Buffalo River Trail: Steel Creek to Kyle’s Landing

This weekend my husband, my sister, her husband, and I went on an 8 mile backpacking trip through the buffalo river wilderness. If you’ve never been to this area of Arkansas, I highly recommend it. It is the site of the US’s first National River and the home place of the famous Arkansas Elk Herd. It is beautiful, untouched land.

We hiked what is probably the hardest section of the Buffalo River Trail. There were peaks, valleys, and paths all over our trail. It was hard.  We stuck together and encouraged each other.

Because the central feature of the Buffalo River Wilderness is the Buffalo River itself, you can’t hike without coming across a valley where some river or stream flows across the trail. It was in these valleys that I really began to understand the life that happens in the lowest points of the trail. Valleys contain water. They contain life. The valley is a valley because this geographical feature allows life to grow.

When you’re in the valleys of your life, don’t think of it as a pit to dig yourself out of. Think of it as an opportunity for life to grow. You don’t live in the valley. You grow there until you get the strength to hike out. And that’s the hard part…. climbing out.

There were many points on our hike where we had to hike in the worst direction….up. I had to come up with a strategy to keep me motivated to climb out of the valley. I found that if I looked at the top of the hill for a point to get to, I became discouraged by the amount of distance I had to trek. Instead, I began focusing on points just ahead of me, within reach. I didn’t allow myself to look at the top because it would only be discouraging.

I find this is true in my life. When I’m in the valleys, looking at the top of the way out becomes discouraging. Instead, focus on one point at a time and, before you know it, you’ll be on flat land again.


Lake Alma Trail

The other day I took off for my home town and hiked around the lake. It was a Friday morning and I was alone. The only sounds were my footsteps and the squirrels I startled. It was so peaceful and the only place I wanted to be at that moment. I knew that path well. I had hiked it several times and knew every curve and bridge. In fact, I got engaged next to the waterfall on that trail.


Where my husband proposed!

As I walked, I did what usually happens, I thought. About everything. I had always heard that your 20s were the most tumultuous years of your life. You’re in a weird stage of adulthood where your life is so uncertain and the next years seems like infinite possibilities. I’m in my mid-twenties, about to graduate from grad school, and terrified. I knew the path I was on well, but I have no idea where my life is headed.

When people ask what I will do when I graduate, I calmly tell them, “I’m not sure. The great thing is, God has the perfect plan for my life and I don’t need to stress about it.” Little do they know, on the inside, I’m eternally screaming. But it’s true. I DON’T know what next year will look like. I’m leaning toward teaching, but I’ve learned from many many instances to not plan anything. God takes your plans, laughs, and then throws them in the garbage. What he has in store is so much better than anything I could ever dream up.


About halfway around the lake, I stumbled upon something that couldn’t have been anything but God so obviously hitting me upside the head with a simple reminder: You know nothing. I turned the corner and suddenly faced a wide creek where a bridge had been knocked down. This path I knew so well suddenly stumped me. Dressed in my running shoes, there was no way in heck I was wading across that stream. I had no choice but to turn back and head to the car.

Just when we think we have it all figured out, God so gently reminds us that we don’t.



This past weekend I dragged my husband to a short, local trail just a few minutes from our house. It’s called the rock-n-roll trail, but I didn’t quite feel like rockin’ and rollin’ while on it. It was a simple path with no big elevation changes, but it was part hiking trail, part mountain biking trail so every few minutes we’d have to skooch as far to the right or left to let the bikers through.


Side note: I just love this picture of my husband. It’s a little candid, but still mysterious. AND I get to check out his cute butt. 🙂 Sorry, I’m fangirling!

As we walked, sometimes I would be the leader and walk in front. Other times, my husband would be ahead of me. As we walked, the thought struck me, God gives us relationships to walk down the path of life with. Sometimes that path is long and winding; sometimes its short and level. Sometimes we are the leader of these relationships and sometimes we have to let the other person lead. God gives us people to walk with us so if we get tired, or distracted, or just want to venture off the trail a little bit, there is always someone there to keep us on track. And we, likewise, play that role for the other person.

Despite being a mega-introvert, I truly believe God called us to be relational. He created us to be in fellowship and communion with one another. Even though I feel like I always just want to hole myself up at home and shut myself off from the world, I find I am mentally and spiritually more healthy when I have people to communicate with and feed my soul. I believe this is God’s intentions manifesting themselves. Just like he longs for a relationship with us, he also longs for us to have relationships with others so we can grow together in love.

I try to approach new friendships with an open mind. At this stage in my life, it is very easy to dismiss friendships in the name of massive life changes happening soon, but if I continue to push others away I find myself getting more and more unhappy. I prayed so much last year for God to send me a girl friend to help me grow in my walk with him and he has answered that prayer in so many ways. I just try now to remember that these new friendships are an answer to prayer and to not take them for granted. Would you pray that for me?

Hawksbill Crag 2/23

Today I decided to get up early and try to beat the rain for a morning hike. I get so stir crazy in the winter that about this time of year I’m willing to risk it just to go outside again.


This hike was at one of the most photographed points in Arkansas: Hawksbill Crag. I made my 2 hour drive out there, parked my car, laced up my boots, and headed out. I’m always nervous when going on a solo hike, but for some reason, this one just felt right.

I walked on, high on my first hike in months. As I walked, I felt invincible wading through streams in my waterproof boots almost careless of where I stepped not fearing wet socks. I waited for the moment I would slip an fall on my butt so God could tell me how NOT invincible I actually was. He had mercy today.

The only other people I passed on the trail were two college-aged boys taking photographs. I’m always hyper-aware when I go out hiking alone and am relieved when there’s no others on the trail.

I love spending time out in nature alone because it is a time when I can be free of all distractions and just talk to God. I usually spend most of the time thanking him for letting me be in whatever beautiful location I happen to be that day.


Btw, does anyone know what kind of trees these are with the yellow leaves? They were everywhere and so beautiful!

I finally get to the Crag and sit to write in my notebook. As I’m sitting there, I begin to write down what I notice around me. I write:

  • listen to the roaring river below
  • see the fog in the trees
  • smell the fresh air
  • hear the wind in the distance
  • see the deep valleys below
  • feel the cool rock under you

I try to really be in that moment and capture what it feels like because I don’t know when I will be able to go back.

As I sit, I feel powerful. I’m sitting on the side of a mountain looking down at the tiny trees below, the minuscule river, the birds flying under my feet.

Sometimes I find myself on peaks in life where I feel powerful. Things are going well, I can look down and see problems that don’t affect me, situations that work out in my favor, and people that treat me well.

It is in these peaks of my life that I so often turn away from God. I’M the one feeling powerful. I’M the one that is on top of this cliff. I’M experiencing it. Yet what I don’t know is, I’m in such danger of falling off that cliff. And while I can’t sense it, God is keeping my footing stable. God gave me the strength to climb that mountain. God kept my footing sure. God kept the path open. It is during these peaks that I need the most reminding of who actually put me there. And it wasn’t me.

Answered Prayers

I’m not quite sure how to start this post. I’m so overwhelmed by the blessings poured out on my family. We don’t deserve any of them.

I can’t emphasize that enough.

You know that my relationship with my Savior has been hot and cold (mostly cold) my entire life. I’ve “turned the burner back on” and find myself seeking his face more and more throughout my day.

Despite this, God continues to faithfully answer my prayers and bless me with his presence.

My husband and I prayed for God to allow us an opportunity to serve others. Guess what… we have THREE instances this weekend where we’ll be serving friends in need.

We prayed for financial peace and ease from stresses due to my lack of a summer paycheck. Guess what… I had a handful of income opportunities throughout the year open for me within this past week.

God hears us. He listens. He desires to bless his children and all we have to do is ask.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.    1 John 5:14

One of my favorite hymns is called “Why Me?”. I really suggest you listen to it. There’s a great Johnny Cash version.

The lyrics read as one person asking God why he blesses them when they have done nothing to deserve it. I’ll post the lyrics below:

Why me Lord
What have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the blessings I’ve known
Tell me Lord
What did I ever do
That was worth love from you
And the kindness you’ve shown
Lord help me, Jesus
I’ve wasted it so
Help me, Jesus
I know what I am
Now that I know
That I’ve needed you so
Help me, Jesus
My soul’s in your hand
Try me Lord
If you think there’s a way
I can ever repay
What I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord
I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
On my way back to you
I’m overwhelmed and speechless at his amazing grace. I never expected to be blessed so abundantly and so suddenly but, of course, I should have known better than to doubt my God.
I want YOU to be blessed as well. Please let me know how I can pray for you.

Grow Your Quiet Time

I think it can be said for just about everyone that we experience seasons of faith. Whether you’re a Christian or not, our passion for what we believe in ebbs and flows like the tide.

I’ll have periods of my life where I’m extremely faithful with my quiet time. I’ll speak to God throughout my day and my faith is among the strongest it’s ever been.

….And then I’ll have periods of my life where I go weeks without cracking my Bible or offering up a single prayer. I wish I could be constantly hot. But, instead, I find myself more often lukewarm.

Recently, I’ve “woken up” and found myself in a period of complacence. I knew I wasn’t living my faith the way I should. When I bury myself in these ruts, it’s hard to get back to that pedal-to-the-metal type of faith. It’s almost like when I sleep in and it’s just so hard to get out of bed (everyday). I’m asleep in my obedience and selfishly living my life the way I want instead of how God directs us.

Eventually I’ll crack open my dusty devotional, locate my Bible from whatever bookshelf it’s currently living on, and try to establish some sort of routine to get myself back in the Word.

It’s difficult to fully immerse myself and spend all that time in the Word and in prayer when I haven’t done it in weeks. My heart has turned lukewarm and I can’t just snap my fingers and turn the heat up.

But I can spend five minutes a day in prayer and reading a passage of scripture.

I firmly believe that if you wholly and faithfully give God even a small portion of your day, he will take it, grow it, and mold it for his glory.

That moment will turn into an hour, and then a morning, and work it’s way up until he consumes you with his love daily.

No matter what season of faith you’re in, God still loves spending time with you and will bless you if you honor him and are faithful with your time together.

It doesn’t take jumping in head first and saying you’re going to spend one hour every morning and every night in the word. Eventually you may be so thirsty for his word that you end up doing just that.

But if you find yourself in a rut (like me), just offer what you can. For me, that’s 10 minutes a day while the coffee is brewing. But I can feel my faith getting stronger because of those 10 minutes. And I can feel God answering my prayers and convicting me daily to live as a representation of his love. And in a couple of weeks, that quiet time will have evolved because God took it and ran with it.

I like to imagine the passion I have for my faith as a tiny spark within me. Right now it’s small. As I feed it slowly over time, and the kindling gets bigger and bigger, that spark will turn into a flame so bright that the whole world will see it.

Just like the parable of the widow in Luke 21:1-4, give God what you can, faithfully, and he will bless you.

Impure Thoughts

I grew up in a Southern Baptist home. Church has always been a part of my life and I’m thankful for the faith my parents instilled in me as a young girl. However, keeping myself accountable for attending church and growing my faith has been challenging ever since I left home and went to college 7 years ago. It’s been a constant battle for years now. I have never strayed so far from the faith that I rebuke God as my Savior, but I have neglected our relationship for sure.

In this season of my life, I have recommitted myself to growing in my walk and being consistent with my quiet times. I love the book Jesus Calling and use it as a daily devotional because the readings are so short but so dense with great, thought provoking statements.

Today’s reading was on impure thoughts. This was something that always seemed to drive a wedge between myself and God. I would think something terrible or awful, realize what I was doing in the context of my faith, and deem myself unworthy of God’s love.

These thoughts are things I was never taught how to deal with.

Today’s devotional stated that when impure thoughts are subconscious, God knows and we are not responsible for them. When they are conscious, we are clearly at fault.

However, when we recognize that we are experiencing these thoughts, we can immediately ask for forgiveness and protection.

Immediately after reading this, I felt forgiveness for all the guilt I had been carrying around for years. The answer was SO EASY. God is a loving and forgiving father and I had somehow forgotten that over the years.

As with anything, keeping impure thoughts out of our mind takes practice, but with faith and perseverance, it becomes easier and easier.