I did something last weekend that I have thought about doing for years, but have let fear and finances, and a few other excuses, keep me from it. But this time I just had to. I just had to get away. So I did. All by myself. That's right... I took my first solo road trip.
Now before you get too impressed, let me confess that I played it pretty safe. I decided that since it was my first trip, I would go somewhere familiar. So I packed a bag and drove 200 something miles to Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
But before the what, let me explain the why. I had been feeling more than a little overwhelmed. Just weighed down by the stress of the move and my mother-in-law's surgery and recovery, and Brett struggling with looking for a job. And on top of all of that, work has been weighing me down. Summers are always hard, but this summer... I don't know. The joy isn't gone, but it's harder to find. I am incredibly thankful for my job, and there are a lot of things that I love about it, but I'm feeling God preparing me for the next chapter. I don't feel like it's right around the corner or anything, but my heart is definitely shifting.
I was so full of emotion. It has been effecting every area of my life. Getting away for a few days felt essential. Like the first step in recovering.
And I'm so glad that I did. So thankful that Brett understood. So thankful that our awesome roommate was supportive. Just thankful =-)
And now back to the what. I left last Saturday at 7:45 a.m. It was a great drive. Arkansas really is beautiful. The trees. Oh, the trees! They are so gorgeous! They make me want to fly, just so I can fly close to the tree line and feel the leaves tickle my fingers. I want to hug them. They are gorgeous!
I got to Arkadelphia (where I went to college) around 12:30 and had lunch a cute little restaurant called Slim & Shorty's. It's got a surf shop theme, which I was worried would be overly cheesy, but turned out to be just happy =-) Apparently they have live music there a lot of nights - so cool! I had a tasty french dip and DELICIOUS sweet potato fries. It was a nice start to my weekend.
After lunch I checked into my hotel. Actually motel. Motel 6, that is. haha... I was a little nervous to stay at a Motel 6. But it was very affordable, and had been recently remodeled. In the end, I'm glad that I stayed there. It was a simple room, but it was sufficient for my needs. I would have preferred a softer bed and softer towels, but I felt safe and I slept well!
So my plan was to go antiquing. It is about a 45 minute drive from Arkadelphia to Hot Springs, and along the way there are a lot of little antique stores. My roommates and I made the trip a time or two back in the day. It's the reason I collected license plates in college. The antique stores always had them for cheap. And I actually have an idea about something to make for the craft fairs that requires license plates, so I was hoping to find some. No such luck, but I did find some supplies for an AMAZING price!
I made 6 or so stops and bought a handful of things. Nothing fancy, but some great finds. Two things that I will have for a long time. When I got to Hot Springs I found a theater and saw Jersey Boys which I enjoyed more than I expected to. Loved the music! I thought that I would eat dinner in Hot Springs, but after driving around a while, I realized I was not in the right mindset for a busy restaurant full of families and bikers (lots of bikers in Hot Springs). And the road between the two cities has a lot of twists and turns, so I thought I might be better off making the drive while I still had a lot of daylight.
I'm SO glad that I did. It was the most gorgeous drive. I used my memory to get to Hot Springs, but my GPS to get back to Arkadelphia. It took me a different route, and it was breathtaking. The trees, with the mountains in the background. Sigh. All I could think was "with all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings". I will remember it for a long time.
When I got back to town, I ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. It's kind of a must when staying in Arkadelphia. After dinner, I went to Wal-mart for some water and a few snacks, and the Jersey Boys soundtrack. The Wal-mart in Arkadelphia is probably the nicest Wal-mart I've ever been in. And I wonder if it is the Wal-mart I have spent the most time in. We made almost daily trips for pretty much all four years that I was in school. Lots of memories. It was weird to walk through that store and wonder who I was with 10 years ago, walking those same aisles. I've probably been in every dressing room.
The next 36 hours was all about relaxing. Back at the hotel, excuse me, motel, I did a lot of journaling, a lot of reading - both my Bible and The Fault in Our Stars - and a decent amount of sleeping. I didn't get out of bed until noon on Sunday. You heard me. Noon. I woke up at 9, but my eyes were still heavy, so I let them stay shut until the bathroom pulled me into fully awake.
I went to lunch at a delicious and funky little cafe, and then went to the only other store that we ever shopped at in Arkadelphia, Cato. I'm glad that I went, though it took the rest of my fun money. I bought a shirt that I really like, some comfortable shoes and a headband that was a great price!
After that, I wanted somewhere to sit and read and do some more journaling. My plan was to drive around looking for a suitable restaurant, and ended up only driving a few yards. In front of Cato, there was a cute little pizza and ice cream diner. I bought a frozen coffee and spent the next hour sipping it and journaling. The Elvis music was a little distracting, only because it was loud, but I'm glad I was out of the hotel for a few hours.
I already can't remember what I did for dinner that night. I may have just headed back to the hotel and munched on my Wal-mart snacks when I got hungry. That must be it...
Monday morning I intended to eat brunch at Cracker Barrel, then check out all of the new shops on Main Street in Arkadelphia before heading home. Well "all the new shops" turned out to only be 2 stores. That town is dead in the summer.
It would have been nice if the bookstore was open on campus. I was surprised that I wasn't more emotional driving through campus. I thought it would impact me more. But there are so many new buildings... it looked the same, but different. More of the same, but not what my mind remembered. It didn't make me sad though. It made me thankful for the friendships that I made while I was at school. Thankful for the friends that I still keep in touch with. And even the ones that I don't. Those memories are still strong in my mind. I don't regret anything about my college experience - how could I when it left me with such special friends?
The drive home was easy. It's an easy drive. And it was good to be back in Brett's arms. I went hoping to hear from the Lord, and he definitely revealed some truth to me. I had a lot of realigning to do in my heart and mind. A lot of fear to let go of. Where is my faith? What is money to me that I have been so afraid to not have enough of it? Money is not my security. And Brett is not my provider. The Lord provides. The Lord heals. And the Lord loves me, knows my needs, knows what's best for me, and has a plan for me.
It was good to be reminded =-)