Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year Social Media

Well here we are friends, at the end of yet another year.  A year that may or may not have been one of your best.  That may or may not have been memorable.  But fear not!  If there are highlights that you have forgotten, moments that you would like to relish in one final time, there is always Facebook to remind you.  Not only will it remind you, it will actually give you a play by play depending on how often you were willing to post the "status" of your day, week, life. So let's all wish a Happy New Year to Social Media!!

Oh social media, how we can always depend on you to encourage us and raise our self esteem by reminding us how we once again missed the bar that was set so high by all 456 of our friends.  Thank you.  Thank you for the reality that my life, my financial status, my marriage, my children, my cooking skills, my fitness level, my faith, my weight, my parenting, my craftiness, even my pets cannot measure up those of everyone that I went to grade school with. 

How can I possibly set New Years resolutions knowing that you will be there, on January 8th, to remind me that I failed and that Cindy is still diligently reading her bible, Laurie is still going to the gym at 5:45 AM and Jane and her husband have saved $250 already?  Oh how I cannot wait for lent so that I can give you up for 40 days (with exception of at night when everyone is asleep of course) and not have to see how successful Melissa's husband is or how Hannah's comes home at 5PM everyday and washes the dishes while simultaneously feeding the baby so that she can go for a long walk with her favorite Starbucks.  I mean don't get me wrong, sure I am happy that Joe Jr. is top of his class at Harvard and Billy (who is 8) already has scouts eyeing him for the Braves. And of course I celebrate with little Sophie's parents as she reads her sight words at 16 months. And Katie, that 65 lbs that she has lost, AMAZING!! Even more amazing that she did it with no exercise while eating ice cream!! When will she post that after picture anyway? 

Truthfully Facebook/Twitter it would behoove me and my family if for 2014 you would just shut down.  That way I don't feel obligated to post a status.  I mean seriously how can I compete?!  There is no possible way.  My oldest will be six on the 19th of January and she can barely read in sentences. My second, while beautiful and frighteningly smart in many ways, she doesn't know what a door knob is. Both CAN sing most of the Taylor Swift album so there is that.  I have a 14 month old baby that runs my home and I didn't shower at all yesterday.  What kind of post can I get out of  any of this!??

Furthermore, my house is a wreck. I am at least 5 loads of laundry behind.  I have two sinks full of dishes. Two nights ago my kids got eggs and toast for dinner and my husband, he got nothing.   We don't all sit together to eat every night and we usually forget to pray before we eat. PLEASE don't tell anyone else that!!  We have a gym membership that we don't use.  We fight, we argue, we cry, we cuss and if we were capable of handling it, we would drink.  We don't always like our family and they certainly don't always like us.  My hair hasn't been it's natural color in years and Doc, well he doesn't have any.  Not only does he not get home by 5 he usually doesn't make it until after six and once again, I usually haven't showered when he gets here.  This is it. This is life.  This is real.  Like it or not Facebook the best status I have so far today is "Josie pooped and when I changed it I got it all over myself and her feet".  BOOM top that.  But don't worry, tonight I am making Red Snapper and I will be posting a pic of the one serving I put on a real plate for everyone to see!!!! 

Happy New Year Social Media! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who needs Santa Claus when you have Santa Doc.

Well here we are 13 days away from Christmas.  The closer it gets the more I realize that I am possibly the least prepared mom in the entire world.  Don't get me wrong, we have a tree and some precious decor out on our front porch that Doc appeased me with even before Thanksgiving Day. However, we have not bought one gift.  Not one.  Well that is a lie. I have not bought a gift. My husband on the other hand.....he has.  He has a gift.  One perfect, amazing, selfless gift.  A gift that will go down in history as possibly the best gift I will have ever received.  A gift that is not only one for me and only me but includes a bonus.  More than a bonus actually, it includes a trip.  Okay, Okay I'll get on with it.  You are wondering aren't you.  What has he done this time?  How he could possibly be any more thoughtful, wonderful, amazing than she already says he is??   And part of you wishes I would just say it and the other part would rather eat poop than hear another great story about my husband!  Ugh.  I get it. I feel the same way every time I see a face book post about a friend who has been on a cruise or to a concert I would love.  Or someone who had a seamless pregnancy that ended in a nursing baby.  Part of me thinks "good for her" and the other part wishes Facebook would crash so I could get on with my life and make my 156th batch of formula.  I digress, the gift. 

Before I tell you about the gift I would like to put a disclaimer here.  If you are mad at your husband, if you never get anything you want for Christmas, if you have not been on vacation in a long time....DO NOT READ THIS BLOG.  It very possibly may push you over the edge.  It would have pushed me clear off a cliff had it not been a gift FOR ME.  GET ON WITH IT MELANIE. Okay you asked for it. 

I must tell you the story, it is the only way I can give full credit to everyone involved.  Let's call it BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT EVER (I'll work on titles before I start my book this will do for now)

Once upon a time there was a girl......yeah okay 110+ blogs later I don't need to introduce you to myself or my life.  Let's try again....

So, a couple of weekends ago my mom was here to help AGAIN.  Doc had gone to ATL to teach a class.  The weekend had been long and resulted in me up one night trying to get the stupid gun case open in case I needed to kill an intruder at 1:30 am.  Needless to say I had missed my husband.  Mom came on Sunday and surprised the girls and Doc was due at about 5.  We were sitting around chatting with mama and in walks my husband at about 2:30.  I greeted him like he had been gone for three months rather than 48 hours, but that's just how we do it here in the world of chaos that also includes one long honeymoon period.  He came in settled in with his things walks into the kitchen and asks me to give the baby to my mom, he has something he wants to talk to me about.  So I hand off Josie and into the bedroom we go, door shut behind us. 

He has something he want to read to me he says. A post from FB that he saw.  I think absolutely nothing of it, this man has done this countless times.  He says, " I read this and it made me think of you. Dear Jill..."  He proceeds to read a letter that I will do a grave injustice by trying to duplicate.  I will say this, it was a letter from a man to his stay at home mom/housewife.  A beautifully written letter about how he desperately wants to get her the perfect Christmas gift.  A gift of things like sleep, food, no dishes, long walks, coffee with friends, time to relax.  A letter than EVERY housewife on the planet would want to be written to her.  I am standing there, he is reading it and I am crying.  Yep.  I am a giant sap.  "Why are you crying" says my sweet husband. It's just really sweet that you thought of me when you read this letter!!  (and who is this Jill lady!!? I bet she is about to get something awesome for Christmas!!)  At this point he had to be concerned that if the FB post letter had me this worked up, I may just pass out when the rest comes.  He finishes a portion of the letter and he tells me that there is a video that went with the post I should watch.  So I walk over stand next to him and he hits play.  It is a woman sitting on her couch finishing the letter.  This is the woman who the letter was written for.  Her amazing husband had written this letter to her and she was reading the end.  Pretty cool huh!!? 

Okay I am not done....So he hits play and there on her couch, reading this letter with her Christmas tree in the back ground and her little girl walking back in front of the camera is Meg.  Yep Meg.  My Meg.  My favorite Canadian, 2000 mile away BFF Meg. So at this point she is reading, I am watching and I am thinking (no way to make this up) I am thinking I am about to see Meg get a REALLY cool gift!!!  Yep.  That's the way I roll.  So she continues to read...something like this.  "So I spoke with an old friend and I thought of the perfect gift" BOOM!  There it was.  She starts to cry and I hear Kit tell her to keep reading.  I at this point have decided that the Newfield's are either coming to TN or the Hall's are going to Canada.  Either way I have lost all self control and have moved from sweet, touching tears to ugly cry.  (By the way I haven't seen Meg in over two years but we talk DAILY). She reads the following "I am sending you on a trip.   A four day, three night trip to Santa Monica, CA."  And SHE SAYS TO HER HUSBAND "By myself!??"  Okay so maybe I was ahead of her here.  "Keep reading" he tells her.  YES KEEP READING FOR THE LOVE OF PETE I AM DYING OVER HERE!!!  So she reads on and it says a trip to give you all the things you deserve blah blah blah.....etc etc etc....and then it comes.  She reads "But that's not the best part" and it wasn't.  "The best part is I am sending you with MEL"  INSERT FIREWORKS, MUSIC, OPENING HEAVENS HERE. 
At this point Shawn is pretty much holding me up.  I am beyond consolable and cannot BELIEVE what she just said.  Meg continues through tears to asks all the right questions: Is it booked? Is this for real? Paid for? Finished? A done deal??  She's asking I am wondering all answers are yes. 

So to catch you up if I lost you in the excitement.  Kit and Shawn are sending Meg and I, and Meg and I ONLY to Santa Monica CA for four days and three nights.  We will sleep, eat, drink coffee, talk, swim, walk, drink more coffee, talk...you get it.  We will do all of this uninterrupted with no kids, no food to cut up, not butts to wipe.  Just me, just Meg, just CA.  HOLY S#$T.  And if that was not enough. We leave three days after my birthday ;). 

So that is it.  You either cried, puked, or both. ;)  Either way I am BLOWN away.  How blessed she and I are to have husbands that not only can afford to do this but that love us enough to make it happen.  I had to share.  Most of you hear all of the time about me.  About what I am doing and how much is going on here.  And you are all so wonderful and encouraging and say such amazing things to me or about me.  But without Doc I would be lost.  He has made all of my dreams come true and carried me through my nightmares.  And this year, well this year he has given me the best Christmas present ever.  Time with Meg.  And the fact that it will be spent somewhere warm with water, well that's just showing off if you ask me.  ;) 

I pray you too get exactly what you wish for this year!!
I love you Doc. 
Meg, I'll see you in February!!!!!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Tiny One

Dear Josephine Hope,

Happy 1st birthday my tiny girl.

First birthday's are always so much fun for us.  We stop and look at our sweet girls, each of you different but wonderful, and we celebrate milestones and accomplishments you have made over the past year.  This year, on your first birthday we celebrated all of these things and more.  We celebrated life, miracles, and an amazing God.  We celebrated the reality of the power of prayer.  The presence of the Holy Spirit.  The healing hands of our Jesus.  We celebrated a little girl who has touched the lives of hundreds.  We read over 75 cards from people all over the United States and into Canada.  People that have fallen in love with you and have never met any of us.  And though it was a smaller celebration than you deserved it was complete with your sisters who had hand picked the decorations, your daddy and I who have spent a year loving you and caring for you as best that we know how.  Aunt Sissy and Uncle Robby who represent all of the people that were not physically close to watch you grow, but who prayed for you daily and love you.  And Ms. Shannon and Uncle Brett who loves you like you are his.

In the spring we will have a BIG party and invite everyone that wants to see you and meet you!! I am looking forward to allowing all of those who have prayed for you to get a glimpse of what a true miracle you are!!!

Josie Hope you are one amazing little girl.  You are tough and full of piss and vinegar.  At 1 you are about 13.5 lbs and 27 inches long.  You have no teeth, no hair and you are not eating solids yet. You are however crawling, pulling up, taking steps holding on and climbing stairs!  You have a smile that lights up a room and you are generous with it.  You are loud and demand attention.  You have a temper that I am certain got you through the first four months of your life, but oh my are we in BIG trouble.

You love your sisters.  You want to be involved in everything that they are doing, and when you are too small, you are MAD!!  Daddy and Uncle Brett coming home is your favorite part of the day! Both of them get BIG smiles and lots of talking.  You love to talk to Big and Janet on the phone and you give them lots of giggles and talking as well. 

But the truth is my sweet one, you are your mama's girl.  You love them all, but I am who you want and there is no changing your mind when the time comes.  I am certain your big brother has a lot to do with that.  I am guessing he told you how much my heart needed a baby that clung to me like I was all that they needed. A little person that needed me so much that I felt like I was making up for what I wasn't able to do for him.  You have healed my heart in ways I never knew possible.  What a merciful, graceful God we serve Josie. 

Your life and your presence have changed us.  We are a different family.  Our faith is different, the way we love is different, what is important to us is different.  We are forever blown away that we got to keep you and even more in awe of how absolutely perfect you are in every way. 

Happy Birthday our sweet, tiny girl,  We cannot WAIT to see what Jesus has in store for you.
Mama, Daddy, Kathryne and Presley

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Mama!

Tomorrow is my mama's 63rd birthday.  And as I sit here and think about her and how sad I am that I will miss it, again, I cannot help but smile.  For those of you that know my mama you know that there are a couple of things about her that are undeniable.  First and foremost, she loves being a mama and she is GOOD at it.  Secondly, the woman is nuts.  She is, there is no way around it. And honestly, she would have to be to be able to do half of the things that she does for her husband, children and grandchildren.  She's just flat out crazy which most of the time benefits us (occasionally it's a little scary). 

It's so much easier to appreciate your mama when you become one.  And the older your kids get the more you understand why your mom was a little nutzo and why the language that she used as you were growing up (which you deemed inappropriate when your first child was born) seems so appropriate now.  What we expect of our moms day to day pales in comparison to what we expect of them over a lifetime.  How any mothers live past 60 is beyond me.  How their bodies and minds could possibly hold up through parenting children 24/7 for 30 years or more is incredible.  I am 5 years in and I am certain making it to 40 will be a miracle.  I think about mom and how there are a few things about BEING a mom that she left out.  A few things that it might have been nice to know a few things that may or may not have swayed my decision to bear my own but at the end of the day would have been appropriate to share. I felt that making a list of some of those things for my girls was a good idea.  So here it goes:

1) As a mom you will never ever ever pee alone again.  Ever.
2) If you THINK locking the door will take care of number 1, you are wrong. 
3) Go ahead and buy a home with a shower that has no door because privacy is not an option.
4) Yes Ma'am usually means please shut up rather than Yes ma'am.
5) Go ahead and start practicing pooping in front of a crowd now.
6) Every day you think "this is the tough part" you are wrong.
7) Sleeping will never be the same, nor will it be easy.
8) Just because you no longer have a baby in diapers does not mean you no longer have a butt to wipe.
9) Go ahead and add an unlimited texting plan to your baby registry because talking on the phone is not an option.
10) Enjoy your breasts because after the first baby they will never look like that again.
11) Multitasking is a must.
12) Get used to eating cold food.
13) Get used to eating only half of what is on your plate.
14) Even if you marry a man that is awesome, they will still insist you do 90% of everything they need.
15) Never say never because God thinks that is funny. 
16) Go ahead and wear callouses on your knees now so they are ready for the following: tying shoes, praying endlessly, buttoning coats, pants and shirts, cleaning out from under beds, cleaning up spills, kissing boo boos, braiding hair, wiping tears, making things VERY clear, pulling up dance tights, playing ring around the rosey, and about 1000 other things they will be needed for daily.
17) The daddy will always get the credit no matter how many times it was your idea.  So marry a man you like enough to let him have it. 
18) If they hear it they will repeat it.
19) They think they know more than you BEFORE they can talk.
20) No matter how much you try to teach them manners they WILL forget and they WILL embarrass you.
21) Don't underestimate the power of chocolate.
22) Just because you knew it when you were 5 doesn't mean they give a rip about it. 
23) They will tell you that you are mean, you are wrong, you have ruined their day and they don't love you all before kindergarten. 
24) Their safety and health will be the two things most difficult to give to Jesus and the two things that you BEG Him for daily.
25) Not until they are grown and out of your home will they realize how incredible you are.  And it is then that you will realize you would do it all again and that privacy and sleeping is overrated.

There is nothing better in the world than being a mama and I can say that because I know it and because I was raised by a woman that agrees with it 100%.  I think of the things that I have expected of her over the years and I cringe knowing that my time is just beginning and I pray that I am as capable as she was.  We want them to kiss our boo boos but we expect them to give us the freedom to jump.  We want them to trust us but we ask them to mind their own business.  We want them to come to our rescue but when they get there we expect them to stand out of the way.  We need them when we are sick but keep our distance when we are well.  We tell them when we are angry or hurt but expect them to stay neutral.  I am guilty of all of this and expect nothing but the same of my girls, knowing that I will get it.

I remember being in recovery right after Josie was born. My mom was there and I woke up.  Here I was right our of an emergency c section with my sweet tiny one where one or both of us could have easily gone to see Jesus.  There stood my mom beside me crying.  I woke up and looked at her and I said "mama could you please stop crying?". Yep.  I sure did.  Of course I understood why she was crying!! Of course I understood why she was scared and sad and possibly as helpless as she had ever been as a mom. My request, while ridiculous and selfish, was genuine.  I needed my mom and I needed her to stop crying.  Why? Because if she was scared that meant I needed to be scared.  And if she was worried that meant it was time for me to be worried.  And for a moment before all hell broke loose in my world, before the medicine wore off, before I saw my tiny baby girl, I needed to feel like everything was OK.  And so she dried her eyes and held my hand.  Said nothing.  Just stood there.  Just as I needed her too.  She probably did not know until now that I remembered that. But I do.  And of all of the things my mom has done for me in my lifetime, and she has done some amazing things, that was the single most selfless thing she has ever done.  The perfect example of being a mother and what it entails and the sacrifice it takes.  I will never forget it. 

Happy Birthday  mama.  You are one of the kindest, craziest, most selfless mamas Jesus ever made.  I miss you, I love you, and I know I won't get it exactly right but just like you, it will not be for lack of trying!!! ;) 

Melanie Shea


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Sweet Boy.

Dear Bennett,

Three years ago today you were due to join our family.  Sadly for us but gloriously for you, God had a different plan. Not a day goes by that I do not think of you, wish you were here, imagine how beautiful you are.  The hole that was left in my heart the day that we lost you will never be filled. And honestly I am okay with that.  I want to remember.  I want to talk about you and dream about you.  I want to be reminded that God's plan, though not always what we would pick, is in fact a beautiful combination of life and death, hopes and failures, joy and sorrow. 

As I write to you in your blog (which is really what this is) lying next to me is a little girl that Jesus let me keep. Thank you.  I have to believe that you went to bat for us on this one.  I have to imagine that you said to Jesus, "How about we let mama and daddy keep her? What do you say?"  And so He did and so she lays in the bed in the same spot that your other two sisters occupied for the first year of their lives.  My heart could not be happier that she is her and healthy though it does remind me of what could have been with you sweet boy. 

Our lives are blessed.  I am sure that you look down and see us happy, in our beautiful home, stepping over more sparkles and pink than we ever thought possible. I pray that you can hear us as your name pops up almost daily.  I pray that you can hear Kathryne as she wonders about you and talks about you.  As she explains to everyone that she meets that our home should in fact hold four babies and that her brother Bennett went to heaven sooner than she would have liked.   I hope, oh so badly, that you can see Presley playing with and loving Josie just as she would have loved you.   They ask me what you look like and though I have not seen you I imagine you with a head full of white blond hair and a giant set of dimples probably built like Presley with eyes like your daddy's. 

I, as I am sure your daddy does, often wonder what the house would be like if you were in it.  I think about who you would be. I imagine a sweet tender heart and a love for your mama.  It makes me giggle as Josie throws fits only wanting mama because I know that is gift straight from you my sweet boy.  You changed us.  Your presence and absence changed our lives in giant ways and the only thing I can compare it to is the fight for your sister;s life.  You make us talk about Jesus more, about heaven more. You take the fear out of death.  Your soul fills up any empty spot in our home or our lives.  The loss that you represent makes all other bad days and complaints seem ridiculous.  You gave us strength to fight for Josie.  You picked me up daily and rode along side me at 11 PM every night as I took her food. You are the reason I was able to pump for four months. You sat with me as I cried in the shower and your presence brought peace to my fearful heart.  Thank you my sweet baby boy.  Though I wish today we were blowing up balloons and I was baking your favorite cake, I realize that God knew exactly what He was doing.  Know that I am not angry as I miss you today.  I am grateful for your presence in our home and in our hearts. 

We miss you, we love you, we will never forget you, and we cannot wait to meet you. 


Monday, August 5, 2013

And the Lord said "STOP": Dear Petty Lane

And so again I find myself in a different house.  A house that holds our things and shelters our children but that I dare to call home. I look around at all of the "things" and wonder if this is really it, is this where we are meant to be living or have we once again missed His calling, missed His words guiding us on His path?? Did we actually get it right for once?  I stop to hear, begging to get at least a whisper of assurance and then I see.  I realize that He is showing me so clearly that I am missing it.  I laugh at myself as I glance through a handful of pictures on my phone giving me the peace and assurance that I am looking for everywhere else but right in front of me.  Peace.  Finally.  Rest.

I hear Him and He is telling me to STOP.  Stop here on Petty Lane.  Stop looking, stop searching, stop wondering what is next.  I know that I will never stop missing those that have known my heart since I was alive.
But this is to be my stopping place for now and though it feels like I am giving up on going "home" again, I realize that the reality is that I AM home.  I am home and the people that are here with me are the ones that He wants me to spend my time with, invest in, and enjoy at this point in my life. 
It will not stop me from missing the ones that I love and miss so much.  And yes winter will come and I will be as heartsick as I could possibly imagine for all of them. But this time it will be different, I will not be HOMEsick, because I will be home. 

Dear Petty Lane,

For two weeks you have held my family and though it has been full of chaos and constant work, it has been wonderful.  I walk around and realize that you are the place that I will watch my girls grow up.  You are the home that I will live in as they start school, learn to read, master bikes without training wheels, lose their first teeth.  I look outside and I see the tree house that is now full of pink hearts and lights but will one day be a place they go to write in their journal and hang up the posters of their latest movie star crush.

I see the yard where their daddy will teach them to hit and throw a ball, to swim, to run fast.
I see the porch where will we spend our Saturday mornings watching them ride bikes and scooters up and down the driveway. I think of the conversations we will have trying to make the best decisions for each of them over the next ten years and I smile and shake my head at what is coming. 

I look at our sweet Josie Hope and realize you will be the only home she remembers, the one she grows up in.  I am grateful that you have only a few stairs to worry about as she starts to crawl.  I am grateful for the yard that is fenced and the driveway that is long. 

You and I Petty Lane, we are going to be great friends.  I am going to cook on that fabulous gas stove in your kitchen more times than you could imagine, feeding the ones that I love the most.  I have no doubt there will be days that I like you less than I do today but I will forever be indebted to you for giving me peace and allowing me to rest here with you for longer than I have rested anywhere since we have moved to Tennessee.  We plan to fill you with Jesus, with Love, with Dreams, with a lot of Pink, and with more Fun than you could ever hope for!!

Get ready, here comes the Hall Family!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goodbye Golden Meadow Lane

July.  The months between October and now have gone by so quickly that at times I wonder if they really ever happened. Was it all a dream?  Did we really survive?  And then I look around and I see a long legged beautiful five year old, a four year old with a head full of white blond curls and the bluest eyes you have ever seen, and a ten and a half pound eight month old who is one of the most inspiring people I have ever encountered and I realize the truth.  We did survive.  Jesus did reach down and touch our lives.  The miracle was real and is still happening everyday. 

And so here we are living every day differently than we did before she was born in about a hundred ways.  And in the middle of the chaos, in perfect Hall fashion, we have added moving to the list.  In ten days we will move ourselves, our three precious girls, their Uncle Brett and the memory of our boy out of yet another home.  It will be the fourth home Kathryne has lived in since she was born.  The sixth move for me in seven years of marriage.  But this move is different.  This time we will move into OUR home.  Honestly, I am not really sure how in the midst of everything we managed to find a home, have an offer accepted, and get approved for the loan.  Jesus and trust.  That is the only answer I can come up with.  And so we will move into a home that Doc has seen once and I have walked through quickly three times.  All the way trusting that He would have stopped us if the path was the wrong one.  So we are packing (well I am writing).  It will be the first move EVER that I was not either pregnant or just through a birth and can actually help!! And as I walk around this house and pack, the reality of how the Lord placed this home into our lives at the perfect time hits me and I am so very grateful. So I prepare to say goodbye to another year and a half of memories in Franklin TN.  Reminded that not once has the Lord stopped challenging us since we have moved here.  Reminded as I look at our precious Josie Hope that He does have a plan and He is in complete control even when we cannot see it. 

Dear Golden Meadow Lane,

In ten days we will pack up our three girls and all of our things and leave you here empty, just as we found you eighteen months ago but we will never forget you.  You, my friend, have been more of a home for us than any we have landed in since our move to Franklin TN four years ago.  You were placed into our lives in His perfect timing and in many ways were exactly what we needed at the scariest, craziest time of our lives.  Sure there were things about you that we would have changed and our last weeks here have been more stressful than we would have liked, but none of that can undo the things that were right about you for our family.
Mr. Robert and Josie

You were convenient. Conveniently located 3 miles from the office of their daddy which changed his commute during the 8 months that we needed him more than we ever have.  Conveniently located one mile from the interstate that I traveled endlessly for four months taking care of our third baby.

Uncle Brett and his girl.
You were big enough.  Big enough to allow space for the man that came to take care of our girls as we fought for our youngest child.  Big enough to house the family that came to help us during the most stressful time of our lives.  Big enough to make room for everything we needed when we brought Josie home.  You were surrounded by love.  You were set in a location easy to access for everyone that loved us enough to help us, provide for us, feed us. And next door to a family that has become ours. A family that loves our kids like they belong to them.  That has helped us ways that we would never have asked for or expected.  A family that has become our family and has made Franklin TN feel like home to us, finally. 

Ms. Haley and her dancing buddies!
Ms. Kari and Kathryne
Golden Meadow lane, thank you.  Thank you for doing exactly what I asked of you.  For providing us a safe, happy home.  For giving us more good memories than bad.  For protecting our girls and showing them how a real home feels.  You will be missed but never forgotten. You will forever be the home that made our lives easier and happier during a time that was harder than anything we could have comprehended.  I pray that the Lord will fill you with a family that is equally as blessed as ours and that His hand here and the love we leave behind will be felt by them.

The Hall Family. 

And so here we go again.....on to a new chapter, a new adventure, a new home.  Holding our breath and walking slowly onto the water hand in hand with the only One that knows what is next. Thank you for loving us, for praying for us, for caring enough to read.  Please continue to pray for weight gain and healthy lungs for our tiny girl.


To read my first letter to Golden Meadow Lane look in February 2012.  ;) 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday Sissy.

Dear Presley Rose,

I would apologize for being late in writing this but honestly, over the last month I have been trying desperately to give you and your big sister some much needed attention and therefore things like blogging and journals have taken a back seat.  The good news is that our home, our lives, our everyday is getting closer and closer to normal.  At four I would argue that you do not understand the magnitude of what our family has been through.  Jesus has blessed you with a carefree heart and you pay very little attention to detail unlike your sweet Kat.  I thank Him continuously for protecting you from the reality and fear that she seems to be very aware of.  I think in some ways she protects you too, and you, well you make her laugh.  Jesus paired you perfectly to survive in a home that He tests regularly like He does ours. 

Oh my sweet, sweet, beautiful baby girl.  You turned four and as I type tears roll down my face as I am met with the reality that you are getting bigger than I would like faster than I would like.  We had a birthday party for you at the park, a Dora birthday party.  Just what you wanted.  You had so many friends come that you did not even have interest in opening presents!  Brett and Brianna and Georgia and Celeste and Violet and Mia Blaise were all there to celebrate with you.  Along with Nana who came from Alabama.  I made you chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow cream filling and purple icing, just like you asked for.  We had burgers and cupcakes with the people that love us most in TN.  It was fun!  The weekend prior Janet and Big were here for your first ballet recital.  You and Kathryne were amazing.  You love dance, you practiced that routine several times a day for weeks and you were wonderful.  Mama and daddy were so proud of you. 

Presley, at four you are so many things.  You are almost as big as Kat.  You and she can share a lot of the same clothes.  She is your very best friend, and you are almost lost without her when she is not around.  It reminds me of myself and Aunt Sissy and I and that makes my heart smile.  You are funny and silly and brave.  You try hard and you want to be good at everything Kathryne is good at.  You have these giant blue eyes that look like your mama's and you have your daddy's skin.  So in the summer you are brown as a berry with these huge eyes and white amazing curls.  You are breathtaking. 

Your outlook on life is carefree. You can't wait to go to heaven and you are ready at any moment for God to stop by and give you your magic wings so that the ceiling will open when you fly up to see Jesus and your brother.  You aren't afraid like Kathryne is, and many times I hear you comforting her.  Oh how you love her and baby Josie.  You like pink and purple. You like Dora and Doc McStuffins.  You love chocolate and chicken and chips sauce and mole.  You have good manners and a sweet, tender heart that your daddy can break just by looking at you if your are in trouble.  You are a lot like your mama.  In some ways that is really good, in other ways that is a little scary. 

Your best friends are Kathryne and the neighbors ;)  Oh my do you love our neighbors.  Your new sister has lit up your world Presley Rose.  You are so much help and so sweet to her.  You pray at night for Jesus to make her big so that she can play with you.  You have always leaned towards being a mama's girl.  But recently all you talk about is daddy. ;)  You love to dance,  you love music and you can sing most of Adele's album.  Popcorn and trail mix make you happy.  I imagine you when you are bigger still dancing, maybe playing ball.  You are athletic and competitive and are not afraid to practice!  You will be tall and beautiful and bright with a lot of friends.  You will make us proud, just as you already do.  Presley, Jesus has blessed our home with you in ways we never imagined.  Your silliness is so very good for the heart of your sister and your daddy.  You make us laugh at the most frustrating moments.  You make things fun and you light up every room you enter my sweet girls.  Today you are four, and I am sure tomorrow you will be fourteen.  I pray everyday that the Lord will help me lead you in the right direction and protect you from this crazy, broken world. 

We love you baby girl, bigger than the whole sky!!
Mama, Daddy, Kat and Josie Hope

Monday, April 8, 2013

Missing lunch, celebrating life.

Sometimes the reality of what we have been through hits me like a ton of bricks.  Most often I am reminded in the words of my girls and the most recent time was no different.  I stood in the kitchen, cleaning, making lunch, filling a bottle, and trying desperately to pay attention to my oldest and here is the conversation:

Yes, Kathryne?
Mommies sure are busy huh?
Yes baby mommies are very busy.
Poor mommies are so busy they don't even get to sit down for their lunch or watch a movie with their babies huh? 
(Insert giant brick hitting me in the head here)

I was speechless.  What was I supposed to say?  "Yes Kathryne, mommies are too busy to sit for a meal and watch a movie with their children. I bet you cannot wait to be a mommy!"
Or, "Actually baby girl a lot of mommies watch movies with their kids, just not yours."
I said nothing.  I just smiled at her and silently asked the Lord for a few more minutes in each day.  Oh and by the way could I get the last five months back that I missed with my first two babies?  Or maybe just the Thanksgiving and Christmas that I was barely physically present for?  And how about an hour or so with my husband?  And then I heard Josie cry and went back into being the mommy that stands to eat grateful, blown away by mercy, thankful, tired, blessed. 

My first two children have had to grow up fast due to the birth of my second two.  We have had to rely on them to entertain themselves, to understand things that most kids don't have too, to take care of each other and yes, sometimes of us. Have we done are best? Absolutely.  Was it enough? Is it ever?  The life that the Lord has given us and the trials he has handed us since March of 2010 were more than we could have ever imagined.  They have effected us in ways we are not even aware of yet and I am sure it is the same for my girls.  I stop and I pray that Jesus will show them, in the chaos, that their mommy and daddy took what He has given them and have done the best they knew how too. 

Just recently I have heard Kathryne say "My mommy has four babies.  We have a brother named Bennett and he lives in heaven."  "My sister Josie she is very special.  She is the cutest baby ever".  She is listening, and in her own way she understands, more than she should have to, but she understands.

So now we have three out of four of our babies at home.  It is not without challenges due to Josie's needs right now.  But I can see the future through His eyes as He shows me glimpses of what is to come and it is wonderful.  We are exhausted.  We are emotionally spent.  We have not stopped since October. Not for a moment. But we are grateful  We are blown away by what He has done for us.  We are blessed beyond measure.  And one day, we will pack all of our girls up and head to the zoo to see the monkeys and have a picnic.  And mommy will SIT right by her sweet Kathryne and eat.  Until then we will celebrate the life of the greatest miracle we have ever seen every minute of every day. 

          Thank you for your prayers, for reading, for loving us. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Welcome Home Josie Hope


I had intended to spend the last four months writing you letter after letter.  I wanted to share with you what each day, each week was like as we fought the fight of our lives.  But honestly my sweet baby girl that time was spent fighting.  There is no way to tell you what we have been through since November 8, 2012.  There is no way to explain to you what the Lord did in our home, our hearts, our lives during your first 15 weeks of life.  I wish that I could explain to you the impact that you have had on hundreds of lives that we have never met.  The way that you encouraged people, the way that you brought people to their knees, the way that Jesus shone through your tiny body every moment since you were born, the way that your fight  for life pushed others on days that they were weak is absolutely incredible. 

We did it Josie Hope.  You are home. As I type this you are lying in your bed next to me sleeping and if it were not for the nasal cannula that you still need to help you along, you would never know you have been  through.  You are perfect.  You are healthy and strong and beautiful.  You are the picture of a true miracle.  We watched, along with over a thousand people all of the world as Jesus formed you outside of my womb.  You, my sweet baby girl, are beautifully and wonderfully made and we got to witness as Jesus finished.  Our hearts, our faith, our lives will never be the same.

When there is time l will tell you about every gift, every card, every prayer that was made on your behalf. I will explain to you how you got Christmas cards from families we have never met.  I will tell you about this beautiful woman in Indiana that we have never spoken with who prayed for you daily and never missed an update.  I will tell you all about Will and Darby Kate, two children that have touched our home in their love for you like we could never have imagined.  One day I will share with you how a beautiful group of women took the most difficult time of my life and kept me from being homesick by making Franklin TN my home as they care for us daily.   I will share with you about a friend that loved us so much she came and cleaned our home because we were too busy fighting for you and caring for your sisters to do it.

When you can  understand it, I will sit and talk for hours about Ms. Vida and Ms. Laura.  I will tell you how they cared for you at your weakest.  How they loved you like you were theirs.  I will explain to you how hard they fought to keep you alive until you were about to do it yourself.  One day you will understand how they were sent straight from heaven to our family. 

One day I will  tell you about your grandparents, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, how they all came the day that you were born.  How each of them lost sleep and cried until there were no tears left on the days that you were weakest.  I will explain to you how much each of them love you  and how any of them would have traded places with you in a heart beat . If I were to count the hours they spent on their knees on your behalf it would blow you away.  I will tell you about Jo, "Grandma Jo", how she came and prayed over you on the days that were scary no matter how hard it was for her.  How she loves you like you are one of hers.  How at times she was able to give your mama a break knowing that someone else would be there to sit by your bed and plead with Jesus while I rested.  If I ever find the right words I will explain to you what your Aunt Sissy did for you, for us.  How she loved you so much that she gave her own blood so that you would have as much as you needed as your body fought to live. 

One day I will tell you about your Uncle Brett.  I will explain to you how he stopped his life to fight along side us for yours.  How he spent his nights up at that hospital watching you sleep, reading to you, begging Jesus for you to live.  How he has loved your sisters like they were his.  How he quietly stayed strong for your daddy and I on the days that we were too exhausted to stand.

And then there is your daddy.  And my sweet girl, there are no words for how much he loves you.  In all the time that I have known your daddy I have never seen him pray so much, cry so hard, work so hard for anything or anyone.  For four months he has read, researched, fought, prayed, begged, praised.  He loves you bigger than the whole sky and I would have crumbled without him.  You have changed his heart Josie and if I were you I would take him up on that pony that he promised you.  ;)

Oh my sweet, beautiful, blue eyed, dimpled miracle you have blown us away.  Jesus has given us the greatest miracle we will ever see.  We will forever praise Him from the rooftops for your life!  We are in awe of your strength, of your fight, of you.  We have a road ahead of us to get you to 100% but just as daddy predicted you are already blowing us away.  Keep fighting baby girl, mama will be right here fighting with you. 

A sweet friend of mama's put together a video of your journey that I have included in this letter to share with everyone who reads.  One day Ms. Tasha is going to do a book for us, mama just needs to get her the pictures. 

Psalm 139:13-14

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
love, Mama

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Goodbye Nana.

When I was growing up it seemed so clear to me that granddaddy was the heart of our family. I assumed that he was the reason that we spent Sunday afternoons here on Hess drive.  Then in 1999 he went to see Jesus, and I watched as this family changed.  Honestly I was a little bit frightened as to what the future of the Slocum’s would look like.  But when the dust settled and the grieving was over there sat one of the strongest, bravest most loving women I have ever known, and she pulled us together and we moved forward.   


I stand before you today not only to remember Nana and to honor her, but to celebrate who she was and what she meant to the people that she loved the most, her children, their children and their children.   Nana has 5 children, 4 daughter in laws, 1 son in law, 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren and we were, beyond a shadow of a doubt the most important people in her life. 


She was loyal and loving to all of us.  She laughed with us, she cried with us, she was angry when we were angry and excited when we were excited.  She shared with us and protected us, she lost with us and found with us and when our hearts or our spirits were broken, she was there to buy a toy, feed us a meal, or to share a cigarette which ever would mend that particular hurt.  We all have our own memories, our own relationship, our own version of her story.  Mine is the only one that I know well enough to share today, so I hope that you enjoy it. 


I have memories of Nana from the time I was very small, sneaking candy to Stephanie and I when mom was not watching, protecting us from a much needed spanking, trips to lionel play world, naps on what we were certain was a real bear skin rug, meals at Sergeant Singers, and then as we grew, spending the night on poker night and sleeping upstairs in the blue room, or the pink room which ever Stephanie and I chose that time.   Little Debbie cakes, jars of candy, a lit cigarette in every room of the house, watching her tend to RW’s every wish and wondering why it was that she spoiled him rotten, only later to realize that he expected to be spoiled, which is another story entirely.  As a teenager she was at every event, every dance recital, ball game, gym meet, graduation party.  Always there in her event appropriate outfit with her envelope full of money in hand and a sweet card to go with it.  She was classy, polite but curt at times, she expected good service and the treatment of a queen when she was out and all but demanded it.  She was beautiful, funny, and only when I got older did I realize that she was paying much more attention than anyone gave her credit for.  She knew everything that was going on in this family whether we thought she did or not. 


My favorite years with her were in my twenties.  I would come over and sit with her on that back porch and we would both drink 7 diet cokes and smoke a pack of cigarettes. She would tell me about granddaddy when they were younger, how handsome he was, she would share with me, woman to woman and not sugar coat it.  Honestly I learned a lot from her about marriage, about the commitment it takes to make one last and how even when things don’t go as planned, you honor your vows and love each other.  To me, she was an amazingly devoted to the man of her dreams, and I admired her for it. 


The last 7 years with her have been a blessing to Shawn the girls and I.  She watched me as I married the man of my dreams, she loved on my babies, she shared in my happiness and that was more special than I could ever explain.  She was MY Nana, and one of my favorite people in the world.  I am heartbroken that she will not watch the girls grow up, she too was heartbroken that in her words she was “too old to play with them like she played with us” that did not stop her mind you from dancing with Kathryne or getting on the floor to play with Presley.  When we visited, she was on, she was sharp and she made sure to enjoy every moment with us and I love her even more for that. 


I will miss her more than I can put into words.  I will miss her laugh, her stories, her love for music.   I will miss the way she squeezes your hand when you reach out for hers.  I will miss her big, tough, bossy, personality that God put into that little tiny package of a woman, I will miss hearing her voice and seeing her smile all the way from TN when she answered the phone and realized it was me.  I will miss telling her I love her and hearing her say “Hey, I love you too baby”. 


It is sad for all of us that Nana is gone, but there are a few things that bring me comfort in her death.  Today as we mourn her she is very much alive.  Walking hand in hand with the love of her life, and she has wanted to be with him since the day he left us.  Together they can watch their great grandbabies grow up and smile watching us struggle as parents, remembering their struggles and how much they loved every minute of it.


In addition to RW she has joined her parents, two sisters and a brother, many friends and two great grandbabies in heaven.  And as the mama of one of those babies it eases my heart a little to know that Bennett’s Nana is there now caring for him and spoiling him rotten until I get there.


And most importantly I am certain she is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dancing and signing with him telling him about all of her babies that she left behind and waiting for the day that her whole family is together again. Revelation 21 Tells us this about the future And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” In Jesus the grave has no victory.  And therefore our sweet Nana is very much alive watching over us, cheering us on, loving us just as she always has. I pray that her presence will bring you peace on the days that your heart misses her the most. 


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday Kathryne.

Dear Kathryne,

I am 12 days late writing this.  But honestly, I am more than 12 days late for a lot of things.  On January 19th we celebrated your 5th birthday.  And in all of the craziness that is our lives right now, I think that I managed to make it special for you.  Some of your favorite people were there and I made you the exact cup cakes you wanted.  Your daddy took you and bought you a new birthday outfit with a perfect pink sparkly purse to go along with it. 

My sweet girl, I fear I have let you down a lot over the last few months.  I pray every night that the Lord will make up for where I am failing as I do my very best to be your mama in the middle of the hardest days of our lives.  All the time reassuring you that I will in fact bring home your baby sister and one day I will be your mama, all day, every day, again.   And you, in your own Kathryne way are so forgiving and so understanding.  And I am again blown away by the gift that you are to us.

At five you are more than I ever dreamed you would be.  You are smart but you still have fun. You are emotional but hilarious.  You are sweet but tough.  You are more kind than most your age and thoughtful unlike any other child I know.  You are beautiful and that is an understatement.  You love music and art and games and dance.  You are your daddy all day long with just a smidgen of your mama. Just enough to make you mean enough to get through your teens and tough enough to get through your twenties.  You are right, most of the time and you know it.  You have a sense of style that makes us grin and you are more bossy than we would like.  I watch you and I see you thinking through everything happening in this house and it worries me.  It makes me wonder if you will forgive us for the chaos we have put you through since we moved to Franklin TN.  It makes me wonder if you will remember me as strong or as weak. It makes me pray harder.

You my sweet baby in pink are your daddy's. Period. You live and breathe that man and any extra minute he has for you.  You sit on his lap and your profiles match perfectly.  His heart beats because you breathe.  And that my baby girl will make a tough match for a man that wants your heart one day.  I tell you all of the time "marry a man like your daddy", I have no doubt that will be exactly what your heart desires. 

Happy Birthday Kathryne Elaine.  Your daddy and I, now more than ever, realize what an absolute miracle you are.  We ask, no we beg Jesus to watch over you, to keep you safe, to keep you healthy.  We are trying our very best to be the mama and daddy he wants us to be and we know that when we fail He is perfect and unfailing and will be your guide.

We love you Doodle.
Mama and Daddy

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Job 1:21 Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Tonight as I lay in bed someone that I love very much is preparing to deliver a baby girl.  A perfect baby girl that she has carried for 32 weeks.  A baby girl that would make her family a family of five, that has a name and a room and two sisters.  A baby girl that will go straight to Jesus.  I do not pretend to understand babies that go straight to Jesus.  It is hard for me to grasp their purpose at times and even harder to understand when you are in the thick of it.  I realize that they all serve a purpose in some way. That their death before they lived on this earth glorifies His kingdom in ways that we may never understand.  I trust that. However, explaining that to a mother that is going to have to deliver a baby that will never breathe is a whole different ballgame.

Until we lost Bennett I was pretty good with everything that I understood: life, death, and the in-between. Sin, forgiveness, love, hate.  And then I delivered a perfect baby boy that never cried, or breathed, or moved and all of the sudden I had a question. All of the sudden I realized that I did not in fact understand everything.  That I did not trust His plan 100% if this was part of it.  I imagined myself many times standing before the Lord when it is my turn and saying "Excuse me Father, before I go in I have a question".  Sounds ridiculous yes, but their is a little bit of crazy that comes with burying your baby.  I realize of course that when it is my time, the Glory of the Lord will shine so brightly and be so incredibly beautiful that stopping at the gate to ask a question is never going to happen.  But let's just say if there is a box for unanswered questions, I am dropping mine in. 

So tonight, unlike many since March 4, 2010, I am grateful that the Lord trusted me to take that baby boy and keep on loving Him.  Because today when my sweet, sweet girl called me and needed direction, advice, help, support, I was able to give it to her.  I was able to tell her that I understood exactly how she felt. I was able to tell her what I wished I would have done, hopefully making her experience a little more bearable and special.  I was able to cry with her and prepare her for the hardest part, and yes there is a hardest part.  And when I hung up the phone, I cried and I said thank you to my Mighty Mighty Lord for allowing me the privilege to have suffered a great loss so that I could hold the hand of someone I loved and ease her suffering even just a bit. 

So tonight I lay my head down and I pray for my sweet girl and what she will go through over the next 24 hours. And I pray for her heart as her entire world changes.  And I PRAISE Jesus for allowing me to be able to walk with her whenever she needs me.  And then....then I think of Josie and I am quickly reminded that yes the Lord takes away, but when He gives, boy does He give 100%.  For I have witnessed a great loss yes, but it has been followed by a GREAT MIRACLE.
Please pray for me sweet girl and her family. And PRAISE for my Josie Hope. 
Love and Blessings,