2017 began with snow, and ended with snow. Somewhere in-between the sheets of frozen water, we discovered new levels of faith, love, peace, and joy. We failed, we succeeded. We lived, laughed, cried (well, more so Mary cried), and ate a lot of food. In the end, we can say that we persevered through one of the most emotionally unstable years of our lives.
I suck at writing journals. For the longest time (like, six years straight), I've tried to write them, and each time I'd fall off. But the other day I learned something about myself: I've been journaling for years through images. Photos I've taken, videos I've shot, and even screenshots. That's how I remember stuff. It also made it a lot easier to put this crazy year together into one simple blog post.
Here's our 2017 Year In Review: a Year Full of Plot Twists. lol
The first snow of the year, January 7th, 2017, and Mary and I are looking for a new place to live. It's our second year in Charlotte, and the place we're in isn't really that healthy (mold and what not). So we're on the hunt for a new spot. At the same time, I'm entering my last semester of my Master's in Practical Theology program at Regent University. This semester I have to complete an extensive internship, and I've secured one by the grace of God with our church, Tabernacle of Praise (shout out to Pastor and Co-Pastor White!). We have no idea what this year will bring, nor how it will end, but we're sure that God will lead us the entire way.
You know what? Mary and I might be getting a new apartment, but that's not even the real goal. We want to buy a house, and to do that we have to get our debt down. That Master's degree ain't cheap! So thanks to my mom-in-law, we got Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Let's see what we can do. We've set a goal to have paid off $10,000 in debt by the Summer. #Leggo!
Moving day! Listen, the search for the right spot was crazy. But we had a very specific prayer: monthly rent couldn't be over (...yeah I'm not going to put that out there, just know it was in our budget. lol), and that it had to be newer with nice amenities. If you know us, you probably know who had what part in that prayer. Well, after a crazy 13-place search, we were tired. But we had one more spot on our list. Clear on the other side of where we were at the time, we drove about 20 more minutes to a place in Huntersville, NC. We loved it as soon as we pulled up, only to find that it was closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Bittersweet I guess. But a guy walks by and we decided to ask him about the place. Next thing you know this super cool resident takes us on a full tour, then says "my girlfriend works at the sister property, go talk to her." We drive 5 minutes and after being sold by her tour, came back and rented the next day. Thankfully we did when we did, because the prices shot up that same day by about $300.
Our parents came down and helped us move into our new spot, along with some pretty dope movers (even though they dropped my new Ikea file cabinet, but anyway). Even though we're renting, we're excited to be in a place, to meet new people, and not have to worry about mold. Long story short, we're wayyyy up, we feel blessed.
What's good February?! Oh wait, this month is almost over. So far, we've managed to get settled into our new place, enjoy a nice dinner out for Valentine's day, and bring home a super long Ikea desk table in Mary's Sentra. First time we ever drove her car with the trunk open. It was honestly hilarious.
Then comes a creative block. Not a lot happened this month honestly. All I know is that we had fun doing it.
This month = cars. Not buying any. Not even really going to look at any. But learning that in Mecklenburg County (where Charlotte, NC is located), you have to pass the State Inspection before you can pay your property taxes.
Why is this something worth posting about?
Because no one told us about it, just like we didn't know that moving here and getting our cars registered in NC meant that we'd have to pay over a grand in taxes up-front. Because it took us over a week to get our two cars done. The entire DMV system here is ridiculous! (I know, most DMV's suck, but I'd take VA's DMV anyday.) They still check things like your gas cap, which was a rule that they put in back before cars even took unleaded fuel. We're talking, like, 1950's here. It wouldn't be a big deal, but even Mary's car, which is pretty much bone-stock, was even rejected.
You ever have one of those days where it's a crazy roller coaster of emotion? Like, great things happen and really bad things happen all at the same time? Try do that for a whole month. April was full of fun, but was also the start of a very interesting situation, to say the least. Concerts on concerts. Well, it was really just two, but they were "lit" as the kids say. But first, my (Kevin's) parents & brother came down for a visit. We had a great time hanging out with them for a little while. For us tech nerds (yes mom, you're included in that group), it sucked giving up our Samsung Note7's. You, the whole Fire/Exploding phones thing. Our's held up and never even got hot. Nonetheless, we digressed and swapped in the new S8/S8+.
I mentioned that because on my way to the ATT store, I received an email from my largest client. They told me that they wanted to end their contract with me. Now let me be clear: I knew that our contract was ending soon, I just thought that I'd be the one ending it. I honestly did not like working with them. It was always about loopholes and covering things up. I run an honest business, but it was my "job" it seemed to cover things up that they were doing wrong, or that their customers were saying about them. After about six months of going back and forth with the micromanaging owner, it was all finally over..... Or so I had wished.
I'm not going to rant on about this one here though. Instead, coming next month you can read and hear all about "How I Nearly Lost My Business" and the testimony about how things turned around drastically for 21five Creative over on my blog. (Not out yet!)
Remember I mentioned those concerts? Well, we hit up two around our area.
The first was the Tye Tribbet "Blood Win" tour. Man, I've never seen that guy live, but he is LIVE! Tye, JJ Harriston, Jakelyn Carr, and Willie Moore, Jr.were nothing short of amazing, and Jesus received all of the glory for it. Oh, did I mention that we weren't alone? Our friends (and one set of our unborn baby's God Parents 😊) Tim and Latrice Claiborne came down and went with us
I also got to meet one of the singers who travels with Tye, an amazing singer and hilarious guy named Justin Cabarruss. We chilled at his hotel until about 5am. You can follow him on IG here.
We also went to a Lauryn Hill concert... AND SHE SHOWED UP!
Eating out is a past time in our home. As much as we try to eat at home, we just love to try new things and get out of the apartment. This month we ate out with some dope couples. Aside from my parents and Tim & Latrice, we met up with Jahtoya & Demetrius, my homie Smash, and Tim and Chiantia Crews.
Jahtoya and I met a few years ago at a Bible study in Richmond (No Ceilings by Corey Goss). They moved down to Charlotte about year or less from the time that we moved here. Smash, my bro from VA, also came down and joined us on that Sunday. We met up and ate at a dope restaurant called Tarants. Bruh, the breakfast there is amazing. We had a great time with them.
Tim and Chi Chi Crews, another great couple that we've grown to be close with, came down to visit some friends of theirs, and met up with us in Uptown at a restaurant that I love called Amelie's French Bakery. It's a super eclectic place with some good food and drinks (teas and coffees). I don't have a picture with them and One, their oldest child, but we had a great few hours chilling with them. Definitely needed after dealing with that crazy client of mine that I lost! (You really should read that blog post here)
Welcome to graduation!
Dude, after a whole lot of time and energy, I'm finally getting to walk across the stage and receive my third degree, this time a Master's of Practical Theology, with a focus in Church Leadership. The internship that I completed at our church, TPWC, was very fruitful and allowed me to get to know our pastors much more. Mary and I are so grateful for this moment!
.....still praying on how to make this investment provide a steady return.
Had our first cookout of 2017, at our new apartment. I'm really just posting this because my girl is the cook. I'd love to be "the man" and master the grill. Honestly, I'm just the one who's good at figuring out how to turn on the fancy grills that we have here at our place. No shame in my game. Those burgers were RIGHT too. You might run like a girl, but you cook like a grown woman.....
Yo, we did! What'd we do? We paid of $10k in debt! Man...... I didn't even think that was possible, especially in the time that we did. But we set a goal, and reached it. God is amazing! You can read about how we did it over on my blog that I posted back in July, or just click here. But man, we're both so excited!
Once again, Mary is cooking. Hahaha! Thankful to have dope friends like Jahtoya and D. They really made the day even more fun. Especially that night when the music awards came on and Jahtoya went in singing and dancing. Lol.
You never know what life will bring. This month I rented another car to travel upto VA (about the 5th time this year), but for something that hit me out of the blue. When I received the call from Ms. Pam about my dear friend, and someone who was much like a spiritual mother to me, Ms. Stephanie Austin, passing away, it got me. Mary and I weren't expecting it. No one was. It sucked because we hadn't talked in a while, but she had been on my mind for a few weeks. I also couldn't help thinking about her sons Lamar and Tony. The way she talked about her love for them and her grandbabies told me that she'd be missed. From the St. Peter's Child Development Center, to the church, she was a beautiful person. She will be greatly missed.
July was family month. Both of our parents and my bro Isaiah came through! Listen, we love being in Charlotte, but if we could bring our families down with us, it'd be perfect. One thing that I can say about our families is that they get along very well. Praise God. The amount of people that Mary and I have come across who have had issues with both sides of their families getting along makes us so grateful. Not only that, but we have all four parents around with us. Mary's dad might only come once a year (twice if he's really feeling it), but having them around is always a great time.
"Girl, slip on yo' red dress"
It's the month that my lady was born! It's also the month that we celebrated with our Pastors who have been in ministry for over 20 years. What an honor it is to be trusted by God with His people for such a span of years. We attended their celebratory Ball, which was very elegant and beautiful might I add, and ate some REALLY good food.
Then, we celebrated Mary's birthday!!! Both events called for red dresses. One with a train, and one with a tail. I found both on Amazon and if that girl didn't look some kinda good in them! My, my, my.
Blair and Francesca, two of Mary's friends came down just as they had down last year to celebrate with her as well. I really appreciate them. I know that it means a lot to Mary having them here.
"Do you remember, the 21st night in September?"
Maybe not the 21st, but 1-3 we went to Miami to celebrate our 4th anniversary! It was Mary's first time there, my second. We had originally planned to be there for the entire week, but a hurricane decided that we'd need to leave. Womp womp. We had a great time though. It was just enough time for us to really enjoy ourselves, relax, and have lots of fun around the city 😉.
Guess who did a business speaking engagement to room of about 25 business owners? This guy. Hahaha. I love branding and business. Merging design with strategy makes me happy, especially when it helps people grow and succeed in their business/organizations.
A major thanks goes out to Lamont Brown, president of the Greater Fredericksburg Black Chamber of Commerce for the invite!
You can check out the video below.
It's my birthday, and we gon' party like it's my birthday!
We had a great time. 29, I'm here! Last year in my 20's and "issa viba". We came home to VA and went out with our family and friends, hit up an escape room experience and had a great dinner. One thing I love, is having everyone together.
I wasn't the only one though. 2/3 of our goddaughters, Bria and Aniah celebrated their 6th and 1st birthdays, respectively. My brother from another, Trey, and his wife Shauniece had their 29th birthdays too. This is why we rep the statement "October's Very Own" so hard, it's a number of us!
Jahtoya and D gave us four tickets to the African American History Museum during the summer. How nice of them! We rented a truck and drove up to DC. Man, it was an experience! If you haven't been yet, I'd strongly encourage you to go. We managed to make it to all but two floors. Even without those two floors, we were able to see so much. It's honestly somewhat overwhelming to see all that our people have been through. Yet, through perseverance, faith, and strength, we've come so far. That said, we clearly have much further to go.
Check out some of the pics:
During our time home, we also saw friends. It just so happened that Britt, my cousin, was home that weekend, and our boys were free from work. I sent out some random texts, and next thing you know we're all at B Dubs. We ended up heading over to my cousin CJ's where we had immense amounts of laughter and deep, intellectual conversations. Love those guys. #DtP
Hospitals and doctor's visits.
So I've been having chest pain for several months now. During an entire week this month, however, it became so intense that Mary wanted me to go to the doctor. I went, and after about four or five hours, they said it seemed that I had inflammation in my chest wall around my heart. Don't really know why nor how, but it wasn't related to my heart. Praise God! They prescribed me some meds to help with the inflammation, and we were on our way thankful that it was nothing serious.
"The Best Is Yet To Come."
As we look ahead, we recognize that 2018 calls us to be ready for a new adventure. So we ended this month with a prayer and planning meeting. Nothing new, as we've done this for the past five years or so. We think that it's important to get together, write the vision, and get on the same page.
God told me that with the things coming up, it's important that we review our habits. Make new habits. Delete bad ones from our lives. And Improve others that we already do. If we want greatness in our lives, the things that held us back from doing so must be eliminated.
In the words of our Pastors, it's time to Brace for Impact!