B was only two weeks old when all of his faces first started making me giggle. Now, seven months later, those same cute, silly looks have become more profound and spunkier. It's amazing how much personality is in this boy! My mind nearly turns to mush when I imagine how much more he will grow + change over the next seven months, but I'll have my camera handy to keep documenting this journey we're on together. I'll keep snapping every one of them, from the "Seriously, mom, another picture?" faces to the ones that say "Oh, mommy, you're the best!"
Monday, August 31, 2015
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Nothing cures our blues + unleashes excitement quite like bath time does! I'm sure all you other mamas out there will agree, and while I've been hearing that baths have crazy power ever since we gave him his first one, it wasn't until he started to sit up on his own that I learned the truth in this for myself. Some days he doesn't cry at all for the whole day, and then there are those other days when his squalls are the only music I hear. My snuggles are the best medicine for the fussy days, but bath time is a close second. He figured out what splashing was while we were at the beach, and there has been no stopping him since. Most of his baths are now in the kitchen sink so that I can cook + clean while he plays, and those little drops of water all over the floor + counter aren't burdensome to wipe up at all. My favorite part of bath time is when I look over my shoulder to check on him and catch him grinning or staring at me. Talk about making a mama's heart pop!
He's becoming little Mr. Independent, but I love how he always looks to make sure I'm watching him. Oh, I hope he always does that.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
I've been reflecting a lot recently on these past months since becoming a mama, comparing what used to be with what is. I go back to those days in the hospital often, because I love praising God for how good He was to me and those that I care most about during those dark hours + days. I've experienced tragedy numerous times in my life, but this was the first time that I was the one at the center of all the prayers being lifted. I'm used to being the one offering up prayers for + encouraging others who are hurting, not the one on the receiving end, and I learned a big lesson from that: meals, text messages, hugs, visits, and all the other things that aren't considered "big" to the world really are.
Honestly, I didn't offer up many prayers while I was in the hospital; I believe that's why so many people were lifting them up for me. I was absolutely aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, because He presented Himself to me in the faces of everyone who visited, in the tears that were shed (including my own), and in those rare moments when it was just TJ, me, and our newborn baby boy in the room, but I struggled to pray for anything other than strength for the moment. Something that will stick with me for the rest of my life is all the love that I received from my nurses and doctors while I was recovering. They knew when I was feeling down (I've never been a good liar, but I didn't even try to be while I was so sick), and they did whatever they could to lift my spirit. They served me relentlessly while I was in their care, and I won't ever forget how good they were to me.
Two months after we were discharged, we went to visit our dear friends who had just welcomed their new baby girl into the world, and I stopped by the nurse's station to check for any familiar faces. I knew two of them, and though they didn't know me right away (I looked a lot different from the last time they'd seen me), as soon as I told them what room I had been in, one nurse exclaimed, "Oh, yes! You were so sick, but you were everyone's favorite!" She hugged me, and said she would tell everyone else that I stopped by next time she saw them. My morning + night nurses always greeted me with smiles on their faces and most of them said that they hoped they'd be my nurse during their shift. I would always laugh because I was sure that they said that to everyone. I jokingly mentioned that to Lorraine (my spunkiest nurse) during my visit after she said I was everyone's favorite, and she quickly came back with, "Honey, I'm serious. Even when you didn't have the strength to pick up your head you were still so kind."
Those words have been the source of many of my mind's wanderings lately, and then Walt (our beloved Pastor at Capstone Church) asked a question in this past Sunday's sermon that connected a few dots. The meat of the message was spoken to stir in the hearts of those listening a desire to take the Gospel wherever we are called, and a question he asked was used by the Holy Spirit to take my breath away: "Do people get excited to be in your presence?" He continued on to ask, "Do people want more or less to do with you because of your words and actions? What do your actions say about your God?" And just like that, all my seemingly random thoughts clicked into place and pointed toward the bigger picture: God's great glory. Those nurses thought they wanted to take care of me, but I know it was the Gospel in me that drew them in.
Satan wants me to think that my "sweetness" and "good heart" are what left such a lasting impression on those who took care of me while I was in the hospital. He wants me to boast (both inwardly and outwardly) in my "kindness" and "wisdom." He wants to blind me from the Truth so that I will think that I don't need anything other than the "characteristics" that are already active within me. But (goodness, I love that word) Jesus is faithful in binding up the enemy's lies and steadfastly reminding me that His goodness and love are what flow from me (Psalm 23:6). It is God's kindness that enables me to be kind (Titus 3:4-6), it's His wisdom that creates countless fruit in my life (James 3:17), and it's the new heart He has given me that makes me desire humble submission (Ephesians 4:22-24). When we are weak, we must lean on the promises that His Word makes to us, because Satan will most certainly be seeking out every opportunity to make us even weaker. The more we lean on God before the storm comes, the more we will know to lean on Him when it hits. My mundane life is proof of this. Do you believe that yours can be a living testament to that, too?
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
When I closed out my season at City Kids last January, my heart ached like it never had before. New chapters are exciting, of course, but leaving my four year-old kiddos was tough. There were a few families who adopted me as their own over the years, and it was such a treat to have a park date with three of my once-little-ones at the same time. Abbe, Helene, and I are no strangers to having a "girls day" every few months, and this was one of those beautiful days that we got to enjoy each other's company all together. Gus, Helene's older brother and one of my very first students, joined in on the fun this time, and he proved to be quite the baby whisperer, too! I wish days like this would last forever, but since they don't that gives us more opportunities to plan more fun in the days to come!
Ms. Anna may look a little different with a baby on her hip, but she's still the same Ms. Anna she's always been - fiercely dedicated to loving those whom the Lord places in her care. I hope that B will learn to love the world around him by watching his daddy + me do it until the day we die.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Anytime I think about how I was introduced to the Elliott family, it makes my head turn circles to consider how perfectly our bond was orchestrated. A year and a half ago, I couldn't have dreamed that I would love them so much, and I certainly didn't know that we'd be having play dates together just a short time later. This particular morning took us to Legacy Park in Verdae (which it incredible, by the way), and we spent two hours watching the kiddos play, playing a few games of hide-and-seek with them, smiling until our cheeks hurt, and having some mommy catch-up time. I tell Kate all the time (and have since the beginning) that if I become half the mama she is, I've done something right. I thank Jesus for this sweet family often, and it tickles me pink to think that my little one will grow up with hers. I know I say that all the time, but it's truer every day!
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I was still in my first trimester of pregnancy with little B when we went to the lake last year, but that didn't stop me from going for a short ride on the knee board. This year, Braxton got to experience the lake for himself for the very first time, and we thought it would be fun to take him out on his first ride on the tube! Don't worry, Pops pulled us at a low speed, B was wearing a life jacket, and both TJ + I had death grips on him as we were riding. The rocking of the water under us + the sun beaming down on us from above almost put him to sleep before our little ride was over, and I couldn't stop laughing over how stinking cute he was.
I wonder what crazy shenanigans we'll get into next?
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
Braxton had his first taste of chocolate while we were at the lake, and no one was more excited about that than Pops. This was one of his very first requests when we told our families that we were going to have a baby, and he waited patiently for me to finally give him permission. Papa Don (his dad) did this for all three of his kiddos when they were growing up, and he was excited to keep this tradition alive. He went into work for a few hours on Monday morning, and he proudly revealed what he had picked up at the gas station when he was on his way back to Cross Hill: a big tootsie roll. After B ate his sweet potatoes for dinner, Pops wasted no time scooping up the babe, ripping into the wrapper, and sticking it right in front of B's face. Likewise, Braxton wasted no time before he was gnawing on it + flattening it with his professional teething skills. It was all fun and games until Pops said he'd had enough, and that was the exact moment that our little guy went from blissfully content to chocolate-faced angry. I'm just glad I'm not the only one who cries over not getting enough chocolate!
Sunday, August 16, 2015
The calm of the morning and the stillness of the night remind me of the sovereignty of the Lord more than just about anything else. Every sunrise and sunset reveal His intimacy with His creation, including myself, and I hear Him singing His promises over me in the most beautiful tune when I look out on the horizon.
I want to be like water, brightly reflecting the love, mercy, and grace of Christ Jesus.
"If You are the sun, I want to be the moon. I want to reflect the light that shines from You."
Sun and Moon
by Phil Wickham
Friday, August 14, 2015
Here are just a few of my favorite scenes from baby's first trip to the lake, all of which show what a smashing success it was. The whole Bargeron gang went to Lake Greenwood for a whole week to have one last vacation of the summer, and we had the best time. There was a happy balance between play + rest, and our evenings (along with parts of our afternoons) were filled with playing games around the table. It took Braxton a couple days to adjust to the new, strange place he was in (which nearly made me see cross-eyed, if I'm being honest), he was passed around like a hot potato, he ate like a champ, his cuteness had everyone giggling + swooning, and he even took a nap while floating in the water after a long couple of days of not napping so well.
The next time we all take a vacation together, we'll be sitting with our toes in the sand at Surfside Beach!