Monday, July 17, 2017

dig 'em up | home sweet bargeron.

My first thought when we pulled into the driveway of this particular house after our realtor said we should was, "It's got potential." The yard didn't take my breath away like the inside did, but it did make my eyes light up and channel my creative juices. Potential is exciting, but it is also quite exhausting, to be honest. Our first yard day was about two weeks after we moved in, and it consisted of raking and blowing piles and piles of fallen leaves. The shade that all of our trees give us is so wonderful, but it makes for some endurance training when the millions (literally) of leaves hit the ground. Braxton loved jumping in all the leaf piles, and that made all the hard work worth it!

After the leaves were raked and gone, we walked around and tried to get a game plan for what our next step was. Our decision was easy: rip up everything and start fresh. And a couple months later, in the middle of February, we had our first big de-bush day, and about a dozen of those days have followed since. It doesn't sound like much, but boy, it has been! Teesh has worked and worked and dug and dug until his hands bleed, and his diligence hasn't been in vain. We are so close to being done with the "demolition" stage, and our hope is to replant in the spring. It feels so good to be making progress, no matter how long it has taken us.

Our yard is nestled on a corner lot that is just shy of half an acre, which is a pretty good size to be so close to Main Street, and we have so many big dreams that we want to see come to life. Turning this house into our home the past seven months has been the source of a whole lot of joy and family bonding! Part of me was sad to be doing so much digging up, because we know the family whose parents and grandparents lived here for so long. I can remember how I felt when I passed our Ma's house and saw the new owner making so many changes, so I was sensitive to how they might feel. What I learned from my experience, however, is that the memories I had of her home could never be taken away from me, and my prayer is that the precious family who made so many memories here for so long would rest in that same truth.

Here are a few Before and After photos of the progress we have made. I snapped all of the "before" pictures prior to everything blooming, so what you can't see is how large the bushes were before we cleaned them out. We could barely see our windows because of how huge they were when they were in full bloom!

From the front of the house (angled):
From the side of the house:
From the other side of the house:
From the front of the house (head on):
In the next couple of years, we hope to have a new roof, a bigger front porch, and plants that add to the curb appeal. So much to be proud of and look forward to!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

our sixth.

We've had a lot of fun in these six short years, but we haven't even begun to fathom all the fun that's still ahead. We've learned a lot of lessons, taken a lot of chances, confessed a lot of regret, helped each other grow, and tried our hardest to prioritize our marriage above all other relationships, above all things on earth.

We've gotten a lot right, even more wrong, and the best part is that we've done it all together, side by side.
When life gets tough, we grip each other tighter.

When there's something to laugh about, we laugh our own laughs at the same time.

When we are tempted to run away from each other, we run harder towards each other.

We serve together, get frustrated together, plan together, parent together, love together.

Last year, I reflected on how simply being together is my favorite way to be, and the only thing that has changed between then and now is how much more true it is now. We are so much better together than we are apart, and I think that's exactly the way marriage is meant to be.
Now more than ever, especially since our culture is straying from it more and more, I want to be a wife who loves her husband well even when he doesn't deserve it. I want to be his biggest fan, the person he counts on the most. I want to be a wife who spews wisdom from her tongue, lightens his load with even something as small as encouraging word, makes him feel warm, fuzzy, wanted, and safe, and holds him more accountable to his dreams than I do to his regrets.

He does the same for me.

We're still young, still in love, and still committed to living our dreams side by side after six years, and I can tell you without hesitation that we'll still be saying the same thing in fifty, sixty, seventy years. However long the Lord gives us together on this side of eternity could never be long enough, even on our worst days.
Happy anniversary to my Teesh!
Six years down, and a lifetime still to go.

Monday, July 10, 2017

home sweet bargeron.

It has been a little more than seven months since we moved into our new house, and we haven't wasted much time turning it into our home sweet home. This house was built in the 1950s, and it's thick baseboards, glass door knobs, and gorgeous hardwoods are a testament to its old character. (The plaster walls are, too, but we'll leave those out of the conversation so my husband doesn't read this and get a headache). Anyways, our realtor told us about a house that was being flipped right in the heart of the area where we wanted to move, and after being homeless for nearly a month with no prospective homes on our radar we thought to ourselves, "What do we have to lose?"

We are so thankful we said "yes" to our realtor's promptings, because we were amazed at what we saw when we walked through the front door. The outside needed some (read: LOTS) of work to fit our vision, but the inside was nearly flawless. It may or may not have taken our breath away!

We closed on the first of December so Christmas decorations were unpacked before our regular décor, and I wasn't mad about that.This house was such a perfect gift from God, one that we still haven't stopped thanking him for. Both the inside and the outside are a work in progress, but we have been working hard to make it our own. The inside is nearly completely settled and decorated, while the outside still has a ways to go. Our plan is to simply work until there is no more work to be done. Isn't it amazing, though, how you cross off one thing on your list only to add a few more right back to it? We've got big dreams, and we will keep chasing them until they are tangible.

Here is a glimpse of the inside of our house, raw and untouched, just seconds before we began to move our stuff in and unpack. This day was an all-time favorite in my book of favorite days, and I am grateful to share it with you now!
Isn't she just lovely?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

this is us.

We met when we were just twelve years old. It was my first day at a new school, and I only remember a few things about that day. The tall blonde who sat at the front of the row to my left in math class was one of them.

In ninth grade, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I'd say that the rest is history, but it's really not. I mean, yes, we ended up getting married. The journey to that point, however, was full of heartache, heartbreak, and forgiveness. Mostly forgiveness. And you know what? That's still the thing that gets us through our tough days.

We got engaged in September of 2010, and became husband and wife ten months later. The sixteenth of July, to be exact. After eight years of boundaries and guarding our hearts as best as we were able, we were finally married. What a precious gift to marry my Teesh!

Our relationship and marriage hasn't been perfect, but it has been good. Really, really good. Even the hardest times we have faced thus far have been used to make us stronger and steadier, we are constantly learning to love more wholeheartedly and step out of our comfort zones in faith.

One of the most, dare I say the most, trying times we have faced in our fourteen years of pursuing each other was the first few months we became parents. After getting pregnant and celebrating each milestone leading up to the birth of our son, we were both so excited when the day we would finally meet him arrived. Many of our family and friends remember the events that followed what seemed to be a regular labor and delivery, and I, personally, have relived it more times than I can count. Our precious Braxton Michael being born without bring effected by what was happening inside of my body was nothing short of a miracle, and we will never forget the faithfulness of God towards us during pregnancy and delivery.

I am the oldest of five kiddos, and I spent a lot of time from childhood to adulthood babysitting. That being the case, children have always tugged on my heart in a special way. I used to joke that I wanted twelve children, and you should have seen the looks I got in response! After Teesh and I began to seriously consider growing our family, we (I) laid out the perfect plan for how many kiddos we wanted and when we would start trying to make those dreams come true. We'd have three of our own, then wait until the youngest was a few years old and begin the adoption process. We committed these plans to the Lord, fully confident that He would grant our requests.

Then January 12th, 2015 came, and all of those carefully crafted plans began to shift.

There is always heartache involved when the dreams we make for ourselves vanish right before our eyes, and we certainly have experienced a whole lot of emotions all over the spectrum as a result of the new reality we found ourselves living in two years ago.

Since those months of healing that followed those first few really frightening days, we have been learning what it really means to cast our cares on the One who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), trust in the Lord and lean not on our limited understanding of why things are the way things are (Proverbs 3:5), rejoice in the Lord no matter our circumstances (Philippians 4:4), and believe that even the hardest trials are meant for our good (Romans 8:28). In our seeking, we have found more than we could have ever imagined: we have found Jesus walking with us down every road, comforting us and reminding us that we have not been forgotten or abandoned. And we have really begun to learn that He really is better than the gifts He gives.

In seeking Him, we have also been intentionally seeking His way, His timing, and His promptings.

That's what we want to share with you now.

Instead of viewing our circumstances as God having robbed us of something or crushed our dreams, we are taking Him at His Word and believing that His promises are true. And we are stepping out in faith to walk the path that He has revealed to us.

Family and friends, we are overjoyed to announce that we are adopting!
Braxton will soon be a BIG BROTHER, and we can hardly contain our excitement and anticipation for this prayer to come to fruition!
We are still in the very early stages of this process, and we have no idea how long it will be before we become parents to a precious new baby. The only things we do know at this point are: 1) God has revealed to us that it is time to grow our family again, 2) we will have no control over how and when it happens, thus we will have to trust Him for all of it, and 3) we cannot accomplish this without lots of support.

Many of you helped us spend a month in Haiti several years ago, as well as helped us return there last year, and we are boldly, expectantly, and humbly asking for you to help us again. Although we do not know exact numbers quite yet, we do know that this will be the most money that we have ever raised, especially in such a short time. But with God's favor partnered with your support and prayers, we are confident that we will be fully funded very soon! We have several fundraising options that we will be sharing with you soon, and we are praying that every person who read these words would be prompted to lock arms with us as we trek forward.
For now, would you consider praying for us? We are stepping out into waters that we have never been before, and we are quite anxious about this new adventure. A good, God-fearing type of anxious, but still anxious nevertheless. We are wholeheartedly committed to this process, and we are thrilled and honored to keep all of you updated along the way.

We can't wait to add another Bargeron to the family tree!
To God be the glory forever!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

braxton michael | two years old.

I blinked, and my used-to-be baby has grown into a crazy-but-cute big boy.

I'm not sure how this is true, but alas, I am thankful to be celebrating yet another milestone with my precious blondie. And today's milestone is a big one. That's right, folks, Braxton is officially two years old today!

TWO! YEARS! OLD!

This past month has been jam-packed with to-do lists, errands, organizing + reorganizing, family gatherings, etc., and this little one has handled it all like a champ. There were a few days when nap time wasn't on the schedule (much to my demise, of course), and it never affected him until the day after. Now, that next day was a real doozy if we had back-to-back days of no nap, but thankfully that only happened once (Christmas Eve + Christmas Day). Even when he was a little on the grumpy side, his sweetness was still there. He's always extra snuggly when he's sleepy, so this was just an opportunity to for me to scoop him up and let his little head press into my chest.

Those snuggly moments will always be my favorite. 
Two years ago today, you made me a mama. For months and months I looked forward to holding you in my arms and holding you close to me and kissing your cheeks, and I was so happy when that day came. I don't remember much about the day itself, mainly only what was captured in pictures, and even though it's been two years, it still makes me pretty sad to think about all the memories that I was there for but can't recall. Jesus has been so sweet to me since that day, though, gently teaching me that it's okay to bring my brokenness to Him, that I can trust Him to heal my heart. I think it will always hurt in a way when I think about that day, and those months that followed, but He's always reminding me that His love for me is certain even when circumstances are not.

I look forward to the day that you learn that His heart is the same for you.

I have tried to be very intentional about savoring every moment with you, even the seemingly unimportant and insignificant ones like the one we're in as I type this: snuggled up under a blanket on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn at our disposal while Beauty and the Beast entertains us (again). That's right, kiddo. You love what your Mommy does! Be still my heart. I love it when you hug my legs, look up at me, and ask to watch it. We don't watch much TV, but I think you've figured out that I have sweet spot for this movie. And, to make things even cuter, you always ask me to dance during the ballroom scene. Again, be still my heart. The first time you did it, I instantly turned into a puddle! It sure is a gift being loved by you, little one.

Your second Christmas was a big hit this year, and you still haven't broken in all your new things. With your birthday being upon us, you, daddy, and I are going to do some cleaning this weekend and see what we can gift to other kiddos who may not have many toys to play with. Your grandparents + aunts + uncles (and more) loaded you down with some fun things last month, so it's definitely time to do some purging (hopefully you won't be too mad at us, but even if you are - it's happening). I would list your favorite toys from Christmas, but that list would be long soooo I'll spare you. Just know that you LOVE them ALL!

Daddy and I took you hiking on New Years Eve at Paris Mountain to North Lake, and that was the final hike of your second year. I tallied up the grand total of all the hikes you've been on since your first birthday, and it blew me away. Are you ready for this, sir? You went on forty-two hikes in 2016. FORTY-TWO! That's almost one hike per week, and that's incredible. I don't know if we will beat that total this year, but we will surely do our best. Daddy and I only carry you on long trails now, because you love exploring on your own two feet. You're practically a professional at this point, and I am so proud of you! I hope one day you read this and are pretty proud of yourself, too.

You smile like a model, talk like a champ, run around like a wild animal when you get really excited, love to help us clean up and do chores, pout when you don't get your way, smile the biggest, most breath-taking smile (cheeeeeeeeeeese) I've ever seen, eat like a teenager (LAWD!), sleep hard and long, enjoy being the center of attention, hum while brushing your teeth, and love when your daddy gets home after work. You have recently started calling out "Oh, Mommy..." in the mornings and after naps to let me know that you're ready to get out of your crib, and sometimes I let you repeat yourself fifty times because it's so darn cute. I hope I never forget the sound of your voice, little one. The innocence, the tone, just all of it. I especially love hearing you say (and sing!) your prayers, because it's as if heaven meets earth every single time you do.

We've got a full day of activities planned for us today, and then your grandparents + aunts + uncles are coming over for an intimate birthday dinner before your big birthday bash on Saturday. We are so excited to be celebrating this day in our new house - everyone is actually going to fit without being crammed. It'll be a miracle! The menu is all prepared, your cake is baked and iced and ready to be eaten, and I just know you are going to love having everyone in one place so you can show off for the whole gang. I've almost completely finished preparations for your big party this weekend, but we will have to run an errand or two today to help close out this season of last-minute crafting (please forgive me, dude - this whole moving and getting situated thing has not been for the faint of heart). Even with time not being on my side, I have so loved doing this for you! I think I always will.

My prayer for you as you close out one year of your life and launch into a new one is that you would delight to do what it right. People keep telling me about this little thing called the "terrible twos," and I've been coming hard against that little epidemic with prayer. I'm praying for your daddy and me along with that, too, because it is a high responsibility to rightly teach you how to do what is right. We want you to learn by example as we lead by example, especially when "do as I say not as I do" is what we feel like telling you. You're won't be a little boy forever, sweet boy, and we've got big plans to help you become a man who does a whole lot of good. All three of us will have to lean on grace this year as we mess up and try again, but I'm thankful that we'll be doing it together.

I don't know what kind of obstacles we will face and blessings we will receive as a family this year, but we are expectant and confident that this will be our best year yet. We can't wait to watch you continue to grow, and we are thankful for the opportunity to grow alongside of you.

You will never know how much we love you, but we will always spend our days giving you glimpses of all the space you take up in our hearts. Our most precious gift you are, dear son.
Happy, happy birthday to the coolest, funniest, smartest, wittiest, most smiley TWO YEAR-OLD in our world. We love you sooooooooo much!

Friday, December 30, 2016

christmas cheer | our annual traditions.

Two stops during the week leading up to Christmas, three stops on Christmas Eve, four stops on Christmas Day, and three days to recover once all stops were complete. Whew! I love this time of year - the hustle and bustle mixed in with the stillness of those first few moments + last few moments of the day - and I am always so sad to say farewell to the trees and lights and gifts and traditions for another year. Braxton didn't nap for two days during the hustle + bustle part, but aside from being very zombie-like a couple of times, he handled his second Christmas season like a champ. He loved having all eyes on him while we visited with family, and all those brand new toys he got are still getting looooots of attention. It's like Christmas every day when he wakes up and sees that all of them are still here!

We got lots of new stuff for our new house, including a surprise Kitchen Aid mixer that was a total shock and may or may not have made me scream like a little girl, and it has been so fun to tinker and place things throughout the walls and rooms of our new bungalow. I originally thought that I would leave all our Christmas up for a few extra days, but I quickly changed my mind when we brought in all our new décor. So much so that we have been packed up for three days! I can't believe it either, y'all. But seeing our house as it will be for most of the year is absolutely worth this veer in tradition - we are so smitten with how it all looks (don't worry - I will reveal more soon!).

On Christmas Eve we went to Pop + Gigi's house, Nana + Papa's house, and then we had our annual Phillips Christmas at Linda + Dennis' house. On Christmas day, we opened our gifts to each other before the madness began, joined our Capstone family for a beautiful service that focused on the hope, joy, and peace in Christ that we celebrate this season, went to Granny Pat's house, met Grandma (my mama) and the family at our new house to exchange gifts, and then ended our day at Pops + Mimi's house before coming home to crash. And we certainly crashed hard.

Call me crazy, but I love the fullness that this season brings. I really, really do.

Here's to making that fullness last into and throughout the new year, starting with a heart full of gratefulness.
Merry Christmas to you from us!
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