We pray you’ve experienced an abundance of blessings and graces from God this past year, as we have. Sometimes it’s hard to see them. The simplest blessings are having a place to call home and family to share it with. As I begin this letter, our house is empty, I write from a borrowed card table on scrap paper, while the kids snuggle in their sleeping bags for the third week in a row. Yet it’s in this empty house I feel most at home.
Here we are sleeping on our air mattress and sleeping bags, with only 3 days change of clothes in suitcases.
This year seems typical at a glance. Our homeschooling days were filled with learning, field trips, sports and friends. Mikayla (8), Stanley (6), Sabrina (3) and Jonathan (1) all grew to new levels of independence and knowledge. It is fascinating to be such a part of it as their teacher. Birthdays were celebrated with full décor and fun cakes decorated by mommy (her new hobby). We even raised a dozen butterflies! Our annual family vacation took us to magical Disney World in Florida. We took such delight in the warmth and memories made there. We really have tried to make time with the children our focus this year.
While there were so many great days that passed by quickly, we experienced the slowest and saddest as well. Phone calls of tragedy came as family and friends passed away. Others went into surgery, leaving us on edge for days. Tom had his usual layoff during the summer, but longer than before, from April to September. Melissa decided to start up a small sewing and craft business called “Modest Mommies” to make some side cash. She’s sewing nursing covers and refurbishing furniture. The toughest part of is assuring the kids that all is in God’s hands and that’s the safest place to be. Asking them to put complete trust in this Supreme Being we keep telling them about.
Sometimes I think sickness, tragedy and hardships fall on us as a reminder to slow down to recognize and appreciate our blessings. Joyful times can do the same. This year we’ve seen many mothers choosing life and we have been thrilled to kiss those sweet babies. (including our kids' first cousin)
It is through God’s grace that we can handle the rough days and appreciate the good days. Did you know that the best way to receive graces is through the Sacraments of the Church? We celebrated Mikayla’s First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion this year. We are so proud of her and amazed at her passion for our faith. She loves to share it with her brothers and sister. Our faith in God gives us the courage we need to stay hopeful when Tom’s out of work, strength to keep discipline in our family of six, and he gives so much love that we can share it with others. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
When “all was calm, all was bright,” we checked into the housing market and found our house to still be of value and others we liked to be quite appealing. Spontaneously we listed our house for sale. Shocking to many, we sold in days for asking price. After many trips to view houses, we fell in love with one. Complications with the buyers’ paperwork on our old house delayed the move out to 50 days instead of 30. [Spreading the news: Don’t use US Bank, bank local!] But the challenge was having all our belongings on a moving truck for one whole month before we moved. We couldn’t complain because we had a roof over our heads, food in our cupboards, clothes in our suitcases and borrowed items from caring family. Many have so much less. The move has been frustrating on so many levels, but looking back upon it… it’s been wonderful. In asking God to handle what we couldn’t, we had the calm we needed to just enjoy each other. We look forward to making our new house a home, unpacking our things, and getting back to our usual routine… but we’ll never forget the good times we shared this past month in our home. Home, the place where our heart is. We really couldn’t ask for anything more this Christmas.
Tom’s been working in the Twin Cities until the New Year, when we pray he’ll return to his usual workplace (he’s on the top of the callback list). Melissa’s improvising school with library books, holiday crafts and miscellaneous things on hand. We got our prayers answered to spend uninterrupted time with our children and many hands to help unpack. Mikayla loves to read every night, Stanley is thrilled to have his toys back and a bigger yard, Sabrina is such a princess in her pink room full of dollies, and Jonathan is learning new words and tags along like a little puppy. We’re loving every minute of this crazy but wonderful family.
Open your lives to God’s simple miracles and generous blessings. Even nonbelievers can be still and sense a loving presence in their home, friendships and lives. Life being the most precious gift from God. So we give our Thanks and Praise to God, and all His saints and angels who seem to be taking very good care of us.
(image found on web?)
Your friend in Christ Jesus, the Reason for the Season!
Tom, Melissa, Mikayla, Stanley, Sabrina and Jonathan