Archive | dreaming

when you have a whole box of matches (and none of them will light)

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It was a pink, glowing morning. I slid the key into the lock and slipped through the front door of the office, flipped the lights on and opened the blinds before plopping into my spinning chair. The day before, I had found a small box of matches in the office kitchen and I was excited to finally light the candle I had cleverly brought to work and moronically been unable to light. I pushed the box open and saw five small matches. Perfect! I thought. This will last me through the week!

I selected a match and struck it against the rough edge of the box. Nothing. It had been a while since I’d used a match. We have completely succumbed to fancy candle lighter sticks at my house. I scooted my chair out, stood over my desk and ran the match across the box again. Nothing.

I probably wasn’t using enough pressure. I struck the match again and it immediately snapped in half in my grip. I dropped the two pieces onto my desk, grabbed another match out of the box and quickly it across the scaly package. It too snapped in half! I gingerly selected my third attempt and held my breath as I rubbed it along the box. Nothing. I rubbed it again, quickly but gently. And again, and again. Finally I realized I had rubbed off all the ignition, turning my match into a useless little stick.

I carefully selected my next victim and scratched it across the rough strip on the side of the box. It lit! I held the match to the candlewick, singeing my fingers a bit in the process. Ouch! I had forgotten how quickly matches burn up. I panicked a little and blew the match out with some unwarranted vigor. There! I smiled at my candle…only to realize I had extinguished that too. 

I know it sounds dramatic, but standing there in the haze of another failed match, I couldn’t help but relate this to my love life (or lack thereof.) It seemed that for every hope, there was always some grand disappointment. There were the matches that snapped in two as soon as we began, the matches that never lit at all, much to my chagrin. There were the matches that I accidentally extinguished and the matches that left me feeling burned and dejected. And there weren’t all that many matches in the box to begin with!

Sometimes I blamed it on myself. I am too shy, he’ll never notice me. I was to forward, I turned him off. I got scared and ruined everything. 

Sometimes I blamed it on him. It would’ve worked if he hadn’t done that, if he had given me a chance, if he wasn’t already interested in someone else.

Sometimes, without admitting it, I blamed it on God. Was I even given a chance?

And that’s when the “chances are’s” begin. Chances are, I’ll never meet anyone. I say to myself as I wind down after another discouraging day. Chances are, if I do meet someone, he won’t be interested. Chances are, if he’s interested, I’ll mess things up somehow. Chances are, I’ll wind up brokenhearted and alone. Chances are, I’ll be in this same situation when I’m 25, 30, 35…

But the sun rises every 24 hours and, blinking in the light of dawn I remember that things are never so grim as they seem when you’re waiting for the shower at 12:30 in the morning. I smile to think that even if “chances are,” my life is not up to chance. My life is up to someone who loves me more than I deserve, knows me intimately and has a good plan for me. Whether that plan includes marriage or not, is not for me to know. I just have to trust that, whatever the journey is, the destination is the same.

I eyed the matchbox with the look a pitcher gives a batter before throwing a fast one. This ends now. I gingerly picked up the last match and struck it against the box with faith and determination. Much to my surprise, it lit on the first try! I calmly held it to the wick. Much to my surprise, the candle began to glow! I cupped my hand around the match and gently blew out the flame. Much to my surprise, it diffused without my burning my fingers in the process. The candle was lit at last!

I grinned and looked around, but there was no one there to celebrate with me. I didn’t mind. I dropped back into my chair, took a deep whiff of the lovely aroma and turned my computer on. Work was allowed to begin now.

imagining meggie

 

EP-imagining meggie

When Meggie was here, it was Christmas.

Ah-of course it was! It will feel like Christmas when she returns again. And now, six long months have passed. We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of first laying eyes on her. We are so anxious for this adoption to be done at last. Other families whiz by and we wait, and wait.

It’s hard to imagine Meggie sleeping in an orphanage or boarding school while I go about my day. Children were not meant to sleep in orphanages. I know, because I’ve met her. I couldn’t know just by reading the facts. The facts make orphans sound like some other species, quite un-human. Children sleep in warm beds where parents watch them breathe. Orphans live in orphanages just like foxes live in foxholes.

But Meggie isn’t an orphan, she’s a girl. She has soft skin and shiny hair and an affinity for fake nails. She has a bright mind and a soft heart and wit. She isn’t statistical, she’s delightful. She cannot be an orphan.

And yet, legally, she is. And she will be until this boatload of paperwork is done with. It’s hard to imagine her in an orphanage because she’s Meggie. I have seen many orphans in my day. Some of them give you the idea that they aren’t quite human, I’ll admit. They fall asleep in dog piles of unkempt bedmates, slurp down the same gruel every day without a thought, fight to survive with little sympathy for others and seem to take little note of the outside world. These are children who have been made prisoner. They are worrying about things only parents should be worrying about. They are unable to have a childhood because they are so constantly fighting for survival.

And then there’s Meggie. Perhaps she has never been in danger of starvation or been involved in a civil war, but her life has been a series of sad stories. She really does live in an orphanage in a remote part of Eastern Europe. She really is bussed to a boarding school during the weekdays. She really comes to us wearing a bright red cap, identifying her as one of the many orphans on the plane.

She really does write us the occasional letter or email, the most recent stating that she is crying and needs to come home.

She is not a dog in the pound or a face on a commercial, tricking you into donating your money. She is not the star of a moving music video about some Christian band doing good deeds. She is not a mindless, heartless drone in the shape of a child. Most of all, she is not a number.

It is hard imagining Meggie in an orphanage, because it feels like imagining myself in an orphanage. If, by some tragedy, I had been orphaned and wound up in her country, under her circumstances, that’s how I would feel. I would actually lie in bed and imagine an adoptive family somewhere. I’d cry for my Mommy and pray that she’d come find me. I would enjoy reading and drawing and dress up, just as Meggie does. And I’d know I was an orphan. And I’d hate that.

I do hate it. I hate that Meggie has lost a family and still waits to gain another. I hate that she is at school right now and will go back to the orphanage for another lonely night tomorrow. I hate that she doesn’t know how hard we are trying to get there or why other children are leaving and yet, day after day, we do not come.

I hate that Meggie is one of 153 million children in the world right now who have lost one or both of their parents. As I imagine Meggie in her little bed, with the few belongings to her name, looking just as sweet and precious as the day she left, yet being classified as just another orphan, I try to remind myself: there are millions of “Meggies” out there. Their childhoods are passing quickly under their tired feet. They are walking from one foster home to another, from the boarding school and back to the orphanage. From tragedy to pain to hopeless future.

There is no time to waste. As Meggie anxiously anticipates my parents coming to bring her home, millions of other children only dream of having such a dream.

EP-153 million

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daily frights

Someone once said, “do something every day that scares you.” The first time I heard this, I thought it was an awful idea. I imagined myself putting my hand over a wasp nest or jumping in front of a bus on a daily basis. This not only seemed unwise, but I could not see the benefit. Since then, I’ve realized that the message was lost on me. The point isn’t to do dumb, disastrous things every day, but to do things that are worthwhile even if you are afraid, because that’s how we grow.

Well, I’ve never really applied this slogan to my life, but I do seem to have my own. “Do something ever semester that scares you.”

The fact that I am starting to think about life in semesters is scary in-and-of-itself, but life in a college town seems to have that kind of rhythm. Every semester there is the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to so many things and God continually pulls me toward new things. Bigger things. Scary things.

I have yet to submit my skin to wasp stings or make a flying leap in front of a moving vehicle, but I have allowed myself to be frightened. The amazing thing about this practice is not that I gain confidence, but that I continually have fewer and fewer fears. What scared me a year ago is commonplace now. What scares me about the fall will probably seem simple and not so intimidating by next summer.

I have learned to introduce myself to strangers, to make new friends without the fear of rejection, to voice my opinion in groups. I have been called “a natural leader”–something I never would’ve imagined about myself a few years ago when I was too shy to order my own meals. I have opened up about my goofy habits and confessed my best-hidden sins. I have gone without make-up and not thought about it all day. I have made jokes that nobody laughed at and it didn’t keep me up that night. 

Through the crisis pregnancy center, church small groups, service teams and outreach programs, I have done whatever it was that needed doing, setting my inadequacies aside. I’ve written (closed) letters to officials on issues I care about (having learned that open letters are usually more self-inflation than communication.) I have written notes of encouragement to people I thought might think I was weird for doing so. I have learned to drive without having to pull over for panic attacks, to drop off books on doorsteps where I think they may be welcome, to ask some hard questions I had avoided for a long time. I have learned to give my stuff away without feeling nauseated. I don’t need extra anything.

I wear what I like and don’t think too much about it and I have started to kick the habit of feeling like every acceptable thing I do must be recorded on social media. I get angry and do not sin (I mean, sometimes I do, but anything is progress in this area.) I leave my drawing pad open on my desk and don’t shred my sketches into tiny pieces. I find new recipes and actually try them and sometimes I cook without a recipe.

I work out sometimes, probably not quite enough. I don’t work out to look different, I work out to feel healthier. I eat things like mushrooms and beets and onions without plugging my nose. I actually enjoy these things. To enjoy as many things as possible-this is my goal! And to do this, I must fear fewer and fewer things all the time. I used to fear driving, now I enjoy it. I used to fear onions, now I adore them. I used to fear a busy schedule, but I’m learning to control it. I used to fear speaking in front of groups, but I’m getting over that.

I will never be an extrovert, a high-energy doer or a fearless superhuman. The greatest victory is perhaps that I’m okay with that now. I am not distraught over the fact that I’m a slow, hesitant, introverted, often lazy girl. I don’t feel guilty about being me, because I can tell that I’m trying really hard to be less fearful and more content every semester, every day. And, as strange as it feels to say it, I’m kind of proud of that. What use would I be to the people I love if I never improved or progressed? I don’t want to simply be loved and accepted, but also useful, also helpful.

There will always be pitfalls. I’m sure I’ll discover new fears. But how can you overcome a mountain if you don’t first stand at it’s base and appraise it’s awesomeness? And how can you have a victory, without a battle?

So wasps and buses aside, I’m doing the things that really scare me and becoming all the braver for it.

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a week since molly

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(sigh)

A week ago today, our beloved poodle breathed her last. It was not. a. good. day.

She was fifteen, we had had her since I was seven. It was an agonizing little funeral. I still cannot really write about it, but I will say that our family and friends have been so sweet and sensitive about our loss and we appreciate that very much. Also, God orchestrated things to be as good as they can be on this broken earth. We were almost all home when she went, Joey was able to get off of work early (when he’s usually swamped) to be with us and she never seemed to be in pain. Still, WE are in pain. Just today, I cried my eyes out driving to the grocery store. She was a dog…but she was not a dog.

So, let’s get back to the part where I’m crying my eyes out. My only hope was that some handsome guy would see me and show some concern/marry me, but alas. I wiped my eyes with my palms like a two-year-old, pulled my cap over my face and jumped out of the suburban. There were groceries to be purchased. Before going in, I remembered to walk around to the back door and slam the sliding seat (you know the one?) back into it’s place. My tearful journey had only been made more nauseating by the fact that at every red light and stop sign, the gigantic middle seat had slammed into the front seats with the force of a torpedo. I gently pulled it forward and then, with all my might, taught it a lesson. I bet that’s the last time that seat interrupts my snotty blubber-fests.

Sloshing through the parking lot, I commandeered a basket and then did my shopping. People were probably friendly, but I don’t remember. I was too busy having a crummy day.

Through the remainder of the day I parked diagonally, squirted soap up my arm, spilled several things, forgot how to do laundry, picked dandruff out of my hair, filled out an application incorrectly, served myself a rotten potato, said angry words to my internet connection, ate potato chips and thought about what I a failure I am. If there were check lists for crummy days, I would be an over-achiever.

It had been a week since Molly died, over a month since Meggie left, a day since I found out a didn’t get the job. Wah.

And then my little sister bought me a ticket to see The Vespers in concert. And a children’s book arrived in the mail. And I ate a Creme Saver. And read my Bible. And prayed. And  listened to music. And (finally) put my laundry away. Maybe this day was redeemable after all.

As I was making my chocolate milk to go along with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (no cooking today) my older siblings discovered the pile of mail that has been discarded disinterestedly on the entry way table. And there’s a letter. And it’s from Meggie.

We have never received a letter from her before. We had heard nothing from her. And then this-a letter on purple paper! “I love femaly” she writes. And “happy valentine’s day” and “xoxo.” There’s a picture of each of us with our names and then a tiny little picture of herself. The littlest one with the big dreams of coming home to a “femaly” someday.

Though the adoption process is barely moving forward at all, we still hope to see her this summer. God orchestrates everything, even on this broken earth. Come home soon, Meggie. That will redeem every crummy day.

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spiritual puberty and the further chronicles

I recently wrote some advice for young bloggers. I said,

There are some downsides to starting so young. I will be writing soon about the “spiritual puberty” the whole internet watched me go through. People saw me change and go back on my words and say things that I disagree with now, and that’s uncomfortable. But it’s not wrong. I will always be changing, even in the realm of beliefs. I don’t regret having published my thoughts at such a young age.

And that’s true, I don’t regret it a bit. As a matter of fact, as awkward as (physical) puberty is, it’s not something you want to go through alone. I remember when I lived at the orphanage, telling my older sister that I felt terrible for the girls there who had to go through puberty in an orphanage. The funny part is, she looked at me and said, “We are going through puberty in an orphanage too, ya know.” This was true! However, we had our mom there. She was there when I had freakish emotional outbursts because one of the kids hurt my feelings and when I started to shave (yes-at an orphanage!) and when I got my first set of make-up in our little Petionville apartment. Puberty wasn’t something I had to go at alone, and I’m thankful for that now.

Of course, a little more privacy would’ve been nice at times (see also: eleven people sharing one bathroom.) I feel the same way about the changes you have all watched me go through online. I opened my blog with this beautiful piece of writing and I have stayed true to what I said there for the past six years: “On this blog I will ramble about random things that are on my mind or happening in my life, but I don’t think it will be unbarably boring, so stay connected.”

Has this journey ever been “unbarably” boring? No. It’s been delightful, embarrassing, educational, humbling, exciting, encouraging, frightening and frustrating but never boring.

I have started several blogs since then, submitted guest posts, become a contributor, shut down several blog, helped several other people start blogs, but Clickety-Clack was my first and I’ve never given up on her. She has grown with me. Changed, gone through many seasons, served various purposes.

Y’all have been a faithful little following, even with all the ups and downs. You were especially sweet and supportive as I prepared and pitched a book last year. That book is now tucked away, probably never to be published, but there has been nothing wasted. None of your good cheer, support, prayer, critique, patience or encouragement have come back void. I’m a better, braver writer because of your contributions.

The reason why that book is tucked away is because three publishers turned it down and then I realized it was for the best. I wasn’t entirely sure, still, what that little book was trying to say. Since then (over a year!) I’ve gone through another growth spurt. I’ve realized that my book would’ve scraped the surface of some deep issues. I’m not saying it was a failure or that it was evil or stupid, but just that it’s not what I want to write right now, not what this world needs.

I still care very much about the issues the book addressed. I still think our society needs to see some serious change in regards to feminism, legalism, education, rights and the role of the family. I think what happened is I finally read my own book. I saw that I didn’t really believe myself when I said that I supported women who left home and went to college and had a career and didn’t want kids. I had trouble swallowing that because, deep down, I still believed that those women were, in a way, feeding some sick societal brainwashing machine.

I don’t think that anymore. I’ve watched my friends go all the way through college now. I’ve seen them make decisions about who to marry and where to live and what to do. I still firmly believe that many women miss out on their true desires because of societal pressure, but that doesn’t always look like what I used to imagine. Sometimes that means not going into the mission field because you’re single or not starting a business because your friends are all having kids by now. These women are missing out too.

I still believe that the majority of women will be happiest as wives and moms and homemakers, but that there is a percentage who simply have different desires that they need to pursue. I still believe that we should all (men and women alike) think twice before going to college. It’s a big decision and there are alternatives. (No regrets there!) I still believe a lot of what I wrote, but I also believe in a certain form of feminism which really shouldn’t have to be called feminism at all. It’s a belief that every person is equal and unique and that sex, like race, should never exclude someone from freedom, education, opportunity or the global conversation.

Maybe those thoughts will become a book someday. I’d also very much like to write about eduction (my un-schooling experience) and adoption (my pineapple sibling experience) down the road. But do you know what? I’ve gone back to my first loves: blogging and writing children’s books. I hope you hear a lot more about that in the near future.

Now, if you would continue in your patterns of kindness, would you fill out this short survey for me? It will help me see what you have enjoyed about Clickety-Clack, whether you’ve been reading for years or just scrolling around today. No promises that I’ll take your advice (I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to these things!) but I am genuinely interested to hear your feedback.

Here’s to many more years of Clickety-Clackin’!

Love to you all,

Everly

“I do not think that I will ever reach a stage when I will say, “This is what I believe. Finished.”

What I believe is alive … and open to growth” -Madeleine L’Engle

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