January 9 – 19, 2017
Tahlequah, OK/ Siloam Springs, AR
One of the things we were really looking forward to during our winter stay in the south was the chance to spend extended quality time with some of the most amazing friends from the earlier pages of our life. Some of those great people are our friends Kim & Paxton Edwards and their kids who moved back to the Oklahoma from Colorado about 18 months ago. They moved to follow their dream of having some land with a small farm on which to raise their family, and some property in northeast OK within driving distance of both sets of grandparents turned the dream into a reality.
We spent 10 days parked on their property, utilizing full hookups that they had on site for other relatives who have an RV. We all enjoyed different aspects of Oklahoma life. Sunny enjoyed thrill rides around and around the house in their kid-sized F150. Coral was focused solely on getting quality time with their snuggly cat, Stripey. She would sometimes disappear outside for over an hour at a time to sit and hold her furry pal. Brad and I enjoyed great meals, meaningful conversations with friends, and free wifi.
Brad and Paxton met 2 other special friends from college to run the Ouachita Switchbacks Trail Race. Kim and I took their overnight absence as an opportunity to break out a perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
While the boys ran on trails for hours the next day, we drove to Bentonville to visit the Amazeum. As a fun surpise, Tanya and her daughters drove up to meet us there as well. These special reunions are one of the majorly fun benefits of having a big group of wonderful friends in young adulthood who largely all intermarried with one another.
Another definite highlight of our time in Oklahoma was that Paxton invited me to be part of the worship team at their church during the weekend that we were there. A weeknight rehearsal and Sunday worship experience reminded me #1-how much I love being in a group of people who all love music and Jesus and #2 – how much I’ve missed worship team being a regular part of my life. I even had the priviledge of leading one song, and I experienced the very rare-for-me thing of having zero stage fright. I think that exposing my musical abilties in front of a group of people that I didn’t know and would never see again removed a lot of the social anxiety of being so vulnerable. It was fun and refreshing and wonderful.
One night Kim and Paxton took us to a restaurant they love in Siloam Springs, AR where we enjoyed a fantastic dinner of house-made lamb ravioli, fried avocado appetizers, and decadent desserts among other delicious seasonal dishes.
Afterward we walked around downtown Siloam, through a small park, and followed a stream fed by all the nearby springs. We noticed that the stream was called Sager Creek, which is Brad’s Granny’s maiden name. We knew she was originally from that part of Arkansas, so we started wondering if it was named for her family, which led to all sorts of silly jokes about it being “Brad’s river” and “Brad’s city”. There was a mural on a building with some historical looking drawings including an old log cabin. “That’s probably your family’s house!” we teased. Just out of curiosity we emailed Granny Betty about it a few days later as we left the area. Turns out….our jokes were not far from the truth! Here is part of Granny Betty’s response:
“Sager Creek was named after my great uncle. He and my great grandfather came to Northwest Arkansas when they came from Germany before Arkansas was a state. Uncle Simon settled at the mouth of the creek which bears his name to this day. The cabin that the family built and lived in was moved by the Historical Society to the campus of John Brown University. My grandfather settled east of Rogers. They were cabinetmakers–skilled carpenters. In the museum in Siloam Springs, there is a bedroom suite that was in my parents home. After my parents died , my brothers gave the furniture to the museum. I have slept in that bed many times….A history lesson for today”
Whether it was talking over empty plates after a meal together, wrangling young children, playing music together in the living room, or eating chocolate chip cookies while laughing at a new Jim Gaffigan comedy special, we had a great time reuniting with old friends. It’s an amazing thing to have the chance to spend more than just a night or 2 catching up with dear friends – but to actually be with them long enough to feel like we were just “doing life” with them for a couple of weeks. We are so grateful for all of these experiences; there’s a special magic about chances to make old relationships feel new again.