Friday, December 31, 2010

A Merry Little Christmas

Throughout the month, we have all sorts of Christmas get togethers with extended family and friends, but my favorites are the ones we have on Christmas because they're with our closest family! 

On Christmas Eve, I have brunch at my house for mine and Brad's immediate families.  I love that we can have a special time with both our families together, and the 4 Favorties LOVE getting to be at Aunt Hayley and Uncle Brad's house!!  This year, I had gingerbread cookies for them to decorate after we ate.  They were so cute!

Christmas Eve night, we went to Brad's parents house for dinner, exchanging gifts, and playing games.  We had a great time!!  We had been hearing "rumors" that we might get a little snow on Christmas day, but we were not really expecting it to happen...BUT, we woke up to a Winter Wonderland!!!  After Brad and I had our traditional Christmas breakfast and gift exchange at home, we headed to my mom and dad's.  Besides a little dusting we had one year when I was a child, it has never snowed on Christmas day in my life, so we were just as excited as the kids! 

We had snow ball fights...
Built a giant snowman...
 ...and well, Sam mostly ate the snow! HA!!
And, this little girl thought her first snow experience was AWESOME!!  Ellie was like a streak of lightning running around the yard in the snow!! HA!
We had such a fun day playing and laughing, eating yummy food, exchanging gifts, and watching Christmas movies!
We always have our Bailey Christmas gathering the day after Christmas.  We stay all day long, and we have a wonderful time.  This year we had it at the Bailey Farm, and got an awesome picture in the snow of EVERYONE - even my cousin came home from California for Christmas this year - with my grandparents house in the background...isn't it beautiful?!  (I hi-jacked this picture from Lori's facebook page - thanks Lori!!)  I really am so very blessed with an incredible family!! 
After all the family gatherings, my immediate family went and stayed at the lake for 3 days and it was W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L. to sleep late and not have anywhere to be or anything to do but play and relax...and, I didn't take a single picture!

I hope that each of you had a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Receptions, Weddings, and Christmas Plays - Oh My!

Hey y'all! I hope everyone had a wonderfully splendid Christmas filled with lots of love, joy, family, and friends!! My month was soooo incredibly busy with so many things going on that Christmas Day really snuck up on me. And, since I haven't shared many pics with y'all during the entire month, I thought I should catch you up to speed on what in the world has kept me so busy!

I had the pleasure of doing some floral arrangements and decorating for a 50th Wedding Anniversary reception of a very special couple in our church, Mr. and Mrs. Parker!  Their family is so very special to us, and it was an honor to get to be a part of planning for this day for them. I sure do hope this will be Brad and I one day! :)

 I didn't get a lot of pictures at the reception, but this was the main food table...
We also did a wedding this month (the weekend before Christmas - yes, we are COMPLETELY crazy!!!)  It actually was at the church I grew up at, so it was fun to get to see soooo many familiar faces.  The bride was one of "my girls" from way back when, and I taught her small group Bible Study group when she was in high school...so, it was really special to get to do her wedding!  Congratulations, Jerika and Bo!! 
The colors of the wedding were moss green (my FAVORITE color!!!), reds, and creamy white...it was so elegant and wintery and Christmasy!!  This was one of the bridesmaids bouquets...
I HANDMADE these wreaths that lined the center aisle pews.  They were made of different greenery and berries, and a wired scrolly "B" made of pearls hung in the middle of them.  They were just beautiful (if I may say so myself)
The church already looked beautiful with all the Christmas decorations, so just adding a few flowers and candlelight was all that was needed.
We also did the reception and catering.  My mom always does a FAB job with all the food!
And, last but most definitely not least we had a Christmas Program at church the week before Christmas.  The cast of characters was primarily played by some of our children and teenagers, and they did a phenomenal job in "The Best Gift EVER!"  
Goodness gracious, I'm wore out just telling you about all of that!! I can't wait to share with you tomorrow about the wonderful WHITE Christmas we had here in North Alabama!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Hey y'all!!  Things have been quiet on the blog the past few days, but life has been VERY LOUD and BUSY!!  I have lots of pictures and life tidbits to share with you (tomorrow hopefully) about what we have been completely engrossed in the past week - an anniversary reception, a wedding, church Christmas program, school Christmas stuff, still doing home renovations, and...oh yeah, getting ready for CHRISTMAS!!!  Y'all, I am SO TIRED...so very tired.  Yes, physically, but mentally I'm just pooped.  The past several weeks have kinda just been a blur with all that has been going on.  Tonight, I sat down in the middle of a store while Christmas shopping.  I was looking for the LAST present to be bought, and after having looked and looked and looked I could not find this one thing that I had hoped to get.  I felt completely overwhelmed and as I waited for a call back from Brad for an alternate gift idea, I just plopped down.  I had not really been paying attention to what music was playing in the store until I took my seat, but as I sat I heard the quiet melody of "Silent night, holy night...all is calm, all is bright...".  I first chuckled in my head at the irony of such a tender song about the night Jesus was born playing in a store that was full of loud shoppers bustling around to purchase the last of their Christmas gifts, completely oblivious to a song talking about a "holy infant so tender and mild".  But, the more I thought about it, don't we find ourselves in that state all too often?  So focused on the 'here and now' that our perspective of real life is off kilter and the thought of "heavenly peace" is far from our minds? 

I know what Christmas is all about - I talk about Jesus and His birth often during this season.  I even wrote in many of my Christmas cards about experiencing the joy of the miracle of His coming.  But, yet I find myself wrapped up in gift buying, decorating, and the obligatory get togethers that sometimes I don't give the MIRACLE of the birth of JESUS the attention and praise and admiration it deserves. 

Thank you, Lord for reminding me of that silent night, Holy night on this very un-silent, very busy night!!

I read a post tonight by Leslie at Goodbye House, Hello Home that is EXACTLY what I feel like.  When a post is titled Mary Did You Know Bethlehem Doesn't Have a Hobby Lobby? , you knows it's gonna be good!!  I wanted to share my most favorite part, but please by all means click on over to read the whole post.  Awesome, Leslie!!

2,000 years ago, our dying race was given the most beautiful present ever imaginable.  Was it wrapped in polka-dotted ribbon?  With a glittery tag?  Was this gift placed under a dazzling tree?

This gift lay in a mucky, lightless, unbeautified and unembellished barn.  Mary did not visit Hobby Lobby or Michael's for ribbon, wreaths or bulbs.  Joseph wasn't up on the roof attaching light strands with thatch clips.  I am pretty sure that there wasn't any eggnog or wassail to imbibe.

But what we ARE told is that this night, the light of the world came to us.  This night, the neighborhood was visited by it's first ever Heavenly carolers.  This night, heaven came to earth and emancipated it. 

I can still deck our halls and hang the mistletoe.  But, as I sing along with each hymn, display each shining item that I have found on sale or in a box on someone's driveway, as I liberate the crafts designed years ago by my toddler's fingers and arrange and rearrange the lights on the bushes, I will remember that the reason I treasure this season so much is that my Jesus is the true light of the world, the creative embellisher, the original beautifier and liberator of treasures, emancipator of souls.

He is the gift to my heart.
And Hobby Lobby has nothing on sale that compares to that.
And I'll bet Mary would have said the same thing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holly Jolly Christmas

Welcome to our home dressed up for the holidays!!  These are a few of my most favorite things in our home this year...

My Willow Tree nativity set is on the dresser in our foyer area when you first walk in - Jesus is the reason for the season!!
 Our fireplace and mantle is BRIGHT and FUN :)
 I had to get new stockings this year so Ellie would have one that coordinated with mine and Brad's.  I love that we added a paw print to her name.
 As you could see on my mantle, I have a large collection of nutcrackers.  Brad gives me one every year, and others have given them to me as gifts.  I love the Joseph and Mary with Baby Jesus Nutcrackers that I got last year!
On our coffee table is my funky green twig basket filled with fun ornaments, and an arrangement with amaryllis, paper whites, maiden hair fern, and lots of bright green moss. 
Nothing will make me feel more in the Christmas spirit than to smell fresh pine and cedar!  I love to tuck it in all sorts of containers around the house.  (Yes, these are fresh flowers...a delightful thing about doing floral designs for events all the time is having a few flowers left over to use in my own house!!)
 I also collect Department 56 "Christmas in the City" village.  Here are just a FEW pieces...
 On to the kitchen!!  A little holiday cheer in my window sill...
 ...and, a few cute tea towels hanging on the oven.
 In our dining room, I have all sorts of cute Christmas platters and at the bottom I have a CANDY BAR!!!
 I started this last year, and it was a huge hit!  When friends and family stop by during the holidays, I like to have a little something special for them when they leave.  I have out treat bags and napkins and tell people to help themselves to take a treat with them.  And, of course the 4 Favorites LOVE visiting this little sweet spot!
This is a cute little sign that a local artist made...so cute!!  You can check her stuff out here.  
This is the only tree I decided to put up this year.  I normally have several up, but decided this year one tree would be just fine...however, this is not the best picture of it - oh well, you get the idea :)
 Of course, we have to have a little Christmas happy in the bathroom too!  This moss and berry topiary is one of a set of two that I made several years ago...it's amazing what I can do with a hot glue gun!! 
 I'm not big on Santa Claus, but I think this one is a cutie!
I just love everything about this sign that's hanging on the closet doors of our hall closet!
 And, this little girl is the best Christmas decoration there is :)
From our home to yours, we hope you and your family have a Christmas filled with the JOY of the Lord!!  Merry Christmas!

If you would like to see other homes in the Christmas Tour of Homes, check out the Nester and Kelly's Korner.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Need a Silent Night

I had not ever heard this song until tonight, but it is EXACTLY how I feel this Christmas season...not so much about the whole shopping scene because I have not had to do as much shopping this year.  But, the feeling of being soooo BUSY..All the hustle bustle, and not a minute to take a break...feeling completely overwhelmed.

JESUS is the reason for the season.  I want to bask in that - to celebrate His coming, to prepare my heart for what that means, to rejoice in what it all means. 

Lord, I need a silent night, a holy night.  To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise.  I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here.  To end this crazy day with a silent night.

I've made the same mistake before
Too many malls, too many stores
December traffic, Christmas rush
It breaks me till I push and shove

Children are crying while mothers are trying
To photograph Santa and sleigh
The shopping and buying and standing forever in line
What can I say?

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

December comes then disappears
Faster and faster every year
Did my own mother keep this pace
Or was the world a different place?
Where people stayed home wishing for snow
Watching three channels on their TV
Look at us now rushing around
Trying to buy Christmas peace

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

What was it like back there in Bethlehem
With peace on earth, good will toward men?

Every shepherd's out in the field
Keeping watch over their clock by night
And the glory of the Lord shone around them
And they were so afraid

And the angels said fear not for behold
I bring you good news of a great joy that shall be for all people
For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord
And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night
To end this crazy day with a silent night

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ultimate Comfort on a COLD Day

Today has been soooo cold in North Alabama...at least to us it has been.  When it's this cold, there's only one thing I want to eat - a steaming hot bowl of homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and a piece of Broccoli Cheese Cornbread.  Yes, I said Broccoli Cheese Cornbread.  It is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!  Don't turn your nose up, or think it's weird....it is so incredibly yummy!  It's is the ULTIMATE comfort food - it's always the first thing I want to eat when I'm not feeling well.  I don't know why, but it's rare for me to cook it any other time than when I make chicken noodle soup...as good as it is, you would think I would make it all the time!!

So, I thought I would share the wonderful cornbready goodness with y'all!  A dear family friend gave me this recipe when I got married...thank you SO MUCH Carla - it's one of mine and Brad's FAVORITES!!!
Broccoli Cheese Cornbread

1 8oz. box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
2 eggs (I'm a brown egg kind of girl, but you by all means can go the basic white route)
1/2 c milk (I use whole milk for this, but I'm sure skim or 2% would be fine)
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
1/2 box frozen broccoli

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine Jiffy mix, eggs, and milk.  Add cheese, onion, and broccoli and stir to coat.  Add butter a little at a time to temper the batter; stirring ingredients to incorporate butter.  Pour in GREASED 9x13 and bake for 50 minutes.  Let cool and cut in to squares. 

This is BEST after it has sat and cooled...not like regular cornbread and best straight out of the oven.  Let set for a good 15 minutes to give it time to set up. 

Oh, y'all...you'll be thanking me for this one just like I'm thanking Carla almost 10 years and a jazillion pans later....mercy, it's good!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

We ARE the Champions!!!

WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!  Our Tigers played an AWESOME game against the Gamecocks, and won the SEC Championship title!!! 
And, we should be on the road to Glendale, Arizona to battle for the National Championship in January!!  It's a GREAT day to be an Auburn Tiger, and I'm proud to be in the Auburn Family!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days of Thanks...Sweet Endings

Today is November 30th.  The past 30 days my thoughts have been geared towards being thankful.  What a blessing it has been to be in a mental state of thankfulness.  It's reminded me to be thankful in the BIG things, as well as the small things. 

On this last day of my thankfulness posts, I'm thankful for YOU.  For those of you that take the time to read this crazy little blog about our lives.  It's so humbling to know that there are people interested enough in what's going on with us to continue to read.  I write like no one is reading, and am suprised every time someone tells me they read my blog.  Every. single. time. 

I know that you each check in for different things - maybe it's just because your curious, maybe to see about a recipe, maybe because you're on a journey of waiting with hope too, maybe because you're interested in finding out about the newest mess I've gotten myself in to, maybe to see the last event or flowers that have been arranged, or maybe for something else that I haven't even thought of.  Whatever the reason you stop by Reflections of Grace, thank you!  I hope that you always find this to be a place to hear truth, to be inspired creatively and/or spiritually, and that His grace in our lives would be reflected in every word read. 

I hope that this month's posts have helped you to turn your heart and mind toward a state of living in thankfulness.  God always has a funny way of teaching me things.  During this month, my life has been more hectic than I can ever remember it being.  I have been stressed, tired, and overwhelmed.  It's been CRAZY.  Isn't it funny that He would put on my heart to seek thankfulness in a month that would end up being like that??  Somedays it's been hard to think about being thankful, because I've been consumed with life around me.  BUT, God helped me to see that amidst chaos and stress there is STILL soooo much to be thankful for.  It's been a heart piercing learning experience, and I've felt the sting of thankfulness much more than I would have if the month had just been rosy.  Thank you, Lord for helping me to understand even what it means to be thankful. 

It's been a blessed month!  Thanks for staying with me :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 Days of Thanks...Day 29





Oh how very thankful I am today for a day at home, away from the world to recoop from the weekend.  It's rainy and cold, and I've been able to snuggle up with my little Ellie, watch reruns, do a little pre-holiday casseroles for the freezer, and clean my kitchen.  No one has needed anything from me today - no questions that needed to be answered, no decisions to be made, no flowers to be arranged, no children to teach.  I've needed rest physically and mentally, and how very thankful I am to have been given this day to do just that! 

When I was on Facebook earlier, I read one of my friend's status' that just spoke to my heart:
"God is so good. He has provided for me and loved me even when I was so unloveable. Thank you Lord. I pray I can love like you love today and give like you give....You are my King. Thanks for another day to work." 
Oh how I pray that I can have that attitude every day - a thankfulness for another day to work for Him, instead of dreading morning because of what the day holds. 

Father, thank you for this day of rest and renewal.  Thank you for loving me.  I pray I can love like you love today and give like you give.  You are my King.  Thanks for another day to work!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

30 Days of Thanks...Day 28

Y'all, I can't believe I've missed my "30 Days of Thanks" posts the past 3 days!!  Life has been jam packed, and not a minute free to even think about blogging...I've actually not even seen a computer since I posted on Wednesday until now!! 

Soooo, what have I been doing that's taken up every waking minute of my life the past several days???  Getting ready for a day that we have prayed to come for so many years - how very thankful I am to have the honor of being a part of Lori and Brandon's WEDDING DAY!!!  YEA!!!
If you remember, not only was I a bridesmaid, but we also did the floral designs and catering for the wedding and reception!!  One word - WHEW!!!  Boy, are we T.I.R.E.D.  But, it was absolutely gorgeous, and everything I hope Lori hoped it would be.  The wedding was in a BEAUTIFUL little town with gorgeous old buildings.  All the flowers were in shades of reds and greens, and lots and lots of fresh cedar and berries. 
 I was a little bit occupied with arranging flowers, helping in the kitchen, getting my hair and make up done, and having my picture made to take pictures of everything like I normally do, but I did snap a few quick pics of some of the flowers.  Hopefully I can borrow some from others that were taking pictures and share with y'all soon!
I was so very thankful for Brad and how much he helped me during the wedding...he's the best! :)
Valerie, myself, and Carolyne...our dresses were black with champagne sashes; Carolyne's was in the same colors, just opposite of ours.  They were so pretty!
Lori and Brandon left in a horse drawn carriage, and do you notice something that appears to be coming from the sky??  They had a SNOW machine at the front door when they left the reception - it was magical!  And, look close to see Lori's RED shoes...LOVE it!!  I stole borrowed Lori's shoes while she was getting ready and all the bridesmaids and a few other special ladies wrote congratulatory wishes on the soles!
It was a fairy tale wedding, and I'm so thankful for what the Lord has done in Lori and Bradon's lives bringing them together!!  To God be the glory!