Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Art of Loving Well

Last week was a tough week. I'd looked forward to it as a bittersweet week for some time, because my 5th grader was graduating to middle school, my 8th grader to high school, and my niece graduating high school. LOTS of milestones going on.

Well, we started the week with the stomach flu blasting through our house. Poor Lacy had to miss her 5th grade promotion and picnic, which is a BIG deal at their school. We made it to Karalynn's 8th grade promotion but within an hour of coming home, she got sick as well.

We also started our week off on Monday with a new PUPPY as I mentioned last week. We were so excited to welcome sweet Whitney into our home.

But Whitney came to us with a bit of a goopy eye. We took her to the vet on Tuesday and they said it was an eye infection. Treatment, while a little costly, was just an antibiotic and some eye ointment. I can do that!

Unfortunately, while she rebounded a little on Wednesday, her eyes got worse through the week and then Thursday, she barely ate and wouldn't get up and play at all. She was a very sick puppy. We took her back to the vet on Friday where they gave us some horrible news.

Sweet Whitney had a virus, and while we could put her in the doggy hospital (and the ICU section of it...) and give her fluids and anti-viral medicine, the cost was much more than we had, and they didn't really advise it, as they felt her chances of survival even with that were very slim.

We made the very hard choice to put her to sleep :-(

I brought Whitney home one last time so we could say our goodbyes. My girls and  I sat on our entryway floor and cried and loved on Whitney one last time. It was just beyond sad.

I'll be honest. I had two very strong feelings running through me.

One... guilt. I had chosen to take Whitney into our home even though I knew something was wrong with her. While I thought it was a simple eye infection at the time, my choice led to my children's hearts being broken. As a mommy, knowing a choice you made hurt your children so deeply is difficult to bear.

Two... anger. At God. We'd prayed for a long time about the timing of bringing another puppy into our home. This was the first time it felt "right" and good. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but Scott and I both view this as a "need" for our kids. My eldest dreams of owning a no-kill animal shelter when she is grown. My kids were SO very hurt when we had to say goodbye to our last dog after Annabelle came home. We were finally to an emotional point where we could "handle" a dog again in our family. So how in the world could God let us FINALLY bring home a puppy only to cause her to get so sick and take her from us??? How could God knowing inflict so much pain on my children when they've already gone through SO much these last years?

That day, I questioned a lot of things. I'd prayed for Whitney, asked others to pray, and it seemed like lately with all the bad stuff happening, all my prayers were being laughed at and spit back at me, having the exact opposite results. I even laughingly wondered if maybe I needed to STOP praying all together, or pray for the OPPOSITE to happen.

Yeah, not good ideas.

I let myself sit in that place of frustrating and anger for a small while. Honestly, I think I needed to be honest with God about my feelings. Sometimes I try to "fake" God out in my prayers by saying what I think HE wants me to say instead of the things I am feeling. So it was a moment of honesty between me and God.

But after I got through that moment, God showed me a few thins.

The biggest thing was extreme thankfulness for my children. They had spent the last 4 days doing a phenomenal job of loving our little puppy well. Even when they were sick, they still loved on her. Even when they were busy, they tried to make her better. They played with her, took care of her food/water, Karalynn took her "nights" and took her potty when she whined.

While our time with sweet Whitney was short, she was LOVED WELL by 4 amazing children for her last 4 days alive, a time when she was sick and not feeling well, a time when she really, really needed to be loved well.

I don't know why God didn't choose to heal her. But I know very certain why God chose our family to love on a sweet puppy who needed special loving for those four days. He knew that there would be no other family who would love Whitney as well as she needed to be loved those last four days.

I think it's a good reminder, too, that none of us are promised a tomorrow. Each day, whether human or canine, is a gift and we can choose how we live it.

Will we live it in anger or bitterness?
Or will we choose to live in by loving others well and showing God's love, no matter the cost?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Invisible Krista

Have you missed me??

I've MISSED blogging but oh-my-goodness y'all.

This month has been full of CRAZY.

Annabelle had a gtube infection, a mouth infection, and a minor case of cdiff.

Our whole family has had the stomach flu this last week.

I had my wisdom teeth.

We had one kiddo graduating from elementary school and another from middle school and another from preschool.

Add in a billion and one doctors/dentist appointments, the CHD walk, Mother's day, a sister's birthday, a killer migraine or two, and A NEW PUPPY----

Mommy is running on fumes at this point!!! Writing--much less blogging-- was pretty much laughable.

But here I am, popping in, because a sweet reader sent me a notice, worried about my absense and wanted to make sure all was okay! I SO appreciated that.

So this is just to say we are alive, we are (mostly) well, and we are now a family of six!

I was going to post highlight pictures from our month (PUPPY, HEART WALK, GRADUATION), but HA. Momma don't got not time for that! (no time for good grammar there either....)

Seriously, I'll get them on, but I've also had issues keeping things "charged" so I have a few on my phone, a few on my daughter's, and a few on my husbands, so yeah. Maybe this tuesday?

We shall see.

Until then, thanks for letting me take a break, and for sticking with this lil' ol blog. I LOVE sharing life with you all, even when I don't have time to share as frequently as I'd like!


~ krista

Saturday, May 2, 2015

SUPPORT Congenital Heart Defect Research! TODAY ONLY!

 As many of you know, my daughter, Annabelle, was born with a severe heart defect in 2010. Her exact defect is complicated, but to simplify, she had only half of a working heart and without intervention would have died within her first week to two weeks of life.

My FIGHTER princess spent her first 308 days of life in the hospital. Her first open heart surgery was at 6 days old. Her second at three months. At six months of old, they informed us that their attempts to make her special heart work for her was failing, and she was dying. Her only chance at survival was a heart transplant.

She waited in the pediatric ICU for three months before we received the call that a heart was ready for her.

She came home for the first time in May 2011, and spent that summer in and out of the hospital, and her her first life flight ride in a helicopter when she almost died at home.

Her course was not easy. She is one of the STRONGEST little girls I know.

And we are determined to do what we can to help other babies that come after us with heart defects. 308 days in the hospital is WAY TOO LONG. Congenital Heart Defects are one of the leading causes of death in children. One in every 100 or so kiddos are born with one.

On May 16th, our family is walking in the Nashville Congenital Heart Defect Walk to raise funds for both the Children's Heart Foundation and the Adult Congenital Heart Association.

We would be HONORED if you would help partner with us!

I've shared the link to donate in previous posts... but TODAY ONLY I'm giving a unique way you can help!

My most recent book, A Side of Hope, is the first book where I've incorporated just a little bit of Annabelle's story. In honor of that, I decided to donate 100% of the profits from that book TODAY toward the TEAM PRINCESS ANNABELLE in the Nashville CHD Walk. 

The ebook only costs $2.99 and the paperback costs $6.99. (my profit off each of them is around the same, the paperback costs more because of the price of printing the actual book!)

You can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ibook.

If you've already purchased the book, NO WORRIES! You can still help by SPREADING THE WORD today on social media and to whoever else you feel might be interested in helping the cause! (I'll be posting on Facebook, so feel free to share my post or make your own... I included the two graphics above to help!)

Thank you SO much for joining along side us in this journey!

You can also still donate right up until event date at http://events.congenitalheartwalk.org/goto/kristaforannabelle !

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SURPRISE!! A NEW ADDITION to the Phillips' Family!


No... it's not a baby. (While I would love a baby and would welcome him/her with open arms, my childbearing days are over per the request of pretty much everyone who wants to see me retain at least an ounce of my sanity....)

Nope, we're getting a baby of a DIFFERENT kind---the canine variety!

Yup, while it might threaten to take my sanity too, we are getting a PUPPY!

This is a big deal for our family. If you have followed our journey, you may remember that shortly after Annabelle came home, we had to say goodbye to our sweet part-beagle Emma. Honestly, Annabelle's health was still VERY tenuous at the time, and she required a LOT of personalized care, and Mommy was going through a bit of post-stress emotional issues that necessitated us taking a step back and realizing that our sweet but very high-maintenance doggy needed a new home.

It is a sore spot with our family, because Emma was much loved by us all. Our children have been begging for a dog ever since, but Scott and I have stuck to our guns that we wanted to be sure we were in a place where we could physically and emotionally handle a dog again.

Well, on my birthday, my aunt's black lab gave birth to a litter of NINE puppies! We went to see them and immediately fell in love!

Our kids are much older now, and while Annabelle still has her set backs, she is growing and doing great, and we actually feel like having a dog would be GOOD for her both emotionally and developmentally. The dog is mostly Labrador with a little German Shepard mixed in, both of which are highly recommended as companion dogs to people who have medical issues. While she won't receive formal "training" for that, our hope is to be able to train her to be gentle with Annabelle and be a comforting presence during times when she is ill.

So yes, we are biting the bullet and getting a puppy. Our eldest, who is a dog LOVER and was hurt the most by our decision a few years ago, cried when we told her. This feels like a good time, as I feel like we've finally turned an emotional and physical corner of healing in our journey.

So yes, it is time.

We don't have a name for our puppy yet.

She is a little girl though (because... well... we are a princessy household, it just fits!)

Isn't she cute??

She will come home to us in June! We are BEYOND excited about this new addition, and can't wait to welcome her into our home!!!


We are doing a fundraiser for the CHD Walk in May! I've posted a link before where you can donate (which is definitely still open!) but we're also doing a t-shirt fundraiser! SO if you'd like your very own TEAM PRINCESS ANNABELLE t-shirt... they are only $20 and proceeds go to research for congenital heart defects!



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hospital Blues and Godly Confirmation

 I find it slightly humorous that my last post was about wondering if Annabelle getting sick is conveniently timed by God to as a sign that it is not in the cards for Mommy to go back to work.

Three days later, we were driving 90 miles an hour to the hospital with a very, very sick baby girl. And another 4 days after that, we're still in the hospital.

I update Annabelle's progress on her prayer page on Facebook, so feel free to go to Prayers for Princess Annabelle for the latest update on how she's doing. I try to update at least once or twice a day while she is ill.

Well, anyway, the princess has pneumonia. She's doing a lot better now, just having a very difficult time coming off her oxygen... she REALLY needs to do some good, productive coughing!

Needless to say, I am resting in a lot of peace that we are exactly where we are supposed to be right now: I know... peace? In the HOSPITAL? But yeah. Other than a few moments of medical frustration, God's given me quite a bit of peace this hospital stay. Annabelle getting the medical care she needs to get better and Mommy perfectly free to stay here without worry to take care of her, and when she is better, I can go back to writing the books God puts on her heart and taking care of my children just the way God has called me to do.

Finances and book sales and all that stuff pale in comparison to what is really important. God knows all of that, and I am, again, confirmed that at this moment in life, I'm on the path that God has put before me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Sign from God

My pondering for the week:

How do you tell a "sign from God" from regular ol' crazy life?

This is what I've been mulling over the past week-ish.

A year or two ago, I started pondering the "idea" of going back to work full-time. Writing books, while totally the passion of my heart, doesn't come with a very high (at all...) paycheck. In fact, according to the IRS, I operated on a "loss" last year even though I had a book come out. So my "job" is essentially costing ME money at this point. (The goal is once I get enough books out and enough sales to where that changes, obviously, but yeah. Obviously that needs to happen quickly, LOL!)

If you could take a peek at my budget, you would understand why the thought of going back to work continues to weigh heavy on my mind.

But each time I contemplate it... each time I open up careerbuilder.com and start to search, just to see what's out there, I get this sick feeling in my belly.

At first I brushed it off as nerves. I've been "home" except for on-and-off consulting work for 4 years now. Maybe I just don't WANT to go back to work....??

And then.... Annabelle gets sick. Usually within 24 hours. I kid you not. It has happened EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I've started thinking about going back to work.

Sometimes it ends in an ER visit.

Sometimes it's just a fever and a peds visit.

But each time, it reminds me that, if I were working outside of the home, it'd be REALLY hard to care for her. And most jobs wouldn't look kindly on a new employee being out with sick kids every few weeks.

So I trust God with our finances, and push the job thing aside.

Until something else happens that makes me wonder.... is it time NOW?

And each time.... Annabelle gets sick.:-(

Last week, I had like one day that I was bombarded with thoughts. Annabelle goes to kindergarten this August, so I'll have a LOT more free-time during the day to actually get stuff done. YEAH. And in the back of my mind, I'm thinking... does God want me to go back to work NOW?

My own thoughts are so conflicted it's hard to tell my reasoning from God's speaking. Well, one day, a well-meaning person texted me a picture of a job opening. And on that same day, THREE recruiters sent me messages through Linkedin.


On the same day.

It was... weird. A sign maybe?

I talked to my sister and told her my fears about Annabelle. Would my contemplating a job again make her sick again? Should I just ignore them?

She advised me just to leave it up to God, pray that Annabelle wouldn't get sick, and well, that's what I did. I replied back to each recruiter, not turning them down but also letting them know my VERY limited availability right now (super part-time/temporary), and that I pretty much wasn't available more than that until fall. I felt a peace about my answer. I was leaving it in God's hand.

Well, guess what.

2 a.m. rolled around.... I woke up to an Annabelle with a 104.2 fever.


BUT!! Two hours later, her fever broke and she woke up happy and dancing and well, with only a lingering cough. She's been fever free since.

So.... I'm trying to figure out this sign. Honestly, I'm almost scared to even THINK about going back to work... but am I overthinking signs? Am I putting God's voice into something that is natural? Is it all just a coincidence? 

My sweet husband tells me to stop fretting about it. That we've got this TODAY, and let God worry about tomorrow. And obviously God doesn't want me to get a job TODAY, so just focus on the here-and-now and leave the future to God.

And ya know? He's right. I married a wise man, don't you think? I REALLY need to stop fretting about it and just start trusting. Start trying to be the best mom I can be, TODAY.

I just have this tendency to want to "plan" and I look into the future and see it full of scary question marks. I want to get back to where we are being WISE and saving well for things like retirement and college for the kids and WEDDINGs (yikes!!!)  We were doing a pretty darn good job before my sweet princess came along. Now? Yeah, all of that is gone, and we are living in that mode of super thankfulness that God supplies our everyday needs.

So there is another pondering for you.

How do you balance being wise in money-planning for the future yet focus on trusting God TODAY and not fretting about tomorrow?

I don't have an answer for it. Thus the reason I'm pondering it.

And since I think these are all things we ALL struggle with from time-to-time, I'd love to know YOUR musings on the matter.

And REMINDER! We're walking in the CHD heart walk in May to support research for our heart kiddos... and we'd LOVE for you to help support us if you can! We hit our original goal thanks to some AMAZING donors that totally blew me away... so we went ahead and upped that goal to see if we can do even more! THANK YOU SO MUCH to those who gave! http://events.congenitalheartwalk.org/goto/kristaforannabelle

Thursday, April 9, 2015


This is probably the most exciting and the most difficult post to write each year.

FOUR years ago today, our daughter received the most amazing gift. The gift of LIFE. Not of eternal life---we know that gift comes from JESUS as we just celebrated.

But no, a gift of life here on Earth, of extra time to dwell here with us, extra time for hugs and kisses and laughter and joy.

Four years ago, we got a call at about 4am telling us there might be a heart match. That our sweet little 8 month old, who had never been able to come home, who lay in a hospital bed, struggling to hold onto life each day, working SO hard for each little breath she breathed.... was going to have a chance to live. To thrive. To come HOME.

And I know that at that same time, some family was experiencing the most horrific loss, the loss of a child. They were being asked to make an unthinkable decision, to donate their child's organs to save others.

There are no words to adequately express my deep sorrow for what that family had to go through, but also my eternal gratitude for their choice amidst their pain.

In HONOR of today, of Annabelle and her fight, and of the heart that beats on within her, my request is a bit different.

Our family is SO excited to particulate in the CHD heart walk in Nashville this year. We've never gotten to particulate in a walk for heart research before, but we are INCREDIBLY honored to be able to walk WITH Annabelle and try to raise money for research. Funds for research for Congenital Heart Defects, which is the #1 cause of death in children, is very low in comparison to other childhood diseases, so our hope is that we can raise even a little bit to help the cause, so that maybe, someday, hearts can be made better, be made whole, without having to have a transplant.

Because while we are SO THANKFUL for Annabelle's heart, it comes at a price. She's at great risk for every contagious disease . She'll always be on immune suppression meds. She is at greater risk for cancer. Pesky things like the flu and chicken pox could easily be deadly for Annabelle. And she's always at risk of rejection, because her heart is not her own, and her body doesn't understand that and likes to fight against it.

That said, we'd LOVE to have you partner with us on our "heart walk" to help raise funds for research (supporting both the Children's Heart Foundation and Adult Congenital Heart Association).

Here is the link where you can donate in honor of Annabelle! http://events.congenitalheartwalk.org/goto/kristaforannabelle

To date, we've raised $275 as a team, and our goal is $1,000! 

Seriously, even if it's just $5, that's $5 closer to our goal!!

ALSO! If you're local to the Nashville or surrounding area, we'd LOVE for you to join our team and walk with us if you can! The walk is in the morning on Saturday, May 16th!

I really can't think of ANYTHING more special to do on this day of celebrating the gift Annabelle received than to try and make a difference for those little ones to-come or who are still fighting.

SO Happy Heart-Birthday sweet Annabelle. You're so incredibly sweet and beautiful and... your Mommy loves you more than words could ever describe. I am so thankful for EACH day God has gifted you to us.



Blast from the Past Blog Posts (I spent part of yesterday reading through these---and tearing up---because wow... what memories!):


(look at those BLUE FINGERS that are now PINK!!!!