Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloweeners! :)

The Monize's went trick or treatin'~ and we had fun, although Daddy was a little scary.....

So, here we are....Luke was a tiger.

And this was Chad....

My busy little bee, Gabriel...cute as a button.

The buzzer (he had a stinger in back) getting ready to get in the van.

Drew was Buzz Lightyear. He kept saying "To infinfinfy and beyond!"

More of Lukester (before whiskers)

Gabriel...I just couldn't stop snapping the pictures. He was SOOOOO adorable. He would get out of the van each time and say, "a buttet" (bucket)... "a buttet." I'd give him the zebra basket for his candy, and he would thank me. "Dane du." Then after the goodies were acquired, he would get back in the van, climb in to his seat, and hand it back, "Here, Mommy." Love it! LOVE HIM!

A little better shot of Buzz Lightyear. When we were in the van en route to one of the stops in Kokomo (family), Chad was saying something to me. I probably said a sassy comment or something, you know me....and then he said I should stop because (in his best transylvanian accent), "I vill eat you." Drew (copying the accent) said, "Yeah, mommy, he vill eat you you vith hot sauce." It was the BEST!!! Drew is hilarious! (And if you knew Chad, you know hot sauce tops EVERYTHING....mashed potatoes, chili, sandwiches, vegetables....everything...)

This is a good glimpse of Evan in costume. "Towabunda, Dude" he kept saying...
The whole gang.

We have SOOOOO much candy! Think about how much you get with your two or however you have, and multiply it by 4 kids. It will be Mother's Day before it's gone...well, maybe.... :)

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

I have decided it's my decision

Like many other things, I have been recently reminded of something I already knew. It's my decision, my choice whether or not to have joy. God's joy, after all, is freely offered. It's one of those things where you can be a "Glass-is-half-empty..." or "half-full" - kind of gal (or guy).

Here are some of His thoughts on the subject:

ISAIAH 12: 4 - 6 "...Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

ISAIAH 52: 7 - 10 "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God."

JAMES 1: 2 - 4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. "

I PETER 4: 12 - 13 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

NEHEMIAH 8:10 "...Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

PSALM 5:11 - 12 "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, you surround them with your favor as with a shield."

PSALM 16: 9 - 11 "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

PSALM 30: 5 "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

PSALM 98:4 "Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music"

PSALM 126:5 "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

...and there are so many more references....just look it up.

But all of this has led me to believe that it's my job to ask for it (James 1), wait for it (Psalm 30:5), proclaim it (Psalm 98:4), and that it may not always come without trials preceeding it (Psalm 126:5).

My biggest threat to my joy? Is lonliness. My readers probably think (all 3 of you - haha), "How can a person with two jobs, a husband, and 4 kids ever feel lonely...especially when you consider the house in which she lives?" Well, it may not be clear to you, but that is probably the biggest obstacle I face for joy. I battle it almost every day. I'm reminded of the story of Elijah when he had fled for his life for fear of Jezebel. He was exhausted, he was alone, he was afraid. He even said to the angel of the Lord (my paraphrase), "I've been gung-ho for God. I've done a lot for Him and His Name. People have rejected God's word. They have destroyed the work I've done. They have killed others like me. I'm the only one left. Now they want to kill me, too." (At this point, I'm humbled thinking I have never been hunted down or run for my life and been that lonely...) The Lord's answer? Go back. Get a few others, anoint them with oil, prepare them for this work. There are 7000 there for you! 7000 who believe just like you. You're not alone.

And as a person so heavily involved in music, the book of Psalms is especially amazing to me. Psalm 41 says "...Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But you, O Lord, have mercy on me; you raise me up...In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever." I'm never alone. I'm always with Him.

But sometimes, it doesn't feel that way. Someone once told me that Satan can't read our thoughts but can influence them. He exploits our fears.

Jesus himself felt loneliness when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. All He had asked was that His closest friends sit up and pray for Him...and they couldn't keep their eyes open.

Paul was alone. He said in 2 Tim. 4 "at my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth..."

Passages like these help me put things in perspective. It's not like anything I am doing is landing me in jail, stripping my kids and family from me, making me bear the sins of mankind, or even putting me in danger. Even though I know that, I struggle with finding joy in my daily life. I usually can give over the big things and smile through them. Don't get me wrong, I have days when it all seems insurmountable. For the most part, I can not worry. I got THAT part of Matthew down! The lillies don't have a thing on me....yeah, right!

It's finding joy in the mundane. Joy in the laundry. Joy in the organizing. Joy in the backstabbing at work. Joy in the weariness. Joy in the dishes. Joy in the taxi-driving to and from activities that are only just beginning....

I've come to the conclusion, though. It's MY choice. MY decision. No one can change it. Why do I look at it as if it's some strange thing happening? (I Peter 4) It's GOING to happen. I'm GOING to face this. The next time I am tempted to let the emotions engulf me, I pray that I can just picture Paul in jail for simply believing and proclaiming God's salvation plan, singing praises to His name.

OKAY - ONE MORE THING: Read about this boy...TODAY, when he saw me on my way out to my van after school, he ran to me, threw his arms around me and gave me a hug. When I told the librarian about it (who was waiting for her ride by the back door), she was shocked!!! I couldn't believe it!!!!! It completely made my day!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What a Day, What a Day!

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are as many as blogger will let me put on....Of course, these events happened in the exact opposite choronlogical order...first two are sideways, but between all this, running to Kokomo, rehearsal at church and bleaching my entire bathroom today, I'm too beat to fix it. First three are Gabriel opening 2nd birthday presents.

The girl in the stripes is my lovely niece Sammy. (above)
Drew looking on making sure Gabriel has the proper gift-opening technique.

Gabriel Robert and Pappaw Bob....they look alike. Can you tell in this picture?? Gabriel, Pappaw Bob, and my mom's father, affectionately called Granddad. He and Grandma had just flown in from seeing mom in Montana.

Evan after birthday cake.... :)

My home-made (and thus FRUGAL) birthday cake.

Gabriel was so embarrassed after we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him that his bottom lip quivered and he started to cry...until he GOT some cake.

Before the party we raked leaves. This is Luke buried in them.

And Drew took his turn being buried...but Evan wouldn't let it happen. Didn't like the leaves on his face...so no picture.

Luke Jacob

Evan Stanton

Chad Andrew, or "Drew"

They had a blast! At one point, they were swinging and flying off the end of the swing into the leaf pile! I was sure we would have broken appendages...but God portected...and they laughed and laughed. Drew's first attempt was REALLY ugly...

This was before the first jump....(Drew, Luke, and Evan...but you probably can't see him - he blends in...hehe)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Score, Slip, Blend

Just something God is using lately in my life to work on me...

Apparently this is a technique used in sculpting clay....I can't help but think that God has been doing this in my life recently.

1. Scoring: It's basically where you poke little tiny holes to rough up the surface on two pieces of clay that you want to adhere together. I don't claim to describe this accurately, just the best I know how based on my experiences. God's been allowing things to roughen the edges of my life for a while now...things creep in that I don't understand. Situations arise, and sometimes they don't go away for a while. Sometimes I let them get me down. But it's all part of the process...a process I desparately need.

2. Slip: This is where you use a watery mixture of clay and water to go over the roughened surfaces before pushing the two pieces of clay together. I think this comes in the form of prayer from friends and family. Listening ears of a good friend. Glimpses of God's goodness in every day things, just when you least expect it. They soothe the rough edges somehow. Give you the strength, the gumption, the tenacity to move ahead.

3. Blend: This is the last step to getting two pieces of clay prepared before the drying and firing process....and boy, do they each have their own analogies...Blending. I think God has taken those prayers and friends, pushed it together with the things that have caused heartache, stress, hurt, pain, and then He has taken His Word and His promises to blend it all together until we can see the bigger picture, the one that we may not completely understand because it has not been matured to its final state. It hasn't been dried and fired and glazed...

Maybe more on this later....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just trying it out...

No success stories yet, but we gotta start somewhere, right?!?!
(Aunt Micah, please notice the necklace that has still never been removed....even at bathtime...)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph. D.

Well, I am beginning a professional development workshop tomorrow at school in which we will discuss the book that shares the title of this post by Dr. Payne. I'm usually not one for research, statistics, etc...but recent observations have piqued my interest in this study.

When you grow up in a teaching family (10 teachers in the extended family and immediate family), school is VERY much a part of your life. You are expected to do well in school, you are basically blessed with an expert in every subject if needed, you probably don't HATE school as many of today's youth do. In my personal household growing up, my dad taught high school math (yay Algebra Zealots across the nation) and held a principal's license along with his master's degree. My mom held a variety of positions in the education world including classroom teacher, principal, college professor, and now she is an administrator in the corporation office in a large school system out west. The only thing that separates her from being called "Dr. Michelle's Mom" is basically a signature signing off on her doctorate.

Although my brother and I didn't have ALL the latest in toys and clothes, we did quite well. I do remember a particular night when my dad came in to say prayers with me as he did every night, when he was so upset that he cried by my bedside because he couldn't afford a new pair of black pattened leather shoes for church for me. I'll never forget it. I was so confused at the time. As a parent, I understand completely.

I went to college in a town where the local public high school is averaging about 20% poverty levels, but my college built a new building every year and still continues its growth. The facilities were great (with the exception of Teter...ah...remember Teter's squeaky floor boards and voice lessons upstairs?...memories...the numerous signs on the door that Prof was gone again and couldn't teach my voice lesson...hehe). Student teaching was done in this town, and I experienced a lot of different socio-economic levels with those experiences....but to be honest, I was really thinking of my upcoming wedding date when I student taught so not EVERYTHING sunk in....

Teaching at my school corporation didn't really strike me as unusual based on my experiences in my farming community, educational-saturated family. After all, when I started my teaching career I was pretty optimistic. I taughth the kids that WANTED to be there becfaues 100% of my classes were electives. For the most part, I didn't realize that there were too many economic differences between the students I taught. In those rose-colored eyes, every student was the same, no matter what they wore, how they groomed themselves...the only thing that mattered to me was their commitment to singing and their vocal quality (aside from those relationships I cultivated because I wanted to be their friend, too).

It wasn't until I decided the elementary music classroom would be easier on my busy, large family that I really noticed the profound difference between some kids...and some classrooms. It seemd as if some classes were full of those less fortunate. Then all of a sudden I became all to familiar with the "free and reduced lunch" label. This phrase kept popping up in the teacher's lounge, the faculty meetings, the research and goal writing. I began to take notice of the profound difference between students who looked like I would have at that age and those who didn't.

Then one day, I was conducting what I thought to be riveting lesson complete with instrumetns, listening activities, singing, dancing, movement...it had it all! And the flow was great, and the correlation between activities and the standards being taught was impeccable, if I do say so myself. Yet off to the right side of my room, there he was, ASLEEP! I couldn't believe he could nod off with the drums and Orff instruments clamoring beside him. Of course, I did what any self-respecting, well-prepared teacher who was impressed with her excellent planning would do. I asked why he was sleeping in my class. The fourth grader replied that he was out really late the night before because his parents had taken him grocery shopping. I said, "When did you get home?" He answered that it was somewhere around 1 AM. Shocked and appalled that any responsible parent would have their children out so late to do something like grocery shopping, I asked why on earth they would have gone in the middle of the night like that. I should have dropped it. I should have left it alone. I should have reported it to his teacher or counsellor. What was I thinking? His answer changed my views on teaching altogether.

He put his head down and quietly said, "Because that's when the grocery stores throw out their old meat and there is one that leaves it on clean cardboard for my dad to get every week."

Thus, my enrollment in this workshop a year later.

Chad and I are definitely not rich. We struggle more than most in our town, I would say. When you have 4 kids and they all need diapers/pull ups or they are all in some kind of child care during the day, and when half of a paycheck pays the sitter, you're bound to struggle. And although we have been close to running out of food, God provides. We have had our electricity turned off, our heat, our water, our phones....we've done without...but never for more than 2 days at a time (well, with the exception of the phone).

We're in a particularly rough time right now, and it has been really easy for me to look at God and honestly, openly, and emotionally express my raw emotions. Why do we struggle like tihs? Don't we serve? Don't we work hard? I have two jobs, for goodness' sake! I'm tired of my boys sharing a tiny room and not having places for our clothes in our drawers and the one closet that we have. I'm tired of this...I'm sick of that... And then, God's perfectly timed finger taps me on the shoulder and I turn around to face Him and realize:

Things could always be worse. My kids could lack role models, Christian role models. My kids could have to learn to defend themselves on the streets to establish their turf. I could feel like my only option was to steal or cheat. I could feel like my only option was to...well, let's just say they could always be worse. And for Kyle and Daniel and Joe and Brittany and Jack and Dylan and...things are.

God, thank You for the opportunity to be reminded of Your provision, Your blessings. Forgive me when I lose sight of reality and the way You always answer prayers. God, make me an instrument that helps these children as long as I come in contact with them. Help me not to turn away. Show me what I can offer them...even if it isn't financial. Continue to help my family and provide for us. I am amazed by Your grace and mercy. I'm humbled by Your love and generosity. Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Frquent Flier Miles on the toilet

No this isn't one of those games where you take a phrase (or a hymn title) and add "on the toilet" just to make you laugh....

I can say that Gabriel has officially entered the world of potty-training. He knows when he is wet or dirty, he comes and tells me with diaper in hand. It's the first day of many, but I put him on the seat. He is not thrilled, even with the small cheering section crowded in our tiny bathroom beside him. I'm sure I'll keep you updated! :)

As of today: 0 potties on the toilet....but we're at least showing up. That's half the battle.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Seriously, this has to be the most amazing video footage out there....check it out! Every music lover (or even enjoyer) will like this.


(I wanted to post this actual footage, but I couldn't figure it out. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated....)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I henceforth request that thou peruse upon my prose

I sat on the couch beside my husband tonight. My 2nd son, Drew, was quietly bathing in the bathroom. Luke and Evan were already finished with their baths. Gabriel was waiting. I realized Drew had been in there for long enough when I looked at Evan and said, "Evan, go tell your brother that I said it was time to get out of the bathtub." He started off quickly, when Chad called him back, and said, "No, Evan, tell him 'Dearest brother, our mother requests that you remove yourself from the bathing facilities.'"

As Evan began to scurry again, Chad stopped him once more and asked, "Now what are you going to say to Drew?"

Evan smiled and said, "I'm donna (gonna) tell him Mommy says to det (get) out of the baff (bath)." He ran off. Chad and I burst in to laughter again.

Maybe this is one of those you-had-to-be-theres, but to us, it was a highlight of our evening....just one of the many.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The ride home

Today, I picked up Luke like I do every day from my dad's and Jenny's house. It was obvious that either they had been involved in an age discussion or at the very least, Luke had been thinking. (If this came strictly from his logic, I believe we have a gifted child...for a kindergarten student...) He got in the van and announced, "When Gabriel goes to Kindergarten, I will be 10." I praised him for his math skills, assuming that the discussion had started at my dad's. He then went through the rest of the family and how old they would be when Gabriel reached that magical Kindergarten age, stopping with me. He paused and asked, "Mommy how many will you be when Gabriel is 6." I answered, "34." His first reaction was an incredulous "WHOOOOOAAAA!" He quickly recovered and with as much compassion and sincerity as he could muster, he offered, "Don't worry, Mommy, I'll still love you."

He didn't quite understand my burst of laughter....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Be thankful...(*editted*)

Today, I held my nephew, Oryn Anthony, for the first and last time. Although this is not a picture of Oryn, it is a picture of a baby about the same age. Oryn was born alive with a heart beat. It was all so surreal. Oryn was about 16 weeks old. I just keep thinking if he could have hung in there for another 4 - 6 weeks or so, MAYBE he could have had a fighting chance....

I don't understand it all, but I know God had a purpose in all of this. I pray that my brother-in-law will learn to trust Jesus with his whole life.

I can't begin to imagine what they must feel right now. I am SOOO thankful for my little ones. This experience has given a whole new meaning to the times when someone has said to me, "Thank God they are healthy..." or something along the lines of that when I was disappointed with yet another boy...(who has turned out to be a joy - not a disappointment at all!)

Someday, when I get to Heaven, Oryn will greet me with a smile. It was nice to know that he left this world in the hands of his mommy, daddy, and grandma and was directly delivered to Jesus'.

I wish those crazy, misguided people who are pro-choice could have been there and seen that Oryn had a mouth, ears, 10 fingers and 10 toes, ribs, and so much more. I have never been more convinced that there is only one God, one Creator, one Savior. And I have never been more convinced that pro-life is the ONLY way to go. I will NEVER be able to support any type of abortion, for any reason, whatsoever. When I was pregnant for all of mine, I have always gone in to labor telling Chad that no matter what, the baby's life MUST come first. I'm more convinced than ever.

Despite my conviction, I know there was a reason that little Oryn's body was rejected and there was a reason the first time his mommy dressed him was for his funeral and there was a reason they held him until his heart stopped beating. I just pray that God will bless them and use this time in their lives to show them that He is the only thing that they need. I pray that they come to have a saving relationship with Christ. I pray that this will not harvest a bitterness in them that cannot be calmed or a rage that cannot find peace. I don't believe Chad's brother and his girlfriend are saved. I believe that they believe in God because they asked everyone they knew to be in prayer for Oryn. It shows that they recognize a higher power....but I don't think they KNOW the Higher Power. Maybe that was Oryn's purpose all along...

On a side note...

I have created a new blog that I will use to focus on the positive things in my life. It's listed as the first link over to the right or you can click here.

CLICK HERE for proof of the One Creator.