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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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on being “desperate”

 

desperate

Once upon a time, I swore I would never write about singleness. After all, nothing screams “desperate” quite like blogging about wishing you were married. However, in the past couple of years, I’ve received so much encouragement from my friends who are not ashamed of their relationship status and are bold enough to write about it, that I thought I could share my two cents without labeling myself too blatantly.

Since then, I’ve written about how singleness is not a disease and the real reason it’s hard being single. 

I defended myself in the first one. Singleness is not a disease…I am happy being single! In the second one, I confessed…it’s hard being single. Both are true. It seems that no matter how happy, fulfilled, busy, purposeful and content I am, there’s always an undercurrent of wishing I could marry. I don’t know yet if that’s a hidden form of discontent or a God-given instinct that will one day manifest itself in a real marriage or some of both, but it’s there nonetheless.

Still, the fear that I’ll seem “desperate” is so strong, it kicks the breath out of me at times. I feel like “single” is a name tag stuck in my hair. No amount of smiling and assuring people I’m happy will distract them from that sticky label.

What has surprised me most, however, is that as the years pass, I become happier and happier and more and more desperate. It’s true. The other night, I covered my face with my hands and cried real tears over this. I told God for the first time that I am, in fact, desperate. Desperate in the sense that I cannot shake this desire to be married, but it’s so much more than that. I’m desperate for God to write my story, whether it includes marriage or not.

Only He can fulfill me, only He knows what is best. I have become desperate, alright. Desperate to see Him move in my heart and my future. Desperate to know He’s working on this. Desperate to feel Him close when I feel lonely. Desperate to put all of this—the contentment and discontentment, the tears that come with a wrenching heart and the joy that makes me wonder why I’d ever want any other kind of life, all of this—into His competent hands.

I’m studying The Book of Numbers right now in my Bible study and it’s far from boring. Something really impressed me about Chapter 11, in which the wandering Israelites beg for meat. They “grumbled” and “wept” at the doors of their tents. In other words, they whined and complained to anyone who would listen, but they did not take their desires to God. When Moses could take no more, he addresses God in what sounds like an equally whiny and disrespectful speech:

Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15

His plea is sprinkled with questions of God’s faithfulness and the idea that the burden is entirely on Moses himself. You might think this is the point when God smites them all, Moses first. But that’s not the case. Though the people are punished, God takes mercy on Moses. He actually raises up seventy men to help bear the responsibilities as spiritual leader. God honors Moses for his honesty and the fact that he brought his weaknesses and needs to Him, instead of just complaining to his friends and family.

The people get what they asked for too, if you’re wondering. They get their meat. So much meat, that it oozes out of their nostrils (gross, huh?) and, “while it was still in their teeth,” it gives them a great plague and many die. The place where they fall is called Grave of Craving. Ouch.

That day in my Bible study notes, I jotted: “We can crave our way into the grave if we refuse to be satisfied by The Bread of Life.” 

Katie Davis, a missionary and woman of God I greatly admire, recently married. After living several years in Uganda as a single mom to fourteen, she finally has a husband (something she says she wanted all along) and a dad for her daughters. She writes,

“The Lord who knows my heart has been whispering to me of a new season for a long time, and my flesh has worried that this new season might take me out of my secret hiding place with Him, that somehow a physical, tangible relationship with another might take away from my relationship with my Builder, My Lover, My Life-Giver. Little did I know that this new relationship would only enhance the other.” (from Katie’s blog.)

My first thought was, “Yes! That’s what I want, too. I won’t settle for anything less than a marriage that enhances my relationship with God.” But later in the week, I started thinking about her words again, and I realized one horrific thing about my heart: There are moments when I would gladly trade my relationship with God for a “physical, tangle relationship.” And I don’t have the kind of relationship with “my Builder, My Lover, My Life-Giver” that would make me hesitant to receive a new relationship into my heart.

The words from the Rend Collective song came to mind almost immediately:

But I want to love You more
I need You God
But I want to need You more

I’m lost without
Your creative spark in me
I’m dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings

I’m desperate for a desperate heart
I’m reaching out, I’m reaching

All that I am is dry bones
Without You Lord, a desert soul
I am broken but running
Towards You God, You make me whole

You are exactly what we need
Only You can satisfy

Maybe I am desperate, but not even close to as desperate as I want to become. 

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Why I’m Still a SAHD (Part Two: Other Reasons)

Why I'm Still a SAHD (Part Two)

You can read the introduction and part one of this series here and here!

Now that we’ve covered what a SAHD is and why I personally love being home, I wanted to dive into the common reasons given for daughters staying home and discuss whether or not they are actually valid. If I’m not staying at home because I believe it’s the only holy choice for me, enjoying my parents’ home cannot be the only reason I stay. Well, I guess it could. I mean, it is pretty great…

Anyway, here are the Other Reasons I stay:

1. Staying connected as a family

I have quite a few good friends. Some of them I would even count as family. However, my immediate family is my top priority as far as human relationships go. My parents always put a huge emphasis on being friends with our siblings. My parents are best friends, they are friends to their kids (in a healthy way) and we are all friends with each other. We were homeschooled most of our lives and moved around/traveled a lot, so there were seasons when we didn’t have many friends outside of our home. There were road trips that consisted of twelve-hours a day in our suburban for three days with no TV or phones or iPods or iPads or Gameboys (is that even the thing anymore??) We had two options: be friends or hang out with your enemies all day.

The relationships that we built out of these somewhat isolated times are too precious to lose now that we are growing up and grown. So basically, if I moved out, I could live with a really great friend or two, but if I stay home I’m with my best friends in the whole world. My sisters are pretty sweet roomies. I get to eat lunch with my little brothers. I get to stay up late watching movies with my mom. Our home is the hub of our social life in many ways. We love opening our doors to each other’s friends. And yes, we do get out, but we bring people in even more often and that keeps us all really connected. Which I love.

2. Money, money, money

For obvious reasons, it saves me money to live at home. Most of my friends who are in college are unable to support themselves. They do not work while they are in school or, like me, work part time. Their parents have to pay for housing, food, tuition, books, bills, gas and extra finances. I can only imagine that that adds up very quickly. Going to college costs a lot, but just living outside of the home does too. At home, I take up one bedroom and three meals a day, not much gas or other resources. I don’t even shower every day, but you probably didn’t need to know that…

I am very thankful to my parents for continuing to support me. I pay for any extra things I need (clothes, gifts, books, coffee with a friend, etc.) and try to make wise choices with their money. As it stands now, I work twenty-three hours a week and am saving up for future plans right now. I am able to work for and save my own money, because I live at home. I’m hoping this gives me more career options in the future, because it will be my money to spend when I want to pitch another book or continue my education.

3. It’s safer

I don’t think this one needs much explaining. Coming home late at night to my dad and brothers and our dogs and a lock and key and a security system in a house in the woods is a lot safer than coming home late at night to an apartment in which my girlfriends may or may not be sleeping behind a door which may or may not be locked. Plus: hanging out with guys at my house vs. hanging out with guys at “my” apartment. It’s kind of like living in a boarding house. There are plenty of “public” places to chat.

4. Team work

By living at home, I’m able to help my family in many ways and they are able to help me, too. Over the years, I’ve been babysitter, housekeeper, chef, grocery shopper, tutor, errands runner, landscaper, you name it. It has given me ample experience for starting my own home one day (though it didn’t take twenty-two years to learn to cook and clean, no matter what other SAHDhood advocates may say!) Do I consider myself to be a domestic goddess now? No. But am I more domestic than the other girls I know? Yes, I probably am.

At times, my parents paid me to do certain tasks for the home. I used to get paid to grocery shop, plan meals and cook. Today, my nineteen year old sister gets paid to twist my little sister’s hair every week and maintain it (black hair is no joke, y’all.) In return, I use my parents all the time, even at twenty-two. My dad fixes my computer and scrapes the ice off the windshield and changes lightbulbs and fetches things from the attic. My mom answers a myriad of questions every day, does 100% of my laundry, lets me use her car, makes my coffee when I’m rushing out the door and drops it off at the office if I forget it all together! Living so communally, it’s impossible to separate the things we do for ourselves and the things we do for each other.

The truth is, we all spend a lot of time at home and much of that time is spent running the home. Maybe my dad is cooking and I’m helping. Maybe I’m cooking and my little brother is helping. Maybe I cook by myself and my little sisters do the dishes. Maybe my mom is homeschooling and I’m running the errands. Maybe she’s running the errands and I’m homeschooling. If this was a business, the jobs would have to be more set in stone (and oftentimes that sounds more appealing!) but when you’re family, you pitch in where you can.

5. Having a little share in a big company, vs. having a big share in a little company

I get to live in a big house with a big kitchen and a big yard. Sure, I share it with nine other people, but I get a share. When I want to cook, I have a big, nice kitchen to do it in with big, nice pots and pans. When I want to have friends over to watch a movie, I have a big, nice TV room with a big nice TV in it. When I want to garden, I have a big space outside where I can till the ground. When I want to read a book against a tree, I have my choice of trees! Big companies can offer bigger benefits. Sure, there are things I envy about those in “little companies.” No one has to ask their roommates before they make plans. There’s not a line for the shower when you live with one or two other people. Having your own car must be nice. But almost every time I have a friend over to Eyrie Park for the first time, they mention our backyard. That’s some pretty great Members Only perks, right there!

What are other benefits to staying at home as an adult I didn’t mentioned?

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Why I’m Still a SAHD (Part One: Why I Stay)

Why I'm Still a SAHD

You can read the intro to this series here!

I always tell people I live at Eyrie Park, but Eyrie Park is just a plot of land outside of an ordinary town in Texas. I actually live in a genuine College Town. The city is built around the university, the school colors fly in front of nearly every business and game day is like a sacred holiday. I have come to love living here because of all the benefits I can reap from the school without ever actually attending. Broadway plays and presidential candidates reserve our auditorium, opportunities to serve and learn and have fun are plentiful and, best of all-thousands of students from all over the world flood into my backyard and give this unsocialized homeschooler ample chances at making friends!

However, despite all the appeal of our nearby university, I have never applied to attend. Every year I ask myself if I’m meant to get a degree (I even considered it very seriously just last year) and come up with the same answer: not now. This may all seem irrelevant to the topic of staying at home. After all, I could easily live at home while going to school locally. But it’s the perspective of my university friends that makes being at SAHD even more appealing.

We often have students into our home; a large 1970’s house which shows it’s age here-and-there. We sit around the fire pit in our lovely hilly yard or gather around our scuffed up well-loved dining table for casseroles or card games. We pile onto our big red couch for movies and coffee. We squawk late into the night over jokes that wouldn’t be as funny in the morning.

I’ve had friends look at me and tell me they don’t understand my family, but they love it. I’ve had them say I live in “a different world.” I’ve heard that I can’t relate to their lives. I’ve been told I’m “so lucky” more times than I can count. People tell me they don’t want to ever leave. They sink into our couch, mug of coffee in hand or launch out on our tree swing and somehow they are in “a different world” for an afternoon too.

There is nothing actually magical about our home. It’s not the mod-squad architecture or my mother’s propensity to decorate with things we find in the woods. It’s not my sister and her husband using our kitchen as a culinary school, constantly trying new recipes and making things from scratch I never knew didn’t grow in a bottle. It isn’t my younger siblings’ obnoxious and charming disregard for personal space. It isn’t the constant hum of the dryer or the screech of the parakeet that gets louder the louder we talk. It isn’t the way we run out of dishes after every single meal or the books that are threatening the integrity of our many shelves or the butterflies my dad has shipped from the jungle and pins into abstract art.

It isn’t our beloved six acres on which we had to fell over forty trees during the drought or the pond with the turtles that surface for cat food or the construction site in the meadow that seems like it will never be done. It isn’t The Thinking Bench or The Beck or the family of raccoons that lives on our roof.

What is it, then? I hope you’re not disappointed when I tell you that I’m not entirely sure. I know it has to do with the way family is our top priority. Eyrie Park is a theocracy (God at the head) and a our jokes about it being a commune aren’t far off, either. Food is prepared in an oven or a pot on the stove which are about the same size. We all sit down together at least once a day to enjoy a meal together, even if it’s just turkey sandwiches.

My mom has always stayed home, since she became pregnant for the first time (with my brother who is nearing thirty.) I know that’s a privilege many women do not have, but it’s also a choice. Sundays are a sabbath, we don’t work if we can help it, though my dad’s ox has often “been in the ditch” over the years. (He’s actually off on Sundays consistently for the first time ever as of a couple of months ago!) Advent and Lent brings us together every evening for the lighting of a candle, the saying of a prayer, a reading of the Word, a singing of a song. And not everyone in the family would get a call back if we had auditions for a family band. We just sing anyway.

It isn’t a perfect place, by any means. Sometimes we hurt each other’s feelings or even fight, loudly. Sometimes we shirk on our chores and don’t have any clean plates for dinner. Sometimes we’re too tired to sing after we light the candles.

Sometimes I get fed up with my lack of independence and feel like I need to drive away before I burst. That’s a real feeling, and if any other stay-at-home adults feel that way: that’s okay. Your mom probably feels the same way sometimes.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to check eleven schedules before making plans. Sometimes I wish I could buy food that comes in small packages and eat the whole thing myself. Sometimes I wish there wasn’t a line for the (cold) shower. Sometimes I’d like to arrive at church on time and not spend ten minutes looking for an empty row to accommodate us.

And yet, I work two jobs and lead a service team every weekend and hang out with friends in between despite not owning a car. And when I’m done answering phones at the office and chasing toddlers at my second job and praying with widows on Saturday mornings, I get in my dad’s car and turn the key and think, I can’t wait to get home.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Other Reasons

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Why I’m Still a Stay-At-Home Daughter: An Intro

Why I'm Still a

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.”

1 Corinthians 10:23

I am twenty-two and I have been a S.A.H.D. (stay-at-home daughter) my entire life. If you aren’t familiar with this term, you probably weren’t homeschooled and born in the 80’s or 90’s into a Christian home. Perhaps you also do not know about denim jumpers. Though we will be quick to tell you that SAHDaughterhood is nothing new, the modern idea and the acronym are the result of the homeschool movement which brought thousands of American kids out of the public school system in the 80’s and 90’s and still influences families today.

The idea stems from the belief that women are meant to be part of a home. Many people believe that girls should always live under their parents’ roof and authority until they marry. Advocates for this ideology include the Botkins and other folks at Vision Forum, a ministry which was recently shut down after the leader was found to be having inappropriate relations with a young woman. This group believed that to move out from under the protective wing of a patriarch, unmarried is wrong because you are being independent, which is unwarranted if not unholy. (Ironically, that’s why this young woman was living under the care of their leader, who molested her for a period of years.)  I started this post off with the verse from 1 Corinthians to indicate that though am technically a SAHD, my blood boils a little when I hear the term. I stay at home because it’s best for me, not because it makes me better.

I actually bought a book on how to be a good stay-at-home daughter at one time, but I was never able to read it. Every time I tried, I would get to a paragraph about women needing to stay home no matter what and shut the book. I would think about Elisabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael and other single, female missionaries who have my deep respect, and put the book back on the shelf. I would literally have to sit still and take deep breaths for a moment before I could go on, so hurt was I. I finally gave myself some grace and got rid of the book. It was lawful for me to read it, but not beneficial.

It is these types of experiences which have led me to venture back into the topic of “staying home” while single. As I said, I’m twenty-two and I’m single and I live with my parents and six of my eight siblings. I was born in the 90’s, I was homeschooled and my family attends a conservative Christian church. Did I mention there are nine kids in my family??

The stereotypes are probably popping up in your mind like images of spaghetti straps supposedly pop into teenage boys’ minds after they’ve been desensitized. (Little homeschool joke there, for the Pubs reading along.) But the truth is, my family never really became a part of this movement. My parents read the Bible and apply what they read. Sometimes that leads us to live more conservatively than the folks around us, sometimes more liberally. 

And I read the Bible too. And not at my Papa’s feet, while he adds commentary. In private. To apply to my own life. Hold onto your head coverings! (Not to say that everyone involved in this ideology was/is this close-minded, just using extreme stereotypical examples!)

And though there are nine kids in our family, we are not anti-birth control. As a matter of fact, five of my siblings are adopted from other countries. And though we homeschool, we have experience with public school too. And my mom wears shorts and highlights her hair. (It feels good to get that off my chest!)

I don’t make light of these things because I think women who don’t wear shorts and do wear head coverings are dumb. I’m not making fun of them (I’m actually good friends with a few people who dress that way.) What I’m making fun of is the way our society things homeschool + Jesus = Amish. That’s not the way it works, at all. As a matter of fact, Amish kids aren’t homeschooled and I don’t think they wear denim!

So if I don’t stay home because I believe it’s sinful for unmarried women to move out, why do I stay? After all, I live in a bustling college town. My lifestyle isn’t exactly the cultural norm. Great question. :)

I hope this post served as intro for those who aren’t familiar with Stay-at-Home-Daughters and a bit of an encouragement for those who are. Stay tuned for Why I’m Still a Stay-At-Home Daughter Part One: Why I Stay.

-Everly

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