Tuesday, March 31, 2015

birthday bash.

Friday was Dustin's twenty-second birthday, Saturday was my twenty-sixth birthday, and we had our annual birthday bash at the bungalow for a proper celebration. Teesh fired up the grill for the first time this year and although hot dogs were on the menu, laughter + encouragement were the main dishes. There is no other way I would've liked to spend my birthday lunch, and I'm already looking forward to the next time we'll all be together. Having a cute baby has helped lure them all to the bungalow more frequently, and I'm thankful that he got lots of lovin' during this special meal, too. Grand-babies take family gatherings to a whole new level, and I LOVE it!

Side note: guess who got a GoPro for her birthday? Yep, THIS GIRL! This wife + mommy + outdoor enthusiast just went from rarely-miss-a-moment to never-miss-a-moment.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

a birthday wish.

If I were to blow out the twenty-six candles on a cake that was just for me on my birthday, I would make twenty-six wishes for two things to happen this year. I wouldn't ask for money, because the thing about money is that you can always get more of it. I wouldn't ask for more things, because treasures on this side of eternity don't last long. I wouldn't ask for an easier life, because the struggles I face keep me humbly surrendered to a good plan that is outside of my control. I wouldn't even ask for more time on this earth, because I am confident that the length of my life has been orchestrated perfectly. The two things I would ask for are two simple words that are used but often not understood, desired but often not acted upon, possible but often not strived for. This year, on this twenty-eighth day of March, my prayer for every person (including + especially myself) is that we would 1) put into practice the art of being intentional + committed, and 2) make it a habit.

If we search hard + long enough, it's easy to find + make excuses for why things are the way they are, but excuses are nothing more than creative (and, sometimes, not-so-creative) ways to blame someone or something else as the reason for why things are the way they are. I would go so far as to say that we have mastered this dangerous technique so well that accountability is despised and often mistaken as judgment. While I don't believe that any of us will ever be perfect on this side of eternity, I also believe that we take that truth and use it as a crutch, as a defense against our bad decisions + shameful regrets. Walking along Easy Street is just that: easy. At least for a little while, anyway.

I'm no King Solomon by any means, but I have learned a lot during these short twenty-six years. I admit that a lot of what I have learned took me a long time to learn it, and even still, most of what I have learned are things that I will keep learning for the rest of my life. My "yes" isn't always yes, my "no" isn't always no, I get angry and hold grudges, I avoid people in the grocery store or Target because I don't know what to say to them, my heart doesn't always break for the lost, I react on my emotions and blurt out hurtful words without taking time to consider the best, most honoring way to respond, my pride gets in the way of humble submission, I don't always respect my husband, I believe the lies of this world that tell me that I have to perform a certain way in order to be loved, and that's not even a fraction of my shortcomings. I make excuses for things that I do + don't do, but those excuses only leave me feeling momentarily relieved + more anxious over time.

As I reflect on how much has changed since the last time I celebrated a birthday, just one short year ago, it would be foolish of me not to notice how much has changed. Some changes have been a source of joy, others have been the source of so much sorrow, and more still have been the source of both joy + sorrow all wrapped up into one. My challenge to myself and to you is simple: be intentional, be committed, and let these two characteristics become the two things we are most known for. If you don't have a good relationship with a family member, do everything in your might to mend it. If you have a secret that has kept you in chains for too many years to count, confess it. If you don't think someone is worthy of your forgiveness, forgive them anyway. If you get tired of loving others with all your heart and never getting anything in return, keep loving them. If you are tempted to walk down a path that satisfies your flesh, rebuke every thought and take them captive. If someone you know is drowning in hopelessness, give them an encouraging word. If you see someone holding up a sign on the side of the road and immediately want to roll your eyes or simply keep driving, choose to be merciful towards them. If you have to choose between buying another "toy" and helping someone in need, remember that lives matter more than things.

Being intentional + committed doesn't mean that we let someone else deal with it, it means that we take responsibility for what we can. It means that we do something instead of waiting for "chance" or "fate" or "good luck" to dictate when we take action. It means being disciplined in our thoughts + words + deeds, and making decisions that help instead of hurt. It means letting the glory of Jesus Christ, not ourselves, be put on display so that the entire world might sing along with the psalmist in Psalm 95 as we praise the Lord together.

What does being intentional + committed have to do with Jesus, you may be asking? Well, that's because there has never been anyone else as intentional + committed as Him. He intentionally committed Himself to the cross for the glory of His Father in Heaven + the salvation of me and you. Imagine the hopeless state we would all be in if Jesus had simply changed His mind like we do, and let that image of His enduring strength + unwavering trust in God be what sets a fire to our hearts + motivates us to be intentionally committed to discerning the difference between loving the things of this world + loving the people in this world, and choosing to habitually live our lives to love + serve God by loving + serving others.

That's what I want to see happen as I enter into another year of life. That's what I want for my birthday this year.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
-Philippians 2:1-10

Friday, March 27, 2015

showering Carlee.

Carlee + Preston will become husband + wife on the sixteenth of May, and the Bargeron ladies hosted a shower for them to make sure their kitchen is stocked with all sorts of goodies + trinkets before the big day. She was smiling from ear-to-ear all afternoon, and everyone there enjoyed watching our soon-to-be bride glow with excitement + gratefulness. Carlee has one of the kindest, most compassionate hearts of anyone we have ever known, and we were thankful for the opportunity to bless her as she + her family have blessed us countless times.

We hadn't been to Twigs Tempietto since the night before our wedding, and it was fun to reminisce about all the exciting memories that have been made in that quaint little outdoor courtyard. I remember being an excited bride-to-be not too long ago, and I loved watching Carlee grin with that same anticipation I had. There is just something magical about having a wedding season to call your own, and I am so happy that hers has been filled with so much joy thus far.

Only fifty more days until Miss Chandler becomes Mrs. Baynes!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

lacy turns two!

Saturday afternoon was filled with all things pink as we celebrated Lacy Claire's second birthday. Parties are always fun, because the whole family gathers more sweet memories are made. This little cutie kept us laughing + smiling the entire time we were there, and she was her usual cute + sassy + smiley self. Val made her cake, which was just as yummy as it was beautiful, and Uncle kept us entertained by trying out all of Lacy's gifts. It's hard to believe that two years have already passed since she was born + that it's been a year since we celebrated her first birthday. She grows more precious with each passing day, and I love how her sweet smile lights up the entire room.

B and I are sure to have many play dates + go on many adventures with Lacy + her mommy now that the weather is warming up, and we can't wait! I still pray for this girl + her parents each day, and I am honored to have a front row seat to watch her grow up to be a little lady.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

f a m o u s.

Have you ever seen a dashing fella go from cute to cool so fast? Nope, me neither.

You're looking at the cutest golf tournament mascot there has ever been. B went from cool to cooler once we stepped out onto the scene last Wednesday, and everyone was swooning over the little guy wearing the Nike hat + trendy shades. You better believe that this mommy was swooning over everyone swooning over the little guy that belonged to her. Y'all caught that, right? Nevertheless, this good lookin' boy is already famous in a small town.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

clubbin' on a Wednesday.

This time last week, we were just one day away from twenty-one teams hittin' the greens to play in a tournament at Carolina Springs Golf Course in support of Hope Vision Ministry in Port-de-Paix, Haiti. It was the second tournament that Haiti Gospel Fund hosted, and it was another smashing success! TJ and his team did a great job, yet again, and they also learned how to make it even better for the next time around. The weather was a beautiful sixty-five degrees, and clouds provided nice breaks from the sun, and many of us got our first sun tans burns of the year.

To see the faces that this tournament helped support or to choose a kiddo to sponsor each month, please click here! Here's to hoping the next tournament is another two-thumbs-up kind of day.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

gospel community.

It's no secret to most people who know me that the events of January twelfth took us by storm and by surprise. After quickly getting pregnant and blissfully enjoying nine months of great health leading up to our baby's birthday, we were confident that we would have a good delivery and would be home three days later. I can remember waking up that morning to my water breaking at twelve minutes after seven o'clock, calling TJ to wish him a "happy seven sixteen" as I did (and still do) every morning, and then telling him the good news (reminding him not to drive home like a madman). He got home, we put our bags in the car, and off we went hand-in-hand with the biggest cheesy-grins on our faces. Nine hours later, our names officially became mommy + daddy.

Tomorrow will be ten weeks since that day. When I think about all that these ten weeks have held, one of the words that comes to mind is rollercoaster. It has taken me extra long to heal because of all the postpartum events that my body suffered, and every time we thought I was finally going to be on the mend, something else would happen to delay that from happening. I am so thankful, however, to report that I haven't experienced any pain in three weeks, my liver continues to heal slowly-but-surely, and I am close to being back to pre-pregnancy Anna (healthwise, at least). My body wasn't the only thing affected by these trials, though. In fact, while my body is getting back to the way it once was, my spirit has changed drastically. My baby is a miracle, yes, but he is not the only one. The prayers of all the people who were (and many who still are) praying for me were heard + answered, and I will never know just how many people were pleading with the Father for my life to be spared.

My family + friends stepped up their support in ways I'd never seen before, and I remember praying that this would cause us to be + remain closer than before. We, also, received an outpouring of love + support from our church family, and their willingness to do whatever it took to be advocates for hope blew us away. The moment we were released from CCU and placed in a high-risk room, we were greeted by a beautiful familiar face with food for the entire family. After that, different people from our church + community brought us dinner every night for the rest of our stay in the hospital, as well as bringing dinner to our house three nights a week through the end of February. Not only did they bring us food, but they came to visit regularly and were always intentional in praying with us, crying with us, and encouraging us. We even had several ladies offer to stay a few nights with us to help with those middle-of-the-night cries. Honestly, I am convinced that the support we received from our church was second to none, and I have lifted countless prayers on their behalf to simply thank Jesus for placing us in such a selfless, God-honoring Gospel community. Love is not a word, but rather something you do. Something you give. Something you choose to either give away or lose. These people loved love us relentlessly, and Philippians 1:3 describes our response to that perfectly.

Today, on this twenty-second day of March, we will get up + get dressed + get in the car to go to church for the first time as a family of three. I can't wait to see all the faces I haven't seen in months + hug all the people who have been advocating for us in the presence of God, but most of all, I can't wait to introduce Braxton to the people I have been telling him about for so long. I'm grateful that out child will not only hear about what Jesus did + does for us when he goes to church, but that he will, also, see it lived out in front of him.

Where will you spend your Sunday morning? If you don't have a place to call home with friends who are more like family who are committed to loving + living as Christ did, Capstone Church could be that place for you. Just as these people have loved us, they will love you the same.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Hebrews 10:24-25

Friday, March 20, 2015

yeah, THAT greenville.

Last weekend, Braxton had his first two trips to the beautiful downtown Greenville. The first time was to cheer on those silly Elliott boys while they did the Kids Fun Run at Fluor Field, and the second time was to celebrate Mimi's birthday with dinner at Smoke on the Water followed by ice cream at Kilwin's. He will know his way around those streets in no time at all, because we will certainly be taking many field trips to stroll around in the sunshine. Here's to the first weekend of many spent gallivanting around these streets + stopping only to window shop! Well, mostly window shop, anyway.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

tummy time.

Tummy time is one of Braxton's most beloved and hated times every day. At first, he is moving his head all around and smiling from ear-to-ear, but as soon as he has had enough, he immediately goes into hysteria. Usually, there isn't even a blank stare between the two extremes, because he goes from happy one second to angry the very next second. Although I love it when he shows off that cheesy grin + those silly giggles, I also love the cries + screams, too, because I know that they won't last forever.

Happy Braxton:

Not-so-happy Braxton:

Seriously, even when he's crying, how cute is this kid?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

oaks of righteousness.

Last Saturday, the Bargerons went on their first family walk around the neighborhood. As we walked, we reflected on everything that has happened over the course of the previous eight weeks. A baby changes everything, there is no doubt about that, but every change that has taken place since our little one came into the world has been for our good + God's glory. We were blessed with a healthy, full-term pregnancy, which produced a healthy baby boy, and I am unbelievably grateful for that. Sure, the events that followed were less than ideal, but as I sit here and write these words to you as a new mom who has faced many trials since delivering, I also write to you as a mom whose baby boy was completely unaffected by it all. I have said this a million times, and I will say it over + over again for the rest of my life: I am so thankful that it was me and not him. I am aware, however, that this is not the story that every mom gets to tell.

This spring, on April 25th, I will be walking in the March for Babies in Greenville. I have learned many things over these past two months, but the thing I have learned most is that we need each other. None of us were created to walk through life alone, and the sooner we face that reality, the sooner we can help others learn to face it, too. Two of my friends both had babies this past week, and one of them mentioned participating in this walk together. I immediately said yes and quickly wrote it on my calendar, but instead of simply participating in the walk, I was convicted to take to this the community. My community. The community who has supported my family and me when we had have trouble finding the strength to stand. I come to you now asking you to do it again. Yes, this is a huge organization. And no, none of us will receive any worldly recognition for giving towards this research. We will, however, be playing a small-yet-vital role in helping those who can't help themselves.

A team has been set up, our goal is small, and we are looking forward to participating in this event with hundreds millions of others who are passionate about helping babies + mommies get what they need. Would you partner with us? The goal has been set, and now we need to come together to meet it. Even $5 will go a long way. I know many ladies who have experienced difficulty in pregnancy or given birth prematurely, and I'm sure you do, too. They each have a name. Let's do it for them, that their children who are born may grow into beautiful oak trees that glorify God, the One who created them + convicted us to fight for them.

Please donate here, and even consider walking with us in six Saturdays!

"to grant to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."
Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, March 12, 2015

braxton michael | two months.

It has been two months since this fine fella made his grand entrance into the world, and each day since that twelfth day of January has been sweeter than the one before. I don't know how it's possible to love someone so unbelievably much, but Teesh + I love him more with each passing second that goes by. He is a content little one, and I love watching his bright eyes look all around him as he tries so hard to learn about everything that he sees. I love to look at him as I pray over him + wonder who he will be as he gets older. Making memories with this guy, especially the ones where we cuddle on the couch and soak in every moment that we'll never get back, are the best.

I used to hear mommies + daddies say all the time how their babies were getting to big + how they couldn't believe how fast time was flying. Well, here you are as a two month old baby boy, and I constantly find myself praying that time would slow down. It really is mind-boggling how, even as I savor every single second I have with you, it never seems to last long enough. You have really come alive this past month, and your personality continues to come out. You smile ALL. THE. TIME. (I think you may get that one from me), and sometimes you just burst out in hysterical laughter for no reason (that we can tell, at least). You are still on an every-three-hour schedule during the day, and you've been sleeping in one big six(ish)-hour stretch each night followed by another three(ish) hours for the past two+ weeks. You are spoiling mommy big time! I can count on one hand how many "sleepless nights" we have had since being home, and I genuinely feel rested most mornings when we get up to begin our days at seven o'clock. A big thing happened this month, on February 23rd to be exact: you moved from your bassinet in daddy + mommy's room to your own crib in your own room! You transitioned like a champ, and we were (and still are!) so proud of you. You still love to look to your right side, but you move your head all around as you learn to control your movements. You've, also, been trying to hold your head up since we were in the hospital, and you've gotten so much better at keeping it steady + stable this past month. You, my son, are already so unbelievably strong, which is a gift + answered prayer from God. My favorite thing to pray over you while you were in the womb (next to your salvation) was that you would be physically + spiritually stronger than anyone else I've ever known. I'm already praising Jesus for His faithfulness in raising you up to be strong + courageous, because you demonstrate increasing strength + bravery daily. In addition to being strong, you are, also, quite chubby these days! We go to the doctor tomorrow for your two month check up, and I won't be surprised if you have gained four (plus) pounds this month. You've got long legs + a long torso, and they are so, so squishy. So long + squishy, in fact, that your newborn clothes were packed away a couple weeks ago, and you're already trying to get too long for any clothing that has feet. You used to have a neck, but we haven't seen it in several weeks because your (double) chin lays right on your chest preventing us from seeing it. You're still drinking way more than your tummy can hold, and you get quite upset (aka MAD!) when I take your food supply away. Mommy, also, started driving last week (HIP HIP HOORAY!), so you + I have been gallivanting all over the city to make up for lost time. We go walking most days, and we rotate between the stroller + the wrap each time. We, also, have started participating in tummy time together: when you have yours, mommy has hers because after so many weeks of being bed-or-couch ridden (and after nine months of pregnancy, too), regaining muscle definition is at the top of mommy's to-do-for-herself list.

I can't wait to see what this month holds for us, B! We've already got several activities planned, including mommy's birthday, that are sure to be fun. Here's to beginning your third month of life, little one. We love you so!
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