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Year In Reveiw

Year in Review ~ 2020

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain. -Hebrews 6:19 (ESV)

Dear Friends and Family,

January: This year started off much like any other…with plans, goals, and hopes for the year to come.

IMG_9330 copyFebruary: Titus turned 8 this month, and we celebrated with a Star Wars-themed birthday party. He loves all things space…real or imagined. He is in 4th grade in this year. He continues to enjoy school and excel in all of his subjects, but, Science is his current favorite. He is a budding astronomer, and spends his free time reading everything he can about space travel, black holes, and the planets in our solar system – especially Mars. He can tell you everything you never knew you wanted to know about Martian geography, and past missions to Mars. And, he is eagerly looking forward to the landing of the Perseverance rover early next year (February 18th…just in case you were wondering!). He is serious and thoughtful, always looking for ways to help out.

March: Spring is usually “Convention Season” for me (Veronica). I traveled to Fort Worth for, what ended up being both my first and last Homeschool Convention of the season. The convention was shut down early, as Covid-19 restrictions began to take effect across our state and country.

IMG_9328 copyAt the end of the month, we celebrated Rachel’s 5th birthday! She is the comedienne of our family. And, she is constantly making us laugh with her clever observations and quick comebacks. She tries so hard to keep up with her big brother and sisters, that, sometimes I forget how young she really is! She started 1st grade this year, and although my plan was to take things slowly with her, it would seem that she had other ideas. She loves Math, and catches on very quickly (sometimes answering questions that are part of her big brother’s and sister’s lessons!). She has surprised and impressed me with her persistence and progress this year! She works hard during school, but, most days, I think her main goal is to get it over with so that she can get outside and ride her bike – which she recently started doing without the help of training wheels!

IMG_9309 copyApril: Hannah turned 15! This sweet girl always chooses to see the good in people, circumstances, and whatever comes her way. She is in 10th grade, and taking most of her classes online, this year. She still loves playing the flute, and continued to practice diligently, even though her Spring semester of Orchestra was cut short. While she was disappointed to miss out on the Spring concert and her first competition, she has continued to be a faithful part of our church’s Sunday morning Worship Team. She even offered to step in and play for both services when the Worship Team lost a flute player this summer! She was excited to get back to regular weekly Orchestra practice in August. In the little free time she has between studying and practicing, you will usually find her writing stories, baking, or hanging out with her little brother and sisters. She is a fun, and creative big sister, and willing baby-sitter!

May: In March, our church suspended in-person gatherings due to the restrictions, lockdowns, and quarantines imposed by Covid-19. What we thought would be just a few Sundays, stretched into almost 2 months of not meeting together. Jason still spent hours each week studying, praying for, and preparing messages specifically for our church…just like he always had. But, unlike before, he now found himself teaching to nothing more than a camera and an empty room…on Saturday afternoons! We spent Saturday evenings editing and uploading the videos to YouTube and Facebook so they would be ready on Sunday mornings. This was a definite labor of love! And, we were all grateful for the blessings (and trials) of this technology!

During this time, our kids took it upon themselves to re-create church at home on Sunday morning. They made bulletins, chose songs, led music, and read Scripture before we watched Jason’s messages together. While it all seemed like fun and games at first, it quickly became apparent that they were entirely serious. And, those “home-churching” weeks became precious times of family worship, initiated and led entirely by our children. They will forever be some of my favorite memories from this year.

At the end of May, we were excited to return to church in person! Many precautions were taken to make sure it was done safely. Social distancing was recommended, the number of seats were reduced, we held 2 separate services, and there was plenty of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes. It wasn’t quite back to “normal,” but it was definitely better than nothing!

June: We welcomed a new Associate Pastor to our church family! We love this sweet family and are so thankful to partner with them in ministry!

July: Over the years, Jason has wanted to pursue more education, but the time and opportunity to do so have been limited. This year has reinforced both the desire and the need to seek further training. Although he had casually looked into several programs in the past, this summer, he began intentionally researching a variety of schools and degrees. He applied to, and was recently accepted at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. He will begin taking classes, online, in January, pursuing a Master’s degree in Church Leadership.

August: Rebekah has been begging to take gymnastics for a couple of years. A new gym opened nearby this summer, so we signed up both Rebekah and Rachel for a trial class. Of course, they fell in love! We now spend our Saturdays cheering them on!

September: Although most of the bigger homeschool conventions were cancelled this year, I kept busy with a few local and online events! Most of my spring and summer months were spent on e-mails, texts, Zoom meetings, and phone calls, placing orders, answering questions, and helping many families start their homeschooling adventure. I was so busy, we didn’t start our own homeschool year until the middle of September! (That is late for us.) This is our 11th year of homeschooling! I am teaching 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 4th grade, and facilitating 10th grade. We have a good routine, as I alternate between teaching phonics rules, cursive, and long division, and overseeing Biology Lab experiments in the kitchen. I am so thankful for the freedom and flexibility that Hannah’s online classes have brought to our school days! It gives her the opportunity to take classes that I could not offer on my own (like French!) and teaches her to learn from someone other than Mom or Dad. Our days are long and, at the same time, never quite long enough. But, through the uncertainties of this year, homeschooling has been a bright spot of normalcy in our life.

IMG_9312 copyOctober: Rebekah turned 7 this year. Her choice of a Rapunzel-themed celebration seemed very appropriate as we celebrated yet another quarantine birthday…in October. She has kept the “Tooth Fairy” quite busy this year! She has already lost 4 teeth, with at least 3 more ready to come out very soon! She is in 2nd grade this year. Her favorite subject is Handwriting, because she is learning to write “fancy” (cursive). She is surprisingly competitive, and she and Titus like to see who can finish their work first, or who gets the highest score on their weekly spelling test. Gymnastics is the highlight of her week, and she is faithful to practice and stretch every day. And, after only 4 months, her dedication was rewarded, when she was recently moved up to the next level! She is our sunshine. Ever the encourager, she finds joy in everything she does!

November: Political questions and turmoil aside, this was a quiet month for family. It was a good opportunity to reflect and focus on all that we have to be thankful for. Especially this year!

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December: It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years (December 31st) since we moved to Texas, and to Grace Community Bible Church! To celebrate this anniversary, our church family surprised us with a (much needed!) vacation to Galveston during the first week of December. We thoroughly enjoyed the time together to rest and disconnect from the demands of everyday life and ministry. 3 of our 4 children had never been to the beach! We remedied this parental oversight, and enjoyed walking on the beach, spotting jellyfish, collecting shells, building sandcastles, and metal detecting. Our treasure hunting efforts were rewarded with a couple of bottle caps and a piece of an old shoe. Some even braved the chilly water! We also enjoyed the Moody Gardens Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids, a walk-through Festival of Lights, a day at the Space Center (NASA), shopping on The Strand, and a horseback ride on the beach!

As we look back on the unprecedented events of this year, and anticipate the unknowns of 2021, we do so with hope. But, our hope is not built on the unsteady foundation of our circumstances. It is sure and steadfast, anchored in the undeserved, unfailing mercy of Jesus Christ.

We pray that you would have this same hope this Christmas, and in the year to come!

With Hope,
Jason, Veronica, Hannah, Titus, Rebekah, & Rachel WhitleyIMG_9179 copy copy

{All photos by Rachel Marquez Photography.}