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.




  1. Thank you for sharing about Annabelle. Blessings to you and your family.

  2. Hello. Just wanted to let you know, I love your books! What a refreshing way to read romance without anything else unnecessary! Also wanted to let you know, I am also a heart mom to a 5yr old son who was born with Transposition of the Greater Arteries and HLHS, plus a host of other heart “specials!” Thank you for an inspirational way to end my day!

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