Mom of 15: I Followed My Passions and Discovered This…

Before the kids came along, I considered myself an artist, a writer, and a traveler. I was filling my life with art, creativity, and wonder. I used to travel Europe selling jewelry and art to fund my passions.

After becoming a mother, my passion became my children. Around 3 years into motherhood, I began to remember how much I loved art and poetry. I started to add a few of my passions back into my life. My husband started working four days a week. I took Fridays to dive back into my passions.

I began reading, writing, and small art projects. I purchased paintbrushes and acrylic paint and covered my home with murals. That turned into a small business decorating other’s homes. Then I started teaching moms homemaking, homesteading, and creative skills. We let our little ones play while we learned together.

There was one thing I didn’t do lots and lots of moms my age were doing. Spending time on TV and the Internet. I found when you have little kids, you’re going to be exhausted. The default can be turning on a show and putting them in front of a TV. We didn’t have a TV so that was never an option. I didn’t want that to be the example I set for my kids of adulthood. As parents, we are our children’s greatest teachers. The life we model for them is what their perception of adulthood is. Do we really want them to think being an adult is about working so much you’re exhausted and then starting at a screen watching other people live their lives the rest of the time?

As my kids reached school age, I started customizing their education around their passions. They take their passions seriously and become experts in their fields of interest. All of my kids start businesses in their early teens. Creativity and beauty has kept my children from becoming addicted to screens and technology.

Well-meaning family and friends have expressed concern my kids are missing out on aspects of “standardized” education. Yet my children have skills and talents kids in traditional school don’t have or have to wait until their 20s, 30s, or 40s to develop. I let them let go of things that are irrelevant and they’ll never need to know.

When a child’s education revolves around what they love, there’s no struggle or fight.

Our modern day workforce is all about skills, talents, and ability more than degrees and head knowledge. My children will be able to have specialized careers in their fields of passion. They’ve been studying since they were young and most of my children are making their own income before they ever move out as legal adults.

The way I raise my children looks very different from what you would see in a schoolroom because the childhood happening in our house looked like a lot of fun, adventure, exploring, creating, community, and more. Everyone is contributing their own gifts.

This is all because I set the model for them of pursuing my passions and letting it fuel my actions and career path. I want my children to look at the model I set of adulthood and be excited.

Today I have 15 children age 8-24. I delight in my teens and we have so much fun together. You have one life to live and it shouldn’t be boring. This is what I want my children to know and how I want their education to look. What about you?

Find my whole talk on this subject in the video below. And subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos like this.


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Learn more-

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Choosing a Major & Why 13 Is the Magic Number
From Anna: “Start Your 10,000-hour Journey”
One Day There Was A Mom

One Day There Was A Mom

One day, there was a young mom with eight children under ten years old, she was serving as a town council Vice President and was organizing festivals for Main Street. Homeschooling the kids and always searching for strategies to help her struggle learners to thrive, and to help her struggling neighbors to become a community, and helping at church and building her home-based ministries. She contributed to the family income by teaching classes every weekend for IUPUI. She cooked a feast every night. She was helping to run a farm store and all her children were starting their own businesses… she was up at night with a nursing baby and had a car seat under her desk at town hall.

And everything she did was fueled by self care and a little time at the feet of Jesus.

She made an effort to carve out time to recharge and to put her own passions and creativity on a pedestal, to always start and end her days with a time of focus on the things that brought her joy. One day she had realized that she was awake for over 16 hours a day and it was no crime to take one or two of those hours each day to focus on filling her own heart, and investing in her own needs, passions and pursuits. She gave 14 hours away to everyone and everything else, but held precious her space to thrive.

Some people send a message that mothers should never for a moment put themselves first, never for a moment do one thing for the joy of it… if there is a dish in the sink or laundry to be done. She learned to let the children entertain themselves, she helped her husband understand that if he didn’t give her a break she would have no energy for him at the end of the day, so she stopped listening to the voice of guilt and picked up a paint brush, a crochet hook, and a good book. As the children grew, her talents and hobbies developed and grew as well.

She was an example to her children of a parent who didn’t loose herself to parenting.

As her hobbies grew along side her children they became so well developed that they eventually became an income source that allowed her husband to become a stay-at-home dad who could focus on his own calling to serve others on the mission field, in the community, and be at home with the children. All the children were thriving so they had another baby and adopted five more kids.

The family didn’t thrive because she sacrificed everything to meet the needs and demands of others, the family thrived because she knew how to fill her own tank, and she knew of to give herself rest and space to be who she was meant to be, and by taking care of herself she was able to accomplish so many more things for others than she would if she lost herself to motherhood. She would tell you that there is nothing more precious to her than her family, but she knows that a family thrives when the mother thrives. And by the grace of God, and through the compassion and encouragement of a loving husband she took care of herself too.

When all my kids were little I used 49cent craft paints from Walmart and a couple of cheap paintbrushes to over our walls with murals…

Celebrating 30 Years!

We are celebrating 30 years since the day two young teens admitted they were falling in love and agreed it was a lifetime kinda love.

Josh and I were only 15 and 16. It was July 3, 1993.

Today we got out the old letters and read them to each other. Next we loaded ten kids into the van and went to the fire pit where it happened.

We showed the kids a handful of letters from our teen years, and read them some exerts. Josh told the kids the entire love story from his point of view.

After visiting the beautiful wooded campus, at Horizon Christian Fellowship where we began our journey as a couple, we took the kids to Skyline Chili. This was the first restaurant we went to together (though that happened in Cincinnati). Every kid got a hat.

We finished the adventure at Trader Joe’s where we let each kid choose a treat to share during the Fourth of July fireworks.

What a beautiful celebration of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

When You Don’t Fit In

Just wondering? Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in with other homeschooling families? Why?

For years I felt like I had to put my girls in long skirts to be accepted at our homeschool food co-op. I felt bad that we were just faking the Amish look, but I wanted to show respect to the other families… turns out a bunch of them were dressing their kids in long dresses cause I was…

No more! Let’s just be who were are. It took a while to embrace the idea that homeschooling doesn’t have a dress code… unless PJs count.

I also thought that to be in the homeschool cool-club I had to grind my own grain, milk my own goat, grow my own watermelon and sew my kids clothing. I also noticed that most of my homeschooling friends had four kids… I only had three… then I had seven, now fifteen! It doesn’t matter what your family size is! It’s all good!

As a family we did some of these things just for the joy of it, and for health reasons, but we don’t all have to grind wheat to be friends. Here is the truth… a lot of homeschoolers eat Lucky Charms and go to Wendy’s.

I thought that “good homeschool moms” teach their kids to read at age 4. That worked with Isaac. But most of my kids are reading around age 9. Isaac never learned multiplication facts! Here is the truth, a lot of homeschoolers have kids that struggle with math or reading.

It was a hard lesson to learn that we don’t have to dress, eat, sew, skin rabbits, and have a zoo pass to be good homeschooling moms. Here’s the truth, a lot of homeschoolers shop at Walmart, and don’t always eat organic. Some do, cool.

Here’s another one: Good homeschool moms have clean houses and wake up before the sun. I make my appearance at 9:30am on most days, and my house looks like a work in progress.

Another tough one to swallow was the idea that unschoolers can’t be Christians. What the heck? I was a closet unschooler!

Do you need to “hang up” any of your hang ups? Hang ’em in the comments, and support each other!

Welcome to Fun-Schooling where it’s okay to try, fail, make a mess, focus on self-care, dump the mom guilt, let kids make mistakes, overlook our flaws, be content to not be perfect, give grace, drink a lot of coffee, hide the chocolate, hack homeschooling, and drop your kid’s phone off a bridge. Whatever, since we will never measure up to the imaginary standards can we just have a good time trying???? We ARE enough!

You can read more of my journey to joy and freedom in my book – Windows to Our World. Click the image below to grab it!

One More Story

I hear the whispers in the late night silence
I hear the giggles in the cool spring air
It’s been an hour since we said good night
It’s been an hour since the kiss and prayer

The day is over
It’s not coming back again.
Tonight’s a night
that has never been.
So let them laugh and stay up late
One more story, one more song, one more page

It wasn’t perfect, it was barely good
They were just doing what they could
They were helping in their childish way
And in a moment they were lost in play

They’ll learn to help
It just takes time
Little ones
have so much on their minds
Watch them laugh and run and play
they’ll need a bath later today.
One more story, one more song, one more page

Never silence, not a quiet moment
Always questions bouncing off the walls
If I had answers I would be a genius
Somehow they think I must know it all

Just a moment and I’ll finish sweeping
Just a moment and I’ll find that shoe
another pancake, turning, burning smoking
Another inch, another question, maybe two

The day is new
Smiling at me again
This is a moment
that has never been
So let them laugh and run and play
One more story, one more song, one more page

Let Them Dream

Anna’s Dreams Becoming Reality

God has given each of my children an amazing set of gifts, skills, talents and experiences that shape who they are. I love watching each of them become who they were created to be. Each one has a calling, and for each one it is a unique dream for the future. Each path begins the same, here in our home, but I respect the reality that they each will pursue different futures and goals. Even in our own home, their pursuits and dreams will shape their early lives uniquely.

I pray that we would lay a sure foundation, and that our mission would be to fully equip each one to become whatever it is that they should me. They will not follow my dreams or walk long on my path, they will not hold my hand the whole way, so I pray that my life would simply be to them an example of faith, courage, and integrity.

I don’t expect them to do what I have done, I don’t want them to fall in line with my mission in this world. I want to understand what it is we can do, as parents, to catch their visions and invest what God has given, that they would each be able to shine as they walk bravely into the callings that God whispers into their hearts and minds.

I don’t want to waste a moment of their childhood on worthless things that are irrelevant to their future. So I let go, I set them free. And that looks different from the ordinary idea that each child should have a fair, equal, same, common experience and education. I pray, each day, for the wisdom it takes to let each one learn to handle the responsibilities of their liberty to become….

The Clean House Diet

Managing house for a big family is not an easy task! Losing the baby fat is something we would rather not talk about. But let’s talk. I want to tell you about a weight loss and house cleaning experiment I learned about after the birth of my 7th child. I always gain two things with every baby – 40 pounds and an even MESSIER house. I know I’m not alone.

I know that this may seem odd, but I believe that the answer to perfect housekeeping is also the answer to losing the extra pounds! That’s why I call this method “The Clean House Diet”!

Here’s the KEY: Just do what comes naturally – to someone else.
You have to think like the “naturally” skinny girl with a “naturally” clean house.

Okay, Okay, you think this woman doesn’t have any babies, and certainly not 5 or 10 of them… but honestly the clean house diet works for anyone. The Skinny Girl knows how to stay fit naturally, what’s her secret? The Tidy Girl with the clean house, seems to be a natural too.

What do they know that you don’t? I bet Skinny Girl learned to say “pass the carrots” when she was two, and Tidy Girl never had to be told to clean up her toys. Is it too late for the rest of us to learn their tricks?

You see, the best way to lose the extra pounds is very simple! You just follow Skinny Girl everywhere she goes, and do exactly what she does. Eat only what she eats. No more, no less. In a matter of time you will also be a Skinny Girl (unless you are a guy–in which case you would not be a “Skinny Girl”– you would be a weirdo and a stalker!).

Most American women have two BIG obstacles in life: The messy house that won’t stay clean and the extra 10 (or 20 or 40) pounds that won’t stay off.

Well, I have had an excuse for being chubby at times, and I have had an excuse for having a messy house at times. It’s a very legitimate excuse… when I’ve had a new baby, and the other six kids are really “crafty” and “playful”.

When I was a teen my parents were always trying out some new diet… “Summer’s coming–we need to look good, so let’s all lose some weight!” So my parents would buy the latest dieting book, and work really hard for three months, and quickly return to old habits.

Housekeeping was just the same…“Company is coming–the house needs to look good, so let’s clean the house!” Then we would all spend three hours cleaning, and after the company left, the house would quickly return to the former condition.

My parents eventually found a diet they could live with called “The Rotation Diet”. It was much more fun than “The Grapefruit Diet” and the “Cabbage Diet” and the “Protein Diet”!

The Rotation Diet went something like this:

Eat like you are on a diet for a few days. That means check labels for fat and calories. Then eat whatever you want for a few days without looking at labels. Wait a few days and eat the low calorie diet food again, and then the yummy food, then the diet food, and then the yummy stuff, yummy stuff, yummy stuff. Continue the pattern until you are skinny… but most people never get skinny or stay skinny for long. We all loved the diet – it was fun and easy. It made us feel good. But when it was time to go to the beach in the summer we were not happy with the results.

I eventually got married and moved out of my parents house (I highly recommend this! ). For years my house keeping methods resembled “The Rotation Diet!” Clean house, messy house, clean house, messy house, messy house, messy house! I wasn’t happy with the results.

When we don’t like the results we say the method or the diets didn’t work. So we give up dieting and just try to dress in such a way as to hide the fat. It’s all about wearing carefully designed clothing to give us girls the appearance of looking skinnier than we really are. HIDE the FAT! It’s about hiding some areas, drawing attention to others and using colors, patterns and deceptive techniques to reduce the appearance of the problem areas. This technique ALSO comes in handy when you want to pretend like you have a clean house! HIDE the MESS. It’s all about having a carefully designed house complete with many junk drawers, closets full of hidden junk, and entire rooms that company will never see.

You see, I have always enjoyed the liberty that came with having a messy house, much like I enjoy the benefits of apple pies, ice cream, steak, fries, and buttery pastries. I like the freedom to be creative, do projects, make big meals, and let the kids play freely all over the house, and I liked to clean up the grand old mess when I felt like it (and I don’t often feel like it!). So I would clean up when we knew that company was coming and I would try to make the place “look clean and pretty” at the end of the day. The kids and I would have a least one cleaning frenzy per day at about 5pm, right before dinner. We were masters of the “Ten Minute Tidy” in much the same way that some girls are masters of the “lose 5 pounds of water weight by Friday”. And then after tucking in the kids I would finish cleaning the kitchen and livingroom before bed.

Recently my parents finally discovered The Skinny Girl’s natural secret to fitness. They lost the weight and they are keeping it off! The greatest part? They have not eliminated the need for hot apple pie, or ice-cream. It’s like a dream. It seems that they found out about a lady who followed a skinny girl around for a week or so and did all the things she did, ate all the things she ate and learned how to think like a skinny girl. You see being skinny comes naturally to some people. The rest of us have to find out the skinny girl’s secrets and put the plan into action. The real way to stay skinny is to live like the people who are naturally skinny!

Here is Skinny Girl’s Diet secret. She does these three things and stays skinny:

  1. She eats ONLY when she is hungry. (Not when she is bored, lonely, or passing by a Girl Scout with Thin Mints)
  2. She stops as soon as she FEELS satisfied, not stuffed. (Her mom didn’t force her to clean her plate, she doesn’t feel the need to eat the whole candy bar, but saves some for later).
  3. She listens to her body, she eats what she is in the MOOD for. (Yes, even if she want ice-cream!)

Since dieting and housekeeping have so much in common I decided to try the Skinny Girl method on my house, before trying it on my body. I decided that in order to keep my whole house clean I would need to find a “Tidy Girl” who keeps her whole house clean ALL THE TIME. I would learn her secret and do what she does. Just like my parents followed the example of the Skinny Girl.

Guess what? I couldn’t find a “Tidy Girl” with my personality, with seven children, and a house with twelve rooms! So I chose an older “Tidy Gal” lady whose house always looks beautiful! She’s retired, has a large home, one cat, one gold fish, one husband, and one cleaning lady. Nothing is ever out of place in that house, ever. She can make a meal for a dozen people and her kitchen stays spotless the entire time.

When I visit her with all seven kids there is still no mess! But there are no art projects, no games with lots of pieces, and the kids stay out of the kitchen unless they are washing their hands. When we visit, the kids sit quietly in front of the TV, or they play in the backyard. Wherever the children go she follows and picks up the crumbs. She never stops moving, cleaning and picking up little things – she even picks up tiny things like pebbles on the doorstep. She lines up the kids to wash hands before and after every snack time. Tidy Gal keeps everything that looks messy or fun out of reach! I watched. I learned. I tried this at home.

Here are my “Tidy Gal” observations. She naturally does three things:

  1. She has a place for everything, everything stays in it’s place.
  2. She cleans up immediately and she doesn’t move on to a new activity if the other one is not cleaned up.
  3. If she sees something out of place, or notices “a yucky” on the floor she deals with it at that EXACT moment.

Tidy Girls naturally do these things and wonder why the rest of us don’t. They wonder why we don’t teach these three simple steps to our children.

Now I understand. When it comes to dieting and keeping the house clean you can’t always do what you feel like doing. You must create new habits. Click here to find out what happened when I tried it!

Inspiration and Resources for Your Co-Op!

Considering trying a Fun-Schooling Co-Op? Here are some inspirational photos from our Co-Op at Olive Branch Farm:

Here is a post with some pointers on how to begin a Co-Op.

Did you know you can get sample journal pages to share? Join the main Fun-Schooling group–you’ll find them all in the Files!

Are you looking to join a Co-Op? Here is a list of Fun-Schooling Co-Ops to investigate, including the Facebook pages for each group!

How to Dedicate Your Children to God

This is the story of my call to dedicate each of my children to the quest of the kingdom of heaven.

A couple weeks ago I woke up before the sun with a gentle voice whispering to my spirit “Give me Leah, as Hannah gave Samuel to me to be a prophet…”

So I grabbed my journal and started writing down the calling that was revealed to my heart for each of my children. I’m a mom of 15 kids. After having ten beautiful babies, my husband and I were called to adopt five more. So we did.

It was really something special to wake up to the sound of the Spirit within me speaking to me a calling over every one of my children.

This experience happened the day after visiting the Asbury Revival and after watching the movie Jesus Revolution.

I believe that God is on the move in a powerful way, and He is raising up a generation of royalty. I believe we are going to see a revival like never before spread across oceans and nations, and it will bring life, healing, deliverance, reconciliation, empowering, and a longing for truth and purity to millions and billions of souls. This revival will break out all over the world and bring people of every language, tribe, nation, race, religion, culture and creed into the revelation of the truth, hope and way of the Messiah. Light is shining!

If you have it on your heart to dedicate your children to the fulfillment of their heavenly callings this might be an inspiration to you…

In the end I’ll walk with you through a prayer to dedicate your children to God, too, based on 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:17

My dedications are inspired by the Prayers of Paul the Apostles in his letters to the churches, they are also inspired by the Psalms of David, and the visions of Daniel, John the Apostle and Ezekiel. I especially treasure the dedication of Samuel, by Hannah, and the prayers and declarations of Mary and Zacharias in the New Testament concerning their promised children.

1 Samuel 1:22-28, 2:1-11

Luke Chapter 1:46-55, 1:67-80

Songs in the Desert

This is a little awkward for me, but it might bless someone. I recorded 90 minutes of worship in the desert of Israel this morning for my kids and grandkids. If YouTube outlives me, these songs will remain for future generations.

These are the songs I grew up hearing in my home, many from the Jesus Movement.

I was a baby of The Jesus Revolution, born into Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, where Chuck Smith was pastoring my hippie parents in a big white tent.

These are precious melodies that became my childhood lullabies, and I gathered more of these songs throughout my childhood and teen years. These are the songs that changed my heart and brought me into sweet communion with Jesus.

As I sing them, I return, in my heart, to the places where I first believed, and His love just washes over me. Excuse my tears. I can barely contain the love I feel as I just bring all these songs into this desert.

This is the desert where Jesus prayed and fasted for 40 days.

My daughter Anna had booked a shack on the edge of the desert so she could come here to fast and pray over His Story: the Musical in the week before she moves back to Texas to launch the show.

Anna invited me to come. It wasn’t convenient, still having ten children at home. But with help from my husband, who is home with them now, and a few friends who are hosting three of our teens, and with the help of my adult daughter, Rachel, caring for my three littlest girls, I was able to come. Thank you.

I felt like the Lord wanted me to record one of my worship times in the desert, especially for my little girls, and my two little grandsons, James, age 2, and tiny Isaiah – who is due in May.

I am pretty shy about singing, but it’s okay, It’s for the kids. I can usually sing on key, so I’m doing what I can with the voice God gave me, so if He wants me to embarrass myself by publishing my singing… okay. My heart is in it.

I imagine that this ninety minutes of worship might best be enjoyed by babies as they fall asleep. Babies love listening to a mother’s singing without the accompaniment of instruments.