On November 13th Bryce turned seven years old. We celebrated his birthday with a family dinner followed by cake and presents. It was fun to have Aunt Mandie and Gramma and Grandpa Waagner join us for the celebration.
Bryce adds a lot of character to our family. He is always full of ideas of fun and exciting things to do. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever heard Bryce complain about being bored. Whether it's climbing trees, creating his own bow and arrows, digging for worms in the backyard, making remarkable paper airplanes, attempting to create his own catapult, reading just for fun, or working on a creative art project, Bryce is never at a loss of ideas for activities. Besides being a great outdoorsman with his love for adventure, Bryce also has a passion for learning. He strives to do well on his schoolwork, learns quickly, and does it with such ease that it amazes us all.
This past year Bryce accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and we have seen him have a desire to grow in his maturity as a Christian and his understanding of the Bible. Bryce has challenged me to learn more about many things as I attempt to answer his many questions! It is exciting to see God working in Bryce's heart.
We are blessed to have Bryce in our family and we look forward to seeing what God is going to do through Bryce in the year ahead. We love you sweet boy!
Sometimes kids see things differently than us grown-ups do. A few times recently I've been reminded of this.
Bryce found a penny the other day and with great excitement told me how old it was. "It was made in nineteen ninety-nine!" he said with eyes so big they were about to pop out of his head.
I found myself correcting my older son recently for copying his little sister's bad table manners. She's just a baby, I told him, don't do what she does. It was then, to my surprise, that she spoke up and said clearly, "I na baby!"
We are now purchasing tomato soup in those large, family-sized cans. The boys can't get their fill of it ever since I started calling it "hot lava soup" after Grant read a book about Pompeii.
Out with Grammy and Pappy last week, three-year-old Davis, used the word yellow to describe something. Although it came out more like "yeh-yo." Trying to help his little grandson speak more clearly, Pappy instructed him, "Say it like me: Yel-low." Putting his chin to his chest, Davis then said in the deepest, most Pappy-like voice he could muster, "yeh-yo."
Life these days is pretty busy. It isn't strange for the washing machine to be running before the sun is up or for me to find myself folding tiny jeans or putting dishes away hours after when I would have liked to have been in bed. The role of mother-wife-teacher feels like it requires more than I have to give some days.
Sometimes it is in these moments of monotonous tasks, be it any time of day, that the Deceiver aims to plant seeds of discontent, discouragement or self-doubt in my mind. Recently, as I put away sippy cups from the dishwasher I felt his attack coming on.
I thought about the marathon that had gone on in Richmond not too long ago and how I would love to run in a race like that one day. I hadn't seemed to be able to make it to the gym more than once a week lately. There is no way, my Attacker told me, that I would have the time to train for something of that caliber. Satan reminded me that my jeans were fitting more snugly than they used to and my frustration escalated as he continued his appeal. In my self-pity, I had been convinced that I was sacrificing far too much for my children, for my family. Why didn't I deserve the chance to accomplish something special, something worthy of praise?
And then my Comforter, my Lord, gently but firmly spoke, "Gretchen, you are in a race."
It was so clear that my immediate reaction was to be a little startled. I was touched that He had spoken my name. It was so personal, so loving, that He would steer me back to where I need to go--with my mind focused on Him and not on me.
Because I am in a race, so to speak. We all are.
In a race around a track each competitor runs in their own lane. Sometimes I want to look at who is running alongside me and compare my path to theirs. Perhaps they got a head start, or maybe the hurdles don't seem to be distributed evenly. No matter what our path looks like, He promises to be with us the entire way. He doesn't want us to get distracted with those running alongside us, or halted or slowed down by what we find in our lane, but to keep looking ahead, and to keep running.
I want to keep my eyes focused on the finish line. On Jesus. He is my everything and He willingly sacrificed everything for me. Pitiful, undeserving me. He didn't ask for "me" time. He didn't complain when the disciples or the crowds were unrelenting and didn't give him a break. He gave everything He had even before He was nailed to a cross.
I want to run in this race of life to bring glory to Him. I am not patient. I am not kind. I am not sacrificial. But He is. And He can help me to be those things. Time and time again I am reminded of how I need Him. I seem to trip up on my own feet and fall hard. Sometimes it feels as if someone else has thrown an obstacle in my path and sometimes the crowd seems to be hurling insults rather than cheering me on. But, He knows and and He cares. He wants me to be obedient and to stay in the race. He knows what's in my lane, and with Him I am able to continue on. With faith, my spiritual legs will get stronger and it will become easier to be the person He wants me to be.
I don't know if I will ever run a marathon, or even a half marathon for that matter. But I do hope that I finish strong in the race that really counts.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me....Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phillippians 3:12-14
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
This past Saturday I was able to participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk in Richmond in honor of Nate Asher Hill. It was a privilege to celebrate the life of a baby boy who lived for only 27 hours, yet has touched so many people.
Nate's story is one of hope.
Our friends, Jason and Shannon, are a testimony to what God can do even in the midst of unimaginable grief.
We anticipated along with Jason and Shannon the birth of their fourth child in April.
On April 7, 2011, with great joy, Jason and Shannon welcomed a baby boy into their family (the gender had been a surprise), Nate Asher Hill. We were all thrilled to get the news of his birth.
Not long after his arrival, it was learned that Nate's little heart was having some trouble.
The next day he was moved to another hospital so that a procedure could be done on his heart.
Many prayers were said.
Many tears were shed.
The doctors worked hard. Nate fought.
On April 8, 2011 his Heavenly Father lovingly and tenderly welcomed baby Nate into heaven.
Jason and Shannon know that God had a plan and a purpose for Nate's life. They have hope in knowing that one day they will be reunited with him. Standing on the Rock, Jason and Shannon's faith has remained strong.
So we walked in honor of Nate.
Because even when we don't understand, we can trust that God loves us and that He loves Nate.
"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
We recently received a letter from Luis, our Compassion child in Ecuador. The boys enjoy getting correspondence from Luis. After reading the message to them, I remember making a point to show the boys the Spanish words that were written on one side and the English translation on the other.
As a handwriting assignment this past week, Bryce wrote a letter to Luis. After he had completed the assignment I looked at his beautiful artwork, but not so beautiful handwriting and asked him if this was his best work.
"But mom," he told me "it doesn't matter because they are going to transform it. Remember?"
We've been able to take a couple of field trips already this school year. We are studying American history and because we happen to live in the state of Virginia, the options for field trips are phenomenal.
Our first trip was to Colonial Williamsburg. We were able to go with friends who also homeschool. The children all had a blast and learned a little about what life was like in Williamsburg during the 1700's.
The older boys and I were also able to make a trip to Jamestown, Virginia. The Powhatan village was a highlight for the boys. Bryce has been creating his own bow and arrows ever since. They also couldn't get enough of the ships. They talked about the Susan Constant for days.
After learning about the letter A, Carter and I made caramel apples together ("A" is for apple). It was a fun and easy activity and the whole family was able to enjoy the apples later that night. Yum!
Welcome to my world! I'm happily married to my best friend and high school sweetheart, Brian, and we are the parents of five "Little" ones. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a mom and relish in the humor that arises in everyday life with young children. Here you'll find out what it's like living in our lively house. My hope and prayer is that my husband and I may relay to our children the joy that comes from a real relationship with Jesus Christ as we seek to live a life glorifying to Him.