Saturday, January 3, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Dearest friends and family,
We hope that this letter finds you healthy and happy - and full of the Christmas spirit. You have been on our minds and in our prayers this past year. Many of your prayers and kind words helped us through a difficult yet most blessed year. So thank you very much for being a part of that. We have barely begun to repay the kindness so many showed us.

Most of our year was consumed with one financial stress after another, with periods of good times. Stress mainly due to Tom’s unexpected layoff which lasted nearly five months. Those months seemed like years, unsure if Tom would ever find work. We emptied our savings, reached out to various financial assistance programs, and even made a trip to our local food shelf. Friends and strangers donated groceries and gift cards. All were appreciated. It taught us and our children the value of being a good and humble receiver. It strengthened our faith in God, accepting that His Will for us is stronger and better than our own. It taught us the value of friendships. Also, that the words “Thank You” can never be said enough.

When it was really rough, Melissa decided to go apply for a full time work until Tom found something - anything. The testing and interviews gave her a real boost, realizing she still had the skills to make it in the business world. The day she got a call for two jobs, Tom got his call too. We had to decide all over again if we could manage on just one income. We prayed, and it was clear.

We prayed to the Holy Family, since Joseph was a carpenter and sole provider for the family, Mary was a homeschool mom dedicating her entire life to her child, and Jesus is a great example for our children - one who lived His entire life doing God the Father’s will! As I’ve said before, our sole purpose on earth is to live our lives in service to God - anything else is just extra curricular activities. That’s what we wanted to be - a family who’s focus was not on financial stability, rather on family and our faith lives. With Tom back to work, we can focus on the virtue of Charity. Now we donate our time and money to those organizations, and cherish those friendships deeply. We’ve increased our prayer life. We hope to help and inspire many.

When Mikayla turned six this year, now in first grade, she personally opted out of the traditional gifts, and requested from her party guests donations to the food shelf. We filled over two laundry baskets full that day. Stanley, now four years old, has even made contributions by sending some of his toys for the kids who might enjoy them. Sabrina, at just only one year old, has no clue what has been going on, but her smiles have warmed our hearts and others. We’ve shared in her simple joys and spent more family time than ever before. She reminds us of the simplicity of living and giving.




Homeschooling our children has been a real delight, with a smidgen of challenges any teacher or mother would face. It has been incredible to see for ourselves the faith they are immersed in with every lesson, and to be a part of the milestones each child reaches. Mikayla is reading and writing, and she is a math wiz like her father. Stanley often sits and learns right along with Mikayla. School time usually occurs during Sabrina’s naptime. But if she decides to join us, she has her little corner of the school room filled with learning toys and books. They really enjoyed our science session which focused on growing crystals and edible crafts. Bookwork is just fine, but we get so much more out of the hands on experiences we’re having every day.

In the spring, the kids had fun at T-ball. Melissa kept us busy in the summer by organizing the “Healthy Homeschoolers Walk Wednesdays” walk to local parks. Our family organized this year’s All Saints Party, where Mikayla was St. Bernadette, Stanley was St. Francis of Assisi, and Sabrina was Jesus’ little sheep. We are enjoying our new co-op of homeschoolers for playtime and show ‘n tell. Mikayla still enjoys being a part of Mary’s Little Flowers - Schoenstatt Girls Club which this school year is focusing on the virtues of Mary. We’ve been warned this busy lifestyle has no end!
Most have already heard from someone or through our family blog that we are expecting another bundle of joy due August 2009. We ask for your prayers during this pregnancy and as we prepare for all the changes that come with having a family of six! There will possibly be new room assignments, a stricter schedule, a tighter budget, and new little helpers for household chores.. just to mention a few.


Our marriage is fireproof!
We hope you got a chance to see the new hit movie “Fireproof.” If not - please do! We went on a date night to see this highly recommended movie and it has changed our marriage substantially. A book called the Love Dare evolved from the film, and we have challenged ourselves to take this Love Dare which presents a daily lesson about love as well as a daily challenge. It has been such a revealing process, We ask that you join us by visiting www.FireproofMyMarriage.com to learn more about the film and book. We purchased several books to hand out to friends and family, because we truly believe it is beneficial to ALL couples who are struggling as well as those who want to improve their happiness.

Highlights of this year:· Hosting Grandma Doris’ 80th B-day 1940s Cocktail Party.
· Spring Homeschoolers Barn Dance
· Melissa starts our family blog online.
· MN Catholic Homeschool Conference
· Vacation Bible School
· A second homeschool yearbook published by Melissa
· Trip to Lake Geneva, WI / Lake Michigan with Maltzen’s
· Tom joins Bruce & Michael for golfing and does very well!
· Melissa’s first Mani/Pedicure - oh wow!
· Kids Prolife Club marches in the St. Joseph Parade
· The new sandbox is finally assembled!
· Sabrina is walking and loves to dance the night away!
· Mikayla’s 6th Birthday Bash of a lifetime
· Mikayla lost her first tooth! (and more)
· Incredible fall days at the Michalek and Wicks farms.
· Thanksgiving at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, MN.
· Tom & Melissa get pregnant for the 6th time at age 32 & 29 - after deciding to be true to their desire to be fully open to life. We trust God thinks we’re ready to share our incredible life and faith with another sou l!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
We are so privileged to have such wonderful friends to share these thoughts and special moments with. We hope to hear from or see you very soon. Until then, may God continue to bless you and your family!

Read up on our family life, school projects and more at - http://StBrigidsAcademy.blogspot.com
God Bless you and yours!
Tom, Melissa, Mikayla, Stanley, Sabrina and Baby

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Thank you for reading about our family. I look forwards to sharing ideas, joys and struggles. God Bless you in your journey!

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