Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018 Christmas Letter

We hope your 2018 was filled with joy!

   Most of you have followed with us on our journey, but we wanted to share some of the highlights. It is because of the support of so many of you that this year has been prosperous and filled with hope. We are truly blessed. Thank you!

  It’s been a year of firsts in grieving the loss of our son, Eddie. It has certainly given us new vigor and reliance on our faith, and determination to stay focused on our priorities. God continues to reveal himself to us through humility, study, prayer, God-incidents, and others. He speaks to our hearts that He hasn’t abandoned us and is with us in the sorrow as well as the joy. He challenges us to live the life He has planned for us, to find joy in every day, and to trust in Him. God lifts us up and gives us what we need, even when we fail. We constantly feel the presence of Heaven watching over us, with Eddie as our advocate.

   There have been plenty of #Adventures4Eddie. The kind that calls for no excuses, trying new things and going on a whim. At the same time, allowing plenty of time to just rest or have nothing going on. We spend as much time as we can with our friends and family, hosting parties and attending others, as well as many field trips and fun days have transpired. It really has lifted our spirits to know you continue to pray for us and invite us into your adventures. There is still so many we are just getting to know, and we look forward to our time together.

   In January we moved. We’ve slowly been making it home with many helpers, but has so much more work to be done. We took a grief retreat at Faith’s Lodge. The kids touched the waterfall at Gooseberry Falls. They all braved extreme heights at the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark in WI. The road trip to Florida was momentous with stops at The Ark Encounter in KY,  a swim in the Atlantic Ocean, Legoland, and the shrine, leaving painted rocks for others to find along the way. The trip was so relaxing, we came home and learned we were pregnant! Noah Edward is due Jan 2019. Everyone is very excited. There is rarely a dull moment here. Tom & Melissa celebrated 16 years of marriage! Tom’s work has been steady, including all summer fixing and setting up the State Fair. We began our 13th year of homeschooling. Mikayla began driving and volunteers on the church CORE team. Stanley caught his first fish at EFC, and is preparing for Confirmation. Sabrina has began babysitting and increased her time learning in the kitchen. Jonathan is generous with his time and talents, encouraging us to remember to take time to play. Molly wants to learn everything, and is chatty as a teenager. David keeps us in constant suspense and likes hanging with the boys.

May God bless you with a Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Poem of Adoration

artist unknown
Angels and Saints stand before me,
and known not by sight.
I bask in all the glory of God
and in His holy light.

Here in Adoration I bow
and humbly listen to his words
Calling upon the Spirit to guide
my hand unto the Lord's.

He writes my pen, he heals my wounds,
I barely speak or move.
It is in this holy place I feel
He is close and offers love.

Jesus, my everything and my all.
Jesus, I trust you when I fall.

You life me up
in splendor of your grace.
I will do all you ask of me
knowing one day I'll see your face.

Others will see only you in me.
This is your will to set me free.

~Words that flowed out of me in song into word during Adoration Oct 5, 2018.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Planting Mustard Seeds

I admit I focus too much time on social media. I have to try hard to resist responding to all the questions I have answers for, posting about everything new we do, or sharing my opinion when I could just scroll by. I feel called to boldly witness to others on matters of life, faith, politics and other topics. Many times I have been given comments that I've inspired others through something I've shared. But in years past, more often I found myself taking up debates with strangers about topics that take books and time, not a few bold sentences, to understand. I tell my kids they cannot play on the computer or gaming device, while I look up at them from my smartphone or computer. How easy are we sucked into our devices with "good intentions" that we forget to minister to our own families and people we visit in person? Is it more valuable to inspire someone online, or those living in my home? Can we feasibly do both?

Sometimes we lose touch with our vocations. Instead, we're trying so hard to be everything to everyone. We can seem untouchable to those we know by trying to do and be it all. It's exhausting and filled with disappointment. A priest once advised me I needed to lower my expectations to find happiness and contentment. It really opened my eyes to what my life should be, instead of what I wanted it to become. I finally realized that I wasn't a failure if let go of some activities, expectations of others, and desire for admiration. Love, Humility, Charity, Peace, Joy - these became my new inspirations. When I took it down a few notches, I could more easily connect with others. I found friendships that nurtured this way of life.

Life is full of imperfections, and it's okay to embrace it. God wants us to be real, approachable, available. We can minister to others best when we first humble ourselves, educate ourselves in the faith, learn how to communicate the faith, and exude love and hope in our words and actions. What better way to practice this that within our homes.

How often I forget to live my own words and create balance in my daily activities. I have a strong desire to teach and participate, a full calendar, a long list of projects and activities, and plenty of ideas always brewing. Yet my personality is anxious, overwhelmed, fearful, concerned, agitated.

I homeschool and care for our large family of infants to teenagers. Looking back over 12 years of homeschooling and 16 years of motherhood, it's worked well for us by the grace of God. I've instilled in my children a love for learning, including about our Catholic faith. Over time, my children have become more independent learners and help out quite a bit in the home.

Occasionally in my anxiety, I mistake their independence as not needing me anymore. I slack in engaging myself in their lessons, and fade out of the room into my tasks or pleasures. If I'm not aware, it can hook me in and we all begin to lose focus. I forget that my presence is what gets the books off the shelf and into their hands. I forget that the younger kids will pretend to work until I hear the giggles and find them in their rooms playing. I forget that when I'm absorbed into my online evangelization efforts, my social media support groups, organizing our schedule, or watching educational videos, that they only see me bring inattentive to them.

The solution is to prioritize our time on the computer and phone. Another solution is to show them how this time builds us up to support them. I believe older children would benefit from being read the articles aloud, hear what we've been writing to inspire others, and see the videos that make us laugh, cry or take action. Talk to them about the good and bad that comes from technology. Show them how as an adult, we can responsibly utilize technology to bring Christ to others, as well as good information into our minds. Let them see how you edit before you post. Show them where it takes courage to speak up. Educate them how to write effectively, and point everything back to God in scripture, prayer, tradition, action and kindness. Be an example of how to live out what you preach.

It's amazing how time online can affect my behavior. I have got in my own way, chosen unfavorable words, spoke admirably and forgot to live it out, and have often responded unlovingly or impatient. I might ignore, snap back, or get too busy to recognize the needs of my family. I'll get wrapped up in my freshly typed out lists, not noticing that everyone is burnt out. Thank the Holy Spirit for coming to me with some subtle, some strong, reminders to refresh our souls in some way. To remind me that the world can wait. The online troll doesn't need my input, I don't need to attend, someone else can lead, the chores can wait... that my first vocation is to nuture my family. I realize how much in my life I can do without, and will go on fine without me.

God has deeply instilled in my heart that my vocation is to be a mother and to evangelize. Listening to Him in Adoration has revealed that my first priority is to homeschool my children in order to instill a deep understanding of the Catholic Christian faith, and raise them to live it in all aspects of their life. Secondary to all that, is to share my understanding of the faith and how I live it with others. He constantly reminds me that my life is not my own, that I am here for my children and in turn they will help me grow in faith and holiness. I have to keep reminding myself of this priority, so i don't get caught up in the secondary efforts. Planting mustard seeds of faith can be enough. The greatest saints didn't inspire others through technology. There can be integration, if you keep focused on your calling.

Raising Saints for This Time

Six years ago I thought these kids were so grown up. I can still recall how they hugged me and how they bugged me. How I taught them that they are capable of great things, have a purpose and a vocation ahead of them.They have matured into such respectable, loving, caring, bright young people. I am so proud of their journey. I have no worries about the addition of 3 more to the bunch since then, because they too will do great things.
Oct 2012
I reason that if I feel this way so strongly about my children, that I can finally accept that is why my parents see this in me, and how my Heavenly Father sees me. They told me and showed me enough times, but for a long time I worried about and believed what society thought. I didn't think I was capable of all the things I have accomplished. I absorbed the negative thoughts and the disappointments, and it consumed me. I lost sight of who's opinion of me matters most. (FYI: It's God's.)
Parents have the ability and responsibility to believe in their children, and raise them up in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6) I don't take it lightly that I am raising soldiers for Christ. We need to raise a generation of moral, selfless, convicted, educated, well-rounded people who will be the saints of this time. The St. Mother Theresa, the Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, The St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the St Pope John Paul II of the next generation.
"So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well. Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To satisfy the one who recruited him, a soldier does not become entangled in the business affairs of life." 2 Timothy 2:1-4



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