Greetings from Santa's Lodge

We decided to escape Carbondale early and head to Santa Claus. By God's sovereign design, the elves at Santa's Lodge accidentally gave away our regular room and had to upgrade us to a suite! Shucks! We're enjoying our stay so far. It's Christmas all year long! We pulled up to 83 degree weather and fully decked-out Christmas lights and decorations. (My Granny would flip for this place!)
I'll have lots of pictures and stories to tell when we get back from the North Pole, oops, I mean Santa Claus!
Hope everyone else is having as fun of a weekend as we are.


The countdown is on!

After a tearful (on both our parts) morning yesterday, we made a very quick decision to get away this weekend. We made a few phone calls, and voilĂ ! We have a night away.
Hooray! Kyle and I are going to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. There are no home games, and he should get off work around 2:00 on Saturday. From there, we'll head up to Santa Claus for the night, and spend all day Sunday at the park. I am so thrilled. We desperately need a night away together, just the two of us.
I can feel the open road, see the warm and sunny skies, and feel all the stresses of the last few months drifting away. Thanks for your prayers. God really opened this door and I am praising Him for it!


Nice, but fleeting distractions

This was a weekend full of activities. Saturday my grandparents came for a short visit. We had a great time. We did some shopping and Grandpa and I went for a short walk through the woods to spot some birds. Saturday night was the long-awaited home opener for the Southern Illinois Miners. We got to sit in a private area with unlimited food and drinks. They even had a nice fireworks display at the end. My grandparents left very early on Sunday morning.

After church, I went to lunch with the Fleming family. It was Mike's birthday and we celebrated at Mackie's Pizza in Marion (one of my favorites). After that, we all went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which, by the way, was utterly disappointing).

Immediately after the movie, I rushed home, changed clothes and headed back to Marion with Bethany to go to another Miners game. There were some fairly serious storms so we spent most the evening siting in the Box Office where Kyle works.

My Memorial Day was also very full. Most of it was Spent at the Allison's home with friends. At about 6:00pm, it was time for me to bid farewell and go home. I was the last one to leave.

The minute I walked out their door, it hit me that I would be spending another evening alone. I couldn't bare it. I picked up the keys and decided to get out of the house. I soon found myself wandering aimlessly around Wal-mart. I stood and organized the $5 movie bin. That ought to tell you something. I then came home, popped in a movie, and tried to forget about my sadness.

The presence of my dear friends and family was a lovely distraction, but I desperately ache for Kyle. This morning I sobbed as he left for work. Five minutes a day is simply not enough. Even now, I sit at work full of tears. I forgot how hard this was going to be.

How do I overcome this sadness and loneliness? I realized last week that it's okay to be sad. David was full of sorrow, yet he praised God. I praise God for his provision through Kyle's job, but I am afflicted by loneliness. No, not merely loneliness, for I have been quite occupied by other loved ones. Unfortunately, none of them could fill the void. I miss my husband.

Also, I know it could be worse. Much worse.


My Experience (so far) with Bicycle Commuting

This is my new bike. Mine's cooler, though. I pimped it out.

I feel as though I have a slightly new perspective on travel. Here's a few specific things I have noticed now that I've cycled to work (a whole two times).
1. Hills- on the way to work, the slow climb along US 51 is a bit tiring. On the way home, I can coast. The hill at Lewis and Grand is the worst. I have to climb it both ways.
2. Roadkill- Ugh, you would not believe how many dead and bloody things I encounter. It's kinda gross, but it doesn't bother me that much except for the...
3. Odors- Passing a dumpster, a smelly vehicle, or the above mentioned roadkill can make my stomach turn. I've got a super sniffer, and there are a lot of nasty things to sniff.
4. Speeding cars- This town is pretty good about moving over for cyclists, but I do get a little nervous when someone seems to be in a big hurry.
5. Litter- You also wouldn't believe the amount of garbage and broken glass I peddle through. Actually, you probably would if you knew my route. It's right through the "heart" of campus. I pass all the most popular bars, party housing, and a liquor store.

Here are some things I appreciate about my bicycle-
1. Shock absorbing seat- the extra cush for my tush is great. It still takes some adjustment (the bike shop calls this getting "butt calluses"), but it hasn't been too bad.
2. Rear Rack and...
3. Expandable Trunk bag- A necessity for commuters. It's too hot and heavy to add weight to my back. So far, I have carried groceries, extra clothes, books, my lock (very important), keys, wallet, phone, etc. in this great bag.
4. My sweet helmet- Not really part of my bike, but they go hand in hand. As a kid I hated wearing my helmet (thanks, Mom). They weren't very good at making them back then. They were hot and heavy and very nerdy-looking. Now they're light, airy, and (I think) sleek.

Mostly, I love the self-righteous feeling I get by riding my bike. I get to stick my nose up at all the people who are wasting their money on gas and polluting our planet. I arrive to work feeling invigorated. I smile and pat myself on the back for being such a fine human being.

Seriously, though, the cycling is great. I highly recommend it.


The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies, my love,
To the dark and the empty skies.

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
And felt your heart beat close to mine
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command.
And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love
It would last till the end of time

-Ewan MacColl, 1957

I love Kyle Bass. I really love him.


Looking for new wheels

I have recently been inspired to start riding a bicycle to work. In other countries this is a very common thing. This guy is riding his bike to work in Amsterdam. Many people in Europe and Asia do this every day.

I know what you're thinking (Mom and Grandma). It might be dangerous! If I simply obey the rules of the road, I'm sure that I'll be fine. I've been doing some research and this is what I've found. I'm 10 times more likely to die in a car accident than a bike accident. About 24 times as many people die on stairs than on bicycles. Most accidents occur for children and cyclists who do not obey traffic laws. Yes, many people are injured on bikes each year, but less than 1.5% of those are severe injuries. The most common causes of injury on a bicycle ( as per Crash Type Manual for Bicyclists) are
  1. 5.1% The bicyclist exited a driveway in front of an on-coming vehicle.
  2. 4.3% The bicyclist turned left in front of a passing vehicle.
  3. 3.9% The motorist was overtaking the bicyclist, cause of the accident unclear.
  4. 2.7% The bicyclist was struck while traveling on the wrong (left) side of the road.
  5. 1.4% The bicyclist, on the wrong side, turned right in front of a vehicle.
  6. 1.3% The motorist was overtaking the bicyclist and failed to see him.
  7. 1.2% The bicyclist lost control and swerved into the path of the vehicle.
  8. .8% The bicyclist made a normal left turn but ignored on-coming traffic.
  9. .6% The motorist lost control of the car and struck the bicyclist.
  10. .5% The motorist struck a play vehicle (big wheel, bike with training wheels.
These are preventable, so don't worry, ladies.

It might be kind of difficult when it's 90+ degrees outside, but the rest of the time it would be great. I think the benefits outweigh the costs. It's good for my health, good for the air, good for my bank account, and saves wear and tear on my car. They have some really reasonable bikes out right now. It seems like you can get one for $70 and up. That's less than the cost of two tanks of gas right now.

I like this new Schwinn cruiser bike for riding around town comfortably. I don't plan on riding in the woods any time soon, so I don't think I need a mountain bike. I could put a basket on this to carry my stuff

I'm going to visit several Carbondale bicycle shops today to get some expert advice. Are any of you cycling enthusiasts? What kind of bike would you recommend for comfortable cross-town commuting?


And my back says, "Aaaahhh."

Since I've been spending more time sitting at a computer every day, I've been experiencing some intense back pain. Today as I was swapping my desk chair with one from an empty office, my boss said, "What on Earth are you doing?" I explained the pain and she said, "Well go pick out a new one, for Heaven's sake!"
To which I said, "Really? Is that in the budget?"
To which she said, "You bet, just pick out one that's comfortable."
To which I said, "ALRIGHT!"
Friends, meet my dearest new friend, my desk chair. My back and neck are already so much happier.


Vera Bradley fans?

All my lovely lady friends-
Are any of you big Vera Bradley enthusiasts? I have eyed a few of her handbags for quite some time, but I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of money on yet another handbag. I thought these things were kinda granny-ish looking at first, but when I purchased a wallet for my grandma at Christmas, I actually fell in love with it.
So tell me ladies, is it worth it?


All Jane Austen, all the time.

I sat at home on a perfect stormy evening last night and watched The Jane Austen Book Club and read Emma. The movie had some awkward parts and some not-so-fantastic acting, but I liked it overall. It has me very excited for my upcoming Jane Austen garden tea party.

In a few weeks I get to sit with my own friends and talk about these fantastic books. I'm trying to get my husband to read Northanger Abbey. He's only been exposed to Emma and he did not like it. I think N.A. is the least girly of them all. I'm going to try to re-read every Austen book by the end of the year. I've already done Pride & Prejudice. Anybody want to start a book club?

It feels wonderful to be able to read for fun! This is the first Sunday in a long time that I haven't been in a panic about what's due on Monday.


Growing Grass and Getting God

Some find enjoyment from toes in the sand. I have always loved toes in the soft grass. For the first time, I walked around in my very own backyard with bare feet. There is a great sense of accomplishment in this. When we moved in, we had no grass. Like many of the other yards around us, we just had mud and weeds.
I found a great seed for shady places. I raked the ground and softened the soil so the seeds could take root. I sowed and re-sowed it. When it was dry, I watered it. Several times, we got too much rain and a sweeping flood destroyed most of my work. All the work I could do was still susceptible to greater forces of nature. In the end, it wasn't my work, but those uncontrollable forces that determined weather or not we would have grass this year.

I have watched it grow with great delight. This velvety green lawn is my reward. Now it is established and ready for fun. We can frolic in our backyard. Of course, I do the frolicking. Kyle does the mowing so that I can frolic to my little heart's desire.

This is so parallel to God's work in our lives. He plants in us a desire to know Him. He softens our hearts and makes it possible for us to hear His voice. He prepares us. He puts his word in our hearts. We cannot do good works or be good people to get to heaven. We are completely dependent on Jesus. He covers us with the his own blood. When we are dried up and dead in our sin, He showers us with mercy and forgiveness. He allows us to grow despite our continuing weakness.

A seed of grass cannot merely choose to grow. We, too, cannot merely "decide to follow Jesus." We're incapable. Without God's redemptive work in our lives, we will always choose ourselves, our sin, over His ways. Fortunately for us, God's Holy Spirit is able to overcome all of our resistance and make Himself our greatest joy. Heaven is not our reward, He is our reward; a reward that we've done nothing to earn and could never deserve.


Another post about how much I love birds

May is the best time for birds! Today our yard has been a cornucopia of birds! For the very first time, we had an Indigo Bunting at our feeder. After two years, he finally found us. He's been coming and going all day.

Since it's breeding season, all the birds have their brightest feathers on. All at once we had the Indigo Bunting, a couple bright Goldfinches, a male Cardinal, a Chickadee, and a Downy Woodpecker. What a site! Also, I put out my hummingbird feeder today. Within twenty minutes, there was a little guy drinking up that sweet nectar.

It is a perfect day to open the window and enjoy the outdoors. I hope it's nice where you are.


Days and nights without my husband make me grumpy.

It's been a pretty productive day so far. The lack of extended cable is beneficial for this house. Since there's not much on TV, I am doing things better for me, better for Kyle. It's getting pretty clean, dinner is in the making, and I've run all kinds of errands.

My dear husband did not get home until 5:30 AM today. He worked all night long and had to be back at 9:00 AM this morning. He's getting a nice long back-rub and the dinner of his choice tonight. On the upside, I hear that the first day of single-game ticket sales has gone very smoothly today. Just a few weeks till Opening Day, which is sold out except for lawn seats! Beautiful job security. I can't believe how successful this Southern Illinois team has been.

I am so grateful God provided this job for us. Really, I am, so I feel bad for complaining. His hours are ridiculous. So far, he's worked over 90 hours this week, and he'll be back again tomorrow. He's horrifyingly under-paid for the work he does. Mostly, though, I just hate not seeing him. Hopefully it will pay off when the season is over and they'll give him a vacation and a big fat raise. I'm not getting my hopes up. It didn't work out like that last year.

So, by God's grace, I will TRY to be content and grateful and not complain. Friends and family, you can hold me accountable for this, but please don't feed my complaints, okay? If you tell me how bad it sounds to you, it will only make it harder on me.