Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holidays, Lexington BBQ, and Bike Rides

Whew. I am exhausted. The last week as been possibly the most amazing in recent memory. I'll back track a little and fill you all in incase you somehow missed my daily FB updates.

The Christmas "weekend" I guess you could say started off with a veerrrryyy long drive -alone- all the way from Orlando to Albemarle, NC starting on Thursday and finally arriving on Friday. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome it was to get back to NC - despite the cold weather, which I generally LOATHE. This year though, thanks to a little extra padding (up another 2 lbs this week to an whopping 144 lbs) and lungs that aren't in complete AGONY, I actually *almost* enjoyed the cold. It was so nice to be able to be in the cold and still be able to enjoy myself. Thankfully it wasn't a "wet" cold or I doubt I would be feelin the same love.

That weekend started with a Christmas party with the best group of women I know. We have been talkin about this party for well over two months now and we had hyped that crap up so high that most people wouldn't even be able to come close to fulfilling the expectations.

We aren't most people.

Our Christmas party was an evening of food, dirty Santa (sometimes a little toooo dirty lol) and wine and incredible You Tube videos. Oh and wine. And ridiculous stories. And did I mention wine? Yeah there was wine. For some, too much wine ;)

Late into the week our Christmas party somehow transformed into a "onesie" party or an adult footed pajama party is that helps you envisions this spectacle. Think 7 grown women sittin around in full sized onesies. It was a pretty amazing sight. My husband isn't the biggest fan of the onesie but honestly that's just too bad. That thing is amazing, and I love it. I tried to wear it to church that Sunday but he sorta put the kabash on that one.

Yup. That's happening

Gangster onesies

Things starting to digress...

Foxy ladies

"She Ratchet"

Have I mentioned how much I freakin LOVE these women!? Gah, I have missed them.

The next day was FamJam time. Each year my entire family (Phillips side) gets together for Christmas at Uwharrie Point/Old North State Country Club for our Christmas get together. This year my parents, sisters, and their husbands/babies got out there earlier than usual to get family pictures made. It was the first time we had ALL been together since our latest member - Miss Shelby - had arrived and it was the first time we were all together since my transplant. We haven't seen the pics yet, but big thanks to Joseph Sides and Andrea Harris from Connection Photography for comin all the way out and dealing with our CRA-ZY family. It was such a special thing for us to be able to do and I know there are some awesome pics in there! We can't wait to see them!

Once the rest of the family arrived it was the usual - football, tons of food, catching up and presents. It was so good to see everyone and watch my babies play together. The only ones missing were my cousin Braxton and his wife Katherine. She *was* pregnant and was unable to be that far away from her Dr. Turns out it was the right thing! Mr. Holden Sherwood Wall was born just a few days later -- Christmas Day!! So we welcomed another "Santa Baby" into the fam. He is so precious and I HATE SO MUCH the he decided to make his debut literally like 2 hours after Chris and I headed home!!

Mylee & Mabree

Nap time!

Momma and Shelby

Playin Santa's sleigh...yeah I was Rudolph.

Outside - bravin the cold weather.

Me and Monkee

Dr Mylee

Sweet girls...

Holden Sherwood Wall born Dec 25, 2012 -- so handsome!

The rest of the weekend was spent with friends and more family. Christmas Eve we traveled the hour to Lexington for my **favorite** LEXINGTON BBQ! People, this is serious. I know everyone has their idea of what constitutes BBQ - even more so GOOD BBQ. But let me just tell you. This is the real deal folks. Lexington BBQ is famous and rightly so. It's the best - vinegar based, super moist and I mean man - Just freakin amazing. And don't forget about the hush puppies. Ohhhh the hush puppies. So, so good. You know how hush puppies got their name? Apparently some lady had a yappy dog and she made a batch of these little babies. She would say "hush puppy!" and to reward him she would give him one. Or atleast I heard that somewhere. Not sure it's true but let's pretend it is.

Oh yes.

Pig skin love's. beautiful thing.

Family friends (the "kids") -all grown up- at the Spencer's house Sunday evening.

Christmas morning rolled around and it was so awesome to be able to see BOTH our families on Christmas Day. Something that we haven't done in about 5 years. We opened presents and had breakfast at my parents house, then headed to Charleston, SC to spend the rest of the day with Chris' family. I wish we had had another couple days off to spend more time in Charleston, but atleast ALL of Chris' family was able to meet in Charleston. It's been years since that's happened too! My two oldest nieces, Elizabeth and Abigail, have gotten WAY to big. I mean its seriously stressing me. Elizabeth (EJ) is in HIGH SCHOOL and is as big as me. I remember when she was barely a year old (when Chris and I first started dating). I can't believe how old she is. It's makin Chris and I feel really old. And sweet Abigail is such a cutie and is SEVEN. It's killin me. I was there the day she was born. *sigh*

Cannot remember what was so funny, but does it matter? This picture is hilarious!

Sister in law Ashley and her new FIANCÉ Josh! :)

Our first baby Abby, the boarder collie/pit bull mix. She is not a puppy anymore lol!

Getting back home to Orlando was sad at first, but I am glad to be home. Visited with my sister and her in laws yesterday which is always entertaining (lol) and was able to spend a little time with my girl Mabree which is always a good time :)

Live music at Ella's in Tampa...

To more live music (and some dancing haha) at O'Briens...

To interesting gift card purchases at Pier 1 the next morning haha

Cut to today. Sunday Funday at its finest. Chris and I spent the morning at the Lake Eola farmers market in downtown Orlando, then headed over to Wall Street Cantina to watch our beloved Panthers beat the Saints (albeit still making us slightly bonkers with their inconsistency). After that we stopped by Orange Trail in Oakland a few minutes from our house. We rented bikes and took an hour long bike ride - my first true bike ride in FIFTEEN years (maybe longer honestly). It was awesome. My legs are killin me, but my lungs? AHH-MAZING. I mean it was crazy! One full hour of biking, up hills and a little off roading (not my idea to say the least) and I was barely breathing hard! I think I'm gonna hafta buy a bike. I'm sorta hooked I think. :)

Relieving stress with an odd photo shoot while watchin the Carolina Panthers.

And again...


I think he thinks its cold out...

Well. There ya go. All caught up. I can't believe 2012 is all but over. I'm tellin you, this has been a crazy year. An incredible year, but awesome. This has been the BEST holiday I have had in so long I can't even remember one ever being this good. Friends, family, new babies, havin the ENERGY to enjoy it all, NO IVS, and NO HOSPITAL. I can't barely believe this is my life now. Absolutely a miracle. I am so thankful I have been able to celebrate this new life - this amazing miracle of rebirth and faith and grace - at the same time we are celebrating the GREATEST MIRACLE - the birth of the One who gives us this grace, who provides for us in our faith in Him. Jesus is the reason for the season and lemme tell you, this has NEVER been clearer, or more significant, to me as it has been this year. He has absolutely delivered me and my family from the Hell we were in and I could not be more grateful. God is so good people.

With this amazing sense of thankfulness comes an immense sense of sadness - I guess that's the right word. It's hard to completely reconcile the feelings that come along with transplant sometimes. Most of the time I'm so happy, so overwhelmed and literally shocked by what I am physically capable of, that I don't dwell on EXACTLY what had to transpire to get me to where I am today. But atleast once a day, even if its just for a brief moment, I remember. Sometimes I am just grateful, sometimes I have a twinge of guilt. Sometimes - like at the holidays - I'm overwhelmed with a sadness and guilt I can barely explain. Its not constant thankfully, usually something I think of late at night when Im layin in bed or by myself in my car. When things are quiet and calm and I dont have the benefit of any great distractions. I don't know why God spared my life at, what sometimes feels like, the expense of another. How is it fair that I have spent the last five months feeling so amazing and getting to experience such an amazing new life, while someone else had to die for that to happen? I realize that (hopefully) the young man who died to give me life is celebrating in a way COMPLETELY UNFATHOMABLE to me in Heaven this year. I don't know where his heart was on that front, but I pray that someone who could give this gift to someone would have Jesus in his heart. I don't worry about that for the most part. Nothing can be done now if that wasn't the case. But I do worry for his family. Who had to spend this first Christmas without someone they loved. Who was acutely aware of his absence on Christmas morning when his empty stocking hung by the others filled with all kinds of things and who's seat remained empty at Christmas dinner. I pray that while there was sadness and loss this year, that there was also a sense of peace that could only be given to them by Jesus and the promise we celebrate this season - the coming of our Savior.

I hafta write a letter to the family of my donor soon. I've honestly been putting it off because, well I haven't had the words. What do you say to a donor family to explain the significance of what their loved one has done for you? How are there ever the right words to give them the peace, closure and assurance that what was done with their loved one's body was the right choice? Organ donation isn't for everyone. I know that. I can only hope the family was ok with his decision. And if they weren't, that whatever words I can find to express what his decision has meant to me will help them find a peace with it. I'd hate to think that there were people out there who regretted that decision, who felt some sort of animosity towards organ donation - or to me as the recipient - because of what happened. I have put it off for as long as I can. I wanted to do it sooner, but like I said - no words. Now I regret I didn't do it earlier. I can't help feeling like my letter may have been a source of peace for them at the holidays. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it would have been too much. I just hope that my procrastination on the letter was the right move. And that when I do write it that my words are Heaven sent and are what they need to hear, whatever it is. So throw up a couple prayers for me on that one if you don't mind. I hope to get it written and sent in the next few weeks.

Again, and as always, thanks for indulging me tonight. I know this was a long one, so thanks for hanging in there! I hope you all have had an amazing holiday season so far. The New Year is literally hours away. I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store! Love to you all -- thanks for being a part if Chris and I's life. You all have had such a huge impact in our life and each one of you has helped us in so many ways. We pray for you all everyday and thank God for everything and everyone he has put in our path. You have all made such a difference to us.

xoxoxo and Much love...

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