Archive | moving forward

Well hey, y’all!

If you’re not following me on Facebook, you are probably wondering “where in heck” I’ve run off to. I don’t know why I never thought of posting an explanation here! Truth be told, I still adore blogging (I will probably blog my whole life!) and plan to do so more and more. The hang up is, I’m not going to be doing it here.

Yes, you heard me. I’m hanging up the key to Clickety-Clack very soon. After more than eight years of blogging here, it is time for me to move on to a new, more accommodating space. The lovely Charlotte Boyer (of The Boyer Sisters) is designing a brand new site where I will continue to write all the things on my heart, including the posts about adoption which used to pop up on Pineapple Siblings.

It’s going to be très chic, super user-friendly, organized, clean, new and fresh! Merry Christmas to me!

So do not despair. I’m still here, I’m still writing, I’m still a blogger. I’m even writing (and illustrating) a book!

Oh, and one more thing. It’s actually the thing I’ve had the hardest time with. On the new blog, I’ll be using my legal name. Everly will forever be an old nickname which will bring back lots of happy, bloggy memories…but I’m going to try to make my life, on and offline, more seamless in the future.

We’re not crying, are we? Perfect.

See you on the other side, my dears!

One last time as,

Everly

caroline's portrait

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everly abroad

Dear Faithful Readers,

I have so enjoyed this whole blogging thing lately. I’ve been writing about adoption, great books, prayer, being a stay-at-home daughter, singleness and dressing modestly. What you didn’t know was that I was keeping a big secret from you all along. Plans have been in the works for some time, but they weren’t finalized until just last night.

On April 3rd, I am flying out of Houston with my parents and my two youngest sisters and I won’t be back for nineteen days. In the meantime, I will be soaring around in airplanes and chugging along in passenger trains and seeing Europe for the first time in my life.

travel for travel's sake

“Meggie” and my parents had to return to Latvia one last time to get her permanent visa and we’re turning it into a bit of a vacation. I’ve been saving for months, hoping to go. Little did I know when I started saving that I would not only being seeing the beautiful country of my sister’s origin, but also taking a “fika” in the land of my mother’s ancestry, Sweden! And picking tulips in the country of our beloved Vincent van Gogh, The Netherlands! And taking a train through Germany and Austria where the hills are alive with the sound of music! And floating down the canals in a Venetian gondola! And having a lay-over in Moscow! And spending nearly a month abroad, like a character in a book.

Excuse me while I stare into the distance for a moment.

Nope, still don’t believe it.

I’m still pondering how to best invite you all on the journey with me. My instagram account is private, and probably staying that way (lots of little siblings pics appear there) but I may create a hashtag y’all can use to creep along with me. Either way, I intend to have a genuine BLAST in April and want to tell you all about it, already.

But for now, I have a couple more weeks of work left and some loose ends to tie up and would love to ask y’all a few questions as I prepare!

1. For those who have traveled by train in Europe, any advice?

2. To those who have traveled as or with 10-12 year olds internationally, any advice?

3. To those who have seen these specific cities (Amsterdam, Riga, Stockholm, Venice) what is a must-see/must-do?

4. What movies or books should we snag as we prepare for this trip??

5. IF I do create a hashtag, what should it be?

 

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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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when God the Father seems overly protective

Though I sometimes suspect I’m turning into A Morning Person, I have to admit to a life-long hatred of alarm clocks. The sound my phone makes across the room when it’s time to get up for work is one of my least-favorite ditties ever to exist. In that inevitable moment, I forget that I am the one who told the alarm precisely when to go off and that, after all, it is just a piece of technology, not some demon set on ruining my life. I always give myself time for one “snooze” as I dive back under my comforter and appraise the day for nine minutes.

After forgiving God for allowing this injustice to happen so early in the morning, I begin to pray in short, sleepy spurts. What shall I do today, for The Kingdom? What are His plans for me? How can I glorify Him?

These prayers may sound quite pious for 6:30 AM, but I assure you they are merely the product of sleepy habit and a lot of grace. I cannot even say that my heart is necessarily “in it” at this point in the day (as is sometimes evidenced by my grouchy behavior once I leave my bedroom,) but it’s definitely a good way to start the day. I often look back on these little prayers around noon and think, “Well? Have I begun? Am I doing His work, or not?”

But do you know what irks me about these prayers? It’s the calm, consistent answer they so often receive. I can almost hear the smug tone in God’s voice at 6:33. There is no special assignment. There is no exciting task. It’s almost as if He replies with a small smile and a, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Day after day after boring day.

I hold my palms out in reverent prayer. WHATEVER you might want me to do, Lord, I’ll do. I’m available to you. I am willing.

“Okay,” He replies with that little smile. “Just keep doing what you’re doing for now.”

So, I know I’m being a bit sacrilegious by characterizing God the Father this way. After all, smugness isn’t exactly a fruit of His spirit. But this is the way I feel, sometimes. Like God is not using me. Instead, He’s just keeping me on a shelf, safe and still. I can almost see the dust collecting around my feet.

The truth is, at eighteen I thought I was ready. Everyone thought I was mature for my age. They applauded my wisdom and discretion. I wanted to be married, to adopt kids, to go back to Haiti do mission work. I wanted to be on the New York Times Bestseller’s list with a riveting scrutiny of society. It wasn’t that I wasn’t afraid at times, or that I never felt unqualified, but those feelings never really go away. Big things will always make little people nervous. Why not just start now?

And God gave me that little smile. I think it was the first time I’d seen it. And he patted me on my little head and tucked me into my little bed and told me to grow up. And, like all little children do, I told Him I wasn’t sleepy and I didn’t want to go to bed! I wanted to stay up with the grown-ups and do grown-up things and have fun! And He chuckled a little as He turned out the light and pulled the door, as if to say. “That’s nice, Deary.”

So I pitched the riveting manuscript and was rejected. The guy who would’ve married me got turned down. The tickets to Haiti were never purchased. The alarm clock continued going off at the same time every morning and I continued to lie in bed, nine minutes at a time, wondering what the heck my purpose was.

Now I’m twenty-two and, I’ll admit, a bit weary of God’s overly protective tendency’s at times. I get the feeling He’s holding out on good things for me because He just wants me to be near all the time. To get to know Him better. To spend my hours with Him and talk with Him. Where’s the adventure? Where’s the launch? Where’s the applause from society that comes with great accomplishments? Where’s the fodder for my blog, for Pete’s sake? Nothing every happens to me! I shriek (and throw myself onto my bed with the grace of a prepubescent brat.)

God gives me that look like I don’t know best or something, and leaves me to my pouting.

Other girls get married. Other girls have babies. Other girls travel. Other girls get published. I was never jealous of the girls who had phones before me, cars before me, pierced ears before me…but this? Are they really more qualified? Why can’t I be an early bloomer? (Stomps Mary-janes indignantly.)

This may be an exaggerated description of my relationship with God. I would like to think there’s a little more mutual respect between us, and less whining. But the truth is, I do complain a lot, about my lot. Elisabeth Elliot says of Psalm 16:5, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup and have made my lot secure.”

My “lot” is what happens to me-my share of that which comes by the will of the Power that rules my destiny. My lot includes the circumstances of my birth, my upbringing, my job, my hardships, the people I work with, my marital status, hindrances, obstacles, accidents, and opportunities. Everything constitutes my lot. Nothing excepted. (Be Still My Heart, pg. 35)

Can I accept the fact that My Good Father secured the lot that is my singleness? That He designed me this way and set me on this path? Can I accept the fact that He ordained for my book to be rejected? That I’d have to break someone’s heart? That I’d have to learn from mistakes? That my friends would move on and move away without me?

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is about Mary and Martha. I think I love it because it’s about women, and sisters no less! And it takes place in their home and shows their personalities and, let’s face it, tells a story all women have experienced. Martha is cooking and cleaning because they have guests and she is ticked that Mary isn’t helping. She’s just sitting there, hanging out with Jesus. Hello! I  can imagine Martha thinking while she gives Mary a wide-eyed glanced over Jesus’ shoulder. A little help here?!

But Jesus is sort of related to the God I’ve been describing here. He has a way of snuffing out our self-righteous plans with a look or a word.

“Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 The VOICE.)

So what if I have an extended adolescence? So what if my life looks boring to other people? So what if I’ll never get to prove how good of a wife/mother/author/missionary I could’ve been at nineteen? God hasn’t been smug with me. He’s been patient. He’s given me years of chances to “choose that one thing” that cannot be taken away from me. I wanted to be Martha, working and doing big things for Jesus. I wanted to show the world how dedicated I was to Him. But it turns out He really doesn’t give a darn about what the world sees me do. He cares about my heart. If I cannot sing a serenade to Him, why do I think a solo concert in front of a big audience will bring Him glory?

I have a  feeling there is a Mother Theresa out there right now who hasn’t been discovered by the media and never will. An Elisabeth Elliot who doesn’t land a book deal. A Gladys Aylward who still hasn’t made it to China, despite her efforts.

God’s ways are not my ways. He actually does know better. So maybe I’m a slow learner, a late bloomer. Maybe I did need a little more time on my Papa’s lap, as my friend Jessiqua would say, before chasing my dreams. Maybe He’s preparing me for a greater work than I’ve ever cooked up on my own. And maybe it won’t win me fame or esteem. But maybe it will matter.

4

a shift to september

IMG_6858

photo credit: jeweliet.com

Well! After a long wait, change has finally graced us with her presence. As the first flurries of snow fall on the stone streets of Riga, beauty berries appear on the cusp of our woods here at Eyrie Park. A new semester begins and college students flood back into town, children pose for back-to-school photos for Instagram and teachers gird up their loins for another year of backbreaking, rewarding toil.

This morning, my parents and Jeweliet settled into their new apartment and unpacked their month’s worth of necessities. They’re asleep right now, as I type in this sunny bedroom filled with the sound of dinner being prepared. In a couple of days, they’ll appear before court and received custody of Meggie and see her and squeeze her and start to love her in a way we love things we’re never going to lose.

Meanwhile, my oldest brother heads back to Dallas where he’s recently moved in hopes of starting a business with some friends, and brothers #2 and #3 drop their duffle bags in Mema and Papa’s south Houston living room and make themselves comfortable. If you’re counting, that leaves me with the married sister, the brother-in-law and the loud and lovely Jubilee, age eleven. This has got to be the weirdest September ever.

But it’s also wonderful, because things are actually progressing. We’re following a bend in the river, hopeful and trusting and a bit afraid.

I always feel a deep sadness when I realize Summer is slipping through my grasp, because I can never feel I’ve had enough of sunshine, freckles, jumping into the deep end, cicada songs and the leisure of long, long days. Summer in Texas is so hot, many people don’t believe they could stand it and even I complain about the heat from time to time, and yet I adore it. It’s homey and it makes me feel alive and adventurous to squint and breathe in fresh steam.

I always mourn Summer, and yet September has her own magic. September is like a grandmother you’ve always known, but didn’t know was an undefeated basketball champion in 1944. Around here, September is much like Summer. Hot, humid and still as a gargoyle, but it isn’t quite. It is quite anything. Not Summer, not Autumn, just it’s own, mysterious middle-month. September helps ease into the end of the year, whispering, “Don’t forget, Christmas is coming! And–before you know it? A new year.”

September is the mother who holds your hand on the sidewalk all the way up to the big door and tells you to obey your teacher and have fun. It’s a transitional month, a gentle month, an important month.

The sun dangles golden in my windowpane, Jubilee’s voice reverberating through my sliding door with calls for the wandering pup. The married couple works culinary magic and makes plans for their third anniversary. Brothers work and play and text and call and somewhere in Eastern Europe, Meggie lies her head not far from her new “mama” and “tētis” and her wait is nearly over.

Thank you, God, for good changes.

We are a bit excited...

We are a bit excited…

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