I went home for Spring Break. Well...not the home I live at now, but the "home" I spent five years of my college life growing to love. And it was a blessing. Every time I visit, I truly feel like I'm going "home." And while there have been many changes on my college campus, and I know very few students there anymore (Wow, I'm getting OLD! haha), I will always treasure my time, memories, and growth I experienced while I was there. Arkadelphia, Arkansas, with its funny name, small-town life, beautiful spring-times, super-hot summers, fun at Wal-Mart (because there isn't much else to do...), and my college Ouachita Baptist University (yes, that's pronounced Wash-i-taw) as well as our rival with the Henderson Reddies across the street, are a part of who I am now!
These pictures are all from one of my favorite spots on campus - the small park/walking path below campus, along the Ouachita River. Spring is just starting to arrive there...isn't it beautiful? I spent awhile just sitting on a bench, listening to the breeze, watching the river, and soaking in the fact that I didn't have to be anywhere...it felt like time was endless!
I think God knew I needed a break. He blessed me with a week filled with time alone and time for visiting. I spent a few days in Hot Springs Village resting, praying, and reading in the Bible, walking trails, and enjoying the beauty of the lake as the sun was setting. It was so refreshing to spend time away without the distractions of every-day life.
I could have spent hours just walking and taking in the beauty of God's creation.
The purple trees - I don't know their names - are just starting to pop out and add some color among all the bare branches and brown left over from Winter.
As I walked, I began thanking God for the blessings He has overwhelmed me with. Sometimes I get so caught up in the fact that things are not quite how I want them to be...I fail to see that God is trying to teach me...
Challenges are blessings.
Changes in plans are blessings.
Tears are blessings.
The great and wonderful plans I trust He has for me...are a blessing.
None of these things are easy. I don't have to "like" them...but I do choose to acknowledge them. And I choose to acknowledge the fact that my God is constantly at work!
I am thankful God allowed me time this week to "soak" in Him. To step closer into His presence and to spend time with the One who created me. To be His child. To be blessed.
All of this was just in two days of my Spring Break! I spent the other few visiting with friends who were encouragers to me throughout college...and continue to be now! Tuesday evening I had dinner with my friend Dana who God actually brought into my life after college at a summer music training. Wednesday afternoon I met with Ms. Melanie and Ms. Janie, two amazing women from my church - First Baptist Arkadelphia - and prayed together. Wednesday evening I ate one of Ms. Roberta's super "Family Night" dinners at church - I've missed her sweet presence, AND her delicious cooking! I also got to visit with other church members and attend the weekly prayer meeting...it felt like I was just supposed to be there again! I visited with Mrs. Cosh, the leader of COPE - our ESL program I was a part of on campus that afternoon as well, and God used her to encourage me SO much. I'll write some more posts later this week about specific ways God spoke to me through my visits! Thursday morning I visited with Ms. Lindsay, a sweet friend who works in the library on campus, had lunch with David and Cathie, the couple who served as my "adopted parents" through the college student program at church, visited a professor, another friend from church who is the nurse on campus, and a friend who is now a freshman there - she was in choir at the high school while I did my field experience and has grown into a great young lady! She also happens to be living in my old freshman dorm room - crazy, huh? lol Thursday night was another big blessing when I got to spend time with my friend Gray who I met in my last year, his freshman year - it was great to catch up and share about our hearts for serving around the world. Friday morning I had breakfast, lots of giggles, and good conversation (at Donut Palace...a favorite place with lots of memories) with my friend Amanda who has also been such an encourager to me with my desire to serve overseas. Friday for lunch I met a dear friend, Ms. Whanda who was my college Sunday School teacher while her husband served as interim pastor at our church for one year. I always love the wisdom she shares in our conversations together, and the care she has for internationals, friends, and family. And...as if my heart weren't full enough from all these visits, I ended the week celebrating the marriage of my good friend Sharon to her friend Russ and enjoyed fellowship and so much laughter with our Sharon's Singles Sunday School group back together again! :)
Wow - reading back over that, I see that God allowed me the opportunity to really catch up with so many friends He has put in my life over the past few years. Each friendship is so unique and meaningful to me in a different way, and I love that! As I said earlier, there will be other posts coming soon about some of the days, and the amazing ways God encouraged and challenged me throughout the week.
I have so much to be thankful for...