This weekend, Josh and I had a mini-adventure to Beaver Lake about 45 minutes from our house. As we headed out, I thought I had picked a place that would make for an easy picnic stop. I even looked at several pictures online to ensure the best spot. Our stop showed a roadside pull off, picnic tables, bathrooms and everything we needed.
Soooo easy . . .
We made our way down the steep and windy Arkansas highways (of US 62 and AR-187) surrounded by the greenest of trees. In the gaps, we caught glimpses of the expansive Ozark mountains. It wasn't long before we arrived at our destination. The GPS said, slight left. I made more of a turn but kept following the directions until we heard, "You've arrived." There was just one concern. This place did not look like the photos I had pulled up. It was more more like a canoe drop off point than a picnic area. We could see the back of Beaver Dam, there was lots of parking and a bathroom but no picnic tables in view.
Not quite what I had planned.
Of course, after our drive, Josh was eager to get out of the car. He quickly decided to get out of the car and begin a treacherous walk down 10 or more steps, then down a slanted road to the water side. Now this sounds like it isn’t that complicated, but right now Josh isn't very steady on his feet – there’s a lot of literal hand-holding. I was slightly panicking as he kept walking ahead of me. Luckily, he's easy to catch. I rushed ahead to find a place for our picnic. The only option was a large rock next to the water that was better than sitting on the ground. We made it work for our brief picnic lunch.
The scene was beautiful as the very cold water (from the bottom of Beaver Lake) flowed by. The birds sang out and a few fishing boats passed by. We snacked on our turkey sandwiches and enjoyed the serenity of it all. The water somehow drifted up and tried to cover Josh's shoes and we had to awkwardly shuffle a couple times to stay dry.
Our "rock picnic" was definitely off the "easy" plan but perfect ever still.
Our adventure ended with a sudden bathroom need. Josh once again took off walking back up the tricky steps to the not so nice bathroom (stinky, non-flushing, very camping-like toilets). The only benefit was there weren't a lot of people waiting to use it before or after us, so we'll count that as win - ha!
As I stood outside the bathroom, I thought, this definitely has turned into a crazy adventure and I wasn't even trying to make it one!!
On our way back home, I decided to "just see" what was around the corner, since I was still confused on where those picnic tables were. We "veered left" and sure enough, less than a half mile from where we stopped was the actual picnic area posted in all those Google Maps photos. Fully equipped with easy in-and-out access, full-sized picnic tables and a complete lack of risky terrain. I laughed. Of course, we had started with the more complicated option.
It often seems on our life adventures, Josh and I end up on the not so expected or easy path. Saturday's trip was another example of this – even when I was trying to keep it simple. Since we had found the right location, we decided to stop and enjoy the lake view (at an actual picnic table). Sitting there, I again laughed at myself and said to Josh, “Guess this would have been a lot easier than trying to sit on that rock and eat, huh?" He grinned at me and I continued. "But we're not so good at taking the easy way are we?" He answered back, "No we're not."
We both just grinned at each other.
I often look at our story and think, "Wow, this is complex." There are many times when I wish things were much easier. Yet at the same time, I love that God has flavored our story with so many different elements and experiences. It is incredible to see just how God has weaved our lives together in unique ways.
I think in life, it is often hard to really pull back and see the beauty and creativity that God is putting into each of our lives. That even when we feel like we are on plan, we might not be, or when feel like we've hit a major detour, it's exactly where God wants us to be.
This weekend was a reminder that God is with us, even in the complicated detours or sidebars. He's with us at the smooth picnic table, on the super awkward rock halfway in the water, and even in the stinky "dam" bathroom.
In April of 2019, we learned that Josh had a large brain tumor, a glioblastoma, in the middle of his brain. At the age of 41, this was quite the surprise. Josh sadly passed away after a short battle on September 30, 2019.
View his obituary
These past months, we've navigated the complexities of treatment, and hospice care and learned that there wasn't really treatment and that in Josh's case, the tumor was inoperable.
We're sharing our hearts and experience as we navigate this unexpected turn and God's goodness in the middle of it. We hope to encourage others by sharing our story.
Thank you for following along with our journey even in grief.
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If you'd like to donate to medical expenses, here's a link or you can email us questions
More about Josh & Jenn
Jenn Brown is the author of this site, a loving wife and communications guru.
Josh Brown most recently served on staff at Fellowship Bible Church in NWA as a Springdale Community Pastor. We've served in ministry in Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Nevada.
Cancer has been big part of our story. Josh has battled cancer three times already with the first to being non-Hodgkins lymphoma at ages 15 and 25 and the third thyroid cancer last year and a GBM, brain tumor this year.
Jenn's mom, Carol passed away from breast cancer 21 years ago and her father also went through treatments for Chronic Leukemia (CLL) in 2017 and is doing well now.
Friends & Family
We have been so encouraged by friends and family. Thank you for the practical ways you are caring for us! We love you all! This is just few photo highlights of some meaningful moments.