Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Candyland Adventure!

Gumdrops, lollipops...candy galore!
You'll love what we have in store!
Come along for a Candyland adventure to celebrate
Carolyne's 5th and Sam's 3rd birthdays!

Yesterday we celebrated Carolyne and Sam's birthdays with a Candyland themed birthday party! It was so cute, and fun was had by all (even the grown ups!)

Valerie had set up the party just like the Candyland game, with a colored square path to follow to each destination (Peppermint Forest, Gumdrop Mountains, Lollipop Woods, Chocolate Swamp, etc.) Each stop had a game. Here is Carolyne bouncing on her "gumdrop" at the Gumdrop Mountains!

I got Carolyne, Kailey, Kenedi, and Sam to stop for just a second from all the fun to take a quick picture! They have so much fun together :)

The children decorated treat bags before starting the games to have a place for their prizes.

There was candy EVERYWHERE...a child's dream land!

After the party, Valerie and I took Carolyne and Sam out to eat. Here I am with the Birthday Girl and Birthday Boy!

It was such a fun day! Happy Birthday, Carolyne and Sam!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sweet Peace

OH...MY....GOODNESS, it has been some more of a day! A day where you just wish you could go hide somewhere that no one knows your name, phone number, or location to come find you.

When I left work today, my mind was spinning with mental "To Do Lists", my ears still full of loud demanding voices, my body physically limp and exhausted, and feelings of frustration and unaccomplishment lingering over me. It was a day that I felt that I didn't give my children all of myself because I was consumed in paperwork, standards, accreditation, BLAH BLAH BLAH....a whole bunch of timely work that says on paper I'm doing my job and our program is up to par.

Well, my spirit needed some respite from the chaos. I first had to stop to get this...

Then, after a few gulps of my favorite sweet goodness, the Lord reminded me of some sweet goodness from His Word:

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalms 46:10

"Peace, be still." Mark 4:39

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Completely against my nature, I made my mind up that I was not going to let the chaos of my job consume me. That I was going to lay it at the feet of Jesus, and let Him fill my heart and mind with sweet peace.

And, I'm going to think on things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" Philippians 4:8

These are the things I'm choosing to think about tonight...

The Beach...because it is LOVELY...ahhh - the ultimate place of serenity!

Bradley...because he is TRUE...he brings comic relief to this crazy life of mine, and reminds me to not take life too seriously!

Wonderful family and friends...because they are EXCELLENT...they make me laugh and bring joy to my life!

My girls (G.A.'s is tonight)...because they are PURE...and they make me smile, and their excitement reminds me what I was put on this earth to do!

And, lastly - my Heavenly Father...because He is PRAISEWORTHY...and He gives us peace when we simply ask for it.

Thank you Lord for the clarity that comes when our hearts and minds are focused on You and Your blessings!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Love Lasts

We finished up our Youth "Love Out Loud" Bible Study last night...it's been such an awesome study, and really changed my view of serving and loving others.

The last session was "Love Lasts". And, simply put, STOP going through the motions of serving and loving...actually DO it whole heartedly. It's so easy to do things - well meaning acts - but, if your heart is not in it, and you're not doing it for the right reasons...it's not worth it EVEN if it's done with a church name attached to it. "Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." 1 John 3:18 "Showing the truth by our actions" emplies to lovingly, mercifully, gracefully, and genuinely share God's love.

We will be starting a new Bible Study the first week of September, but I'm not gonna share yet what it's gonna be...so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mum's the Word

Today is a very special day...it's my mama's birthday! I have a very tight bond with my mother, and I am soooo thankful for that. She is a true classy, Southern lady and is respected by all who know her. Valerie and I still to this day always have one concern when making major life decisions - "What will mama think?"

Things I love about her...

~ she is the most optimistic person I have ever known - the glass is ALWAYS half full!

~ she is always the cheerleader, encouraging you to succeed

~ she loves others more than she loves herself

~ her family is always her highest priority

~ she loves the Lord, and instilled that in me

~ she has a servant's heart

~ she's not afraid to roll up her sleeves and work

~ she gets more accomplished in a day's time than anyone

~ she's always classy in how she presents herself, speaks to others, and handles situations

~ she takes the utmost pride in her appearance

~ she has impeccable taste

~ she is a wonderful hostess

~ she knows if I have had a bad day just by hearing my voice

~ she has a way of making ordinary things seem special

~ she is wise

~ she is beautiful

~ she's not only my mother, but my friend!

I pray that I can be just half the person my mama is, and that my children will love me as much as I love her (if possible!) I know without a doubt that I am a better person for just knowing her, but am blessed beyond measure that God allowed her to be my mother.

I love you, Mama!!!! I hope you have had a wonderful birthday!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Keepin' It Real

Today has been a "real day" - a day with "real" hurts, "real" frustrations, "real" feelings of inadequacy, "real" truth, "real" friendship, "real" peace. I'm not a very transparent person when it comes to my own feelings and emotions...nope, that stays bottled up inside - and, then comes out in explosions with "the ugly cry". You know what the ugly cry is...face scrunched, snot running, and crying so loudly and deeply that no one can understand anything that is coming out of your mouth. I also don't share the ugly cry with many people (thank goodness!), let alone talk about it. But, I'm feelin' "real" today, so count this as an honor that I'm even sharing this with you.

I have a wonderful job that allows me to not only work with young children, but do parenting as well. I have an opportunity to feel like I'm making a difference in the well being of a family, and that is what makes my heart tick. Today, though was a gut wrenching day when I felt like all the air had been sucked out of my lungs. A 19 year old mother of 3 little girls (yes, you read that right!) came to me today so beaten down. She told me that she was having to take her 3 girls out of our Even Start program because she was moving to live with her father out of state. She had left her husband, and was currently living with her mom - but, the mom was being so unsupportive of her, telling her that she isn't a good mother, that she would never amount to anything, and how stupid she was. The entire time she spoke, she looked at her feet, with the weight of the world on her shoulders. When she finally looked up, I could only see one thing in her eyes - DEFEAT. No hope, no chance for change...just defeated by the words of another.

When I got home, I stumbled upon a blog that shares about the personal struggle a mother had with losing a baby. In everything, she praised the Lord. In everything, she trusted Him. In everything, she prayed without ceasing. Numerous times she would write "Today I choose to live." I had such empathy and compassion for this dear lady, having walked similar steps...but, felt so inadequate as I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in her words. How could she have such unwavering faith in a time that she had complete and total reason to question God and just be down right mad? As I read her story, I began to sob...then, it turned into the ugly cry. Thankfully, God can interpret the desperate groanings of our soul. I began to pour my heart out to the Lord, and it was as if He said to me, "Hayley, you haven't been choosing to live. You choose to be defeated. No hope, no chance for change...just defeated by your life's circumstances." Instead of praising Him for the heart aches, and allowing Him to use those circumstances for His glory I've allowed the heart aches to define who I am, ultimately having power over me. Thank you, Lord for speaking truth to my heart!

So, in the same way - but, totally not the same way - I could relate to my little Even Start mother...that statement is about as clear as muddy water, isn't it? This is what I mean - the Lord allowed me to see the defeatedness in my life, to be able to minister to this precious girl tomorrow...and, that is a sweet blessing :)

After all the soul searching, I literally felt exhausted...but, I had to go to a meeting so I had to pull myself together. The whole way there, I thought "I just really want to be at home right now in my bed under the covers hidden from the outside world"...but I trudged on. It just so happened though (Hmmmm...funny how "just so happened" happens at the most opportune times) I was meeting 2 of the funniest girls I know to go with me. I laughed so much with them my stomach ached and I left feeling so glad I had gone. It reminded me of the verse, "Weeping may remain for a night...but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalms 30:5) And, again...I was thankful.

Dear Lord,
I praise you for the storms in my life. I thank you for this season of waiting and hoping to be a mother. I thank you for the blessing of being able to conceive not just once but twice, and the hope that gives us. I praise you that I have the choice to choose to live everday undefeated. I thank you for the strength you have given Brad and I to daily trust you in the journey. I praise your name for what you are doing and are going to do in our lives, and pray that in our joy you will be glorified.

Hope I didn't scare too many of you away with talk of the ugly cry!! Just keepin' it real today...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Love Forgives

This is week 5 of our "Love Out Loud" Youth Bible Study. This week's focus was "Love Forgives". Forgiveness is such a wonderful gift to recieve, but such a hard gift to give...but, is one of the truest forms of love.

When you have done something bad - I mean REALLY bad - to someone...said something ugly, did something to purposefully hurt them, disobeyed, got caught in a lie...and they forgive you (with no strings attached), how do you feel? Like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders, right?!?

Jesus showed us the ultimate gift of forgiveness by dying on the cross for us - He had done NOTHING wrong, but was sacrificed for all the wrong we have done and will continue to do. He had no resentment, no plans of revenge, no thoughts of how we would pay Him back...just abounding love to forgive us of all our sins. He prayed for us while He was being tortured for our sins. That's hard for my mind to wrap around sometimes! And, guess what? WE are supposed to love AND forgive others in the same way! Those that hurt our feelings, that have wronged us or our families, have said words that pierce our hearts...we love them, pray for them, and forgive them. WOW!!!!

Brad said something tonight that stuck in my mind - 'usually forgiving someone means forgiving them repeatedly'. When someone has really hurt us, and we supposedly forgave them...the next time you see them, what do you think about?? Yep - that thing they did or said (even though you already "forgave"). Unfortunately, forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. I looked up the meaning of forgiveness, and Webster defines it as "to cease to feel resentment against; to cancel an indebtedness or liability of". So, forgiving someone means forgiving them until you no longer have resentment - I don't know about you, but it takes me a lllloooooonnnnnngggggg time to get over stuff (just ask Brad!!!!)

So, the next time you're in a really tough situation where someone has hurt you to the core, show them the love of Christ - FORGIVE. That's LOVING OUT LOUD!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gone Are The Days of Summer...

Back a couple of weeks ago, my mother was in the mood to clean out. She pulled out boxes of old pictures, letters, and cards that were given to me and Valerie through the years. Valerie came across a card that was written by my cousin, Lori, when they graduated from college. The card was covered on both inside and out of reminiscent memories of their college days as roommates. Every sentence started out with "gone are the days of..." We couldn't help but laugh - it sounded like they would never see one another again!

Well, for all people in education - summer is officially OVER, and I've been thinking about how I sure am going to miss summer.
So, in the same fashion as Lori's card...
"Gone are the days of Summer"
Gone are the days of sleeping late and middle of the day naps...

Gone are the days of flip flops and dirty bare feet...

Gone are the days of fresh tomato sandwiches, yummy okra and squash, straight out of the field watermelon, and oh so delicious homemade ice cream (yes, summer is a wonderful time to eat!)...

Gone are the days of no schedules and going shopping in the middle of the week...
Gone are the days of lounging around the pool...
Gone are the days of late night swimming...

Gone are the days of lazy lake days...

Gone are the days of spur of the moment day trips...
Gone are the days of volleyball victories...

Gone are the days of fresh cut grass and beautiful summer flowers...
BUT, all the sweet memories of this summer will linger in my thoughts, and days of next summer are already not far from my mind!
I hope everyone has a wonderful school year!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NOLA Bound!

Well, even as I type this, Bradley is on his way to New Orleans for orientation! I was supposed to go with him, but with all the many things that needed to be done before my students start school on Monday, it was best for me to stay home this trip. So, we packed his things, and I ironed his clothes last night, and I felt a little bit like a nervous mother sending her baby off to school the first time as he left this morning! I can not even describe to you the range of emotions that both of us have went through leading up to this weekend...fear, excitement, anxiety, joy, uncertainty, peace...the whole gammet has been covered!

I ask each of you prayer warriors to pray for very specific needs:
~ Financial Needs: obviously seminary is not free!!
~ Time Management: Brad will continue to work for now at his secular job, but as most of you know, his job is incrediby demanding of his time...yet, he will need to put a good amount of time into class work/studying and of course continue to be the Children/Youth Pastor...and, oh yeah - be a husband!
~ Brad has been out of school for 10 years...he is very nervous about getting back into the groove of studying!
~ And, most of all - that we will follow in faith as the Lord leads us!!

Thank you so much in advance for praying with us during this new chapter of our lives!! We are so excited about what God is doing in our lives, and what the future holds!

Love y'all!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Longest Post EVER!

This may be the longest post in blogging history....so get ready!! I've got a lot of catching up to do!!

Last week was a very fast and furious week with one thing driving us - VOLLEYBALL. In our church's community Church-league Volleyball is SERIOUS business. SERIOUSLY....SERIOUS BUSINESS. Volleyball starts the first week of June, and the season goes through the last week of July, ending with a tournament. There are 4 divisions: Children, Youth, Women, and Men. And, oh yes, you better believe Mt. Vernon is represented in all 4 divisions! Because it's volleyball. And, volleyball is SERIOUS business.

This was the first year that Brad has played volleyball. He started out in June saying "This will be good exercise"....then, he was saying "good grief, I'm sore!"...and finally concluded at the end of the regular season "I'm getting too old for this!" (You know, he IS turning 30 in less than 4 weeks!) And, then the tournament started. Let me just tell you - Brad has volleyball fever now. He has hobbled around, and grunted and groaned...and loved every single minute of it. He has talked volleball strategy during supper, and took upon himself to assist in coaching the Youth team to victory. Our men and women's teams lost out before the tournament finals, but our children and youth teams continued on into the finals with our children's team finishing up in 3rd place and our youth team winning the entire tournament!! We were sooooo proud of both teams. Brad was like a proud Papa.

But, the most awesome thing had absolutely nothing to do with where our teams placed in the tournament. Each year, an award is given out for the "Most Christ-like Team". OUR CHILDREN'S TEAM WAS CHOSEN FOR THE AWARD!! What a huge honor!! What a great reflection of our children's ministry!!

You're probably thinking, "So, where's the pictures of all of this???" Well, after taking probably 100 pictures during the tournament, my camera decided to DELETE my pictures!!!! That's right....NO PICTURES! I was soooo sad :(

This week has also been a wild and crazy week in true Hayley Powell fashion....I'm a pro at having WAY too many things on my plate, and needing to be in 2 places at one time!!! Well, with school starting back, trying to move classrooms, numerous meetings, a baby shower, and the Longest Yardsale...my week was a tad bit full!!!!

Friday and Saturday we set up at our church for The Longest Yardsale. The Longest Yardsale is a 450 mile yardsale that starts in Gadsden, Alabama and goes all the way to West Unity, Ohio. Our church is on the yardsale path, and people set up all over the church grounds. Our church also sells homemade fried pies, B-b-q, Boston Butts, hotdogs, ICE COLD soft drinks and water, and watermelon. Every year, our Children and Youth groups sell something for a fundraiser. This year, we sold Lemonade and they did an awesome job! We have such an amazing group of kids!!!

It's alot of fun, but very HOT and tiring!!.......But still, alot of fun!

Whew, I'm tired just telling you all about the past 2 weeks!!! Tomorrow school starts back - but my preschoolers will not start until next Monday, so I have a little time to get ready for them!!

Have a great week!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Show Us Your Life

This is the last of the wedding series at Kelly's Korner "Show Us Your Life". I've really enjoyed getting to share such a special day of my life with you!

Our wedding and reception was at my church I grew up in - First Baptist Boaz. We had big white tents set up for outside for the reception.

This is one of my most favorite pictures. Brad leaned over to kiss me, and acted like he was going to "dip" me...our awesome photographer Ron Hayes captured the shot so beautifully!

My cake was 4 tiered, and had a different filling in each tier...but, I don't remember what they were...all I know, is it was delicious!

Brad did not want to do a chocolate groom's cake just because that is traditionally what a groom's cake is. One of his most favorite things is cheesecake, so he had cheesecake with a variety of toppings. YUM!

Our other food...it looks pretty good right now!

What does every little girl dream of on their wedding day? Marrying a prince and riding off in the sunset in a horse drawn carriage, of course! Well, I married the prince and rode off into the night in our horse drawn carriage!! It was so neat and so funny to be riding down a major highway with cars flying by, and us clip clopping down in our carriage.

We went on our honeymoon to the Atlantis in the Bahamas. I have tons of pictures, but am too tired to go get them out ;) It's absolutely gorgeous, peaceful, and a WONDERFUL place to vacation! I would highly recommend going to visit!! We hope to go back very soon!!

Well, that's our wedding day!! If you missed the past 2 weeks, click here to see my dress and our flowers/ceremony.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to School Mess!

This is the mess I have been in all day.

I am moving schools this year, and oh the junk that I have collected over the past several years!! I threw things away, compiled and re-organized, and hopefully will start out the school year a little bit more "put together" (YEAH, RIGHT!!)

I still have a rather large pile of stuff still in my garage...

I'm gonna miss my Union Grove buddies TERRIBLY, but I know this was the right move. Just one of those things ya "just know", you know? My new position allows me to teach in a preschool classroom in the mornings, but also gives me an opportunity to do parenting/family programs (which I love) in the afternoons. So, it's the best of both worlds!

Now, back to that mess........

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love Serves

One of the truest forms of love is being completely selfless. Serving others. Jesus himself served his disciples by washing their feet...why? By doing an act that only a lowly servant would do "showed through his actions" what he had been teaching - love others. Brad and I chose to wash our students feet as well, and it was a humbling, sweet experience.

True service requires us to be selfless, and to do with out trying to impress others (Philippians 2:3-4) We spend a lot of our lives trying to prove how smart, funny, good-looking, and generally worthwhile we are. We try to “cling” to our worth. But, Jesus showed repeatedly humility and service to others. Don't you think that's what we should "cling" to instead??

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18