Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our First Christmas Letter

A Note at Christmastime

The weather outside isn't frightful but the fire is still so delightful. And since we've no place to go - I'm sure we won't see any snow, any snow, any snow! (My Texan spin on "Let It Snow".)

We just love this time of year! Wearing slippers so the nippy mornings don't bite our toes, hot spiced cider; bone warming meals, and quilts to snuggle in when the night turns cold. And this year we have it all without snow. I can't say we miss that yet!

Josiah is three years old and has gotten so tall. He just looks more and more like a little man every day. He's very into heroes and puffs up his chest, bends his elbows and growls, "I'm so strong - just like Hulk!” He is also quite the helper! Josiah gets a kick out of feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs, sitting on mine or Jeff's lap to mow the property, watching out for ants for Jude to avoid and such. What a good big brother! This guy is a class act. He's got charisma, he's got manners, he’s got smarts, and he’s got the look... Josiah is an amazing three-year-old.

Jude is 20 months old and catching up in every way he can, to Joe. He tries to keep up and run faster, jump higher and tackle harder. He's giving Joe a run for his money! Jude is currently in a destructive stage. He likes to build toy walls or towers and then knock them down - sound effects included. Critters don't stand a chance when it comes to Jude - he stomps them silly! He is also completely convinced that he's talking - even though we only understand a fraction of what he says. -Although he does understand EVERYTHING and is a very intent listener. It's very cute. Jude has spunk and has the ability to turn anyone’s frown upside down. Jude also has no fear when it comes to rough housing... with that he's going to give his mama grey hair soon.

Both of the boys play hard but they also love hard. They are best pals! They are rowdy, like boys are, but we can already see the type of men they will become. Sweet spirits, good hearts, listeners, peacemakers, quick to reconcile, great senses of humor, compassionate, courageous, and always ready for a bear hug. Amen! We are fiercely proud of both of them. Can you tell?

Jeff is still employed with Halliburton and is doing very well there. He works 6 days on call and 3 off - which has given him quite a bit of time to work on the property, with the animals, and of course with us. He's been very fortunate to have time to spend with us at home. The boys would never have liked their dad's graveyard shifts of years past. Anyway, over the last many months, Jeff has become a master fence builder, logger, and overall handyman. It is obvious that he enjoys this setting. There are always things to tinker with or hunting to do - so Jeff's in hog heaven! (No pun intended.) What a blessing!

And then there's me. (Am I supposed to write in third person here?) Amber enjoys country life... Haha No really, being home with the boys is awesome - we do all sorts of things and they teach me to enjoy the simple ones and to relax. We laugh a lot and cry plenty haha. (Mostly about how fast they're growing up!) I'm always expanding on my cooking skills and broadening our pallets. My newest hobby is making our new house a home - the house needed a lot of TLC but it's cleaning up nicely. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy mowing the yard and blowing leaves? Because I do! I have also become very involved in our new home church with the moms group there and helping with the kids' Awana Club. Having a blast - All I need to master now is that "minivan mom" efficiency!

We are just regular people living ordinary lives but we've grown so much as a family and as people this year - I'm just in awe. Who knew? Maybe we had a change in perspective after moving from Colorado or maybe we drank the hillbilly kool-aid... whatever the case, we wish this joy and contentment on everyone!

So this is where we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! May you always see your cup as half full and may you always have just enough!

With love from Texas,

The Gragerts


If you don't already receive our little family "newsletter" and would like to, please email me at:a.gragert@yahoo.comWe would love to hear from you and stay in touch!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

20 Years.

My goal is to have citrus and nut trees here in Texas. While researching this I'm learning that trees are a lot of work! Did you know that if you have a messy crab apple tree in your yard, you can cut it down leaving a tall stump, and graft onto the stump a fruit bearing peach tree for instance? Just like the wild olive tree in Romans 11!

... Twenty years ago I shyly walked down the church aisle with my brother and soon-to-be sister, tossing flower petals out of a small white basket, before mom followed behind us in her wedding dress. I thought she was the most beautiul thing I had ever seen. The four-year-old me didn't understand the significance of that day. I just knew that I loved my little white hat and shoes, I had a job to do with the flowers, and that I would officially have another dad and a sister! We were going to be a whole family! All in all a very big day for a four-year-old.

Married people know a healthy marriage is work. Parents know healthy kids are work. Healthy families are, you guessed it, work. And anyone from a blended family will tell you to take that work and quadruple it. We've got ex spouses, single parent habits, custody/visitation stuff... Throw in the adolescent years and you've got an easy recipe for disaster if you don't have your head on straight.

Another thing I know is... God. Where there is failure: God. Where there is brokenness: God. Where there is a hole to be filled: God. There were two families and five hearts that needed to be sewn together 20 years ago and God was the thread. The love in this family has always been the easy part. I attribute that to God being the foundation and my parents really creating a grace filled home.

Does the word picture of the crab apple tree make sense yet?

Blended families are definitely work. But when there are good strong roots and it is grafted together with the right stuff it can be healthy and fruit bearing just like any other. I'd say my parents are beating the statistics and doing something right after TWENTY years of marriage!!!

Congratulations to you both on this significant milestone! Thank you for marrying each other and growing our family. Thank you for raising us with an understanding of second chances and grace. May God's hand continue to be upon your lives, hearts, and marriage until He takes you home. I adore you both.

Happy 20th Anniversary! Here's to 20 more!

Mr. & Mrs. Bailey at their wedding reception

PS There are definitely some nuts in this family tree! Haha!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring in the Air

I grew up in a family of lists and projects; few things make me happier than checking off an item on a "To Do" list. Have I mentioned that before? Maybe I never knew this about Mr. Sir or maybe I'm just rediscovering this about him. -But he seems to love projects too! For a Mother's Day gift for my mom, he helped me put together a "pallet art installation" on the exterior wall where he took down a staircase. Around the same time he helped my dad build a tiered raised garden bed. And before that he built a gate for our patio to keep the littler boy from falling down the new staircase. He's a handy guy to have around!

An East Texas spring is made up of projects, sporadic weather, the sweet fragrance of wild flowers and dirty faced little boys. The bigger boy has encouraged the littler one to join in the fun of dirt digging. It's all very sweet how they growl their toy dinosaurs at each other and squeal at finding worms; until it is laundry time haha. They've grown accustomed to taking evening walks too. We try to go after dinner most nights with my parents and the dogs. When the breeze blows the trees sound like a bunch of those rain rod instruments. And I can't ever breathe in enough of the honeysuckle scent on the side of the road; it grows here and there tucked in the tree line. Life here is picturesque. I doubt we could be more in love with our surroundings.

Recently I've been reflecting on how delicate life is. Life on earth is but a brief flicker. We could be here one day and gone the next; and so many are. The plants, chickens, puppy, and kids all grow each day - there's little we can do about it but watch in amazement. We all keep kneeling and looking heavenward; and building what we can of a lasting Godly heritage. Have you thought about what you will leave behind?

And a bit of encouragement from my devotions this morning...

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." -Matthew 6:33-34

Blessings on another day. Spend it well :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Windy Sunday

Soft heartfelt worship songs filled the air this blustery morning. They made me wish I had tried harder and had more patience with my guitar and wish I had formal training for this voice. My having an appreciation and love for music I attribute to my mom; who always has music of any sort playing. We snap, toe tap, finger wiggle, clap, sing (a bit off tune). We get our groove on when the song is right. We sway, twirl and shake when need be. And nothing beats dancing with your babies! This morning my heart swelled and bowed, and I am thankful for those "awe" moments.

It was windy today. The sun kept hiding behind light grey wisps of clouds. The older boy wanted to play outside as usual, and despite the many trips for a change out of wet "potty training" pants, he managed to get quite a bit of harmless mischief accomplished. The littler boy tries to keep up and chatters the whole time carrying on a conversation only he understands. Mr. Sir cleared another large area of the overgrowth and managed to rescue two small rabbits in the process; one from the stray dog we call, Gunner, that adopted us, the other from the lawn mower. The older boy decided we had better free them so they could, "find he's mommy so not be scared". My folks and the family friends, that are moving 12 minutes away, pruned the lifeless parts of the antique roses away, among other things. All with the cool breeze blowing through and music humming in the background..

We have big dreams for the garden which could quickly become a farm. One of my many dreams is to have a pumpkin patch with both orange and white pumpkins; like Cinderella's magic carriage - of course, and that dream may just come true. We might try our hand at melons and fruit trees at some point. There's so much to learn! Planing and growing seasons, cross-pollination, what can coexist with what etc. Another aspect of the farm dream is: livestock. We think we want goats (just a couple to start) and a milk cow and several chickens; as the boys eat half a dozen eggs a day... Oh boy. It begins to look overwhelming on paper er... screen. For now we will purchase the chicks to occupy the coop. This is what we dreamed of though! And as Mr. Sir says, "We're livin' the dream! Pursuing our happiness!". It can feel overwhelming, but in a good way. I love to research and read so it may as well be for something useful and fun!

My skill of list making comes in handy these days too! Groceries, meals, to do's, to plant's, to make a list for's, hopes-goals-dreams... One of my new favorite dreams is of the home we want to build on a piece of the land an eye shot from The Garden House. I've already named it, The Wisteria House, as the parcel has several wisteria plants blooming along the Southwest side. Its arms swirl gracefully around the pine trees and along the ground winding between wild white irises and brier. There's a tree in the Northwest corner, close to where the old homestead once resided, all crooked and knotted in the most whimsical way. I love this tree. It's my understanding this tree served as a canopy over a couple reciting their vows once. I imagine it was stunning. Everyone says the tree is dead now, but tomorrow I think I'll go lay hands on its mossed trunk and try to bring it to life again. I'll be sure to report back and progress made! *crosses fingers*

Blessings on the new work week!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

For the Desmond's

We have entered into a new season of life. One chapter has closed; the next has opened. Our move to East Texas has been a long time coming... And really feels more like a great migration than just a move. Can I be honest? I feel like I can breathe again. What a blessing! Truly, this is the first time in a very long time that I can breathe. There's no stomach ache. No uneasy feelings. Just... peace.

This probably has just as much to do with preparing my heart for this journey; as it is just the serenity of "The Garden House". That's what I have affectionately named this place, "The Garden House" on Moon Road, although we are a hop, skip, and jump away from Moon Road... Everything about it is like that of a story. We jokingly say, "It's like living in the Shire". The breeze blows the trees and makes an ocean-like sound. The array of birds chirp and sing and squabble. Even the hornets seem to have a tune they play. The soft purple of the wisteria on the gazebo is wanting to burst any moment. And the thorns on the antique roses are starting to green.

The Garden House feels alive too. Like she sighed with relief when our boxes arrived. Settled. Secure. Home again. Like she knew this was the family that would live, eat, breathe here again. The family that would laugh, cry, sing, dance, and die here. I'm a woman of sentiment... and the idea of cutting our Christmas tree from this land makes my heart dance. I can already smell the mulling spices heating on the wood stove, and see the candlelit stockings hung nearby... The boys bounce on the trampoline now smiling and giggling. They walk in the grass and I just see the excitement of a new adventure in their eyes. Well, mostly mischief in Josiah's eyes, and the need of a nap in Jude's, but still... Possibilities.

There are still boxes to unpack, the garden needs tilled and planted, and there's still a few things on the list to check off, but finding a home isn't one of them. I'll always remember mom looking at pictures of The Garden House online and saying, "This is our house! THIS is the house God has for us.". And here we are. In the "happy place" we always imagined. What a privilege and a gift. Our needs have been met. And there are only God and the Desmond's to thank.