Christmas 2014 in Pictures

I have so many drafts of posts in process (including Emmy’s 11 months and 12 months posts) but I wanted to get this special post up. We have enjoyed Christmas 2014 so very much, and we are SO thankful for everything that has transpired this season and every day in 2014. It has been an incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding and wonderful year. So I wanted to do a quick “post in pictures” of all our happenings from December 9 through to the New Year!

December 9, 2014 – I completed and passed my final summative piece of PA school, confirming my ability to walk with my class during graduation and long white coat ceremonies, despite having one rotation left. THIS was a very big deal to me – I started with my class in August 2012, and I was determined to walk with them at graduation, even though I had to take some time off for maternity leave. And it worked out that way, Praise God! Before the official ceremonies, we celebrated as a class at Raleigh Brewing Co. complete with pizza and a slideshow!
1December 12-13, 2014 – Long White Coat Ceremony & PA Program Graduation
The long awaited day had finally arrived when I would receive my Long white coat.  I’ve come a long way since getting my Short white coat in August 2012!  I had no idea I would be graduating with a 14-month-old when I started this program but I am so thankful for HIS plans for me! :)

2December 14, 2014 – We played at Carter’s Playce for my nephew Dane’s 5th birthday party! Emmy insisted on sitting at the table with the big kids. She is so growny! The next day, we picked out a tree from the Country fruit stand and then had major toddler meltdowns with the strands of lights during the decorating process.  We also had some fun with them, too. :)

3December 18. 2014 – We had a family fun day! We started out the day in Bass Pro Shops to get our picture taken with Santa.  This was our third attempt at meeting/sitting with Santa, and it was the third time Emmy hated it!  Bless her heart. She loved the shopping though, and tried to pick up a little electric four wheeler all by herself. Tough Girl!

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After Bass Pro shops, we headed to Marbles Kids Museum!  It was Emmy’s first trip to Marbles, and she loved it!  She especially loved the little mini corvette, the bassinets with the babies and blankets (she kept taking wrapping them up) and the painting area!

5Since this was my first time to marbles, I had no idea that Keith Norval painted the stools in the creative arts area! I LOVE him and even own one of his pieces!

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The following days were filled with more shopping, taking home our sweet crafts from daycare, our first Christmas celebration at the Pearson Open House and mommy practicing some of her clinical skills on Emmy.

6December 21, 2014 – Emmy was an angel in the church Christmas play.  Last year she was Baby Jesus.  We were even more proud of this year’s performance!

IMG_0656December 24, 2014 – We celebrated Christmas Eve with Gigi, Aunt Lindsey, Scott, cousins Karis and Brannon, Aunt Joanna and Uncle Drake and then Christmas Eve night we celebrated with the Sullivan clan!  It was such a fun day/night and Emmy loved all the attention, food, and time with family.  I loved seeing Dustin’s face as he opened a new lens from his mom!  He got so excited and was completely surprised.  The best :)

7December 25, 2014 – Merry Christmas!  We celebrated with our little family by opening gifts and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, then we went to my parent’s for lunch and dinner.  Emmy had so much fun playing with her cousin Dane!

8December 26-28, 2014 – We went to the Valley Creek Lights show in Clayton and Emmy was mesmerized! We also spent the days after Christmas lounging, spending time with family, and celebrating cousin North’s baby dedication! We even got a chance to cook some of the ribeye steaks we won in Dirty Santa :)

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We have loved these last few days together before going back to my FINAL rotation and back to work for Dustin.  I’ve had two additional job interviews during my time off so I’m praying for that situation as well!  We spent New Years Eve riding around on our new golf cart (so fun) and went to dinner at Kobe where Emmy devoured her hibachi chicken and shrimp.  She is a good little eater!  I also cherish the time we spent with friends over the holidays, including my dear friends Matt and Amy who live in Baltimore but were in town for the holidays, and my sweet friend Averi and her almost one-year-old Georgia Mac!

1011In many ways I am sad to see this year go.  I loved watching Emmy grow up from a baby to a little toddler over the last few months and I am going to miss these milestones, for sure.  But we also look forward to what 2015 will bring and pray for health, happiness and a peace that can only come from Jesus!

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gurleygirls

 

17 Weeks

We had such a wonderful weekend for my “first” Mother’s day. We spent Friday and Saturday celebrating my brother’s graduation from NC State with his Master’s degree.  I always love attending NC State events – sports, graduation, all of it. Friday was the departmental graduation which was smaller in size (but still conferred around 450 degrees) and Saturday morning was the BIG graduation for all the undergrad/grad school graduates.  There are now 5,255 additional alumni in our NCSU family.  I am still so jealous that undergrads get to wear the RED caps and gowns (started just a year or two after  I graduated) for graduation!  I just can’t put into words how much I love that university.  It was above and beyond some of the best years of my life. I cannot WAIT to take our sweet little baby bee for a tour of my beautiful campus. One of my favorite parts of attending big graduation is when we always close the ceremony with everyone singing our Alma Mater. It just gives me chills to hear everyone shout NC STATE! and I always get a little choked up. I am so happy to have the opportunity to be completing my professional degree at Campbell, but my heart belongs to State.

In honor of my brother graduating, a picture of me at my NCSU graduation in 2008... hah! I was just a baby at 22, but I literally felt like I could do anything in the world that day.
In honor of my brother graduating, a picture of me at my NCSU graduation in 2008… hah! I was just a baby at 22, but I literally felt like I could do anything in the world that day.

One of my favorite moments this weekend was when my nephew, Dane, asked me and Uncle Dustin when we were going to the “baby store” to get our baby. Hah!  How sweet is that.  He definitely knows a baby is on the way, just a little confused about when he/she will get here. I think he is more than ready to finally have a little cousin to play with!

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Baby Dane proudly proclaiming that he wants to go to NC State too just like his dad (and mom and Aunt Gina)!
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With my gorgeous cousin Beth after Michael’s graduation. She is the reigning Miss Goldsboro and will compete for the Miss NC crown in just a few weeks. Can’t wait to cheer her on! Also, Baby Gurley bump is highly evident in this dress!!

Sunday was the big day – my first mother’s day. It was so exciting to be able to celebrate that event for the first time.  I felt a little like it wasn’t entirely for “me” since my baby is still growing in my belly – but I have had more than my fair share of sleepless nights and nauseated days to be able to carry the mommy title. At least everyone I saw that day still told me Happy Mother’s Day and confirmed that “it still counts”!  Mother’s Day morning we worshiped at Vintage Church in downtown Raleigh where we were lucky enough to watch Dustin’s newest baby cousin being dedicated to  the Lord.

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Jamie, Luke, and Baby Gage at the dedication. That is one gorgeous baby!

The service started out with the story of Abraham and Sarah being told they would conceive, and it was such a beautiful and fitting story for mother’s day. It is one of my most favorite stories of the bible and is a beautiful example of the Lord’s steadfast love for us AND his sense of humor!  If you haven’t read it, you should!! We also sang In Christ Alone, one of our wedding songs.  The Lord was certainly speaking to us that morning and I will always remember it as a very special way to start my first mother’s day.

Vintage did a super nifty thing for all the guests that morning – they set up a photobooth outside in the parking lot!  Here’s one of our shots.

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What a fun idea. :)

We then went back to Luke and Jamie’s for a cookout/hangout with the family for the afternoon.  It was so much fun! I loved catching up with Jamie and talking to her about all-things-baby. She has been a sweet source of encouragement ever since we told everyone we were expecting. She will randomly send me a text of some helpful pregnancy hint or a good book recommendation. She is awesome like that!  Luke and Jamie did a wonderful job hosting the whole bunch of us and I am so glad we got to spend time with them and the rest of our family on such a special day!

I had several sweet texts and calls from friends telling me Happy Mother’s day that morning. One of my favorites was from my bff Salty. She sent me this and I thought it was cute to share for all the mommies out there:

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Her text with this picture attached read “The future words of Baby Gurley” haha! LOVE that girl!

Hope your Mother’s Day was extra special as well!

regina3

Happiest Day in Heaven

I truly believe the saddest days on earth are some of the happiest days in Heaven.  The celebration that awaits us when we finally go Home is something I have always imagined to be simply amazing.  I don’t know if the celebration is any bigger for some than others, but if that is the case then let me tell you, Heaven is a hopping place right now welcoming in it’s newest angel, Mr. Tim Ballance.  Mr. Tim is my sweet Tar Heel’s step-father and an incredible man.

We only had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Tim for a brief period of time, but in that time he has managed to make a lasting impression on each of us in a profound way.  His strength, courage and incredible compassion and wonderful sense of humor is what we will all remember about him.  I remember last January, just a couple of months before our wedding, I was lucky enough to hitch a ride down to Savannah from NC with Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kay (the Tar Heel’s mother).  It was their first trip down to Savannah to visit our house and the city, and that trip will always be one of my happiest memories.

Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kay made me listen to 70s on 7 the entire five hour trip which actually took around 6.5 hours because Mr. Tim didn’t really like to drive over 60mph on the interstate :)  Once we (finally) got to Savannah, the Tar Heel wore a sweater vest in honor of Mr. Tim.  Mr. Tim was known for his love of sweater vests so the Tar Heel thought it would be “cute” if he wore one too. We toured the Tar Heel’s school buildings at SCAD, and I was most excited for showing off our house to Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kay (even though I wasn’t technically a resident there until two months later).  We ate at our favorite restaurants in town like Soho Cafe and The Shrimp Factory.

The best part of the entire trip occurred entirely by happenstance.  The Tar Heel was driving us around Savannah since he was the most familiar with the area at that point, and for some reason I was reprimanding him on his driving and getting a little worked up.  He pulled the car over and looked at me and made a funny hand gesture and said mostly playful and partially serious, “Take it eeeasssy.”  After about 5 seconds of complete silence, Mr. Tim ERUPTED in laughter which created the most hilarious domino effect you can imagine.  Mrs. Kay started cracking up at him laughing so hard, and soon Dustin and I joined in.  SO there we were, on the side of the road, packed into one car and laughing so hard we all had tears in our eyes.  It was so spontaneous, perfectly imperfect, and hardly recognizable for the gift that it truly was.  The best things in life often turn out that way.

Even when you expect it, you think you can prepare yourself for this feeling, but you can’t.  Living in Savannah, the Tar Heel and I have been distant from facing the pain and reality of the situation.  I think we kept thinking we would come home to visit and things would be back to normal.  But I knew last weekend when I went to see Mr. Tim in the hospital that things could never be that way again.  I also knew at that time that we would be selfish to want Mr. Tim to stay with us down here when he was suffering so badly.  He is so, so much better off in Heaven with our Lord and all the angels.  But it doesn’t make things any easier on those of us he had to leave behind.  We love you, Mr. Tim and can’t wait to see you again.  Keep a good eye on us until then.

All my love,

Marry Me

Forever Starts Today.

One of the most stunning photos I found in the planning process was a shot of the back of a wedding program with three simple words on it:  Forever Starts Today.  I fell in love with the photo and was convinced from that day on that my wedding programs had to have the same, but on the front.  What really meant so much to me was the truth behind those three simple words.  It’s what the idea of marriage was built upon from the beginning–forever.

For Dustin and me, our marriage was never about our wedding.  While we were thrilled to share our commitment ceremony with friends and family, the glitz and glam and over-the-top shenanigans were never really our thing.  In all honesty, (whether you believe me or not!:) ) I pushed for a private ceremony  for a long time.  Maybe I was intimidated by the thought of a huge wedding with all the bells and whistles.  At the end of the day, I really just felt that something intimate might be lost with an incredible number of eyes watching us, and that this might cause me to fail to remember our vows and what I was repeating to the person I was going to spend my life with.  And that was the important part!  The flowers, the video, the pictures — none of THAT makes a wedding.  Our vows.  The committment.  The Heavenly Covenant that we enter causing us to no longer be individuals, but rather two parts of a whole.  THAT is what makes a wedding.  And that is what I wanted to be sure I remembered.

Dustin finally changed my mind and insisted that I would end up regretting the decision to have a private ceremony.  Now, I can truly say he was 100% right.  [Did you read that, Dustin? You were right my love. :)]  We compromised and agreed upon having only the closest of friends and families there, but even that was incredibly difficult to narrow down.  Regardless of the number of people who came, of all the things I remember from our wedding day, the part that shines brighter in my mind than any other aspect was standing in front of my sweet Dustin, holding his hands and reciting our vows to one another.

Seeing Dustin standing at the end of that aisle was everything I dreamed it would be and more.  Every single tear that was shed in agony and brokenness during my walk of faith to lead me to Dustin was worth it.  Every bit of hurt, rejection and fear that I experienced along the way was worth it.  Every bit of me that believed I deserved to have the kind of love the Lord intended for us was worth it! My goodness how I wish I could impress upon every young girl I meet the importance of maintaining the belief in yourself and your Savior that He does have someone out there for every one, and that you owe it to yourself to believe you will find them.  I am so proud of myself and Dustin.  We both could have settled, but we chose not to because we knew the best kind of love was still out there for us.  There are so many things that could have been done differently in our lives.  Instead, we chose to believe in the Lord’s plan for us and to believe in each other.  We simply trusted in Him to lead us to each other, and you know what?  He did!!

As I started walking down the aisle to Dustin, we were both crying a pretty impressive amount of happy tears.  When we recited our vows, neither of us could get through them without having to pause and regain our composure.  We chatted the entire time we were standing up there, telling each other how much we loved one another and how beautiful/handsome we each looked.  I literally felt as though it were only Dustin, myself and our minister standing at the front of that church.  Literally!  After our ceremony, Dustin’s dad came up and jokingly told him he couldn’t believe Dustin started crying before they even opened the doors with me standing there, and he had to hold back tears the entire service.  Our videographer’s second shooter overheard his comment and said “Just be glad you couldn’t hear everything they were saying to each other at the front of the church, we were all about to cry the whole time!”  And it was true.  We were so happy, the tears of joy would not stop flowing.  This day meant so much to us as a couple and was such a special day in our spiritual walks.

A few days after the wedding, I was catching up with a dear friend who was there to celebrate our wedding day.  She told me our ceremony was so special, and she could just feel something inside her stir and motivate her to try and find that same kind of love that we shared.  The next week she found herself visiting a new church for the first time.  Needless to say, I got off the phone in complete awe.  What more evidence do we need to show how much the Lord leads us to certain people, situations and circumstances for our good?  God was already using our love and I was amazed by this.  I was so touched and I couldn’t help but feel that Dustin and I are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

I am so excited to trust and see what the Lord has in store for us!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17

Dancing in the Minefields

I heard this song on the way to work this morning and felt so compelled to share it.  When I get feelings like those, I feel it is of the Lord and I need to share them with you, because someone reading needs to hear this.  I also couldn’t help but to think of my sweet friend and her husband who are adopting a child right now, and are going through a period of waiting (aka a Minefield).  The lyrics to this song are so powerful, and I encourage you to go listen to it HERE.

Dancing in the Minefields (Andrew Peterson)

Well I was 19 you were 21
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much to young
But we did it anyway
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

Chorus:
We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise was for

Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

Chorus:
And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise was for
That’s what the promise is for

Bridge:
So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith
to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

Cause we bear the light of the Son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
Cause He promised not to leave us
And His promises are true
So in the face of this chaos baby
I can dance with you

Chorus:
So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise if for
That’s what the promise is for