Tea Therapy

My kids used to do anything to get my attention–often naughty and annoying things. We have a big family and it takes a little extra effort to be noticed. The kids that get the most one-on-one are often the ones needing the most discipline and training. I often stop everything to focus on helping the children who are making trouble. But I’ve noticed that they often create drama and trouble just to be the center of attention.

I’ve stumbled upon a new and more positive outlet for my attention seekers.

I used to be really into tea, and had bought lots of different boxes of tea bags. You could read the box and know exactly what that blend was for. The pre-packaged teas were getting expensive, and I knew that the tea bags were not as fresh and strong as loose leaf.

At the end of last summer I harvested lots of herbs and began making delicious infusions from the garden. I began to get books about creating my own tea blends, and began to create teas far superior and more unique than anything in the stores.

How does this relate to the issue with my kids seeking negative attention?

Well, when I would make myself a cup of loose leaf tea I would offer every child within ear shot of s cup too. And I would ask them what kind of mood they are in.

Do you need a calming tea? Something to give you more energy? A brain booster? Something for your cough? Something for those teen girl hormones?

They would begin to open up to me. “I need something for stress and cramps!” Or “I stayed up too late last night…” or “Do you have anything to help with bad dreams?”

As I would make their special blend we would also start talking about their issues and struggles and how different plants can help our bodies feel their best.

Now when they want attention they just say “Mom, can you make me a cup of tea, I’m feeling kinda…” and as I make a fragrant blend, add local honey, and let it steep for at least 3 minutes, we talk, and then sometimes we sit down and have tea together.

The more tea they seek, the less behavior issues they throw at me… and I don’t think it’s just the chamomile, lemon balm and mint.

It’s the life that is poured out each time I give a child or teen a cup of tea.

Watch me create three different blends in this new video: Morning Spice Blend, an ImmuniTEA Blend, and a Woman’s Good Night & Good Moods Blend. All of these blends use fresh white pine needles that grow right on our acreage at Olive Branch Farm! Recipes in the comments at the link.

The Modeling Mom

In my earlier years, I spent some time modeling. You can read about it in my biography, Windows to Our World. Now, I spend a lot more time modeling in a different way, enjoying my passions and studying my interests and doing my projects. I invest more time in modeling than I do trying to compel my kids to do their school work. I just model a love for learning, a passion for projects and show them what it looks like to live life to the fullest.

I am fully alive and totally focused on pursuing things that I am excited about. I invite them in to be part of my interest, and they invite me to be part of their learning. Anything I want to encourage them to do more of, I do myself in relation to my own interests.

I have a life, and I have adventures, and I enjoy projects and activities that have nothing to do with my kids. This is the essence of Mom-Schooling! My children see that I am a very passionate learner and I am living dreams right in the middle of raising a family. I share my accomplishments and struggles, and they share theirs.

I am curious about their learning and pursuits and they are just as interested in mine. Because I am enjoying life as a learner, they do too. I have done so many things in my life that my kids can learn from. I entered an election and became vice president of the town council. I wrote for newspapers and magazines. I made new kinds of foods and put on parties. I read books and listened to audio books. I tried to build a village, and failed. I invested, I won, and lost. I show them what fun it is to be a wife and mom. I teach them that it’s okay to eat chocolate in the morning and fill up journals with poems. I make tea for myself and some for them, and they make tea for me. I plant trees and research strange animals. I travel. My husband makes music and fixes computers and plays Pacman… We do a lot of things that we love, and we have fun. They can join us, copy us, learn from us, ignore us… and when they are gone we will still have each other and our hobbies and interests! This is Mom School!

There are a lot of things I don’t do to make time for what I love, and what I love the most… family.

Passport of Blessing

Here’s an idea that you might like to add to your life.

I made a “Passport of Blessing” for each member of my family where I add quotes, songs, prayers, encouragement, doodles, memories, and dreams for each of my children and my husband.

The books are little and I add something to a few of the books on most days. I keep the books in my room and the kids are able to pick them up and read what is written in any of them whenever they want to. When the book is full they can have it, and I will start a new one.

This is the type of notebook I used, but most of you don’t need to buy to bulk packages like I did! I love the size of these, the same size as a passport.

I believe it is so important to understand how to nurture a child’s growing mind. I have a passion to teach them to be curious, to love learning, to research wisely and to grow in wisdom, understanding and knowledge. It’s been my lifework to understand why some children struggle to learn, read and focus, and I dig deep into these matters sorting through vast amounts of research of the human mind to understand how to unlock the potential of each child. I work hard to find the answers and tap into the child’s gifts, no matter what their natural strengths and weaknesses may be. And I test these ideas and solutions and share them with the world, and many thousands of children have been able to overcome struggles related to ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia.

I also believe that it’s vastly important to nurture the child’s growing body, to give the child the best foods, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, the right balance of proteins, fats and carbs. I research and learn what is good and what is poison and ensure the child has sunshine and exercise. Because what good is a strong mind inside a weak and sick body? You can not care for one and neglect the other. Mothers and fathers everywhere make it a priority to care for the mind and body of the child, hoping that the child will grow, thrive and be strong and wise.

But this is not enough. We must also nourish the soul and spirit and character of the child as well, and even more so. How often is the care of the spirit the last thing we even consider at the end of the day. To nourish the spirit of the child is of greater value than all the efforts we could ever make to feed the mind and the body. How many of us have children who are starving spiritually?

Parent, you reap what you sow. If you plant in your child the seeds of the spirit your child will grow in the spirit. If you build him up in character, he will become a man of honor. If your daughter is nurtured in the things of the spirit she will grow in grace, glory and faith. But if a parent neglects the nourishment of the spirit, the soul and the character of the child, the impact in the life of the child will be more devastating than if you failed to nourish the body and the mind.

So I ask you, loving mother, how will you tend to the garden of your child’s soul today?

Who They Were Meant To Be

My girls were busy painting yesterday. Rachel, 19, did the one with the yellow background. Susie, 16, did the one with the green background. This is Susie’s first oil painting.

I’m in awe of their giftings, but it’s not just raw talent. The girls have devoted thousands of hours to growing in their artistic skills. Both decided to major in the fine arts while homeschooling. The process of finding who they were meant to be includes all of this.

I don’t know who you were made to be

But I will trust in the One who gave you to me

Because every child is a promise and a mystery

And every little smile shows us what is meant to be

As you play and dream and just have fun

I stand in wonder of the life that has begun

As you laugh and sing, jump and run

I stand in wonder of who you will become

Little hints of genius and artful poetry

You awaken promises and dance with mystery

I watch, I wait, I wonder, as I give you liberty

Just be you, as you become, who you were made to be.

Freedom, and patience, and grace always rising

Can I capture this moment, as I’m realizing

That you’re only mine for a matter of time

As your story unfolds and your light now shines

I’ll hold you close, I’ll hold your hand, and I’ll set you free

To be, everything that you were made to be

Because every child is a promise and a mystery

And every little smile shows us what is meant to be

For my children – By: Sarah Janisse Brown

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Two Questions to Jump Start Your Fun-Schooling

Do you have kids who don’t want anything to do with “FUN-school”?

MOM TIP: Some kids blank out, show resistance and roll their eyes when you say “What do you want to learn about?”

I have found that you will get a lot farther with a difficult child when you ask these 2 questions instead:

1. What do you want to DO?

2. What do you want to KNOW?

Learning is just the journey to reach the end goals of “knowing and doing.” Kids WANT to DO and KNOW.

To learn is HOW we find out the way to DO & to KNOW.

The idea of learning makes kids miserable because so much of traditional learning is irrelevant to their goals of DOING and KNOWING.

Every child wants to KNOW STUFF.

Every Child wants to DO STUFF.

Even my five new kids who spent 4 years in an orphanage want to KNOW and DO… but ask them what they want to “Learn for School” and they meltdown or shutdown or reject the whole idea of learning. They were so excited to talk about what they want to KNOW and DO.

Once I knew what they were interested in actually accomplishing, I started giving them tools to reach their goals, and they don’t even think it is “education” because this looks nothing like the “school” they had in mind.

A House Built on the Rock

I’m so thankful for my husband. He is such an incredible father and loving husband. I’m just so blessed to share each day of our lives through everything. When we were 15 and 16 we choose our life verse, and in all the years that followed we lived out the truth of it…

I love being his wife. I love being a woman. I love being a mother. I am so thankful for my amazing body that carried ten children to term and nurtured them so beautifully.

I’m so thankful for how my husband and I have a completed each other and how we have experienced the true miracle of creating a family. I love his selflessness, and how he gives and gives and gives like it is no sacrifice because his heart and mind are set on eternity.

He is such a giver but as he longs to be more and more like Jesus. He always feels like there is so much more work God has to do in him. I love watching him love our family. I love how he can make wise and logical choices when I’m all emotional and reactive! I love how he trusts my intuition and my vision for our calling. I love how we are a team.

A lot of people feel incomplete, confused, like something is missing. I think it’s that feeling God noticed when he put Adam in the garden of Eden. In all of perfect creation Adam was incomplete. He needed a bride, because in himself he was lacking all the glory of the woman God was about to create. Adam was not complete in himself. Not even with God walking with him in the garden.

God didn’t say, “Oops! I made him incomplete–I’d better add female qualities to his nature so he will be finished.” No, God made a woman to be his perfect fit. He said it is not good for a man to be alone. How kind of God!! And what a beautiful creation God made in his work of art called woman.

As I wake up in my husband’s arms there is a feeling of being perfectly matched. A perfect fit. A completion. We are a work of art. We are not perfect, but we are perfectly designed by our wonderful creator to be one. And from our unity we build a family that has a strong foundation of love, and all the blessings that we both bring together. We are so different–we have different strengths and weaknesses–and I find that where I am weak he has strength and when he is lacking, I am gifted.

Sometimes I wonder how it’s even possible to have such a beautiful unity in this crazy world, yet we do. I think it has a lot to do with my husband’s dedication to praying with me and reading the Bible to me every night before we fall asleep. When we were teens he would always pray for me and read the Bible to me before saying goodbye. It was the sweetest day when we wore our wedding rings and didn’t have to say goodbye, and he began our marriage from the very first night by praying over me and speaking God’s words from the open Bible in his hands.

It will be 25 years in May 2023, and what a beautiful 25 years we have had! I’m so thankful that from our childhood we both pursued the heart of God and were willing to choose to live by faith, not giving in to the lies, confusion or voices of culture. We build this house on the ROCK. Unlike the culture this Rock never changes.

I pray my children know the same joy we know. Most of all I pray all my children surrender to the plans of God declared in His word. May they not be swayed by the voice of the culture, but alert to the voice of the Savior.

Jesus promises that He will bless those who trust and obey and build their lives in His Words.

I pray that they will live life in anticipation of eternity.

I pray that they will intimately know Him, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!

Oh the mighty power that is at work in us! Without His power we would never know this beautiful gift of unity, harmony and the grace of life together.

Jesus said everyone who hears His words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Then He went on to say everyone who hears His words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand (Matthew 7:24-26).

If you can’t figure out why your life is a mess, perhaps you are building your life of the sands of cultural confusion instead of the Rock of Jesus. Hear His Words. Put them to practice. It’s never too late to teach the next generation to build on the rock.

Intentional Motherhood: The Fulfillment

Children are the fulfillment of my dream because I have faith that we are raising them to be voices of hope in this crazy world. Sometimes we need courage to trust that we don’t have to give our children the same lifestyle our parents gave us. We can look at what our parents did wrong and be different. My husband grew up with a dad who overcame addictions and was married three times. My husband came from a broken home, and through his trauma he decided to fight for the opposite, by the grace of God. I know in my family the calling is very unique in these modern times. Very few will have what it takes to raise 15 kids, but if it’s your dream, it is possible! If God calls you to, have a big family!

Josh and I love raising children. We have built a really sweet life and joyful marriage. What we have is rare, and people like us should be raising kids, lots of them! And people like us should be the ones adopting! If you have a heart for children don’t be afraid to follow the calling and find ways to fill your life with children who need love, hope and healing. Children are the greatest investment we could ever make in this world. They have the potential to lead this world out of darkness and into the light! But not if the Christians raise their few children to shun the idea of nurturing the future generations, because it’s so stressful or whatever.

Mothers! Show your children what a treasure they are to you! Speak joy! Let them see your delight. My children know that I think they are gifts to planet Earth! Why are we kinda different?

Josh and I read the Bible together (through the Bible in a year) when we were teens. We met when we were 13 and 14. We had a calling on our lives to surrender everything for the high calling of the gospel! We saw over and over that children are called a gift, an honor, and joy. We saw the darkness of the world, growing darker. We felt like we were nearing the end times and had a call upon our marriage to raise up children who would be well prepared to go out into the darkness to be a light for the gospel. We wanted to raise them without fear of evil, but confidence in the power of God to rescue, love, heal, and bring forgiveness to the hurting.

We didn’t just want to raise up kids that would be missionaries and Sunday school teachers or worship leaders – like working in the church is the only Christian calling. We wanted to raise them to be leaders in the Arts, in science, in politics, in social media, in education, entertainment, music, business, and in the gifting of the Holy Spirit to shine like stars in the darkness and to show the way of love, kindness and peace where there is pain.

We considered each of the children to have a unique and precious calling, talent set, and unique individuality that would need to be respected. Each child would grow up to have something to bring into the world to show the glory of the Creator. This is not a common passion I see in very many couples planning their families. But we do know quite a few other families doing the same. And we are eager to teach others from what we have discovered. But unfortunately you just don’t hear it taught in church that it is a high calling and worthy sacrifice to raise up children intentionally for the Kingdom.

And as a teen I sought to choose a husband specifically for his heart for children, Jesus and the Arts. I had a wish list. I knew I wanted a big family, so I didn’t just fall in love with some random cutie–I chose my husband because I saw great qualities of a future father, and I saw his heart for Jesus and his unique pursuits in the Arts and science. I wasn’t lucky, I was intentional. I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed! I wasn’t lucky, I worked hard! I wasn’t lucky, I believed God’s words!

What vision are you passing along to the next generation? Your life is a testimony and witness to our youth. If they become like you, if they listen to you, if they catch your vision — will they bring light into this darkness?

Intentional Motherhood: The Vision

At church this evening my teen daughters were learning about the calling of Mary to bring Jesus into the world. In the discussion after the Bible Study my daughters learned that most of the other girls in their group think that motherhood is a poor choice, not worth the sacrifice to the woman’s body, and having a family is an unrealistic goal in this dark and miserable world.

My daughters tried to share a different perspective but informed about “the real world”. Nothing new here. When I was a teen who wanted to be a “stay at home mom” and an artist with a home-based business, my friends made fun of me, and said motherhood is a waste and it’s stupid to bring children into this horrible world. I longed to have children who would make this world more beautiful.

Having children was no sacrifice at all. It can be a lot of work at times; but from my perspective, giving life was the fulfillment of a beautiful dream. Having each child was like receiving a beautiful chest full of precious treasure every time. After our ten children were born (and for the first time ever our income was more than we needed to survive), we answered the call to adopt five more children. I was not an overwhelmed unhappy mother. I thought of the calling as the biggest privilege!

Adoption wasn’t easy, but after all the gifts God has given me, He was so generous to trust me with even more souls to care for. And though it was really hard, I see such beautiful fruit! These girls in our community have learned a lot in school and social media about life goals. From the outside you see the ideal, picture-perfect suburban life that their parents worked very hard to give them. Others come from broken homes, though they live in picture- perfect neighborhoods. They complain of the darkness and evil in the world, yet live in one of the most prosperous and safe places on this rocky earth! They have the best the world has to offer, and they are stressed and discouraged about the future. (Click here to continue reading.)

A Mother’s Calling

I’m at a cafe today

Flipping through the pages

Of a journal I filled

When Anna was seven

I read the prayers

Of a discouraged mother

Who had hope

That someday

This little girl would read and write

But most of all,

I poured out my heart

That I could be devoted

to preparing Anna

To serve and follow God

In the calling He had for her

Not my plan

But His.

March 2, 2008 (Anna age seven)

Oh Lord I come to you and pray that Anna’s heart would be so fervent for you. Open her eyes to see you, give her ears to hear. Let her be hungry for your word and thirsty for more of your presence.

Help me to be full of wisdom to show her your path. Help me to teach her what YOU want her to know.

Help her to read very well soon.

I will trust you to show me how to help her. Give her a strong desire to learn. Let her mind be strong to grasp the things that will help her to be fluent in her reading. Let her develop a great love for reading even now.

Help me to devote myself to prepare her to serve and follow you in the calling that you have for her.

In Jesus name, Amen.

————-

As I read my prayer from 15 years ago I remember feeling God impressing upon me to NOT raise her to reflect the teaching of the current culture or the standardized path that so many were pressuring me to take. I saw an anointing upon her, and I felt so strongly not to try to conform to the ways of the world in raising her, to block out the well-meaning voices of concerned relatives and friends because this child was chosen to do things in this world that a person with a standardized education could never have the time or creativity to do. “Let her be an artist,” God spoke to my heart. “Let her major in the Arts now”, my heart demanded.

If there were two things I knew about my call to raise Anna, they were: Empower her in creativity and plant the most beautiful seeds of Art and God’s word into the garden of her heart. It was obvious that she was an artist and a storyteller and she assured me that she didn’t need to learn to read to become an artist. I assured her that God would not have put the Bible in written form if He wasn’t going to give her the power to read it.

The Arts, Travel, History of Fashion, and the Bible became her entire curriculum throughout her homeschooling years from age 6 to 15. At 15 she wanted to add singing and songwriting to the plan and I hired Christine Dente to be her coach. At age 17 she completed the writing of an audio musical about the life of Jesus. It was her senior project, bringing forth all of her learning from her childhood. That year I didn’t require any other schoolwork — “Just write your musical” — and she did!

Learn what has become of her talents, her hunger for God’s word, her thirst for His presence and her devotion to serve Jesus and follow His calling to reveal His heart to this world… see how He answered the prayers of a discouraged mother who sought God’s will and not the world’s for one little girl. Anna’s faith is beautiful, free, passionate, and alive. She is a bright light in the darkness and brings me so much joy.

HisStoryTheMusical.com

Anna today.

Fun-Schooling Pep Talk! (Part 2)

I ended my last blog post telling you that after 16 years of motherhood and trying lots of different homeschool methodologies, I quit.

What did I quit?

I quit dipping my toes in the shallow water while my children called to me from the deep end where they knew best what made them sink or float and I learned to trust.

I had tried a little bit of so many different things and nothing added up, it was all too hard, too much, too soon, and I tried. I thought I had failed and yet they thrived because everything I thought would never be enough added up to so much more that I could ever understand. And they were brave, and they were curious, and they were hungry to learn about this planet we call home, and I never thought I could ever give enough, but all I have is all God gave me… And it’s plenty.

But what about the mess, the stress, the fears, the changes that I struggled with in the dark, while my children were playing in the light? I was trying so hard to do it all, and so many voices from the outside spat out worries, saying I’m not enough. But I was enough.

These are the children entrusted to me, and this is the place we are in, and these are the tools, the ideas and the passions we share. And my children will not be like any others, they are not even a bit like each other, but they are the ones that I have been given to love.

So after 16 years of struggle, of reading mountains of books on dyslexia, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, Autism, Delight-Directed learning, Montessori, Free Schools, conventional education, one room school house models, entrepreneur-based learning, passion driven learning, element, flow, talent and disability… I tried to put it all together, and glean the best of every world, and customize every child’s education based on their learning style, love language, career goals and special needs. And I wore myself out. Until I gave up trying to do it all, and created the first Do-it-Yourself Homeschooling Journal, just in time for the birth of my 10th baby.

I created the journal from a place of pain, discouragement, need, and hope. I had given up the idea that I could custom design each child’s curriculum and decided to find a way to set them free to “Do-it-Yourself” within the boundaries of all the wisdom I had embraced over the years. When I created the first DIY Fun-Schooling Journal I thought I was cheating my kids, because my whole plan was to make a curriculum that set ME FREE from having to homeschool! I was going to put my entire philosophy of how children learn into a journal that would keep them busy learning for 4 hours a day for 60 days… So I could take a break for 6 weeks with my new baby. It worked.

They used my system to study their passions and cover all the basics while I took care of my baby and enjoyed her to the fullest. The DIY system worked so well I was able to focus more and more on being mommy and less on stressing over Homeschooling. So when the 6 weeks were over, we didn’t stop Fun-Schooling. My children wanted more DIY Homeschooling Journals, but they wanted to help design them, and so we did.

And now we are overwhelming YOU, with so many options for homeschooling that maybe you are smiling through your tears cause you have no clue what to do, and you want to dive in deep but it’s still scary. So you wonder how to start, and you haven’t read the 200 books I read that inspired me to design this system of learning, and you wonder if you should trust, try it or keep experimenting. Something in you says go all the way, and other voices say it isn’t safe, so what are you gonna do?

Is there a way to homeschool without fear? No. I don’t think so. It’s the fear that motivates us to be brave. It’s not the kind of fear that hurts us and binds up and traps us. It’s a feeling of greatness, wonder, power and depth that makes each of us feel so small…

Let that kind of fear stir up courage to do what you need to do, to be who you need to be, to dive in completely, and trust. It’s more fun in the deep end anyway. Just ask your kids.

Want to take it to the next level? Start your own Fun-Schooling co-op! Here’s the perfect book for you!