This blog is an uncensored look into my soul. I am writing this as part of my healing process, but am leaving it public so others can follow me through my journey.

If you'd like to start from the beginning, click on the beautiful, adorable picture of Hailey on the right hand column.

You can also email me at: haileyshalo@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Well as you can tell by the title, it's New Year's Eve.  I can't say I'm excited this year to "ring" it in.  Actually, for the first time ever in my life,  I am honestly soooo ready for the holidays to be over.  I'm totally over Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day...etc, etc, etc.  Tonight I'm feeling a little down. (Actually a lot down.)  I'm exhausted from only getting 4 hours sleep last night and dealing with a stubborn, little one year old today and it seems that when I'm tired, my grief tends to get the best of me.  


I went to Hailey's Place today and had a good cry (and talk with her).  I just miss her so very much.  As I've mentioned before, I've heard from others who have lost children that the 6 month mark gets reeeeeeally tough.  For a while I thought that maybe I would be the exception, but now I'm starting to realize that grief doesn't really have exceptions.  It's just one of those things that really can't be avoided, no matter how much faith you have.  Hailey's only been gone for 4 and a half months and I've already had to spend Lexi's birthday, Hailey's first day of Preschool, Sean's birthday, my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and in a few hours New Year's Day by my daughter's graveside.  I kind of feel like it's been a little much.  Honestly, I'm so over it.  Done.  


I can't stand not having her around.  I can't stand not hearing her giggles, yells, cries, I love you's, etc.  I can't stand not being able to see her sparkly blue eyes and crooked little smile.  I can't stand not being able hold her, tickle her, and watch her grow and learn.  I just can't stand it.  


Sorry to be so down on what should be a fun and exciting night, but unfortunately for me, tonight is just a reminder that I'm going to spend the whole year of 2010 and the whole year of 2011 and the whole year of every other 2000 without my Hailey.  


I'll check back tomorrow and let you know how it's going.
---------------------------------------------------------
Oh, on a really neat and positive note, I do have one thing I thought about that I wanted to share.  On Christmas night when I had my major emotional breakdown I got to a point that I literally didn't think I could take one more moment of the grief.  I literally laid on my bathroom floor and wailed.  I prayed and begged and prayed and begged for the Lord to take the pain away.  I felt for the first time that  I wanted to die and be with Hailey.  (Don't worry, I'm okay...I won't be doing anything drastic!)  Anyways, after what seemed like literally hours (and who knows, maybe it was...time wasn't a factor at this point) I was finally able to stand up and sit on the edge of my bed.  All of a sudden I felt an amazingly peaceful, calm come over me.  I felt as if Hailey had entered the room and was standing right there with me.  It was as if she was saying, "It's okay Mommy, I'm here now."  I didn't literally hear that, as I did that night in my kitchen when I heard her tell me she chose to go, but I felt it so strongly I might as well have heard it.  I just sat there, suddenly at peace, and took in the feeling.  I pictured in my mind my little Hailey partying it up at Jesus' birthday party...eating all the "lellow peesh"...and a couple angels coming up to her saying, "Hailey girl...can you come with us for a few minutes?  Your mommy needs you right now."  And of course, my baby girl would say, "O-tay, me go!"  Anyways, I'm not claiming in any way that this actually happened up in the heavens above!  It's just what I felt and pictured in my head.  The only thing that I will claim to be true is that at my lowest possible moment, I felt a peace like the one I felt when I saw her for the first time in her "bed" and I knew she was there.  Once again, another tender mercy from my Father in Heaven.  Another reminder that in the most difficult time of my life, I am still truly loved and blessed!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Photos

So I'm definitely feeling much better...back to "normal," if you want to call it that!  Christmas day really threw me for a loop, but I'm back on the up and up!  Although, I did hit a rough patch tonight when Lexi cried for Hailey.  I guess today at church they had all the big brothers and sisters get their little brothers and sisters for their first day in Primary.  Lexi was really sad that Hailey wasn't there.  She LOVES being a big sister, so I think it hit her a little hard.  We sat and hugged and talked about it and how one day she would have the chance to take her little sister to primary.  I promised her that tomorrow we would go to Hailey's Place with our journals and write her a letter.  That seemed to cheer her up and all got better.

Anyways, I wanted to share some pictures from Christmas this year.  Enjoy!


Lexi decorating Hailey's Christmas tree.


Our family at Hailey's Place

I thought that flag was so cute.  It looks just like her.
(Although, in all honesty, I don't recall her ever being that angelic!!!)

Hailey's Place looking so loved!

(Thank you to all of you who stopped by to visit our little angel!)

Santa stopped by!


We decided to keep Hailey in our annual ornament exchange.
She "got" Lexi, so we felt a "lellow beep" would be fitting!
(That's Lexi's sign from Hailey!)


Us with the life size cardboard cutout of Hailey from my sister.
(As you can see, I don't quite look my best...It was a rooooough night!)

By the way, I do actually love that cutout of Hailey.  
I can't look at it very often though, due to one of two things occurring:
1. The floodgates open full force
or
2. I just about crap my pants thinking she's seriously standing there.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the pics!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Feeling Better

Well it's the day after Christmas and I'm already feeling much better.  Don't get me wrong, I still miss my little Hailey more than words can express, but I feel the hope again.  Last night, after typing my post, I had a major emotional breakdown.  I cried harder than I think I've ever cried before.  I actually cried so hard I gave myself a bloody nose!  That's a first for me.  Luckily, I have an amazing husband who came upstairs and just sat and held me while I sobbed and talked and sobbed and talked and sobbed some more.  I was terrified that the pain I felt last night would never ease up, but it did.  As I was sitting there crying, I felt as if Hailey said to me, "It's okay mommy, I'm here," which then made me cry even harder.  But I believe she was there.  I don't know where I'd be without my faith and knowledge that she still lives...maybe not here physically, but there spiritually.  I know she's happy, which doesn't necessarily make me happy, but it does give me some peace and comfort. 


Yesterday was probably one of the weakest days I've had since Hailey's passing, but now that today is a new day, I am going to pick myself up and continue moving forward and doing good things for others in her name.  So, on that note, I wanted to share with all of you some of the "Hailey's Halos" we've been able to give out this holiday season. 

This is the email that Sean posted on the Hailey Mayz Foundation Website:  (posted December 23, 2009)
Shortly after our most recent halo announcement, we received an email from one of Wendy's high school friends. She is a nurse who has been taking care of Caylan, a single mother whose baby boy, Aiden, was born with Down's Syndrome. Caylan has been working hard to care for little Aiden and to make ends meet. It has not been easy - she wasn't planning on having Christmas this year. When we heard the story, we decided it was time for Hailey Mayz to help out. We called Caylan yesterday morning to tell her the news. You should have seen the smile on Lexi's face as she heard Caylan's joy, gratitude and excitement through the phone. What a blessing for our family. We hope and pray that this little gift from Caylan's friend and our angel Hailey will give them a Merry Christmas.

We also received an email from the sister of a girl I grew up with. Her sister's daughter, Nora, recently came down with Necrotizing Pneumonia and suffered some permanent lung damage. She has been in the hospital for quite a while, and the family has incurred some unexpected medical bills and financial hardship that typically goes hand-in-hand with caring for sick children. We sent Nora's family a Hailey's Halo as well - just in time for Christmas. Nora came home yesterday (yay) but has an uphill climb ahead of her.

Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers...

I really think we are onto something. We are leveraging the power of social networking and the charitable nature of our friends on Facebook to connect families in need with this foundation. Have we created a true social charity?

A quick update on the family we adopted from CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County) - Last night we dropped off a ton of gifts, clothes, and food to a family that had a special needs baby in the NICU at CHOC. What a humbling experience to look into the eyes of a grateful mother & father and hear the joy in the children's voices as they opened their gifts. Lexi said in the car on the way there, "You know what the best gift for all these people we've helped is? Hailey". While there is probably no clinical evidence to prove it, I believe this service is helping to heal my 6-year-old's heart. And mine and Wendy's.

Many of you have donated to the foundation, and for that we'll be forever grateful. Many of you will send us recommendations on who we can help. For this, we will also be forever grateful. You are giving our family the opportunity to serve. You are helping our family heal.

We will be going on a short hiatus while we try to get through the holidays, but will keep you posted as the Hailey Mayz Foundation continues its quest to spread love and cheer.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Love,

The V's



Here is just one of the emails we received from a family that we were able to help through Hailey (and all of you!):


Dear Sean and Wendy,
I just wanted to write you a quick note while I have the kiddos in bed and I haven't joined them quite yet...we received your generous check today and we wanted to thank you again and let you know how grateful we are to be a part of Hailey's legacy. Your faith and generosity are an inspiration and a testament to your daughter's life and all the lives she has touched. When I have the chance, I am eager to write a little bit of Nora's story for your website, but I had to share something here for you that is unbelievable and a small miracle in my life--as I was talking to Sean last night on the phone, I mentioned to him that Nora and I found two shiny pennies on the street as we were getting into the car going home from the hospital, and how I immediately thought of Wendy and Hailey (I had been reading Wendy's blog for strength during our hospital stay). That story ended our conversation on the phone, and as I hung up, there on the bedside table, partially under the phone receiver, was a dime! Tails up! I couldn't believe it, and I am still in awed disbelief. Bruce and I were so grateful to hear of your offer to help us, but we were also humbled and wondering if we really deserved it. I truly believe that your daughter, through the will of Jesus, sent a sign to ease my heart and mind about accepting your generosity. What a fitting testament to the miracle of this Christmas season! We wish your family a joyous and blessed Christmas, and we will be praying for strength and joy to be showered upon you.
With grateful love,
Jeannie and Bruce and family

--------------------------------
What can be better than this???  Thank you Hailey!  I love you baby girl.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas

Honestly, I was not even close to prepared for how difficult today would be.  I thought that since I've been so strong all along, I'd be strong today also.  Nope...not even close.  I have to admit that today was probably the most difficult day of my entire life, along with the day I lost Hailey, and the day I said goodbye at her funeral.  All I can do is cry.  

This is one of the reasons why I waited until tonight to write.  I didn't want to make anyone else's day less joyful or magical or cause anyone to feel sorry for me.  But the pain I feel right now is so intense I literally cannot describe it in words.  I have to say that I am so grateful for my family who took my children under their wing today while I basically shut down.  Again, I really wasn't expecting to take it so hard, so it completely threw me for a loop.  I didn't sleep well last night (or the night before) so I was beyond exhausted.  After watching Lexi open her presents, I came up to my room and sobbed hysterically for quite a while.  Then I slept from 9:00 in the morning until around 2:00 in the afternoon, and I still wasn't even close to being ready to get up, but I knew I had to at some point.  I walked around all day like a zombie.  Emotionally it took all the strength I had to hold it together for the little time that I did and physically I was so sick.  I could barely move.  I was nauseous.  I had a raging headache.  And believe it or not, I was so exhausted I felt dizzy.  Not to mention, those of you who know me, know that I can talk!  Well today, I barely said 10 words and it really was only to answer those who spoke to me first.  Facing the day was almost more than I could bear.  I am still in shock at how hard it was.  Although my family was very understanding and supportive (Thanks Mom!) I still felt so lonely.  

I must have really been in denial, but I seriously thought that I would be a little bummed today without Hailey, but still able to function and enjoy the day.  Wow, was I wrong.  It kind of scares me a little.  Maybe I'm not as strong as I thought I was.  Maybe I don't have the faith that I thought I did.  Maybe reality is finally starting to really set in.  It's that last statement that terrifies me the most.  If I start feeling like this everyday I don't know what I'll do.  I mean, I couldn't even take care of myself today, let alone my poor children.  The funny thing is, I am so glad for all this hoopla to be over, yet I'm actually kind of sad it is too.  I'm just so scared that the way I feel today will be how I'm going to feel tomorrow and the next day and the next day...


Hailey's Place was so beautiful today when we went to visit.  But again I was caught really off guard.  I usually love being there.  I always feel so much peace when I'm there.  But today, I didn't.  It hurt to be there.  It ripped my soul apart.  I never thought I'd be spending a Christmas day at the graveside of my precious daughter.  I seriously wanted to get down on my knees and dig up the dirt and grab my baby girl into my arms and hug her little adorable body as tight as I possibly could and NEVER let her go.  I wanted to shake her, like I did that day I found her, and yell at her to wake up.  I seriously cannot believe this is my reality.  Stuff like this doesn't happen to me.  


As I talked to my mother-in-law today she told me how the Lord will one day compensate me for all this pain and grief I'm going through.  But honestly, I just don't know how that could possibly be true.  I mean those of you who follow my blog know that I am full of faith, but honestly, I really don't know that there's anything that could ever compensate for this pain and heartache.  It's beyond anything I could have ever imagined or thought I understood. I feel selfish admitting this too, because we have been able to help so many people through this experience.  But I still want my daughter back.  If I could have her back, I'd sell EVERYTHING I own to raise enough money to "re-help" those people.  I don't care what I'd have to give up. 


Anyways, I do want to apologize for not writing an uplifting blog today on such an important day in the lives of Christians, but honestly, I'm just not feeling it right now.  I wish I could have had some really cool story or miracle to write so you all felt uplifted and joyful, but I don't.  And I'm sorry for that.  I truly am.  The only thing I can say is that I do still have my faith and although my pain is beyond words, I am not angry at God for this trial.  I am sad though.  I know they say that God won't give us more than we can handle, but I think that's easy to say when we aren't handling something that seems beyond our capacity. 


Thank you again to all of you who remembered us today.  I live off your little notes and messages.  They mean the world to me.  And I do truly hope, with all my heart, that each of you had a wonderful Christmas or other holiday that you may celebrate.  


With Love.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve #2

It's now 8:54pm on Christmas Eve.  I made it through the day, but not totally easily.  I was obviously beyond exhausted, which causes my emotions to come up a lot quicker.  In the afternoon I took a nap and then went to Hailey's Place to write her a letter.  Since I started blogging, I turned my written journal into more letters to Hailey.  I feel really close to her as I write her letters.  As I sat there and wrote to her, the tears started to flow again.  The pain that I have gotten so good at suppressing all came flooding back and literally burned like someone lit a flame in my chest.


The cemetery did look absolutely gorgeous though.  I hope when I pass away I'll be remembered as much as those people.  Hailey's Place also looked beautiful.  Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to stop by and visit her.  You have no idea how much that means to me and my family.  I took some pictures of her place all decorated that I'll put up tomorrow.  (I still have wrapping to do tonight!)


We always exchange our family gifts on Christmas Eve so in the morning the kids can spend all their time opening their presents from Santa.  Well, the first gift my sister gave to Sean and me was a life-sized cardboard cutout of Hailey.  It may sound creepy to some, but it was actually awesome!  Of course, I started to bawl my eyes out looking at it, but as soon as I got it all out we stood her in front of the Christmas tree and it felt like she was right there with us.  I'll post the picture of her tomorrow as well.  (Oh, and no, I won't go crazy and start carrying her around with me...I think the Tinkerbell will do just fine!)  


I also made photo books for Sean, Kim, Lexi, and my parents with all the pictures I had of Hailey with each of them individually.  I gave those at the end because I knew the tears would flow...and that they did.  It was quite emotional.  I am still in total shock that I am spending Christmas without my baby girl here.  I would have never dreamed this in a trillion years.  


I'm going to go spend some more time with my family tonight, but I wanted to let you all know that your prayers and thoughts are working.  I still feel blessed and grateful for the things I do have.  My husband rocks, my kids rock, family rocks, my friends rock.  I have a knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my daughter lives with Him right now as we live here.  


Please remember the true reason we celebrate Christmas.  


I'll be back on tomorrow to let you know how Christmas morning went.  With love and happy wishes to you all.


Love, Wendy

Christmas Eve

Well it's 3:30 in the morning here and I'm still up.  I feel like I've been pretty strong so far this holiday season, but I think the reality is finally starting to hit me.  I'm sitting here with tears pouring down my face and my whole body literally aching to hold my little girl.  I just want to walk into her room and check on her sleeping peacefully.  I want to watch her chest rise and fall as she breathes and her little lips move as she dreams.  I can't believe she's really not going to be here Christmas morning to come running down the stairs, yelling with excitement.  How am I seriously going to do this?


I didn't want to come on here and write about my pain because I wanted to play the strong front and not bring anyone down during Christmas, but I also said that I would be totally honest.  Well, unfortunately, the truth hurts...me, especially.  The pain right now is so strong I don't even know what to do.  It's 3:30 in the morning and I haven't slept a wink yet, not to mention, I'm still wide awake.  I have to get up in 3 hours to take care of Lexi and Ava, wrap presents, go on with the day, and somehow show excitement about the fact that Santa is coming tonight.  Where in the world am I going to get the energy and strength to do this?   



I think in many ways, I'm still in a lot of denial that Hailey is really gone.  Every holiday that goes by without her just brings home that fact even more.  It rips the scab off the wound and causes it to pour blood yet again. I do have my faith and beliefs and know that she isn't "completely" gone and will be with us spiritually, but honestly, right now, that's just not good enough for me.  Even if she is happier where she is, I don't want her there.  I want her here with me, with her Daddy, her sisters, her Auntie Kim, and grandparents.  I just don't feel like that's too much to ask. 


This really is so unfair.  Last Sunday Lexi came to me and told me it was one of the saddest days of her life.  When I asked her why, she said it was because all the little nursery children (at church) came into Primary to check it out because they would be starting in January.  She was so sad because Hailey wasn't there.  She was telling me how her friend's little brother always sits on her lap during Primary and how she thought that Hailey would have wanted to do the same thing with her.  (At our church, children from ages 18 months - 3 years old go to nursery.  At 3, they get to go to Primary.  These are like Sunday school classes.)  What do I say to that?  I was actually so excited to see her there too.  Lexi sang in church last week and I kept thinking of how Hailey would have been up there with her the next time they sang if she was here.  (Sorry this was totally off the topic, but just came to my mind.)


Anyways, I really don't have much else to say right now.  I'm just really praying and relying on my faith to get me through.  I always try to remember the last line of the poem Footprints in the Sand, "It was then that I carried you."


I will try to post again tonight to let you all know how things are going.  Thank you again for all the love and support.  I truly would not be here without it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cool Dime Story

Last night I went to Disneyland for my friend Kelli's birthday.  While there, I was determined to find a small Tinkerbell doll to represent Hailey in our family pictures (and outings).  As I was getting ready to pay for the one I found, I looked to my left and saw the cutest little Tinkerbell music box up on a shelf.  I picked it up and opened it.  There was this little Tinkerbell twirling around and the song, You Can Fly, from Peter Pan was playing.  It was so cute.  She looked just like Hailey and that song was played at the cemetary when we did the balloon release for her.  Of course, me being a "spender," decided to buy it.  But as I was waiting in line I started pondering it and thinking that I didn't really need it, etc., etc.  I really don't know why I was putting so much thought into it because normally I would have bought it and not thought twice, but for some reason I just couldn't decide.  Anyways, I finally decided that I'd already spent enough money for the night and was going to put it back.  My friend Alicia was in line with me at the time and couldn't believe what happened next!  Literally the second I stepped out of line we both heard this little tinkling sound.  As we looked down, right there underneath the stroller in front of me was a dime, up on its side, spinning around like a top!!!  Then it stopped and fell flat, tails side up!  We both just stopped, stunned for a second and then I scrambled to grab it before someone else would!  The funny thing is, no one even looked down.  That's when Alicia told me I should use the little music box for my dimes!!!  So yes, of course, I bought it!  I was so excited!

I've been to Disneyland about 8 times since Hailey has passed away and I've found a dime every single time!!!  But tonight, was going to be even better.  Later in the evening, the Christmas fireworks show started.  For those of you who haven't seen it, let me tell you, it's freaking amazing!!!  All the fireworks go to music and they are absolutely gorgeous.  The best fireworks show I've ever seen.  Only this time, I saw it differently.  I started to get very emotional because all I could think of was last 4th of July and how excited Hailey was about the fireworks.  We went to this little lake by my house and watched them light them off over the water.  She absolutely loved it!  Now I realized that I'd never get to see that little face light up with awe at the Disneyland fireworks.  It really cut deep.  It's the little things like that that we so take for granted.  Then at the end of the show they started to play the song, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." (Not sure if that's the actual title though.)  Well that just about did me in and started the waterworks flowing.  They were sprinkling a little, but not pouring luckily.  As we were walking away, in the dark, I just happened to look down in the middle of everyone, and there on the ground right in front of my foot was a dime!  AGAIN!  I couldn't believe it!  I seriously love her so much! 

Those were the first dimes I've found in over 2 weeks.  That's why I know they are from Hailey.  I swear I have never found a dime randomly.  It's only when I've specifically asked her for one and I'm having a rough time and need her there!!!  I am a huge believer in signs.  I mean, why not be?  Does it hurt anything?  

Anyways, I just wanted to share that and remind all of you that have loved ones who have passed on that they are aware of you and know your happiness and sadness.  So ask them for a sign that they are there with you, give them a chance to deliver, and most importantly...BELIEVE. 

P.S. By the way, the other day I was going through my pictures and randomly came across the picture of the dragonfly I found at Hailey's Place.  I posted it back on the page with the story called Waterbugs and Dragonflies (11-04-09) if you want to see it!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Decorating

A couple weeks ago we decided to put our Christmas decorations up.  Obviously it was with mixed emotions.  Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and season so I love having Christmas lights and decorations up.  But of course, this year they are also a harsh reminder that Hailey isn't physically here to enjoy them with me.  Lexi likes the lights and decorations but they don't amaze her anymore like they used to and Ava is still kind of young to get really excited and appreciate them, but Hailey was the perfect age!!!  She used to oooh and ahhh over all the lights and decorations!  Her face literally lit up as she would yell out, "Mommy look, beau-ful lights!" So it is a sore spot for me, but I'm hanging in there.  Christmas morning will be tough though without her there. It's literally going to take every single ounce of strength I can possibly muster to act excited and not break down and sob in front of Lexi.  But I know that I will be blessed with the strength to do so.  I just try to remember my favorite line in the poem Footprints..."It was then that I carried you."  I know that He will carry me that day.




Putting the ornaments on the tree definitely pulled my heartstrings quite a bit too.  Every ornament on our tree has some kind of meaning behind it.  We do an ornament exchange with my family every year so those are the only ornaments that are on our tree, aside from some that Sean made back in 1982 and a few that were given to us as gifts.  Anyways, every time I'd pull one out with Hailey's name on it, I could feel my stomach turn and my chest tighten.  But in some ways it gives me comfort to see her ornaments on our tree and remember that she will always be a part of this family.  We still include her in our ornament exchange too.  As most of you know from reading my previous entries, I do believe 100% that we will all be back together one day as a family, when Christ comes again and we will then get the chance to raise her during the Millennium.  So, because of that belief, we will continue to include her so she'll have just as many ornaments as the rest of us.




Honestly though, I can truly say that I'm doing okay.  I'm hanging in there, taking one day at a time.  Some days are a lot tougher than others, but each one eventually passes and a new one begins.  Two things that I have been very blessed with are my faith and hope.  I have so much faith in my beliefs and so much hope for the future and the promises that God has made for us.  That really does keep me going.  Without it, I would probably be curled up in a ball in a mental institution somewhere, because I would not be able to deal with the loss of my precious child.  As I have said before, some may find my beliefs to seem very weird or "far-fetched," and I'm totally okay with that.  I believe that everyone has a right to their own personal beliefs or opinions.  I am definitely not trying to push my views or beliefs on anyone else, but selfishly, this blog is about me.  And my beliefs are the thing that keep me going.  I figure if I'm wrong in any way, at least I won't really know until I'm dead.  It got me through this life and made me a better person and that's all I need right now.  So I thank those of you who don't share my same beliefs for keeping an open mind and still being willing to read my blog for the other emotions and feelings that I share.




On a different note, we are excited about this Christmas because of Hailey's memory.  We have decided to take our pain and channel it into helping others.  It is through service that we often forget our problems and end up feeling so much more fulfilled.  I've really learned that a lot already!  Giving our first donation from the Hailey Mayz Foundation was seriously the BEST thing ever!!  I was on a high for days to know that we were able to bring joy and lift a burden from a family, all in Hailey's name!  We've also adopted a family from CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County) for Christmas.  They have 3 children, ages 3, 2, and 2 weeks.  Financially they are really struggling and the mother expressed great concern at providing food for her children, so were are planning to give them the best Christmas ever!  It has been so much fun shopping for toys for the kids and clothes and gift cards for food for the parents.  I can't wait until we can deliver everything to their family!!!  Also, Sean's work was collecting toys for a local orphanage and Kids Who Care Foundation.  He gave his company a challenge: for every 50 toys the company collected The Hailey Mayz Foundation would donate $500 to the same cause.  At the time of the challenge there were only a few toys collected, but one week later they had collected 117 toys and over $800 worth of gift cards!!!!  We couldn't believe the amount of support that they all showed!  We're hoping that the toys, gift cards, and the Hailey Mayz donation will give these a kids a brighter holiday and bring the smiles to their faces that I know our little Hailey would have had on hers this Christmas morning!




These are the things that I am trying to focus on this first Christmas season without Hailey.  I am hoping we'll be able to continue this tradition every year in her name.  She loved to help out...with laundry, putting the dishes away, shopping, picking up her messes, etc., so I know that she would be / is so excited that we are using her name and memory for such great causes!!  We feel that we are doing what Christ would want us to do this season...service.  So in that spirit, I challenge all of you to also do some act of service this holiday season, whether it be monetary, physically, emotionally, etc.  And it doesn't have to be in the name of Christ (or Hailey), but just in the name of Humanity...Serving Your Fellow Man, Being a Better Person, or whatever else you want to name it!!!  I promise it will be more than worth it!!  If we can do it, I know you can too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MY FIRST CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN

I see so many Christmas trees
around the world below.

 With tiny lights like Heaven's stars
reflecting on the snow.

 The sight is so spectacular!
Please wipe away that tear.

For I am spending Christmas,
with Jesus Christ this year!

I hear the many Christmas songs, 
that people hold so dear.

But the sounds of music can't compare,
with the Christmas choir here.

I have no words to tell you
the joy their voices bring.

 For it's beyond description
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me.
I see pain in your heart.

And even though I'm far away,
we really aren't apart.

So be happy for me special one.
You know I hold you dear.

Be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year!

I'm sending you a special gift
from my heavenly home above.

I send you each a memory
of my undying love.

Please don't forget "love" is the gift
more precious than all gold.

It was always most important
in the stories God has told.

Please love and treat each other
As God has said to do.

For I cannot count the blessings
or the love He's sent for you.

So have a Merry Christmas
and wipe away that tear.

Remember that I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year!

I had to share this beautiful poem that a friend of mine left on my doorstep.  Last year she lost her 4 year old son in a tragic sledding accident while on vacation, so please remember her and her family in your prayers too.

P.S. The author is unknown, but deserves many thanks for such beautiful, comforting words.  I did change a few of the words around so it would flow a little better for me.  (Just want to make sure I cover all copyright bases!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Holidays

Well for those of you who check my blog regularly, you know it's been quite a while since my last update. (Don't worry, I'll make up for it with the length of this one!!!)   I've been so busy these last few weeks.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  Some days I love it because it keeps my mind off of the emptiness I feel this season without Hailey, but other days, I'm so overwhelmed that I actually get angry at how busy I am.  I literally have something going on almost every single day and night!  It's craziness.  I do have one experience in particular I wanted to share with you:


Last week my church had a Christmas dinner and program for the women (We call each other sisters.).  I had planned on going up until about an hour before.  It was then that my anxiety started to get the best of me.  To be totally honest, I have been starting to experience the anger that is usually expected with such a loss.  Not anger at my Heavenly Father or Hailey or really anyone in particular, but anger at the situation, the pain, the emptiness, the sadness, and the pure unfairness of it all.  The anger that I feel about having to spend the rest of my holidays (and physical life, for that matter) without Hailey physically here.  Yes, I believe she is very often here in spirit.  I truly believe that the Lord allows our loved ones to be here with us for important events in our lives.  One of my biggest fears the second I had a children was something happening to me and the fact that I would miss out on all my children's most important events in life.  The more I thought about it and prayed about it after Hailey passed, and after reading the book The Message, it became apparent and totally made sense to me that I wouldn't miss those events, just as Hailey won't.  I can't imagine being in Heaven and feeling totally happy if I couldn't see or be with my family members still here on Earth and I also can't believe that a Father in Heaven who loves us so much wouldn't allow us to be there.  So that being said, I KNOW that Hailey is and will be here in the future for those important family events.  And I know that when I see her again one day, she'll be able to talk about those things with us as if she were physically here.  I have often felt her presence surround me.  This may sound very weird or far-fetched to some of you, and honestly, that's totally fine with me.  Everyone has a right to believe what they may and I'm and not offended in any way by those who don't share my beliefs.  I'm just sharing what I believe based on my own personal experiences and what my faith has taught me.


ANYWAYS...back to the Christmas dinner.  I was starting to feel anxious about going and angry that I had to go carrying this burden on my shoulders.  Last year my mother-in-law was out visiting and we went together, with newborn little Ava.  I remember how happy I felt that my family was complete for the Christmas holiday and afterward coming home to check on Hailey before I went to bed.  I couldn't believe how different this year was.  I was also worried about how everyone there would treat me.  Would they act as if nothing ever happened or they forgot?  Would they feel obligated to come up and hug me and tell me how sorry they were for me?  Would I make them uncomfortable being there because they wouldn't know how to act around me or what to say?  Would I bring about a sadness to an event that was supposed to be joyous?  Honestly, I didn't even know what I personally wanted the answer to these questions to be. 


So as I continued to wrestle with the thought of staying home (and feeling sorry for myself) I finally decided that was it, I was going.  I knelt down and said a prayer and told my Heavenly Father that I was only going for two reasons: 1. Because Christmas is really about the birth of Christ, not me.  I would honor Him and celebrate His birthday.  2. Because Hailey would be really bummed to know that I sat home and moped around because of her.  So I asked Him for strength to get through the night and also for a spiritual experience so I would know that was where I was supposed to be.


As I drove there with my neighbor, I could feel the anxiety building up in my chest.  I'm not a very emotional person in public.  It's very rare that one will see me crying anywhere but in the privacy of my own home or family.  But I could feel the emotions and tears welling up.  My neighbor then told me about a text that one of the women (sisters) sent her asking if I would be there and also telling her to let me know that everyone really wanted me to come.  I can't even explain how special and loved that made me feel.  And it didn't stop there.  As soon as I walked through the door, the sisters I attend church with showed me more love and compassion than I could have ever asked for.  None of them made me feel awkward or that they were "obligated" to hug me and say hi.  They were so genuine.  And so many came to me and told me how they still read my blog and really admire my strength and faith.  (That was from them, not me.  I feel so weak all the time.)  I've been told from the start that as time goes on people also go on and tend to forget.  Well, I have to say that not one of these sisters have forgotten.  The fact that they take the time to still read my blog and keep up with me and how I'm doing showed was such an example of Christ and of "mourning with those that mourn."  For those of you who weren't dealt this hand in life, (whomever you are), I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for still choosing to be my partner and "play" alongside me, even when I'm losing.


Along with all the warmth and compassion I received, the message of the night was amazing and so applicable to me.  It was about the song, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, and how that it came about.  If you get a chance I strongly recommend looking up the story online one day.  The semi-quick version is that the song was written by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  At the time, America was in the midst of Civil war and hundreds of young men were being sent to their graves way too early.  In 1861, His wife was fatally burned in an accident and he was severely injured.  It turned out that he was too ill from his burns and grief to attend her funeral.  The first Christmas after his wife's death, Longfellow wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." A year after the incident, he wrote, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace." Longfellow's journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: "A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me." Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow's journal.  His son did not end up dying that Christmas, but survived. Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, "Christmas Bells."  (Which then became the song, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.)


At the end of the video message we all received a bell with 2 verses of the song attached.  The one that stood out to me the most, the last verse of the song, says,


"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"


I loved it...God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!  That means my Hailey is not dead, nor doth she sleep, either!  There was a point that I told a friend of mine that if it weren't for Lexi, I would probably just skip Christmas this year.  I felt as Longfellow did when he said in his journal, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays."  And then it HIT me...how selfish am I.  Christmas isn't about me or Lexi or presents, but it's about the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  How could I be so willing to just skip over and ignore His birthday?  Of all the Christmases I've ever celebrated in my lifetime, this is the ONE that I should celebrate the MOST!  As I read in one of my church magazines, "He was born that man no more may die."  Because of that, this Christmas should me more to me than ever! 


Of course, I'm human and not perfect.  (Sorry to let you all down! ha ha!) And there are many days that I still feel devastated that Hailey is not here physically to celebrate all the fun Christmas traditions with us.  I still ache to see her little face light up as she looks at all the Christmas lights and says, "Mommy, it's beau'ful!" And it kills me that I won't get to see the excitement in her face as she goes to bed on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to come.  I still don't know how I'm going to hold it together Christmas morning when I don't get to hear her squeal as she opens her own pack of mini-bags of Lays potato chips.  (Yes, seriously, that was her favorite gift last year!!!)  However, no one will ever convince me that she won't be sitting right there in that room with us on Christmas morning celebrating those traditions with us.  But I also believe that she now understands the TRUE meaning of Christmas and will be celebrating in Heaven beyond our imaginations. 


So in her honor and more importantly, in the honor of my Savior, Jesus Christ and His birthday, I will celebrate Christmas this year by giving Him the greatest birthday gift He would ever want...service.  We have adopted a family in Hailey's honor and plan to give them the BEST Christmas ever!  I am really excited about it! So keep checking in to see how it goes!


This Christmas season, please remember:
JESUS CHRIST...BORN THAT MAN NO MORE MAY DIE.

A few pictures from last Christmas:
 
The girls with Santa.



My beautiful girls.



Our family.



Hailey checking out the tree.



Hailey's favorite gift!


Trying out her new potty!

 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Solvang

Every year my family and I have a tradition of going to Solvang the Friday after Thanksgiving until Sunday.  Solvang is a little Dutch town up by Santa Barbara.  There's really not much to do there but browse through all the little shops and visit our favorite place, the Ostrich Farm!!!  We've been going for about 8 years now and only missed once, which was last year when Ava was born.  


This year definitely brought up emotions I wasn't quite ready for.  Thanksgiving was good.  My family is great and we ALWAYS have a blast together.  After dinner we walked around the canals by my parents' house to look at some of the houses that were already decorated.  Well, that was when my first tears were shed.  We came upon this house that had the ENTIRE front yard decorated.  No joke, you literally couldn't even see the house behind it.  I remembered walking by there last year with Hailey and there was a man standing outside who turned on a machine that blew snow.  She was in so much awe over it and went crazy!  It literally hit me like brick upside the head how hard this Christmas is really going to be without her.  She was at the perfect age for Christmas...still so innocent with no expectations and willing to take everything in to the fullest!  I could remember so clearly her face glowing, the lights sparkling in her big blue eyes and her huge, excited smile.  Honestly, it hurt.



The next day we left for Solvang.  The first night up there went great!  It was the next day that really hit me hard.  Sean took Lexi shopping for some one on one time, while Kim and I hung out for a bit.  The place is really decked out for Christmas...decorations, lights, music, even a chill in the air.  I could feel the sense of loss slowly creeping up on me.  I walked by this little girl throwing a tantrum outside a store.  Of course, her mom was getting really frustrated with her (as any mom would!) and an urge came over me, I just wanted to hug her.  I'd been through that same tantrum so many times before with Hailey and so frustrated just like that poor mom was.  And yes, I will admit that I would still be frustrated if it happened again!!  But that was the first time that I actually wanted to hear her scream and yell again.  I wanted to get frustrated with her.  I wanted to feel bad afterwards and give her a hug and wipe away her tears.  That's when the sense of loss suddenly hit me with full force.  I suddenly realized I was walking around, in and out of crowded shops, amongst hundreds of other people, and feeling more lonely than I ever thought possible.  It was literally like I was in a twilight zone and all those people weren't even real.


There were people everywhere, chatting, smiling, laughing, arguing with their children, and yet not one of them had any idea of the intense pain and loss I was carrying around in my heart.  I can't even count how many people I forced a smile back at, or said thank you to, or excuse me to, or whatever, but inside really wanting to scream at all them.  I wanted to tell them to stop all the music, stop telling me to have a Merry Christmas, stop smiling at me, stop looking at me... My baby girl was gone.  Yes, gone.  I wanted to yell and tell them the whole story - How much I loved her, how hard I'd worked to keep her alive and healthy, how cute and amazing she was, how I found her that day in her crib...and so on. I seriously couldn't bear another second of it.  The pain was so intense I wanted to crumple onto the ground and just wail.  My stomach was nauseous, my chest burned, my head pounded.  I ended up walking back to the hotel, literally using every ounce of strength I could possibly muster, not to break down before I got there.  Once there, I sat outside by fountain and let my tears flow as fast and hard as the waterfall I faced.  


As I later thought about it, I wondered if I was the only one walking those streets that day who felt this way.  Was I the only one who felt so lonely or carried such a burden?  Was I the only one who felt hopeful and optimistic one second and then the next wanted to curl up and die with my baby girl?  Was I the only one who could have literally broken down emotionally at any moment if someone had just looked at me wrong?  I'm assuming the answer to that is probably a resounding, "No."  Which then lead me to my next thought - Have I ever treated someone in a way that could have caused that emotional breakdown they were trying so hard to control?  Have I ever judged someone who may have seemed rude to me when I had no idea where they were coming from or what burden they were carrying on their shoulders?  Have I ever overlooked the pain in someone's eyes because I was too busy with my own life?  Yikes, I'd rather not answer that list of questions. 


I then prayed and told my Heavenly Father how sorry I was for all the times I may have judged someone's actions or not been as nice as I could have been.  I promised Him, Hailey, and myself that I would do my best from that point forward to be compassionate and understanding to everyone because I really DON'T know what burden that person is having to bear.  I begged that He would help to ease my pain so I could enjoy the rest of my time there with my family and as I looked up, Kim came walking around the corner.  I realized how grateful I am for her and the rest of my family.  She walked over and gave me a HUGE hug and I knew the Lord had answered my prayers. I seriously have been so blessed with the most amazing support system anyone could ever ask for. 



As we walked to dinner that night, I knew my mom could sense my pain at that very moment.  She put her arm around me and told me she loved me and was here for me.  I asked her how in the world I was going to be able to get up Christmas morning and act excited while watching Lexi open all her presents.  How was I going to pretend to enjoy one of the most special days of the year without one of the most special people in my world?  My mom, who is the strongest person I know, said, "You just will.  I know you can do it.  You'll find a way and do it for Lexi and then later you can go break down.  We'll be right there with you by your side."  She's so right.  I'm already starting to pray for that day.  I'm so grateful for my mom.  She's the best!



I think part of the reason this weekend was so tough on me is because it was a little too much Christmas all at once.  I was slowly easing myself into it by going to Target and hearing the Christmas music and seeing the decorations, but in Solvang it was already full blown Christmas.  It was overload!  Not to mention, I have tons of pictures and memories of Hailey up there with us.  


Now that I'm home and calmed down, I realize once again that I'm going to be okay.  My faith is still strong.  I still have my family and friends.  I still have a lot to be grateful for and I WILL focus on that.  Hailey would want nothing less.  This Christmas season will take on a whole new meaning for me.  Not that I didn't always remember that it was truly about the birth of Jesus Christ, but when you have kids, the present stuff does tend to take over.  This year we'll be spending a lot more time remembering our Savior and what His birth means for us and Hailey.  She is there with Him!  She gets to go to His birthday party!!!  And one day, I will personally  join in that celebration by my baby girl's side.  (I just hope they serve Lay's potato chips!)

Hailey's First Trip to Solvang
November 2006


Our Family!


It took a lot out of her!


Hailey's Second Trip to Solvang
November 2007


With Mommy!


Giggling with Grammies at the Ostrich Farm

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Little Tinkerbell!!!

For those of you who have been reading my blog since the start, you'll probably remember that we chose to carry a little monkey with us to represent Hailey.  Well, I've officially changed the symbol!!!!  We will now be representating our little Hailey with Tinkerbell.  Let me explain why.


First off, I'm not much of a Disney fan myself.  It's not that I don't like Disney, but honestly I don't really care much for it.  None of the characters have really made an impression on me, except for Tinkerbell.  I think fairies are so pure and adorable and I've always loved Tinkerbell...even more now!  Before Hailey passed away we watched the movie Tinkerbell and I was telling the girls that I would describe Heaven to look just like Pixie Hollow.  It was so gorgeous and magical!  


After Hailey passed away I saw a little figurine of Tinkerbell standing with her arms folded and a little scowl on her face.  It instantly reminded me of Hailey!!!  She did absolutely love life, but I need to be real here and say that she did scowl at me often!!!  Anyways, it struck me how much my little Hailey was just like Tinkerbell.  She had the blonde hair, big blue eyes, skinny little body, and total pixie attitude!!!  Now she also lives in Heaven, which is what I consider to be Pixie Hollow.  And I can totally see her flying her little wings from her little Pixie Hollow down here to the "Mainland" to spread her silver pixie dust (or dimes in my case)!!!


So that's the scoop.  Plus I do have to admit that I think Tinkerbell is much cuter than a monkey!!!  So now when you see a family picture with Tinkerbell in it, you'll know that's our little Hailey!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Well today is Thanksgiving, one more holiday in the line of many that I'm spending without my sweet girl.  I still can't even believe it. Last Thanksgiving was one of the best days ever!  Sean's parents and grandparents were down visiting!  We had an amazing Thanksgiving!  Hailey was here! And...we brought Ava home from the hospital after she spent a week in the NICU for an infection in her blood!


Weird how life changes so fast.  Had someone told me last Thanksgiving day, what this one would hold, I would have thought they were absolutely crazy.  I guess that's one of those tender mercies of our Heavenly Father...He doesn't always allow us to see the future.  That's one of the many things I'm grateful for today.


It may sound weird, but I was sitting here this morning realizing how much I still have to be thankful for on this beautiful Thanksgiving day.  So here it is...my list:




  • I'm thankful that I am Hailey's mom.
  • I'm thankful that she was such a happy, little girl.
  • I'm thankful that I got to spend 3 years with her.
  • I'm thankful for my knowledge of Jesus Christ and the fact that because of Him I will one day be with Hailey again.
  • I'm thankful that Hailey died peacefully.
  • I'm thankful that Lexi wasn't here when I found her.
  • I'm thankful that I spent an absolutely beautiful morning with her before she passed away.
  • I'm thankful for my Heavenly Father and all the blessings He's given me throughout this trial.
  • I'm thankful for my strength, morals, and values.
  • I'm thankful for my family and how amazing they are.
  • I'm thankful for such a wonderful and supportive husband who loves and takes care of his family.
  • I'm thankful for Lexi and Ava who give me a reason to get up every morning and face the day.
  • I'm thankful for Hailey's therapists and doctors who gave her the best quality of life she could have had.
  • I'm thankful that I have a home in a great neighborhood with great neighbors.
  • I'm thankful for my mom and dad who raised me to be the person that I am.
  • I'm thankful for my sister, who is also my best friend, and all the support and encouragement she gives me.
  • I'm thankful for friends who have stood by me and still give me the support and patience that I need during this time.  
  • I'm thankful for The Hailey Mayz Foundation and all you who donated to help others.
  • I'm thankful we were able to give our first donation to a needy family and help ease their burden.
  • I'm thankful for warm naps and Diet Coke. :)
  • I'm thankful for my church and the Gospel and the knowledge and hope that it gives me every single day.
  • I'm thankful for each and every one of you who take the time to read my blog, pray for me and my family, and send me your thoughts, stories, support, and encouragement.
So as you can see, although I'm spending this holiday without my baby girl, I still have so much to be thankful for...I could have listed much more, but I didn't want to cut into anyone's turkey time!!!  Anyways, I know all of you can find at least one thing you're thankful for this Thanksgiving day and holiday season.  Please, focus on that and keep a prayer of thanksgiving in your heart and I promise your day will be uplifted!


The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  ~H.U. Westermayer  (I have no idea who that guy is, but I thought it was a good point!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our First Donation!!!!

I am so excited to announce that we have officially made our first donation from the Hailey Mayz Foundation!!!  First, before I tell you about it, I want to thank each and every one of you who generously donated your hard earned money to show your love and support of Hailey and our family.  We can assure you that every single penny will go to those who have children that desperately need it.


Now for the story...


A couple days ago Sean's mother emailed us asking if we had any extra blankets we could send to her for a family she knows that just had twins.  Apparently, the twins (boys) were born prematurely at 1 pound each.  They both survived and just came home from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  Unfortunately, they still have some medical needs and their parents are going through much financial hardship.  They needed help so much that they were willing to ask for donations of used blankets and clothing just to help keep the babies warm.  (They live in Pennsylvania.)



As soon as I read the email I could personally feel the burden and stress of these two parents.  Hailey was in the NICU for 9 1/2 weeks after being born and she was soooo tiny.  (She was the biggest one in there too, at 4lb. 3oz.!)  After all we've been through with Hailey, I've come to realize that often times it's much harder on the parents than the actual child.  Here these new parents are having to worry about their tiny, precious boys and all the medical needs they came home with; and as if that isn't enough, they are also carrying the burden of financially being able to provide for the "basics," to keep them safe and warm.


Well, Hailey spoke to me (not literally), but I just felt it.  So we decided to call them last night and donate $1000.00 to help them out with the medical expenses and necessities for their babies.  When we called to tell them the news, they weren't home at the time, but we spoke to the babies' grandmother.  She just started to sob and couldn't thank us enough.  She was telling us about how they need separate cribs for the babies due to the individual needs of each child, but couldn't afford an extra one.  


I seriously cannot even put into words how AWESOME it felt to be able to help lift the burden of such special people.  I told Sean that I wish we had millions to just hand out to the world because it felt so good!!!


The parents are going to send us a little history on the boys and some pictures when they get a few minutes of free time, which we will be posting on The Hailey Mayz Foundation website.  (The link is on the right hand side of this blog.)  I know that Hailey was smiling her little heart out when we gave out that gift in her name.  She would have been thrilled to help those two precious angels!  (She LOVED to help out!)


So again, I want to thank all of you who helped to make this donation possible and bring peace to a needy family!!!  We have also set up a link on the right hand side of our blog that anyone can donate to if ever feeling inclined.


With Much Thanksgiving,


Wendy and Sean


P.S. No matter what life is dealing you right now, please try to think of at least one thing you're thankful for this year...and try to help someone else in need.  It doesn't have to be monetary...it could just be a phone call, note, or hug.  The difference it will make not only to the receiver, but also to you, the giver, makes it so worth it! It's seriously the BEST feeling in the world!!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tender Mercies

In my church we often talk about tender mercies of the Lord.  For those of you who aren't sure exactly what a "tender mercy" is, I'll explain real quick.  First let me give you a hint by saying that I know have $3.90 worth of tender mercies!!!  And that's only the dimes, if I add on all the other experiences I've had I could write for months!


Anyways, a tender mercy is a very personal and individualized blessing, strength, protection, assurance, guidance, loving-kindness, consolation, support, or spiritual gift that we receive from our Heavenly Father. I have to admit that at times I was skeptical of what some people called their tender mercies,  but now I kick myself for ever feeling that way.  I mean, who was I to ever doubt someone else's personal experience or faith?


Well now, since Hailey passed away, I don't just believe, but I KNOW that tender mercies are real and do exist.  We do have a Father who lives in Heaven, who is fully aware of us and our struggles, and who loves and blesses us more that we could even imagine.  I think the key is having the faith to believe that those special experiences or "signs" are NOT just coincidences, but blessings.  No one will ever, ever convince me that Hailey does not send me those dimes that I've found.  The reason I say this is because I literally ONLY have found them when I've needed them.


For example, yesterday was one of my hardest days yet.   I had a major emotional breakdown last night.  I mean, I was beyond hysterical. It was one of the first times I've cried in a couple weeks, so the floodgates were ready.  Reality is hitting big time and I'm struggling even more. I am so overwhelmed with EVERYTHING.  I mean dumb little things like deciding what shirt to wear exhausts me to the point that I almost need to lay down.  I'll explain more about that stuff another time because I want to stay focused on the topic of tender mercies.  So, when I went down and got my mail, I received a card from a family friend who has known me since I was born and has been the best of friends with my parents since way before that.  When I opened it, there were 9 dimes taped inside in the shape of a smiley face.  She had found them all one day in the lint trap of her dryer.  (Someone needs to clean out their pockets before doing the wash!! hee hee)  In the card she wrote, "I am hoping you get these on a day you're needing your "beau-ful" Hailey by your side."  Not to mention, they were all tails up...which is an inside thing, but significant to me.  Anyways, she lives in Boston and obviously had no idea when she mailed that card 4 days ago that the exact day I would receive it was one of the worst days I've had yet.  I'm sorry, but no one will convince me that that wasn't a tender mercy or blessing from the Lord.  That brought a huge smile through the tears.  I couldn't believe it!


Later that night, I went to run errands because I just had to get out of the house.  I sobbed so hard in the car that I almost had to pull over.  But as I was walking around I found 3 dimes in three different places!!!  I felt like my little girl knew how much I missed her and how much pain I was in so she decided to shower me with love.  A coincidence or a tender mercy???  You decide.


I have about a million amazing dime stories like that, so I wanted to share a different tender mercy experience I had, that I feel is very significant.  I have a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall that goes up the side of my stairs.  Every time I'd carry Hailey up the stairs I'd stop at the picture and say, "Jesus."  She always looked at it, but didn't really show too much interest.  After she passed away, I received the most beautiful letter from her nursery leader at church.  In her letter she told me that the Sunday before she passed away, Hailey went up to her and said, "Teacher, teacher..." and her teacher said, "Yes Hailey," to which Hailey replied, "Me know Jesus."  She had never said anything like that to me before!  A smile like you have never seen before sprung across my face!  I really was making a difference and teaching her by showing her that picture.  That brought such peace to my soul, especially since she passed away 2 days later.  I would have hated for Him to come to her and she had said, "Ummm, who the heck are you?"  Anyways, that letter is what I call another tender mercy from the Lord.  It was as if He was telling me that He was proud of me for teaching my little girl and that she would be okay because she knew Jesus!!!


So the next time you experience a neat little "coincidence" that is just what you needed at just the right time, instead of passing it off as a coincidence, try looking upward to heaven and saying a little prayer of thanks for the tender mercy that your Father in Heaven has given you.


I am struggling.  Life is getting tougher.  Reality is getting more real.  But my faith is still as strong as ever.  I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He knows exactly how I feel and what I'm going through.  I know that He is walking beside me step by step.  And I know that just as Hailey knows Him, He knows her and was waiting for her with open arms.  What I wouldn't give to be able to run into His arms, as she probably did, and give Him the hugest hug ever, as all my cares, pains, and worries melt away.  Hailey is one lucky, little angel.


Ending the topic of tender mercies, I always try to keep my new favorite quote in mind as I'm going through my darkest moments, "...it was then that I carried you."