Do You Know What Today Is?

It’s our anniversary!
378991_10100851358487610_1048948156_n
Three years ago today, I married my boo! I could not help but reminisce about that wonderful day and all that these past three years have brought us. When you get married you are so full of hope and have so many dreams for what the future with your spouse will look like, feel like, and be like. Rarely ever do you consider the difficult times that undoubtedly arise in life. I am thankful because I have a true partner that has been there through the difficult and the good. When I did not have the words, he spoke. When I did not have the strength to even lift my head, he held it up for me. When I did not want to go another day, he encouraged me. When I believed I was unloveable, he loved me. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to experience this type of love.
387639_10100851350418780_1435946699_n 392948_10100851344630380_906340136_n
My prayer today is that God would continue to strengthen our relationship, that our love would continue to grow deeper, and that our relationship be a reflection of His love, grace, and mercy. I pray that Joe would continue to grow and develop as the strong man of our home and that I would be a better wife to him. Thank you Lord for these past three years the good and the bad… I would not trade them at all nor could I have asked for a better partner in life. I love you boo!

373814_10100851365638280_362824097_n 323709_10100803260775810_1764726354_o 302155_10100851420727880_1624535040_n

Check out our wedding trailer!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/25837861″>Joseph & Stacie’s Cinematic Trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/3ringmedia”>3Ring Weddings</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Summer Adventures: Explore GA

I absolutely refuse to sit in the house all summer doing nothing! That is precisely what I did last summer (I was a little down), but this is a new year, new summer, and new day and for that I am extremely grateful! Joe and I have decided that we will explore our state a little more this summer and visit some of the places that we keep seeing and talking about. There are so many places to visit in our state and I am excited to experience some of the places that make Georgia unique.

Here is a list of our top 10 places to visit in Georgia this summer. Keep in mind that some places that are unique to Georgia and Atlanta are not included because we have most likely visited there several times.

Top 10 List Summer 2014

We are so excited to start our little summer adventures! First stop: Savannah and Tybee Island!!!

Do you have any plans for the summer? Any places you would add to our list?

Marriage Mondays: How I See Me vs How He Sees Me

A friend and I were talking the other day about how our bodies have not bounced right back after having our babies. It is so easy to look at celebrities and even other women that we know and love in our own lives and wonder why it seems so easy for them and so difficult for us. I often look down at my little pooch belly with pride and thankfulness because I know that God has blessed my womb to carry two babies so far and that more are to come. However, I do not always feel confident when it comes to what my shape now looks like.

I did not really realize that this was a problem until my husband’s compliments to my body begin to feel like insults. When he would look over at me and tell me that I am beautiful or sexy I would cringe on the inside because I disagreed. I would instantly take a quick inventory of the parts of my body that need some work. I thought about the stretch marks, extra folds of skin, and the incision from my c-section (though barely visible it is HUGE to me!). Yet and still he would have this look in his eyes that let me know that he really did believe what he was saying. This dude really does think I am sexy!

It took a while for me to come to terms with that and to even see the parallel between this and how God views us. I am thankful that Joe loves me… stretch marks and all (as he should of course!). I am even more thankful that God loves me through all of my mess.

Did you ever have body image issues after having kids? How did you deal with it? How did/does your spouse make you feel?

My “Personal” Personal Trainer!

So apparently I was pregnant for almost two years consecutively. I have learned over time that it definitely caused some wear and tear on my body (I know… I know…). Recently, Joe and I had a little workout date where we climbed Stone Mountain. It was on that short, yet somewhat steep walk up the mountain that I truly realized how out of shape I am. I think I allowed myself to be fooled by what the scale said. According, to the scale I am doing good! But I knew as I climbed that mountain that I have a lot of work to do.

As we were walking I started hearing these loud breaths coming out of my mouth. I was almost in shock! Was that me panting like a 600 lb man? I saw 70 year old women walking past me and people carrying more weight than me flying past to go back up for a second time! I looked over at Joe and he must have seen the look in my eyes because he began to encourage me.

There are so many scriptures that speak directly to caring for our body and how that relates to our overall health not just physically but spiritually as well.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So I have officially enlisted the help and support of my wonderful husband. Joe is so into fitness and health and of course I support him, but I do not always join him. Well, after that climb up the mountain I am ready to join him and work on improving our family as a team. I really want Nehemiah to grow up learning to honor God through his body physically and spiritually and I realize that Joe and I will be his primary examples of what that looks like. If you know my husband then you know that this will not be easy! Joe can be just like a drill sergeant when it comes to working out! Fortunately for me, when I look at that chocolate bald head I fall in love all over again! So I can easily forgive him for pushing me hard during workouts! I hope that I will soon be running up Stone Mountain!

Do you have any personal goals for your health or your family’s health? What are you doing to work towards those goals?

Date Night: Nehemiah Mondays

We have had to get a little creative with our date nights, while our little guy is still so young. It is important for us to get this time together without Nehemiah as often as we can. While I was on leave and this summer one of those days during the week will be Mondays for lunch. My wonderful mother is off on those days and has volunteered to spend quality time with him. Of course, she gave the day a name… Nehemiah Mondays! For my mom, it is all about him on those days. For Joe and I, it is all about us and our marriage.

So far, we have gone to a local pizza parlor and to do a little shopping and to an Indian restaurant followed by some dessert at a cute little frozen yogurt shop! It has been cool to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to our date nights (or days).

What did you or are you doing to maintain your marriage after children? Any lunchtime suggestions for us?

What I’ve Been Up to Lately

So, as you can clearly tell I took a little hiatus from blogging for a couple of weeks. The break was not really intentional but it gave me some time to work some things out, explore, and most importantly time to spend with my two boos! I am now back to work until summer break and back to writing. I did, however, want to share some of what I have been working on lately… my photography.

IMG_2322

It is so exciting and exhilarating to discover new interests and to actually pursue them wholeheartedly. It is also just as exciting when your spouse is supportive of it even though it costs an arm and a leg to fund.

 

IMG_2241

I recently got to shoot a baby other than Nehemiah and I was so thrilled with how the pictures turned out.

IMG_2791- WM

My goal is to move forward with my photography and to someday soon officially start a photography business. I feel like I am finally starting to step out and be bold like I said I wanted to at the beginning of the year.

 

What have you been up to lately? Pursuing anything new?

Marriage Mondays: Vulnerability

One thing I struggled with for awhile when Joe and I first started to date was my ability to truly be vulnerable with him. Completely letting go and allowing someone to get that close scared me. Prior to Joe, I always had what I called “back ups”. They were guys that I could always turn to if my boyfriend at that time acted up. It seemed like the perfect situation for me. I always had someone there if I wanted. Someone to flatter me, to take me out to eat, and make me feel special. Over time, those things no longer mattered to me. Those things were no longer enough.

Joe and Toya 12:2006

Joe and I, at UGA in 2006.

So Joe came along and demanded that I called all of my back ups and let them know that their services would no longer be needed. I was so shocked and appalled when he made that demand. I was even more surprised that I actually did it. Several phone conversations later and few choice words from some of my back ups and there I stood in a relationship with Joe. I was excited and terrified all at once. What would I do if Joe acted up? How would I bounce back? What guy would I call to fill that position? I felt completely wide open susceptible to hurt and pain, I was vulnerable. What that meant for me is that I would need to learn to trust Joe with my heart completely, not because he was this wonderfully, terrific person. I would need to learn to trust him because I knew to trust God. I prayed for months for God to bless me with someone like Joe. I had to decide at that moment to trust that the man God sent me would be enough. I had to decide to forgive him if he ever did make a mistake. I had to decide to place my confidence for my relationship and subsequent marriage in God and not in Joe.

 

Once I stopped trying to guard my heart and I let Joe in, I began to experience a type of peace in my relationship that I never knew existed. We evolved together from a couple of teenagers in “like” with one another into a couple completely in love and invested in making our marriage work. Everyday I allow myself to be vulnerable with my husband, I give him my whole heart because I know that what I am really doing is saying God I trust you. It is such a liberating experience and has truly taught me so much about how to love someone with your whole heart, no restrictions, boundaries, or fear. For me, true intimacy starts with the ability to remove those barriers.

 

How do you feel about being vulnerable in relationships and even in friendships?

 

Praying Friends

                                                                 Source

“Rich is the person who has a praying friend.”   ~ Janice Hughes

When I initially heard this quote I took a second to think about my current friendships and whether or not I have some praying friends. Then I took a minute to think about myself as a friend and what my prayer life looks like in regards to my friends. I quickly realized that I have some work to do.

I wrote a post in the past about the importance of surrounding yourself with like minded individuals. I talked about how essential that is in maintaining a healthy and strong marriage. Since then I have learned that it is also essential in helping you to maintain a sense of self. Time after time, we have heard the phrase that “birds of a feather, flock together” or how we are the company that we keep. Solomon even warns us about choosing the wrong friends in Proverbs 13:20,
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

The Bible teaches us that there are many benefits to praying for our friends and in turn, for having friends that pray for us. It was not until Job prayed for his friends that God restored him completely (Job 42:10). Perhaps, God wanted to see that Job could forgive his friends and show love and mercy in spite of what they did or said previously. Maybe God wanted to see that Job’s heart was still for God. No matter what the reason was behind it, I was able to draw a lesson from it personally. I realized that I need to be a better friend. Now don’t get me wrong! I think I am a pretty good friend but I know that you would not be able to tell it from my prayer life. Of course, I pray for people when a request has been made, but the majority of the time I am so wrapped up in praying for myself and my needs. I believe that their is great power in intercessory prayer. There are so many scriptures in the New Testament that allude to that fact (1 Timothy 2:1, Ephesians 6:18 for example). God even thought enough of it to have the Holy Spirit intercede on our behalf when we do not have the words to pray (Romans 8:26-27).

So, I have decided that I want for all of my friends to be rich! Not financially! Well, if they are rich that way that is great too, but I mean rich in spirit. I want for all of their homes, marriages, families, careers, friendships, etc. to be richly blessed. I want to be a praying friend and to be surrounded by praying friends.

I listened recently to a study by Karol Ladd, who suggested a scripture to pray over friends. So today I am praying Colossians 1:9B-12 over all of my friends and readers of this blog.

“That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” – Amen

Feeling Stuck

There have been so many times where I have just felt stuck. Stuck in my relationship with God, Stuck in my career, stuck in my marriage, stuck in my friendships… just stuck! I have always felt the need to make sure that I am progressing. I get joy out of that in the most simple ways, like checking off an item on my to do list.

Over the years, I have come to learn that being busy does not mean that you are truly moving forward. At times I am so “busy” that I am literally running in circles, no forward movement to be seen. I have felt like this particularly lately when it comes to my career. I frequently feel as though no progress is being made and I am simply wading in the water. Before going out on leave I would create a daily to do list and see how many items I could check off by the time 4pm rolled around. I used that list, with the neatly placed checked marks, as a measure of my success and progress for the day. By 4:05pm that feeling of progress waned and the feeling of being stuck returned.

My desire to progress or to be successful is often a distraction. I can easily get so wrapped up in  where I feel like I should be career wise and in other aspects of life that I quiet God’s voice within me. Perhaps I am feeling stuck because I am hard-headed, or maybe it’s fear. Maybe I am chasing the wrong things with the wrong motivation or even listening and taking advice from the wrong people.

When these feelings arise I know that I need to take a step back. I have to quiet everything around me and focus on His face. I have to (in the words of one my favorite celebrity families) get out of my own feelings and remember why I am here. I have to remember that it is not about me, it is all about Jesus and how I can be a blessing to His Kingdom. When I am feeling stuck or stagnant, I know it is time for a perspective shift.

To Work or Not to Work?

So my six weeks are officially up! I am grateful, however that I am able to apply some additional time to extend my leave basically through to the summer. Since I work for a school I have the summer off so it worked out perfectly. As the weeks continue to pass us by I am consumed with thoughts on whether or not I should return to work. I am enjoying my time with Nehemiah and I love being able to do more around the house. Growing up I never saw myself as a stay at home mom. I just knew that I would always have a career. I wanted to have it all. To be successful in my career, have a wonderful marriage, wonderful kids, and a great home life overall. In those thoughts my home was always clean, the dishes always washed, laundry always done, and dinner ready for my family by 6:30pm! There was not any stress or feelings of being overwhelmed. And I never have to compromise in any area to get it all done.

Now we are in the process of deciding what would truly be best for our family. And I am so torn! I really enjoy working, but I would really like to work for myself. I love being home when Joe comes home from work. I love when he walks in and sees a clean house and a clean and happy baby. I also love being able to contribute to my family financially. And to be honest, Joe and I have some financial goals that we really want to knock out sooner than later. So what’s it gonna be? At this point, I have no idea… I am planning to return to work but I am praying that I will be able to discontinue that and somehow work for myself. Besides who wouldn’t want to be around this sweet face all day long?

IMG_1731

Have you had to make the decision between staying home or going to work? What factors did you consider? What did you ultimately decide?