The Adventure Begins

One of the most exciting parts of this move has been the opportunity for my husband and I to explore our new town together. Neither of us had ever visited this part of Missouri prior to moving here (we'd both only been to St. Louis, actually), so we've really thrived on adventuring out into an unfamiliar landscape.

We've known from the start that Matt's position in Illinois was only guaranteed through August, so for months now, I've been praying for him to find a more stable job. And with every prayer, I requested that the job would be in an area in which we would feel at home and be able to lead a clean, healthy, active lifestyle. It might sound kinda stupid, but I got quite specific with my requests. I asked for safe, pretty walking tracks or trails close to home, a friendly, growing church that fosters true worship, preaches the Word, and has opportunities to serve, locally owned businesses with fresh, hand-made food (and maybe even fancy coffees), genuine believers who would befriend us, a farmer's market or co-op with local produce, and grocery stores with decent all-natural, organic, and fair trade options.

Yeah. I know. But Jesus did say to ask in order to receive. So, as silly as I may sound to some people (and probably even to the Lord), I feel little embarrassment in making my honest requests before Him. And, as you'll see below, it seems that He doesn't simply write me off as a foolish petitioner. Though I definitely had my doubts about this when Matt took a job in Middle of Nowhere, Missouri, where the average town's population is less than 5,000 and the closest Target is 2+ hours away.

Our first day here, we drove downtown and went to city hall to get the water turned on. When we parked the car and climbed out, we glanced around to size up the area then turned immediately to one another in excitement. Directly across the street, we found a locally-owned bookstore, an antique shop, the county fine arts center, and a natural health store. And a few blocks down, we spotted a local coffeehouse and a sign for Saturday farmer's markets on the square.

We couldn't stop smiling.

We didn't have time to explore that day, but when our first Saturday in town rolled around, you can bet we hit the town and started with the outdoor farmer's market.

Honestly, we were impressed. We'd considered ourselves spoiled in Illinois, with trips to the co-op and the good-sized farmer's market in Carbondale every Saturday. But the farmer's market here certainly rivals the one in Carbondale. There were a dozen or so vendors with everything from small batch goat milk soaps to garden herb starters, from local grass-fed meat to homemade pasta. And of course, bountiful organic produce. 

And I shouldn't even mention the multiple booths of Amish baked goods.

We headed next to the health store, where we were pleased to find familiar brands of all-natural products we've grown accustomed to using. The shop owner turned out to be a super nice guy. He came out and talked to us for a good fifteen minutes, welcoming us to the area and telling us about a few other places nearby. He told us the antique store next door, the Princess Emporium, was a "must-see if you like older architecture". My ears perked up at that, so we strolled in there next.

Holy. Poo.

Turns out the Princess Emporium was the Princess Theatre in the 1920's. And not an ordinary movie theater; a classic theatre, with chandeliers, a balcony, and a stage. 

Though I was ecstatic about pilfering through the plenteous antiques that surrounded us, I couldn't stop looking up. The ceiling was absolutely breathtaking. 

The elderly woman who owns the shop was also remarkably friendly and helpful, and we were more than happy to buy this cute little $22.00 cabinet from her for our coffee and tea station (I know, I already shared this photo in my last post. I'm just really excited about it.).

The bookstore wasn't open yet, so we decided to check out the coffee house. Like the Princess Emporium, it, too, is in an old, renovated building on the square. A renovated building with distressed wood floors, exposed brick walls, and raised ceilings with antique tiles. Right up my alley.

They even use antique keys in their wall decor. What are the odds?

The coffee was great, the service was fantastic, and their musical selections alternated between Christian rock and Sinatra-era classics. Definitely a new favorite place.

A few days later, Matt told me about a walking trail operated by the Department of Conservation he'd noticed on his way to work. When I finally took a morning to give it a try, my heart swelled with happiness.

The trail winds through forest, tall-grass prairie, and wetlands.

The constantly changing landscape fascinated and entertained me as I jogged. I loved spotting new plants and wildlife I'd never seen before. And I saw so many bunnies. They scampered away before I could snap a decent photo, but I saw dozens of rabbits during my run.

Oh, and I got a selfie with Smokey the Bear.

So, yes. We're thrilled about finding places like these, and we're beginning to feel at home here. The only thing that's looking grim right now is, unfortunately, a church. We haven't had time to locate or visit any churches yet, but hopefully, we can begin that search soon. 

The church situation is one thing that is notably different from back home. In Alabama, it seems there's a church every twenty feet. That's not the case here in Missouri. Just from driving through town, we can already see that our options are limited. Most of the churches here are denominations we wouldn't try, so I'm a little concerned about how that's going to turn out, especially since, as I already said, the closest cities are 2+ hours away. But I feel confident that God will lead us to the right place. 

And on that note, I'm seeking work, too. With two degrees now yet no experience in my new field, I feel both over-qualified and under-qualified at the same time. I've already put in seven different applications at various places (from big girl jobs that use my new B.A. to part-time openings at the local grocery store), but so far, no luck. My ultimate goal is to find work that uses my bachelor's, but right now, I just need some income, so I'll take the grocery store job if it's offered. In the meantime, I'm checking job boards, visiting new places in town, and trying to connect with the people here. 

We can pretend that's why I've become a regular at the coffeehouse.


Jessica said...

The coffeehouse looks fantastic!! Sooo cute. And the scenery there is beautiful. Can't wait to check it out when I come see you. Your new phone takes good pics, by the way!!

Lacey said...

Oh my! This is so exciting, I love all the photos. It seems like such a cute and perfect place to live! I think if everything else is falling into place chances are good the church situation will too. If God answered all those little requests, I think he will for the important things too! :)