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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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Prayer

I was recently privileged to sing "The Prayer" with my little brother, Alan, and wanted to share the video with my blogging family.  Even though Alan is my little brother, there is nothing little about his voice!  He was blessed with a beautiful tenor voice.

I hope you will take time from your busy day to soak in this song.  May it bless you and remind you that God loves you!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Magic Moments Family Camp

Memorial Day weekend wasn't just a special weekend for us this year because we spent it together, but it was extra-special because we were invited to spend the weekend at Children's Harbor on Lake Martin in Alabama.  Because Victoria was granted a wish by the charitable organization Magic Moments this past February, every Memorial Day weekend until she is 18-years-old, she (and our family) will be invited to the Magic Moments Family Camp at Children's Harbor.  Magic Moments already holds a special place in our hearts because of the wonderful, all-expense paid family vacation we were given in February of this year.  But, we are beginning to see that this group of folks will be a blessing to our family for many years to come!

Upon arriving at Children's Harbor, we could tell that this campground was among the best we had ever stayed.  It was a beautiful place.  Right on Lake Martin, there were lush little patches of beautiful flowers and trees everywhere.  Everything was so clean and lovely.  We made our way to the registration area where we were greeted by camp counselors who knew us by name.  I was impressed already.  All of the staff and counselors associated with Magic Moments were so wonderful to us and wanted us to feel right at home.

We found our way to our cabin.  We had a wonderfully, large room with a fold-out couch, two twin beds, a bunk bed, and our own bathroom.  We were thrilled at the space we had.  It was going to be a fun adventure to have our entire family sleep all in the same room for the next few days!

First on the list of things to do was swimming, of course!  The girls loved the large pool!  Victoria is a bit frustrating to deal with in a pool because she "thinks" she can swim (which, she can't!).  She had floaties on her arms, but if we let go of her, she sinks just enough to get a mouthful of water.  She fussed the entire time that we tried to help her stay afloat.  But, even though she fussed and was frustrated, she had a fun time.  By the end of our stay at the camp, Victoria worked her way up to going down the big slide at the pool.  I'm telling you, the girl has no fear!  Mark stood at the bottom of the slide to catch her.  She must've gone down that slide 50 times, at least in the 3 days we were there!  She loved it!

The second day of Family Camp, the morning started off with a worship service.  The service was held outside.  It was such a beautiful day and I was in tears for most of the service.  I was able to sit behind the singers and speaker and could view all of the families sitting with their "special" children.  It was overwhelming to think that each of the families sitting in front of me had experienced similar or even more difficult circumstances than our family had experienced.  And, through it all ... I knew that God had been faithful to us all.

After the worship service, we made our way over to the corral.  Victoria worked up enough nerve to ride a horse!  She has always refused to ride a horse when given the opportunity in the past, but at this camp ... she was ready to go!  Elyssa and Natalie enjoyed riding the horses, as well.  It was especially moving to see all of the handicapped kids being hoisted up onto the horses so they could enjoy a ride.  Everything was very inclusive.  The workers made sure every kid had the opportunity to take part in every activity, which I thought was amazing!

A really special part of Family Camp was the talent show that was held the evening of the 2nd day.  At the talent show, Elyssa, Natalie, and Victoria came up on the stage with me and we sang, "She Is God's Child," together.  I didn't show the video to the song because there were no video screens available, but the song was still moving none-the-less.  Natalie even became emotional at the end of the song, which was very sweet.  She is so tender-hearted and still gets sad at the thought of Victoria having to have heart surgery when she was 7-weeks-old.  I loved singing with my girls!  I was touched, as well, by all of the special needs kids sharing their talents in the show.  It was very sweet.

I could share many more things about the camp, but the thing that touched me most of all at Family Camp was the Awards Ceremony.  On the last day of the camp, the organizer of the camp made her way to the stage.  She called each child, individually, to the stage.  Once each child made their way to the stage, in turn, the speaker talked about each child as they stood in front of the audience.  She talked about their strengths and the fun things they enjoyed doing at camp this year.  She awarded each child with a specially named certificate (award) before they left the stage.  Again, I was in tears for most of this ceremony.  It was so moving to see kids wheel themselves on the stage ... or walk onto the stage with braces on their legs ... or even walk onto the stage with no hair because of chemo treatments.  And, then ... once on stage ... they were told in front of the entire crowd how special they were.  It was one of the most moving things I've ever seen.  I almost can't describe how full my heart felt when Victoria was called up to the stage to receive her award.  There is no feeling in the world like knowing that your child is loved and appreciated even though they are "different" than typical kids.  Every family with a "special" child desires for their child to be accepted and truly loved.  You never quite get use to the stares in public places and you never get use to people telling you what they think your child "won't" be able to do.  But, wow ... to be in a place where your child is loved on and encouraged to aim for the stars ... it is a wonderful thing.

So, I end this blog by first of all saying ... THANK YOU, MAGIC MOMENTS!  I know there are so many folks who give to this organization, volunteer, and work for this organization.  I want all of you to know that THIS family doesn't take for granted what you do!  We felt so blessed to have been given a Wish Trip this year and on top of that, we were able to enjoy a wonderful weekend at Magic Moments Family Camp.  Thank you for giving of yourselves to bless families like mine.  We are forever grateful!

Secondly, I want to thank the Lord for blessing me with a wonderful husband with whom I was able to have three sweet girls!!  Little did Mark and I know that all three of our girls would hold such special places in our hearts.  And, YES ... we were overwhelmed when we first had Victoria, but we have learned to live day by day.  Appreciating every bit of progress that Victoria makes.  And, we love seeing Elyssa and Natalie love on their sister.  Life has become "normal" for us.  I never thought we would get to this place, but God knew that we could handle a life that seems out of the ordinary to most people.  For us ... we just feel blessed!

PS - Check out the video of me and the girls singing "She Is God's Child" LIVE on YouTube.  Just type in the name Heather Messick and you'll find it.  You can also view a video of Victoria receiving her special award on the last day of Family Camp.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 3 - The Most Magical Day Of All!

Today was the most magical day of all ... for many reasons!  First of all, it was the day that we visited Disney's Magic Kingdom!  What isn't magical about that?

Secondly, my brother, Alan Fath, and his daughter, Gracie, were able to spend the entire day with us! And, lastly ... I was able to see some sweet friends that formerly attended University of Mobile who now work at Magic Kingdom.  It was a fun day!
It all started out with us arriving early to see the opening show at Magic Kingdom.  As soon as the gates opened up, we headed over to Town Hall to get a picture with Mickey and Minnie.  That was really fun!  After that, we left and went straight to the new section of Magic Kingdom ... Fantasy Land.
We met up with Colton Brooks at the entrance of Belle's Castle where he escorted us right up to the front of the line to see that cute little interactive show.  (Thanks, Colton!  It was great to see you!) 
Natalie decided to give roller coasters another try today and rode Goofy's Barn Stormer with me.  She did much better on that roller coaster! 

We went through as much of the left-hand side of the park as we could before lunch.  And, of course, we would stop at every character spot for photos and autographs!  Man, it was great being taken right up to the characters for that meet and greet time!  No waiting in long lines!

For lunch, we headed, by boat, to the Wilderness Lodge for lunch with the family at Whispering Canyon.  That was lots of fun and a nice change of pace.
After lunch, we took the boat back to Magic Kingdom to meet a sweet friend from University of Mobile, Caleb Graham.  He is VERY good friends with Prince Eric and arranged a special "meet and greet" time with some characters for us.  He told me to have our group at the Car Barn in the Magic Kingdom by 2:30pm that day.  Someone came to get us and took us to a door located right beside the Car Barn.  As soon as Victoria and I walked through the door I heard a big, "Surprise!!!"  There had to be between 15-20 different characters waiting in the room for us.  It was, by far, the most special memory of our trip!  I had to hold back the tears because that was such a sweet moment.  All of our family got to meet every character, prince/princess in the room.  Even Mickey and Minnie were there!  They all signed our girl's autograph books and then we took several photos with all of them.  I think most of my family was in tears!  This was definitely a memory from our trip that I'll never forget!  Thank you, Caleb, for arranging that special moment for us!
The big "Celebrate" parade that all of the characters were in was to take place at 3pm, right after this meet and greet time.  We had a special area to stand in right at the start of the parade.  Every character that we had just seen gave us big waves and threw kisses our way.  The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella even threw two big handfuls of "fairy dust" on us as she passed by us on her float.  It was totally great!

We finished off as much of the park as we could that afternoon.  We ended our day at the Magic Kingdom by watching the Wishes fireworks show and also watching the Electric Parade.  It was a full, fun day!  Many special memories were made this day!  We feel blessed!
PS - I can't end this post without mentioning that we ran into the person responsible for making this special trip happen for us ... Ronnie Wright!  He was at the Magic Kingdom the same day we were so we were so excited to see him there!  Thanks, Ronnie, for all you did to make this trip a reality!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 2 - Magic Moments Are Still Being Made!!

Day two of our Magic Moments vacation was a day to remember!  We started out by going to Epcot where we spent the morning being able to skip all of the "regular folk" in line so we could have photos made with characters and ride attractions without all of that waiting.  It was great!
At lunch time the girls got all dolled up in their princess dresses to have a Princess Storybook Luncheon at Akershus restaurant in the country of Norway in Epcot.
After our special lunch at Akershus, we headed over to Hollywood where we enjoyed all the favorite attractions like Toy Story, the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.  I got so tickled at seeing Gaston in the Beauty and the Beast show because Gaston looked just like Mark to me!  It was uncanny!
We had a wonderful second day!  The exhaustion is just starting to set in, but we will push through it to get as much done as we can while we are here!  After all ... that is just a part of what a Disney vacation is all about!

Stay tuned ...


Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Give Kids The World" Gives Us A Fun First Day!

The Messicks have arrived in Orlando!!  We are ready to take on the city and have a blast!  We have moved into our "home away from home" and wanted you to see our cute welcome sign at our villa!

Our first day was fantastic!  It started out with a fun family visit at Give Kids The World.

My brother, Alan, his sweet wife (Mandy) and my niece (Gracie), came to visit us and view the wonderful place in which we are staying.  Have I mentioned that GKTW is awesome??  They have so many fun things for the kids to do here.  And, the workers and volunteers are so sweet!  From Victoria giving her magic star to the star fairy to knocking on a magical tree and magic pillows being made for all of our girls ... it was all a really fun experience.

The girls really loved their morning here at GKTW.  In fact, it was hard to convince them to leave after lunch to spend the rest of the day at Islands of Adventure!  They finally gave in and took our word that they would, indeed have a fun time at the theme park!

We had a great remainder of the day at Islands of Adventure.  Elyssa and Natalie rode their first kiddie roller coaster!  Elyssa loved it and well, Natalie did not.  Let's just say that Natalie will probably not get on a roller coaster for a while.  It was a lot faster than she expected.  But, she was brave to want to try it.

On the way back home from Islands of Adventure we had a little surprise in the van.  Elyssa pulled a tooth that was loose!  So, the tooth fairy is visiting our villa tonight at GKTW!

The cutest thing EVER happened tonight at our villa around bedtime!  Mrs. Merry from GKTW (the Village's Mayor's bunny wife), visited our girls!

She was all dressed in her night clothes and tucked our girls into bed.  Victoria didn't know what to think of Mrs. Merry but she did shake her hand at least once during the visit.  Mrs. Merry was great with the girls and they were laughing at her while she bounced on their beds and tossed pillows on their heads.  She kissed all of their pillows and kissed them on the foreheads before she left.  It was such a fun little visit for them.  What a great way to end a great day!

Check back tomorrow for more fun memories from our wonderful Magic Moments family vacation!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Magical Moments

Our family is beyond excited!  Victoria and our family was granted a wish through a wonderful foundation called Magic Moments.  Because Victoria had a life-threatening and life-altering illness as an infant (major heart defects that almost took her life), she was granted a wish for our entire family to visit none other than the most magical place on earth ... Walt Disney World!

We have been counting down the days and are so thrilled to be leaving on our fun adventure soon!  We will be sure to post videos and photos of the trip so we can share Victoria's first impressions of the Magic Kingdom with you!  She has never been to a place like this before so we are anxious to see how she takes to it all.

Magic Moments will be flying our family to Orlando and once in Orlando we will stay at a place called Give Kids The World.  We have heard it is wonderful!  You can find out all about GKTW at http://www.gktw.org/.  It looks like such a fun place with all sorts of great activities for all of the kids!

GKTW is providing us with three days worth of passes to the Disney Parks; we will have two days worth of passes to Universal Parks and a day at Sea World!  Can we say ... "AWESOME?!?"  And, the most wonderful part of it all is that it is completely free for our family to enjoy this fantastic vacation!  What a huge blessing!

We are so very thankful that the Lord blessed us with a great friend (Ronnie), who told us about Magic Moments and encouraged us to fill out an application for a wish.  Ronnie was so kind to come over and tell our girls the surprising news of our Walt Disney World trip recently.  Our girls were totally excited!

"Thanks Ronnie" for walking us through this process and "Thank You Magic Moments Contributors" for making this trip possible for our family!  We will never forget this experience!  And most of all, "Thank You, Lord" for once again blessing our family beyond our wildest dreams!

PS - Here is the letter that Ronnie brought our girls to read out loud the day he visited them.  It was a fun way for them to be surprised with their trip!