This was the pinnacle of our road trip, ya’ll – The Grand Canyon. One of the 7 natural natural wonders of the world , the name lives up to the hype. If you caught the previous post of… More
I’ve been sitting on this post for quite some time now, for no particular reason other than it just didn’t feel like the right time. And to be completely honest, I’m still not motivated by ‘my timing’, but something bigger than myself at this point. Maybe it’s the timing of it being National Infertility Awareness week, or maybe it’s the peace I feel when I intently stare at my son and thank God for the opportunity to be raise him with Geoff. Or maybe it’s a combination of those mixed with a number of different reasons that I still don’t feel I have the true capability of articulating at the moment.
In a recent post I came across on FB, I think Sarah Braden says it perfectly. It really gave me the understanding I was searching for without knowing. You see, my story’s no different than many others — I’ve had heartache, loss, rejection after rejection, and I’ve heard ‘No’ to countless passions and goals I’ve worked towards. But, after some time and reflection and trusting God’s plans; His bigger picture beyond the sting of a ‘No’, I’ve seen what and where His ‘Nos’ have led me.
I’m not going to give y’all some cliche answer that they’ve led me to Nirvana or some higher calling, but they have led me closer to Him…some not immediately and some soon after, but I finally got it. I got Sarah’s message of the hashtag blessed life. It’s not the beautiful pics or happy moments posted on social media or shared between loved ones. Those I am beyond thankful for…it’s the moments I need Jesus the most, lean on Him, call out for Him in times of despair that I am #blessed.
This all might sound completely crazy to some of you, and maybe it is, but for me I know it to be true…
For me, the blessing of a ‘No’ was the comfort I felt in my pain from rejection of an internship I worked so hard for. It is the grace and promise I heard after miscarriages, negative pregnancy tests, failed hormone injections, visit after visit to the infertility specialist and eventually being diagnosed with Secondary Infertility. It is the peace I feel knowing Jesus always promised to take us in His arms, move after move, and find our right community to settle into. In each heart ache, the hashtag blessed life is what I’ve known and keep near to my heart. Because in each of these moments I have felt the overwhelming rush of promise that His work is not yet done. ❤
Happy Friday, friends! I hope today’s post brings you promise to the days to come and confidence in knowing His work his not yet complete in each of you.
Lemons to Love,
Matthew 5: 1-12
“Blessed are those…”
Not too long ago I went on a women’s retreat through my home church at Southside United Methodist in Jacksonville, FL. The retreat was nearby, but just far enough in distance to give you the mental capacity of a vacation in the quaint historical town of Fernandina Beach. The theme for the weekend was Grace, and I was fully equipped to ball my eyes out like a baby as I soaked in the word of Jesus surrounded by other strong women all looking for the same thing: strength in numbers. Maybe I’m ‘broad brushing’ here on what the other women were searching for during this time of spiritual growth, but I would imagine it was in the ball park of gaining strength. Maybe it was physically, from ailments they or loved ones have experienced; mentally from the day-to-day exhaustion of just plain ‘adulting’, or maybe just a spiritual uplifter to refuel their tanks for the year ahead. Regardless of the specific reasons, I think we can all agree we all need strength from somewhere to counterbalance our weaknesses that are hardwired in us from, well, life.
But how do we release these ‘dead weights’ of guilt, exhaustion, self-analyzing criticisms (the list can go on sometimes, can’t it)? The simple answer: Jesus. The how: through His Grace…at least that’s my working equation. 😉
For me, this retreat was a reminder of just that, my constant need of His grace. Lately I have had to check back in almost daily to remind me of God’s grace. The GRACE, not my efforts, is what saves me. I am not judged by how many ‘good acts’ I’ve done for the day; if the dishes are done, laundry is folded, dinner is prepared, planning done for my small business is further along, nurturing my relationships, or teaching Brooks oh I don’t know how to be a functioning person in society?? I could honestly keep going on the mental check list I keep a subconscious running tab on. The truth is, if I always focused on this list (and the even longer one than can creep in), I’d never feel like I met my own expectations, and…wait for it, His TRUTH is truer than my own FEELINGS any day of the week. 🙌🏼
I have a grand idea in my mind, a goal I’m constantly working towards. And while I love this innate drive to be better, do better…I’m constantly reminded that this is not my sole purpose here on Earth. We can do AMAZING things, God is just looking for willing hearts…and I want to give myself the grace He offers me so in those moments He calls on me, my heart is open and ready.
I’ll be taking a small break from blogging these next few weeks as I head out to WA to meet Geoff and we make our road trip back across the country! I’m giving myself a break from writing and posting while I soak in these last few days in Florida, enjoy the HECK outta our travels across this great country, and make our move as a family up to our new home in Tennessee. It’s crazy how life can come full circle sometimes. This trip we’re about to embark on takes me right back to the days we first started dating and drove from Atlanta to Phoenix watch Auburn in the 2010 National Championship. And how can I not mention the literal full circle of driving back across the country; where the West-bound trip was with my willing-and-able mom exactly 4 1/2 years ago!
I can’t wait to share with you our adventures over 2,000+ miles, and then as we get settled into our new home back in the South, in middle Tennessee!
In the meantime, here are a few pics to hold you over from probbbbably my favorite adventure with B in Florida…the photos really captured the joy, adventure and beauty in the day we shared. If you want to see more, click HERE! And if you want to follow along on our travels across the US of A, follow me on my Instagram stories! Just click the icon up in the right corner under Social. 😊☝🏼
Thanks so much for reading! I hope today’s post offered you the grace you’ve been needing and so deserve.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
Lemons to Love,
One of the main things I wanted to do during my short-term stay here in Jacksonville was explore the more obvious scenic spots that we ‘locals’ become blind to on a day-to-day basis. I’m a firm believer in doing the touristy stuff in every city I live in…I mean there’s a reason why out-of-towners go visit these monuments, hotspots, or viewpoints – because it offers something special to the location. So, I want to capture those special spots throughout my hometown and see it with a fresh perspective, as a ‘visitor’.
Recently my mom, B and I went to the Treaty Oak and Friendship Fountain in downtown Jax. The weather was perfect and these were just the short morning outings we needed to feel accomplished for the day before naptime commenced. 😉
They really are such beautiful spots to visit. They’re the perfect places to escape from your office, take your lunch, or just enjoy the views of the river while watching the Main Street bridge rise to allow boats to pass, and of course, people watch. Not to mention, it’s a great area to let your toddler run free to stretch their little growing legs. B especially loved the fountain! He loved splashing in the puddles and watching the water jump out into the sky. Next time I need to take a little picnic and just camp out for a late morning outing.
Thanks so much for reading! Our time here is nearing an end in Jax. I’ll be flying out to WA soon to meet Geoff as we hit the road for our cross-country trek back to the South! I can’t wait to document that trip! 🙊 I’m so looking forward to some adventures with my main squeeze! Stay tuned for that! 🚙🗺
Lemons to Love,
This beach y’all…this BEACH! I’m going to be honest here and say that I wish I could just post this outing over and over…and over again. I mean, I took hundreds (yes, hundreds) of pictures and uh, wish I could post them all on this post!
I think it’s safe to say this is hands down one of my favorite days with Brooks. The pictures that captured the joy from the day and the genuinely fun time we had marks this one in the top memories for me. This beach is such a gorgeous hidden gym I have N E V E R heard of until recently. It’s really amazing what you can find in your area with a simple Google search. This particular outing was suggested by a friend from church, but I remember reading about it when searching ‘places to visit/photograph.’ #themoreyouknow 💫
This day was so special to me. It reminded me of my very first solo hike with B and how those moments and memories are just for us. I love sharing these sweet memories with my little nugget. Aside from his *cough* rare toddlering moments 😉, he brings so much joy to my life. I love exploring the world through his innocence and purity, it’s a real gift I pray to be more mindful of everyday. And the adventures won’t stop! Did y’all catch my recent post of our FUN announcement?? It’s official, we’re movin’ to Nashville!! I am so so exciteddd! I don’t know when…and I don’t know where, but the adventures will be comin’ to LtL. I’m just trying to keep my eyes and heart open to new possibilities our next chapter will bring. 🙏🏼
As for now…I’ll continue soaking in special days like these. For my friends in Florida, y’all have GOT to go here (kids or not). It’s such a beautiful and peaceful place to spend some time.
Thanks so much for reading y’all! Happy Friday-eve!
Lemons to Love,
It’s been really special to have this extra time in my home town, staying with my mom and dad as they’ve opened their home so graciously to B and me for over 3 months (that’s a lot of toddler time folks). 😁 But one of the more meaningful reasons I love this time is for the special things I get to share with each of them on our own time. I’ve done a few fun outings with my mom I’ll be sharing soon on LtL, but today’s post is dedicated to my dad. ❤️ I’ve written a few special ones for my mom in the past and it’s about time I make this one for my ol’ man, because y’all, I may be biased, but he’s a pretty special man.
Since I was little, we’ve always joked that I was the ‘token son he never had’ of my sisters, but God knew he was just the man for the job to raise and love three daughters. His kindness is infinite, his faith in God constant, and his confidence and humility are endless. While his sensitivity is one of his best qualities, he’s also a guy’s guy. I love our memories of throwing the ball, mowing the lawn together (*token son syndrome once my sisters left the house), or tailgating with a *strong cocktail in hand. He’s set an example for me for the type of character I want to find in a husband, and I believe I did just that.
Now, before my mascara (continues to) run or my laptop short circuits from unforeseen mist falling from my eyes…today’s post is for you Dad! H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y! 🎉
Thanks for all you do, and being up for an adventure! 😄
Look at that #unremarkable bro fashion.👌🏼😉
Happy Bday, Dad. Thanks for being you, head to toe.
Here’s a special video I made, just for you ❤️
Lemons to LOVE,
“I’ve lived here my whole life and I never did that!” I used to hear that often from people back in the PNW about a place I visited or an adventure we’d just gone on. Well, there’s #nojudgement over here y’all because I grew up in Florida and never went to my own state’s capital. 😯 Maybe that’s less shocking to some, but Tallahassee also houses one of the state’s top ACC school’s, FSU, where some might assume I would’ve visited for that reason alone. But when I was in college application mode there was only one place I wanted to go and one place I applied, Auburn University.#wde But that’s neither here nor there for this blog post *insert SEC football season 2017 is so close I can smell it*. 🙌🏼🏈🐅
My sister and her family moved to Tallahassee no too long ago, so I knew I had to make one of my Florida outings to visit and explore there with her. After a girls’ night away in Fernandina, we headed there together with B in tote, ready to make the most out of the few days we had. I love the energy of someone new to an area, and my sis was just the right candidate. 😊She was all geared up in between her mom duties to hit the parks and ‘cool things to see’ in her newish city of residency.
We explored the gardens at Maclay and visited an old oak in Thomasville, GA. This oak is so old, *how old is it?* well, it’s like 330+ years old, old. I took so many sweet cousin pics mixed with huge mossy oaks struck with late afternoon light…it was hard to only choose a few!
Tallahassee was really beautiful, and here is the highlight reel…
Haha this picture cracks me up! Poor Hayes…he was such a good sport. All B wanted to do was hang on and wrestle with his cousin. I remember the feeling of thinking all my older siblings and family members were so cool and all I wanted to do was hang with them. ❤
That’s all for now! My adventures are slowing down a bit these last few months. I’ve really just been enjoying the in-between moments with my family and friends here in Florida. I have a few more adventures to share…oh, and how could I forget?! 😉 ONE BIG ADVENTURE ahead!
It’s official! Our family is moving to…Music City itself, Tennessee! We’ll be in one of the charming suburbs just south of Nashville and we really could not be more excited! I can’t wait to share more with y’all! If y’all have anyyyy suggestions of places to visit or things y’all want to see here on LtL, please share below! I love a good adventure bucket list to cross off. 😉
Since my posts aren’t as frequent right now, come find me on Instagram and follow along on our day-to-day adventures in Florida! Click the link to follow and come say Hi!
Wishing everyone a fun weekend of adventures!
Lemons to Love,
Simplify. This word keeps grabbing my attention lately at every siting or conversation. I feel as though it is a task God is asking me to complete, but I quickly brush it off as a coincidence or ‘something I’ll get to later.’ What does it even mean? How much more could I possibly simplify my days here? After all, I’m not working right now and I fill my days with the activities of my choosing, whether leisure or active, which all sounds pretty simplistic to me. But I guess the word ‘simple’ can be a subjective term, do you agree? By definition the word simple is easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth of how I’m feeling on the inside. It seems as though I’m trying to convey a simple schedule of life while in reality I’m clouded with anything but. If I’m honest, my mind if filled with too many thoughts, to dos, and plans of the future. All of which are out of my control, and yet, I try to control by thinking/planning more. *sigh* #letitgo
So today, I’m taking a step back to simplify. If not anything but my thoughts, so I’ve sat in prayer this Sunday morning and asked God to take that which I cannot control and guide me through the rest. Better yet, I’m letting go of the reigns and letting God do what He does best…lead me to the greenest of pastures. Can I getta #Jesustakethewheel moment?!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼
I’m still behind on posting our Florida adventures 🙊(oops) and will get to them, soonish? 🤔😉Ha! But seriously, I will get to them when I get back from my trip to (it’s a secret) with Geoff. 🛩 Eek! So excited! We’re meeting up at our new and next chapter in the Cott chapters of life. I’ve never been there before and I’m so so excited to explore, house hunt, and imagine what our new season will be like, oh and not to mention just have some good ol’ QT with my #1 fella. 💘 Here’s to making the conscious efforts in letting go and simplifying, because after all, simple just simply isn’t simple at all.
Here are a few simple, in-between moments with my adventurous little B. I love his spirit and being his momma.
Happy Sunday friends!
Lemons to Love,
Things are starting off simple and steady here as B and I settle into our newish and temporary living arrangements. For those of you who don’t know yet, our family is temporarily split coast to coast for the next few months. While Geoff finishes up his duties with the Army in the state of Washington, Brooks and I are back in my hometown in Florida living with my parents; who have so graciously opened up their home to two new roommates (3 if you count both of B’s toddler personalities). 😉
Being back home in the city I grew up in comes with an array of emotions, but mostly wonderful, sweet, joyful and spirit-filled with a few learning curves thrown in their for good measure…it’s all about those ABLs amiright?? Always Be Learning?…or something like that. 🙃 You can see more about our first few weeks during the holidays here, but as B and I settle into a new routine I’m crossing off a few things on my ‘New Adventures in Old Florida’ list. It’s been really fun looking at my hometown with a fresh set of eyes and new perspective. I love finding ways to enrich a place where I have so many fond memories with family and my dear friends #squad, and creating a whole new platform of memories in this season of my life; insert wife and mother here.
I have quite a few places to see on my list already and I can’t wait to share them here with y’all! I’ve also got some prettttyy exciting news on where our next stop will be for our family and I can’t wait to share it…but it’ll have to wait a few more weeks, sorry. 😉
In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for a sweet little stop at a local park near my parents’ house. It’s right on the river complete with a dock, people fishing, and boats sailing by. So naturally I had to take B here, he’s such a little water baby! It may not compare to more grand scenes like this or this, but it doesn’t fail me in the memories shared with those I love most. ❤
*Not pictured: mommy and MiMi who were in their sweaty-best post cardio attire. OR maybe I should speak for myself in the sweaty department, I get that attribute from my dad.😅#TMI
We’ve got some fun plans this weekend as we venture out to the coast lines to an area I’ve never even been to! This weekend is a dad/daughter (+B) outing while my mom is having some qt girl time with her gal pals #squad. 👯
Y’all enjoy your weekend! Any funs plans? Share below, I’d love to hear them, or any suggestions you might have for us? Just comment below! 🙋🏼👇🏼
Lemons to Love,
As we settle into our newish surroundings I’m continuing to process all that has gone on, is going on, and will go on. Hint: it’s a lot! 🙂 In the last few weeks, we’ve packed up part of our life and split it between Washington and Florida. We decided, as a family, that the best thing for now while Geoff processes out of the Army, would be that Brooks and I would stay in my hometown in Florida with my (very hospitable) parents, AKA The Garner B&B. 😉 The logical plan was to save money and make the travel times fewer rather than going back and forth within only a few months. The emotional side was…I was exciteddd to spend some quality time with my family and friends *cough* finally! The other emotional side that I hadn’t known to anticipate was the intermittent stress and heartache it would cause being a split family for 3 months. Nevertheless, it’s the decision we made and still agree was the right one.
Don’t get me wrong, my heart and head still know this is the right decision…I just didn’t know what I didn’t know, ya know? 😉 I think with all the excitement leading up to my ‘leisure days with Mimi and Pops’ I didn’t factor in the toddler tantrums, change of routine for said toddler, and him missing his bestie, AKA Daddy. With all the hype leading up to coming home, I realized I still had to process the part where I was leaving our home of 4 years. The place we began to raise our first born, left friends, and made memories…*processes through the last sentence one more time. Oh, and did I mention we’ll be moving again in another few months??? A new life, new adventures, new routine, and a new address await us come April…and, side note, we couldn’t be more excited!!!! More on that later. 😉
So as I continue to process, and process some more, my feelings on the ever evolving changes (known as life) and the excitements that lie ahead, I wanted to sit and write. It’s been awhile, or so it feels! I was so used to our weekend adventures in the PNW that now I’m redirecting my blogging efforts into what new adventures lie ahead. I’m not quite sure what that’ll be just yet, but I definitely have plans for some *edit: 18 and counting* new destinations and photo opps that I’m so excited to explore and share with y’all!
Until then, here is a little snippet of what we’ve been up to during our first few weeks in Florida…
A few highlights:
Christmas time, (free childcare) GNO, (free childcare) date night, girl time, family time, and free towel service at The Garner B&B
Enjoy the rest of you week….oh, and happy New Year friends! I hope you’ve had a refreshing start to this new year that bring you new perspective and hope for what’s to come! My heart is so full and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for the future.
Don’t forget to check out below for our little video montage I put together ❤
Lemons to Love,
I’m going a little backwards today. I know I’ve technically already written my ‘last’ PNW post, but on our last Sunday in Washington Geoff, Brooks and I went to where it all began – Mt Rainier. Mt Rainier was the first outing Geoff and I had, right after we married and before he deployed. We were living in a hotel before Geoff deployed and barely had two pennies to rub together, but we made the best of the time we had and found our happiness in each other and the adventure of being a newlywed. I remember our first drive to Mt. Rainier. I was instantly captivated with the magic the mountain possessed and the fresh snowfall that dusted the mighty evergreens.
Fast forward 5 years later and now we share that same magic with our son Brooks. So it’s only fitting we spend our last #famday Sunday in one of our most cherished places, playing in the winter wonderland that is Mt. Rainier.
So long winter wonderland…you’ve been so good to us over the years; never disappointing, always giving us your all. ❤
Until next time! Stay tuned to the adventures that await back in the South…
First stop, sunny Florida!
Lemons to Love,
WARNING: This post contains wordy words and deep depth…but mostly a trip down a happy memory lane.
So, I’ve tried writing this post for a few months now. I knew it’d take me a while to formulate my thoughts on the closing of this PNW chapter we’ve written for the last 4 years. Where do I even begin? What do I say? How do I articulate the millions of thoughts popping through my head on a nearly daily basis as we close this chapter to open a whole new (and unknown) one? No, seriously…how do I? A little help here… 😉
For those of you who don’t know, Geoff and I started our lives out here in Washington just over 4 years ago. Two newlyweds, hype on ambition and love, anxious for the unfamiliar, and excited to start our lives together. Our first year of marriage was spent apart as Geoff was deployed only days after we married. And in anticipation of his return, only days before his arrival, my mom and I drove across the country to set up the first place we’d call home. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, those first few years were a struggle for me at times. Moving here from the South…well, things are just different out here. 😊 And like I mentioned here, I left a bit of my heart there, so allowing my heart to grow new pieces took some time, albeit worth it.
But, alas, grow it did and I came to find many people and places to love out here in the Pacific Northwest. ❤️❤️ So, instead of a sad ‘see ya later’ post, I’ve decided to do a ‘let’s relive all the joys’ post…because there are so, so many to relive. I’ve discovered pieces of myself I didn’t know existed, and I have my experiences out here to thank for that. Specifically, God’s unabounding love and purpose for my life, my husband’s without ceasing ability to support and encourage all my creative pursuits 😁 and the infinite possibilities of adventures here in the PNW.🌲🏔 Well, and not to mention the friendships that got me through the dreary days that can seem 365…until heaven opens and the best Summer’s you’ve ever seen appear from above! 🙌🏼🙏🏼
I started this blog a little over 3 and a half years ago to share our lives with our friends and family back in the South, and it’s become more of an outlet I could have ever expected. In those three years, I’ve obtained my second Bachelor’s degree in pursuit of becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist and a Child Life Specialist, multiple small business ideas, and continued my passion and 10+ years experience of working with children in a clinical setting (all the while still figuring out what I want to do when I grow up). Ha! 😉 I’ve become a mother, and continue striving to be a better woman and wife. I’ve learned so much about myself, grown in ways I never thought possible, and failed at goals I thought were a sure thing. I’ve met so many inspiring people, found new passions, and expanded my mind in ways only possible through God.
To be completely honest with y’all, I have no idea where this blog is going! haha! But I’m up for the adventure and hope y’all will continue along with me! I’ll continue searching for new experiences, new places, and faces all the while sharing my passion for photography, adventurous spirit, and entrepreneur opportunities. I’ve realized over the years those can all manifest in there own way, so I’m embracing the possibilities to come.
And to end this PNW chapter on a high (altitude) note, here are my Top 5 *edit 6* favorite adventures in the P-N-Dub in no particular order (this is so.hard.y’all!)…
6. Naches Loop – favorite hike
5. Mt. Rainier for my birthday – sweetest memory
4. Blanca Lake (hurt so good) – first and worst hik
1. Ok, I lied…there is an order, and this is NUMBER ONE – the day I became a mom
For more hiking, outings, and the in-betweens, check out the PNW Life drop down menu at the top of LtL!
As always, thanks so much for reading along, y’all! I hope you’ll stick around and see where this next chapter takes our family. It’s been an amazing experience so far and can’t wait to see what’s next…
Lemons to Love,
*Side note addition: A special thank you/I love you/I miss you to all my friends out here who’ve loved me, laughed with me, cried with me, and supported me. Your friendship and the connection we share will never be forgotten. I will always cherish our time together…and if you ever are in the South, you know how to find me. 😉 Love you beyond the words I can find right now and (already) miss you tons. 💟💟💟 #allthefeels
Most of my posts have obviously been about our more ‘grandious’ efforts in the adventures we’ve had here in WA…but that’s not to say the little inbetween moments were any less impactful and memorable for me. For my last #8in8 I want to dedicate this post to the non-polished, non-edited, fun moments and memories (that I’ve at least captured on my cell!)
This one is short, but sweet…I hope y’all enjoy!
You know I couldn’t leave the PNW without a video montage too! Complete with snippets of love and song…
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s potentially weepy, last-day-in-the-PNW post…
Lemons to Love,