Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wanting to remember.

Friday, December 7, our children were out of school for a teacher workday, so we loaded up our party of six and headed to one of our favorite places, the Big Easy.  We played in the quarter, looked at Christmas lights, enjoyed a meal with friends, ate beignets, and all the other things we like to do when we visit.  On the way home, David began complaining about his tooth hurting.  He has a really high pain tolerance, so I knew it probably wasn't something to shrug off.  We were thinking he probably had an abscessed tooth.  With it being the weekend, we didn't really know what our options were, so we waited until Monday morning.  By this point, he was in a lot of pain.  Turns out, we were right about the abscessed tooth, and Monday he had a partial root canal.  Monday night, we had the David Phelps' concert at church, so he didn't take any medicine until later that night.  Tuesday, he woke up really swollen and not feeling very well.  Our dentist changed his antibiotic thinking that may have been the cause.  In the middle of the night Tuesday, we knew that something else was wrong, and that instead of getting better, David was getting much worse.  Finally, once daybreak dawned, he drove himself to the ER, while I stayed home with our four littles trying to keep our routine and day as normal as I possibly could.  Thankfully, David is usually gone to Rotary on Wednesday mornings, so the children did not question his absence.  He was quickly taken back in the ER and quickly admitted to the hospital.  This is when we learned he had Ludwig's Angina.  You can read more about that here if you're really into all that medical stuff.  In short, it is a potentially life-threatening infection.  I know.  Super scary.  
There is so much that I want to remember about this chapter in our lives.  I want to remember how awesome my Story girl was.  She was my little shadow and helper.  After taking the big three to school, she and I went to see David.  I want to remember Mr. Ken, our senior adult pastor at church, meeting us at the hospital and showing us where to go.  I want to remember how she sat and played quietly during the two hours we were there with David before we had to begin the car pool rounds once again. I want to remember how on Wednesday night at church, our Hardy Street family was so sweet and concerned for David and our family.  I want to remember how Miss Tina and Meredith took my children home and got them ready for bed, so I could spend a little time at the hospital with David.  I want to remember how our dentist came to the hospital to visit and prayed with us before he left.  
I want to remember how Tilly got to wear her pajamas to school on Thursday and how after school we went to pick up her new glasses that she had been missing since Thanksgiving.  I want to remember how concerned our children were for their daddy and how their teachers from school texted and called me to see how he was doing.  I want to remember how I was unable to drive on Carter's school field trip and how he was such a big boy and showed little disappointment because he knew that I "needed to be with Daddy."  
I want to remember how the children were so excited to go to the hospital to see their daddy on Thursday evening and how they insisted on having their picture taken with the angel in the hospital lobby.  
I want to remember how excited they were to see him and hug him.  I want to remember the sweet nurse who brought each of them some ice cream from the lounge while we were there.  I want to remember how we thought he was going to be coming home the next morning because he was improving so much!  I want to remember how two of our sweet college girls came over to the house later that night to watch the children, so I could buy last minute teacher's gifts and visit with David once more.  I want to remember how the McDonald family had us over for a yummy supper that Thursday night.  
I want to remember how Miss Meredith and Miss Tina patiently helped the children make gingerbread cookies.  It was so much fun to watch them cut the cookies and later decorate them once they were done.  
I want to remember how Miss Tina was in constant communication with me during David's sickness to check on him and see how she could be of help.  I want to remember how she later sat with me Room 338 and waited until he got out of surgery and how she called Mr. Jesse at church to make sure our dog, Hundley, was okay.  I want to remember how she later brought dog food over to our house for Hundley, just in case.  Friday morning, early, David texted me to tell me that he was not going to be coming home because the swelling had returned, and he would have to go into surgery later that day.  
I want to remember the precious Pilgrim family from our church who picked up Carter and Summer from school that Friday and let them play all afternoon.  I want to remember that they had so much fun they are still talking about being with Miss Dana.  I want to remember how Carter knew that something wasn't right and kept telling Dana so, our little perceptive one.  
I want to remember how Story was once again a little rock star and sat and played quietly while we waited.  I want to remember how I was only gone a few minutes to pick up Tilly from school when they came and took David to prep him for surgery.  I want to remember Mr. Ken once again meeting us at the hospital to help me with Story and Tilly and help us to figure out a way to see David before surgery.  I want to remember how he helped me feed the girls lunch in the cafeteria at the hospital.  I want to remember barely being able to place an order for my food at Subway through the wave of tears and how sweet and patient the workers were with me.  I want to remember how I called the school to make arrangements for the children and how one of our sweet church friends happened to be the one on the other end of the phone.  I want to remember how sweet Miss Sandra was to me and listened as I fell apart on the phone and assuring me that she was praying for David.  I want to remember Dr. Smithers and Mr. Rhett from the children's school coming to the hospital to check on David.  I want to remember the head basketball coach from USM calling David's room to check on him, along with numerous others.  
I want to remember Tilly being so understanding when I could not make it to her Christmas party, and I want to remember Ella's mother taking time to send me a text with a picture of our two girls, who just adore each other.  I want to remember Katie coming to get Tilly and Story from the hospital and driving them home in my car.  I want to remember her and Kelsey sitting with my two littlest ones while David was in surgery.  I want to remember how thankful I was when I learned that reinforcements were indeed coming from the north, in the form of Papa and Gigi and how comforting it was to have them there.  I want to remember so many friends who called, texted, came by the hospital and brought food to our family during this week of craziness.  I want to remember how funny David was waking up from the surgery and the silly things he said.  "Carter, get your gun! Come on, Carter!" "I have to get up and preach! Hebrews, I have to preach Hebrews.  Don't you let anyone else preach for me on Sunday." I want to remember spending Friday and Saturday night with David in the hospital while his parents were at our home with our children.  
I want to remember going to Carter's last football game of the season and how exciting it was that he got to play on a real football field.  I want to remember that David was so very disappointed not to be there.  I want to remember David texting his childhood friend, now a doctor several times throughout each day asking questions and updating him.  I want to remember how Stephen was so diligent, busy as he must be, to check in regularly each day.  
I want to remember how the children enjoyed free hot dogs and cotton candy after the game.  They were so excited.  I want to remember how my sweet grandmother called everyday to check on David because she "felt like she wanted to call."  I want to remember how so many friends from so many walks of life let us know they were thinking of us and praying with us for David's healing, all the way around the world.  
I want to remember how Papa and Gigi, along with the four children helped to decorate our home for Christmas, with a tree and everything!  What a sweet surprise to come home to.  I want to remember how Aunt Karen came on Sunday to tag in, so David's parents could go back home to work.  
I want to remember how I tweeted one day about being thankful for diet cokes and how some sweet friend left this six pack on our front porch.  I want to remember how relieved I was when David woke up from the surgery and began to be more like his old self.  I want to remember the relief that came with knowing that he was going to get to go home on that Sunday after being in the hospital for five days.  I want to remember being afraid.  I want to remember being comforted.  I want to remember being lonely.  I told someone that David is the glue that holds our family together, and our home is just not right when he's not there.  I want to remember being thankful.  I want to remember feeling so loved by so many.  I want to remember all of the delicious food brought to our home by our church family.  I want to remember Mr. Ken preaching a wonderful Christmas sermon in David's absence.  I want to remember feeling hope that morning in church. Hopeful of the savior's birth, hopeful of our family being together, hopeful that all was going to be well.  All throughout the Bible, the Lord calls His people to remember, remember.  I want to remember so much about this event.  I want to remember how our church family was literally the hands and feet of Christ to us.  I want to remember the love and support and encouragement and prayers that were offered by so many during this time.  I want to remember how good He has been to us and how thankful I am for our little family.  I want to remember, so I can share with others that He is good.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas with SO much love!

Christmas cards are kind of my thing.  I love them.  I look forward to writing our Christmas letter each year, taking our family pictures, addressing, stamping, embossing, and mailing them out each year.  And I adore getting them in the mail!  This year, we took our pictures.  I wrote our letter.  And then my love got really, really sick.  I have a whole post coming about that.  There were a few days during David's sickness that I was really sad about not doing Christmas cards this year, but in the midst of the craziness and being really scared at moments, I just realized that it wasn't going to happen this year.  And you know what?  I'm really okay with it.  I would love to share some of my favorite pictures of my favorite people though because I'm so very thankful to be sharing this Christmas season with them.  
 It seems another year has come and gone, and we are excited to wish you a Merry Christmas as we share with you some of the highlights of this past year.  Thankfully, we have not experienced many dramatic changes!  Although, we have learned that change is not all bad, especially when we grow and learn from it.  What has occurred in our party of six over the last year is a whole lot of love!  Love for our new town.  Love for our church family.  Love for the children’s school.  Love for the wonderful experiences we have had over this past year.  Love within the walls of our home.  Love for our extended family and friends, both near and far.  And mostly love for a Savior, who came down so many Christmases ago, so that we might experience love like no other.  For, He is love!
This Christmas, as I was preparing to write our letter, I was praying and asking the Lord what word He might have me to share, maybe as a word of encouragement or maybe just a reminder of how much you mean to our family.  The word that kept coming to me over and over again was love.  In fact, the morning I felt certain of love as my word for this year’s letter, I heard a familiar song that I just adore on the radio, a wonderful reminder of His love for us.  The title of the song is, “One Thing Remains.” If you have a minute, check out the song and listen carefully to all of the words.  The chorus that plays over and over says, “Your love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me.” Throughout this entire song, we are reminded over and over of just how much He loves us.  The song reminds us that we are covered by the power of His great love.  And, because He loves us so much, and because He is love, we are commanded to love.  He is teaching me a lot about love in this season of my life.  How to love Him. How to love David.  How to love our children.  How to love my neighbor.  Even when it’s difficult, especially when it’s difficult.  Oh, how I hope you know how very much He loves you.

 Let me tell you a little about my loves.  David has officially entered into his second year pasturing Hardy Street Baptist Church, and since it’s our letter, and he is mine, I can totally brag on him.  He is doing an amazing job of shepherding our church.  He is dreaming big, but mostly he is loving big, and God is doing big things here.  I have loved watching him over this last year find his groove in our new place, and he is loving every second of it!  Apart from pasturing our church, David was also able to preach a revival in North Georgia this past fall.  He has filmed a couple of television commercials, advertising for our church, and he has appeared on our local television and radio station to talk about some of the great things happening at Hardy Street Baptist Church.  My love and I will celebrate 11 years of marriage just after the New Year, and I can definitely say I love him even more today than I did 11 years ago when we said I do on a cold winter’s day in South Georgia.

  Now for our four little loves:  Carter turned 6 in May, which we can hardly believe!  He is loving flag football, school, boy scouts, and activities at church. He is asking pointed questions about salvation and has great head knowledge regarding what Jesus did for him on the cross.  We are praying that head knowledge will grow in his heart as well.  Summer turned 5 in July, which just seems impossible!  She is loving ballet, art class, church activities, and all things princess.  Summer has a love for life that is just far beyond her years. Her love for learning and people continues to amaze me.   Tilly turned 4 in August, which makes us realize just how quickly time is passing! She is loving ballet, Barbie, her new pink cast, and her special friends at school.  Tilly received her first broken bone over Thanksgiving, while playing with her big brother on the stairs.  Thankfully, she is on the mend, and it has not slowed her down one bit.  Oh, how we love that about her!  Story, our littlest love turned two in May, which we are trying to pretend didn’t really happen! She is loving ballet, singing songs, learning her letters, and trying to be as big as her siblings.  Story attends MDO one day a week at our church, and she loves going to “school.”  I am loving having her home with me the rest of the week!  There are not enough words to describe the love in my heart I have for these four little people, whom I have been entrusted to as their momma.

We have loved doing life together as a family this past year.  In the springtime, we loved welcoming new members into our family, McKinley Holland and Emery Calhoun, both born to our sisters.  During the summertime, our party of six traveled to New Orleans for the Southern Baptist Convention.  Oh, how we love being close to one of our most favorite cities.  We travel there as often as we can.  In the fall we traveled to Georgia for David to preach a revival at the church of a dear friend.  On our visit, we loved being able to see T and Hart, the Hollands, sweet friends, and Georgia in autumn.  For Thanksgiving, we traveled to Branson with Papa and Gigi and the Calhouns. We loved the Dixie Stampede and riding the ducks to look at Christmas lights.  This Christmas season, we have loved spending time with our friends here in Hattiesburg.  We look forward to school being out and traveling to see family in Arkansas and Georgia.  There is never a dull moment around here, and most days we truly love it that way!

 As we prepare for Christmas, we think about all those years ago when love came down as a baby in a little town called Bethlehem.  We think about what that night must have been like for Joseph and Mary.  I am sure their hearts must have been full of love for their tiny babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  We can be certain they knew that He came to love as no one ever had nor anyone would ever love.  Our prayer for you this Christmas season is that you would be confident of His great love for you.  A love that never fails.  A love that never gives up.  A love that never runs out on you.   We pray that you would rest in the knowledge of that love, even when the world is telling you not to.  As you come to know more of His love and trust His love more, we hope you will want to share that love with others.  It’s too great of a thing to keep all for yourselves. 

“Above all, love one another deeply.  For love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
 Merry Christmas with so much love,
David, Heather, Carter, Summer, Tilly & Story

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

David Phelps at Hardy Street Baptist Church.

Monday night, we had a very special night in the life of our church.  We hosted David Phelps in concert and had in attendance well over 900 people.  It was such an amazing event to be apart of, but I have to tell you I was completely skeptical.  At first.  I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of David Phelps.  Gasp.  I know!  Shame for a baptist preacher's wife.  When I learned he sang with the Gaithers (at least I had heard of them), I was even more skeptical.  Southern Gospel music is just not my thing.  I enjoy many types of music, but that just isn't one that gives me goosebumps.  Because good music does that, you know! I love that Monday night, I was completely surprised and excited to have been proven wrong.  He, David Phelps, had me at: Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee!  It was loud and awesome, and I definitely had goosebumps! 
He's quite the entertainer, too.  And funny.  And he can sing better than most people I have ever heard. Wow.  I told one of my friends today that he did it all.  He sang a little bluegrass, a little Christmas music, a little Southern gospel, a little opera, and a lot awesome!  I may or may not be his newest fan.  Regardless, I truly enjoyed myself, and I was so proud of our church and our people for working so hard to host such an amazing event.  
The first picture up top, my David took with his iPad during the concert.  This one, I stole borrowed from Instagram.  I'm not sure if that's even allowed or not, so I apologize in advance.  It was taken before I arrived, and I know that because I later sat four rows back on the left side by the aisle, and I'm not there yet.  This picture shows less than 1/2 of our sanctuary, so you can only imagine how many people were here!  So exciting!  I do have a funny story of the night.  It's too cute to keep to myself.  One of our sweet college girls reserved David and I seats early in the day.  I needed to be home with our children, and David was busy making sure all was well, so neither one of us were able to save seats.  Once I arrived, the entire bottom of the sanctuary was full, but one of the ushers spotted me and motioned me to our seats.  Shortly after I was seated and comfortable, a precious young fella in our church came over to where I was seated and very politely and kindly told me that I was not going to be able to sit in these seats because they were reserved for the pastor of the church.  Oh goodness!  I didn't know what to do.  Should I just go along with it and move and save us both some embarrassment?  I kind of wish I would've done that, ha!  But I didn't, I just leaned over and whispered, "I'm his wife."  Oh, I don't know who was more embarrassed or who turned redder in face! I am sure it was me! He apologized profusely and walked away.  And I felt like I was two inches tall.  Then, about 10 minutes later, he came back over to tell me again just how sorry he was!  How very precious!  I hope he is telling this story somewhere and laughing, too.  What a great memory!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little Ballerinas.

This past weekend was slammed full of lots of fun! I already posted how we spent Friday in New Orleans.  Well, we surely didn't slow down any Saturday.  Carter had a flag football game, and while he was doing his thing on the field, the girls and I headed downtown to get ready for their winter ballet recital. They were so very excited! And so was their momma! Advance warning: there may or may not be picture overload, but they just looked so beautiful I could not resist!
Our seasoned ballerina ;) as this would be her second recital.  
Story playing ring around the rosey with some friends to get out those last minute jitters.  
How stinking cute is she? 
I mean, really?!? Don't worry, I kiss those cheeks all day long!
Part of Story's class.  This would be the only time she stood.  For the practice round.  During her actual performance, she sat on her tape, and she did not move! We were just proud she got out there, stayed out there, and did not cry.  I think it's because we've been reading lots about Pete the Cat, and goodness, no, he didn't cry!
Miss Anna getting her little ballerinas ready for the big show.  Story's class danced to Santa Claus is Coming Town, well one little girl in her class did anyway, ha!
Two of my three.  You can barely see Story on the other side of Tilly.  
And now our two biggest ballerinas.  They danced to Silent Night and just shone.  
Tilly rocked with her cast on, too!  She wanted a lime green one last week, when David took her to have checked again.  They had to take off the old one, do another xray, and put a new one back on.  Mean momma wouldn't let her, although it probably would've looked fine after all.  She goes back soon to get another cast, so we told her she could get whatever color her little heart desires! She's definitely earned that right.  
I wonder what she's thinking!
Summer was just a picture of grace and beauty.  When she dances, something happens and all clumsiness leaves her.  I loved watching her!
As you can see, I'm a huge fan of the ballerina huddles!
Summer's ballet class.  
So pretty.  As you can see, there were a few little ones who wanted to join in on the fun!
Twirling beauties.  
Another action shot.  Summer has great form, said the biased momma!
So does our Tilly girl!
The girls have only been taking ballet once a week since October.  I cannot wait to watch them dance again in the spring, as I'm sure they will learn so much between now and then.  Summer, Tilly & Story, we are all so very proud of you!  It warmed my heart to watch you dance.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Family fun day in the big easy!

Friday was a teacher work day, so the children did not have to go to school, what a treat!  We loaded up that morning and headed south to the big easy.  Have I mentioned how much we love living this close to New Orleans?!? We arrived just before lunch, so we drove through downtown and the quarter to see what we could see.  Then, we headed over to one of our favorite places to eat in town, New Orleans Food & Spirits.  We met up with our dear friends, the Baileys.  David and I first met Jonathan during the summer of 2005, when we worked Fuge together in Mobile.  That fall Katrina hit, and he was displaced from the seminary.  Jonathan became our roommate for a little while until he could figure out what was next.  We love this guy!  Now, he is married to Tiffany, and we adore her as much as we do him.  They have a sweet baby girl, Nola-Grace.  And, much to our delight they now live in New Orleans.  Jonathan just became the new youth pastor at First Baptist New Orleans, and we could not be more excited for them!  And us ;) After lunch, we headed to the quarter to take some pictures and check out the Christmas scenery.  
My four littles with the mighty Mississippi behind them.  You know, it's nearly impossible to get them all looking AND smiling at the same time.  Real life, I tell you!
We tried a couple of times to ride the trolley, and it just wasn't in the cards.  First, we didn't have the right change.  Then, we decided we would leave the quarter and ride the trolley on St. Charles, so we could see the Christmas lights in all the lovely homes.  Well, there weren't any trolleys to be found on St. Charles!  Next time.  
Love this view.  
Love these four and how much they love this city, too!
Carter was freaking out about being on the train tracks, ha!
There she is.  So beautiful!
Want me to narrate what they are thinking?  Story: Mom, are you seriously taking another picture? Summer: my glasses are slipping, so maybe if I stick out my belly, they will stay up better?  Carter: Mom, I'm doing what you asked me to, but don't think for a second that this smile is real! Tilly: Maybe if I don't look at her she will stop taking my picture!
Carter, age 6 1/2.  
Tilly, age 4.  
Summer, almost 5 1/2.  
And you know we couldn't go to New Orleans, and not stop by Cafe Du Monde! Oh, so yummy!
Story, age 2 1/2.  My pictures got out of order, somehow, but no worries!
Carter and Summer loved the hot chocolate!
Love this sweet face and her beautiful, long eyelashes!
And before we knew it, the day was done, and it was time to return home.  Thank you, Big Easy, for loving us so good!