Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lansing - the new year

There have been some fun and interesting things going on
over in Lansing during the holidays and early this new year.

My mentor, Kendall Wingrove, hosted a great get-together at
his place over the Christmas break!

The largest CBC meeting yet!

Former Senator Allan Cropsey hosted our group at the Attorney General's office
a few weeks ago as well - what a neat experience!

We ate in the Kelley Law Library, named after a former MI Attorney General.

Kendall introducing our speakers - John Lazet, and Sen. Cropsey


And a great lunch to boot!


The evening of Governor Snyder's State of the State address was a great time 
for networking and also for hitting all the receptions being held around town!

All the news outlets were there covering the governor's speech:)

After the speech, Kendall and I hung out in the press room

Speaker Bolger being interviewed

It has been an exciting start to the year in Lansing, and the upcoming
legislative session is shaping up to be very interesting!

~Jon

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Family Letter 2012

Some of you may have received a hard copy of our family letter in the snail mail,
but for all our other friends and acquaintances out there, we wanted to
make our newsletter available online, along with links to various posts about
different activities that took place over the last year.

Here it is!


Dear Loved Ones,

We pray that this letter finds you rejoicing in the blessings and provision of God in your lives! He is so gracious to all, and His loving care and wisdom have been clearly abundant to us throughout 2012.
This was a milestone year for us, specifically because God led us to move to a new home! The story is simply full of God’s guidance and providence, as doors were opened and closed and we learned lessons of patience, diligence, and trust.

It began back in March of 2011… The thought of moving hadn't even crossed our minds when a friend of ours had us go and see an amazing house on the market. Though we never made an offer on that home, we did start dreaming of all the ways that the Lord could use us in a new location and home. The only problem was that our home was in no shape to be put on the market. We realized that fixing up the house would be an excellent opportunity to focus on diligence and teamwork, which we were slacking on due to our ever-busier schedule. 

The next five months were filled with numerous projects. We painted, finished off a bathroom, painted doors, hung doors, painted, cleaned, painted, laid flooring, painted… you get the idea! We finished in early August, and our house was officially for sale August 16, 2011.
We had looked at several houses and gained a clearer vision of what would work for our family, and quickly discovered that there were not that many out there! Once our house was on the market, we began to look more in earnest, at the same time realizing that there had not been enough interest in our house to move forward with purchasing a new home. 

In December 2011, we decided to offer our house with the option of land contract. Shortly after, a foreclosed house in Grand Blanc came on the market that we were interested in. We waited a couple of days because our house still had little interest, and by the time we tried to set up a showing, there had already been an above-price offer accepted. We took that as the Lord’s direction that we were not to see that house. Mom did drive by it, and it was so much farther than we had been hoping to move that it seemed that it wouldn’t have worked. (Plus, it was log sided, and that’s a strike against any house in Mom’s book!) But later, when Dad and Mom drove by together, Dad was taken with the potential of the house and property, and was disappointed that we were never able to see it.

Mom kept an eye on that house to see when it closed, and it continued to show as pending for a month or so. Then, early in January, the listing suddenly went active! We immediately called our realtor, and were out at the house in a matter of hours. The way the house fit the criteria was amazing - going over and above anything we could have imagined! As a foreclosed house (which, interestingly enough, had been used as an assisted living center), it had been in bad shape, but the bank decided to fix it up before selling: all new paint, all new carpet, new kitchen cabinets/counters, new roof, and upkeep on the log siding. It was all done for us. We were ready to get a fixer-upper if the Lord led, but He obviously had a different plan! Sadly, Mom lost a little one that we named Mercy during this time.


As we worked on submitting an offer the next day, the listing price dropped $10,000! A few days later, the bank accepted our offer! About a week later, we received our very first offer on our house (land contract). We worked out a deal that was good for both sides, and set the closing date for April 26 after the new house closing February 24. Dad and the boys worked on the heating system at the new place, and we ladies started packing up in preparation for the big move! We were so grateful to the 60+ family and friends that assisted us along the way, and the final move was made on April 14th.
The new house has been such an amazing blessing - whether the location (2 miles from I-75), the 27 acres of land, plenty of room for guests, or the “parking lot” with space for 25 cars! Projects have included cleanup from flooding in the basement, putting in the garden, and a outdoor wood-fire boiler to heat the house using the wood right on our property.

At the enthusiastic recommendation of several friends, some of us attended Heritage Research Institute’s Understanding the Constitution class in August. It was an extremely informative and immensely practical look at our United States Constitution, and gave us a much better knowledge of the founding of our country and the unchanging biblical principles that should continue to influence our citizenship. On that note, we again attended SSI this July, and explored more aspects of our government in a hands-on Christian Leadership setting (www.ssi-online.org).

We especially enjoyed the National Bible Bee, held in November in Sevierville, TN. It started with the summer program, which was a bit different than last year (the amount of memory work was reduced to just over 100 verses for all participants). This year’s Sword Study was on the book of 2 Timothy. After the local round on August 25 at our church, we learned that Melody and Anna had advanced to Nationals. At Nationals, the fellowship with hundreds of like-minded families was a blessing as we renewed previous friendships and made new ones. Melody was blessed to advance on to the Semifinal round, and we enjoyed hearing her recite Scripture. We would encourage each one of you to check out the Bible Bee - an excellent tool for spiritual growth and family discipleship. Registration for 2013 begins on April 1st at www.biblebee.org

Between our annual vacation at “The Barn” (our grandparents’ cottage in Upstate New York.),  visiting with our friends the Palazzolos in Michigan and Alabama, participating in the OCMS String Camp, and hosting hundreds of guests at the new home, we’ve pretty much filled up the rest of the time! Oh yes, throw in a few games of our new favorite - Dutch Blitz - and the picture is complete :) If you’d like to see pictures from any of these happenings, just head over to the blog: www.mieczkowskis.blogspot.com is our outlet for pictures, videos and stories about what God has been working in our lives the past 4 years.


Jonathan is now working four days a week as a legislative aide in the office of State Representative Tom McMillin. He has enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with many constituents, as well as continue to make connections and learn from those who have walked the road that he’s on. Earlier in the year, Jon finished his time of internship with Senator Mike Green, and his work there led to his receiving the Frank M. Fitzgerald Public Service Award. Over the summer, he spent some time working with Michigan Family Forum, helping to identify family-values-based citizens and encourage them to vote. After totaling his ’94 Chevy Beretta last year, and driving a car generously lent by some friends for several months, Jon bought a 2003 Pontiac Vibe in May, and it has served him very well in his numerous trips to Lansing (now just an hour away).


For myself (Grace), this year has seen me delving into several realms - getting my driver’s license (and driving a LOT since then!), helping to run the OCMS String Camp, learning and applying healthy living principles, and especially quite a bit of music teaching. The Lord has blessed with over 20 students, in addition to teaching some of my siblings, and it has really been a neat way to extend our family’s ministry through music even further. And I absolutely love teaching! In that light, Melody and I went to the Chicago Suzuki Institute’s Teacher Training program in July.  Melody greatly enjoyed taking her first music teaching courses (on cello), and I enjoyed participating in a piano teaching course, after taking a violin course last year. I also joined Jon in the ranks of “Mieczkowski kids with cars”, as I purchased a 2005 Chevy Impala in August. 


As our latest graduate, Melody gave a senior recital in June, a wonderful time of sharing the many ways that the pursuit of excellent music has impacted her life. Melody did several competitions on her cello, and was blessed to place second in the Birmingham-Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition. Melody continues to study cello with Tony Elliott, and has also taken on 7 cello students this year. She is currently taking an online  course called “Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens”, taught by Michael Farris of Patrick Henry College. She speaks of how the course has really opened her eyes to how our liberties are eroded in ways that we can’t even see. Taking the course was partially inspired by her participation in the Student Statesmanship Institute’s Moot Court track, where she had to argue a constitutional case before a panel of three judges. Melody also spearheads several homemaking areas, such as bread-baking and yogurt-making.


Well, last year, all we had to say about Joseph and his bow hunting was that he had seen a few deer (but out of range). That is no longer the case! Joe was very excited to get his first deer (in our forest - with his bow!) on October 9th. It was also thanks to Joseph that our garden was put in at the new place! His diligence is an encouragement to our entire family. He is also instrumental in harvesting wood for heating the house. Joseph and Anna are participating in the Student Statesmanship Institute’s Ambassador League program this year, which gives them opportunities to interact with their community and grow in Christian Leadership. 


Anna’s latest exciting news was that she was able to acquire a new harp! God graciously provided for the purchase, and she has been growing by leaps and bounds as she enjoys her new instrument. (On that note, Anna is looking to earn some funds by playing her harp at different events! Visit her website at www.clarityharp.blogspot.com). Anna continues to take violin from Kim Kennedy, and appreciate the recent opportunity to participate in monthly studio classes where we can share music and ideas with fellow students. This year was special for Anna, as she qualified for the National level of the Bible Bee for the first time, and spent a lot of time studying and memorizing as a result. The spiritual lessons learned and fellowship deepened through the time in the Word were invaluable.


Caleb loves all things motorized. Whether it be the chainsaw, four-wheeler (a new acquisition), the go-kart, or the family pickup truck (also new to us!), you will usually find Caleb making his way around the property with the help of an engine. Joseph and Caleb spend a few hours each week at a friend’s place, helping out with gardening, cutting wood, and (mostly) taking care of goats. With his shotgun, Caleb took his first wild turkey… from his bedroom window! We enjoyed turkey nuggets - small turkey breasts split 12 ways! This was also Caleb’s first year attending the Student Statesmanship Institute, and he had a blast as he role-played a “Representative” and made new friends.


Lydia continues to grow and mature into a thoughtful and helpful young lady. In the past year, we have included Lydia several times as part of our family quartet (www.heritagestrings.com), as Jonathan’s duties elsewhere have increased. She definitely stepped up to the plate, and does an excellent job as our second violin. Lydia’s primary interest right now is crocheting and using Knifty Knitter looms to create beautiful hats, scarves, dishcloths, and purses. She has also gotten pretty handy with her camera, capturing some really neat shots.


Mary got to attend the OCMS string camp for her second year, and was honored to be the cello section leader in her orchestra! She is also very glad to have a new cello, which was pretty necessary considering she’s growing like a weed. Mary is still our resident reader - she will go through hundreds of pages a day when she has the chance!


Julia is enjoying the extra space in the new girls’ room (as are the rest of us), as we get to sprawl out a bit. Julia also started piano lessons this year, and she absolutely loves to make music both at the piano and the violin. She thought it was neat to see the wild turkeys “roasting” in the trees!


Rebecca now reads fluently (and expressively, I may add!) and is joining her older sisters in their voracious consumption of books. Rebecca had her first violin recital this year (as part of her big sister’s studio!) and is progressing well. She also started piano lessons, and can be found by the hour playing songs by ear. Earlier this year, she wondered what state Mrs. Sippi lived in!

God has blessed us with both sets of grandparents in the area. Grandpa and Grandma Mieczkowski celebrated their 40th anniversary this year, and we praise God for their faithfulness to Him and each other. Grandpa and Grandma Birchard continue to be very active, looking forward to their 75th birthdays next year! Our cousins on both sides keep busy with many activities, and we enjoy the time we spend together.

As we enter 2013, we pray you would reflect on matters of eternal significance. We invite you to watch this short video which shares the important questions in life. We would love to share with you more on the subject of eternal life - what a wonderful way to start the new year!



Thank you for the special place you have in our lives! 
God’s blessings in 2013!

With love,

The Mieczkowski Family

###

Monday, January 14, 2013

New "About Us" pages

Happy New Year y'all!

We have updated the "About Us" pages of each family member
to give a more current look at what each person is up to :)


Visit our "About Us" page here.

Stay tuned for our 2012 family letter!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter fun!

Recently we went over to some friends house for some fun in the snow!

Sledding behind the quads is a favorite activity!

Even Dad hopped on one of our snowmobiles!

"Wanna' drag?"

Anna loves her snowmobile!


"Lean, man, lean!"

Looks like Rebecca has made a friend :)


We had a great time of fun and fellowship, and can't wait for more in the future!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas Wrap-up, 2012

This was our first Christmas in our new house!

Opening presents!

I made it myself!

There's something up there!

Now that's teamwork!

"The Moose" - our mascot at Christmas (really Rodney Reindeer!)


The Mieczkowski Stairsteps!

Our traditional Christmas morning picture

Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa Birchard's

Christmas Day at Grandma and Grandpa Mieczkowski's



"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."
1 John 4:14