Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and the metaphysical meaning of Jesus The Christ, despite her husband's disparaging comments.
One snowy Christmas Eve, the wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.
"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth through a man called Jesus who became the Christ? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.
A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump.
Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese.
Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.
The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm.
So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them.
The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on.
Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.
"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.
"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.
Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese.
He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.
He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"
Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to lower Himself to be like us? That's ridiculous!"
Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese--blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and enlighten us.
That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and he pondered this wonderful thought.
Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Jesus who became the Christ had come, so that we could become the sons and daughters of the Living Christ.
Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"
Don't tell God how big your storm is, tell your storm how big your God is!
Make your own Christmas Goose decoration:
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Dear friends and family,
Most of you already know about the thrilling adventures we’ve had this past year. We enjoyed our visits, phone calls and Facebook encounters with you along the way. No matter how big or small our daily adventures were, we made certain that “Family” was the main focus. Now both in our thirties, we see what many of you already know… life comes at you fast and leaves just as quickly. So it’s what you do in-between that counts.
The year 2009 started off slowly, getting back into the swing of things with home schooling our children. Tom went back to work at the Monticello Nuclear Plant building some rather complicated scaffolding inside. He worked long shifts, and sometimes it seemed he’d leave before we were up and fall asleep shortly after arriving home. It was hard on us, but boy were we excited to see him walk through that door! So when we got word that he was getting laid off unexpectedly in May, we decided to thank God for the break – however long it may be. It lasted 5 months, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Prayer is a constant for us, but additionally we’ve continued to trust in God’s Will and rely on the charity of others. It made the stress fade a little. Thankfully Tom is back to work at Xcel Energy in Becker. Ever driven by that coal plant? He works in those clouds near the ground, rebuilding the cooling towers.
Life with four children keeps us on our toes. For entertainment and education, we took a field trip to the Science Museum of MN. The kids enjoyed seeing the Grand Canyon up close at the Omnitheatre. Jonathan stirred in Melissa’s belly while Sabrina clenched onto Tom’s. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin welcomed us with chilly weather in June – but it sure beat the floods of last year. That’s where Tom discovered his love for golfing and Mikayla was just tall enough to ride the water slide alone. Back at home we’ve built many blanket forts, read many stories and endured piano concerts in our living room.
Being thrifty can mean finding a deal or making your own. Tom setup a nice work area for Melissa’s sewing and crafts in a little nook of their bedroom. She loves sewing dresses, dolls, curtains, blankets, gifts, etc from bargain fabric. This area has also become Fix-it Central for all those well-loved toys and books! The wait was over and it only cost $5 from a local sand pit… Stanley was thrilled when he got to go get the softest sand ever for his sandbox on his birthday! And lucky for us, local homeschoolers gather every autumn to play Soccer for free. We even watched Mikayla kick up some snow in her new shin guards and snowsuit– nothing could stop them from playing. Keeping the kids active comes in many ways such as running around the stairwell, playing outside, going to open gym, and challenging each other on the Wii Fit. Since Tom was home during the summer, he took it as an opportunity to get the landscaping and painting done himself, as well as help some other farmers, including his dad. Speaking of being thrifty… anyone else take advantage of refinancing at these amazingly low rates?
We need the deals because we’re not such a little family anymore. Even though compared to many of our friends we only have a “starter family,” four children seem to be our max for now. Last fall, through the inspiration of wanting to become more open to life, we got pregnant with Jonathan – born July 15th. He’s such a joy, and the other children have really taken to him. He was born a few weeks earlier than his due date, our 4th c-section. Right after he was born we kissed and he was whisked away to the NICU due to fluid around his lungs, but thankfully recovered in two days. We will never forget the kindness of the nurses and the abundance of prayers from all of you that week. We pray for all who are and who have been in the NICU, what an experience. He’s become our “little stinker” and now a healthy 5 month old, he’s ready to explore. Kudos to Melissa for her record breaking breastfeeding, where the other three only lasted a max of 2 months – Jonathan is still a “boob man.”
While “Family” is our focus or theme, “Our Faith” is the background music. Our Catholic faith is integrated into everything we do, including our home education curriculum and time with family and friends. Seton Home Study has provided an enriching lesson plan for Mikayla who is 7 and in 2nd grade. Stanley is 5 in Kindergarten and Sabrina is 2 in Preschool. Mikayla is preparing to make her First Reconciliation in Jan 2010 and First Communion in April. While Melissa reads daily to the kids, Mikayla has decided to pick up chapter books on her own, such as “Little Women.” Melissa recommends “Devotional Stories for Little Folks” to be read daily to your K-3rd graders. It is teaching our children valuable lessons in proper behavior in a delightful way. Stanley is still adjusting to being told what to do and how to do it, but he recently learned to write his name and is giving into the process. Sabrina joins in on family prayers, arts, music and the kids are including her in their lessons. Mikayla is such a helper, she’s taken on new chores and helps keep the little ones busy and in line. They all participated in the annual Catholic Day Camp, and Mikayla loves meeting her friends monthly at Schoenstatt Girls Club. Melissa decided to continue in her women’s book club, saying she’s never enjoyed reading so much. She recommends mothers read “Courageous Love” and “The Domestic Church: Room by Room.”
“What was I thinking?!” Melissa says that a lot, but adjusting to caring for a family of six hasn’t been easy. “What the heck?!” That would be Tom’s line, which has been reiterated by little Sabrina on several occasions. We are amazed at all we’ve been able to do, but we owe it all to God’s unending Graces! We could never do this on our own. While we browse through the 2000 photos we’ve taken this year, they can’t compare to the joy in our hearts and minds. These simple moments that we’ll remember forever. While a regular paycheck would be nice, the things we got this year we can take to heaven someday – and that’s the real payoff. For now, we’ll take our paychecks in Eskimo kisses and handmade cards.
Wishing you all a Grace-filled Christmas
Tom, Melissa, Mikayla, Stanley, Sabrina and Jonathan
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We’ve had a great start to December. We’re coloring with Holy Heroes’ Advent Adventures, opening the Advent Calendar each day, visited with St. Nicholas and opened our stockings, and all the decorations are complete – as of tonight.
This is Jonathan’s first Christmas, and with all his siblings being so joyous – he’s very much entertained by it all. He is so alert at 5 months old, it really seems he’s participating in the excitement. He’s growing well on breast milk, and we look forward to his first solids meal on Christmas Eve! And once the new year has begun, we’re going to start potty training with Sabrina.
Even though I’ve had our photo cards ready since September, I just finished our Christmas Letter and am getting ready to send it out this week. It was fun to look back on last year’s letter and reminisce through all my photos to see what he had done this past year. Wow – what fun we’ve had.
God bless you all in your Advent Adventure!
The Michalek Family
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Being a stay at home mom (SAHM) [or Domestic Engineer - hehe] isn't as rare as you may think. It seems to be coming "back into style" from my experience.
I recommend reading "The Domestic Church: Room by Room." Chapter 4 discusses this exact thing. Who ever says that it is not a job has never been a SAHM! A mothers work is worth more than a paycheck. Besides I get paid... in God's Graces, smiles, drawings, and some day grandchildren....for all my efforts!
From the book:
"Motherhood is filled with sacrifice, as we know, and one particular sacrifice is in putting one's own desires on hold for the betterment of the family."
This book is incredible as I read it along with my Catholic Women's Book Club, and I suggest it to you. It reiterates what I've been taught about motherhood, gives me confidence to continue my vocation, and gives me tips to make it a little easier.
God Bless you and yours!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Children's Bible in a Nutshell
In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.
Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.
Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked,but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't beeninvented yet.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.
Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.
Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.
One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.
After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was morefamous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob hisbirthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a sonnamed Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.
Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name wasCharlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues onPharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice,bowels, and no cable.
God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments.
These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet yourneighbor's stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.
One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.
After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.
After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor leagueprophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.
After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is thestar of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')
During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.
Jesus also had twelve opossums.
The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.
Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and evenpreached to some Germans on the Mount.
But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.
Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again.
He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
"Congratulations your highness! With a toilet scrubber in hand, you’re unstoppable. You’re a woman who goes to extremes for a spotless home and you clean even where people won’t see because at least YOU know it’s clean."
For most ALL my cleaning needs, I have my trusty Melaleuca. I have used Melaleuca's eco-nomical and eco-safe cleaners for about 14 years now. They are higly effective, inexpensive and hypo-allergenic, instead of being expensive, caustic and irritating. If you want to learn more about Melaleuca's products, visit their website then give me a call/email! I have more testimonies to share about their cleaners, supplements and more.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage
God Bless America - the way it was and always should be - American!
Our oldest daughter Melissa is 29, married, and expecting her 4th child (plus 2 in heaven) was brought up in both Catholic grade school and public high school. I look back with what I know now, wishing I would have home schooled her as well. I guess I never even gave it a thought until I met friends who shared their personal experiences with me about home schooling their children. Melissa is now home schooling her children Mikayla , Stanley and Sabrina. This has brought much joy to their family and to us as grandparents as well. Melissa has always been called to be a teacher of some sort and has now found a way in which she can share her gifts and deep Catholic faith in the daily education of her children. She has also chosen to use the Seton Home Study Curriculum for her children. It is such a blessing to share this wonderful experience with our whole family.
While Annaleah was very self-motivated from 7th grade on, it hasn’t been the same experience in teaching our son Michael who would rather be out golfing. On days when it gets tough I have to stop, pray and remember why I have chosen to home school. Deciding to make your life’s vocation more than just a mother, but also a teacher, I believe is a selfless gift of love.
The 5 Parenting Goals that I have hanging on our office bulletin board constantly remind me of the important reasons why we continue to choose home schooling for our children and our family: (Excerpts taken from Catholic Education: Homeward Bound – Kimberly Hahn & Mary Hasson)
1. As Catholic parents, OUR FIRST GOAL IS FOR OUR CHILDREN TO KNOW AND EXPERIENCE GOD’S LOVE. This means helping them to develop a deep and loving relationship with Jesus Christ and to live according to their Creator’s plan. All of our family and education-related decisions must be consistent with this goal. Thus, the question we must ask ourselves in every choice is: will this bring my child closer to, or farther from, Jesus Christ?
2. OUR SECOND GOAL IS FOR OUR CHILDREN TO DEVELOP RESPECTFUL, AFFECTIONATE, AND LOVING RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PARENTS AND SIBLINGS. We want them to know and experience the love of family members and to return that love without measure. Cultivating good relationships within the family takes priority even over academic concerns.
3. OUR THIRD GOAL IS TO FORM A STRONG MORAL CHARACTER IN OUR CHILDREN. Like developing strong family relationships, building character takes time, consistency, and concrete action. Its fruits will last a lifetime!
4. OUR FOURTH GOAL IS TO WANT EACH OF OUR CHILDREN TO HAVE A HEALTHY PERSONALITY, MATURING APPROPRIATELY FOR THEIR AGE. We need to keep in mind all the different gifts and talents that God has given each of our children and our responsibility to develop them according to God’s plan. Each child’s personality, as well, needs to be nurtured differently in order for it to unfold according to God’s design. What a delicate task to bring our children to maturity!
5. Finally, OUR FIFTH GOAL IS TO HELP OUR CHILDREN DEVELOP THEIR ACADEMIC POTENTIAL TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL POSSIBLE. Not to prove to our families and friends that home education is a superior way of educating, but so that they can become the person God wants them to be and can do what God made them to do.
We have been very blessed to be part of two home school support groups through the years. When we lived in Cold Spring, MN we belonged to the St. Cloud area Catholic Home School Group. Melissa now belongs with her family. After moving back to the cities we joined Epiphany Catholic Church where Bruce serves as Deacon. They have a wonderful home school support group (Epiphany Catholic Homeschool Organization – ECHO) which we have been a part of for 7 years. The many home school Masses, family potlucks, field trips, special events, park days, gym classes and most especially the friendships we’ve made – have been an invaluable part of our home school experience. Each year we also enjoy the Catholic Homeschool Conference. It is usually just the boost we need to commit to another year of home school. It always reaffirms the immense importance of what we do.
[She then discusses the difficulties with extended family's acceptance/encouragement of their choice to home educate. It's always a silent issue that leaves "a deep sense of hurt." She says...] I know we are not alone in this! Putting that aside and offering it up we continue to home school for the reasons that are so important to our family.
“As it is parents who have given life to their children, on them lays the greatest obligation of educating their family. They must therefore be recognized as being primarily and principally responsible for their education. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” (Declaration on Christian Education) and in addition, Casti Connubii states: “For the most wise God would have failed to make sufficient provisions for children…if He had not given to those to whom He had entrusted the power and right to beget them, the power also and the right to educate them.
Why do we home school? The answer is, for many reasons, but most of all as one home school mom stated: “We would rather have a St. before our children’s name than a PhD. after their name”! Our faith that we pass on to our children is of the utmost importance. I have often told my children as they grew that the most precious gift we as parents can give them is our Catholic faith. We don’t feel there would ever be enough time after public school and homework to effectively teach the elements of our faith in daily living. What we practice we learn, and what we don’t practice we don’t learn. Certainly one area in which the family has an irreplaceable role is that of religious education, which enables the family to grow as a ‘domestic church’. Fr. John Hardon, a noted theologian, urges parents to consider carefully whether or not we should educate our children at home. He says that Catholic education is no mere teaching of academic subjects. Teaching of the Catholic Faith is communicating Divine Grace from mind to mind, from believing mind to believing mind, from believing will to believing will. You parents are no mere teachers when you teach the Catholic Faith, you are the conduits of human life to the children whom you conceived and gave birth to and, in our case, also adopted.
In looking back over the last 10 years we appreciate and are thankful for the opportunity to be the primary influence on our children in a world that can so quickly pull them away from us and God. We pray that the basis of what has been taught both academically and from life’s experiences in our family, our children hopefully will be equipped to not only defend their faith and their love for God, but be instrumental in evangelizing and winning more souls for Christ.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Went to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with Melissa's family. Had a blast, except for the long drive.
Catholic Homeschooler's Bible School - watched my kids grow up a little while they learned so much about the Holy Eucharist.
Landscaped back yard with sandbox, rocks and shrubs/trees. Filled that sandbox to the top on Stanley's birthday for just $5! Stanley turned 5 - An impromptu Walle Brithday Party. Lots of last minute fun!
Had a BABY! Jonathan is such a blessing.
Sabrina almost 2 becomes a big sister and loves to talk and play with her siblings.
Mikayla turned 7 - impresses us daily. But still not ready for riding that 2-wheel bike, despite many efforts. She lost 3 more teeth, two in one day. Mikayla also had her first sleepover.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We helped the kids visualize the countdown until our baby arrived with this calendar on our patio door. We used crayola's window markers, which worked pretty slick. The kids loved how I added drawings for all the activities we were doing each day. This included a day at the movies, swimming, visiting friends, etc. Of course amongst the many things left to do on the checklist.
Monday July 13th I went in for my 38 week BPP ultrasound and Dr visit. My blood pressure was high, around 143/98. The ultrasound was fine, but he was concerned that my blood pressure had been gradually raising for a few months. He had me come back on Wednesday July 15th to recheck. The numbers hadn't changed. The nurse gave me "that look" and I knew what the Dr had to say...
While I was at my appointment, Tom had taken Mikayla to a birthday party. When he came back to pick me up, I had to give him the news that he needed to drop me off at admissions and bring the rest of the kids to the party. The mom there, who happens to be my BFF Jamie, took my little buggers until my parents could make it up here. I think this was the moment we went into complete denial and shock. Delivering a whole week earlier than the planned c-section was not on our calendar!!!???
I checked in around 11am, but because I had eaten breakfast ( a cereal bar ), I could not deliver until 5pm! What a long wait, but it was worth it...I was terrified of the spinal anesthesia, but that went rather well compared to my others. Tom was at my side, as well as two other ladies who were so calming. Above the mask, one even had my sister's caring eyes. This being my 4th cesarian, there was a lot of scar tissue to cut through. There was a lot of tugging. During the delivery, Jonathan managed to get amniotic fluid in or around his lungs? So they took him for a 4 hour observation in the NICU, but 4 hours turned into more than a day. We counted our blessings - this was much less than those other struggling babies in the NICU.
When out of the recovery room, around 8:00pm, they wheeled me into the NICU to at least see and touch Jonathan. He was pale, connected to wires, later to tubes and a breathing apparatus. My family got to do the 3 minute scrub to come in and hold his little hands for a few minutes.
My dad took this picture below. Being a Deacon he had given me a blessing over the phone earlier, then when arriving here he blessed the room with holy water. Mom made a neat poster so everyone knew about our special gift. Looking closely at the picture, you can see my blood pressure was still up, mostly due to the craziness of it all. I still couldn't believe I had a new baby. I hadn't gotten to bond with him yet. That's all I could think of during the surgery - "It will be better when you hold him."
I couldn't have done it without the incredible care of my RNs and PCAs. These two were my favorites, whom I had in for 3 shifts. Janelle and Barb. They were like family. I still miss having them around encouraging me and attending to my every need like mothers do.
THANK YOU EVERYONE for your prayers, cards, meals, gifts, visits, etc. What a blessing you are all to us. It is these little things that brought us through all the difficulties into this miracle of an experience!
So for the final pictures... I went from this to this.
Would you believe I never gained a pound. The weight just shifted around. I had dropped 13, gained 11, and since he was born (2 wks) I have lost over 25 pounds! I am taking advantage of this loss and keeping it going with a continued diabetic diet (even though the gestational diabetes is gone) and regular walks with my family.