A Letter To My Daughter On Her 1st Birthday.

My Dearest Bara Faith,

One year ago today you surprised us with an early entrance into this world, and from day 1, you’ve shown me a fighting strength through your tiny 5 pounds 7 ounces that though she may be little, she is fierce.

As we celebrate your first year of life, we are so grateful that your story begins with choosing life.  From the moment God created your life, He has loved you and He has set you apart so that you can fulfill His beautiful plans to be a world changer.  In just one year your life story has already touched so many lives and made so many people cry tears of joy alongside us, and we are so grateful for the circle of love of people all over the world who celebrated with us your arrival into this world. Through their generosity helping us to fund your adoption, through home made gifts, through meals brought over, through breast milk donated by so many loving mommas, I am humbled by the amount of people who have loved you so fiercely through their acts of kindness.

You are everything I never knew I always wanted.  Though you and I share differences, such as different blood, and how you so very vocal while I am so very quiet, I love that we can come together to learn from each other on this journey and allow our different gifts to complement each other’s strengths.  And strength girl, you have that.  You have such a determination and drive that shows me it will carry you far in life.  You are going to be a leader not a follower, I just see it.  When you pull yourself up to stand up, your proud smile radiates from your soul and shows me that you will never let anything stand in the way of accomplishing your dreams.

Sometimes you make an expression that reminds me of your beautiful birthmom, and though I wish it was reflecting my own expression, in those moments I’m reminded of how grateful I am that our Heavenly Father brought an angel into our lives to help heal my broken heart and allow me the honor of becoming a mother. Through tears in my eyes, I will always be grateful for not one, but two of that angel’s heartbeats who she has trusted me with to raise as my own, and both whom I have vowed to love with all my heart.

Bara Faith, you will always be my promised child.  Your life story will always be a reflection of how our God loves to surprise us beyond our wildest imaginations.  And just when all hope feels lost, just when we think He has forgotten us, just when we can’t imagine to wait any longer for our heart’s desires, your life reminds us all that He isn’t finished yet. Jesus always has one more move.  And then sometimes another, as your younger brother’s life forming in the womb right now has shown us all.  What a good good Father we serve. That is the foundation of what your life stands for.  Carry that with you deep inside the core of your confidence as you grow older, because it’s a strength that will never let you down and it will carry you through the challenges you encounter.

A year ago today, I poured tears down my face the first time I saw you because I just couldn’t believe you were here after all these years of waiting.  And now your giggles and smiles brings me so many tears of joy.  As hard as the wait was, you were absolutely worth every second of the wait.

Never forget you are so deeply loved.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl!  This is just the beginning….

Love,

Momma

A special thank you to Meredith Black for this joy filled Mommy & Me session.  I am no longer taking on new photo shoots myself anymore as I prepare to welcome on Bara Faith’s baby brother soon, but I highly recommend you using Meredith Black for all your Jacksonville area family portraits.

WE’RE EXPECTING AGAIN! AND IT’S A BOY!

“And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever.” -1 Peter 5:10

After all the tears I cried for 5 years not being able to conceive my own child, God has now doubled our portion and restored our hearts beyond what we could ever expect through adoption.

We are excited to share that Bara Faith is going to be a big sister!

But no, we are not “that” adoption story where I got miraculously pregnant after adopting. Instead the Lord surprised us in a different way.  Bara Faith’s birthmom is expecting again, and we have the honor of also adopting this new little gift on the way!

Ever since we were dating, Stephen and I have always talked about having two children, a girl and a boy, but after everything we went through to adopt the first time, we were uncertain if we ever would adopt again. Yet… shortly after Bara Faith was born, she was prayed over and prophesied that she wouldn’t be our only child, so I always wondered deep down what God had in store down the road.  And we definitely didn’t expect another child to come along THIS soon, but what a beautiful double blessing it has all become!  As the news began to unfold in our lives, all I have continued to think is that God is completely a God of restoration.

And He is a God of grace.

I always like to challenge Him to speak in these situations when He is calling me to greater faith.  Just as He had given me Bara Faith’s name 5 years before she was born with the promise that He would create a baby girl for me, He had always, since I can remember, placed the name Jackson Ray on my heart should I ever have a boy. Before we found out the gender of this new child, I kept hearing Him tell me that this new child is our Jackson Ray.  Granted, our birthmom was still too early on to know the gender, but from the beginning, we’ve all said we felt this time it was a boy.  Just that gut feeling from the Holy Spirit. But not knowing either way, in the midst of my praying, I decided out of curiosity to look up the meaning of Jackson, because in all these years, I never actually knew the meaning of the name, and I couldn’t help but smile when I found out it means:

“God’s graciousness.”

And Ray, that was always to be named after the middle name of my late father, Johnny Ray. To then I really really smiled when I discovered another meaning of the name Jackson means “Son of John.”

So with that, God spoke, and we moved forward blindly walking in faith yet again.

Then earlier today… we found out the gender. And it indeed was… God’s graciousness.

It IS A BOY on the way!  It’s our Jackson Ray who will be arriving around September 6! And we couldn’t be more thrilled!

God is good all the time and all the time God is good. He always has the bigger picture in mind, He still keeps His promises, and He still speaks today.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. -Ephesians 2:8

Here’s to begin shopping for cute little bow ties and suspenders!

OUR MASTER BEDROOM.

So I have to admit, as much as I loved this farmhouse when we were looking at it originally, we almost didn’t buy it because of the Master Bedroom.  First, it was much smaller than any of the Master Bedrooms we had had before, and there wasn’t a wall long enough for our oversized bed and nightstands.  So I knew I had to either get creative to make it work, or pass on this house.

After much Pinterest brainstorming, I figured out a solution.

The only wall that could work had French Doors to the left of the wall that led to a side yard of the house. I knew we would never really ever enter or exit from those French Doors, so I decided to cover them up with draping, to then extend the wall even longer.  I’m not gonna lie, I once saw Paris Hilton did this in her glam bedroom, where she put drapes behind the bed, and I remember thinking back then how it added a cool dimension to the space, and kept the idea tucked away for future decor possibilities.  So my solution to make our bedroom furniture work in this space, and trick the eye to appear bigger than it was?  Make a drape wall.

And add chandeliers.  Anyone who knows me, knows I must sleep under a chandelier.

One thing I did love about this space is it had a step down bonus side room.  So I turned that into my “War Room” prayer room. And yes, I must pray under chandeliers too. ha! But what you don’t see in the photo of that space is the side wall that has all my words of truth from His word written out, who I’m praying for, prayer requests, answered prayers, and so much more.  Though my girl keeps me busy as a mom, I love knowing I have this space in our home to turn to when I really need my time with the Lord to reconnect.

While most of our walls throughout the house are white, for this space and our bathroom, I chose Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.  I wanted a nice soothing tone that felt like we were at a spa, and I kept seeing Seal Salt every where. Though I’m normally a pink or black and white girl, I just adore this color to and felt it blended well with the black and white.

Here’s a tour of our Master Bedroom!

Pillows from Pier 1, HomeGoods and Hobby Lobby.  Bed from Fabulous & Baroque.

Believe it or not, this chandelier was from Lowes.  Every now and then they have some great lighting pieces for a great budget friendly price.

Rug from Hobby Lobby.  Bedding from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Custom drapes from Vickie Moorehead.

Mirrored nightstands from Pier1. Lamps from HomeGoods.

I’m really obsessed with the Sherwin Williams Sea Salt paint color!

Benches from HomeGoods.

Our closet door had old round knobs.  So I replaced them with these one sided door knobs and I loved how they looked vintage.  All the brass doorknobs throughout our home got replaced with these black swirly ones.

Reading chair from Ashley Furniture.  And the mirror, believe it or not, I found for really cheap at a Habitat For Humanity Restore center I randomly visited one time looking for something else but walked out with that great find.

And of course Rhett has a dog bed in pretty much every room of our home.

Last but not least, the BEFORE photos of what this space looked like when we bought it.