Friday, June 26, 2015


It has been a little over five months since we came home from the hospital with a new baby boy in tow, and it is incredible just how much healing and restoration has come since then. The complications that followed labor + delivery shook all of us to our core, and many voices were crying out to God on our behalf in those moments of uncertainty. Many are still crying out to Him because of the events that took place in January, and I speak for my little family + myself when I say that prayers of praise have not ceased in light of God's mercy towards us. The joy of the Lord was my strength through it all, and it overwhelms me when I think of how God had every right to take me but didn't. He chose the perfect moment to create me in my mother's womb, and when I take my final breath on earth is His perfect choice, too; yet, He spared my life that day.

The healing process has not been easy; I really can't remember a time I have had to trust God more in my whole life, with both little and big things. My whole body (specifically my legs + feet) was painfully (and quite largely) swollen for five weeks after giving birth which forced me to humbly ask others for help, I experienced firsthand the not-so-pleasant effect of negligence that made me look at forgiveness in a new way, it was weeks before I could hold B for more than ten minutes at a time without needing to rest which made my heart ache something terrible, I learned that people (even those with prestigious titles) brush off way too many things and deem them as unimportant without first taking the time to really listen or investigate the situation at hand which made me want to pay more attention to things around me, I started being more diligent in looking past the smiles that people wear and studying them as more than just a seemingly happy face instead because some people are really good at hiding their sorrow, miracles have been the theme of this season of life which has been a tremendous cause for praise, I've been surrounded by family + friends who have provided a nearly unfathomable amount of love + support which has made me cherish my time with them even more than I did before,  I finally started to feel like myself again (physically, that is) about a month ago which reminded me that things do get better, and that's only a glimpse of what recent trials + what I've learned from them. Many trials have come, some more intense than others, but none of them have proved to be stronger than the hope that is in Christ Jesus that I have clung to with everything in me. How beautiful is the hope that makes even the biggest, most terrifying storms unable to hide the sun.

During those weeks of limited movement, I wondered if I would ever get out of the bed without hurting again, much less participate in anything that required physical endurance. When I was in high school + college, my favorite "Anna time" was to put on a pair of sneakers and put them to good use out on the pavement. I would turn my iPod up loud (occasionally forgetting that I was the only one who could hear the music) and just run. It was never for competitive reasons, but I just simply loved challenging myself by seeing how far I could go before I ran out of steam + music. I stopped running after TJ + I got married (mainly because it was more fun to cuddle on the couch with my husband after work than it was to go out and get hot + sweaty), but I recently had a burning desire to start back up again. I knew I wouldn't be impressed with my distances + times because of the four-year hiatus (and that I would be even slower because I'd be pushing a growing baby boy in a stroller in front of me), but the desire to do it was pretty intense. The first time I cried while I was in the hospital was when the doctors told me they were going to remove my catheter, and it was weeks before it took me less than thirty minutes to get up, walk (and by walk, I mean waddle) to the bathroom, use it, and return to my infamous position of laying down with my feet propped up. In those moments of frustration + sorrow, I wondered if I would ever feel + be "normal" again. Those thoughts are what provided me with the initial motivation to begin running again, because it would be a shame if I took for granted all of the prayers that have been answered + all of the goodness of God that has been poured out on me.

Some would give anything to be able to go out for a jog just because they want to, and yet those that are able to spend most of their free time wasting away their minutes. Technology is helpful, fast food is convenient, eating chocolate is satisfying, and taking naps is delightful, but all of these go from good to bad when we allow them to become our masters. Although I was only unable to move for a short time in comparison to many others, God used that time to teach me to be thankful for the abilities I have, to be a good steward of every blessing He gives me, and to spend more time actually living instead of merely thinking about it. There is so much to see, so much to do, countless memories to make, and an open road right in front of us all. What would it look like if we focused more on being thankful for the opportunities that the Lord gives us rather than complaining about the ones He doesn't? Instead of looking back on our lives with regret, why don't we intentionally make decisions that honor God + tell of His goodness towards us. Sure, speed is important in a race, but that speed means nothing if you can't (or worse, refuse to) endure the course. Let's put on our shoes, take a deep breath, run this beautiful race called life, and train our hearts to glorify God in both pleasure AND pain. If we don't, we will wake up one day and wish we had.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."
1 Corinthians 9:24

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

pool party.

Hooray for summer nights, eating pizza by the pool, watching the little ones splish + splash in the water, playing games under the umbrella when it starts to rain, and great friends to constantly be making memories with. We love summertime, yes, we do!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

three daddies.

This year on Father's Day, I'm celebrating three daddies! The one in the middle is my daddy whom I've loved my whole life (my very first love), the one on the right is my daddy in-law whom I've known + loved for half my life, and the one on the left is the newest member of the daddy club who somehow still manages to steal my heart away each day. All three of these men have had a tremendous influence on my life, just as my three mamas have, and I am so thankful for the love they pour out over me + the littlest member of our family. These fathers + grandfathers sacrifice for those that they love and go above + beyond the normal call of duty, and it's pretty awesome having a unique place in each of their hearts (even though the one on the right would never publicly admit to how much he loves me - hehe). I hope I never take for granted just how much grace has been given to me by my Heavenly Father by Him challenging me, changing me, and making me more like Christ by way of these silly-yet-strong daddies.
Happy Father's Day to my favorite daddies in the whole wide world. One day just isn't enough to adequately celebrate you, but we'll try our best.
We love you Daddy, Pop, and Pops!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

table rock | year four.

Hooray! for our fourth trip up to the top of Table Rock, and an even bigger Hooray! for our newest hiking buddy, Mr. Braxton. We left the bungalow early, and started our trek up a little after nine o'clock. Even with the extra loads we both carried, we still made it up to the top in the same amount of time that we usually do, and we were impressed by + thankful for the super-strength granted to us by our Creator. Table Rock is a mental battle as well as a physical battle, and we celebrated the grace given to us with every mile-marker that we passed. B did great for most of our explorations, but there were a few times when he started screaming uncontrollably - one of which lasted for thirty minutes (it may not sound like much, but oh, it was). Once he surrendered his stubbornness + laid his head down, however, the screams stopped and he fell right asleep. Being carried up to a beautiful overlook would probably make me unhappy, too...sike!

Speaking of the overlook, it appeared as though all we were going to see was clouds, because the sky was full of them. I wasn't too thrilled about this, because the view is the main reason we huff + puff up the mountain, but we decided to stick to the plan and go any way. The whole time we fiercely climbed up, I did my usual: prayed a lot about a lot. This morning, in particular, I asked God to part the clouds so that we could see the view we had set out to see. With only three hundred feet in elevation to go, we paused to break + feed B on Governor's Rock, and we were legitimately sitting in a cloud. We stayed the course, and just as we were walking towards the lookout after taking a "WE DID IT!" picture at the tip top, the clouds parted, blue skies came into view, and the sun cleared away the fog that was covering the treetops. It was incredible! The clouds came back almost immediately after we started our descent, and the final two miles were spent climbing down in the rain. Our greatest hiking adventure to date? Quite possibly.

Here to hoping that this next year of explorations are just as fruitful as the previous three years have been! Have I mentioned how much I love these boys and our crazy shenanigans? I do, I do!
While we were snacking + hydrating + resting at the top with miles + miles spread out before us, Teesh + I talked about how this particular trail is humbling like no other, and we also reflected on the spiritual perspective it gives. Those three-point-seven miles up are tough; they require endurance, steadfastness, watchfulness, and patience. But, as soon as you reach your destination, you almost instantly forget how hard it was to get there. The pain that you experienced getting there doesn't compare with the joy that overwhelms you once your eyes behold so much beauty. That's why this particular hike is my favorite - because it reminds me that I must not give up while in route the destination, that I will have to humble myself and rest while getting there, that hard work really is worth the reward, and that there is nothing in the world more beautiful than the One who created all the beautiful things around me. No trials, no matter how big or small, can compare to the steadfastness being perfected in me, the joy that is mine in Christ right now, and the beauty that my eyes behold when He parts the clouds. Jesus has come to give me abundant life, and He is the reason (often times the only reason) that I keep on keeping on.

This little tradition of ours is so much more than just meandering through trees on dirt paths, and I'm so thankful that He enables us to seek Him + find Him in settings that provide clearness of mind + openness of heart + vulnerability of spirit. God is so good, y'all.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

feelin' bouncy.

We got to spend a whole afternoon with Pastor, Ma Pas, Timothy, Christina, and Grace, and we wanted to do something fun. What's more fun that Gravitopia, you ask? NOTHING! We jumped for a whole hour (which made us all have to humbly take breaks every so often), cut flips, dove into foam pits, played dodgeball, chased each other along the rows of trampolines, and laughed until our stomachs hurt. Timothy impressed us all with his back flips, and us girls had a ball just stickin' to the basics. Braxton got lots of love from Pastor + Ma Pas, TJ tried his best to capture photos of objects in motion, and the kids (myself included) bounced until our bodies hurt. 

After we got good and hungry, there was only one option for lunch: an endless pizza buffet at Pizza Inn! These Haitians were comatose after spending the afternoon with the Bargerons, just as we'd hoped they would be. Post-shenanigans nap time was necessary for us ALL!

One of my favorite memories to date, no doubt about it. Oh, how I loooooove having this precious family here with us!
Side note: I've never been so excited for Becca to be put to such good use!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

a promise fulfilled.

I dreamed of this day when TJ and I spent a month in Haiti nearly two years ago. We talked about starting a family while we sat on the steps in front of Pastor's house watching all the kiddos run around, and we both agreed that it was time we tried for one of our own. I wrote about that conversation in my journal that night, and I specifically mentioned how I couldn't wait for our little one(s) to meet the little ones from Hope Vision Ministry that we had grown to love so much. Grace (pictured above) is spunky, crazy, silly, and she says exactly what she thinks at any given moment, and when she gave me my morning hug the following day, she poked my belly, said "When you have one, Banana?" and then ran away giggling. Now, here we are just a year and a half later, and I have been given the enormous blessing of having my worlds collide - two worlds that I have prayed for, hoped for, and chased after diligently + wholeheartedly. Pastor + his family have been our family since TJ + I first heard of them, and I am so thankful that B is now a part of this journey with us.

The promises of God, y'all. There is nothing else like His faithfulness, His timing, or His providence.

Friday, June 12, 2015

braxton michael | five months.

I'm always amazed at how fast the months have gone by since your birthday, and this month is no different. You're almost half a year old, big boy! WOW! This past month has been busy, busy, busy just like the others, but we've been having lots of fun with every memory made. You love talking, flapping your arms + legs, lifting your head up reeeeeeeally high during tummy time so that you don't miss anything, listening to loud music (I have no idea where you get that one from - hehe!), laughing (and I mean belly roll laughing), being close to daddy, being outside (we spend most of our days out in the sunshine), and that's just the start. You still eat chug-a-lug five times a day, and you'll start eating solids in just one month. Crazy! I reflect a lot on how thankful I am to be able to breastfeed you considering how things started out, and even though you'll never remember these feedings, I cherish them all (yes, even the ones when you're distracted by everything). You're not a huge fan of your car seat, probably because it keeps you from moving so much, but you usually do okay once you're all strapped in + ready to go. You love to snuggle when you're sleepy, but you want to be facing outward if you're not - if you can't see what's going on around you, you let us know in a hurry! You rolled over from you belly to your back several weeks ago, and now rolling is all you do. You love to roll back and forth, cooing + laughing as you move around. You're, also, becoming more of a wiggle worm every day - little one, I'm pretty sure you cut flips in your crib while you're sleeping! I usually wake up to the sounds of you talking to yourself, and when I turn to look at the monitor you have somehow ended up on the opposite side of the crib facing the other direction. Doctors recommend that babies sleep on their backs, but there is no way that's happening now that you've learned to roll to your belly - you are a belly sleeper all the way (just like mommy). Doctors, also, recommend that bumpers are not used, but I am certain that you would have a cracked skull by now if you didn't have one to help soften the blow of your head banging into the sides of your crib while you're getting comfy. You're still teething with no teethies breaking the surface so far, and you're not quite sitting up by yourself just yet either. You're a strong lad, so we know you'll be holding yourself up soon, though. Daddy is officially home for the summer now (minus a few weeks of coursework), which means that we're going to have looooots of play time with all three of us until August. Yippee! We're kicking things off by keeping tradition alive and hiking to the top of Table Rock today (no time to waste!). You did it with us last year, too, when you were only the size of a little prune inside of mommy's belly. Now, however, you weight more than sixteen pounds, and daddy is going to get a big workout as he carries you up + down the mountain. Here's to hoping we live to see tomorrow!
You met your Aunt P. Sawyer for the first time on May 19th, you've been hanging out with our dear friends from Haiti during their visit to the States, and you've received dozens of hugs + kisses from them both since they had waited so long to meet you. A really special thing happened this past Sunday, too - one that means a lot to daddy + mommy + a lot of others: we stood in front of our family at Capstone Church and dedicated ourselves to doing everything in our power to help you learn to love Jesus! We are so thankful for the opportunity to teach you + show you how the Lord loves you, and our prayer is that you would one day love Him in return.

We've got even more excitement planned for this next month, and we're pumped that you will be celebrating your half birthday at the beach. That's right, little one, it's almost time for our first vacation as a family of three (twenty-nine days to be exact). Whoop whoop! Until then, I'll keep nibbling on your precious rolls, letting you punch me in the face while you swing your arms all around, tickle you until you bust out laughing, and telling you that I love you ten thousand times a day. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

vision casting.

On Sunday afternoon following B's dedication, around one hundred people gathered at the Fountain Inn Farmer's Market for a BBQ dinner + an opportunity to hear Pastor Andy speak about the vision that God has given him for what comes next for Hope Vision Ministry. Pastor + his family love the Lord more than most, and hearing him speak always confirms that truth. Thankfully, many people who had never met him before got to meet him, and hearts were touched by the heartfelt words he shared.

God is doing BIG things in Haiti, and it is a tremendous privilege + honor to have a part in it, no matter how small. The kiddos at HVM are very special not only to the Bargerons but to many other people in our community, too. Our hope is that more people will be lead to commit to helping out however they can + are able to, and we especially hope to hug + love on our entire beloved family in Port-de-Paix very, very soon. Praise be to God for bringing us together, and may His grace continue to move mountains + break strongholds!
If you are interested in sponsoring a child or helping us continue building the new orphanage in the Far West, please click this link and know that your gift is not in vain!
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