A view into the life of a family who encountered a different future than expected, but has become all the richer for it.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you from the Messick household! I apologize that it has been so long since I've written, but here is a quick update!

This year has been a year of many blessings! Mark has been asked to speak at several events at other churches and God has continued using him in such a wonderful way! He has a unique way of communicating to adults and kids and we are so thankful for how God has opened doors for him to be used inside and outside of our church body. Mark continues to serve as the Education Pastor at First Baptist North Mobile where we are so loved on by the people there. We feel blessed to serve with such a wonderful group of pastors and people. In April of 2010, Mark will celebrate 8 years as a pastor of that church. And, on another note ... Mark will be having a birthday in just a few days! He will turn 38 on December 31st!

For me, this year has truly been one of healing and flourishing. God has given me several opportunities to share my testimony about having a child with special-needs. It is hard to explain, but through sharing your grief and joy with others, God brings about healing. I've so enjoyed speaking and singing at different events and pray that many more opportunities come along in the future. I feel as if that is a new ministry God has given me. I have been blessed to have opportunities to record on several worship albums/projects and I always thoroughly enjoy doing that. I also continue to teach as an adjunct professor at the University of Mobile as a Commercial Voice Instructor.

Elyssa is in 4K this year and is growing up so fast. It is hard to believe that she will be 5 in July of 2010! I have enjoyed seeing her actually behave better! Is that terrible to say? With three little ones, you are thankful for things like this. It definitely makes my life easier as a mom! Elyssa has had opportunities to sing in church for a few different events and has a cute little singing voice. She loves to write and cut. And, she is actually developing a sense of her own style when it comes to clothes.

Natalie will be turning 3 in just a few weeks (January 10th). She has beautiful wavy hair, bright blue eyes and loves to sing. She is always singing around the house and isn't much of a TV watcher (unless Dora is on). She loves to play with cars and I'm finding that she is a bit of an organizational child because she lines every car up as she plays with them. She has such a fun personality and everyone who spends time around her just loves her!

Victoria is continues to grow slowly (physically) and I think I've decided that she is just a petite child. I worried for a while that she wasn't gaining weight fast enough, but I've finally gotten okay with her small size. I have read that children with Downs are small the first part of their lives so I've found comfort in knowing that. Victoria is walking now and spends every day exploring our house. She loves to follow Natalie around when Elyssa is at school. And, if Natalie isn't at home, she follows me around. She loves to push strollers and anything that can be pushed around in the house (including chairs from our kitchen table). She jibber-jabbers a lot and I hear her saying things for me like, "Da Da," "Pa Pa," "La La," and "Ba Ba." She is such a pleasant girl. She always has a smile on her face and a hug for anyone. She is a true joy. Her therapists say she is doing so well. We've been told numerous times that it is so unusual for a child with Downs to be so active, so therefore her therapists think she is a "high-functioning" Downs child. She is a girl on the "go." She does not like being idle at all. So, we are so thankful that she is doing so wonderfully.

As you can see, this year has been a busy and blessed one for us! We thank God so much for all of the blessings He has bestowed on us. We know that it is only through His grace that we survive the "circus" which is our life, but we enjoy every moment of it!

We pray you have a blessed holiday season and know that we love you all!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Walking More And More!

Here is a video I took of Victoria today. As you can see, she is walking even more! She's doing great! It is so cute to see her walking around because she is so tiny!

I'm really having to watch her now. Her favorite place to sneak into is the bathroom! She gets into the toilet paper and I've caught her putting her hands into the toilet several times. That totally grosses me out, so I'm trying to keep the bathroom door closed at all times so she cannot get in there. I'm going to have to grow eyes in the back of my head now to keep track of everywhere Victoria is going!

video

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cars

Yesterday Victoria met with her physical therapist, Candace. Candace was so impressed by how Victoria is standing up from the floor, taking steps and cruising on furniture so well. She also commented on how huge it was that Victoria WANTS to do these things on her own. We don't have to prod and push her to do anything. She said this is a sign that Victoria has high cognitive levels, which was so encouraging to hear! She said normally Down's babies are content to do nothing. Victoria is the total opposite. She can't stand to be held still for long at all. She WANTS to be down on the floor going, going, going. So, these are all very wonderful signs that our baby girl is on the high-functioning end of Down syndrome. Yeah!

Candace wanted me to work with Victoria on using a push toy a little more so she can work on her balance. After Candace left, I had Victoria pushing a little car that Elyssa and Natalie both used as babies. The first few times Victoria pushed it, she lost her balance and fell. But, boy ... shortly after that, she was pushing that car like a pro. It was so fun to watch her!

I thought you'd want to see her wonderful progress! She's a cutie!

PS - You'll notice that when she pushes the car to the chair or wall and cannot go any further, she gets mad. I think that is the funniest!

video

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Long Awaited "Walking" Video

Many of you have asked about Victoria and if she is walking yet. She has started taking several steps and we are thrilled. I think the most steps we have counted are around 12. Those are small steps, mind you, but we still count them all! The cutest thing of all is that Victoria laughs while she walks most of the time. I think she is so proud that she is walking that she cannot contain her happiness!

So, here you go! Enjoy viewing our little miracle of God taking some of her first steps!

video

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Buddy Walk Results

We had a wonderful time walking at Hank Aaron Stadium with family and friends for the Buddy Walk. We raised over $800 for the Down Syndrome Society of Mobile in honor of Victoria and were quite pleased with that!

Elyssa and Natalie loved walking with their sister! They especially loved the yummy cupcakes from Buttercream Dreams that they ate after their one-mile walk! They also enjoyed their visit on the fire truck and Coast Guard helicopter.

It turned out to be a beautiful day and we couldn't have felt more blessed to walk alongside Victoria! Thanks to all who donated funds in her honor! We love you all!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Buddy Walk Update

Thanks to friends and family we have raised over $375 for the Buddy Walk in honor of Victoria Jayne so far! It is still not too late to donate toward the Down Syndrome Society or to commit to walk with us in the Buddy Walk THIS Saturday at Hank Aaron Stadium. Registration starts at 9am and the walk begins at 10am with tons of games, food and entertainment to follow! We would love to have friends and family walk along side us as we honor our special little girl!

Make sure you let us know if you'd like to walk with us so we can meet you at the front entrance of Hank Aaron Stadium Saturday morning.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Buddy Walk

Hello friends!

We will be participating in the 2nd Annual Buddy Walk with our daughter, Victoria Jayne, to help raise money for the Down Syndrome Society of Mobile on October 10th. If you would like to participate with us or would be willing to make a donation, please let me know.

The registration for the walk begins at 9am at Hank Aaron Stadium and the walk begins at 10am. This is a non-competitive one-mile walk. Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome. At the conclusion of the walk, there will be carnival-type games open for the kids, musical entertainment, food and many other fun things that the entire family will enjoy.

You may register to walk at www.dssmc.org or you may do so the morning of October 10th when you arrive at the stadium. All walkers pay $10 and kids under 3 are FREE! Anything given above $10 to the walk is considered a donation. All registered walkers will receive a T-shirt to commemorate the day.

If you do plan to walk with our family in honor of Victoria Jayne, please let me know so we can meet you at the entrance of the stadium. If you are unable to walk but would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so in honor of Victoria at www.dssmc.org.

We look forward to a special day in which we can honor our special little girl, Victoria Jayne!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On My Own

Victoria's physical therapist told me a few weeks ago that it wouldn't be long before Victoria could rise to standing on her own without pulling up on something. At that time, I thought ... "are you sure??" But, here I am today with a video of proof that Victoria can sit in the middle of the floor with nothing around her to pull up on and she can STAND!!! Praise the Lord!! How exciting to see this little girl doing such marvelous things! I seem to live almost every day in amazement as Victoria continues to do new things!

PS - The other exciting part of this story is that I am seeing more and more that Victoria "understands" what I'm asking her to do, although she doesn't "talk" back to me each time I give her a command. It is so wonderful to see her comprehending language. When you have a special-needs child, this is something you do NOT take for granted.

video

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Victoria came through her surgery this morning very well! We were thankful to hear that her heart rate stayed stable during the entire procedure and that Dr. Bryars was able to put the tubes in her ears, after all. He said it was very difficult because of the small size of her ear canal, but the surgery was a success. We are thankful to the Lord for keeping His hand on our little Victoria! Here are some photos from the morning.






Surgery Today ...

My day started at 2am, when Natalie woke with a "croupy" cough. She was crying a little but I was able to just pat her back and she went right to sleep. I hate that Mark will be dealing with a sick child in my absence today, but what can you do? That is the "unexpected" joy of having children, right?

I never went back to sleep after waking at 2am. I had planned to get up around 3am or so to prepare for Victoria's surgery today. She is having tubes put in her ears and I have to have her at the hospital at 5:15am. I think I will be a zombie by noon!

As you begin your day, I'm asking that you say a little prayer for Victoria. Her surgery will begin around 7am. It should be a short surgery, but I do imagine it may last longer than a routine procedure. Victoria's ear canals are so narrow that her doctor has informed me that it will be "difficult." Pray for God to be with Carter Bryars, her ENT, as he performs her surgery. Pray that all will go smoothly and that Victoria will remain in stable condition throughout the entire procedure.

I will post an update later today to let you know her progress!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Say What?

Today Victoria met with one of her therapists, a "special instructor", to be accurate with her title. Her special instructor teaches Victoria and me sign language that will help facilitate Victoria's speech that will come later on. Her instructor comes every 2 weeks to our home. She will usually ask me how much Victoria is babbling. Victoria does babble, but it comes and goes depending on how much she is stimulated by her environment. As a busy mom it is hard for me to sit directly in front of her all day and "talk" to her. So, I just do the best I can in everyday life and pray that God uses it all to help her along.

I asked her special instructor today when down syndrome babies usually start to say words. I kinda wondered when she might say, "Mamma" or "Daddy." I wasn't quite prepared for the answer she gave me. She told me that it is normally around 3 or 4 years of age. I was shocked and I felt my heart sink. To think I might not be able to hear Victoria say my name for several more years just tore my heart up. Can you imagine?

I have been grieving tonight, to say the least. Grieving and praying. I knew the road of having a special-needs child would be filled with joy and grief, so these feelings are not new to me. I've had a little of both through this journey.

I guess my grief reminds me that I'm human. It reminds me that the success of Victoria's future isn't all up to me. Her life and future are held in the hands of her heavenly Father, God. In moments when I want to cry (and, I have done some of that today), I have to, again, surrender and say, "God, I cannot do this alone. My emotions need to be held secure in Your hands. When my mind cannot wrap itself around what I don't understand, keep me sane. When I think my sweet little girl should be able to do things that others say might not be possible, help me continue to have faith in the One who created her."

If you are in a place of "not understanding" what is happening in your life, just hold on! Hold on with me to the most secure person in the universe ... God! Hold on to a wonderful verse that I cling to so often in my walk of faith:

"You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book. The very day I call for help, the tide of battle turns. My enemies flee! This one thing I know: God is for me!" Psalm 56:8,9

Even if Victoria doesn't "talk" to me for several more years, I will still cherish her. I will cherish her smile, her glowing eyes that say so much in themselves alone, her hugs, her open-mouth, slobbery kisses and her little grunts that try to tell me things that I may not understand. God, help me to cherish every moment and to learn that in the times that I might have to cry ... You catch those tears in your bottle and know every one!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life's Laughter

Have you ever wondered what causes laughter? I mean, why would God create such an interesting thing that we all take pleasure in? I read something recently on http://www.wikipedia.com/ about laughter. I want to share it with you.

"Laughter is Genetic" Robert R. Provine, Ph.D. has spent decades studying laughter. In his interview for WebMD, he indicated "Laughter is a mechanism everyone has; laughter is part of universal human vocabulary. There are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects, but everyone speaks laughter in pretty much the same way.” Everyone can laugh. Babies have the ability to laugh before they ever speak. Children who are born blind and deaf still retain the ability to laugh.

Even though I don't understand all the reasons that God created laughter, I sure take joy in it. Today is a day that I appreciated laughter so much. I was able to spend some sweet time with my special-needs daughter, Victoria Jayne, this afternoon after she woke from her nap. She was in such a happy mood. She just laughed and laughed at most every silly thing I did. I cannot describe the joy I felt while watching her laugh. My mind thought back to the days that she was lying limp on a hospital bed after having open-heart surgery at 7 weeks of age. It seemed then that I wouldn't get to enjoy a day like today at that point. But, today, through laughter, God reminded me of His faithfulness. He reminded me that He can take a circumstance that once seemed so grim, such as adjusting to the life of being a special-needs mother, and turn it into pure joy.

What a blessing it was to watch Victoria laugh today. I know God must've been laughing with her! I can't imagine that His heavens were not filled with extra-happiness when her voice rang out in laughter today!
video

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vitamin Crisis

I guess I knew it was coming.  I mean, Natalie couldn't go too long without putting something up her nose, right!?! 

Here I was getting all three girls in the bed by myself.  Elyssa kept getting out of bed while I was feeding Victoria a bottle.  Natalie was in her crib asking for a vitamin.  I got two vitamins out of the Flinstone bottle and asked Elyssa to eat one and give one to Natalie.  She did just as I asked. 

I was almost done feeding Victoria her bottle when I heard Natalie began to scream.  I thought Elyssa was bothering her.  Elyssa came running into Victoria's bedroom and told me that Natalie needed me right away.  I quickly put Victoria down because Natalie's screams were getting louder.  I began to hear her crying about her vitamin.  I turned her light on thinking she dropped her vitamin in her bed.  I looked around trying to find it in her covers.  Then, I heard her say that her vitamin was in her nose!  Elyssa told me, "Natalie put her vitamin up her nose!" 

Frantically, I grabbed Natalie out of the bed and took her into my bedroom.  I turned on the lamp, grabbed the flashlight, tweezers and nose drops all while Natalie was still screaming lying on my bed waiting for me.  Once I pointed the flashlight at her nose, I could see it.  That vitamin was almost out of grabbing distance, but I thought I could get it with tweezers if Natalie would be really still.  So, while holding the flashlight between my right chin and right shoulder I told Natalie to be really still.  She flinched several times but I tried to explain I wasn't going to hurt her.  I was going to get her vitamin out.  After a few tries, I finally got hold of the vitamin with my tweezers and pulled it out.  Poor Natalie was screaming.  Those Flinstone vitamins are really rough in their texture, so I'm sure it hurt a lot.  I put some nose drops in her nose and hugged her tight.  I said, "Natalie, don't EVER put anything up in your nose again!  It hurts your nose when you do that!  You scared Momma!"  She said, "I scared, too, Momma."  She just kept crying and said she would never do it again. 

Oh ... I pray this time she really means it!

PS - Mark finally got in tonight from his mission trip to London and Bangladesh!  I will see him in a few moments!  I'm excited to have my husband back home!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gecko Adventures

Last night a friend of mine, Donna, spent the night with me. Mark has been out of the country on a mission trip for about 7 days now and Donna had wanted to come spend some time with me and the girls since we were missing Mark and needed something to get our minds off of his absence.
After a fun afternoon of playing, we finally put the girls down for the night.  Then, Donna and I talked for a good bit and enjoyed catching up on each other's lives.  We were both getting tired and decided to get ready for bed.  Donna was lying in the bed watching TV and I decided to check my emails and Facebook.  I went into the office and sat down in the office chair.  I turned on the computer and something caught my eye.  I happened to look up and to the right.  In the top corner of the wall I saw what looked to be a huge light-colored lizard.  I freaked out!  I ran out of the office screaming and told Donna to come look at the critter that was just starring down at me in the office.  She told me it looked like a gecko (the one pictured to the left is NOT the one we found in my house, but I wanted you to see a gecko of similiar size and color).  I had never seen such a creature inside a house in all my life!  I had goose bumps all over and was trying to figure out how in the world we were going to get that sucker out of the house so I could sleep in peace! 

My next-door neighbor, Bob, had just told me the day before if I needed anything at all to give them a call.  Bob and his wife knew Mark was out of the country and wanted me to feel free to call them, even if it was in the middle of the night.  Donna was trying to be brave and thought she would try to get the gecko herself.  I immediately told her, "No way!  I'm calling Bob!"  I had already gotten two brooms from the utility closet and was ready to fend for my life if that yucky thing came a'runnin for me!  I had steaked my place on top of the "fainting couch" (an antique) in our bedroom and  Donna was laughing at what a coward I was being!

I called  Bob and he was happy to come over and help.  Through the course of me screaming several times and  Bob having to chase the gecko around the office a little, he finally managed to capture the reptile.  He took him outside with him and I hope he released him FAR away from my house! 

What a terrifying experience!  That thing was so nasty!  There was no way I could sleep with that little dude being free to roam in my home!  I just kept having horrible thoughts about him crawling on my face or in the girl's beds while we were all sleeping!  He just HAD TO GO and thankfully, Bob, came to our rescue!  I slept much better last night knowing that the house was free of our unwelcome guest!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bee My Guest

You are cordially invited to visit Bee My Guest at http://pairofbartletts.typepad.com/a-pair-of-bartletts/2009/08/bee-aware.html on THIS Tuesday!! I will be the guest writer on my friend's (Jennifer Bartlett) blog and you don't want to miss it! I will be sharing my experience of having a baby with Down syndrome and how this has changed my life in so many ways. Bring your tissues with you and let your heart be warmed by the powerful testimony that you will read and hear!

IMPORTANT: After you read my blog on Bee My Guest, leave a comment and you will be registered to win some wonderful prizes! How exciting! So, don't forget to visit and read THIS Tuesday's edition of Bee My Guest!

PS - For those of you wondering, Bait survived his terrible garbage disposal experience! I have been told I should change his name from Bait to Lazarus! I'm contemplating it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Misfortune Of A Fish

Today was an unfortunate day for Elyssa's birthday fish, Bait. He had a bit of an adventure that was my fault.

Bait's bowl needed cleaning. The water had gotten quite cloudy and it was time to fix him all up with clean water and rocks. I had put it off because I really get disgusted at the smell of his nasty water when I'm cleaning it all up. Plus, I see little bits of stuff floating in his water that I can only assume are excrements and that totally grosses me out!

This was Elyssa's birthday present from a good friend (I won't name names!), but somehow I have inherited the job of feeding Bait and keeping the bowl clean. By the way, don't you just love the fish's name? Mark planted the suggestion of "Bait" and the girls picked it up. I would've rather the fish had a normal name like Norm or Roger, but I lost out to "Bait." The poor fish already sounds like a goner with a name like that!

I was trying to take the easy way of cleaning Bait's bowl this morning. Instead of taking him out of the bowl, I left him in and would put the bowl under the kitchen sink faucet allowing water to fill up the bowl. I'd pour some water out making sure that Bait didn't fall out of the bowl. I continued doing this over and over and noticed that the water was getting cleaner. All was going well with this process until Bait got a little too close to the edge of the bowl. It was like it all happened in slow motion. Bait poured out of the bowl with the rest of the water and filth and landed directly in the garbage disposal! I screamed out loud! The girls watched the whole thing happen and they were in a panic, too. My next thoughts were, "What do I do now? How do I get Bait out of there? If I cannot get him out or if he dies am I supposed to just grind him up in the garbage disposal?? I couldn't bare the thought of having to do that! So, with a quick reaction, I grabbed some tongs out of my utensil drawer and began to try to "fish" Bait out of the garbage disposal. The poor guy kept flopping around and it was difficult to grab hold of him. Finally, I was able to get him out and plopped him into a glass of water I had poured for him to rest in until his bowl was clean. I breathed a sigh of relief, but noticed that Bait didn't seem quite the same. At this point, I'm not sure that anything happened to Bait. I didn't see him bleeding (I don't know what fish blood looks like!), but he seems traumatized for sure! I wonder why?? I'm not sure if he'll make it or not, but at least he now has a nice clean bowl to either live or die in.

Hopefully, Bait will pull through this terrible experience! I know one thing ... I'll always take him out of his bowl FIRST when cleaning it in the future!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Crawling Critter

Victoria is going, going, going! It is so funny to see her scoot around the house, now. She is still slow, but every day I see her gaining strength. The once frail and weak baby is beginning to turn into an energetic explorer. When I see her doing new things each day I am, again, amazed at the goodness of God!

Look at my little scooter and be amazed!
video

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eye See You!

Today was a long day for me and Victoria! I woke up around 4am and woke up Victoria at 5:30am to go have her eye surgery performed.

When we arrived at the doctor's office, it was pretty empty except for the receptionist waiting for us on the 3rd floor. I registered Victoria and waited a few minutes before being called back. We were taken back to a larger room with several beds in it. This was a prep room for all those having out-patient surgery. There were several other babies that eventually joined us in this room and Victoria out-talked all of them! I was shocked at how verbal she was while we waited on the doctor!

Once Victoria was taken back to surgery, I went back out into the waiting area. I was told that the surgery would only last about 5-10 minutes, if all went well. When I was in the waiting room for a while longer than I expected, I felt a check in my spirit to pray for Victoria. Finally, I was called back to see Victoria. She was crying pretty hard when I got to her, which is unusual for her normally. I hugged her and tried feeding her some juice. She was famished since she had not eaten breakfast. She would stop every few seconds to cry because she couldn't breathe well out of her nose while drinking her bottle. Because of the surgery, her nose was bleeding some and that didn't help on top of the congestion she already had. After a while longer, she finally calmed down as I stood up with her and rocked her back and forth. As the nurses watched me holding her, I wanted to cry. I felt such an honor at that moment to be Victoria's mother. I knew that God could've chosen anyone else to be her mom, but for some reason He chose me. It made me hug Victoria even tighter as I comforted her from her traumatic morning.

The doctor let me know that he had a difficult time getting Victoria's tear duct to drain and clear, but it finally cooperated for him. During the surgery, they had to end up doing an IV because Victoria's heart rate dropped really low. Once I heard this, I knew why I had a check in my spirit to pray for her! They were able to give her some medication that brought her heart rate back up. Because of Victoria's heart surgery last year, she is a bit of a high risk for any type of anesthesia. Thankfully, she stabilized and the rest of the procedure went well.

The interesting part of things is that God has given me several opportunities to share my "story" with a lot of people lately. From Victoria's consultation with the doctor the day before her surgery, to the day of her surgery, God has placed people around me in the waiting rooms that ask me about Victoria. The door has totally opened for me to share God's hope with people. What a wonderful thing to tell others that something I thought was a terrible thing in my life (giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome), has ended up being the biggest blessing I could've ever imagined! It excites me to see how God has used Victoria's life to minister to so many people already! May I never let an opportunity go by to share my hope with others!

Here is a picture of Victoria after we arrived home. Her right eye is a little swollen, but I expect that will be normal in a day or so. She is a real trooper!

Here is a picture of Victoria laying by Mark on the couch. Mark has been out of town all this week speaking at a children's camp. He was so glad to be home so he could love on his little angel!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eye Surgery

Please keep Victoria in your prayers. She will be having minor eye surgery in the morning to unclog her right eye tear duct. It will be a quick surgery and I pray it will relieve her right eye and the constant clogging she has had to endure for at least a year now. We will arrive at the doctor's office tomorrow morning at 6:15am and surgery will begin at 6:45am. While I ask you to pray that her surgery goes well, I also ask that you pray for her to not awaken during the night wanting to have another bottle. She cannot eat after midnight, so I'm hoping that she will do well during the night for me. I plan to feed her an extra bottle later tonight to help remedy any middle-of-the-night feedings.

Thank you for your prayers for my little angel! I'll send an update tomorrow to let all of you know how she did!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finally ... A Tooth!

Victoria turned a year old on March 10th and she is just now getting in her first tooth! I was worried for a little while that she would be toothless, but thankfully, I have seen her first front, bottom tooth wriggling its way out of her gum. Unfortunately, Victoria has not gained a lot of weight lately because of the fact that she cannot eat substantial foods yet (because of her lack of teeth). At Victoria's last visit to her pediatrician, her doctor talked about referring us to an eating clinic to see how we could put more calories into Victoria's little body. When Victoria starts walking the extra intake of calories will be very crucial.

Victoria is now pulling herself up from sitting to standing! She is beginning to "cruise" while holding onto furniture and she is also beginning to crawl! So many exciting things are happening and I couldn't be happier. She is such a sweet girl who has been through a lot in her short life, so it is awesome to see her continuing to progress! God has and continues to be so good to her and our family!

Here is a video of Victoria pulling up from sitting to standing!
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Here is a video of Victoria crawling in her own little way tonight while we were playing before bed!
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Victoria's Story

Check out our "thank you" note to Rileigh & Raylee Angel Ride Foundation at http://angel-ride.com/AngelStories/VictoriaMessick/tabid/1353/Default.aspx. This foundation gave us money last year when Victoria had to be transported to UAB for emergency heart surgery. It is an honor for us to be featured on their website.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

6-Month Evaluation

Today, Victoria's physical therapist, Candice, and her Early Intervention service coordinator, Dianne (pictured to the left), came out to our house for her 6-month evaluation. Dianne had the long list of physical goals that we set for Victoria 6 months ago. We were so excited to see that Victoria has met every goal in her therapies that we hoped she would in the past 6 months! I felt like shouting today! It was such an encouraging EI visit!

I have seen the Lord take a little baby that could barely do anything because of such major heart defects and heal her with the help of surgeons! Then, I've seen the Lord carry that baby through a wonderfully quick recovery! THEN, I've seen the Lord help her accomplish every physical goal that her therapists and I have worked with her on all throughout her 12 months in Early Intervention! I tell you the truth ... every time I look at Victoria Jayne, I am reminded of what her name means: "victorious victory!"

God has been so good to our family, I cannot help but boast of His faithfulness! He has helped us in the toughest of times and I know that without Him we would've been lost. He took what felt like a helpless and hopeless situation and used it for His glory. I'm so thankful to the Lord for all of my sweet girls, but I especially thank Him for letting us walk down a little different path than most people get to. I never thought I'd be thankful to the Lord for giving me a child with Down syndrome, but now I'm convinced that we get to experience His glory just a little bit more than most.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

After All Is Said And Done

The Pastor's Conference was a wonderful and interesting experience. Let me explain ...

Saturday was a long day for Mark. He had meetings all day preparing for the conference, which started on Sunday afternoon. I, on the other hand, had a day to myself. Besides ironing and going to the workout room in the hotel, I rode with Beth White at lunchtime for a sandwich at Panera Bread. We had wonderful conversation to go along with the great food. Later I went back to my hotel room and took a nap. Naps never happen for me at home, so this was a real treat for me!

That night, after Mark finished up with his meetings, we met up with other North Mobile staff to eat at PF Changs. It was awesome!

After PF Changs, we decided to ride around and see if we could find Churchill Downs. We were able to find it and believe it or not, it was open and almost empty of people. We were able to walk all around the buildings and track. What a cool experience!

Unfortunately, during all the rest and fun, I had been getting calls from my mom. She had developed a very serious Staph infection. This was obviously terrible news. I was very concerned about my mom, but also was stressed because she and my dad were keeping Victoria and Natalie. So, during the weekend I was making many phone calls to line up another sitter for my kids. Fortunately, we have such a sweet lady in our life that has kept our kids many times that stepped in and saved the day! We couldn't be more thankful for Syble Parten! She is awesome!

Sunday afternoon was sound check for the band and praise team and Sunday afternoon the Pastor's Conference began.
We kept trucking full speed ahead the rest of the time we were in Louisville.
The speakers were wonderful and the music was awesome! God really moved in such a powerful way during the weekend. We were so thankful to be a part of such a powerful event. Even in the midst of stressful situations at home, when all was said and done ... it was a GREAT weekend!
PS - Here is a short video I took while at Churchill Downs!

video

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Long Day Flying

Yesterday Mark and I began our trek to Kentucky for the Pastor's Conference.

We flew out with our Worship Pastor, Jason Breland, and his wife, Amy. Our flight left Mobile at 9:40am and arrived in Atlanta about an hour later. We had around a 2 hour layover in Atlanta, which allowed us plenty of time to get lunch in the Atlanta airport. Our plane was supposed to depart Atlanta around 1pm (Atlanta time) and arrive in Kentucky around 3pm, however, our plane seemed to have some mechanical difficulties that couldn't be fixed.

We had to wait an extra 3 hours in the airport while our plane was investigated. The announcers over the loudspeaker in the airport finally reported that our plane could not be fixed and we were given another place to fly on. We were glad to finally have transportation to Kentucky!

Being in planes and airports all day really wears on you! We finally arrived in Kentucky and met up with one of our Executive Pastors, Scott White, and his wife, Beth. We all had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mark has meetings today and I've had the day to myself in the hotel room. So far I've watched a lot of HGTV and have gone to the little workout room in the hotel to workout. I might even take in a nap, which is unusual for me when I'm at home with little ones.

This weekend promises to be an exciting one! I'll post photos as the weekend progresses.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pastor's Conference

This year Mark and I are blessed to be able to attend the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference in Kentucky. Our Pastor, Ed Litton, is the president of the Pastor's Conference and has planned the entire event. Our Worship Pastor, Jason Breland, asked me to sing on the praise team for the event and I'll also be singing a solo, as well. Mark will be in charge of the ushers and greeters, so he will have a big job, too!

Thousands of pastor's will be in attendance and it will be a wonderful opportunity for the worship ministry of our church (First Baptist North Mobile) to minister to the men that faithfully fill the pulpits each week in our country.

If you would like to see LIVE streaming video of the Pastor's Conference, go to the following website: http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=87349732638&h=33xhv&u=Teaf9

There are many wonderful speakers who will be encouraging the pastors during the conference that you will not want to miss hearing! And, the music will be awesome, of course! Make sure you drop by the website Sunday afternoon and all of Monday to see and hear all of the wonderful things going on during the Pastor's Conference. And, if you miss the LIVE streaming video, you can go back and watch the videos at any later time that you choose! Great, huh?

Thanks for your prayers for Mark and me as we fly out on Friday afternoon and return Tuesday night. Please keep both sets of our parents in your prayers, as well. They will be keeping our girls for us while we are away. Pray that the girls stay healthy and sleep well for their grandparents!

Mark and I are looking forward to having some time away and are especially excited to see how God is going to move during the Pastor's Conference!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Potty Training Already?

Today was a nice day. After a full week of Vacation Bible School it was nice to stay home and get some things done around the house. Mark cut grass and I put pine straw out in the yard along with cleaning inside the house and washing clothes. It was a very productive day.

This afternoon, after I had already given Elyssa and Natalie a bath, I took Victoria into the bathroom to start her bath. I noticed her diaper was dry and decided to put her on the potty to see what she would do. I immediately said, "go tee tee." And, believe it or not ... my little one-year-old Down syndrome baby pottied! I couldn't believe it! I went crazy with praise for her and she just laughed. I really believe she knew what she was doing!

After Victoria's bath, I got her all dressed in her PJs. We were still in the bathroom and I said, "stand up." She was holding my fingers and she stood up. Wow! It is so encouraging to know she is understanding my commands! Then, I said, "walk." I backed up some, still holding onto her fingers, and she began taking steps! She took several steps before she decided to sit down. I was amazed! Praise the Lord that Victoria is responding so well! I was so excited to see her doing these new things! I ran into the bedroom, where Mark was doing some work on his computer, and told him all about the exciting things Victoria had just done. He was equally excited! Then, I began calling family to tell them the awesome news!
Some of you may not understand, but kids with Down syndrome and usually very slow to potty train. I know this is just a beginning, but I plan to keep introducing her to the potty training concept in hopes that she'll take to it sooner.

I just believe my little girl is special! God is helping her in so many ways and I couldn't be more thankful!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Emergency Room Visit

Welp, last night was Natalie's first visit to the Emergency Room! She had sounded bad all day. She was coughing terribly and was running a high fever. I gave her several breathing treatments during the day and tried to treat her fever with Tylenol. She seemed to get worse through the day. Last night around 8:30pm, she woke crying and was really struggling to breathe. Mark was very concerned and thought I should take her on to the hospital while he stayed with the girls.

The doctor at the Emergency Room ordered x-rays and found that her lungs were okay but her throat x-ray showed some significant swelling of airways. He ordered two steroid shots (one in each leg) and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic.

Natalie was so brave during her visit to the hospital. She let the doctor do everything he needed to do without the first cry from her. The only time she cried was when the shots were administered. I kept telling her how proud I was of her. She was so sweet and courageous!

Her shots have already seemed to help some, although she still seems to feel under the weather. But, I know before no time she'll be back to her normal self!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

She Is God's Child VIDEO

I would like to share a link with you to a song that I wrote about Victoria that has been put into video format. I sang to this video at the end of my most recent speaking engagement and it was very powerful. There was not a dry eye in the place!

Just click on the link below and it will take you to the video. The song I wrote is called "She Is God's Child" and the video was compiled by Dave Simpson, my dear friend. Hope you enjoy it!

http://dsimpson41.blogspot.com/2009/05/one-of-our-dear-riends-is-heather.html

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Brunch

Saturday was a special day for me. My sister, Shana, had invited me to sing and speak at an event she was planning for the ladies of her church in Louisana. The event was a Mothers & Others Brunch. Shana had rented out a hall for the ladies to have their brunch in and the men of the church graciously served the ladies brunch. The tables were decorated beautifully and the fellowship was sweet.

Mark and Victoria were able to go with me and that made the trip such a great one!

The especially sweet part of it all is that I was able to share my testimony about my little Down syndrome girl, Victoria. This was my first "official" time to share my testimony in front of a group and it went incredibly well. In fact, during some parts of my session there were almost no dry eyes in the place. Everything was so moving and I could see how receptive all the ladies (and men) were to the message I was sharing.

To end the morning, I sang a song with my niece that I wrote called, "She Is God's Child." A video played while we sang the song. The tears flowed in the room. It was a great time!

I pray that I will have more opportunities to share about my sweet gift from God. It really hit me Saturday that God may just use my "special" little girl to bring many to saving grace! How cool would that be?!

I feel blessed to have been a part of such a special day! And, it was an extra-special blessing to have my husband, Mark, and Victoria there with me!

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

We took a picture of the girls today in their matching Easter dresses and wanted to share it with you! Hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Deep Questions From Elyssa

Yesterday after I finished singing in our family worship service (KidGrid), I went downstairs to get Elyssa. She was in her 3-year-old Sunday School Class. Once she realized I was at the door, she quickly ran toward me and we headed down the hallway to get Natalie from her 2-year-old class.

On the way to get Natalie, from out of nowhere Elyssa asked me, "Mamma, are you going to die?" I was blown away to get such a deep question thrown my way without any warning! There were people around listening as we passed by them in the hallway. They all looked at me with huge smiles on their faces and made comments like, "Good luck answering that!" and "Whoah, what a deep question!" It took me a minute to answer her. I said, "Well, Elyssa, I guess I will one day." To that she answered, "I don't want you to die Mamma!" By that time in the conversation we had neared Natalie's room and the subject changed. I almost felt myself sweating at how to try to explain such a thing to a young child. I couldn't wait to tell Mark what Elyssa and I had talked about. I thought he'd probably be as surprised as I was by her question.

When we finally met up with Mark and Victoria to head to the car, I began explaining to Mark what Elyssa and I had been talking about. He was, in fact, as surprised as I was. We have always thought Elyssa acted much older than her age and this was just another instance that proved our feelings about her maturity. We all walked together to the van and herded the kids in so we could go get something for lunch.

On our way to pick up some grub, Mark asked Elyssa what she learned about in Sunday School. This began the discussion of death all over again. Mark tried to explain to Elyssa that one day everyone would die. Like a good pastor, he started to quote Hebrews 9:27. It says, "And as it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after this the judgement,...." I quickly told him that she would not understand that wording. So, in my south Alabama dialect I told her that everyone would die at one point or another in their lives. Mark went on to tell her that those of us that have asked Jesus to forgive us of our sins (mistakes and disobedience) and come into our lives would be able to go live with Him in Heaven. Elyssa said, "I don't want to go to Heaven to live with Jesus! I want to stay with Mamma!"

That was the funniest thing to hear Elyssa say. I even smiled when I heard her say she wanted to stay with me. But, I must admit that somewhere in my heart, I long to hear her eventually say that she does want to live with Jesus in Heaven. I pray that one day little Elyssa will give her heart and life to the Lord to follow Him all her days. What a wonderful thing to know that even a 3-year-old has these built-in questions about eternity and what comes after life. We will all face death one day and I'd rather know in advance that I will be meeting my Savior in Heaven than hoping it will all turn out okay in the end.
Thank You, Lord, that You made a way for all of us to live with You one day in Heaven and that You can give peace for our deepest of questions!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Checkups Galore

Today I took Victoria and Natalie for their yearly checkups with their pediatrician. Here are the results!

Victoria now weighs 15 lbs 2 oz, which is a milestone for her! I was so excited to see that she had gained more weight! She continues to gain, although it is slowly. But, I'll take it any day! She has definitely gotten longer in size and while we were in the doctor's office, she actually held her bottle for the first time! It was the cutest thing! I took a photo of it when we got home so you could see her doing it!
Dr. Faye was very pleased with all the progress Victoria has been making with Early Intervention. Victoria is now sitting up on her own! She is still wobbly, but she is beginning to catch herself when she starts to fall. We are excited to see her gaining strength and doing more and more. What a blessing!

Natalie totally acted like a big girl today at her doctor visit! She is usually my screamer and rebels against doing anything closely resembling a doctor visit. However, today on the way to Dr. Faye's I talked to her about all that Dr. Faye would be doing. I tried to prepare her and I also bribed her with gummies if she acted like a big girl! And, apparently ... it worked! She did so well! She didn't scream the first time (well, not until she got a few shots!!)!! I was so proud of her! She is really growing up! And, the girl weighs close to 31 lbs! She almost weighs as much as Elyssa! Yikes! But, Dr. Faye said proportionally ... she is right on track!

So, all went well at the doctor's and we couldn't feel more blessed!

PS - Since I don't have a good recent photo of Natalie, I've uploaded a video so you can see all three girls playing together!

video

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Victoria!!

Are you in as much disbelief as we are that a year has actually passed by already and Victoria is turning a year old today?? So much has happened this year that I'm surprised we don't feel like she is turning two instead of one! However, it has been such a blessing to go through everything we have been through with her. She is such a joy and we feel so very blessed to have her in our lives.

When Victoria was first born, I questioned what God was doing and wondered why He chose us for what seemed like such a difficult task. Now, I realize that He extended His wonderful hand of grace to such an undeserving couple. We didn't deserve what He gently laid in our arms, but He decided to trust us with such a sweet angel anyway.

When Victoria first arrived into this world, I grieved over the fact that I didn't have a "normal" child. I grieved that she wouldn't do some of the same things that other children might do. I grieved that the rest of my life had suddenly changed so drastically. Now ... I would grieve over NOT having Victoria. I couldn't imagine my life without her in it! She is such a precious little girl and I love holding her and experiencing life with her. I told Mark that God has given us such a wonderful gift in Victoria. God is letting us experience a side of life that many will never know.

There are so many times that we might not understand why God does what He does. Maybe we question His actions and wonder, "Why did this happen to me?" Maybe sometimes we need to stop and think that God could actually be blessing us! What we thought to be a curse or something that would hinder our lives might actually be the best gift we could have ever been given!

I thank God that He gave grace to me during the times I questioned His hand. He was patient with me (and still is) and let me express my deepest emotions to Him when I was in such distress. He just comforted me and I believe He waited excitedly for the moment that I would realize what wonderful favor He had placed on Mark and me. He is so good and I could not be more thankful for His special gift to us!

Happy Birthday, Victoria Jayne!