I always find it difficult to try to accurately summarize a year of life for 9 different people in just a few sentences at the end of the year. 2020 somehow seems trickier than ever to capture with words. I tried writing a letter to send along with our family photo and updated address back in November, but it just didn’t come together for me. I thought perhaps the addition of some photos may help the letter come to life. So here it is, imperfectly improved.
This is by no means a comprehensive view of the year, but simply a few notable events from our lives as we somersaulted through 2020.
We started the school year with 5 children enrolled at FBCS. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the last 8 weeks of school found us learning the ropes of homeschooling. Thanks to the excellent coaching of our FBCS teachers and the grace of Jesus each of our 5 scholars advanced to the next grade level.
Our weeks of staying at home in the spring were certainly a mixed bundle of happiness and stress. We were each on our own learning curve that pulled and pushed us to grow. Leading a church during a pandemic has proven to be an ongoing stress for Amos. Homeschooling 5 kids and helping teenagers process their loneliness and disappointments of 2020, plus staying on top of the daily physical needs of our family keeps pushing me into uncharted territory. Our children have been amazingly resilient and creative and mostly cooperative as we’ve navigated the challenges and joys of 2020.
In early March while browsing local real estate I found a property that nearly made my heart stop because it met so many of the criteria we had previously set when discussing the possibility of some day moving away from our town home. The next day Amos and I made an appointment to see the house and two days later we took the whole family for a tour of the property. After a few agonizing days of prayer, getting advice, pushing the pencil, dreaming, and negotiating we found ourselves signing papers to become the owners of a 15-acre property and a century old home. That day we also married a boatload of work.
Nothing about this process was smooth since we signed our contract just days before our country shut down all non-essential business for a few weeks. Our attorney did everything possible to keep the process moving a long and we ended up signing the final documents in the parking lot next to our house.
The following weeks were full of remodeling parts our new house, going through all our accumulations from 17 years of marriage and 7 children, getting our town home ready to put on the market, hauling loads and loads of stuff across town, digging up a big garden and just all kind of general transitioning from urban to country.
Selling our home on Pine Street ended up being a journey all of its own, but one that ended beautifully. After our original buyers backed out, we were able to offer our home to family friends who were moving from Pittsburg to Meadville. The timing worked out perfectly for them and we were so happy to be able to pass our home (which we loved very dearly) on to people that we know.
Early August we enjoyed a 3-day trip to Michigan, along with Amos’ extended family, to surprise his sister Linda for her 50th birthday party. Traveling on a charter bus was a first-time experience for our children. The delight was doubled by sharing the ride with a bunch of cousins. There was plenty of fun, food, games, laughter, good conversation and memories to last a long time in those 3 days spent together.
Our children were happy to head back to school the end of August after what felt like a long break from the classroom. While there is still uncertainty about the future, we are grateful for each day that they can have in person schooling.
Angeline turned 16 this fall. Amos lost a few more hair and I gained a few new grey ones. Truly, we love having an extra driver in the house and anticipate the day when she can drive independently. She also was thrilled to join the youth group this fall. She is our in-resident laundry lady, barber, pianist and deer slayer.
Nicholas is 14 years old and quickly passed me up in stature this past year. He is our senior hunter, grounds manager and mechanic. In his spare time, he loves to work on scroll saw projects, tear apart engines and read. He is enjoying a robotics class at school this fall. This winter he plans to remodel his attic bedroom.
Joshua joined the teenagers in our home just of yesterday. He was excited to finally be old enough to go hunting with the older guys this year. Joshua is our quiet but dependable and diligent workhorse. He has won Isaiah’s favor by devoting lots of time and energy to him.
Christopher is our party animal. He is happiest surrounded by people and a swirling tornado of books, craft supplies, games, good food and conversation. He loves pretty much any sport and works hard to compete with his older brothers. He enjoys disc golfing and has quite the arm for a 10-year-old.
Cassie is 7 years old and enjoying 2nd grade. In fact, she loves school so much that she often plays school with Elliana in the evening. Cassie is full of energy and spirit. She likes spending time out in the woods by our small frog pond. Fishing in our pond here on the new property has been a pleasure for her. I think she would fall in the category of a “tom boy”.
Elliana, on the other hand, is our girly girl. She loves playing with her doll babies and calico critters and writing letters to her friends. She spends a lot of time playing with Isaiah and reporting on all his demolition projects. It’s a big responsibility for a 5-year-old sister to stay on top of him.
It is hard to believe our baby is 2 years old. Isaiah’s greatest accomplishments this year were getting potty trained and learning to talk. Currently he loves to talk about the hunting accomplishments of his family. He has an exciting life being the youngest of 7. He thrives on the attention of his family. Naturally, we all think he is the most charming, intelligent and lovable 2-year-old in the universe.
This fall Amos enrolled in Servant Institute, a 2-year training program that FBEP offers for leaders. There are some opportunities for me to join him at certain times in this training and development. While this does not feel like a great time to be adding more to our plate, we are excited about the opportunity to grow as individuals and leaders. Our hope is to become better equipped to serve our church and community.
Certainly, much more could be said about the experiences of 2020.
We are grateful for the faithfulness of Jesus. We are grateful for the ways that Jesus speaks to us through the faith, love and works of His children!!