Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dear Levi,

" I just want to thank you for risking you're life to fight for me and the people of America. To show my thank and try to help your broken heart please take this teddy bear.

I'm going to tell you all about me so you can get to know me better. My name is Samicka. I'm 12 going on 13 years on August 13. I go to Central Middle School. I'm in the 7th grade. My favorite things to do is: swim, dance, cheerleading, softball, basketball, gymnastics and track. I am a cheerleader at Kittrell Middle School, too. I have 2 brothers 3 sisters 4 counting me. My dads name is Dallas. My moms' name is Tammey. And that is all about me.

Roses are red Violets are blue Since your fighting for me I just want to thank you."

My best friend, Meagan, teaches at an inner-city school, and one of her classes wrote letters to Levi to be included in a care package I'm sending to Iraq next week. I didn't cry until I came to this one.

What you can't tell in the picture is that the seam in the teddy bear's leg is torn and the stuffing is falling out.

Being one of six children, I would imagine toys are scarce at her house.

Obviously, love and generosity are not.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Party, A Pageant and a Praise!

We celebrated my mom's 33rd birthday (hee hee!) this past weekend in Chattanooga, where, as you can see, we set the world record for Worst Grandkid Photo Shoot.
Thanks, Dawson, for cooperating. Appreciate that.
Gran/Mom with her super-yummy chocolate ganache bon-bon cake from the Publix bakery...way to go, Dad! (If y'all have never had cake from Publix, run - don't walk - and get some.)
How many men does it take to light birthday candles?
G-Pa the Great fed (read: shoveled) Dawson some cake, and then we watched Miss Tennessee compete in the Miss America pageant...

Sadly, Ellen Carrington didn't win the crown...
...but Zoey had a great time watching all the contestants and contemplating what her talent will be in 2030. I'm thinking she'll be competing against this little cutie...
...the future Miss Arkansas, Harper Stamps, who is now off her ventilator, being held by her family and eating!
I don't think there is a better word for this than "joy."

Thank you for praying for her!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering, Girls Rule

"Whoa, step back, homes. Does this look like your book? Did I say you could touch it? Um, no."

"Geez. Overreact much? Sorry!"


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Harper Stamps is three days old today, and she is a living example of the power of prayer.

She continues to improve, and the outpouring of compassion to her and her family has been an amazing thing to behold.

"We were able to meet with Harper's doctor today for the first time since she has been there. It was a very good meeting. He gave us a lot of details. It was very difficult for me to sit and listen to him talk about how sick my little baby is. Our families felt it was very positive but it was just scary for me. Basically it is a long and gradual process. They believe she got an infection which has caused the problems with her lungs. They think her heart and brain are both good. Very, very slowly - they are trying to get her off the oxygen that is supporting her lungs. They think ECMO is a final resort. We will most likely be here for weeks. Her numbers seem to improve little by little and we do have a lot of hope. She is critical but stable."

Please keep praying for them!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hope for Harper

Little Harper Stamps is not even a week old yet, but she's already making amazing progress and an impression on thousands of people she's never met!

Doctors aren't sure that Harper needs to be placed on the ECMO machine (a lung machine that helps her breathe), because she's made so much progress already.

Kelly and her parents are there at St. Francis with Harper now, and Kelly's dad, a pastor updated his blog:

"Judy, Kelly, and I were finally able to make the move from Fayetteville to Tulsa by around 5:30 this evening. At the hospital we discovered that many "blog" friends who live in the Tulsa area had made visits to Scott and his family. What an incredible blessing! One of Kelly's very special friends - Caroline - and her mom Robin made the trip from near Ft. Worth to Tulsa just to encourage and support Kelly, Scott, and Harper. Talk about going the second mile to demonstrate the love of God! We all had a wonderful visit with them. Now for an update on Harper.
Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Tonight we are as always striving to live by faith and not by sight. Sight says that little Harper is still very critical. According to the nursing staff her heart is slightly enlarged on one side and not putting out quite the blood flow that it should. Sight says that she is still having great difficulty breathing and suffering the effects of pneumonia. Sight says she is in for a long stay in the NICU. Sight also says that she is a gorgeous little baby girl. I say little, all 9 lbs 12 ozs of her make her look like a giant compared to most of the many little ones who populate the NICU. As I gazed into her helpless little face this evening I could not help but notice the others. Could it be that some of them had not had even one prayer spoken for them? I immediately thought of the literally thousands of prayers that have been expressed on Harper's behalf. I bowed my head and said, "Please God, may all of these precious children benefit from the prayers that have gone up for Harper."

Please continue to pray for Harper and for all her little friends in the NICU. Pray that it will be a place of miracles.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Prayers, Lots of Prayers, Please

This is sweet Kelly Stamps, a bloggy friend who lives in Arkansas. This is a picture from early today, when she was admitted to the hospital to deliver her baby girl, Harper.


Harper was born at 7 p.m., at a very large 9 pounds, 12 ounces, and unfortunately developed pneumonia. She was Life-Flighted to the area children's hospital where she is in critical condition.

Please, please pray for Baby Harper, Kelly and Scott. So much love, excitement and anticipation has surrounded this little baby. Please pray that God's awesome grace will be shown.

UPDATE: Saturday morning - Harper is being taken to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she will be on a heart/lung bypass machine for several days. The good news is that her heart is strong, which means she'll be more receptive to treatment. Kelly and Scott got to see and touch her before she was taken to Tulsa, and Kelly will join Scott and Harper there tomorrow.

This entire situation is proof that prayer works and God listens. Last night, when I went to bed around 11, there were 533 comments on Kelly's blog...promises by readers to pray for Harper. This morning, those comments had almost doubled to 1,000.

If you'd like to read more about Harper, or leave a comment for Kelly, her blog is linked to the left.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

She's Baa-aaack!

The spring semester at MTSU started today, which means my SIL is back to school, which means...

The Return of the Zohan!
The little princess at play. Getting her to stand, however, was a mission that Dawson took seriously.
"Ok..stay there. Keep your legs straight. It's not hard."
"I lushhh drinkiiiiinnng my juuuushhh..."
"West siiiieeed..."


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Harsh Reality

I watch CNN Headline News every morning after I wake up. At the bottom of the screen, there is a ticker displaying headlines, stock updates, weather predictions and, actually, an updated count of the casualties in the Iraqi and Afghan wars.

They are numbers.

They are people.

My brother is in Afghanistan.

My cousin is in Iraq.

Our family has two sons/brothers/nephews/grandsons in war zones. It's overwhelming to think about sometimes, and yet it is a great source of pride.

My cousin, Levi, deployed to Baghdad in November. He enlisted in the Army, and travels everyday in the streets of a warzone, protecting the people there.

He has been there for only two months, and his unit has already lost one member to enemy fire, while another member sustained life-changing injuries.

Please pray for Levi. As in any situation, when death or tragedy is involved, the shock and disbelief that follows can be consuming and overwhelming.

These soldiers live daily with a fear that you and I will never know or feel. They are enduring this to protect us and our freedoms, and to enable others to know the democracy we enjoy.

My cousin Levi in the armored truck he rides in to patrol streets in Baghdad.
A scene from a war-torn Iraqi town...the best I can tell, there are people in the distant background gathered around a fire.

Some Iraqi children watch the soldiers go by...

These men are serving you...Levi is on the left.

Levi with his uncle David, aunt Judy and cousins Gable and London.

Again, please pray for Levi and the soldiers he serves with.

When we're going to bed, they're beginning their day. Please remember them tonight.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The First of Many

Dawson's 1st birthday celebration was filled with many first experiences!

We spent Friday with Gran, Aunt K and Zoey in Clarksville looking at houses for Krystal and Jason to buy. On the way home, we stopped at McDonald's, where Dawson had his first Happy Meal and ice cream cone!
"If I don't come back down in about 10 minutes, come get me, ok?"
Me and my little explorer...
On Saturday, the whole family arrived to celebrate and help eat this adorable creation! Rachel made Dawson's birthday cake...that's a wee froggy on top!
She made chocolate cake with vanilla was yummo!
Presents, presents and more presents...
Rachel even made a little personal cake for Dawson that he could destroy/eat all by himself...
...which he thoroughly enjoyed doing!
"Do I have something on my face?"
After cake, a bath, a nap and a quick load of laundry, Dawson and Zoey were ready to play at Gran and Papa's activity table! They both love sitting at it to "read" books and play.
Dawson had a fun time opening his gifts. He got all kinds of things from clothes to toys to art supplies...
....a soccer ball from Uncle Brandon...
...toddler crayons and markers...
...and even a drill from Great-Grandpa Claude!
This birthday boy had a blast!

EDIT: No, that isn't snot on David's shirt. It's cake icing. He was bascially one giant napkin.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday, Dawson!

It is very difficult for me to believe that this little boy - my little boy - has been here for one whole year.

In my mind, he should still be this tiny. I can honestly say that his first year has passed quicker than any of the 26 I've lived so far. January 9, 2008...2:19 p.m.....will always be my favorite day and time.

We are celebrating all weekend with family and food and goodies and outings and all kinds of fun things!

Thank you to all of our family and friends - old and new - who have made this first year with Dawson so wonderful and special. My heart is delighted that my son is surrounded by people who love and care for him so much already.

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet boy!