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

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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!

The Opposite of Toxic

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How many of you have seen articles like the following?

  • “10 Signs You are Toxic Parent and Your Children Will End Up in Counseling Because of It”
  • “5 Phrases You Should Absolutely Never Say to Your Child Unless You Want to Singlehandedly Ruin Their Life”
  • “You are the Worst at Parenting and Here is an Article that Lays Out Exactly Why You are Failing”

I’ve clicked on them. I’ve said/done some of the things in them. The natural conclusion is that I am ruining my kids and they would be better off elsewhere.

Except NOT.

I am far from perfect at this parenting thing. But aren’t we all? I have yelled at my children and immediately regretted it. I’ve bribed, I’ve stomped around like I was the child, I’ve cried… I’ve had some bad moments y’all.

I have even gone to counseling because I was struggling so much with feeling angry most of the time.

I am convinced that no matter who we are, if we look hard enough, we will find an article that lists one of our behaviors as toxic. And then what happens? We leave that place feeling defeated and hopeless. Every time we repeat that behavior, we beat ourselves up for it, wallow in our awfulness, work really hard at never doing it again…JUST TO DO IT AGAIN.

What a way to live.

Can we agree not to do this to ourselves anymore?

Instead of running to the internet, let’s run to Jesus. His words are far, FAR different from the ones we see in those negatively titled articles. Jesus absolutely will not make a list of our failures and shove them in our face. Instead, He speaks life and truth to us while showing us a better way.

When I look to Jesus, I’m able to use my worst moments to lead me to be a healthy parent. I find strength to stand in prayer and hand my anxieties over to Him. I take the responsibility off of my own shoulders and place it on His. The more I do this, the less often I find myself yelling out of frustration. I am grounded in who God has created me to be!

I still have moments. Just this week, I got frustrated and yelled at my girls. I hate it. But instead of going into a dark, deep, negative spiral about what a failure I am, I use it as a teaching moment.

My girls know 100% of the time that my anger is NOT THEIR FAULT. Because I tell them this! I repeat to them why I love them and list off the reasons of why I am so grateful for them. I remind them that certain behaviors are not appropriate for them to do, but that is never an excuse for mommy to yell at them. I can say to my children, “I’m feeling frustrated, so I’m going to have a moment to myself and pray to Jesus.”

And THEN, when they have an outburst of anger or respond inappropriately, I can lead them in healthy alternatives of how to handle their emotions. I can tell them that I understand how they feel, but that we are still responsible for how we react. Because I am leaning on Jesus to show me a better way to live, I get to lead my girls in a better way to live. 

Talk about empowering!

If you fear that you are living in a negative cycle, get help. Pray to Jesus. Talk to a friend. Sign up with a counselor. But know that there is HOPE.

Jesus is in the work of transforming lives. You don’t have to stay in the darkness because He is the Light! Live in the freedom that is found in following Him.

And friend, I’m with you. I’ll be here to encourage you and pray with you. You are not alone!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Adventures with My Best Friend

One of the things Eric and I have had in common throughout our marriage is our love for travel and exploration. We have often said we would rather have fewer “things” in exchange for the memories and experiences we share in traveling.

This was true when we first got married, and is even more true now that we have two children. I really like my husband and crave all the one on one time I can get with him! Our travels these days take quite a bit more planning, but the effort is always worth it.

Our very first trip together was for our honeymoon. We went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and spent our week hiking, riding horses, and exploring Yellowstone National Park. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen!

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Faithful companions visiting Old Faithful.

For our one year anniversary, we took an extremely last minute trip to Canada. We flew into Main and then drove over the border into Quebec. It was quite the surprise when we discovered French was the official language! Our final destinations were Peggy’s Cove and Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables anyone?). Simply stunning!

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On the farm that inspired Anne of Green Gables in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

The following year we went to Colorado. Eric had a worship conference in Colorado Springs, so we piggy-backed on that and headed to Breckenridge. While in the area, we drove up Pike’s Peak (terrifying!) and saw the magnificent Red Rocks.

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All dressed up for a fancy fondue dinner in Breckinridge, Colorado.

Arizona was the first place we traveled that was warm. We got some amazing views of the Grand Canyon and were blown away by a huge meteor crater. If any of you decide to visit, make sure to wear closed toed shoes. They won’t let you hike the rim of the crater without them! I speak from experience here.

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The Grand Canyon. Breathtaking!

Our fifth anniversary took us to Europe with our friends Seth & Meredith. We spent 10 days exploring Rome and Athens. So many wonderful memories! Unbeknownst to us, there were riots occurring in Greece while we were there. We accidentally ended up right in the middle of one! While it was disappointing we couldn’t explore all the locations we wanted in Athens, it was certainly memorable to be there in an important moment of their history.

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Visiting the Roman Coliseum with friends.

Then came children. Traveling has looked a bit different since then! We have enjoyed our family trips to Williamsburg and Disney World immensely, but there is always something special about getting a chance to be alone together.

When our second child was a little over a year old, I texted Eric saying how I longed to go to an all-inclusive resort in the middle of nowhere and do nothing. It’s a good thing I married the man I did, because we worked together to find a way to make it happen! We got a surprise destination deal on cheapcaribbean.com and found ourselves in Punta Cana of the Dominican Republic. This trip was huge for us. It’s easy to take your spouse for granted amidst the responsibilities of raising a family, and this vacation helped us make each other a priority. We have since vowed to make sure we always find a way to go somewhere just the two of us.

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Waiting for dinner in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The very next summer we made it happen again. This time in Riviera Maya of Mexico. Beautiful beaches, gigantic swimming pool, no responsibilities, uninterrupted conversation, and fun with my hubby. What’s not to love?

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With my handsome hubby exploring Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Last April we had a blast at the ARC Conference with some of the Daystar staff. Since we were already kid free, we decided to take advantage of the situation and spent a couple of days in Savannah, Georgia. This city is full of history and delicious food!

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Our table was in the basement/cellar of this building. Such a neat experience!

Just last week we went on our first cruise together. You guys, I cannot tell you what this does for our relationship. We love our children and we love being in the ministry, but getting away, just the two of us, revives us for the next leg of our journey. We have seen how these trips strengthen our relationship and believe it is essential to make the nurturing of our marriage a priority.

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Ready to embark on our cruise! We visited Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman.

We are already dreaming of our next trip. England perhaps? Where do you hope to travel in the future? If traveling isn’t your thing, how do you and your spouse find ways to connect and make each other a priority?