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!

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Beyond Good Intentions

Aerial view of retro typewriter

Alright, it’s time. I give in.

I give in to the realization that I won’t do this perfectly. That I’ll frequently break my own rules. That there is more to this thing than what I can do on my own. That my job isn’t to be perfect, but to be obedient.

I like rules a LOT. So much so, that when none are present, I just make some up for myself to follow. When I first began writing in this blog a few years ago, I did so with the intention to publish a new post every other Friday. Ever since then, that idea has been the determining factor for whether or not I was to continue posting.

Well, life happened. Things got a little crazy. I stopped being able to post every other Friday, and therefore, I stopped posting at all. The perfectionist in me said that if I couldn’t do it right, I couldn’t do it at all. 

For months I have had good intentions. I have tried, and tried, and tried to get into a regular routine again. I’ve updated my welcome and about pages. I’ve got half-a-dozen posts waiting to be published. But they just sit there. They sit there because of my own stubbornness and insecurities about the likelihood that I won’t meet my silly little goal.

Meanwhile, God has been pressing on my heart. Goodness gracious. He has given me the tiniest idea of what my future may hold, and it is both invigorating and terrifying. There are days I’m ready to jump in with both feet, and days I prefer to ignore it all together. Surely, He’s got the wrong gal.

But He keeps pushing. He isn’t one to give up on His people easily. And do you know what He is telling me in this moment? That drive for perfection isn’t from Him, it’s from the enemy. Who has He ever called that was perfect?

Moses was a murderer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Ruth was a foreigner.
David was an adulterer.
Esther was a nobody.
Jonah was afraid.
Matthew was in the wrong profession.
Paul was a terrorist.

And yet, every single one of them (and more!) were used by God in tremendous ways. I don’t know all the details of God’s plan for me, but I do know that my place right now is this blog. I love it here. I love the idea that someone might stumble across these words and find hope in Jesus.

I simply cannot ignore it any longer. What I have to offer may not be perfect, but it’s something. I don’t even know when my next opportunity to write will be. But, Jesus, I ask you to take this offering and do with it what you will. All I have is yours.

“Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” Exodus 4:11-12

One Year Later…

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The baby’s face is priceless! Image by Alexa’s Photography.

I pay a small fee once a year to keep “.wordpress.com” off of the end of my blog name. I paid it once when I first launched the blog, and just recently I was notified that my next payment was due.

That means I’ve been doing this blog thing publicly for a year now. Woah! I must say, I’m rather proud of myself for keeping it up. ::imaginary pat on the back::

My first post was published on March 20th of 2015. I gave my reasons for blogging and laid out some goals. Looking back over that post, I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish each one, and wow…that feels great!

Today makes a total of 52 published posts. The month of November accounts for more than half of those posts as I wrote once a day as an act of gratitude for various individuals in my life. I have 3 posts sitting in my draft folder, but it never seems the right time to publish them. I have a folder on my computer full of things that I’ve written. Some I hope to edit and publish eventually, while others may just end up being personal thoughts to tuck away in a corner somewhere. And then there’s that long list of ideas that I keep for anytime a topic jumps into my head.

I suppose it is safe to say, Alfelfa Sprouts won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

I’m very excited, yet apprehensive, about a series of posts I’m planning to do toward the end of April. I’ve written 2 1/2 out of a series of 5 posts I hope to publish in honor of Infertility Awareness Week. Infertility is a struggle that impacts many more women than we might think. God has placed a very tender spot on my heart for this issue, and it is with much prayer that I am attempting to tackle the topic from an outsider’s perspective. Will you pray with me as I continue this pursuit?

This has been a year of personal growth and learning as I often lay my heart bare in hopes of bringing life to another. This is my ministry. It takes a great deal of time and effort for each post to happen, but I love it.

I’ll leave you today with the 5 most viewed posts from my first year as a blogger. I hope you enjoy looking back as much as I have!

  1. The Story of Us (All about how my hubby and I met and began our relationship.)
  2. In the Beginning… (My very first post! Read this if you want to know my heart for this place.)
  3. Life or Death (Our words contain much power; as demonstrated by little children. One of my personal favorites.)
  4. Mom Fails (I am NOT perfect, and here are a few examples!)
  5. Longing for Paradise (Hubby and I took our very first caribbean vacation, and it felt like Heaven.)

Thank you to everyone who consistently comes to this place to hang out for a bit. Your encouragement (through comments and likes online, as well as in personal conversations) speaks volumes to me and is so very appreciated!

30 Days of Thankfulness: Blog Helpers

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I wasn’t kidding when I said I would draw names out of a hat. I have a tendency to way over-analyze things, so I decided to cheat a little on how to decide who would be next. So, this post shall be dedicated to all the people who have helped me with Alfelfa Sprouts in any way, shape, or form.

One of my very good friends, Amber, unknowingly gave me the inspiration to start up a blog. By simply stating that I am a Pastor’s wife, she put a little stirring in my heart to do something with my role. Amber, I want to thank you for always being encouraging and for speaking truth into my life!

Blog Helpers: Amber
Enjoying friends while at a wedding! Amber is in the middle of our group hug.

Once I decided to actually start writing a blog, I had no idea what to do. I googled some things, did searches on Pinterest, and then ultimately consulted my friend John. He was able to answer all bajillion questions I had about the internet world, and has since followed up with me now that I’ve had a little bit of experience. John, I appreciate your willingness to help me figure this out and for helping me feel like I wasn’t crazy to do it!

Blog Helpers: John
Laughing at fun friends! This was taken just a few weeks before John and his wife Rachel were married.

Through this process I was able to meet Marty of Marty’s Musings one Sunday at church. We have plans to get together to talk all things blog. If you didn’t know, her blog is kind of a big deal and I have so many things to learn from her experience. Marty, thank you for the shout out on your Facebook page and for being interested in my little blog!

Blog Helpers: Marty
What a sweet picture of Marty and her husband Tim!

If you look through this page much, you are sure to find plenty of mentions of Alexa’s Photography. That’s because I am privileged to be good friends with Alexa and she has been so gracious to allow me to use her expertise and some of her photos for my posts. Alexa, I never cease to be amazed by your photography skills and it means so much to me that you would let me use your work!

Blog Helpers: Alexa
Alexa and her hubby, Jonathan, taking a selfie.

Then there was the day I got a text from my friend Brett. She told me about her interest in stock photography and wanted to know if she could create some things for my blog. Um, YES! She was a literal answer to prayers about how to increase interest in my little corner of the internet without feeling like I was promoting myself. Brett, thank you for your time and the beautiful work you have created for this site!

Blog Helpers: Brett
Brett is in the light blue. She and her husband were taking a picture in the photo booth during Daystar Church’s “At the Movies” series.

Of course, my main support has come from my husband, Eric. I was almost embarrassed to tell him what had been on my heart, but when I finally expressed what I felt like I was being called to do he was 100% behind it. He encouraged me to start writing long before publishing anything so that I could find my purpose and flow. He helped me figure out how to work writing into my day with little ones who love to bang on computer keys. And speaking of computers, he actually went out and bought one for me when my freebie wasn’t cutting it. Eric, thank you for all the time you spend proofing my posts, for making space for me to write, and for pushing me to keep it up. You are my hero.

Blog Helpers: Eric
I love this man! This photo was taken during a mini session with none other than Alexa’s Photography.

There are so many more people who have supported this place in various ways. Thanks to all who have listened to my ideas. Thank you to all the people who have shared something positive with me regarding my blog. And thank you to those who have occupied my girls while I sneak away to work in quiet. You are all so precious to me!