Hey friends!

Each year I get a few Christmas cards from people who are more organized and harder working than me. So I made it a goal in 2020 to send out a family update. 9 months later, here it is … a little longer and it would have been a holiday update as well.

So, Bowlers are doing well. Two teens are in high school now (Grace and Matthew, in grades 11 & 9), leaving two still in private school (grades 7 & 4).

Last year, all three boys tried flag football, then Jack stayed on to do tackle as well. We had a lot of fun as his team went to the provincial championships (aka state championships for you US folks), plus we had a weekend in Vancouver that included playing half time at a BC Lions game (CFL).

And I coached Matthew's grade 6–8 team again last year — it's been fun to see his growth. As a grade 8, he was finally on the top of the pecking order (although still shorter than most of the team) and was our starting point guard.

Grace really embraced the arts this past year or two. She started singing in our youth worship band, and fell in love with that whole scene. She sings at church, and has really enjoyed drama.

Youth has been a big part of her journey to her own faith (along with serving at summer camp). We've been blessed to watch our kids start to make a relationship with Jesus their own thing rather this just going through the motions. That has come partly through suffering (we've got our fair share of anxiety issues in our home), but there's something about how God uses adversity to get our attention and help us focus on what's important. What's real.

On that note, 2019 was a hard year for Erica. After getting back into nursing in 2018, the first third of 2019 saw her relapse significantly in her battle with anxiety. She took the summer off work and had to start from scratch in many ways. When fall came around, she started working one day a week and we've all worked together to find just the right balance. She's a lot better off now, and stronger for it all — but we're always on guard against stretching ourselves too thin (or as Bilbo puts it, butter over too much bread).

And that was 2019…

2020

Well, this hasn't really gone as anyone expected, has it? There was a decent amount of anxiety in our home when COVID started to make its presence felt here in the western part of the world. Staying at home as a family of 6 for several consecutive weeks on end was not something any of us would have looked at with a lot of optimism.

Yet, here we are six months later and we're all in one piece. We settled into a new routine in March, and it's served really us well for the most part.

In fact, it was quite relaxing for the first couple of months. Not having to drive different people to different extracurricular activities 5–6 nights each week was a welcome break. And thanks to Erica's years of homeschooling, it was easy to get back into a daily routine of school work, chores, outside/exercise, and yes, plenty of screen time.

In terms of schooling, we had it pretty good. The high school kids were almost 100% self-sufficient and able to manage the switch to online learning. And Miles and Jack did really well also — they needed a little more help remembering calls and managing their workload. But this was alleviated by how well organized the private school was.

And with Erica being an RN, the boys were also able to go to school ahead of most kids. They did half days three days per week soon after spring break, before finally going full time in June. That made a huge difference for giving Erica and I a little more time to focus on work at home. And now with school started up again, we're enjoying some quieter day time hours!

Vacations feel a little like a thing of the past. However, we were able to get away in July to spend a week in the North Okanagan. We had friends in Salmon Arm who were on holidays the same time as us, so they let us take over their house while they were away. This let us visit family in Kamloops and Enderby, and friends in Vernon. And after the cool, wet summer we had, the warm Okanagan temps were a great change!

And that's how things are going with our family. We hope you've settled into a good routine, but also that the "new normal" is not what our future looks like long term. All of God's blessing on you in the coming months. May he lead you beside still waters, and in paths of righteousness for his names' sake!