Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Merry Little Christmas

This Christmas was not an ordinary Christmas for us. We had spent a majority of the holiday season in the hospital with Grace, and by the time we actually made it home from Fort Worth (pretty worn and ragged); nothing had been done even a little bit to prepare for Christmas (with Christmas just being a short few weeks away). While we were pretty exhausted, something our time in the hospital taught us... That every day (holidays included) we spend with the people we love.... Is a gift. 

So we started pouring the egg-nog, hunted a tree, bought decorations for the new house, and jumped in both feet first into Christmas spirit.

This year it was about more than just the traditional Christmas pomp and circumstance for us, we wanted the preparations to also be a time of reflecting for us. With every decoration we put together, every gift we wrapped, we relished the blessing of the little girl running about and her laughter that fills our home.

I think she has forever changed the way we look at Christmas. No more Christmas stressing, if some "thing" was going to cause us to turn into commercialized Christmas crazies, then out it went. It simply wasn't going to be a part of our Christmas celebration. And ya'll, that tree garland almost got tossed; it took weeks to finish haha! ;)

This was our first year with an artificial tree. With Grace getting older, and more adventurous (she loves to touch the tree); we decided to not let her become one with sappy fingers ha! :) 

This year I was going for a completely "home-made" tree, but the garland took foreverrrrrr, so it's only half home-made; however, the way the tree topper turned out made my heart sing. So, I wasn't too deterred by the store bought ornaments. Maybe, I'll finish those by next Christmas *hopefully*. ;)

Jonathan was originally pretty bummed about the artificial tree, for him it's all about the smell of the evergreen. So, I surprised him with table top trees placed around the house and real garland on the mantle. 

The silver star tree topper is from our very first tree together. It's tradition for us to feature it every year somewhere in the decorations. The silver bulbs were also from our very first tree. 

When he would walk in the door, home from work, he said it didn't even smell like we had an artificial tree. Mission accomplished! ;)

My immediate family made the trip down this year, since Grace wasn't up for travel. And for me, family is my favorite thing about Christmas; which brings me more joy than any pretty package. We are already talking about special ways we can incorporate our extended family into our holiday celebrations, and work around the distance. I really want to impart to Grace the joy of being surrounded by her massive family on Christmas, that my parents gave me.

This Christmas we were really excited about stuffing the stockings, this would be her first Christmas to be able to pull all the toys out by herself! So naturally, we stuffed all three stockings ha! And per our Christmas breakfast tradition, I served up some of my hot cinnamon rolls; while we waited for Grace to greet the morning.

But once she woke up, it was stocking time! At first she was unsure of the really big socks, but once she realized they were full of toys; she was 100% about emptying them. By the end she was rooting around in the foot of the stockings, just to be extra sure she got every last toy out. We were laughing SO hard!

After watching her with the stockings, we couldn't wait to see her reaction to Christmas presents!! She actually wasn't that interested in them, until she realized there were toys in them; then she wanted to open all of the packages.

Even the ones that weren't hers! ;)

You could imagine her disappointment when she discovered that theirs' weren't filled with toddler toys haha! ;) However, what kid can stay disappointed long, when Santa stops by to deliver the last gift? 

Also worth noting, Santa is fun for all ages! ;)

Also worth noting, my husband is an incredibly good sport! ;)

He is SO incredible in fact, that I like to let him know how much I cherish him each Christmas by cooking him a small feast. Really good food and Christmas are synonymous to him, so I try my best to make it happen. 

Christmas Dinner
Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin
with Red Wine Sauce
Roasted Asparagus and Red Onion
Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Crescent Rolls with Honey Butter
And assorted pies & wine

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic Christmas! I'd like to thank my family for driving down to spend the day with us; y'all are the best! We can't wait 'til next Christmas!

And to each of you reading, Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gracegivingmas 2013

This past November our world was rocked. Hard.

Our greatest earthly treasure seemed to be slipping from our grasp; and there was nothing we could do. I felt helpless.

So I did what I could; be the best mommy/advocate/wife/force-of-nature possible in this situation. I gave my all. That is all I can give, and pray that it is God's will for Grace to stay here a bit longer. He is hers, to give and take away; she is a gift to us, God does not owe us her. We have blissfully enjoyed raising this treasure for four years, she is living proof we serve a loving God. Everyday with her is testimony to that.

But what I hadn't realized until these three heart-wrenching weeks, is was what a blessing practiced steadfast trust is... In a relationship with our Savior. To intentionally trust him everyday, never knowing what the day may bring; but knowing He is sovereign, whether it be a day abound in blessings or tears.

Over the past few years I have been inspired by the incredible faith of our forefathers; the pioneers who lived by faith and trust for survival. They didn't need lightshows at church, retreats, or multitudes of the latest bible-studies; to trust Jesus daily. They just lived by it, out of necessity. They were not finicky in their faith, but truly made God their Rock. Incredible.

That is the desire of my heart.

And then it happened.

Necessity came clamoring on my door, when our precious Grace was born; and has made itself at home ever since.

But I found living by trust isn't easy, or romantic; but it is the most real thing I have ever done.

Because when that trust was put to the test this time, I experienced one of the most incredible moments of my life.

I was saddened at the thought of losing my girl, but not fearful. I know God has her back, and mine; whatever happens.

I didn't lose myself in despair or doubt God's plan, like a younger Erica could have; I just did the best job I could possibly do, to get her home and healthy... And I knew that it was enough. Because life and death are not my skill set, they are His.

I trusted Him, and our precious girl is happily playing in our house today. God is good.

I trusted Him, and if our precious girl never made it out of Alabama... God would still be good.

We trust Him. We trust that He is sovereign. We trust and know that He loves us; blessings or tears.

One of my favorite hymns that is about 130 years old, has been on a loop since our second hospital trip (when things began looking more serious); "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." It resonates the cry of my heart.

"Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood."
"I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me til the end."

So this holiday season, we have much to be thankful for; we are rejoicing having our sweet girl home and smiling, but we are also praising God for the opportunity to endure trials...

So we can learn to trust Him more.

This is the heart of Gracegivingmas.

And I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate God's love for us; than with the gift of family, laughter, and pie. ;)

And opening some Christmas presents a little early. ;)

This was the very first time she has ever ripped wrapping paper by herself. A true gift for us to watch.

It was also a good time to pick up the camera, after having neglected it for almost the whole month.

My heart was incredibly happy to be capturing my beautiful family.

And I was 100% fine not getting any "regular" smiles. :)

And snapping a few impromptu family photos is always a blast; freezing time for one moment. And snagging a few family portraits for the newlyweds. :)

I am very thankful my littlest sister found one of the good ones. We are blessed with our newest brother in love.

Life will have it's times of crises; but it's up to us to either hold onto the reins for dear life, or relinquish them to the One who can easily guide them... Before tragedy comes charging through our front door.
"Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace."
Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas, from the Wheat family.