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Why I’m (Still) a SAHD (Part Three: A Week in the Life)

Why I'm Still a SAHD (Part Three)

My plan has always been to conclude with a post addressing the challenges of staying home as an adult, but the more I thought about, the more I felt that I had addressed the main points in the previous posts. It can be a challenge, but with good communication and grace, the balance of home life and independence can be found.

A writer from the mastermind group I lead suggested I conclude with a “week in my life” post to share how much time I spend at home and how much time I spend on my own endeavors. This season is definitely my most independent yet, so I thought it was an appropriate suggestion. Just a reminder for those who may be new to the blog, I’m twenty-two, single and not in school. Without further adieu, I give you A Week in the Life:

Sunday:

Sundays are my “sleeping in” day because I don’t get up until 8:15! I have an hour before we leave for church, so I eat breakfast and drink a small cup of coffee while I get dressed and ready. We are in a funny and delightful season in which everyone who goes to church in the morning fits in one car! Our SUV fits eight, and eight of us pile in every Sunday morning! (My sister and her husband go to a different church which meets in the afternoon!)

After church and Sunday school, we meet back up and head home for lunch. We spend the rest of the day together at home, except for when it’s time for the youth events in the evening, in which one of my parents or I gives our three “youth” rides to-and-from their various activities. We sometimes cook on these days, but a lot of times we eat leftovers. Naps are in order on Sunday afternoon and, in the evening, Downton Abbey!

Monday:

On Mondays, my alarm goes off at 6:45 so I can get ready for work. First things first: I head downstairs and make a pot of coffee! I get ready of my day, pour some coffee in my thermos and tell my family goodbye. I spend 8:00-12:00 in a general contractor’s office as the front desk receptionist. I really enjoy my job, but it’s pretty slow so I often get to write or read while I’m at work. I also use this time to update my mastermind group and do my BSF homework every day. This is a huge plus to working in a quiet office!

At noon, I head back home for a quick lunch with my family. At 1:15 I leave for my second job! Er…my first job, that is! 1:30-4:30 I babysit for a family who lives on our side of town. I have been babysitting for them for four years, so it was important to me to keep this job when I took the receptionist position! The family was sweet enough to change my schedule to accommodate my second job. I play with a three-year-old and a four-year-old on Monday afternoons and love it!

After that, I often go through the drive-through at the bank to deposit last week’s check, or make a grocery run for dinner. We have a “quick” dinner together before we all head to BSF at 6:55. By the time we get home from BSF, the line for the shower forms and we go to bed!

*Mondays have always been Cleaning Day for my family, so while I’m away, they are all doing housework and yard work. They have all been sweet enough to pick up my slack, for the most part, since I got this job in October. I try to keep our upstairs bathroom clean throughout the rest of the week. For curious readers, my mom does almost all of our laundry on this day (including sheets and bathmats) and it takes her all day!

Tuesday:

Same song, different verse! My alarm goes off at 6:45, my coffee and I are in the office 8:00-12:00 and then I’m home for lunch. After lunch, I try to do thirty minutes of exercise, focusing on strength training. Lots of times we cook dinner on Tuesdays and watch a movie in the evening. My mom and the four youngest kids are getting ready for Classical Conversations on Tuesday nights, so presentations are being prepared and lunches packed.

Wednesday:

Office: 8:00-12:00

Most of my family is at Classical Conversations most of the day on Wednesdays. When my mom gets home, we have all had lunch and we have afternoon coffee together. There are often cookies involved…

After this, I try to spend about an hour on some sort of artwork. This can be hard to prioritize, but so important for me personally! Again, we usually have dinner as a family.

Thursday:

Office 8:00-12:00

Thursdays are my “free” afternoon. Sit on the deck in the sun, play cards with my little brothers, run an errand or two…

Friday:

Office 8:00-12:00

I try to do about thirty minutes of cardio after lunch on Fridays. Power walking (I don’t run!) is my favorite, though biking on my cruiser and dancing in my bedroom are also great! Impressive, right?

Saturday:

On Saturdays, I lead a service team at our church! We usually meet at 8:00 in the morning at the church, which is about twenty-five minutes from Eyrie Park. I have a partner, so my responsibilities change a little each week, but every-other week I pick up breakfast on my way and also prepare a short devotional to start the team off with…hopefully before I’m on the way! I usually get up at 7:00 on Saturdays, because it doesn’t take long to put my hair in a ponytail and throw on some old clothes!

We usually get to our job around 9:00 and work until around noon. Our jobs include anything from yard work to house work to helping someone move. We are usually serving the elderly of our (large) church family. More often than not we’re serving a widow. I love the hands-on work, but my favorite part of the day is visiting with the people who we’re able to help and praying with them. Around noon, we head back to the church to regroup and then head home.

During Lent, and Advent, we do a devotional as a family every evening, Monday-Saturday. We light candles, sing, pray, read aloud and discuss. This often lasts for a couple of hours, since we don’t have any truly little kids anymore and everyone is expected to participate.

My almost-twenty-year-old sister and I share a group of friends, for the most part, and we usually have 1-2 “social outings” with them throughout the week. Maybe it’s a “girls’ night” for movies and dessert or afternoon coffee with just one or two other girls, or going to a play or other event together. My parents let us borrow a car for these things, which is awesome! I got a late start as far as driving goes, but now I’ve been driving for almost five years and I’m comfortable navigating our city, but I don’t have my own car. Borrowing a car is a huge luxury for the technically car-less.

Last week, we met our friend Briana at the grocery store to pick out ice cream together and then head back to Eyrie Park. We ate ice cream, played Dutch Blitz and then she stayed for dinner! A couple of days later, we met another friend in Downton to go antique shopping. These times are really fun and special.

Sunday afternoon found me playing Guess Who with Dorothy and reading her a Disney Princess collection (in it’s entirety!) before my leader meeting at our college pastor’s house. Every week is a little different, but there’s always a lot of in-and-out, eating, borrowing and switching cars and time together. All-in-all, I think my life is pretty great!

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in my father’s footsteps

father's footsteps

“So, will any of your kids follow in your footsteps? Will any of them be doctors?” Several people have posed the question over the years. “Not if I can help it.” My dad responds.

As a matter of fact, my dad has been so open about the pitfalls of becoming a medical doctor that he has talked many students out of going to medical school (so many, in fact, that there was a Facebook group for all of the converts!) Many nurses and physicians’s assistants do what they do because my dad convinced them that becoming a doctor isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Obviously, the world needs doctors, just as the world needs fighter pilots and miners and astronauts, but none of us have turned out to be any of those either. My dad works as an emergency room physician in a busy college town and he is amazing at what he does. His schedule is never the same, sometimes days, sometimes nights, without so much as a cubicle to take a break in. He has to be a leader, a thinker, a calm presence at all times to perform well. He sets bones and prescribes medicine and comes home sore from CPR and yes, he has to watch people die. He has to tell parents that their child didn’t make it. He stops and prays with the family and sometimes, around the advent wreath, we all cry as he tells the story.

Because yes, your doctor goes home and cries. He goes home and kisses his wife and prays with his kids and falls asleep wondering if he should have done anything differently. He spends his days with runny noses and contagious disease, his nights with drunks and suicide victims. He restarts hearts, sews up wounds and delivers babies in the ambulance bay. His job is anything but easy.

Like I said, none of his kids will be MDs, and yet we do follow in his footsteps. You see, I might have a little more medical knowledge than the next girl, but the main thing my dad taught me was to love Jesus and to depend on Him at all times. God is often called “The Great Physician.” Jesus said he came to heal the sick. These days I hear people calling the church a hospital. We are the church and we make house calls.

Just like my dad gets weary and we all wish he could catch a break or make a breakthrough that would allow him to do something else before he does break, my siblings and I come home and we are weary. We wonder how many more of our friends we will talk through divorce? How many more friends will leave the faith? How many more times we’ll sit at Starbucks and listen someone say that they just can’t hold on any longer?

We have no briefcase, no scrubs, no diploma on the wall, and yet God continually sends us to the sick and needy. He continually puts the medicine in our hands and says, “Go and minister.”

I think of an ordinary day and my older sister is texting the single mom and my brother is on the phone with a friend whose marriage is on the fritz, my little siblings are all praying at dinner for the man in the coma and I’m penning letters to the lost and lonely. Where was the sign up sheet? Are we qualified for this job? Will we be paid?

When I see what my dad does, day after day, I think he doesn’t get paid nearly enough. And I think the same about anyone who does their job to the glory of God. We put in more than we’ll get out on this earth. Going the extra mile can make you sweat and being somebody’s only friend can exhaust you and praying with the dying can drain you, but it can also come back around and bless you. God works in mysterious ways, they say. Man, that’s true.

The stuff we never would’ve signed up for had there been a sign up sheet, the stuff we never would’ve felt qualified for had our calling been on the phone, the stuff no amount of money could ever pay for, it is the most valuable kind of work. You don’t get paid for it because you can’t get paid for it. There is no method of payment for compassion. No fund or grant for empathy. It’s a different line of work that didn’t originate here and you can’t go to school for it. People think you’re weird for doing it and they probably tell you to just stop. You wouldn’t know it by your bank account, but it pays better than the NFL. You pay in your time, your blood, sweat and tears, your comfort and blissful ignorance, but at the end of the day you don’t regret it.

I may be squeamish around blood and disinterested in a degree much less medical school, but I do follow in my father’s footsteps. My dad’s money goes many ways, but he seems okay with that. After all, we can’t take it with us, he says. Our eyes are on a different goal.

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the one about allume

IMG_0684Last month I had the pleasurable opportunity to attend The Allume Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. My mother accompanied me after rescheduling our family reunion (which includes about fifty people!) so that I wouldn’t have to miss it while I was gone. We had never taken a trip together, just the two of us, and it was odd traveling that way, but also very fun. I should give a shout-out to the nice man who brought our luggage up and down from the overhead storage during our flight. We may be independently minded, but we aren’t very tall.

First of all, Greenville was wonderful. The conference was held at the Hyatt in the middle of downtown and it was the perfect location for two women with no vehicle. We walked from the hotel to an underground coffee shop and a few lovely cafes and shops. We even strolled through Anthropologie once. The area is thick with history and sprinkled with lovely artistic touches. I really loved it and could have spent many more happy days exploring. There is even a natural spring-fed waterfall right in the middle of everything. You should go sometime.

IMG_0686

The conference was a bit intimidating for two (very) introverted women, but I wasn’t at all nervous the way I had been about She Speaks the past two years. The first year it was my first ever conference, I was only nineteen and all alone. The second one I pitching a book for heaven’s sake. I never knew I could be that nervous.

This time, however, it was just fun and relaxing. I had no special agenda there, just learn and make new friends. It was lovely connecting with a few women from my mastermind blogging group. I loved chatting with Shannon on multiple occasions and getting to meet the lovely Kalyn, Christin and September!

The speakers were really wonderful. Some of them I had really anticipated, others were new to me. I saw many faces I recognized and met new people I wish I had known all along. It was lovely to hear Ann speak again, but my favorite session of hers was the Pure Charity panel when no one was scripted and everyone shared the mic. It was so good, I clung at my throat and thought, “I will retain this wisdom if it’s the only thing I do this weekend.”

Ladder Bloggers, Unite!

Ladder Bloggers, Unite!

I am not paid to say this, so please know I am genuine. The conference was spirt-led. I had put on my armor and prepared myself for a commercialized, made up world of blogging bliss. I had imagined the speakers in their white jackets bringing the good word and then disappearing behind stage and onto their plane home. It was not like that. The speakers, who were not told what to speak about or what anyone else was speaking about, had so many common threads, it was amazing. The messages we truly needed to hear were there (sometimes to the surprise of the speaker) and there was no fakey-fakey.

ann and i

The worship leaders all brought some kind of prophesy or gem of wisdom that tied into what God was already teaching me. The teachers all helped me in some unique way. They didn’t stick to the schedule when they felt that God could use their time differently than planned. One of my favorite things is that there were no pedestals. The speakers and worship leaders and presidents of organizations were in the buffet line with me, sat at my table for lunch, roomed next door. They too walked the streets of Greenville and grabbed casual cups of coffee. There were no celebrities. We were all on the same page and with the same goal in mind.

Even though the past couple of weeks have had me thinking that marketing and promotion are not my gift, that mainstream publishing is not my goal and that blogging may not ever be my primary source of income, Allume continues to inspire me. I’ve had some snide remarks and funny looks since I’ve been back. “A blogging conference? Is that like a Pinterest conference?” They ask laughingly. I feel a little fire rising up in me because the men and women I had the privilege of meeting at Allume were straight-up world changers.  There is nothing hokey or selfish or silly about what they do.

And I want to be like that too.

(psst! Super early bird registration for Allume 2014 starts on Black Friday!)

Everly

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Advice to Young Bloggers

advice to young bloggers

Why should I give advice to young bloggers? Heaven knows I’m not a techy person. I’ve grown up in the computer age, but my experience with electronics has been a lot of trial and error, learning from mistakes (or just continuing to make them) and doing things the long, hard way.

In other words, this post couldn’t be a techy post if I wanted it to be. I started blogging in 2007 when I was fourteen years old. I used Blogger and my focus was on appearance. I now realize that blogs have innards too. There are important things to be kept up and tinkered with on the inside of a website. I really didn’t know that when I started, and I still understand very little of it. I have since made the switch to a self-hosted WordPress site (viola!) If you want to know more about getting started on WordPress, I highly recommend this series by Gretchen Louise. She is a techy person. As a matter of fact, I sometimes think she’s my guardian angel. She just knows stuff and doesn’t cry when she’s working on my blog. Unlike me, who does. Cry.

But on the other hand, I’m only twenty-one and I’m already sort of a veteran blogger. 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.

So this post is for the young bloggers. The bloggers who think that maybe they’ll regret what they say now when they’re, ya know, old. For the bloggers who are just jumping in and feeling a little scared and very much addicted. This is my advice to young bloggers:

1. Consider using a pen name

This may seem like a funny place to start, but I really wanted to make this point. I started using a pen name because I was young and the internet was a scary place in 2007. The truth is, it’s still a scary place in many ways. Pen names, when used as actual anonymity, can help protect your identity online. Other ways to do this are to name your house (ahem, Eyrie Park) instead of listing your town and never post pictures of the front of your house, your license plate, identifying information, etc. However, this isn’t the main reason I recommend pen names! 

The reason I still use my pen name after all these years, even though most people know my real name, is because Everly is so much easier to remember. Everly catches your eye when I comment on your blog. It’s unique. If your name is already unique, you might consider using your real first name and leaving your last name off, or something like that. For me, as much as I love my real name, I know that my pen name gets me good recognition and helps create online friendships.

2. There is techy help to be had

If you have a technical question about your blog or your online presence, don’t just throw in the towel! The blogging world is made for ordinary people. You are techy enough to blog. I promise. :) You can always use the “help” bar on your blog, google your question or visit sites like gretchenlouise.com for help. You might even consider hiring a VA (virtual assistant) to get over a bump in the road. I recommend Chantel Brankshire.

3. Promotion isn’t selfish

This might be the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn as a blogger. Has God given you knowledge and wisdom on certain subjects? Does your story need to be heard? Are you unashamed of your message? Then promote it. It’s not about “me, me, me!” It can be very much about Jesus. Be prayerful and sincere in your promotion. Remember that your favorite writers promote their work. If they didn’t, you’d never have the pleasure of reading their words. Hide it under a bushel, no!

4. Think before you speak

With that said, remember that your words are very powerful, even if you feel small. They are pebbles in the great lake, creating ripples somewhere. Be careful what you say. Don’t spout off. Don’t ever address something publicly that should be addressed privately (in otherwords, your blog is not your diary, your method of revenge or a place for personal confrontation.) Anne Lamott is often quoted as saying,

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

In theory, this is true. But there’s such a thing as mercy. You don’t have to air  everyone else’s dirty laundry just because it has stunk up your own room. There is mercy and grace and forgiveness and patience. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave and go this friends and say, “Did you see what those Romans did to me?!” He moved on. Sometimes we need to do that too.

5. Controversy isn’t everything

Don’t write about something solely because it’s controversial. Controversy dies after a while. Write out of your own real passions. Write what needs to be said, yes, but don’t make a career in ruffling feathers.

6. Authenticity is gold

“Aim at authenticity, never at style, originality, or “creativity.” -Elisabeth Elliot

We want nothing more than to hear your real story, your real heart, your real message. The blog world used to be a place of facades and fake lives. We don’t want your glossy magazine life. We want you.

7. Own your work

Learn how to put a watermark on your images. Use your own graphics. I love picmonkey for this. Don’t let other writers use your words without permission or recognition. This is just common courtesy.

8. Stick with it

There is definitely a time to take a blogging break, but don’t give up entirely. Change your writing style if you want. Create a new blog. But don’t think that because of one technical issue (or a lifetime of them, if you’re me!) or one negative comment or one bout of writer’s block that you’re not meant to be a blogger. There’s room here for you. What do you have to tell us?

9. Join the beautiful community!

This is probably the #1 greatest advantage to blogging while you’re young. The community is like no other. I have developed relationships here that I would’ve never had if I hadn’t been blogging. Relationships that are strong online and then become strong offline! Older bloggers have taken me under their wings, invited me in and validated me as a writer. I have been given opportunities to learn and to teach. I have grown so much in my faith because of the words that I’ve read, spoken to the world at large and to me personally. Find a community. Do a link-up. Leave a comment. Tag a friend. Join a group. Start a mastermind group. Submit guest posts. Ask for guests posts. Offer critique. Encourage one another. You are not too young, too small, too new. Reach out and I promise, you will find a hand to grasp.

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the myth of the macho man

macho man

Once upon a time God created the earth and he needed someone to destroy it, so he created man.

Or so you would think the story goes by listening to the conversations I overhear between guys. Now, I don’t want to be a man-hater in this post. I have some excellent men in my life and I am sure there are many more in this world I’ve yet to meet. My dad, brothers, brother-in-law, cousins, friends from church and that handful of guys who have always read my blog and followed me on Twitter much to my confusion (hi guys!) are all wonderful.

Even the guys that this post is about are really great guys. They go to church, they treat their girlfriends right, they tell their mamas that they love ‘em. They’re good ol’ boys (as my grandpa would say) and yet they seem to have a very skewed view of manhood. I am not going to try to define manhood (I’m hardly the person for that job!) but I don’t feel unqualified to write this post. All I am going to do is to quote scripture and voice my opinion on what I appreciate (and what I don’t) in the behavior of male acquaintances.

With those disclaimers (refresher: I don’t hate men and this stereotype does not apply to all males, amen!) I give you The Macho Manifesto:

1. All male Christians should be macho, because otherwise, they’re feminine/untrue to how God made them. Boys will be boys, or should be anyway.

2. To be macho is to be wild, undomesticated, loud, rough, sloppy, hungry, dangerous and most importantly: destructive (to the glory of God.)

3. Appropriate Macho activities include but are not limited to: playing sports, watching sports, getting involved in borderline illegal activity and killing animals.

I am not saying that men should not be manly or that sports are evil or that I want to marry someone whose favorite activities are manicures and yoga. That’s not the point at all. The point is that somehow throughout time, men have been fed a lie. A lie that tells them that to be a real man and to be attractive to women, they must stomp through life with no concern for the wake of damage that follows behind them. This is not true. Scripture does not back it up and I can personally testify that this is not attractive to my Godly female friends or myself. This is not merely a matter of preference, but of ethics. Preferences are things like blue eyes or a great singing voice. This is an issue of men taking an unethical view of creation and thinking that it should be, not only acceptable in the Christian life, but the pinnacle of Godly manhood. Here is why I disagree:

1.   All of creation belongs to God. He takes no pleasure in death.

 I don’t like the idea of hunting if the goal is simply to domineer oneself over an animal. God made it clear that we have dominion over all of creation, we don’t need to trap and kill to prove that. Sitting in a tree house throwing corn out for deer day after day and then shooting them with a scoped rifle is hardly hunting. If you enjoy being in nature, observing animals, camping, tracking, etc. be my guest, but there is no reason for these kinds of activities to end in death. I can’t imagine that Jesus, who came to conquer death, would want us to find any pleasure in death, even the death of an animal.

Using dead animals as trophies doesn’t impress me. As a matter of fact, it lessens my respect of a man. If a man thinks that his worth is based on how many little animals he can conquer and mount, he has a very sick view of the purpose and power of the human spirit.

2. Abusing or killing animals does not make you a stronger man, but a weaker bully.

In scripture, The Holy Spirit is represented as a dove because doves are a spectacle of purity and grace. Today, dove hunting is a huge sport. How does killing a tiny bird make you more of a man? One of my favorite passages of scripture is Matthew 10:28-30,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”

If God’s eye is really on a sparrow, why don’t we hesitate to take its small life?

Cruelty to animals is not manly, but rather childish. Remember that God let a donkey speak out against his abusive master! He also commanded that his people not muzzle an ox that was treading out the grain. (Numbers 22:28, Deuteronomy 25:4.)

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, writes in Proverbs 12:10: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

3. Scripture is adamant that man is to care for creation.

As you might’ve guessed, the beginning of this post was a parody of the true creation story. In reality, Genesis reads like so:

“…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:7-8, 15)

The literal translation from the Hebrew is that man was to “serve and protect” the natural earth. I also believe that we are to use the earth. It is subject to mankind, but it is also a gift. If someone gives you a gift, they want you to use it, not stow it away in some glass case. But neither do they want you to abuse it, destroy it or desecrate it in anyway. When we take what we need from the earth and give back to it as well, we are using the gift. When we take pleasure in the destruction of nature (be it animals, plants, the atmosphere) we are abusing our gift from God.

4. God honors creation and protection, condemns destruction and violence.

Without getting into a discussion of war, I think we can all agree that God calls us away from violence into a life of peace. He tells fathers to love their wives as Christ loves the church, giving of himself for her. He says that greater love has no man than this that he gives up his own life for a friend. He tells us not to provoke our children to anger, but to be gentle with children. He tells us to forget “an eye for an eye” and to instead turn the other cheek. Proverbs 3:31 warns,

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.”

5. Jesus wasn’t macho

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m about to make a case for some sweet, girlish version of Jesus that just goes around patting people’s hands and smelling flowers. That is far from the Jesus I’ve read about and known. However, despite the fact that Jesus was no wuss (He understood better than any of us the power of The Spirit) he was actually nothing like the man described by The Macho Manifesto above. He did not take pleasure in pain or death. He was gentle to women and children. He spoke against violence and pride. So if men aren’t supposed to be “macho,” what does scripture say man is to strive for? Well, first and foremost, we should all (regardless of sex) strive to emulate Christ. When scripture gives us requirements for men who want to lead in church, we hear descriptions like, “of good repute, wise, not drunkards, honest, dignified, gentle, self-controlled” etc. In other words, Gaston would not qualify.

Though I think scripture speaks pretty well for itself, I leave you with the words from a great novel:

 “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To Kill a Mockingbird

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