Sunday, April 9, 2017

Happy Heart Day Annabelle -- six years later

Seven years ago this month, the Phillips' family was flipped upside down and turned inside out. A doctor frowned at an ultrasound picture and said something was very, very wrong with our little precious daughter's heart.

I remember this immediate feeling of inferiority. That I wasn't up for this. That I wasn't equipped to handle the abyss of the scary unknown that stretched before us.

My baby has a half of a heart?

She has to have surgery in her first week of life??

She'd be in the hospital for at least a month, if not more???

She only has a 60-70% of living????

It was too much. I couldn't do it.

Over the last seven years, God has taught me SO MANY THINGS, but this one is what I'm reminded of today.

You've probably heard the cliched phrase before:  God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called.

Some people have told me along the way "Special kids need special parents, that's why God chose YOU."

But I'll be honest. There is no truth in that. There is nothing special about me that God would "entrust" Annabelle to me.

Others have said, "I could NEVER do what you all do." And again I say, neither could we. Believe me. Neither could we.

Seven years ago, I wasn't even a little bit ready or equipped for the journey God was about to take us on. I wasn't a "special" parent that God gifts "special" kids too. I was a plain ol' imperfect parent, just like many of you. And so was my husband.

Fast forward one year. April 9, 2011. Six years ago today. 

I went to bed on April 8th, ready to quit. I was tired, I was done. My baby had been in the hospital for 8 long months. I'd fought for her, advocated for her, as best as I could, but I was tapped out. I was BEYOND tapped out. I remember that vivid moment as I closed my eyes, laying in the Ronald McDonald room, wondering how I would get out of bed in the morning.

A few hours later, the phone rang.

There was a heart for Annabelle.

I LEAPED from that bed, y'all. 

And thus began a new journey for our family, for Annabelle, one of a transplant recipient, that comes with a whole other host of obstacles.

Every year on Ananbelle's heart birthday, I remember. The day that I came to my end and God met me. The day that another family made a decision to allow their tragedy to give my daughter life. The day that I got the tiniest glimpse of what Jesus did for us--he WILLINGLY died to give us life.

And every year, I look at my sweet Annabelle, her joy and laughter and giggles and tears and singing and just am beyond thankful. I wouldn't trade the last seven hard years for anything, because they have brought me more joy than I could put into words.

I still look at myself and my parenting and shake my head. I was definitely not "specially" equipped to parent Annabelle. I fall on my face and fail daily. I forget to make them brush their teeth. They go one too many days between baths. I totally forget to send in doctors notes and get letters from the school, slapping me on the wrist. (I totally deserve them...) I forget about homework and they probably have way too much screen time. They definitely don't always get their however-many-they-are-supposed-to-get servings of veggies a day. I'm a mess, y'all. A complete, utter mess.

But I do my best. And I love them fiercely. And I am so thankful that God overlooked my complete LACK of ability and blessed us with Annabelle anyway.

Happy Heart-Day Annabelle. I love you more than words could express.

Love, Mom.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Love at First Laugh -- A (nearly) Normal Nanny

I'm SUPER excited to announce the release of my newest novella, A (Nearly) Normal Nanny! The third in the Romance (ish) Collection, this novella is currently included in the ebook collection, Love at First Laugh.

These eight novellas are all romantic comedies that we hope will make you smile and encourage you on your walk with Jesus!

We'd love for you to check it out! The collection is only available for a limited time and is a steal of a deal!

A (nearly) Normal Nanny

Normal is highly overrated…

…Unless you’re Mari Jenkins. Her life growing up was anything but normal, and she’s making up for that as an adult. She has a new job as a nanny of twin girls, a weekly schedule and a detailed ten-year plan, and nothing will get in the way of her meeting every one of her goals. Especially not a man, who isn’t allowed to appear in her life until around year eight or so on the plan.

Until, that is, the twins' uncle, Brandon Stone, shows up and douses her life with a whirlwind of crazy. Not only is he a lover of all things spontaneous, he is also drummer for the award-winning Country music artist she’s had a fangirl crush on for years.

Suddenly, normal doesn’t look quite so enticing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Southern Festival of Books

If you're in the Nashville area this weekend, I'd LOVE for you to come and check out the Southern Festival of Books happening in downtown Nashville! There will be a TON of authors there and various "book" talks.

Our local writing group is hosting a booth where 7 authors are selling/signing books! We'd love for you to stop by and chat! (our booth is right next to the bookstore!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

ACFW Pre-Conference Mix & Mingle

A friend of mine and fellow Alleycat Laurie Tomlinson is hosting a PRE-ACFW MIX N' MINGLE and I thought I'd join in the fun!

Object of the game: Give a little bit about yourself and link up on her blog (here) so we can all find out a little more about each other before the big conference.

I am SO EXCITED to be able to go to ACFW this year especially since it's in my neck of the woods!! So WELCOME TO NASHVILLE all you ACFWers.

(For my blog readers who have no clue what I'm talking about -- ACFW conference is the annual writer's conference for the American Christian Fiction Writer's association. It's a blast to be able to network with other writers and hug lots of necks of old friends and new! A weekend to celebrate BOOKS written to glorify GOD is just--yeah. Lots of fun!)

SO here are my questions/answers...

Name: Krista Phillips

Location: Spring Hill, TN

What you write/tagline/trademark: Contemporary romance with a sprinkle of smiles

Place in the book world: Multi-published author, both traditional and indie. Check out my books here! Agented through WordServe by the fabulous Sarah Freese.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Bring on the hugs -- but I'll do a back pack if you aren't all about it!

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Strawberry Cream frapachino or a hot chocolate. Not a coffee drinker at all. (and I kinda wish they would carry Dr. Pepper, but I digress)

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: My kids, hearts, anything nonsensical that includes banter and good-natured sarcasm, Money (sad but true, bookkeeping is my day(ish) job), and gross but true, organ donation. (my daughter has a new-to-her heart!)

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: Hubby, 4 daughters, and Hope, our 1 year old black lab.

Conference goals we can pray for? Honestly? I'm looking at this as a fun weekend with writer friends, networking but also just creating relationships that God can nourish. GOD'S will to be done, more than anything else.

Anything we can celebrate with you? A new novella will release this fall, A (sorta) Southern Serenade.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Facebook and Twitter would be fabulous!!

SOO excited to go check out everyone else's links and "meet" you in August!

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I'm just finally sitting down to my computer for today.

I spent the day doing normal things. Garage saling. Grocery shopping. Picking out some paint. Buying a pair of pants (I really need to lay off the Dr. Pepper...), just to detail a few errands. Very normal things.

Five years ago was oh-so-different. "Normal" was a distant thing, something I dreamt of but worried would never be part of my life again. For eight months, I'd lived in a hospital room, sleeping mostly on small pull out couches or, more often, pull out chairs beside my daughter's hospital bed. I'd relocated my whole life there. I had a "desk" set up to work from there as much as possible so she could continue to have insurance. I as much as ignored my other children much to my hindsight regret. I manically bought her clothes, hoping, believing, that she would make it home to wear them. But normal? Oh, something so sweet, so taken for granted--I just wasn't sure it existed anymore.

Five years ago, as I type, we were getting a ray of hope. A glimpse that just maybe, someday, we could experience some version of a new normal.

Annabelle's new heart was arriving. I remember specifically because it was around 7pm that they called us, telling us that she was prepped and ready to receive the heart, and the heart was almost there.

And even though I tried REALLY hard not to think of it, lest I completely have a nervous breakdown, a small part of my heart wept. Wept at the realization that my daughter was having a chance at "normal" while another family was having that ripped away from them. Their lives would really, truly never be the same. They were experiencing what I had nightmares of for 8 very long months. A reality that I lived in as a possibility every single day of Annabelle's life. That my child would die.

Five years later, I look at my sweet girl. Life is not perfect. Goodness, is it ever?!? The road has not always been an easy one, but goodness, is it EVER? But my beautiful daughter--- oh I am so thankful.

So thankful for a family who gave a precious gift in their time that their world was being wrecked. That they allowed a sweet little girl (Oh, sorry, BIG GIRL, as Annabelle so often corrects me lately!) to live.

This sweet girl loves all things Hello Kitty and pawprints. She is an amazing singer and even though you don't always understand the words, the melody is almost always 100% spot on. (Her aide at school told me she was singing a Chris Tomlin song while she was swinging the other day.) She loves smiles and giggles and being silly. She LOVES playing with her big sisters and (mostly) loves playing with her doggy Hope. (Hope is big and sometimes overwhelming!)

She loves pizza and spinach and goldfish and dipping everything in sight in either ranch or ketchup. She's come from not eating a thing one year and being fed via a tube to eating everything she get her hands on with gusto.

She is not perfect. Sometimes her sillies come out when they should stay in our pockets for silly time. Sometimes she screams when she should talk nicely. Sometimes she throws a fit when she doesn't get what she wants. She has some really big fears that we are trying to tackle as gently as possible, not the least of them are "pokie pokies" that she has to get WAY to often.

So today, we celebrate Annabelle. We celebrate a God who has brought beauty out of great sorrow. A God who knows the pain of losing a child because he lost one too. And we celebrate the gift of "normal" days. May we never look at a normal day and frown that it isn't as great and fabulous and adventure filled as others.

Because even normal days are great gifts.

Gifts to be treasured, because they are not always promised, or guaranteed.

Happy "normal" Heart Day, sweet Annabelle. Your mother loves you more than the very breath I breathe.

And to a family out here who is grieving today, please know that a part of my heart will always ache with you. I will never forget the gift you chose that day, and continually pray for you all.

~ Krista

Memory Lane from Heart Day 4/9/2011

First Family Picture! (Look, she liked Hello Kitty even then!!)

Sweet Nurse Jessica made her a heart necklace to wear!!
The traditional "wagon ride" around the pod with "it's my heart day" signs!

Mommy and sweet Annabelle. This picture is a good reminder of just how sick she was. :-/

All goals changed this day!!!!
Post op. She looked so sad... yet so pink!
2016 -- NORMAL Day. Momma's hair is a mess. Annabelle is in pawprint pajamas (she got new today on her special day) and big smiles by all! SO VERY THANKFUL!!!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Different Kind of Worry

If I wanted to sound really Christian, I would title this post, "A Different Kind of Concern" because....

Christians aren't supposed to worry, right? We call it "concern" to make ourselves feel a little more holy.

Actually, I should own this one and say this is what *I* tend to do.

It's such a balancing act, this whole worry/concern thing as a parent. The Bible tells us NOT to worry. To trust Jesus in everything. And I don't think he was exempting parents from that command.

Yet --- for those of us who are parents, he's given us this grand responsibility of training up children, of making sure they are fed and clothed and nurtured and loved and safe. So how do we do our best at that without worrying--or being, uh, concerned?

And that brings me to my challenge. As a mom of a kiddo with special medical needs, my worries/concerns have changed. Like, REALLY changed.


Typical Kid: Eh, it's a tickle in their throat. Have some OJ just in case. Mucinex-R-US. Fine, I GUESS you can stay home from school, but you're probably just fine.

Annabelle: Is this heart failure? Did she aspirate? Is it the flu? RSV? Do I call the ped or her cardiologist? Is it ER time?


Typical Kid: See, I TOLD you not to eat that candy! Here, lay down, watch some cartoons, and here is a pot just in case. Oh, and some Pepto for good measure.

Annabelle: Does she look dehydrated? Let's check her temperature and oxygen levels. Does her stomach look distended to you? Let me press on it and see if it is hard or soft. Do I call the ped or her cardiologist? Is it ER time?


Typical Kid: Here's a tissue. Probably allergies. Get your butt to school.

Annabelle: What color is the snot? Does she have a fever? Is she breathing okay? Let's check O2 levels just in case. Do I call the ped or her cardiologist? Is it ER time?


Typical Kid: Crap. Probably strep. Get in the car, swab time. Oh, and here is some Ibuprofen. You'll be fine.


Now, I will say. I've mellowed a bit as she's grown. I'm better at identifying a cold-cough from a congestive-heart-failure cough, or at least I know what signs to look for and am more confident in my abilities to see it. I still start discreetly putting things in a bag just in case at pretty much any fever level, but the panic has abated somewhat.

So where does Jesus come into play? What does handing our kids and worries to him look like when you have chronically ill children?

The more I've thought and prayed about this, the more I see worry as a focus, not an action. It is WISE to do things like check snot color and temperatures and oxygen levels and heart rates. It's part of the norm for us medical-mommas.

And we would not be human if our pulse didn't start pounding harder when those numbers aren't what they should be. It is a normal, visceral reaction that God created us with, and that Mommy gut instinct is important to listen to.

So "not worrying" doesn't mean we become unfeeling parents who don't take responsibility of our children. Worry comes in when we focus on the problem and our lack of ability to fix it rather than on Jesus, the only one who can.

On a practical level, it looks like, when you have that oxygen monitor on your kiddos fingers and are seeing the number, what is going through your head? "Oh my goodness, my child might die. She might be in rejection or heart failure. What am I going to do?!?!?" vs. "Thank you Lord for oxygen monitors. Be with my sweet girl. Give me wisdom to know how to take care of her well."

It doesn't mean you don't care for your children. It doesn't mean that don't look for all those signs and be diligent. It means you do it while trusting God to walk with you, every step of the way. While depending on his strength rather than your own.

In preparing for this blog post, I was reading Matthew 6 -- the verses starting with 35 that talk about not worrying. This thought hit me that I wanted to share.

In the past, I've viewed worry as a sin. There are opinions both ways regarding that particular point, and I don't know. Maybe it is technically.

But what I don't see anymore is God sitting on his throne, frowning at me for worrying about my sick child. He is a GOOD God who loves me, and He knows all about watching a child suffer.

No, I think instead the Holy Spirit is sitting beside me, urging me to turn to Him. To set my worries in his capable hands and rest in the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that only trust in God can bring. He doesn't want this for Him. He wants it for us, because it hurts Him to see us hurting.

I've said this many times, but looking back, some of the most peace-filled moments in my life were sitting in that hospital room with Annabelle, hearing machines whir and beep, with her life hanging in the balance, and feeling the unexplainable peace that only the Love of God can bring. There was no explanation except that God was near. He never promised me one additional day with Annabelle. I have always viewed each day as a gift. But He did promise me that he would be near to me each and every day, no matter what. That his strength was sufficient. That I could trust Him.

Worry brings no good, friends. It helps no one. It only festers and wears you down and inhibits your ability to make good decisions. It is the weapon of the enemy who wants to see us trampled on and crushed.

Trusting in God and going forth in his power and grace, that is when true peace will come.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

True Love

When I started on my most recent book, A Side of Love, I struggled a bit.

Love comes in all forms.

Of course, GOD is Love. And I wanted Jesus to be the focal point of ALL my books, so definitely this one too.

And I write romance, obviously it would have romantic love in it. All my books do.

But what could I do to really highlight LOVE as the theme?

As a mom of a teenage girl and a tween, I am just now starting to navigate the fun waters with my children of young love. Girlhood crushes that may or may not turn into something more. So I had fun using the "high school crush" angle in this book.

But even more than that, I wanted to show that love should be sacrificial.

Garrett has returned to Sandwich to care for his aging mother. He left his dream job, chef of a prestigious upscale restaurant in downtown Chicago, to be the chef of the Sandwich Emporium. I mean, I love the Emporium and all. It was created by my own imagination, so I have a special love for it. But---it will never compete or whole the prestige of Garrett's former position. But it gives him more time off and stability in a small town, and the ability to care for his mother.
And then we can also back up in his life to high school, when he had a crush on his best friend's sister. His dad convinced him to hold onto his feelings for later. That it would be selfish, as a senior in high school getting ready to move away to college, to entangle the heart of a freshman who had her whole high school "career" ahead of her. So he set aside his own feelings and wants at the time.

I loved these subtle undercurrents of love. Yes, love can be found in the mushy, ooey-gooey feelings of attraction we feel. It is a fun love and important one. But it shouldn't stop there. Love is so much MORE than that. It's what I REALLY hope to teach my girls as they start to navigate the boys/dating waters.

Let's Chat! Do you have any examples of sacrificial love in your own life? Either that you have shown others or others have shown you?