
Back on the home front there are still household obligations and family schedules though.  Which means I have to juggle a lot.  Josh (the oldest) is pretty self-sufficient, getting himself to work and basketball practices, which is a blessing.  Tyler (currently at church camp this week) can also get himself to summer day camp, the pool, the store, etc...   Brielle, she's the one I have to really work with on scheduling, time, activities, and play dates.  She's playing T-Ball, attending Vacation Bible School(s), and is currently at Tumbling Camp.  All of this and my household chores haunt me daily!  I do actually mean haunt.  That means I'm barely getting them done, and when I'm not doing them, I feel haunted by them, nagged even. My sweet husband even noticed-- and washed the dishes yesterday.  (Bless him!)  So, I've asked the kids to help out some, and I'm currently reading, "The Entitlement Trap" which I hope to implement soon!
But just for this morning, I'm pouring into my blog as I sit looking out the window of the 2nd story of the Library, trying to capture -or slow a bit- of this summer.  The kids are each somewhere, and I decided that I would save gas by staying around downtown for while two of them await transportation rides home.  I did kind of envision a slower, more laid back summer, but I'm embracing this action-packed one too.
This week I'll also be making more coasters, laundry soap and play-dough!   And beads.  Always beads.    I hope to so see you soon & thank you for reading my blog through!  It means so much to me!  Have a great SUMMER!!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Great News!

The greatest news is that Josh is fully funded for his Mission Trip to Puerto Rico!!!  Yay!!!!!!!!  We are so thankful for the generous support of friends and family who just amazing lavished him with prayer, support, and the funds to be able to take this trip!
Well, okay, the greatest news of ALL is that Jesus was born, lived an amazing life, did lots of cool things (like miracles) and turned everything upside down, then gave His perfect life as a sacrifice for ALL people for ALL time.  That His gift continues to give to us every single second of every day is GRACE FOR ALL TIME.  Yes, that is the greatest news of all!!!
But Josh getting to go on mission for Him, that's pretty freakin' great too!  :)
If, I could ask: Please keep praying for him!!!!  We would all super appreciate it!

Getting Ready!
In other great news:  The Clarksville Downtown Market starts tomorrow morning!!!!!  SOOOOOO Excited about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope to see you there.  Mention you read my blog and you will save $1 on any purchase!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I keep my prices as low as I possibly can, so this could help!   Thanks for your support!  My family and I really appreciate it!!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Josh's Mission Trip to Guayama, Puerto Rico

When we found out that Josh's group (Relevant Students) from OneChurch were going to go on a Mission Trip to Puerto Rico this summer, of course we asked how much it would cost.  When Josh found out it was $1,000 - he told me he couldn't do it.  Reason being: he could not ask people for money to support him. (This guy doesn't even ask for a ride.  Ever.  Even if there it's freezing rain, tornado coming, lightening striking wicked out).  Okay, maybe that's extreme, but it's true!  Josh does not like to ask for help.  (I have NO idea where he gets this from!) <sheepish grin>
But I really thought we could raise the money, if he truly wanted to go, which he did.
Then I discovered how vulnerable it makes a person to ask for support (especially the financial kind).  But I typed up a letter and posted it on Facebook and we started asking.  My friend called that very morning and I shared my apprehension with her and she said to me, "you know when you ask people to pray and support you (or your family) you are inviting them in to share the journey, the blessing, that will be experienced through God's mission.  For His Glory."  Wow.  So, asking for prayers became easier & easier, as I thought about her words.  And in just a short time Josh grew more confident and trusting.  He believes he'll get the support he needs.
Me, I'm trying, but I've been a little stressed out by it.  Then, I had lunch with a friend who had adopted a baby.  We were friends before this was even an idea, so I was involved in the whole process, somewhat.  I remembered clearly how anxious she had been and how apprehensive she was about raising the money for the adoption (it costs a LOT of money to adopt!).  She looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it.  My parent's mission trip was recently funded.  His adoption was funded."  She said this so confidently.  It stuck with me.  And I kept praying.  Then, a few days later a check arrived in the mail, from a friend of mine who'd moved away, who knew our family.  She had written words of encouragement and prayer.  And I thought, "her family is joining us in the blessing.  You can take this."  And honestly, it was humbling.  And so encouraging.
So, as hard as it is for me/us to take anything, it's much easier to invite people to join us in supporting Josh on this journey - supporting him in prayer, financially, whichever.  So that they too, can partake in the blessing of God's great commission, His heart for life changed.
If you would please PRAY we are so grateful.
If you would like to support Josh financially (he currently has $591.74 still to raise) there is a link at the top right of my blog or you can mail a check to him, just email or FB me for our address.  Thank you for just reading this though!  God bless you!