Diamonds, Toad Suck, & Glen Campbell


The past few days has found me in pursuit of all things new and fun to do in Arkansas. I’ve accumulated quite a bucket list and have been anxious to start ticking items off.

First on the list, John took me to Conway. It’s a town just 30 minutes outside of Little Rock and it has an adorable downtown, beautiful homes, and two colleges. My husband is a good sport, letting me drag him along when he’s already been to most of the places I want to visit. But we had a great time exploring, and Conway is a place I will definitely be going back to. Here are a few pictures of my favorite houses:

Conway has a unique nickname – Toad Suck. You’re probably asking yourself what in the world? But I’ve been finding that the state of Arkansas doesn’t shy away from creative city names and nicknames. There is also Hog Jaw, Stumptoe and Turkey Scratch, to name a few.

In the old days, Toad Suck was the name of the local bridge. Urban legend has it that when the boat traffic on the river got too heavy, or if the river dried up, it was impossible to navigate. The river-going folk would pull over and head to the local tavern, where they would drink beer until they swelled up like toads. So it was written that “sucking on spirited filled jugs, they like old river toads did swell.”

Needless to say, there is Toad Suck everything in this town, including a park.

Also on my list was a visit to Murfreesboro to go Diamond Mining. The 90 minute drive was breathtaking. Long, beautiful roadways lined with green trees and an occasional rusted tractor or dilapidated building was just what the doctor ordered! And of course, we just had to stop when we came to Hollywood to enjoy a little stardom.

When we arrived, we grabbed our tools and headed in to watch a quick instructional video. Then it was just a matter of us deciding where we wanted to begin our hunt. We were ready to dig for diamonds! Being that I love to hunt for sea glass, I was convinced I would love this activity as well, and I probably will.


When it’s cooler.

But that was not today.

It was crazy and fun, and a really unique experience, but dang the heat was blistering. The humidity was off the charts. So after an hour and a half, this fair-haired, blue-eyed gal couldn’t take much more digging in the dirt.

We were surprised at how many people were at the park. Hundreds of people spread out over the rocks and dirt fields in search of something sparkly. Everyone was sure they would be the lucky miner. I personally just wanted to enhance my retirement account. *wink* Some showed up with umbrellas or easy ups. Some brought their wagon filled with water, digging tools and sifters. Many passed on stories of the latest find, though I had to wonder just how much exaggerating was going on. The fish was how big?!

The best part was meeting up with the man we nicknamed Diamond Dennis. Dennis was retired, had lived in Murfreesboro all his life, and had decided upon retirement to take up the diamond mining hobby. Over the past two years, he and his wife started coming out about 10 days out of the month and have brought in hundreds of pieces of diamonds of varying sizes. He was very generous with his knowledge and, if we go again, John and I will know where the best places to mine are, as well as what equipment we may want to invest in. Dennis looked so much like what I would expect the old time miners to look like and we so enjoyed talking with him.

On our way home, we stopped in the downtown area to take pictures of a few really cute houses. My favorite had an absolutely fabulous red tin roof! We hit the local antique and flea market and enjoyed time chatting with the owner. One of the pictures you’ll see shows some large pieces of glass. Those caught my eye, as I do love sea glass, but this glass was just: See? Glass! It was left over pieces from a local glass making company. But they were very beautiful, especially in the light.

Last but not least: Delight, Arkansas. You may have heard of this little town because it’s where Glen Campbell was born and still has family. During our trek thru the little town of 300, we took a look at some cute cottages, stopped at the local flea market/thrift shop, and chatted with two store clerks. One of the ladies has lived in Delight her whole life. John asked some questions about Glen, and next thing you know they were telling all sorts of stories about growing up with him, his sister being in their school class, his nephew being a great singer, and on and on.

These past two days have been just wonderful. And what a great reminder that what can really make an experience extra special is connecting with locals and sharing stories. It brings everything together and, I gotta tell you, my love for Arkansas is growing!!

Pugh’s Old Mill

Well, we are all settled in! For now at least….. Our beds are made, the desks are in working order, both recliners are set, Charlie is loving his new backyard and – Thank the Lord – there is food in the house!!

Sounds fabulous right? Hmmm, then what’s wrong with this heart of mine?? It may need a wee bit of time to catch up with all the wonderful happenings on this journey, so in the meantime, let me share with you a fun little outing I took!

On Wednesday, after some coffee at Mylo’s (my new FAVorite coffee hangout) with the fam, I decided to get out and shake off the blues and see what I could see. First stop…. Pugh’s Old Mill!!!

Though I’ve been before and even did a photo shoot there once, this time seemed even more beautiful and romantic than my first visit.

The Old Mill was built in 1933, but was designed to look like the period of the filming of Gone with the Wind. It is said to be the only set piece from the movie still standing.

So I hope you enjoy these images, and if you decide to come out for a visit, just know, this will be one of the first stops we make. You’ll love it!

I’m Taking My Flip Flops on the Road!

I’m on a journey… and I’m hoping you wanna come along! A journey that involves letting go of A LOT and embracing change (and I HATE change with a capital H!) A journey where I am learning over and over again, moment by moment, to trust Jesus for my happily ever after.

Whew! What a ride I am on. In this first post, I just wanna take you briefly through the last year and half to show you God’s leading and why I am getting ready to take my flip flops on the road!

Are you ready?

  • In January of 2016, I resigned from my position working at Cornerstone Community Church after being on staff for many years and investing my whole heart and soul into my work.
  • In August, our youngest daughter Caitlin left to go on a missions trip for 11 months with nothing but a backpack, meaning both of our girls were living out of the US of A! (Our eldest daughter Jillian and her hubby Danny had been living in New Zealand since 2014.)
  • On the same day that Caitlin went off on her adventure, my husband John was laid off after having worked at his company for nearly 30 years.
  • At the end of that same month, John’s mom, Louise, passed away suddenly, though she had been battling Parkinson’s for a while. We were blessed to be able to get there just in time for John to say goodbye.
  • And in May of this year, we sold our home of 21 years and have begun the process of moving to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor! Just writing it down makes my stomach queasy!!

The truth is, I’ve actually done really well with all the change. (Okay, maybe not really well, but at least kinda well). Each of the events I’ve listed above have a story unto themselves, which I hope to address in later blog posts. But for now, lets just say I made it through by the Grace of God.

Now, I sit here in my office… the closet is empty, the pictures are all taken down, and I’m currently working on the last of my California photo shoots.

So about those flip flops…

I’ve never wanted to move out of California. I am a California girl, a beach girl, a girl from the OC! I spent many summers growing up lying on the beach and frolicking in the water. I love hunting for sea glass and I love being warm. I love the ocean breeze and being just 40 minutes away so that any time I need a fix, I can jump in my car and head to the water. I even lived for 5 years just a block from the beach, hanging with my friends at Beach Bum Burts, and Knob Hill while the guys played volleyball.

So, why would I ever want to leave Cali and go to the south?

I didn’t.

My husband, who is originally from Arkansas, has always wanted to uproot and move. But every year I’ve had a good excuse as to why it just wouldn’t work and why I would never move there.

But here we are, 9 months after John was laid off, and he hasn’t found his footing in a new job market. We’ve had a lot to consider about how we want to live once his severance package runs out (which we are so blessed to have!) We still have a few months until that happens, and the truth is that we have enough savings to keep going without making any changes. But we stopped to consider:

Is that how we want to live our lives? What if we moved to the South, where things would be a little less expensive? What if we made it an adventure and explored other areas to live and create a new life? What if there was life outside of the crazy, busy, expensive lifestyle we were living?

What if…?

So, we started the conversation. As it turned out, John’s mom’s house was going to become vacant as of June 10th. We talked to our realtor extraordinaire, Dana, and asked her opinion about the housing market. This led us to the decision that if we were gonna move, we needed to get our house up for sale immediately.

Please know that during my prayer times, I begged God not to let our house sell if we weren’t supposed to leave California. I asked if we were supposed to leave, that it would happen quickly so I wouldn’t struggle with saying goodbye to our home of 21 years and our dear friends. I asked for mercy and favor for John and that he would land a position so we wouldn’t need to move.

But the position didn’t come and just a couple days after we listed our house, the first offer came in. When it fell through, I thought, “That’s it, were staying.” But, just two days later, another offer (a better offer) came in. It was stronger and with a deal that we had to be out in 22 days.

It was official. The Lord had answered our prayers with an amazing offer, a quick escrow, and a new place to live.

And while it might not be the prayer I wanted him to answer, I trust that this will be an amazing adventure for us. A new beginning. A chance to explore, experience, discover. A chance to trust that the Father knows best.

I’ve been lucky to live this life in Southern California for the past 60 years. Now it’s time to pick up my flip flops and test them out on new ground, and I know Jesus will be walking beside us with every step.