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

Download Heather's NEW Album!!

Download or order a copy of Heather's NEW album Meet Us Here from www.cdbaby.com/heathermessick

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful Hearts

Happy Thanksgiving to all! The Messick family had a wonderful holiday week last week and I wanted to share a few of the photos we took.





I am so thankful for my husband and girls! They are such a blessing to my life. God has been so good to our family and we praise Him for always being so faithful to us.








I pray you all had a great holiday and took a few moments out of your schedule to thank the Lord for all of His blessings!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

School Is Here!

I can't believe summer has already ended and school is back in full swing! Here are some updates on how the kiddos are doing!








My oldest, Elyssa, is in 1st grade and we are finding that homework for Elyssa has definitely increased from last year. I think Elyssa is better at times at getting her homework done, but then on other occasions she has little breakdowns. She'll cry and say, "I don't want to do any more work!" She asks me why she is the only one having to do homework. She wants to know why Natalie doesn't have homework. I'll remind her that when she was 4-years-old that she didn't have homework either. It is amazing how a 2-minute reading assignment can drag out into a 30-minute ordeal! Ah, the drama that comes with this girl!



My middle daughter, Natalie, is in 4K and loving it. Natalie comes home, makes pallets all over her bedroom floor and puts babies on all of them. She will turn out the lights and turn on lullaby music. She will tell all of her babies to go to sleep and she even takes names of the babies that talk out of turn! Attention, Mrs. March! Natalie must mimic everything you do when she gets home! Ha! We have already seen in Natalie a natural-born teacher!



Our special little girl, Victoria, is in an inclusive Pre-K class in the public elementary school. Victoria is the only child in the class with Downs so far. The other children either have autism or learning disabilities. There may be a child or two in the classroom that are considered "typical" children. Victoria has already stolen the hearts of her teachers, principal, cafeteria workers ... pretty much everyone at the school! Victoria is still so tiny, so it is funny to see her walking down the school hallway to her class with a backpack on her back. She has quickly gotten into the routine of her class. She unpacks her backpack when she enters the classroom and quickly goes to her seat. She sees an Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist at school and is progressing, but at a slower rate.


Mark and I have had the privilege of going into Victoria's classroom on Fridays and leading the kids in a fun music time. We have really enjoyed being able to be a small part of what goes on in the classroom and hope to leave the kids with some fun memories from this year.

To conclude this update, we want to give a big "thank you" to all of the wonderful teachers helping our kids along in their learning journey! You are all a blessing to us!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Momma!"

When Victoria was born with Down syndrome, I was told that many things about her (speech, mental and physical abilities) would be delayed. For a new mother of a special needs child, this was devastating. I wondered how I would cope with seeing Victoria pass the "normal" milestones that typical children master so easily without a hint of her being close to performing those same activities anytime soon.


One thing that continually grieved me was that Victoria had not ever been able to say my name. She had turned 3-years-old in March and had never uttered "Momma." I know Mark felt such joy and pride that Victoria had been able to say "Da Da" shortly after she turned 2-years-old and I was proud for him. But, boy! I longed to hear my little girl call to me when she needed me to meet her needs. I began to wonder how long it would take her to finally say my name. As time passed, I wondered ... "Will she ever be able to say Momma?" I held out hope that her tiny mouth would be able to eventually process the sounds.

I am happy to report that soon after Victoria's 3rd birthday I began hearing what I thought to be her saying "Baah Baah." I wasn't sure if she was really attempting to call to me with that verbalization or not. But, with time I could see that she grew in confidence as she spoke directly to me using those "words." I told Mark, "I think that is her way of saying 'Momma!'"

As every day passes, I know for a fact that Victoria is saying my name. Like when she climbs up on top of the tall stainless garbage can in the pantry and forcefully yells, "Baah Baah" over and over until I come grab whatever snack she is reaching for. Or, when I get out of the car to pump gas into the gas tank and I see her waving heartily at me through the window, yelling, "Baah Baah" to get my attention.

What a joy it is to see Victoria realizing that speech is a powerful way to communicate things she needs or wants! I wondered if I would ever see this day come! I was praying and holding out hope that it would. The God who formed precious Victoria has given her a voice and He is helping her slowly put sounds into a few words that we can now understand. What an awesome process it is to witness!

God has been very gracious to me. He has helped me through every phase of Victoria's life so far, accepting that she'll eventually get where she needs to be. And, when Victoria does meet each milestone, it isn't without hard work on her part and a big celebration on the part of her family!

PS - I've attached a video of Victoria saying "Momma." Enjoy and celebrate with us!


video

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where Is My Shoe?


Things in the Messick household frequently go missing these days. Right now I cannot find my left tennis shoe (which is a nice tennis shoe, mind you!) or my toothbrush. Most every day we find items in the trash can that somehow were deposited there. Or, we find items misplaced in other drawers in the kitchen.


What is the reason for this phenomenon? Who is the little guilty party of all of these strange disappearances and happenings in our home? Well, we have a special little gal named Victoria Jayne who is the culprit!


Victoria has a thing for our cabinets, drawers, garbage cans and pantry these days. The only thing I can figure is that maybe Victoria is feeling "big-time" now that she is tall enough to reach drawers and shelves in the house. She is constantly opening drawers, raiding the pantry and pulling items out of place. It is a big job to keep the house in any type of order ... which doesn't happen very often!


To date, I cannot tell you how many pieces of silverware or utensils that I "may have" thrown away by mistake! And, I can only assume that maybe my good tennis shoe found its way into our big kitchen garbage can and I may have thrown it out without realizing it was in there.


Oh well! I guess one day my house will find order again and in the meantime these little mishaps give me good reason to go shopping!

Friday, May 6, 2011

9 Years Already?



I want to say a simple "Happy Anniversary" to my wonderful husband of 9 years! On May 4, 2002, Mark and I said our "I do's" and it has been a full journey of life together ever since!







In our 9 years together, we have served at the same church in Saraland, AL (First Baptist North Mobile), which is a big part of our life. We have loved being a part of that ministry!




We were blessed to have 3 little girls (in 33 months) that we adore.

Our first sweet girl came in 2005 and we named her Elyssa.







Our second little girl came in 2007 and we named her Natalie.








We entered the world of the "special needs community" when we had our third little girl in 2008. We named her Victoria.







In 2008, our youngest girl, Victoria, had open-heart surgery and you better believe that draws a couple closer because of the emotional nature of such a surgery.





Along the way, God has blessed Mark with many speaking engagements. He is a wonderful communicator!




God has also opened up lots of opportunities for me in the way of speaking and singing engagements at women's events.

It has been so wonderful to share in some of these engagements together as a couple. We experience so much joy through encouraging others and reminding them that God loves them and wants to walk with them in a personal way on their journey of life. We would've never have imagined how wonderfully God could take everything we have experienced as a couple and as parents and use it to minister to others.




We have had our ups and downs as any other couple does in marriage, but we know that God had a plan in placing us together. We have laughed together, cried together, been overweight together! You name it and we have probably experienced it! But, through the past 9 years we have just been thankful to be able to experience life together!

Happy Anniversary, Mark Douglas Messick! I love you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A First Time For Everything

This week I had the opportunity to minister to a sweet group of ladies in Camden, AL. Their annual event called "A Day In Spring" took place on Thursday and I was asked to come as the guest singer/speaker for the event. I shared my testimony of being a mother of a child with special needs and how faithful God has been to our family. To conclude my speaking session with the ladies, I sang my video song about Victoria ("She Is God's Child"). For a while now I've really wanted Elyssa (Victoria's older sister) to sing the first verse and chorus of the song with me. When I wrote the song, it was always my intention for Victoria's sisters to eventually sing the song with me in that way. Well, Thursday was the very first time that Elyssa sang the song with me in a public setting and it was absolutely precious. As a matter of fact, most of the women were already crying by the time Elyssa finished the first chorus of the song. It was so special for me to share this experience with Elyssa. I look forward to her doing this more with me in the future! And, Natalie (my middle daughter) is already asking when she'll be able to sing with us! So, she'll probably be up there with Elyssa soon singing right along!



I feel so privileged to share the gift of music with ALL of my daughters! And, not only am I able to share the gift of music with them ... I'm sharing the truth of God's love and faithfulness with them at the same time!

PS - I'm including a video of Elyssa singing her portion of "She Is God's Child" from the sound check we had on Thursday morning so you can hear how great she did!

video

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's A Small World

On our recent visit to Disney's Magic Kingdom we, of course, had to visit the It's A Small World ride! We had two of our three little girls with us, so we actually had to ride it twice! The first time we rode the ride, the girls were enamored with it. It was one of their favorite rides and it was one of the first rides they actually rode upon us entering the Magic Kingdom for the day.

Mark and I will never forget the couple of comments our oldest little girl (5 1/2 years) made while on that ride. Here are her comments:


Elyssa's First Comment:

"The people are singing and so happy because they are celebrating Jesus' birth!"


Elyssa's Second Comment:

(The girls saw all of the coins people had tossed into the water on the ride and wanted to toss in a penny each and make a wish.)

"My wish was that Jesus would be my Lord and Savior forever and ever!"


Elyssa's Third Comment:

"Natalie's wish was that she would be a mermaid."


Elyssa's Fourth Comment:

"Natalie's wish won't come true, but my wish WILL come true!"


We had a good laugh over the mermaid comment! But, you know ... we are amazed sometimes at the spiritual things our children say. It is in those moments that we realize ... they really do glean things from church and hopefully, from Mark and me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ministering With Family



This past weekend Mark and I had the priviledge of ministering at my brother's church (First Baptist Church of Mount Dora) in Florida. Mark was the guest speaker at their Disciple Now and I helped my brother, Alan, with the worship music for the event. We had a great time being with their church family.



Alan also asked me to share my testimony and several songs with the church family in the worship service on Sunday morning. The people there were such a blessing to us.




We left a few days before the weekend events we had planned at the church so we could enjoy some time with Elyssa and Natalie at a few of the Disney parks. It was their first time to visit the parks and we all had a wonderful time! My parents were gracious enough to keep Victoria for us while we were out of town. We knew it would be such a busy week and weekend. It would've really tired Victoria out.


God moved in a powerful way this weekend and we felt so blessed to be able to minister with my brother and his family!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

What A Wonderful Life!

As I sit at my computer tonight, I still cannot believe I am now 39! Thirty-nine years have flown by. If I were to be honest, I've actually reflected over those years today in an act of counting my blessings. Here is a little bit of the recount I've had of my years.

I was born on March 13th, 1972. I weighed 6lbs 1oz and was 19 inches long. My parents gave me the name Heather Christine.

I grew up in a wonderful family. My mom and dad were both very musical. My mom sang and played the piano for our church for 30 years. My dad sang and played guitar and harmonica. My mom MADE me, my sister and brother sing three-part harmony when we were very young kids. We hated all of that practice, but now we look back and are so thankful that our mom invested that time in us. I remember that our family would get together with several other families in our church and we would have "singings" for several hours on a weekend night. Those were fun memories.
I attended the same Missionary Baptist church for all of my young life (up until graduating college). I was very active in all of the choirs and ensembles there. I also taught youth and college classes when I WAS a youth and college aged person! And, I made some of the best friends growing up in that church.

It was in high school that I started singing in show choirs. That was a wonderfully, fun experience! I wanted nothing more than to be just like my high school chorus teacher. I loved high school and was voted class favorite every year (which amazed me because I was so quiet back then).

I look back now and laugh at a high school photo of me and my brother from my senior Sweetheart Dance (I was voted queen). I guess whoever took the photo didn't realize that I took my brother to the dance with me. The quote under our photo was, "For Heather and her date, it was a night filled with romance!"

It was in my high school years that I invited Jesus Christ into my life. I knew that I wanted a personal relationship with the God who had created my life and all of the blessings that went along with it. I wanted Him to walk with me through the rest of my life and all that it held for me. That was the best decision I've ever made.

After high school, I took a year off to earn some money working at a Chiropractor's office. I started college in 1991. I LOVED college! I was in several college pageants, always winning second runner up and most of the time winning the talent portion of the competition. I sang in a scholarship group that traveled on the weekends for several years of my college career. I began having opportunities to do vocal studio work. I made wonderful friends in college that I keep up with even now. I even met my future husband, Mark, there (although we wouldn't marry for many years down the road). College was a wonderful experience for me. I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance and a minor in English. I had the 5-year college plan and graduated in 1996.

After college, I took the summer off. Then, I auditioned for a full-time singing group called Wings of Morning. I traveled with that full-time group as a soprano singer and also as the groups musical director for about 5 or 6 months. I went back home after my short "road" experience to begin teaching voice lessons. I also acquired a job at Integrity Music. I taught voice and worked at Integrity for 9 1/2 years.

God began working in my heart regarding a solo ministry in music. On top of my two "jobs," God began opening doors for me to provide music for lots of women's events, youth events and church services. I recorded my first solo album called Wonder. All of the songs were original.

Mark and I reunited after 7 years of being apart. We married in May of 2002. We had our first little girl in July of 2005 ... our second little girl in January of 2007 and our third little girl in March of 2008. I had three little baby girls in a period of less than 3 years! Were we crazy or what? We have been blessed to have our wonderful little girls. Each of them is unique in their own way and we wouldn't trade any of them for the world. When we had our third little girl, our lives totally changed. We started walking a journey we didn't expect. We were now parents of a special needs child. But, God has walked with us every step of the way and we feel so blessed.

God has opened many doors for me to sing and speak at women's events again. I have found such peace and comfort in this renewed ministry in my life. I feel so blessed to be invited to speak into the lives of other women and encourage them on their own journeys. I recorded my second album recently called, Meet Us Here. About half of the songs on the album are original songs.

God has also given me lots of opportunities the past several years to do vocal studio work again, which I love!

And on top of that, I get to teach as an adjunct professor at a local college as a Commercial Voice Instructor. There is nothing better than being able to pour what you have learned over the years through experience and education into the next generation. It is very rewarding.
My husband and I have served at a wonderful church together for almost 9 years now. We have been so blessed by our church family through the years. We couldn't have asked for a better group of people to labor with for God's Kingdom.

Mark and I are getting ready to celebrate 9 years of marriage in May. We always say that we have gone through a lot in 9 years, but I wouldn't have wanted to experience those things with any other man on the planet! Mark is a wonderful husband, father and provider! He has always taken care of our family and I'm so thankful for him!

To conclude this brief little life history lesson, I can look back over the last 39 years and say ... "I have loved my life!" God has truly blessed me abundantly with wonderful friends and family and opportunities to use my gifts for Him. I see God's hand over and over again as a recount all of the blessings of the life He has given me. He has always been so faithful not only to me, but to my entire family.

I pray that whatever years God chooses to bless me with in the future ... that I serve Him with those years as best as I can!

Happy 39th Birthday to me! Thank you Lord, for a wonderful life!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Victoria Turns 3!

Happy Birthday to our little blessing, Victoria Jayne! She is officially 3-years-old on March 10th.

Victoria is doing so many things now. She definitely is not limited physically when it comes to her gross motor skills. She is everywhere, doing everything! The only thing that limits her with her fine motor skills is her impatience with sitting still to do a task for more than 5 minutes at a time. But, we believe that will improve as she gets older.

Victoria's heart repair is still doing wonderfully, as reported by her cardiologist at her recent checkup at his office. We feel so thankful that he believes that she will never have to undergo any other open-heart surgeries EVER!

Victoria is really beginning to "communicate" so much now. Though she speaks "gibberish" most of the time, I can understand a few words she speaks from time to time. She takes after her mother in that she likes to "talk" with her hands! Sometimes, she speaks "gibberish" and moves her hands all over the place. I know she is trying to tell me something really important and I sure wish I knew what it was! I'm just glad that she is "trying" to communicate now.

Victoria will discontinue receiving therapy services from Early Intervention on March 10th and the public school system will take that over. Her new therapists will begin seeing her at the Mom's Day Out program that she is enrolled in. We decided to wait to start her in 3K until the fall, although she could go immediately when she turns 3. Victoria is so small yet and we want her to have a little more time to mature before starting school.

There are so many other things our little girl is accomplishing and we just feel thankful to witness little miracles every day! There is no doubt in our minds that we have, as a family, been given a gift. Living life with a special needs child is, indeed, very special. As a friend recently told me, "Anyone can have a 'normal' baby any day. But, we won the lottery! We were given a special child!"

For some reason God chose our family to receive this special gift and we live in wonder of His faithfulness to us!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wonderful Article Online!

Make sure you read The Alabama Baptist article about our family online at www.thealabamabaptist.org. It is the Top News Story on the front page!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Growing Up

Victoria is now 34 1/2 months old! It is hard to believe that in March she will turn 3! At times, it feels that the almost three years we've had Victoria have flown by. Right after her birth, however, the time probably felt like it went slowly because of the transition we went through as a family.

We have seen Victoria progress in so many ways. Lately, she is really trying to communicate verbally more and more. I'm seeing her shape her mouth and tongue differently than I've ever seen her do before as she "speaks." She is exploring new sounds that her mouth can make. I've been praying more lately that God would help her in her speech and I definitely believe that my prayers are being answered.

I wanted to share a quick video showing Victoria "talking" to me tonight. I'm not always sure what she is trying to tell me, but I love that she is "speaking" with confidence and SHE knows what she wants to tell me!

Once again, I'm blown away at God's faithfulness. He has never failed to walk this faith-journey with our family!

video