On Sunday afternoon, my sweet Clemson girls + roomies met at Larkin's on the River for brunch to celebrate the upcoming arrival of sweet baby Braxton. I can't count all the reasons I am thankful for these four ladies, and meeting + living with + doing life alongside of them for the last six years has caused so much joy in my heart. They drove from all over the state of South Carolina just to show me + my little boy how much they love us, and my heart is still on the verge of popping because of all the thankfulness they helped create inside of me. Even though I would love for us to still come home to each other like we used to, it's exciting to enter into new seasons of life and still remain friends. I'll cherish my 121F girls forever + ever, and I know Braxton Michael will, too!
Monday, September 29, 2014
Friday, September 26, 2014
Nothing has ever revealed the magnificence of our God quite like knowing that He is growing + forming + strengthening Braxton Michael Bargeron inside of me. Looking out over His creation while feeling the movements of His creation within stole my breath, and caused joy to erupt in the deepest parts of my soul. I long to trust Him with every part of me as I continue to learn about motherhood in the weeks leading up to when it will be a reality. I can't wait for the day that our son will climb mountains with us + see the glory of the Father all around him.
"Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Thursday, September 25, 2014
"It's only a mile up to the top, and then a mile back down," I said. TJ immediately asked me what kind of rating it had, and I quickly replied with, "Well, it's strenuous. BUT it's only a mile, AND I'm only twenty-three weeks along. This can be our last 'tough' one until after Braxton is here." The look on TJ's face was one that clearly told me he thought I was crazy, but he agreed to it, anyway. We made the relatively short drive to Kings Mountain, North Carolina and arrived at our destination a little over an hour later: Crowders Mountain State Park. I chose the Backside Trail because, although it was the steepest trail that led to the top of the mountain, it was also the shortest. The trail, itself, was a great workout that required Mama B to stop and drink water every few minutes, and it wasn't until we got to the stairs that I began to call myself crazy for thinking that being twenty-three weeks pregnant was not a big deal. I slowed down my pace a good bit as we climbed the steep three hundred and thirty-six stairs that stood in between us and the view from the top. Did y'all read that? Three hundred and thirty-six stairs! Whew. My achy-breaky back was beyond exhausted once we reached the top, so much so that I wasn't sure that I could even walk back down the stairs.
We stayed at the top for about half an hour and enjoyed the view while being reminded of the greatness of our God. Perspective was my motivation was for this particular trip, and that's exactly what I got in more ways than one. Oh, how humbling it is to stand on top of a mountain and behold the earth laid out before your very eyes as you are reminded that you're only seeing a very small fraction of the handiwork of the Creator. He is mighty. He is able. He is infinite. My heart sings a never-ending song of thankfulness as He tells me over + over again that though He is everywhere, He is also near to me. There is no one like my God.
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
On Saturday afternoon at 1 o'clock, the ladies of the Barnett family hosted a precious shower covered with all-things-blue for Baby Braxton. Ever since I was sixteen years old, this family has been a constant source of joy in my life, and I have never, not even for a second, doubted that Whitney Anne would always be my faithful best friend who I get the pleasure of walking through this life with as we push each other on in pursuit of the next. From lazy days at the pool and trips to Garden City Beach to weddings and babies, thousands upon thousands of memories have been made with this blonde-haired beauty by my side through every season.
It's not every day you have the only first baby shower you'll ever have, and I will always remember the faces who smiled with me + the voices who giggled with me + the arms that lovingly embraced me on this beautiful September day. Opening gifts that will soon be used by our unborn son was unlike anything I've ever experienced, especially as I tried to imagine his handsome little face + chubby little body all dressed up in the adorable outfits that will soon be hanging in his closet. Y'all, I can't wait to be a mommy!
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Self-confidence. Self-esteem. Self-acceptance. Self-realization. Self-righteous. Self-conscious. Self-determination. The list goes on and on, and I’m sure you’re familiar with at least most of those words. In today’s culture, those people described as such are often times the people we “look up to” and try to model our lives after. I have heard it said many times that we must learn to love ourselves before we can ever learn to love another, as well as that if we can just get ourselves “right,” then everything else will fall into place. While many people believe that to be true, I am not convinced.
Paul wrote these words to the church at Philippi in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Sadly, few of us place the needs of others before the needs of ourselves. The condition of our heart is the main motivation behind what we do, and many of us simply "don't have time to" serve or love or care for others, because we're too wrapped up on our own needs + desires. This is not to say that we should become people pleasers who stay busy to make ourselves feel better, but rather to long to meet help those whom we are able to help with an earnest heart who seeks to please our Lord. Instead of looking to our own strength, knowledge, or experiences to enable us to do as this verse commands, we ought to be looking to the Father. Instead of seeking to be confident in our own skin, we ought to be confident in the Name which we bear. Instead of aiming to find peace within us to accept ourselves for who we are, we ought to rejoice in the acceptance that we have with the Father because of the cross Jesus bore on our behalf. Instead of trying to learn more about ourselves, we ought to long to know more about the heart of the One who created us as vessels of praise to Him. Instead of comparing ourselves to the things of this world, we ought to be comparing ourselves to Jesus Christ, He who lived a perfectly sinless life for us because we couldn’t. Instead of trying to find what makes us happy, we ought to be more concerned about the things that bring joy to the Father.
Apart from Jesus Christ, we are hopeless + broken + dead. When we try to be righteous or good on our own, God describes our attempts as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Sin is a simple word, but the depth of its meaning and destruction are far from simple. Through Adam’s disobedience, we all became sinful before birth and should experience death (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12), but praise be to God that He extended abundant grace to us who were dead and granted us the gift of righteousness through Christ, which Romans 5:17 proclaims! Several chapters later, Paul tells us that God allowed our disobedience so that He could show us mercy in our transgressions (Romans 11:32). God didn’t send Jesus to us so that we could try our best to become good on our own if we would learn how to love ourselves, but rather to show how deeply we are loved by the Almighty God, the Father of the nations, the Creator of the universe, the Judge. It’s not about loving ourselves, but instead about accepting + embracing the love that makes us worthy.
What lies are you believing about what makes you worthy? Our only hope is Christ, but the prince of this world is still out to destroy us. Those who are hidden in Christ are free from slavery to sin and, therefore, no longer under Satan’s rule though we still battle with our flesh (Colossians 1:13-14), but there are so many who are trapped by the schemes of Satan + need our gentle instruction on how to be made righteous (2 Timothy 2:25-26). The lies we are daily fed appear to be no big deal, because the serpent is sly and convincing...unless, that is, we know what the Word of God says concerning a certain circumstance or situation that arises. Children of God, our only hope of knowing truth is to humbly draw near to the Father, letting his Word transform + sanctify us while it creates a pure heart in us (Psalm 51:10). Therefore, we must not seek to please men, but rather God, our loving Lord who abounds in grace + mercy that will never run out.
May we, as the body of Christ, be moved to pray prayers of repentance + seek to chase after the heart of the Most High God who took on flesh so that we might dwell with Him in eternity. He died for you, not so you could become more like yourself, but rather so you could become more like His Son. In ourselves, there is death, but in Christ, there is life. Who will you choose to worship today, Christian, yourself or your God? My prayer is that we would sow to please the Spirit and, thus, reap eternal life, just as Galatians 6:8 promises.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Luke James turned four on the third of September, and as tradition would hold, the Phillips clan gathered together last Sunday to celebrate another birthday. Every present he opened was his favorite, and watching his mouth drop open + listening to his squeal of excitement was absolutely, positively precious. Once again, this Sunday afternoon confirmed something I've always known to be true: my cousins are the cutest!
Days like this remind me of all I have to be thankful for, and I love that the Creator made families. I pray I never forget or forsake this family that I get to call mine!
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
It's hard for me to put into words just how surreal it is that ten years ago on this very day, a tall, skinny boy pulled into my driveway in his white Dodge Ram, came to my front door holding a card + a dozen red roses + a box from Build-A-Bear Workshop (yep, it's our little pig, Farmer Rupert's, tenth birthday, folks!), and took me to breakfast at Cracker Barrel before school to celebrate our first year as boyfriend + girlfriend. He opened my door as we got in the car, just as he always did, and we stuffed our faces with all sorts of good home-cookin'. After we cleaned our plates (side note: this was before I revealed to him my massive appetite + ability to eat an entire helping of Grandpa's Country Fried Breakfast by myself and still be hungry), he sneakily slid a little delicately-wrapped box in front of me. When I opened it, I beheld the most beautiful ring I'd ever seen, and when I looked up, my handsome boyfriend had the cutest look of both pride and nerves on his face. He didn't have to ask me if I loved it, because my cheesy smile and teary eyes said it all, but he did anyway. I was quick to show it off to everyone who noticed it on my hand that day at school, and I'll never forget all the sneaky glances + obvious gazes at it all day long, especially being the topic of conversation throughout the whole lunch room. It's a pretty big deal for a sophomore in high school to get a ring with real diamonds on it from her boyfriend, but it's an even bigger deal that just six years later, that same tall, skinny boy would give that same once-brace-face, curly-haired girl another diamond ring as he asked her to spend forever with him. Our love story is my favorite.
All those years ago, I had no idea that I was saying my first "yes" to the most handsome boy in school + on the planet, but I sure am thankful that I did. I used to say that I was the luckiest girl in the world, but as our gracious Lord continually changes my heart, He has showed me that everything we have experienced together, both the good + the bad, has all been ordained by Him. Nothing that we've ever faced or come out of or been given has ever been because we were lucky or unlucky, but rather because we are cared for by the Creator of the world, the Creator of every moment we've shared together as boyfriend + girlfriend, fiances, and husband + wife.
Eleven years have come + gone, but our story is still just beginning. In just a few months, we'll add another blessing from our God to the list of blessings that is already unfathomable: being called daddy + mommy by our first child, a son that we are confident will reveal more of our Father's love for us than we have ever known before. Continually being thankful for the old memories + looking for opportunities to take on new adventures are what the Bargerons try to do, and we're just getting started.
I'm so thankful to chase after the heart of our God with this once-boy-now-man. There is no one else in the whole world quite as wonderful as Troy Jerome Bargeron.
Happy eleventh anniversary to us!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Four years ago on this day, I became the future Mrs. Bargeron after many years of dating my handsome boyfriend. I thought that this was the best day of my life, but I can honestly say that every day with Mr. Bargeron as my husband is the best. 1,461 days ago, we had no idea what we would be looking forward to on this day in our future, and we are so thankful for this beautiful season of celebrating the expectancy of our son!
We are officially halfway through our second trimester + halfway through our entire pregnancy with our first child. Wait, what? Whew, time is flying by us! Wednesdays are still our favorite days, and Teesh + I both agree that feeling Baby B move is the most incredible thing either one of us has ever experienced before. It gets more real every single day, and we're pumped that Mama B finally has a little bump after weeks + weeks of hoping she would wake up with one. I love sharing so many precious moments with my out-of-this-world husband, and we both get more giddy every day to think that we are going to be parents soon to the cutest little boy in the whole world. Braxton Michael is already so unbelievably loved.
Our first trimester was documented here back in July, and now we're showing off mommy's baby bump during weeks fourteen through twenty:
Wednesday, July 23rd
Week 14 + Day 4
Baby B is the size of a lemon.
Wednesday, July 30th
Week 15 + Day 4
Baby B is the size of a navel orange.
Week 16 + Day 4
Baby B is the size of an avocado.
Monday, August 11th
Week 17 + Day 2
Baby B is the size of a turnip.
Mama B was out of town for our traditional date night this week, so it got moved up a couple of days!
Mama B was out of town for our traditional date night this week, so it got moved up a couple of days!
Week 18 + Day 4
Baby B is the size of a sweet potato.
Wednesday, August 27th
Week 19 + Day 4
Baby B is the size of a mango.
Wednesday, September 3rd
Week 20 + Day 4
Baby B is the size of a banana.
Only 135 days to go!
Only 135 days to go!
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Capstone Church worshiped together in the heart of Fountain Inn on Sunday morning as we celebrated the upcoming move to a new building that we've all been anticipating for months. Our gathering this week was at the Farmer's Market, and we had a yummy lunch to follow filled with laughter + fellowship. Breaking bread together with the people who help hold me accountable is pretty incredible, and I'm so thankful for a community that seeks to live selflessly in order to better serve those in need. Our Father provided a nice overcast in the midst of the August heat, and we all sang praises to our God + stuffed our faces with thankful hearts + smiling faces!
"The church scattered is about community WHERE we are placed on mission to WHAT we are called + life with those WHO are far from God."
Monday, September 1, 2014
It was all about the soon-to-be Kellahans on Saturday in the low country of South Carolina. Friends + family gathered to shower them with countless goodies to help them prepare for their continued life together. It was so much fun catching up with my college roomies, and Braxton loved getting loved on by everyone there! The Bargerons are so excited for Bert + Kerri to be married; there really is nothing like facing the world + all of its seasons hand-in-hand with the person who knows you best. Only three months until she's in white + he's nervously waiting for her at the end of the aisle!