Celebrating Freedom

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite times of the year. Celebrating our freedom, honoring the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom, and making memories with friends.

We started off celebrating in Villa Rica, Ga with our church family and some friends on Thursday night. Afterwards, some friends came back to the house and we shared some laughs.

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Friday, we had several of our friends over for a cookout at my in-laws. We had lots of delicious food, laughed a whole lot, and played a serious game of volleyball in the pool. Afterwards, we headed into Carrollton for the firework and 4th of July festivities. We took all of our leftovers from lunch, coolers, homemade ice cream, and our corn-hole boards to enjoy the rest of our evening.

God has given us some of the most loving and selfless friends. We enjoyed every moment with each of them, individually and collectively, this weekend. I have never laughed so hard and smiled so much; my abs still hurt.

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I am looking forward to many more memorable weekends with these precious friends.

Orevwa, darlings!

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What It Is All About

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Wild imaginations infused with playful chatter and laughter often drift through our home. It engulfs my spirit; sweet music to my soul. My green-eyed teddy bear with a heart of gold wrestling with a blue-eyed ball of energy brings joy to me and I revel in those precious moments.

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My husband is a creative, talented, and well-rounded musician. When I met my husband 8 years ago, music was his muse; the core of his being. For hours on end he would sit and play in his own musical world and creating licks, riffs, and refuge for his soul.  Music wasn’t just some hobby, it was his way of existing; like a wave that engulfed his body, mind, soul, and spirit.  It was where he went to talk to God and often where God met him.  His love for music and his love for God fascinated me, and ultimately captivated my heart.

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This endeavor of ours has caused us to journey through some strenuous obstacles, but more often than not, we enjoy the hand we have been dealt.  There is great pleasure that comes from living life with your best friend and it is even better when your best friend is your husband.  I’ve watched my husband grow from a young man into a diligent leader within our home.  Prioritizing has been a constant conquered struggle for us both.  We try to make continuous efforts to place God first and our marriage second [we don’t always get that right; we try]. 

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In the last two years, things have changed drastically.  We adopted a baby boy and he has changed our priorities yet again. Brave. Chivalrous. Selfless.  These are words that have always encompassed who he is, but seeing him has a father has been magnificent.  His love for me has always been selfless and he showers Zeke with that same love.  He is also selfish with Zeke; selfish with his time.  He is a busy man; two jobs, one band, and a family make for a very busy schedule.  Yet, he constantly makes sacrifices for us both.  He takes lunch breaks at home to cuddle with Zeke (our son) before nap time.  He rushes home from band practice in hopes of praying with Zeke before bedtime.  He cuts grass with Zeke securely tucked under his arm while he rides the tractor.  He lavishes all kinds of musical knowledge into our son, even at the age of two.  He disciplines him with grace and love while teaching him to respect himself and others.  He contributes to Zeke’s love for fishing, football, hide-n-seek, hunting, and wrestling.  He gives Zeke his undivided attention even when his phone is flashing emails, reminders, and text.  He makes sure Zeke knows he comes before his dreams, hobbies, or work.  He shows him how to thrive and take pleasure in his family.

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My favorite thing is watching him teach Zeke about God and prayer.  The sweetest sounds to pass through my ears consist of Zeke repeating his daddy’s prayers at bedtime.  It is humbling to be privileged enough to experience the awe of our Creator through the babblings of our innocent son as he whispers the honest words of his daddy.  I love watching my hubby lead by example and not just saying, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

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Ox Ox, we are so lucky to have you in our lives.  You are the greatest loan God has ever given me and I hope that as your partner in adventure, crime, life, love, and parenting that I honor you always.  You are a gift that keeps on giving not just in our marriage, but also as a parent. Zeke and I can never thank you enough for loving us so selflessly.  We love you with all of our hearts!

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Happy Father’s Day!

I love you, my beloved!  xoxo

I call her “Momma!”

Mommy. Moms. Mothers. Mommas.  Whatever you choose to call them, that name means something special to each of us.   They are our “Wonder Women.”  This week after spending time in Haiti and spending an ample amount of time in several orphanages, the word mother really penetrates your heart.  There are so many children who have no one to call “mommy” as a child, or “momma” as they grow older.  They have no one to hold them at birth.  No one to stay up all night with them when they are sick.  No one to kiss their “boo-boos” or “ouches” away.  No one to read bedtime stories or rock them to sleep.  No one to cuddle with them just because.  No one to hold them close or reassure them that all the bad dreams aren’t real.  They have no one to give them the nurturing they deserve.  Moms are an important part of our lives with an important responsibility.  (Dads are too, but this blog isn’t about them right now).  🙂

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God allowed me to be born into an incredible family.  With a father and mother that loved me and prayed for me.  God allowed me to have a family that loved me selflessly and unconditionally.  I was lucky enough to be born into a family that wanted me and showed that on a daily basis.

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My sweet momma has always been my accountability, my champion, my encourager, my example to follow, and my prayer warrior.  As a child, she was always cheering me on and encouraging me to be girl that loved Jesus Christ and love people through my love for Jesus.  As I reached middle school, she was in my face, challenging me to be a young lady of character and integrity.  She called me out when I was being mean or selfish and challenged me to examine my attitude and behavior.  She set an example for me during her journey battling cancer.  Even when she was scared, she trusted our Heavenly Father.  Even when she had (almost) deadly allergic reactions to her chemo treatments, she never lost faith in God, and continued praying faithfully for direction.  She showed me how to love your spouse selflessly and always be their strong, even on the bad days.  She showed me how to let God fight my battles for me and how to trust God’s direction for my life at all times.  She showed me the best way to be a rock for your family was to stand on the Rock (Jesus Christ). 

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In high school, my mom surpassed any expectations I could had ever placed on her.  In the midst of battling cancer, she lost her own mother, my precious Nana, and it was not easy.  She not only became the rock for our family, but the glue for our extended family.  I remember her telling me that my Nana had left a legacy for us to follow and that she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to feel her shoes.  She wanted to have the same type of spirit she saw in my Nana, but little did she know she had already been living a legacy.  

My mom has always been by my side through thick and thin.  She has been my coach by giving direction and guidance, but she has allowed me to make my our decisions.  She has watched me follow her instruction and come out on top.  She has also watched me rebel again her advice and instruction, which has more often than not, led to my demise.  During those times, she has never once said, “I told you so,” or said, “You should have listened to me.”  She has been in the pit with me dusting off my knees, lifting up my head, and cheering me on to pick myself back up.  She has prayed for me during those times and hoped I would redirect my life, while relearning how to use my compass.  

In college and into adulthood, she has become my best friend, counselor, and prayer warrior.  She has been a constant in my life and earned the right to hold the title of best friend.  I know she always has my best interest at heart and has no trouble challenging me to dig deeper and expect more of myself.  She challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and truly follow Christ even when it is difficult or uncomfortable.  

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I have been blessed to have a mother, who desired to make me a woman of character, class, and integrity.  I was blessed to have a momma that sacrificed her time to teach me about life, to drive me all over creation to play softball and soccer, and to answer all the thousands of questions I had about life and love.  She was sacrificial and selfless.  I was blessed to have a mother who would sit on the phone with me for hours just to laugh and talk about life or cry with me over frustration about life and womanhood.  She cried with me when God closed doors I was desperate for Him to open and celebrated with me when God opened unexpected doors that only He could receive the glory for.  

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I love you so much, momma!  Words can never express the nurturing I have received from you and the shelter I have found in you when I was struggling through many chapters of my life.  Besides Jesus, you have been the one constant in my life.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  Dad, Russell, and I are so lucky to have you in our life and be able to be a part of your life.  God truly blessed me when He allowed me to be born into your life and you raise me in this crazy world we live in.  Happy Mother’s Day to you!  Today and everyday, you mean the world to your family.   I love you!  xoxo Image

 

Ps.  You are a great grandma too! 🙂

Celebrating Two

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Photography by Aislinn Rain Photography

Two years ago, on March 6th, 2012, I received a excited yet, panicked phone call.  Our son had been born (a month early).  He and his birth mother had both been in distress and an emergency C-section had to be performed.  We were urged to head that way as quickly as possible.  I remember confusion and panic come flooding over me.  I called Nick, who was at work, explained the situation, and we dropped everything and rushed to North Atlanta to be with our son.

I felt like we were caught in a whirlwind of emotions, but mainly helplessness.  Our son was alone.  His birth mother nor us could be with him.  We couldn’t hold him… reassure him that we were there.  The thought brought tears to our eyes and pains to our stomaches.  Acceleration took on a whole new meaning.

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holding my son for the first time

I have never believed in love at first sight until we saw our son.  He was the most precious bundle I had ever laid eyes on.  God’s hands had been all over the situation from the beginning.  Two different families had been brought together by God’s Sovereign hand and forever changed in the wake of our son’s birth.

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Photography by Aislinn Rain Photography

Ezekiel James Ivey is the best gift we’ve ever been given by two others; God and Zeke’s birth mom.  He has been our bouncing ball of energy and stubbornness coupled with cuddles and tenderness.

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Photography by Aislinn Rain Photography

Celebrating two comes all sorts of hidden meanings.  Two years of life.  Two families forever joined together.  Two years of frustrated prayers answered.  Two different sides of the family celebrating two different families’ decision to change a child’s life.

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This weekend we celebrated Zeke turning two with both sides of our family.  We find ourselves overwhelmed with the love and support we’ve had throughout this constant evolving journey.  Our families and friends have been by our side throughout this entire process through hugs, laughter, prayers, and tears… all the while God has been in the midst weaving our paths together, so delicately.

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My husband and partner in crime makes this life absolutely perfect.  We are blessed beyond belief.  I surely don’t deserve all I have been given… from God’s grace, my husband’s love, and our son…. more than I imagined and through means I never dreamed possible.   Celebrating two…

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…to God be the Glory…

sniffling messes

georgia has been experiencing all four seasons with in a week or two here lately.  we’ve had single digit weather on monday, and then on friday, we are wearing shorts, [all within the same week].  we’ve had snow, rain, thunderstorms, and unexpected heat.  it has been keeping everyone around me, including myself, a sniffling mess.  life has a way of coming in seasons and draw us to the same conclusion.  a sniffling mess.

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[above: enjoying a snow day, as a family].

luckily, my life have been pretty [summery] with the exception of a few sicknesses and stomach bugs.  yuck!  we have been embracing this season of our lives.  we have been able to be there for those around us battling serious illnesses within their families, comforting those who have lost loved ones within our church family, and building relationships  with the community around us.  we have been, as us christians like to say, “#blessed.”  ha.  all jokes aside have been privileged to meet needs around us.

seasons are changing, yet again.  at times, those seasons seem like they creep into our lives and we wonder where they came from and how we didn’t notice.  however, this season change came in more like a nature disaster.  a tidal wave. pretty accurate.  i found myself confused and disoriented… then my composer turned into a sniffling mess. [i hate being a girl].

after phoning “the BIG man” upstairs, i realized there was a need for me to getaway. to leave. to think. to breathe.  so i did.

a change of scenery was exactly what i needed.  i also needed a friend.  evanda.

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[above: meet evanda; a beauty, she is].

evanda has become a dear friend.  she shares my love for musicians. 🙂 cheap fashion.  dreaming.  freedom.  life.  people.  photography.  and now HAITI.  she has quickly, without hesitation become my accountability, cheerleader, encourager, and fellow dreamer.

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[new eats with a precious friend].

when i needed out and a fresh open-mind, i knew who would speak some solid truth in my life, but we also hear my heart, but see beyond the problem.  i spent the better part of my day with evanda; crying, dreaming, eating, laughing, shooting, talking, and walking.  God has always put the right people in my life at just the right time and evanda is no exception.

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[midtown : piedmont park]

this season has not really changed from being [summery], but there seem to be some tornado weather covering up the son right now.  yes, i know, i said, “son.”  that is just it.  this tidal wave or tornado weather has caused me some confusion and disorientation.  it was like i went from 4G to roaming.  my reception has been all jacked up.  i reached out to an operator [evanda] and she worked on getting me back on track.   focused.

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[shot of an empty rusty fountain. taken by me]

looking at that fountain is kind of how i feel.  broken. drained. rusty. in need of repair. capable of working again.

i don’t feel like this in all areas of my life.  just one.  yet it affects all the others.  [i’ve never been good at compartmentalizing.]  

i know this is just a season and these tornadoes may last a little longer than I would like, but just like tornadoes come in… they also go out.  quickly.  these seasons do not operate on my time schedule, but the Lord’s.  [so it might last a little while].   ha.  the funny thing is, i love tornadoes.  they are intriguing to me… a force of violent circular pressure that causes massive destruction to everything it engulfs.  sometimes, it picks up and destroys.  other times, it picks up and lays down somewhere else.  or maybe, just maybe, clouds up the sky bring lots of rain and noise without damaging a thing… jumping one to more on to the next.  i am not sure what this tornado has in store, but i plan to make the most of it.  with new perspective, vision, and optimism.  enjoying the glimpses of the sun along the way.

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[one of my favorite shot by Dave Rebot].

in the meantime, i will be adventurous and stand in the rain taking pictures of the beauty it brings.  keeping my eyes on the SON and praying for clarity.

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[we choose what we on: the clouds or the clear sky]

choosing to over come this sniffling mess.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, says, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.’  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

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[reflection on overcast days]

Go Tell It On The Mountains

As I sit here with my iTunes on shuffle and my daydreaming of Haiti… it is only fitting that “Go Tell It On The Mountains” would be begin to play.  Immediately, my mind was swept up in the memories of sharing the story of Jesus’ birth.  To the faces of children caressed in their mother’s arms as they listened.  The faces of children, who’d come with friends or peers to heard about this man named, “Jesus.”

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It made me think of the word “Ayiti” and it’s meaning.  “Ayiti” means “land of mountains,” and what a beautiful land it is.  I have been blessed to go to Haiti six times and lead five teams in sharing the story of Jesus in the land of mountains.  My heart yearns to share more of about Jesus in the “mountains” and “everywhere.”

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There is a longing in my soul to “Go Tell It On The Mountains” to those who have never heard… to those who need to hear of a divine love that offers us grace, restoration, and truth… His name is JESUS!

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Mwen manke Ayiti anpil!

Zeke’s room

Nick and I have pretty much everything up in Zeke’s room minus the wall decal which will be going up on Tuesday afternoon.  This is for all the inquiring minds.   We officially only have 4 weeks left.

It is hard to believe that he will be here that soon.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the theater when I got the message asking if we would be interested in adopting.  What a great day that was!!!   We are so excited for Ezekiel James Ivey’s arrival.  He will be here before we know it.

We have had two awesome showers and honestly have just been humbled by the presence of family and friends, as well as humbled by the amount of people whom have been praying about this adoption for us.  God’s timing is truly perfect and it is best to trust in Him.

Here are the photos…

Zeke’s Antique Dresser

Nick and I ended up getting a dresser from the 1940’s and we decided to refinish it and paint it and put it in Zeke’s room.

These are the drawers after sanding them to get them ready for primer.

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Nick finishing up the sanding.

This was after the first coat of primer!

This was only after the first coat.  It looked great!!!  😀

The final product!  We love it and feel like it turned out great!

A New Year Of New Adventures

2011 was filled with ups and downs, but we truly fill like we were able to experience more joy than we have in a long time.  God has been more than good to us this year.  After praying to get pregnant for 2 years, we have still come up short and sure that could be a downer, but I know God is Sovereign.  He knows what is best for our lives and every day He is revealing Himself to Nick and me in the most unexpected ways.  This year we were presented the opportunity to adopt and we praise God for that.  All Glory to Him!  I was also able to go to Haiti twice this year, which was incredible, but what really sealed the deal was Nick going with me in December.  Nick and I have decided to devote any spare time we have to working on helping Sonson (haitian brother) get his visa, so he can come to the states to get his a better education.  We were sad to see it go, but we are beyond excited for 2012 and all it will bring.

2012 is going to be a great year filled with new adventures and experiences.  We have many close friends joining their lives together this year, our little man will be here for end of March/first of April, I will be turning 30 (Eeekkk!), we will be experiencing a lot of first this year, and we will be waiting for the end of the world in 2012.  haha.  As we patiently wait for Ezekiel’s arrival, Nick and I have taken on picking colors and decor for his room.

We decided to buy an old antique dresser and luckily we were able to get one for free.  We have been working on it this week by sanding and putting primer on it, so we can paint it.  We aren’t quite done, but I thought I would share what we had so far.

This is the dresser after we sanded it and put the primer on.

These are the drawers before primer.  Nick had only sanded them.  It is coming together!!! 😀

I can’t wait until it all comes together.

I promise to update as we continue to work and it all comes together.  Hope you all have as much to look forward to in this New Year as Nick and I do.

Living In A Dream

As I was driving down the road this morning, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of Haiti.  This week has been insane.  The lack of oxygen to my brain is quite real in my struggles to focus… finding it hard to have time to breathe this week.  No complains here though!  It has been a long week, but we are in the home-stretch and I could not be more excited! 😀

I have packed almost 19 bags this week with clothes, school supplies, and shoes for HCM [Haitian Christian Mission].  Between organizing, packing, and weighing all of it I have been quite overwhelmed, but in my head, one thing kept entering my thoughts. 1st world problems!  [Some of you reading may be wondering what this is, so let me explain.  If you have a Twitter account, when you write a status or a tweet, you can hash tag something at the end and it is all complied into a section of tweets based on these hash tags.  (For example: My husband surprised me today by cooking dinner. #blessed)  If you look up “blessed” on Twitter, anyone can see your status under your hash tag.  It is pretty sweet!]  Okay, back to the story!  Recently, Whit Maxey, one of the guys I work with said that one of the new has tags was #firstworld and it is all about our “First World” problems.  This week whenever I felt frustrated or overwhelmed about my insignificant issues or “to-do” list I would hear “first world” in my head and suck it up.  Honestly, it didn’t matter how crazy this week seemed, I have a good life, and getting ready to head to Haiti only makes it better.  I can hardly contain myself.

It has been six months since I was in Haiti, but it just feel like yesterday.  God truly changed my life through my last experience in Haiti.  He consumed my heart and opened my eyes to see how He sees.  [It is sad that after being back in the states a while we start to allow our blinders come back.  Not only that, but the brain washing continues from our #firstworld issues.  We don’t have enough money, enough clothes, enough whatever… our culture starts to consume our thoughts again and we are fighting off those urges all over again.  I can’t wait to have a reminder and a flushing out of my flesh.  Those are needed at times!

Tomorrow will be surreal as we reach Haiti and I am able to see my brothers, Robenson (Sonson) Louis (23) and Samuel Simon (16).  We have been counting down the days until we would be able to see one another, but I know I will be dreading as the days pass by while I am there. [It will be at least a year before I am able to go to Haiti again with Zeke’s arrival on the way].  Knowing I will not see them for at least a year brings tears to my eyes.  They have truly become my family!  I know my heart will yearn to be in Haiti serving them and their families… it will yearn for my long talks with Sonson and Samuel about our mighty God.  It helps to know I will see them again when I leave their precious smiling faces, whether here on earth or in Heaven, when we see our Heavenly Father.  I CANNOT WAIT to see them and give them GIANT hugs! 😀  They are so excited to meet Nick.  Sonson wants Nick to show him how to play the guitar, which I think will be a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to watch Nick fall in love with Haiti and the Haitian people just like I did. I am so excited about experiencing this with my husband and seeing how God uses this trip to change our lives forever.

Please pray for our team as we take this trip.  My phone has been blowing up all day with concerns, excitement, questions, and surprises. ha.  I know everyone is feeling what I felt back in June as I started packing my bags, but this time is actually much crazier since we are leading worship at churches, doing VBS for three different churches, and running sports camps.  It is going to be quite busy and we are bringing a lot into the country.  Please pray for a renewed spirit in our students… for  these goggles we wear as Americans to be removed and for us to see what the rest of the world looks like… for the Holy Spirit to move in such a way that we are not just inspired to change, but forced to.  Again, THANK YOU to everyone who made this mission trip a reality for our team.  We are beyond blessed.  Keep the prayers coming!  Mwen renmen ou!  Bondye renmen ou!