Sunday, February 28, 2016

unveiled eyes| night of worship.

"We'll join the earth and sing redemption's story
As we gaze upon God's face with unveiled eyes."
John Dukes, Unveiled Eyes

My friend and mentor, John Dukes, released his first EP several days ago, and I can't stop listening. If you're in the market for some new GOOD music that ushers you straight to the feet of Jesus, then you need to get this. NOW! Visit this link for more information.

Happy worshipping, friends!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

oh, happy kay | bridal shower.

I met a girl named Emilie when I was a student at Western Carolina University back in 2007. It wasn't until a year later after I had transferred to Clemson University (go Tigers!) that we became more than acquaintances, and now I consider our friendship more like a sisterhood than anything else. She's one of my dearest and best friends, my personal photographer who is constantly so generous with her time and talent with my family, my encourager who somehow always seems to know when to speak and when to listen, and so much more. Her beauty, both inward and outward, is brilliantly unique.

Five years ago, she stood by my side as I walked through a short season of preparing to be a wife and was next to me in her pretty blue bridesmaid dress as I became one, and now it's my turn to do the same for her. This past Saturday, her friends and family gathered in Chapel Hill, NC to celebrate her upcoming wedding (only a little over three months to go!). Antique tea cups that have been in their family for many years were stuffed with beautiful flowers and used as decor, her out-of-this-world parents provided all of the food for the shower (which tasted just as WONDERFUL as it looked), and the bridal party (formally known as Charlie and his Angels) did anything we could to make sure everything was as perfect as she'd always dreamed it would be. We all agreed that it was so special to be able to do this for Emilie, the very person who is relentless in going above and beyond for us.

Instead of receiving gifts in a traditional way, she requested that all guests bring donations for a local crisis center as a way to give back to the community that she and Bryan love so much. Because of everyone's generosity, over $1,200 was donated to the center, along with other items and supplies that guests brought in! Although I wasn't there to see her hand-deliver all of the resources to OCRCC, I imagine that she was beaming with pride and gratefulness at the opportunity to give to those who are in need. She's got a heart of gold, and it's such a blessing to have an up-close look into just how pure it is.

Soon, she will be standing at the altar only moments away from being Mrs. Kay, and I will be standing by her side wearing a blue dress as she once did for me. Being a friend is much more foundational than having one, because the better friend you are, the better friends you'll have. Emilie's that better friend, no doubt about it, and it's an honor to call her mine.
"The next time you have the chance to have all the attention on you, choose to use it to make the world a better place."
Emilie Carol Uphoff

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

natural bridge trail | hike it baby.

Last week, our adventures with Hike it Baby took us to Keowee Toxaway State Park in Sunset, SC. We hiked the entire Natural Bridge Trail loop,  as well as some extra trekking on part of Raven Rock trail. Our small detour led us to the most beautiful overlook with a stunning view of Lake Keowee below us. The sky was perfectly blue, the sun was beaming down on us, the temperature was wonderful, and the five of us who went exploring together were thrilled with how gorgeous this day was!

Braxton and Howard have been on a couple of hikes together, and they really hit it off on this particular one. I was even the recipient of many smiles and hand-holding from Howard, and the sweetness of those few moments is still lingering in my soul. We stopped for lunch at the halfway point, and the two littlest ones were boldly crawling and walking wherever they pleased (within safe boundaries, of course).

I was so excited to tell TJ about this trail when he got home, and I really hope we go back here again soon. It was just that breath-taking! And speaking of catching my breath, the last leg of our hike made me do a lot of that. Us moms joked that our hearts (both literally AND figuratively) would thank us for all these miles we climbed while carrying our babies. One day these kiddos will be bigger than us, but for now it's our job to make sure they experience as much of the abundance of God's beautiful creation as possible. These little explorers will be making their own discoveries without us some day, and I firmly believe that these moments are being used to fuel a curiosity towards and an appreciation for fresh, open air.  I'll gladly huff and puff for that any day!

Where have you explored lately? Make sure this park is on your list!

Monday, February 22, 2016

our president's day.

Daddy was home on a Monday, so we wanted to do something fun. The problem was that the wind made it feel like icicles were hitting your face every time it blew, crossing any outdoor activities off the list. What's a family to do on a day like this? Well, this family bundled up, hopped in the car, and spent a couple of hours at The Children's Museum! Braxton was happy as can be as he pushed his own mini-sized grocery cart, splashed in the water, made music with sticks, and speed-crawled all over the place. I don't know who was more tired after this adventure, him or us, but I'll just say that we all three enjoyed a good nap when we got home.

Greenville, you're seriously the bomb.
I especially love this last picture I snapped, because it represents us all so perfectly. Braxton is always moving, exploring, and trying to figure out things for himself, I'm always making sure that his smiles and discoveries are captured in still frames, and Daddy is always standing at just far enough away so that B can play independently while still being close enough to scoop in and save the day if need be (he's tucked away right behind me in the black sweatshirt). Our life in one photograph.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

wuncle's fourteenth.

My baby brother, once-Wilber-now-Wuncle, turned fourteen last week, and you know what that means...birthday party! I love celebrating and I reeeeally love my family, so I think I'm more excited than the one(s) celebrating the birthday most of the time. But, I digress. Only about half of the family was able to be there this year, but the half that was there offered lots of entertainment and good fellowship (as usual). There weren't as many kiddos running around, but Braxton took up a lot of the slack. It's hard to believe that this time last year, he was only awake for about ten minutes of his whole party and this year, he was trying to steal Wuncle' spot light the whole time. My, my, how time changes so quickly!

Braxton has always been very fond of Wuncle, even when he was just several days old, and he made sure to give him lots of birthday loving for his big day. It was seriously the cutest thing! B wanted to be right beside him the whole time, and he even snuck in snuggles right before it was time to leave. Their age difference is the same as it is between Wilber and me, and it makes me emotional to think that what Will used to do to me, Braxton now does to him. Seriously. Like overjoyed-meets-ugly-cry emotional. Good emotions, of course, but it just makes me want to make more memories with the ones I love because the current ones pass so quickly. My thankfulness grows daily, but it grew exponentially on this particular day.

Happy belated birthday to our Wuncle!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

hatcher garden | hike it baby.

We mixed things up a bit for a Hike it Baby adventure, and drove to Spartanburg for a tour of Hatcher Garden. Our beloved Poco took a break for this one, and the three boys got to stroll around the garden and take in the sights from their ride on wheels. It had just iced the day before, and there was still some white frozen on the ground which made it feel like we were walking through a winter wonderland. It was a short walk so we did it twice, and we chatted about how lovely it would be once spring was in full force and all the flowers were blooming.

I foresee many more trips to this pretty place in the future, and I highly recommend that everyone get lost in the wildflowers offered here. We are surrounded by so many beautiful places to explore, and I'm thankful for a little one who enjoys the outdoors as much as his mama does!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

be mine.

Mmmm, he's quite the little heartbreaker, indeed. I just can't get enough! There will be lots of hugs + kisses today for my two boys today, folks!
*Shout out to Tink and Key for creating such a perfect shirt.
Mamas, you may want to engage your self-control before clicking that link.

Happy Valentine's Day to you + yours!
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