It was really fun reflecting back on this year through photographs. I started reflecting back on 2016 this fall, still with a few months left, and started to see a theme. A word that was constant. Something we saw in our lives repeatedly. We sang about it at church. We talked about it with our friends and family. It was something we’ve always known and believed, but this year it was just so prominent.
GOOD. God’s Goodness. We made some changes in our lives. We prayed for things and saw God work. We were stretched and challenged but we grew a lot and God blessed us abundantly. I struggled through early toddler-hood and had days I felt like I was failing Gracen. But we watched her grow and develop into a fun little girl with a BIG personality and God helped me find peace and some sort of balance! Brett started a new job at Murray State early in the year and then God opened other doors for a really great opportunity. So after a lot of prayer, he left Murray State and started a brand new job at the end of the year! At the end of November, Brett was in a car accident but thankfully he was totally ok! Unfortunatley, his vehicle was not…so we bought a mini-van. Yep, you heard that right! I’m driving a mom van. But the functionality is totally worth it!
We started out the year like we always do celebrating Brett’s birthday with family on January 1st! He’s the perfect reason to celebrate every new year! Look at little Gracen!
We had a few snow days right off the bat and G loved playing in it!
At the end of January, we started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with our church. Brett and I led a class at our house (talk about blind leading the blind, ha!) but we began making MAJOR changes with our finances and kicked off the debt snowball.
I helped lead and organize Murray’s third Help Portrait!
Gracen got her first official hair cut in March because she was growing a mullet. She doesn’t look amused here, but she did really great!
In April, I set off to Rome, Georgia for my second Pursuit conference with my dear friend Dianne. It was a great refresher for my business AND personal life. Plus I loved meeting new and old friends!
I also attended a 1-day retreat for adoptive moms at the lake. I never dreamed that adoption would bring special friendships to my life! It was nice to be able to share our stories, dreams, and fears in a room of women who totally understand!
At the end of April, I shot my 150th wedding! WOOOO HOOOOOO! I am still in awe that God has brought me to this place with my business and I’m so thankful.
I celebrated my second Mother’s Day with Gracen.
We got to travel for some destination weddings this summer! In May, Brett and I went to California to shoot my old college roommate’s wedding. We stayed a few extra days and fell in love with Napa Valley and San Francisco! We reallllly enjoyed a trip with just the two of us!
A few weeks later, we packed up and drove to Palm Coast/St. Augustine Florida to shoot the wedding of a couple previously in our small group. We stayed a week and it was the best family vacation!
While in Florida, we drove over to Disney World to visit Magic Kingdom for the day! Gracen LOVED meeting Minnie Mouse!
We celebrated our nine year anniversary right after returning home from Florida! He seriously is the best husband ever.
In July, we took Gracen to the movies for the first time. We made it over half way through!
The long anticipated wedding day of our best friends came! We were honored to all three be in the wedding and I shot it (with the help of Dianne) too! It was a very special, fun, and exhausting day!
We became Aunt & Uncle at the end of August to precious baby Atler. He was born with a pre-existing heart condition and has undergone three heart surgeries since then. It has been full of A LOT of ups and downs but God has continued to be faithful through it all. He is still in ICU after his second and third surgery in early December and is fighting for his life. All along the way, we have proclaimed that God is good no matter the outcome. Atler is a fighter and we are praying he will make it out to the other side to share of God’s goodness in his own story!
Aftera long wait and God moving in some crazy ways, our dear friends Paul and Dianne announced their pregnancy! Dianne and I first bonded through photography and infertility. She shared in our excitement when we adopted Gracen was there for every important moment of it. God did some pretty crazy stuff to allow them to do IVF a little earlier than they expected and now they’re welcoming a baby boy in March!!!! So, so, so, so excited for them!
Gracen started pre-school!!! We put her on the waiting list during the summer and found out it was pretty long list. But an opening came up and she fit the available spot, so she started about a month into school. She LOVES it!
We did our annual visit to the Penny Pumpkin Patch!
I can’t believe it, but we celebrated Gracen’s 2nd birthday! We threw our Minnie-loving girl a pink Minnie Mouse party! She brings so much joy to our lives… I mean, look at that smile! God knew exactly what He was doing when He brought her to us.
We had the cutest little Minnie Mouse for Halloween. She enjoyed trick-or-treating with friends this year!
In early November, we got to see Gracen’s birth mother for the first time since she was born! We keep in touch often, but it was the first time for Gracen to spend time with her in person. K spoke at a pregnancy center’s annual banquet and shared her story of adoption so she invited us to attend. Gracen warmed right up to her and we had so much fun together! She is a special person in our lives and we are EXTREMELY thankful for her and the relationship we have with her.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with our families and Gracen even helped me cook!
At the end of November, we became DEBT FREE!!!!!! We set a goal to be finished within a year, but God provided in many different ways and before we even realized it, we paid off the last of student loans in 10 months! We learned so much through the FPU experience and have really come along way with our finances. It has helped our marriage and our communication as well.
We celebrated Christmas and it was really fun with Gracen at this age!
On Christmas day, we celebrated with my family and then packed up and spend the afternoon at Vanderbilt with Brett’s family in Atler’s room. The staff was nice enough to let all of us in the room (instead of three at a time). Santa made rounds the night before and didn’t stop in the infant rooms, so Uncle Brett dressed up and surprise Ali & Travis. They still got Atler’s first Christmas Santa picture after all!
The day after Christmas, we took a small vacation to Florida with our best friends. It ended up being the perfect get away for a little bit because Brett had just started his new job and I started a new part time job with our church upon our return. With a lot of change going on in our lives, a quick get away to the beach with these gorgeous sunsets and great friends was exactly what we needed!
What a year! Thanks for taking time to read about what God has done in our lives this year. I can’t wait to see what he has planned for our little family in 2017!