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!

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That Time I Took My 3 Year Old Shopping

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Her excitement is due to the fact that her “money” has a picture of Frosty on it.

My sister sent me a text that said something to the effect of, “Is there anything your girls want or need for Christmas?”

YES! They needed water bottles. I may or may not have been ultra specific in the water bottle selection, as I have cleaned up my fair share of leaks. (Contigo for the win!)

I also tagged on a rather strange request. Might my sister want to give her three year old niece a gift card for Christmas? To buy clothes?

I’ve mentioned the princess dress fiasco, but it got worse. After bringing home what I felt was a super cute princess dress for my daughter, she asked me to return it. My three year old told me she did not want to wear the dress I had carefully selected and wanted me to return it.

At this point, I felt I had two options.

Option 1: “Child, you best be grateful. I paid good money (okay, six dollars) for this dress and you are going to like it. You are going to wear it to church on Sunday and you are going to be happy about it.”

Option 2: I could realize that she has an opinion and honor it. Could this possibly be an avenue to end the battle of getting dressed in the mornings? Putting the ball in her court could potentially lessen my stress while empowering her to make decisions.

I chose option 2, and my sister, being amazing as she is, gave my daughter a $25 gift card to purchase clothes for Christmas.

So, we had some fun with it.

I counted out 25 monopoly bills and had my daughter count them with me. “This is how many dollars you can spend on clothes today. You may choose whatever you like as long as it is something warm.”

It didn’t take long for her to find two pieces that she loved. A “princess dress” (strangely similar in color and shape to the one I had previously purchased…) and a sweatshirt with a dog on it. It was a winner because the dog was wearing a crown, and therefore, a princess. These two items would total $25 exactly.

We counted her money. She knew she was at her limit. When I told her I was going to buy her some pants, she conceded by crawling underneath the clearance items and telling me her legs were tired. Well, I suppose that’s normal for a three year old.

Moments later, she came across the most extraordinary piece of clothing she had yet witnessed in her lifetime. A princess shirt. A shirt with an actual princess on it. She fell in love with it, so we reasoned through the situation.

Me: “Do you have enough money to buy this shirt?”
Her: “No.”
Me: “This shirt is less money than your other items. If you put back one of the other items, you might be able to buy three things with your money.”
Her: “Put back the dress.”

We counted her money and found that she now had an additional $6 to spend. I’m all for encouraging good spending habits, so by golly, I was going to find something she loved for $6. It took a bit of searching, but we finally landed on a shirt with a star on the front.

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The loot.

I was so proud of her decision that I offered to buy her something additional, but she refused. She wanted those specific three items with her $25.

And, you know what? The next day, she jumped out of bed, ready to get dressed because she wanted to wear that princess shirt. I’d say that’s a win.

Perhaps I shouldn’t encourage such a young one to enjoy shopping or fashion, but I love that we had a fun mommy-daughter day. And (bonus!) it even included a small lesson in economics!

Maybe even the concept of counting her dollars will help her appreciate what she receives in the future…

Maybe.

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 30

I do believe that as the month of November continued, my list of names grew longer, rather than shorter. I can think of two reasons for this:

Reason number one: I am living an extraordinarily blessed life. I am surrounded by people who love me and encourage me. People who have had made significant impacts on my life through their words and/or actions. I never want to lose sight of all the goodness God has given me.

Reason number two: The more I was able to honor people, the more people I saw who I wanted to honor. We live in a culture that loves to embrace the negative and bring to surface all the faults a person may posses. This is tragic. We are called to something greater. Our words have the power to bring someone down, or lift someone up to their full potential. Let’s focus on the latter. My hubby had the opportunity to speak at church yesterday, and his message was all about how positive thinking can be life-changing. If you missed it, check it out here! You won’t regret it.

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A photo from a trip we took to the Grand Canyon about 6 years ago. I chose this because we are just on the horizon of what God has in store for us. Such grandeur, and our eyes cannot see it all.

There is always someone else to recognize. Another person who could benefit from a little love and encouragement. On this final post, I would like to highlight a few more people. I know I am leaving out more than I am including, and I wish this were not so. But demonstrating gratitude and honor should not be a month-long event. It should be a lifestyle. Will you join me in this?

I think of people like Dallas, Emma, and Ella. My go-to babysitters. It takes quite a bit of trust to be able to bring someone into my home to care for my little girls. I want these ladies to know how grateful I am to have them. They are trustworthy, love the Lord, and my girls adore them. I am so so grateful for them.

There are several staff members at Daystar that I didn’t get a chance to mention. Seth, our youth pastor, is so good at what he does and will one day be directly impacting my own children! Jon does community outreach and is working on a special serve day that will make a huge impact in our city. Jennifer is a counselor and has a sweet disposition, yet a powerful woman of prayer. All of these staff members are important and deserve great recognition.

Rick and Amber have been in our lives for a number of years and I have learned so much through their wisdom. They kept our girls for a few days for us while we went on a trip this fall. They give a great deal of themselves to so many people and it is an honor to call them friends.

Then I start to think about people who have impacted me at various times in my life. College friends like Hannah, Rachel, Beth, Amber, Maddie, Kristen, and Vickie. Each of these women left a positive imprint on my life and I love the memories that we have shared together. I also greatly treasure friends from my childhood like Emily, Sarah-Eileen, Caitlin, and Kaitlin.

Trish was someone I always looked up to spiritually. She and her daughter Ashley threw me a baby shower for my first born. The two of them have a special place in my heart. Ashley, we need another girl’s night soon!

In this month I was able to mention all of my immediate family members, but didn’t get a chance to touch on my extended family. There are too many names to list them all here, but I love each and every one of them. They are spread all throughout the country in places like South Carolina, Delaware, Kansas, California, and Hawaii. Some I have known better than others, but I value each moment we have spent together.

My thoughts travel to one who is no longer with us. Leigh Lane was a precious friend of mine during my last two years of high-school. I was a homeschool girl transitioning to public school, and she was such an inspiration to me. She lived with unstoppable joy and had a great peace about her. She was the type of person you knew had a special relationship with the Lord. I wish I had more time with her.

I could go on. There are so many more. But it doesn’t have to stop here. It doesn’t have to be a blog post or a Facebook status. It can be a card in the mail, a text, a phone call, a gift. Let’s live a life that brings honor to others.

30 Days of Thankfulness: Chelsea & Taylor

Most of my posts have been “categorized”. I’ve had posts about family, friends, Daystar staff and volunteers, and people who I don’t necessarily know but who have blessed me in various ways. This one is a little bit different because the two ladies I’m going to talk to you about are friends and Daystar staff members!

Chelsea

Chelsea and I met at Daystar and would chat regularly on Sunday mornings. The first thing anyone will notice about Chelsea, is that her laugh is contagious! She has a kind and genuine smile that is always refreshing to be around.

During my transition between teaching and becoming a stay-at-home mommy, I worked in the Daystar office. This is the same time frame that Chelsea joined the staff, and I loved every minute of it! We giggled together incessantly about all kinds of nonsense, and were able to share about our lives and encourage one another.

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I was going to put up a sweet picture of Chelsea and her hubby, but I decided I liked this one better. I love her excitement!

You will probably recognize Chelsea from the Sunday morning announcement videos, but her role at Daystar is so much more. Here are a few things that Chelsea does as Communication Director that you may not have realized:

 

  • Designing/approving graphics
  • Creating and distributing the bulletin
  • Updating and maintaining the website
  • Managing all Daystar Church social media accounts
  • Special events planning
  • Organizing the timeline of announcements

And yes, that’s just some of what she does. She is a valuable team member and friend. I have so enjoyed the times when Chelsea and I got our nails done and went shopping together. She is full of joy and life and makes a positive impact on those around her.

Chelsea, I admire your hard work. I love listening to your stories and every chance I get to chat with you. You are a treasure!

Taylor

The funny thing about my relationship with Taylor, is that we have walked very similar paths four years apart. I met Taylor one night at the Tap, Daystar’s college ministry. She and I were getting to know each other and discovered that we were both recipients of the NC Teaching Fellows Scholarship and had pursued a degree to teach math. She was just beginning her job search, and I was about to leave my position. In jest, yet with all seriousness, I asked her, “Do you want to take my job?”

Of course, I really didn’t have much say in who would come in after me, but she ended up taking my exact job! When I left teaching, I began working at Daystar Church. When Taylor left teaching, she began working at Daystar Church! My first baby was a little girl, and now Taylor is expecting her first child… a baby girl. I love that our paths have been so similar.

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Taylor and her hubby are so excited about their baby girl!

Taylor’s role at Daystar is that of Connections Director. She, like Chelsea, is on the announcement screen on Sunday mornings. The times when they do announcements together are my absolute favorite. These two are hysterical and play off of each other. I love it.

Taylor’s responsibilities are all things A-Team. She oversees Growth Track, works with the leaders within the A-Team to make sure everything is running smoothly, and ensures that any special events have the people needed to make it a time of excellence. On any given Sunday, Taylor might be hopping from campus to campus to make sure everyone has everything they need.

Taylor, one of the things I love the most about you is your enthusiasm. Whatever you do, you do it well with a passion that inspires others. I am so glad to know you!

30 Days of Thankfulness: Pastor Tom & Pastor Dan

The lead staff team at Daystar Church is made up of four individuals: Pastor Allen, Pastor Tom, Pastor Dan, and my hubby. I’ve already written about two of them, so this morning I would like to honor Pastor Tom and Pastor Dan.

Pastor Tom

I personally believe Pastor Tom is a financial genius. He has the title of Executive Pastor, which means he has a lot of responsibilities on his plate. Here are just a few of the things he oversees:

  • Financial goals. One of the goals written into the bi-laws at Daystar Church, is that the budget for each coming year will be based on 90% of the previous year’s income. What does this mean? It means that the church should automatically be saving 10%, plus the ability to save extra from any new growth. This allows the church to be in a healthy place financially.
  • Budgets. Each individual team submits their budget to Pastor Tom for approval. He is able to look over everything and determine which areas may need to be increased or decreased based on meeting Daystar’s financial goals.
  • Cash Flow. This sounds very complicated to me. In the most simplest terms, Pastor Tom monitors the cash flow so that all the money is in the right place at the right time, without ever putting the church in a place of financial pressure.
  • Legacy Campaign. In this exciting time of being able to have two new permanent facilities for Daystar Church, there is a lot of managing to do. Pastor Tom has the financial knowledge to be able to determine how much we need before starting a project so that it can continue without taking away from the current facilities.

There is more, but truth be told, I don’t really understand it all. I have come to Pastor Tom on several occasions asking for help with financial decisions and he has always been willing to make time for me and my questions. He is able to explain complicated topics in a way that makes sense. Not only is he a valuable resource, but he is a kind and tender-hearted man who loves the Lord.

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Pastor Tom is such a friendly guy and always has a cup of coffee in his hands!

Pastor Tom, I am so thankful for all that you do! You have been a huge blessing to Daystar Church and the lives of people around you. Thank you for contributing your knowledge in such a powerful way!

Pastor Dan

I once had the opportunity to work across the hall from Pastor Dan, and he is a hoot. He is always excited, loves to laugh, and is constantly whistling his favorite tunes. In addition to his love of life, he has a passion for spreadsheets. More often than not, if you come across any sort of spreadsheet at Daystar Church, Pastor Dan is responsible.

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Pastor Dan and his wife, Kay, who also works at Daystar Church!

Pastor Dan’s main responsibilities are all things involving small groups. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Structure. Small groups are based on a “free-market” idea. This means that leaders and participants can choose to have a group based on their interests, demographic, or a specific study. Pastor Dan helps leaders narrow down their focus and trains them on how to use their group to help people grow closer to God.
  • Curriculum. For the first time, Daystar Church has started providing it’s own curriculum for small group studies. This has been true for the Legacy and Noteworthy small groups. Pastor Dan has ultimately been responsible for the creation of the curriculum. He makes sure everything flows together and is done with excellence.
  • Organization. Remember those spreadsheets I mentioned earlier? Pastor Dan organizes Rally Day each semester to help people find just the right small group. If you have ever been to Rally Day, you are sure to have seen a spreadsheet detailing which small groups are available and a map that shows you how to find the small group you are looking for.
  • Encouragement. Pastor Dan is so good at sending out encouragement to his leaders every week. He touches on what challenges that week might face, and encourages small groups to keep pushing through various obstacles. Being steady in the hard things helps us find growth and life!

Pastor Dan, I am so grateful to know you and appreciate all the hard work you put into Daystar Church. Thank you for your dedication to the Kingdom!