Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009...

Is it really possible that yet another year has come and gone??!! This year has FLOWN for me!

This year has been one that, if I were able to delete January - May from my memory forever, would be a pretty good year! Hey, at least half of the year has been good :) I started off the 1st day of January in the hospital, spent the entire month of January emotionally, physically, and mentally drained, and I had an AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL 2008-2009 school year.


I've had a spectacular summer...

Student Life Youth Camp - We were FLIPPED!

ALOHA from the GA Lock-In!
Spending time with the 4 Favorites...

Having an awesome week at the annual Bailey Bash on the Bay

And, enjoying beautiful summer flowers!

I've had a fabulous fall...

Brad's 30th Surprise Party!

Spending time with my very best friend!

Brad being accepted and starting seminary!

LOVING my job!! Thank you, Jesus!
Having a BLAST serving and being so blessed by our church family!

The trip to the beach...what more needs to said?!

And, being so incredibly THANKFUL for our families!!

And, I've had the beginnings of a wonderful winter...

Christmas spent with those that we love the very most!

Yes, I have to say that undoubtedly the second half of 2009 has been pretty good!! Brad and I will be spending tonight celebrating by Praying in the New Year with our church family. I have some very specific things I hope to see come out of 2010, and I have already began to pray with EXPECTANCY...it's going to be a GREAT NEW YEAR!!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Special Lady

28 years ago, my mother made a huge decision. I had just been born, and my parents had no idea who was going to take care of me once my mother went back to work. As only the Lord can, He placed someone right in their path. She became my sitter before I was even 6 weeks old, and stayed with me until I started Kindergarten.

Her name is Frieda, and I love her so very much.

Frieda just turned 88 years old, but she is just as fiesty (and, do I mean FIESTY!!) today as she was when I was a child. She still sends me a Christmas present every single year, and calls my mom often to check up on us. Each year at Christmas, we try to go see her, and always leave with a smile on our face and in our hearts. She is a very special lady, and someone that has become apart of my spirit.

Today we made our trip to Georgia Mountain to see Frieda. As soon as she opened the door, I smelled her perfume that she has worn every day of my life, and it instantly took me back to many years ago. I have so many memories with her - taking me to get my first major haircut, her putting a little bikini on me and letting me "layout" with her teenage daughter (HA!), riding in her HUGE 1970's kelly green Buick Regal, her putting sprinkles in my grits so I would eat them...I could go on and on.

Spending as much time as I did with her as a child, she was a huge part of shaping me into who I am today. I even called her "Mama", much to my mother's dismay! There were many times growing up that I would do or say something, and my parents would just shake their heads and say "she must have gotten that from Frieda". :)

Frieda taught me how to laugh - alot - and, to not be too serious about life. She showed me through her words and actions that family is everything, and to keep them close. And, she proved that your attitude about life is what determines how young or old you are.

Today, Frieda talked alot about God's plan for our lives. She said, that even now at 88, God has a plan for her...although she doesn't know what it is, she just has to live everyday. Over the last few years, she has grieved for me and with me during mine and Brad's fertility battle. This afternoon, with determination in her eyes, and bold belief in her voice she turned to me and said, "Hayley, God has a plan for you. He knows what's best. You just keep trusting him, and living for Him. He's going to answer you."

Frieda, I don't know what God's plan for you is, but I do know today His plan for you was to bless my life by showing love, giving encouragement, and speaking truth over me. I love you forever!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas

We had such a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

Christmas Eve Brunch at our house...

Our 4 favorites in their matching Christmas frocks :)

Silly faces!

Christmas Day at my parent's...

Carolyne LOVED getting matching clothes for her and Emma (her Bitty Baby that she ADORES)...

Sam on his new ride! Such a boy!

My parents gave Brad new luggage for his upcoming trip to Japan! (More about that later.)
Sam ate a little...well, ALOT...of chocolate! You can see the evidence by the ring around his mouth! HA!

Watching "Charlie Brown's Christmas"...

My beautiful mama!
As far back as I can possibly remember, we have always ended Christmas night with my daddy reading the Christmas Story. It's such a sweet time with my family, and a reminder of the true reason for the season - Jesus!

The Day after Christmas with the Baileys on the farm...

Sweet Maci watching the sheep...

The boys doing a little pickin' ...

Playing the Newlywed Game....which was HILARIOUS!

A little gift giving...
And, a whole lot of loving!!!

Once again, the Lord reminded me of how INCREDIBLY BLESSED I am! I pray this Christmas you felt the blessings of the Lord, and kept your eyes focused on the true gift of the season - Jesus!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

J - O - Y

A fellow blogger, Anna, challenged me to think about what brings me joy.

Being this close to Christmas, when I hear the word "joy", I instantly hear in my head "JOY, to the WORLD! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King...and Heaven and Nature sing, and Heaven and Nature sing...". The song biblically says heaven and nature should be singing because of Jesus' arrival. I also think of - "J - O - Y , down in my heart; deep, deep down in my heart! Jesus put it there, and no one can destroy, d'stroy it, d'stroy it, huh!"...

And yet, it is so incredibly easy for me to become consumed with things that make me unjoyful, that have stripped me of every ounce of happiness, and have left me in a state of complete and total sadness and distress. Don't you know how this must grieve our Heavenly Father?? To see His child have sooooo many reasons to be joyful, and yet waste time not being so?

The Lord desires for His children to be a people of JOY. If nothing else, I should be overflowing with the joy to be saved by His grace. If nothing else, I should find joy in the true gift of the season - JESUS. If nothing else, every time I look at a nativity I should see the sovereignty - the grace - the mercy - and the love that it stands for.

Aside from joy we can find in Jesus, He also desires for us to enjoy our everyday lives - from the great big things to the tiniest most simple things.

So, for today, I'm finding joy in -

my husband's laughter, which is music to my ears and makes me smile from my heart...

my mother and sister's patience when I call them 400 times while I'm in the grocery store to ask what's in a recipe...

a "soul sister" who I can ask to do me a HUGE favor, because she understands my crazy life and knows that when I ask for help I REALLY need it...

What and where I am finding joy in the little things of daily life lately:

* 96.9 playing Christmas music ALL the TIME

* Being at home for 2 weeks

* Hearing "I uv you too, Hade-ey" (I love you too, Hayley - Sam)

* The Christmas trees lit up at night

* anxiously awaiting spending time with our families on Christmas

* fresh evergreen

* hope that a new year will bring new beginnings

* my Christmas treasures that each have a memory attached or story to tell

And, about a million other things that I am finding JOY "deep, deep down in my heart" about!!

So, now it's YOUR turn....WHAT HAS GIVEN YOU JOY LATELY?? Let's hear it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Books and Pajamas, oh my!

This afternoon, I headed to the mall to do a little stocking shopping. I went in to a new store, Cutie Patooties, and they had the CUTEST pajamas EVER!!!! They are called "Books to Bed", and come with a hard cover children's story book. The cute part is that the book character is the theme of the pajamas!

These pjs had Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare on them with the book, "Guess How Much I Love You".

Being someone that spends more time reading Children's Literature than any other type of books, and goes in to Books-a-Million and spends an hour in the Children's section...it's an occupational hazard...I was in love with these pjs!! What a great Christmas gift idea for a child...and, what a great way to start instilling the love of reading from an early age! I tell parents that are in our program they need to read to their child every day for at least 20 minutes, and bed time is a perfect time to fit that reading into your routine!

These pjs were truly "Pinkalicious" !!!!
LOVE them!!! These pajamas come in a wide array of sizes for infants all the way up to a size 14. You can check out all the different books/pajamas they carry by going here. Happy shopping!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Rainy Weekend in NOLA

No joke - this is a picture of how the streets looked when Brad and I arrived in New Orleans Saturday night!! I was a little...ummm...nervous. Just a little. They've had issues with flooding in the past, ya know!!

Brad had to go to campus to take finals for this semester, so I went with him. I just love going so very much - I love to be on campus with him - it makes me feel a little more a part of the whole experience. But, the traveling and weather conditions this trip were anything but enjoyable. We arrived in heavy rain and, as you can see, minor flooding on Saturday, and left on Monday afternoon in thick fog and a terrential downpour . But, I'm hoping and praying for Brad that our luck with the weather will not be the case with his finals!!

When we've gone to New Orleans in the past for Brad's classes, it's always a whirlwind trip and we haven't had a chance to enjoy the city. Sunday evening we had an opportunity to go downtown, and we went to eat at the Cheesecake Bistro on Saint Charles (in the Garden District). A ministry friend had mentioned that we needed to go sometime, and it was oh so very delicious! Thanks, Cindy :) We also shopped a little bit, and finished our Christmas shopping - YAY!!

Well, that was our weekend - LOTS of rain, many hours in the car, some yummy food and a little shopping, and a crazy amount of studying. Typical weekend for us.

Except the rain.

And, the hours in the car.

And, the studying.

OK, basically the eating and shopping are typical.