Wednesday, September 20, 2017

rainbow falls | hike it baby.

Monday was a day I'll never forget. It was my fifth trek up to Rainbow Falls, and it was Braxton's third. We are in the middle of a Hike It Baby 30 Challenge, so I added this hike to the Greenville branch's calendar to help boost our miles mid-way through. Only two of us braved the big climb, and we even carpooled to Jones Gap since we live so close to each other. I've said it a million times and I'll say it again: this group is about so much more than hiking, which is a huge reason I love it so much!

We made it to the waterfall after stopping once to break (not enough breakfast always translates to a light-headed me), and enjoyed some lunch as we enjoyed the view. The boys ran around, climbed fallen trees, and threw rocks into the water, and we surrounded the perimeter to make sure no one took a tumble (#motherhood).

Typically, this would be where the story continued with us heading back down the mountain. This time, however, our thirst for adventure took us in another direction. More on that tomorrow. For now, I'm giddy to share what the first half of our day looked like.

Like I said earlier, a day I'll never forget.
One final thought -- how beautiful are the leaves when fall is just around the corner.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

lake conestee nature park | hike it baby.

We hiked through one of our local favorite parks Thursday, and it was one of the best days we've ever had on the trails. We joined our Hike it Baby family, and so did nearly FIFTY other mamas and babes! I don't know for sure, but I don't think we've ever had such a great turnout. So exciting!

Braxton became instant buds with a little dude who was only eight days younger than him, and they were just too cute. Seriously! They stayed close to each other the whole time, and they held hands off and on. When we got in the car to go grab some lunch, Braxton said, "Mommy, when am I going to see my friend again? You know, Ezra?" I was giggling with joy as he chatted to me about his new little buddy.

He wore his brand new Carolina Panthers hat the whole time (side note: he still hasn't taken it off), and he was so proud that his shirt said "hiker" on it. He's so big and independent, and I love it so much. Yes, it's equally as heartbreaking to watch him grow up, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I am enthralled with seeing his little personality come to life, and I pray that he never gets tired of hanging out in the woods. I, also, pray that he would always be known for his kindness, just like he is right now.

We sure are grateful for the friendships we've made since joining in on our first hike nearly two years ago. I hoped it would be a great community for us to be a part of, but it's become even more -- these people are family now. Even Braxton knows that to be true.

Friday, September 15, 2017

bearwallow mountain | hike it baby.

As of today, we are halfway through our September 2017 Hike It Baby 30 Challenge! Last September, Braxton was just starting to hike on his own two feet for longer distances, and now he's practically a hiking professional. I carried him up the mountain on this adventure because it's a steep mile, and he was pumped to be able to run through open fields at the top. We saw cows, played with our friends (mamas included), reminisced about how big our babies have gotten since we trekked up to this gorgeous place together last year, and took pictures like it was our job.

This is one of my most favorite places, and I always turn into a giddy schoolgirl as we pass through the final brush before emerging out onto the mountaintop. This time, our third, was no different. Braxton even said multiple times, "Mommy, you think this is pretty?" because I kept saying it over and over. The way the sky meets the land makes my heart beat fast and leaves me breathless, and I am confident that it always will. When I hike, I'm reminded of the creative, mighty God I serve, and that's why I love it so much. Being surrounded by beauty upon beauty is hard to let go of once you've experienced it, and that's where I found myself all those years ago when I bought my first pair of Chacos and started climbing mountains for fun.

I hope that Braxton looks back in ten, twenty, thirty years and remembers how his love of nature and the great unknown began. I hope he remembers all the friends he made, all the leaves he picked up, all the trees he shook, all the things he saw and miles he beasted as just a wee little one.
*last photo was taken by my precious friend, Hilary!

Only fifteen days left to meet our goal of hiking/walking thirty miles in thirty days! The next time we participate in a challenge, Lord willing, another little one will be in tow. I have a feeling that Braxton will be doing a lot more hiking/walking on his own two feet when baby girl arrives...unless I learn to tandem wear, that is. Oh, the excitement for such a wonderful change!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

fourteen years ago.

Half of my life.

That's how long I've loved the cute boy who first caught my eye in math class a couple years prior.

On September 9th, 2003, I had no idea the weight my answer held when I told him I would be his girlfriend, but I'm thankful that I said yes. He wasn't my first crush, but he was the crush who changed everything I'd ever thought about relationships. He respected me, always looked for reasons to surprise me, was proud to introduce me to his family, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking to me on the phone almost every night (a landline, mind you), and there was a sincerity in his voice every time he confided in me or told me he thought I looked pretty.

We didn't know anything about love back then. We thought we did, of course, but it would be many years later that we really started to get a grip on how much sacrifice was involved in this little four-letter word. Even now, we're still learning what it means to love each other well in new seasons we enter. But even when we both wanted walk away (or kill each other, quite frankly), there was always a pull towards one another that never allowed us to wander too far.

That's still true today, too.

In spite of our imperfections, we make a pretty great team. We chase after God and the dreams He's given us with everything we've got, and we help each other when one gets tired. He challenges me, I challenge him, and we push each other towards goals, both individual ones and the ones we make for our family. We hold one another accountable, and we forgive no matter what. We mess up a lot, making forgiveness more necessary than either of us ever thought it would be (something those fourteen year-olds didn't know very much about).

We're still those cheesy high schoolers who celebrate all the little things (seriously, ALL of them), wait on each other to take our first bite of a meal together, say "I love you" multiple times a day, go on regular dates just so we can be together, hold hands while we're walking down the street, give each other high fives when we do something we're proud of, take a million pictures each year (that'll never change, folks), fight over unnecessary and unimportant things (yep, still guilty), push each other's buttons just for kicks and giggles (Lord, help us), and never give up on one another.

I've loved my Teesh for fourteen years, and still I wish I would have met him sooner so I could have love him even longer. But I suppose I'll still be saying that when we've loved each other for a hundred years. Being his girlfriend, then fiancĂ© (fancy, as I called it), and now wife and teammate is a gift I refuse to take for granted, because it's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received on this side of eternity. We've shared more memories than we can count, and we're still just getting started on our life together.

Fourteen years ago, my life changed forever. And so did his.

Our story began that day, and all of the pages we've added to it since that Tuesday afternoon at 3:49 PM tell of our life together.

With pencil in hand, our story continues. Oh, that God would give us the grace to keep writing it forever.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

this is us | plus two.

I had just finished up a journal entry to our future son or daughter, one of my favorite things to do. I filled up a journal to Braxton a few years prior while he grew in my belly so he would have a tangible way to look back and see how loved he was from the very beginning, and I started one for Baby Bargeron #2 in January of this year, too. I wrote these words to our future child: "I don't know if it's the Holy Spirit or if it's just my intense longing to know you, but I'm convinced that you'll have a name soon."

Ten minutes later, on Friday, the twenty-sixth of May at 8:35 AM, my phone dinged.

That was the moment that breathed life into what I had just written to our future baby: we had received an email from a friend of a friend who had seen our Hoping to Adopt page on Facebook. Her friend was pregnant and pursuing adoption, and we had caught her eye as potentially a good match for her child. We asked her to encourage her friend, the expectant mama, to contact us if she was willing, and at 12:57 PM that same day I received a text message that would launch us into a beautiful relationship with her.

We chatted back and forth for two days, just getting to know each other and sharing our stories. Three days later, we met for dinner at Olive Garden. We were all so nervous prior to that first meeting, but it was a gift from God just how well we got along. It was like we were old friends reconnecting, and none of us could believe how seamless everything felt. By the end of our two-hour meal, this brave expectant mama had looked at us and told us that she wanted us to be the ones to raise her son or daughter. This once-stranger had become a part of our family. Incredible! It was just incredible.
Since that day, the Memorial Day we will never forget just over three months ago, our relationship with her has grown, matured, and flourished in ways we never thought was possible. She was only twelve weeks pregnant when we matched, which has given us a lot of time to get to know each other better than any of us thought we would. We were with her when she found out she was having a baby girl, and I have been to most of her appointments since we first met. We have had several meals together (she loves her some Mexican food!), she and I have had a spa day at the nail salon, just the two of us, and we will get to see baby girl squirm around next week at her twenty-eight week appointment. We are nearly to the third trimester! WOWZA!

Before we officially began pursuing adoption, I had so many scenarios playing out in my head of how I thought it would go. And I mean this with my whole heart: none of them compared to how wonderful it has been. That's not saying that everything has been perfect and we've not faced any trials since May, but simply that God's grace has provided us infinitely more gifts than grievances throughout this season. We believe that even the grievances we have run into have been gifts! Our faith has been stretched more times than we can count, and all of it has given us glimpses of glory.

Today marks three months until baby girl is expected to make her grand appearance into the world, and because of her first mama's (as we lovingly call her) fierce love for her daughter and for us, I will be there alongside of her to hear those first cries in person. Both of her mommies will be there, Lord willing, and that's only because of the generosity, kindness, and selflessness of her first mama -- the one who chose life for her. Since the twenty-ninth of May, I have been the recipient of grace in a way I never have been before. And I promise you that it has changed me. Nope, I will never be the same. Neither of us will.

 We don't know how the final three months of waiting will play out, but the goodness of God in our story up to this point prompts us to believe that His goodness will continue flood our lives. We are praying very specific prayers, mostly for our expectant mama (whom we love very much), and we are committed to keep trusting God with our whole lives as the days continue to pass. Our hearts grow a little bigger with each new sunrise, and that's more than we deserve. What a treasure we have been given during this season. A treasure that has allowed our family to grow in more ways than we ever imagined.
A little over two and a half years ago, we doubted if we would ever know the abundance that we had dreamed for our family. Today, however, we are experiencing an abundance greater than any dream we've ever had. God knew that our out-of-this-world expectant mama would come into our lives and that our paths would cross at the perfect time.

Only a mighty God could orchestrate something as wonderful as this. How could we not trust Him?

Monday, August 28, 2017

kitchen | home sweet bargeron.

I've been cooking since I was just a little girl, but up until a few months ago I had never considered it something I looked forward to. That all changed in December, however, when my dream kitchen became my real life kitchen. I was in heaven then, and I'm still in heaven eight months later! Not only is it updated and beautiful, but it's, also large and open. There are many days when I prepare meals with a whole lot of toys at my feet, and I still have room to move around without kicking too many of them with my bare feet.

There wasn't much "sprucing up" that needed to be done in this room because it was already so incredibly gorgeous, but it has still been fun to add little touches of home here and there. There are enough cabinets to keep all of our cookware hidden and organized (something I've NEVER known of my whole life), and it's so refreshing for everything to have it's own space. We purchased the pantry beside our refrigerator (you will see below) right after we moved in as a housewarming gift to ourselves, and it was a very smart (and, quite honestly, necessary) investment.

The bar stools at our island have been with us since the very beginning of our marriage, along with the dinner knives and utensil holder, and the other items have been added along the way since we moved in. I wanted as little amount of "stuff" on the countertops as possible because I love a clean, fresh kitchen, and I love the tidy feeling and easy clean up that they help foster. I've, also, dreamed of having a window above my sink for as long as I can remember (probably because all of the houses I lived in while growing up had one), and this one is just perfect. The roman shade above it was one of my DIY projects when we first moved in. I couldn't believe that this house had all (yes, ALL!) of my favorite things, including this! And that gorgeous KitchenAid mixer you see beside our stove...be still my heart! That was one of the best surprises I've ever received, and I use it like it's going out of style.

Preparing dinner and the clean-up that follows has never been so fun. Yes, fun! If the day comes that we ever move again, the next kitchen will have to top this one...and I'm just not sure if that's possible!

Before:
After:
Isn't she lovely?

Monday, August 21, 2017

dining room | home sweet bargeron.

Last week, I shared what our living room looks like with our personal touch on it, and today I am so excited to share our dining room with you! We spend a lot of time here (ahem, our toddler never stops eating), and I especially love it for the special items it houses. The gorgeous hutch was once my great-grandparents', and using it in my own house now, years later, makes me all kinds of thankful. The stunning high chair is on loan to us by a more-like-family friend, and it has been a treasure for us to use it during this season of our lives. The dining room table was one of my DIY projects several months ago, and it might sound dramatic to say this but I'm going to say it anyways because it's true: it's my proudest, most time-consuming DIY to date. And the tree hanging in the open space beside our doors was a recent find at Hobby Lobby that I just HAD (insert TJ's eye roll here) to buy, because it looks so much like the family tree on our adoption t-shirts. Such a special addition to our space!

Those beautiful French doors you see at the back of the room were added by the people who bought and fixed the house up before it became ours. We love the light it adds to the space, and we are frequently going in and out of them to spend time on our back deck.

There are a few more things I would like to do to this space, but for now I love it. I especially love being able to stand at the island and look out into both the dining room AND the living room at the same time. And those hardwood floors...mmm, I just love having those throughout the whole house!

Before:
After:
Two rooms down, and a handful more still to go! Thank you for following along as we share this blessed place we get to call our home. Up next week is my personal favorite room: the kitchen!
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