Friday, September 30, 2016

hike it baby 30 | september 2016.

Today marks the end of our second Hike it Baby 30 Challenge, and I am (as always) a proud mama! We participated in our first challenge in April, and Braxton was barely walking on his own. That being the case, all of the forty miles that we logged were ones with him on my back. This time, however, we focused more on shorter trails that he could do, and I kept track of the miles that he walked on his own two feet. So exciting!

We beat our goal of thirty miles with just over the same number of miles that we hiked/walked in April, but our minutes outside increased a lot. Four thousand minutes outside! WOW! I guess that's what happens when we walk at a toddler's pace, huh? Honestly, we spent more time outside than that, but I only logged what was associated with a hike or walk. We love being outside! Espeeeecially now that fall is starting to show itself. Something magical happens when the leaves begin to change colors and the temperature cools down. Swoon!

As proud as I am of the miles and minutes we racked up on this past month, I'm even more grateful for all the sweet conversations I got to have, new friends I got to meet, old friends I got to know even better, smiles I got to capture from the other side of the lens, hours I spent in the car singing nursery rhymes with my precious son, views I got to see alongside of some really special people, and prayers I silently lifted as I did each of the things just mentioned.

Hiking will always be more about the why than the what for me, and I hope that Braxton will one day take that same approach and learn to see the world with even better perspective and clearer eyes than his mama does. It's been less than two years since I became a mama, but I've already figured one thing out: kiddos catch on quick.

And my prayer is that the things he is learning from his daddy and me are things that will help build him up as he continues on his journey of becoming a man.

That's just one of the millions of reasons why getting outside is so important to me.

In a world so fascinated by technology, I just want to be fascinated with the handiwork that's all around me. And we want our little one to be, too.
Trail hikes: 7
Trail miles: 16.5
Total miles: 42.0
Total miles Braxton walked: 9.0
Total minutes outside: 4,180

I wonder where we will adventure to next. There is always something beautiful to see!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

bargeron bungalow | things I'll miss most.

+walking the same streets that I once walked as a little girl
+being so close to so many people who have known me since I was that little girl
+admiring all of the little and big things we've done over the years to make this house our home
+being able to walk to chick-fil-a and justify all those milkshakes
+listening to the pitter-patter of our first child's hands and feet echoing off these old hardwoods
+the glass door knobs and clawfoot tub that made me yell "SOLD!" when we first saw the house
+sitting around the fire pit roasting s'mores
+being a stone's throw from Publix
+all of the new faces we've gotten used to seeing while strolling or walking or playing in the yard
+weekly (sometimes more) trips to the zoo
+swinging on our gorgeous front porch swing that we scored at an auction for only $10
+B looking out the window that overlooks the front yard
+leaving behind TJ's beloved garage that he worked so hard on for so long
+popping in to see my parents at any given time
+the humility that comes with sharing a small bathroom
+the extra humility that comes with sharing a small closet
+running into Walgreens or Publix and seeing so many familiar faces
+the stunning brick fireplace and mantle above it
+the many windows that let so much natural light pour in
+those distinct toddler fingerprints on our black refrigerator
+all the memories we made, my boys and me
Our bungalow was the first big journey that Teesh and I embarked on together as husband and wife, and you just can't replace memories like that. We signed hundreds of papers before getting the keys, and we ate our first meal (Chick-fil-a, of course) on the floor of the dining room as we waited for his parents to drive up in the U-Haul. We had never been so excited to unpack boxes, and everything was in its place within a few days of moving in. We were on a mission!
Since that day, this house has been a spot for family gatherings, surprise parties, surprise announcements, yard sales, and frequent pop-ins. We were standing in the dining room when I told TJ that he was going to be a daddy, and we couldn't wait to get home after Braxton was born. The floors have been stained with tears on many occasions, and my knees have dug into them too many times to count. They've, also, been stained with baby drool over the past year and a half, and I'm thankful to have been the one to clean it up. I've fallen from the couch to these same floors while laughing myself to tears from being tickled by my goofy husband, too. And just last week, I fell into TJ's chest when we decided to no longer pursue a particular house, and we stood in the kitchen and cried together.
Happy tears and sad tears have both lived here while we have.

And they'll be hard to leave behind.
To some, a house is just a house, but that's never been the case for me. Every house I've ever lived in has shaped me in ways that words can't describe, and our bungalow is the perfect picture of what faithfulness, providence, and redemption looks like. This house has been used to stretch us, heal us, inspire us, and ground us. Its walls have been strong and steadfast, and its vintage character taught me that it's possible to swoon over the same thing every single day.
What a blessing it has been to have loved a home so much, so whole-heartedly. And what a blessing it is to look forward to the next house that will become our home and be loved just as much.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

glassy mountain | hike it baby.

It had been three years since I hiked to the top of Glassy Mountain, and I was so happy to be back at this gorgeous overlook with my B and our hiking buddies. Last time, I explored this place with Teesh, and this time I toted Teesh's mini-me on my back. It's amazing how much changes in such a short time!

Six mamas climbed up and down with our little ones riding along, and we admired the beautiful view together. We decided that revisiting this spot in another month is a must, because the views of all the leaves changing colors will be incredible. I love the fullness that green brings, but something incredible happens to my heart when I see the yellows and oranges and reds all around.

It's officially fall in the Upstate, and I'm anxiously watching as the colors begin to change. They'll be under our feet in no time at all!

Monday, September 26, 2016

lake conestee nature park | hike it baby.

We've been visiting this park since before Braxton was born, before he was even a thought in our minds. Now, we get to compare what life used to be like with what it's like now.

I can assure you that nothing is sweeter than watching this boy learn about the world around him while checking to make sure I'm still in his line of vision.

He's got a whole army of nature lovers he's growing up with, and it makes me so, so happy!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

john dukes and the hazzards.

When my former youth pastor called and asked me to sing at Capstone Church's first birthday bash, I happily agreed and couldn't wait to get to know the band. TJ and I had been spotty attenders that first year due to being away at school, and I was honored that he thought of me. I was pretty nervous to sing that morning, to be honest, because they didn't even know who I was, much less if I could really sing or not (still up for debate). I'd also been asked to sing The Climb, so having to channel my inner Miley Cyrus was also slightly intimidating.

Thankfully for Chris' sake I didn't forget the lyrics or do anything crazy. The newly hired worship leader and I got along really well (despite him being slightly overwhelmed by my high energy so early in the morning), and the rest is history. This guy named John Dukes and I have been leading together ever since. Over the next couple of years, I slowly worked my way to leading most Sundays alongside of him, and that's something that hasn't changed since 2011.

Seven years ago we were strangers, but now we are family.

And today, my heart is achy and uncomfortable as we prepare to send John Dukes out to wherever the Lord is leading him next. Last Sunday was my final week leading with him as our fearless leader, and today will be his last Sunday leading from his position within Capstone. As much as I would love to be up on stage with him as he rocks out one final time, you will probably find me in the back of the sanctuary smiling through my best ugly cry. I will sing and dance and worship the Lord with him and the NGU Campus Band, and I probably won't even realize in the moment what's really happening.

But then the music will stop.

And that's when the reality will hit me like a thousand bricks.

I guess that's what ought to happen when you love someone so very, very much.

One by one, many members of our Dream Team have recently begun to go their separate ways, and now we are sending another one out. But I can assure you that even through crocodile tears, I am thankful for new beginnings, friendships that I know will last through every season, and countless reasons to bless the Lord.

I don't think John Dukes will ever know exactly how thankful I am to him for encouraging me to be more than just a girl with a pretty voice, and I think that's exactly how it should be.
Stay salty, my friend.

Friday, September 23, 2016

kissing the wave.

Four years ago, we were just two newlyweds who were getting our feet wet in this thing called adulthood. And in just two short weeks, Lord willing, we will walk out the front door and say goodbye to our precious bungalow forever.
I teared up while typing that one simple sentence, and there have been a lot of tears leading up to that very bittersweet day. We weren't expecting to move just yet, even though we knew that we wouldn't be here forever, but we heard the Lord tell us it was time so we obeyed.

His timing was confirmed when our house was under contract in less than a day, and everything was moving along nicely with packing and preparing to move and looking forward to the next place that we would call our home...then Wednesday happened. It came out of nowhere, much like our decision to move did, and we are still processing how it went from all good to no good so fast.

Prayer has been our lifeline throughout the previous few months of seeking wisdom, and God has comforted, encouraged, and strengthened us through all of it. Yesterday morning while I was praying and reading in the wee hours of the morning before Braxton woke up, I was asking God to help us continue to trust Him and follow where He leads, but I also asked Him questions, too. I used to be scared to tell Him how I really felt, but He has taught me that there is nothing I can say that will scare Him off or make Him love me less. So, on this particular morning, I asked Him one specific question:

Lord, I know I heard angels singing when we first walked into our hopeful home. I know I did. And I told people that I did. Why would they sing if this wasn't supposed to be our home? Why would you let me hear them?

I confessed my confusion, professed my desire to depend on Him through this time of uncertainty, praised Him for all that I know He's doing that I can't quite see yet, and said "amen."

After I finished reading and giddily enjoyed the silence and my hot coffee (with pumpkin spice creamer in honor of the first day of fall, of course), I quickly skimmed through Instagram as I heard B begin to move and talk from the other side of the wall.

That's when I saw it.

I immediately tossed my phone to the side, reopened my Bible, turned to Psalm 34, and began reading through tears:

"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
(Psalm 34:1-8)

Did you catch that?


It was in that moment that God said to me, "The voice you heard when you first entered the house was not one of confirmation that it would be your home, but rather that I would protect you from beginning to end."

I had, indeed, heard a song, but I misinterpreted the lyrics.

He knew I would love that house as soon as I opened the door, and He sang a song of protection over us. A song of sovereign providence. A song of love.

And now, even though we will no longer have a home to call our own in just two short weeks, we have a song to play over and over and over again until He reveals just what He has planned for us. You'd think that stepping out into the unknown would be quite terrifying, but we are learning that peace is not found in our circumstances but rather in our Father.

He is meeting us in imperfect places with His perfect assurance, and our hope is being further rooted in Peace as a person, not as a thing.

Charles Spurgeon said it best: "I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages."

I don't know a whole lot, but there is one thing I am sure of: we are fiercely, unconditionally, and gloriously loved by Jesus.

Therefore, the waves that seek to drown us are simply pushing us towards Him, our mighty Rock of Ages. This storm won't last forever, and even when it does come to an end, I pray that we will look back on this season and recall the faithful protection of our Lord.

Oh, what a beautiful thing to be so close to Jesus that it doesn't feel like there's even a storm raging around us at all.

Yes, I think this is what it feels like to kiss the wave.

Monday, September 19, 2016

glassy mountain | hike it baby.

Last week we returned to the place where we had our very first adventure with Hike it Baby! We had a great group of mamas and littles, and the goats and view were a big hit with all of us. Braxton showed a little bit of jealousy this particular day, which absolutely cracked me up! Any time I would point my camera in the direction of anyone other than him, he would jump right in my face and say "teeese!" (translation: cheese). It was so cute that all I could do was laugh. That little stinker!

We are over halfway finished with our Hike it Baby 30 challenge, in both time and miles, and we've still got a lot of exploring left to do. Have I mentioned how much I love spending time with these like-minded friends who like the feel of dirt beneath their shoes as much as I do? I do, I do, I do!

Here's to finishing out our challenge strong, beating our miles from April, and making  more memories with our trail buddies!

Friday, September 16, 2016

bearwallow mountain | hike it baby.

We revisited a recent favorite that we discovered in the spring, and this trip was even better than the last. I didn't think that was possible! The clouds broke up the blue sky above us perfectly, there were cows grazing all around us, the views from the top of the mountain were enough to make me gasp for air, and my little wanderer didn't stop exploring (or eating) the whole time we stopped to take a break. We had a great group for this hike, too, which always gives plenty of opportunity for good conversation and endless fun.

This little treasure just might always be at the top of my list of places I never want to forget.

Bearwallow Mountain, you were stunning in full bloom!
...And I just have to cute is this little dude? That big ol' grin partnered with the blue sky behind it makes my heart beat fast!
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