CONWAY, SC (WMBF) -When many think of Christmas, they think of Santa, gifts, toys and being surrounded with family and friends during the holidays, but there's another meaning for the spirit of Christmas: faith.
What's Christmas without faith? That's exactly what one Conway family is holding on to as they await their Christmas miracle.
This year, Christmas is different in the Houp household for more reasons than they could have ever imagined.
"I had to sell the kids' Xbox, things that made me feel horrible as a parent, as a husband, as a provider," said father Jamie Houp.
The father of three said it all began after his wife Trish gave birth to their youngest child, Kailyn.
In March of 2016, after giving birth, she started having debilitating migraines and dizzy spells occasionally.
"Being together for 12 years, I know my wife, this isn't normal," Jamie said. Her neurologist had put her on medications for the symptoms and insisted that it was all just due to stress.
Nine months later, doctors would soon make a grim discovery.
"They did find a mass in her brain; it is a tumor, about the size of a baseball, and it's pressing on her spinal cord and they need to fly her down to MUSC immediately," Jamie said.
Life for the Houps changed overnight.
The rare type of brain tumor called a Juvenile Pylocytic Astrocytoma was growing rapidly. Doctors told the couple her tumor is often found in children.
The stay-at-home mom would undergo several surgeries to safely remove the tumor; it would force doctors to remove parts of the mother's brain tissue, which would affect her quality of life.
Jamie said it would affect her short-term memory, her cognitive and motor skills. Trish now experiences spasms and tremors, and she has difficulty walking and talking.
"You try to believe that everything happens for a reason, and you try to believe that there's going to be a good that comes out of it in the end, and there's a purpose for the suffering," explained Jamie.
The strong will father would lose his job while trying to care for his wife full-time and take care of his children and the household.
"It just doesn't seem like you can get a break sometimes," Jamie added.
Jamie remembers it was just last Christmas he was able to provide for his family, but a dwindling savings and rising bills makes it difficult to stay afloat.
"Last night I had to post on Facebook if anybody had lights they can donate, because it just doesn't feel the same," said Jamie.
He says someone donated a Christmas tree, and he's grateful and thankful for all the assistance and aid from members of his church. Other programs like the Salvation Army Angel Tree program are helping to provide Christmas gifts for his three children, but he says it's nothing like being able to provide for your own.
"All these things I do every year, it kills me not to be able to be able to have 30 presents sitting under the tree already," Jamie said.
He added his family may not have a lot now, but they are still blessed.
"Thank God, that she's here, and that we still have our family," Jamie said. "I'm not going to lose hope, I can't. This is my wife, this is my family, this is our life."
So he's holding on to hope.
"I'm hopeful somehow, someway there's a purpose for this, I don't know what it is, and it's very discouraging sometimes, and it's hard to push through, and try to understand that God is in control," Jamie said.
More than anything this holiday season, the Houp family is hoping for a Christmas miracle.
"I just hope that maybe somebody somewhere that can make some sort of a difference that can do something to give us some sort of financial relief," said Jamie.