Monday, July 20, 2015

HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY, PRINCESS ANNABELLE

FIVE AND FABULOUS!!!!!
Five.

Years.

Wow.

Five years ago today was one of the scariest days of my life.

This little baby who I'd carried in my belly for almost nine months, who was happy with a heart that functioned well in utero, would be leaving my womb to a world where her special heart couldn't survive for more than a few days to a week as it was.

My mommy heart longed for her to stay where it was safe, even though physically I was miserable.

They gave us odds of survival which scared the daylights out of us. 70% chance of survival overall, with the largest risk of death in the first four months.

She'd have to have 3 open heart surgeries to make her half-heart work for her.
She'd be in the hospital at LEAST 4 weeks.
She'd probably have to have a heart transplant "someday" probably in her teens or 20's.
I'd only be able to hold her five to ten minutes before they took her away.

Nothing went how they told me, not really.

She was in the hospital TEN MONTHS instead of 4 weeks.
She only had the first open heart surgery...
She failed the second surgery...
Her third surgery was that transplant they had warned about... only 15-20 years early.
And on July 20th at 11:30 pm when we welcomed her into the world, she was blue and lacking oxygen, so I didn't even get the promised five minutes with her, only a kiss to her cheek before they ran to save her life.

I don't say all this to say "woe is us."

On the contrary, I say all this to say WOW is our GOD. He has brought Ananbelle through so many storms, has been beside our family for five very long years. We had no promise of her being with us today. There were many moments as I watched doctors feverishly rush to save her life, pushing on her little chest to manually pump her heart, that I despaired of ever seeing it.

But today, I have the privilege and honor of being the momma to the most amazing five year old I know, a living breathing miracle.

She is my princess who loves all things pawprints and pink and Bandaids, and has an insane love of being tickled. She is so silly and giggly but is scared of blowing out birthday candles. (She practiced ALL day and managed to blow out her FIRST candle this year... then proceeded to cry for ten minutes.... We aren't sure if the smoke scared her or if she was upset at not getting them all...)

She still struggles with social issues and communicating and she has very little comprehension of the word "no".

But she has come through so much. She is my fighting princess and I am SO proud of the little girl she is and look forward to watching her grow and learning about the love of her Savior and becoming a young woman who can use her trials to impact the world for Jesus.

In the words of Annabelle as she was posing for a birthday party picture yesterday.... "I'm so fabulous!!" Yup, she definitely is one fabulous little girl!!!

7 hours old! (one of the few pictures she will ever have without her chest scar --aka badge of courage!)

Our big one-year-old princess!!!

What's new?? Annabelle's TWO!

I have no clue why I'm getting presents... but I guess it has something to do with turning three???

First year she didn't scream at the sight of her cake!!!! YEAH for four!!

Trying to blow out candles..... she practiced ALL day yesterday for this.
I LOVE PRESENTS!! THEY ARE SO FUNNY!!!!

My new princess sophia dress-up dress!!!

Looky looky who turns FIVE today!!!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Our Summer Update

I always have good intentions in keeping my once-a-week blogging schedule. I can do anything once a week, right? (my unvacuumed floors beg to differ...)

I had really good intentions this week for my blog too, because I actually had a topic in mind!

(and no, it wasn't about SCOTUS... and while on the subject, am I the only one who had never heard of that acronym before this past week and scratched my head for about an hour before it dawned on me? POTUS is a fun one too. I guess I'm slow...)

But anywho, I was irritated at myself for not taking the time to blog last week or this week, but then I realized how dumb that is.

Life has been crazy. School is out, kids are home. I'm working on a self-made deadline and have two writing projects I need to FINISH by end of summer. One of those is my next novella, A Side of Love that WILL release this fall.

My house stays messier in the summer. My schedule stays fuller. And my mind stays on the brink of insanity, so any blogs I try to write feel like they are mental vomit. (Funny shoutout to my friend Katie, who back in the early days of her blog called it Brain Throwup... or something like that. It still makes me giggle thinking about it! She's also this massively huge Christy Award Winning author now. I can say I knew her when!!)

So I was sitting here berating myself for not blogging, and God raised his eyebrows at me and reminded me that blogging, while fun and enjoyable and something I love to do, is nowhere near the top of my priority list. I have a long list of things much more important that I'm not finding time to do, so why am I even fretting about it???

That said, I'm gonna give myself some wiggle room through July and August and give myself a reprieve. I'll probably still blog here and there if the urge hits (including doing my once-a-month View from my Bookshelf which I'm SUPER excited about!) but don't mind me if I'm mostly silent the next few months.

A GREAT way to keep in touch is to sign up to have blog posts emailed to you... that way you'll know when I blog even when my schedule necessitates a more random schedule. You can sign up on the right hand of my screen.

Also, I'm always on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorkristaphillips so feel free to connect with me there!!

And finally, just a quick life update: The Phillips' family is doing well. We've had a crazy summer including a not-so-fun 3 day hospital stay two weeks ago with Annabelle due to a stomach virus and/or cdiff. We'd appreciate your prayers for a HEALTHY remaining bit of the summer, including Annabelle's FIFTH birthday that is coming up in less than a month!

Kiddos will also be spending a week with Grandma and Grandpa next month, and THEN we will begin the manic preperation for the start of probably the hardest school year of MY motherhood. Annabelle starts Kindergarten. Gabby starts 4th grade. Lacy starts Middle School. And Karalynn starts HIGH SCHOOL.

I'm gonna need to take stock out in Kleenex.

I think that's about it. Much love to you all, and praying you have a relaxing, fun, full-of-God's Love rest of the summer.

Love,
~Krista~


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A View from My Bookshelf


SO excited about this post!

I've decided to dedicate one post a month to highly some of my FAVORITE reads from the previous month.

This will not be all inclusive. I read and love a LOT of books so I'll limit to my top few favorites of the month. But if you're looking for a few good reads, then keep reading!


The Thornbearer by Pepper Basham. I'll be very honest. I'm pretty biased in this book like, but seriously, this was an AMAZING book by one of my FAVORITE people in the world. Pepper lives up to her name, as she has offered an AMAZING seasoning to my life and "peppers" those around her with love and just pure awesomeness. This is a friend who, one year at conference, saw me come into a room and took one look at my face and said, "We need to pray." I was having a bit of an emotional meltdown at the time.

So celebrating her debut novel gave me a particularly hightened amount of joy.

But enough about sweet Pepper... her BOOK is just as amazing as the woman herself! It is set in the era of WWI, a timeframe I know frighteningly little about, and centers around the sinking of the Lusitania. Her writing is amazing and the romance is ~sigh~ worthy and I can't WAIT to read the next one!

Just The Way You Are by Jessica Patch. I'm trying to read more novellas since that's what I'm writing right now, and when I saw Jessica's new release, I was SO excited to check it out, and it definitely didn't disappoint! It was seriously one of the best novellas I've read and carried the punch of a novel, just with a shorter length. I'll be honest. Even though I am WRITING novellas, I have never been a big reader of them. If they are all like Jessica's book, that will quickly change!

Another fun note: her heroine is a florist! Which I thought was hilarious because the heroine in my next book is a florist too! (I promise I didn't steal the idea... just thought it was a fun coincidence when I started reading!) FLORISTS UNITE!


Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg. I've been a fan of Melissa's since before she even published a book (she's just a fun girl that you can't help but smile when you are around!) Again, in my quest to novella read, I read this awesome little book and LOVED it. The characters are quirky and fun and like to bicker a bit (if you've read any of my books, you know I tend to like that in characters!!!) and even better... it's FREE on Amazon!

Yes, FREE. Crazy Melissa, I would have totally paid $2.99 for it! (there are sequels to the book that you can purchase that I'm in the middle of reading-and-loving too, so once you finish THIS one, go check out THOSE!)

So that's it for the month. I have a few fav author books on my to-read-next pile so stay tuned for next month!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Almost....

Blinking sleep from my eyes as I type this.

I'm ALMOST ready to be 100% back to my blogging. We got back from our Disney trip on Sunday to rush around to go to my nieces graduation open house just hours later.

Read: Still not unpacked and still have HOARDS of dirty laundry to do.

AND we were probably insane by deciding to pick up our 2nd doggy (Whitney's sister) on Monday as she still needed a home and we were still without a puppy. Her name is Sweat Pea Hope Phillips, but we are calling her Hope. Pictures to come, because, well, I'm exhausted and that would require work at this moment!

But HOPE was God's word for me this year. I'd wanted to call Whitney by that name, but my family didn't love it. I'm glad now, because they all thought it was a GREAT name this time around.

I really think God knew in his wisdom that THIS doggy was going to need that name so prompted us all to hold off on it.

Hope is settling in and we'll report more later!

Mommy is HOPING for a rekindling of fire in my writing. The last few months has been like dry bones in that department, blog included. I think stress has sapped it all out of me, but we all go through seasons of waiting and seasons on GOING, and I feel like we've come through a season where I needed to set it aside and focus on my family. I didn't always do a great job of it... I tried selfishly to pick up my writing and do it anyway, but God firmly slapped my hand each and every time.

Your prayers that I will be obediant to his calling in his timing are appreciated.

I want to do nothing without His full blessing.

Because doing so would be just plain dumb. I try to stay away from dumb. (well, that's not altogether true. I guess I'll add a bit of emphasis on the word TRY there...)

Love and prayers to all of you reading this. Prayiing God's blessings over YOU this week!

I'll be more whity next week. I promise. :-) :-)

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!

BLESSINGS!!!!!

~ 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 !