The sweetest Christmas gift.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh my... get ready to cry.
This girl is precious and so is her Christmas wish.

Sick day.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade craisins!
Experimenting with my new dehydrator (thank you, Shawn!)
Sewing up a storm
Day 3 of being sick

I'd really love breathe through my nose again, but for now, I'm getting quite a lot done around here.
Happy Thursday!

Meet me in St. Louis.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yesterday marked our 3rd wedding anniversary.
It's hard to believe we've already been married that long, but I have to say, it's been the best 3 years of my life. Waking up next to Shawn every morning and journeying through this life together is the greatest privilege. 

We celebrated by taking a quick trip to St. Louis, which was a first for both of us. Unfortunately, I got sick for the first time in over a year with a terrible head cold, so I spent lots of time in our hotel room while Shawn ventured out in the freezing rain to find me some Tylenol PM and cough drops. Fun, fun. 

But we enjoyed it anyway, exploring the super cute Central West End and staying in the Hyatt right next to the Arch. We walked around the Arch, but when I looked straight up at it and saw just how high it was, it didn't really appeal to me to go up to the top. Has anyone been up to the top? I hear it sways. Noooo thank you.

We also discovered that St. Louis has some very yummy food (and is so affordable!). We found a couple of great gluten-free options and ate like kings. Gluten-free crepes with goat cheese, basil, mushrooms, and tomatoes? Yes, please.

On our drive home yesterday, Shawn asked, "When are [our friends] Colin and Justine heading back from Kansas City?" 
I said, "I think today," to which he responded, "I think they're right behind us."
What are the odds?!

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pinned Image
Each year at Christmas, I pray and ask the Lord to make the story of His birth come alive in my heart. And every year, He answers. This Christmas, I am thankful to have had some time to really dwell on the true meaning - the only meaning - of Christmas. At times, it's hard to capture my feelings about it because what God did on that first Christmas is too unbelievable, too mysterious, too glorious to put into words.

I've pondered the reality of what it must have been like, which must have been such a far cry from the nativity scene that sits on our coffee table year after year.

In that nativity, Mary looks much too clean: no sweat dripping down her cheeks from being in labor, no dirt on the hem of her robe. I can't smell the stench of the donkey or hear the moaning of contractions. And Joseph hovers in the background, a seemingly emotionless bystander of this miraculous event.

And in my mind, though this scene is so beautiful and reminds me of His birth, these molded pieces of plaster do no justice to how it really was.
There must have been tears.
There must have been gritted teeth through the excruciating pain of childbirth.
There must have been the fear of inadequacy in Mary's and Joseph's hearts that every new parent faces, but so much more than that. They were to parent God.

I picture the real shepherds, so weathered, so poorly educated. Maybe they had matted hair and bad breath. Without the bombardment of lights and technical effects that we experience today, a heavenly host of angels coming from the sky must have been completely shocking. They were "sore afraid." I would have been, too. I love that God chose that these shepherds would be Jesus' first visitors; the VIP guests, if you will. They weren't who we would've expected for the first people to meet the King of the World, if we had written the story. We wouldn't have allowed them to get their unclean hands on the Christ child.

But God was and is the Author of His story, our story. I love that He never misses a chance at imagery. It's possible that these shepherds, who were near Bethlehem which is only a few miles from Jerusalem, were guarding the temple lambs that were to be sacrificed for the sins of the people. I wonder if they knew that, when they looked into the manger at baby Jesus, they saw the sacrificial Lamb who would permanently, radically take away the sins of the entire world.

Somehow, I think they got it. At least a part of it. Luke writes that the shepherds returned from greeting Jesus and were glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told to them. I don't really picture them closing their eyes and lifting their hands in worship. They had to be jumping, screaming, overwhelmed with the Good News!

And then there's baby Jesus. When I think of that tiny, Jewish, crying baby - that helpless, perfect child... I can't help but get tears in my eyes. What would it have been like to hold Him close? What would it have been like to see this beautiful baby and know that my sins would be cast on Him and would cause Him a gruesome, bloody death? When I think of Him, I am filled with praise. I might have rocked Him, humming "O Come Let Us Adore Him." I might have swaddled Him a little tighter to comfort Him. I might have let His tiny hands curl around my fingers.

Praise to our Lord, this strange God. He is strange to us because we never would've chosen this way to save the world. Praise for a compassionate God - compassionate because we never could have saved ourselves, and He knew it. We celebrate Christmas, not because it's a time of generosity or of goodwill. We celebrate Christmas because God did something for us that we never could've done for ourselves.
He gave us Peace.
He gave us Himself.
And because of it, our future as His children is incredibly bright.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Our hometown hero.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I had the privilege today of standing in the rain with a few hundred people who gathered to celebrate the homecoming of a hometown hero.

"This is a real hero you're about to see," mothers told their children.
A real hero is right.
Andrew Wilson graduated from the same high school that I did, and chose to go to Afghanistan to serve in the military this past year. While on patrol on October 19, Andrew was hit by an IED explosion and lost both legs as a result. He's had 11 surgeries with more to go, but he came home for Christmas today. Led by a full police escort and dozens of veterans on motorcycles, he waved at the crowds from his limo window and hopefully felt the pride his hometown had for him. Because for miles, people like me had tears in their eyes as they waved their flags and cheered him on.
We are so proud of you, Andrew.
Welcome home.

Too cute for words.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This portrayal of the Christmas story made me smile, laugh, and want to squeeze some baby cheeks! These little ones could not be cuter (I can't get over their darling accents!). My favorites have to be the sheep and the star. What a sweet, beautiful way to tell the Christmas story.

The next year: Our love story continued.

Friday, December 16, 2011

June 2007 in Florida

Getting along famously with the fam 
Shawn and I dated for a year (March 2007 to March 2008) before getting engaged.

While I'm sure there is so much to recount from that year, so much of it was a blur. I was a senior at Moody, working on the Manna project, nannying part-time for a family nearby, and somehow getting homework done. We still saw each other every day, if only for a few minutes between our other commitments. 

Within a couple weeks of dating, I knew he was it. I was going to marry this guy. I called up my dad - who happened to be traveling at the time - and said pretty bluntly, "I'm going to marry Shawn." He said, "Wow. I'm glad I was sitting down." I'd never said those words about anyone else before, because I'd never felt them. I told my dad that there were no red flags in our relationship, not even yellow flags that would make me hesitant about Shawn. So much peace surrounded our relationship and our passions for ministry, for missions, and our compatibility in so many other ways just confirmed that I was supposed to be with him. Forever. It didn't scare me one bit. I was ready.

So nearing our one year anniversary of dating, I was getting suspicious. Was he going to propose? I'm sure lots of girls go through this... getting needlessly worked up over every holiday or significant date (Christmas? Valentine's Day? My birthday?) and then trying not to seem disappointed when there was no ring. Our first year anniversary came and went. No ring.

At one point, Shawn and I even photographed an engagement from the bushes (my dear friend Anna had no idea we were there hiding), and the moment was so beautiful. But it also made me think, "When in the world is Shawn going to propose? Is he even thinking about it?"

I should've known he had been thinking about it. Planning for months. Saving every last penny from his catering job for the most incredible day of our lives. 

One way he planned was by taking me ice skating often to "practice" (though I had no idea that was the reason, of course). I hadn't grown up skating and was pretty shaky on the ice. But Shawn knew if we were going to get engaged on ice with hundreds of people watching, I'd need some practice. I bought my own skates and we went skating quite a bit. It was fun, sometimes, and I was improving each time - but sometimes, I'd fall right on my knee caps multiple times and end up so bruised that I could barely walk without pain. Shawn was determined, though, and bought me knee pads to wear while I skated so I'd enjoy it more and not be scared to fall.

So in March 2008, the night before we got engaged in New York City, he took me ice skating in Millennium Park in Chicago. It was particularly crowded that night and the ice was really scuffed up so it made it a lot easier to fall. I fell a couple times when little kids whipped past me and made me lose my balance. Finally, I got so frustrated by it that I got off the ice and told Shawn, "I hate this. I'm never doing this again." 

Shawn, feeling a little worried that the very next day, I wasn't allowed to hate this - said, "You just hate skating here, with so many people, with rough ice. You don't hate skating." 

"Yes. I do." 

"No, you don't. It's part of our story, sweetie. We started liking each other on the ice in New York." And I'm sure he wanted to say, "And we're getting engaged there TOMORROW so you better like it!" But he just put his arm around me and we headed back to campus.

Way to kill the moment, Whit (and way to give your boyfriend a heart attack).

When we got back to campus and started to thaw out in the lobby of my dorm, Shawn handed me a card. It was beautifully handmade by him and had an invitation to a date the next day. I knew something was up - and had a feeling it may involve an engagement - but had no clue how incredible that day would be. 

The next chapter of our love story is our engagement day. To read it, go here
To see the many photos from the day, go here to see my Facebook album. You won't regret it. :)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Their awkward pose. :)
On Monday night, we had two of our very favorite teenagers over for a sleepover. I've known these girls since they were babies, and started babysitting them when I was 14. They also have 3 little brothers, and we love them so much too - but it was nice having some girl time to craft the night away. And craft we did. We made sugar scrub, tote bags (using freezer paper stencils), flowers to go on the tote bags, and headbands. And I loved every minute. I cannot believe they're teenagers now, and such beautiful, kind women. If my daughters someday turn out half as graceful, sweet, and godly as they are, I will be so happy.

DIY: Pleated flower

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today I have the privilege of guest posting at Bethany's blog for her Christmas craft series, and I was excited to do a tutorial on how to make this flower. Make it into a headband (like in the picture), pin it to a purse, or put it on top of a Christmas gift! I hope you enjoy it!

Comments are closed today so that you'll go visit Bethany and leave her some love. :)

Our weekend in pictures.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bieber fever. In Franklin.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Never ever in a million years did I dream I'd one day post a video of Justin Bieber on the blog... but when it's a video of him singing in the middle of Main Street in my hometown of Franklin, Tennessee... well, I think that's a good enough reason. He shot the video a couple months ago and according to several friends who went to the shoot it was kind of chaotic. When his bus pulled up, he and Selena got out and Twitter and Facebook went craaaazy until a few hundred screaming girls were there watching (and probably crying). Wow.

Can I just say, he couldn't have picked a better spot? Doesn't Franklin look so charming?! It is charming, snowing or not.

We'll be heading to the Dickens festival this weekend there with our friends Michael and Staci. I hear there's going to be a "Town Sing," horse-drawn carriage rides, and sugar plums. A perfect way to celebrate the season!

PS - I'm kind of in love with his Christmas album. SO good!

Currently reading...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I wish this list included a classic like anything above (love those pretty covers!), but right now, it's all I can do to read a few articles here and there when I have a break in exam prep.
So here are a few blog posts and articles that I couldn't help but share... 

1. The Christmas Conundrum. Jen articulates the Santa debate so well, and I couldn't agree more with her perspective on Santa vs. Jesus and some practical ways to make Christmas a celebration of Jesus. I also really love her posts about her family's recent adoption of two older children from Ethiopia. 

2. Sketched by Angie Smith brought me to tears, not only because I know sweet Mr. Gentry and his farm which she mentions in the post, but because I know the sweetness of the Lord to do something like this. Must read.

3. I am about the furthest thing from a football fan, but I love Tim Tebow for how he stands unashamed for Christ. Shawn and I pray for him, too, because you know that Satan would love to bring him down. I love this article: Why the heck do we hate Tim Tebow?  

Our Deliverer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This week, I can't stop thinking of what I heard on Sunday.

Preaching from Hebrews 2:14-15,

May I live this way, fearless and confident in my Jesus. What hope we have in Christ!

To hear the sermon, go here. (It's the most recent sermon entitled, "The Mystery of the Incarnation.")

Christmas favorites.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Smell: Pine. Mulled cider. Bacon on Christmas morning. Cloves and oranges on the stove. Is there a smell not to like?

Tradition: On Christmas Eve every year growing up, the four of us would get to open one present, and it was always pajamas. We'd change into our new pajamas and read the Christmas story (I read it on the even years, and Kels read it on the odd years). We would then draw each other's names out of a mug and tell that person why we were thankful for them. Definitely a tradition I plan to continue when our family is bigger than just the two of us.

Flower: Paperwhites

Movie: The Preacher's Wife. It's not Christmas until I've watched this (preferably with little sis). Favorite scene here. Shawn even knew about my undying love for this movie when we were dating and chose one of the songs to play at Rockefeller Center when we got engaged. I can't listen to it without tears.

Hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. What Christmas is all about... the lyrics move me.

Memory: The Christmas of my sixth grade year, Kels and I thought we had finished presents when our parents handed us each an envelope which gave us a clue to our final present. I ripped my envelope open, read the instructions, and bolted to my mom's closet and found a blueberry clamshell iBook (remember those?). Best. gift. EVER. My sister hadn't read her clue very thoroughly because she followed me into and out of my mom's closet, and we were so excited that they'd given us a computer. To share! But when she came out empty-handed, my parents looked at Kels and asked, "Did you read your clue?" There was a computer waiting for her in the other closet! I still think about how cute she was in that moment and how happy we were that she had gotten her very own orange clamshell iBook.

Easy gift: These pecans. Always a hit.

Sight: Opryland Hotel at Christmas. If you're anywhere near Nashville this month, you have to go. It's kind of insane how crazy they are about Christmas lights.

Dislikes: Santa. And all of his elves and reindeer. Even Mrs. Clause. (I really just don't like that the idea of him has taken so much away from the true and glorious celebration of Jesus coming into the world!). That doesn't make me a Scrooge, does it? :)

Ok, your turn. Some of your Christmas favorites? 

PS - I wrote a post for Cameron's blog about some more of my favorites... check it out here. :)

Fabric. One of my favorite things.

Some of you have asked, "Where do you buy your fabric?"

I buy it lots of places - Joann for last-minute or solid colors, Etsy, Hawthorne Threads. But my favorite spot lately is here: Drygoods Design Online.

Keli has such an awesome eye for fabric and there's always a deal or a coupon code available (free shipping for the rest of 2011). Right now, if you buy $40 or more, there's a 40% off coupon code.  Plus, she sends a pixie stick with every order. My kinda girl. :)

Just thought you should know... I can't recommend this fabric shop highly enough.

5 days at a time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by the "whole month" thing right now in the middle of exams, so I'm going five days at at time. Here are the first five:

December 1 - Brown Rice & Lentil Salad and Raw mango-lime pie
December 2 - Salmon panzanella
December 3 - Ginger-lime chicken stir fry
December 4 - Maple dijon crock pot chicken with a spinach salad on the side
December 5 - Tuscan white bean soup

PS - Not all of these are gluten-free, but they will be when they're at my house! Like the salmon panzanella - it calls for a whole wheat baguette, but I'll replace it with a gluten-free hamburger bun that I have on hand.  These recipes are all very easily adaptable to a gluten-free diet.

December cooking.

I'm going through an "I really despise cooking" phase at the moment.
It's sad, because I used to love to cook.
I think it's a combination of things: the lack of time and energy, the food allergies, and the long distance from our house to the grocery store.

When we first got married, we had dinner together every night after work. Things were different - I didn't know about my gluten allergy and there were two grocery stores within a block of our apartment. Now, to be honest, I can't even tell you the last time we sat down for dinner at home together. We eat out at least 75% of the time. Sad, but true.

So I'm making a really big goal for December. I'm going to plan the whole month in advance, and try hard to cook 5 meals a week (20 meals total) during the month. That probably doesn't seem like much to some of you, but going from about 3 or 4 meals a month (mainly just when we have guests), it'll be a stretch.

Anyone have some recipes they recommend?

I'm about to head to Pinterest to see what I can find...

Wish me luck! I'll post here what the monthly plan is whenever I can figure it out.

A skirt for a tree.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last night, inspired by this fabulous tutorial, I spent about 3 hours making ruffles for this do-it-yourself tree skirt. 
Was it worth the 18 glue sticks and two burn blisters? I'd have to say yes.
I really love this gussied up tree. She's ready for Christmas now!

Learning curve.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm (almost) officially 3/4ths of the way finished with nursing school. I was thinking about it today and thought, "I have really learned so much this year."I've learned so much more than how to start an IV or how to assess lung sounds or explain the side effects of a medication.

I've learned that parents of special needs children are angels. I don't understand how they do what they do every. single. day. I'm exhausted caring for their child for just 8 hours (bathing, feeding, helping to the bathroom, etc.). Their love and sacrifice for their child just astounds me. Maybe when I'm a mom someday I'll understand it a little more.

I've learned that sometimes I need little rewards to get me through a tough week. My favorite way to spend a Friday afternoon is sitting in my car, listening to NPR, and chowing down some Chipotle. Luxurious.

I've learned that there are so many ways to procrastinate. Like cleaning your whole house. Then taking pictures cleaning the baseboards. Then posting a blog about it.

I've learned that washing your hands really works. I wash or gel my hands at least every 10 minutes in the hospital it seems, and shower as soon as I get home, and I have not gotten sick one time since being in nursing school. Eating healthy and getting sleep helps, too. But I'm serious... wash your hands! All the time!

I've learned that I can't always wear my heart on my sleeve. Some people's situations that I've encountered make me so sad, and I somehow have to remove myself from their lives just enough to care for them without wallowing with them in their pain. It's a difficult balance and I don't have it down yet. At some point I just need to pray for them, ask Jesus to comfort them, and do the best I can.

I've learned that I have some pretty amazing friends and family to stick with me through my terrible communication skills at present... they don't always get calls or texts or time, but they still love me. Thanks, guys.

I've learned that Shawn is even more patient than I thought. He'll sit for hours quizzing me on notes that make absolutely no sense to him. And he forgives me when I tell him a really graphic story right before dinner time that makes just about everything unappetizing. Crazy love... that's what he has for me. (That's what I have for him, too.)

I've learned that nursing is so far beyond a job. It's a ministry and a calling and it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

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