Breathing Amidst the Busy Season

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Life is full of seasons.

First, and most obvious, are the four seasons of every year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. I love living in North Carolina because we get to experience all four seasons, but my favorite is summer. I can’t stand being cold and I love never having to wonder what the weather is going to be that day. The forecast? Hot. End of story.

There are major life cycle seasons. Grade school, college, dating, first job, newlyweds, new home, first baby, etc. Each of these seasons teach us something new about ourselves. I’ve noticed that when I transition from one season to another, I’m likely to gravitate toward other people in a similar season. Is this true of you too?

Other seasons are much less obvious and often unexpected. This can look like a season of job searching, moving somewhere new, fighting health issues, or perhaps being a primary caretaker of a loved one. These seasons can be hard, rewarding, challenging, exhilarating, or exhausting. They push us to our limits and beyond. How we handle these seasons can make us stronger or leave us stagnant. Sometimes it’s circumstances beyond our control, and other times it’s a result of decisions we have made. No matter the cause, we have the opportunity to let the season change us for the better. Are you in one of these seasons right now? Have you come out of one recently?

The holiday season is upon us currently. This one comes every year and some of us love it, while others dread it. Personally, I love it, but I’m ready for a breather when it all comes to an end. Where do you fall on this line? 

My current season is one I have brought upon myself, despite feeling like I finally figured out how to conquer it. A season of busyness.

Why do I do this to myself?

This past spring and summer was a breathing season for me. I said “no” to a lot of great things I would usually have gone out of my way to do. But by the end of summer, I felt a surplus of energy and proceeded to add everything in all at once.

It was too much. So, you know what happened? The pieces of that schedule that I was most excited about took a back burner. The things that would bring me the most life and energy, were the ones that got neglected.

For me to be the best version of myself, I require time away from my kids. I’m a stay-at-home momma. My children are my job, my life. I love them to bits and pieces, but sometimes I want to strangle them. I’m learning that for me to be the best momma I can possibly be, I have to incorporate regular time that has nothing to do with my kiddos so that I don’t all of a sudden blow up and fall to pieces in front of them.

I don’t know about you, but I require rest. I require breaks. I need time to breathe, to think, to be still.

My season of busyness will be ending after Christmas, so I’m currently evaluating what I can truly say “yes” to. And as we enter this Christmas season, I’m reminding myself of what is important. What actually matters. All my commitments are positive and good, but what are the things that fill me in such a way that I can continue to pour out to others?

I hereby give you permission to take a break. Maybe that means you get store-bought rather than homemade for that cookie exchange. Maybe it means throwing gifts in a bag instead of wrapping. Maybe you can hire someone to clean your house or simply decide to let your cleaning standards slide for the time being. In this incredibly busy holiday season, choose what’s best. Focus on what matters. 

How will you give yourself a chance to breathe? Will this allow you to then breathe life into someone else?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:5-6

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The Invasion of the Bees

The Invasion of the Bees

I tend to be a rather serious person. I research all the things before making significant decisions. I take the simple moments of life and evaluate them under the lens of Biblical significance; wondering how I can learn and grow in the midst of whatever might be happening in any given moment. I overthink every possible thing, including, but not limited to: packing, conversations, social media interactions, clothing, dinner menus, and what book to read next.

It can be quite exhausting to live this way.

Which is why, in today’s blog post, I bring you a light-hearted story. Because sometimes we need a break from the serious things in life. I’m taking a break by writing it, and I hope you get to take a break by reading it.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

I had decided to do a little task to serve my husband (this task, in no way, doubled as an opportunity to count more steps for my fitbit). On that fateful September day, in an act of complete humility and servitude, I decided to take the kitchen trash and actually place it in the outdoor trash can. Usually, I just leave these things by the back door.

Upon exiting our home and heading down the steep flight of stairs on our back deck, I experienced a sudden, and extraordinarily painful, sensation on my right arm. I dropped the trash and screamed as though my arm had been completely severed. 

My mind caught up to the moment and I realized I had endured a bee sting. Thank goodness those things die after stinging someone. I looked down to evaluate the damage, just to realize it was still there, wiggling it’s butt into my arm in order to insert as much venom as possible and cause my utter demise. There was nothing to do but scream again, in an equally dramatic fashion, while flailing my arms around in attempts to extract the bee.

My method worked, the bee disappeared, and I cannot remember whether or not I finished taking out the trash. When I made it back inside the house, my first job was to let my children know that they were safe and mom had not gone insane. “A bee stung me, and I was so surprised!” I shakily explained. They laughed because mommy is so silly. I ran upstairs to change my pants.

A few minutes, clean pants, and calm children later, I looked out the window to see if I could figure out why on earth that bee was so angry with me. What I saw was terrifying. Hundreds of yellow jackets were flying to and fro a nest in (yes, IN) the side of our house, right next to that back door. I decided to only use the front door henceforth, or at least, until the first freeze killed those stinging pests.

We coincided peacefully for a time. Myself and the bees, I mean. Them flying. Me avoiding. Until, Monday of last week, it reached a point when I could ignore their presence no longer. They had begun entering our home uninvited.

I texted my husband my concerns and proceeded to research. Remember how I overthink all the things? The following paragraph is an attempt to show my thought process upon completion of said research:

“I am terrified of these things and they have to go but I don’t want to waste money on an exterminator because it’s so late in the fall and they will die when the weather gets cold enough and that should be really soon. The only reason they are here now is because the weather has been warm. We don’t need to call an exterminator. But the internet says not to treat this ourselves because yellow jackets are extra mean in the fall and if we spray a nest in the side of our house they will just find another way out and that means inside of our home. But the exterminator is expensive. We have to get an exterminator. The internet says when yellow jackets sting they DON’T DIE. I’m so freaked out right now. Time to call Eric.”

My phone call to my husband likely sounded similar to how that paragraph reads. 

His thoughts, “she’s overreacting.”
My thoughts, “I’m overreacting.”
Decision: self-treat the yellow jacket situation.

Friends, should you ever find yourself in a situation where yellow jackets have built a nest inside the walls of your home, do not, I repeat, do not treat it yourself.

He sprayed them Tuesday night, but ran out of spray before they all died. I was suppose to pick up more spray on my way home from a girls’ night, but neglected to do so. This was my biggest mistake.

Wednesday morning, they were EVERYWHERE.

Now, I feel it is also quite important to note that my brother was getting married that weekend. In Kansas. And we were scheduled to take our two children on their first flight at 5:30 Thursday morning. I had quite a to-do list to accomplish, and as the bees had already been messing with my productivity that week, my anxiety was mounting. It was all I could do to remain calm.

My husband killed no less than 20 bees during his quiet time Wednesday morning. When he left for work, I counted 10 on the windows by our kitchen table. I knew of a handful upstairs in our room. I found a few on the floor. I went to feed the dog, and there were several crawling on the food container and in his bowl. I could hear them buzzing in the light fixture above the table. 

With or without yellow jackets, it was imperative I pack my bags for our flight to Kansas. I was certain I could handle this. Give them their space and they would give me mine. I pulled out my suitcase from the small storage closet in our room, only to discover a yellow jacket was sitting on top of it. Two more flew from within the closet.

At this moment I completely lost control. I called my husband and the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m trying not to hyperventilate.” I broke down in tears. I legitimately could not handle the thought of any more yellow jackets. They had invaded my home and who knew where I would find the next one? 

When he found space to speak, hubby instructed me to leave the house. “But I have all the packing!” I sobbed. 

“Leave the house.”
“Packing!”
“I will find a solution.”
“How?!?”
“Just leave the house.”
“But…”
“Leave the house.”

I told the girls we were going to go eat lunch at Chick-Fil-A. 

I dropped the dog off at the boarding place (because what if he tried to eat a yellow jacket and got stung in the mouth?!?), and settled in to an unknown amount of time at the CFA play area.

It wasn’t that long before I received a text from my knight-in-shining-armor, “The bees are all dead. Inside and outside.”

Hallelujah!!! Those words were music to my ears. I could breathe again! I gathered up the girls so we could head home and finish packing.

He was right, those bees were dead! But slowly, as the day continued, more would find their way into our home. I have no idea how they did it. I have even less of an idea how I slept that night.

Actually, come to think of it, I didn’t sleep. Yellow jackets, and dreams about missing your flight with a 3am wake up will do that to you.

Thankfully, due to poison overtaking their bodies, there was no yellow jacket activity when we left our house the next morning. (How we managed to get all four of us packed and dressed, with all of our stuff, at that hour in the morning, is beyond me at this point. Especially in light of the dramatics the previous day.)

Our trip was a great one. The girls were fabulous on their first flights, performed their flower girl duties flawlessly, and we were all able to celebrate my brother’s union with his bride, my new sister.

As for the yellow jackets? When we got back home Sunday evening, there were a few dead ones lying on the floor. I’ve seen a few here and there around windows, but they all end up dead at some point. When it gets cold enough, we will plug the entrance hole to their nest so they cannot return to that area next year.

And should I witness any yellow jackets near my house in the future, you better believe I’m calling an exterminator.

Bloom & Grow

Bloom & Grow

One of my girls thrives on verbal affirmation while the other seeks out lots of snuggles.

It is my absolute favorite to see a smile climb up the cheeks of my older child. She is much less likely to outwardly reveal when something touches her inwardly, so when I see the evidence, I soak it up and store it in my heart. This usually happens at bedtime, when I whisper words of life over her and she thinks it is too dark for me to see her delight.

A few nights ago, I read the girls a library book about the process of planting flowers, watching them grow, and seeing them spread their seeds for new flowers to have a chance to bloom. I turned off the lights and whispered to my word-loving daughter, “You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

My favorite smile spread slowly across her face and I knew she would drift to sleep that night feeling loved and having purpose.

I turned to my snuggler to say the same thing, but her response was to giggle, “Mommy! I’m not a flower!” Perhaps she isn’t old enough for metaphors just yet. I made sure to squeeze her tight so that she too would feel affirmed and loved.

I’ve since been thinking quite a bit about flowers and their seeds.

Notice the seed. Before a flower can bloom, its seed must succumb to the process of transformation. When a seed is planted, it goes into the soil never to look the same again. 

It’s not an easy process. The germination (sprouting) of the seed requires the nutrients of the soil, the moisture of water, and just the right amount of sunlight. Each seed has its own needs for life to form.

The hard shell of the seed melts away as the greenery of the plant reaches through the dirt and stretches to find light. In the right environment, the plant will begin to flower and feed the life around it.

New flowers will have the opportunity to bloom and grow as fresh seeds are scattered to the ground.

Did you know that your life resembles that of this flower?

For us to bloom into our greatest beauty, we must die to ourselves. We must succumb to the process of transformation so that our hard shells can melt away. It isn’t easy, is it? Sometimes we feel pressure, maybe a bit of loneliness. It may feel like we are drowning, that we are too hot, or too cold. But when we allow ourselves to submit to the process, we realize that our Gardner knows just what it is that will bring blossoming flowers in our lives.

There will be seasons when we feel the ache of our growth, and also seasons of rest as we wait for the sunshine to warm us again. But the result of these seasons of growth and rest, is the season of beauty. At our peak, we are beautiful flowers offering nourishment to those who come near. Our scent is alluring and our seeds spread with the promise of new life to come.

Whatever season you are currently in, do not forget this truth, my friend:

“You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

Stay close to your Gardener. He will give you what you need, when you need it. Remember that the difficult moments will not last forever. New growth is coming.

“…When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.” 1 Corinthians 15:36-38

Clothing My Imperfections

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I have a thing for skirts.

Skirts have a lovely, feminine, endearing vibe to them. I can dress them up for a more elegant look, or down for errands around town. They also have this delightful ability to hide the little muffin squish that most of my jeans seem to enjoy emphasizing.

I discovered skirts shortly after my second baby was born. My tummy didn’t deflate immediately, which made for some rather awkward inquiries from strangers about whether or not I might be pregnant. Nope, my baby was born a month ago, but thanks for asking!

Whether it was my need for bigger clothes or my need to feel less self-conscious, I went shopping for something that might disguise the tummy pooch. I stumbled across a simple, midi-length skirt that sat at my natural waistline and I have been hooked ever since.

However, as fabulous as skirts are, there is an even better type of clothing!

Check out this verse: “…clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 13:14a

I have been thinking about this idea for DAYS. Clothing ourselves in a new style can be positive and make us feel beautiful. Clothing ourselves in Jesus Christ can be LIFE CHANGING.

Here are some of my thoughts on this:

  • I spent quite a significant amount of time searching for my new style. Similarly, I should be spending quite a significant amount of time searching for Jesus and wrapping myself up in His Word.
  • Clothes are worn all day long. Clothing ourselves with Jesus means He is part of our lives 24/7. Not just Sundays. Not just during our quiet time. All day, everyday.
  • One reason I love skirts so much is because of the way they cover up the “I’ve had babies,” blob. They mask my imperfections. Clothing myself with Jesus goes beyond masking my imperfections. He takes all my blemishes and nakedness and makes them like new. I am a new person in Christ!
  • Clothes have the ability to define who we are. Our clothes can tell someone whether we are successful entrepreneurs, whether we have a fun outing planned, or if it’s a work-around-the-house kind of day. When I am clothed in Christ, my identity is more than my outward appearance. He defines who I am from the inside out, and the evidence is there for all to see.
  • I could spend all day in my jammies if I wanted. I have to make an active choice to get dressed and then choose what to wear – it doesn’t just happen on its own. In the same way, clothing myself in Christ is an active choice. The word “clothe” in our verse is a verb. I must choose daily to put on His presence!

The first step to changing your wardrobe forever, is to get rid of the clothes that don’t work. Romans 13:12 says, “…remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.” He will get rid of all of our stains, but it requires us to bring them to Him first.

If you haven’t yet decided to surrender to Jesus and make Him King over your life, I’d highly encourage you to do so. A relationship with Him will make you see your beauty and value far more than any garment ever could.

I love skirts, but my favorite fashion? Clothing myself in Jesus. He’s just right for every body type.

 

*Photo credit to Alexa Stutts Photography.

Refining and Defining

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Refining and Defining. This is my current season. I am learning a great deal about how to be more effective with my blogging hobby.

I am pulled back and forth between my desire to remain hidden in the shadows and my desire to do more with all that I have been entrusted with by God. I am an avoider of the spotlight and a lover of the back wall, but feel a prompting to put myself out there a bit more.

I can either continue with status quo, or take a few risks and see where it all leads. 

So, I am in process (Aren’t we all?). I am unsure of what the future holds and exactly how God is directing my steps, but in the meantime, I’m doing all I can to prepare. I want to be ready for what He has for me.

One of my first steps was to attend the Words Conference held outside of Charlotte a couple of weeks ago. 

Have you ever been to a place where you felt, “I have found my people!”? The other writers, bloggers, and communicators seemed much further along in their journey than myself, but I knew I belonged. They spoke my language and caught my heart. 

I was greatly encouraged by everyone at this conference, but I also came away with quite a bit of work to do. Here is your official heads-up that this blog will be receiving quite a bit of TLC in the coming months.

Some things you can expect to be happening:

  • Alfelfa Sprouts will change its name. I love the cutesy-ness and the ability to hide a bit in this name, but I have to face the facts. Nobody can spell it. Why do I spend hours thinking, writing, editing, searching, digging, praying about this place, and give it a name no one can find? It will be replaced with something much more simple, and I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that the name of the blog may need to coincide with the name of the person who writes it. Goodbye shadows.
  • The tagline is changing. I am praying and asking questions about the who, what, and why these words are being written. I have been told that people need to know what to expect from me, and I need to make that much easier to discover. 
  • Perhaps the hardest part of all of this (for me at least), is the visual side of this blog. I have been doing this as a hobby. I don’t seek endorsements or payments, and as such, I try to avoid spending money. But, sometimes doing something with excellence requires investment. I want my readers to find a place of beauty and belonging.

I will continue my goal of posting bi-weekly while working to make improvements and changes along the way. I do not know how long all of this will take, because, quite frankly, I don’t know how long all of this will take! It will depend on resources and time I can carve out of my day.

In the meantime, I crave any sort of feedback you can provide! As one of my readers, I greatly value your input. Would you be so kind as to help answer some questions?

  • When you come to this blog, what are you hoping to find?
  • What are your favorite types of posts?
  • How would you summarize this place in a few words?
  • Are you a person who understands branding/blogging themes/all the visual things I know nothing about? Where can you point me for guidance?
  • Anything else you want to share with me?

I am so incredibly grateful for all of you who read these words each time I post. You are a friend to me and I hope you feel the same in return!