â€œRejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.â€
Dear Friends and Family,
All year long, it seems as though I have been constantly looking behind me, trying to figure out where the previous days, weeks, or months have gone. And now, somehow, it is mid-December, and I am once again wondering, where did this year go?!
January: We started the year in California, with a second memorial service for Veronicaâ€™s dad, at his home church, in the state where he grew up and lived most of his life. We were blessed by each of the people who attended (and those who wanted to, but couldnâ€™t), as they so tangibly demonstrated the impact that his friendship, example, teaching, and life had (and continues to have!) on so many.
While our reason for being in California was rather sad, there were some happy moments as well. For 3 of our children, this trip was their first trip on an airplane, and their first time traveling outside of Texas (really, out of Houston). All 4 were amazing travelers, every single step of the way. They made what could have been a very difficult trip extremely easy and enjoyable! While we were there, we had fun showing the kids where their mom grew up, where we met and went to college, and visiting with some dear friends.
Thanks to Veronicaâ€™s mom, we were also able to spend two days at Disneyland. Although the â€œhappiest place on earthâ€ was a little less happy without Grandpa, it was fun to share of one of his favorite places with his grandchildren.
February: Titus turned 7 on February 7th! He is our bookworm, and you can usually find him surrounded by stacks of books. He started 3rd grade this year, and is always the first one at his desk, ready to get started each morning. He loves to learn, and, as a result, asks lots of questions! He is currently obsessed with all things Star Wars, Dinosaurs, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesâ€¦and if Legos are involved, all the better! He is a walking encyclopedia of Star Wars facts and trivia, and loves perfecting his light saber moves. His sisters are his best friends, and he is very protective of them. But, he also takes his â€œlittle-big brotherâ€ role very seriously, and loves trying to scare them with his (toy) bugs and snakes.
Â March: This month, we celebrated Rachelâ€™s 4th birthday! She is such a little comedienne, and continues to bring so much joy and laughter to our home. She finished up Pre-School in the Spring, and was so excited to start Kindergarten this Fall! For now, Math and anything involving scissors and glue seem to be her favorites. Reading has taken a little more effort, but, her very own personal cheering section has encouraged her as she has sounded out each new word. She loves to help around the houseâ€¦especially if it involves cooking or laundry! And, she recently learned how to swing on her own, and, now that the weather is a little nicer, she loves to play outside, and can usually be found monopolizing one of the swings in the backyard.
Â April: Hannah turned 14, and started high school (9th grade) this year! She is sweet, easy-going, and creative. She is always writing a new story, or creating a fun, imaginary world for her little brother and sisters. She has always been a big help, but this year, she has also become an amazing (and willing!) baby-sitter. We have switched to a mostly-online format for school. She loves all of her classes, but French is definitely her favorite! She has been looking forward to taking it for so long, I am thankful that it has lived up to her expectations! She is still playing the flute, and joined our churchâ€™s Sunday morning Worship Team at the end of last year. After 3 years in band, she decided to audition for – and made! – the Full Honors Orchestra this summer! It has required a lot of hard work and many hours of practice, but she was definitely up to the challenge, and has done a great job!
May: In addition to being â€œbirthday season,â€ the Spring is also known as â€œconvention seasonâ€ in our house. Veronica loves working as a HomeWorks Consultant. She spent several weekends in March, April, and May representing BJU Press Homeschool materials at homeschool conventions and events in Fort Worth, St. Louis, Waco, Dallas, and a little closer to home, in Katy and The Woodlands!
June: June marked the official start of our summer vacation! We played on the slip-and-slide, ate lots of popsicles, went swimming at our friendâ€™s pool, played at the splash pad, made lots of library visits, and got to double up on the celebrations with Fatherâ€™s Day and Jasonâ€™s 40th birthday!
Our church also hosted our very first Vacation Bible School!! The whole church came together to create a day of fun and teaching for our children and our community. The church was decorated in an incredible â€œUnder the Seaâ€ theme. Jason taught on the life of Jonah. Hannah was a teen helper, and Titus got to enjoy the games, skits, crafts, and stories! (Sadly, Rebekah and Rachel were sick that day, and missed out on the fun.)
July: This summer, Jason finished up a 2-year long sermon series in the book of Galatians, and has spent the remainder of the year addressing a few different topics on Sunday mornings. Our church family â€“ both individually, and as a whole â€“ has been through some difficult trials this year. Life in ministry is a wonderful privilege, but it is not always easy. And, it doesnâ€™t just happen on Sunday! This summer was filled with emails, texts, phone calls, and too many meetings to count. But, maybe more than ever before, I have seen the extent of his heart and love for the flock God has given him to shepherd.
August: In August, we began our 10th year of homeschooling with a Kindergartener, a 1st Grader, a 3rd Grader, and a 9th Grader! With such a wide variety of aptitudes and abilities, this year has probably been the most challenging one yet. I donâ€™t sit down much. But, I am so thankful for these crazy days in our â€œone house schoolroom,â€ because, whether they are sounding out a new word, learning to add and subtract, doing a science experiment, or writing their first research paperâ€¦I love that we get to do it together!
September: September was a quiet month, filled with simple, â€œordinaryâ€ days. I have a new appreciation for these days, as they seem to be more and more out-of-the-ordinary!
October: Rebekah celebrated her 6th birthday with a Hawaiian-themed party. I wish I could bottle up the energy, joy, and enthusiasm that this girl has! She is everyoneâ€™s biggest cheerleader. She is in 1st grade this year. She does well in school, and says her favorite subject is math. But, most of the time, she would prefer to be outside, â€œgymnastic-ing,â€ racing her brother on her bike, or catching lizards. If she canâ€™t be outside, you can usually find her playing Barbies, or begging to go to the mall. She likes being busy. She loves â€œkidsâ€™ classâ€ (Sunday School), and â€œeat-at-church dayâ€ (our monthly fellowship meal) is her favorite day of the month! Sheâ€™s our fearless social butterflyâ€¦as long as Titus and Rachel are nearby!
November: The 1st of November marked one year without my Dad. We still miss his warm smile, and contagious joy â€“ every single day, but especially this time of year.
December: This month has already been full of parties, concerts, and fellowships! And, as we look forward to continuing the celebration of our Saviorâ€™s birth in the next few days, it is our prayer that the joy of this season would cause us to know and love Him better, this Christmas, and in the year ahead.
Jason, Veronica, Hannah, Titus, Rebekah, & Rachel Whitley