Understanding Sarah: Call Me to the Quiet Place

Recently, I discovered a treasure trove of great content for the blog in a journal I filled when Anna was 7-8 and Laura was on the way, and Susie was still a baby. I wrote up six interesting pages where I was trying to express who I am and what motivates me. This kind of journaling can be very therapeutic for us as moms. I thought it might bless others to be able to share in my thoughts from these early years…

Laura and Leah

We begin with a poem…because writing poetry is therapeutic for me.

Call me to the quiet place

Though all the world rages

Call me into your tender embrace

Draw me deep into your pages.

Let me “let go” of all the treasure

The trials, triumphs, pain…

Let me forsake my glory

Let me not see my own fame.

Let me disappear into your radiant light

Let me know the stillness of your sight

Let me be free from all the earthly care

Let me take a breath of heaven’s air.

I come with no beauty of my own

I come empty and I come alone

With trembling hands and trembling heart I bow

To the glory of your presence, I come now.

Undeserving, wicked, weak and poor

Broken, humbled, knocking at your door,

Lost in your eternal touch of grace

I have found such love in my Father’s face.

Open wide your gate and draw me in

Make me pure, purge me from my sin

Let me see the cross of Christ again

Let your holy work on me bring victory to win.

Triumph over sin and shame and grief

Blow away all vanity in me

Purge the dark and destitute places in my soul

Bring me through the fire until you see gold.

Mighty works-these my hands can’t bring

Holiness-Is it just a song I sing?

Beauty-Is it only surface deep?

Oh, let your holy will be born in me.

A living sacrifice I now become

Though I am not righteous, holy one

See me through the shed blood of your song

Through life and death, my victory is won.

Holiness and purity are mine

With your radiant beauty I now shine

I am light in the shadow of the cross

I find life in the shadow of the cross.

(December 18, 2007)

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?

Meaningful Verses to Light the Path

Do you have a life verse or verse of the year from 2022? Maybe something that spoke to you deeply at an important time in your life? Here are some of mine.

Josh & I have claimed this one since we got engaged on December 19, 1995: “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” Psalm 126:3

On my 18th birthday, I embraced this one, kind of as a mandate for my life:

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;

Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.

Cease to do evil,

Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Rebuke the oppressor;

Defend the fatherless,

Plead for the widow.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”

Says the Lord,

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

They shall be as white as snow;

Though they are red like crimson,

They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient,

You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel,

You shall be devoured by the sword”;

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

When I was called to missions, instead of college, after finishing high school, this was my verse:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

When I first opened my heart and life to God at age 15 this verse stirred my soul:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:7-8

What verses will you take into the New Year with you?

In the coming days and weeks, look for posts here on the blog entitled, “Understanding Sarah” which will include diary and journal excerpts from these precious, early days.

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.

Embracing Your Calling

This is me, “living my worst nightmare” (just kidding) speaking in front of 500+ people. Why does God call us to do things that make us so deeply uncomfortable, yet are such a blessing to others?

Let’s talk. What is holding you back from fully embracing your calling?

And FEAR doesn’t count.

If fear was your answer, in any way, shape, or form, give me a better reason why you are not totally living what you believe. You were put on this earth for a specific purpose and anything less is not acceptable. If you were called by God to accomplish something you will need to answer to Him alone for not doing it.

I promise, answering me is easier, and may be a first step toward living out your calling, because I’m going to pray for you to have everything it takes, especially the courage, to move forward!

If nothing else, get a book about someone with a similar calling who overcame all the odds and did it. Also, some dreams are not “realistic” and you gotta know when to let go and accept your limitations. But a calling is different from dream because when you take a step out into obedience to God, and start to take risks of faith HE WILL do everything within HIS power to provide, equip and protect you in this calling.

Maybe you are not a leader. Then get behind someone who is already carrying out a similar calling. What do you have to lose?

Is the problem “no support from your family”? Get down to the root of this issue. If you are married you should develop one vision for your purpose, and do the thing you both agree on! Don’t stay focused on the parts you don’t agree on. Build on common ground.

Are your parents holding you back because of their personal fears and failures? Are they trying to keep you SAFE in THEIR comfort zone for their “peace of mind”? Are they keeping you from fulfilling YOUR calling because it’s not quite what they had in mind, because you are all they have and they don’t want you to take any risks???? Honor them by fulfilling God’s calling. Go in faith.

After the event in 2019 in the photo at the top of this post, I heard many many stories about how hope was given, lives were changed, families were empowered to make brave choices… I stepped out of my comfort zone, and God blessed. And by faith, I’ve done it again since.

What’s holding you back?

The Fun-Schooling Story: The Branches of The Thinking Tree Spread Out!

What The Thinking Tree Offers

As we’ve grown our tree has branched into several different offerings. Today we have six “branches” on our Thinking Tree. 

Fun-Schooling Journals consist of our core journals, the first journals we created. We also have dozens of smaller “single subject” journals on standard school subjects like Language Arts, History, Math, Science, Art, and Geography. Single-subject journals on “elective” topics have also been created such as Dance, Foreign Language, Animals, Sports, and even Minecraft! There are about 300 Fun-Schooling Journals.

Dyslexia Games is our art-based Dyslexia therapy program. It was created a few years before the first Fun-Schooling journal. There are three series for different age groups. Throughout the years we have found it helpful for students with ADHD/ADD, Asperger’s, and other learning challenges too. Interestingly, we’ve also found children without learning challenges or disabilities benefit too. It helps children with creative thinking, problem-solving, handwriting, spelling, art skills, math, and more.

Click here to continue reading.

The Fun-Schooling Story: A Homeschooling Shift

The COVID Homeschooling Shift

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, approximately 3% of American children were homeschooled. In 2020 amid lockdowns, limited and frustrating results of online learning, and ongoing mandates, parents began to bring their children home.  As of the time of this writing in 2022, roughly 20% of American children are homeschooled. 

The Thinking Tree saw massive growth between March 2020-March 2022. Our Facebook group grew by over 20,000 and our social media accounts gained tens of thousands of new followers. Sales jumped and we had several journals make it into the top 500 of all books on Amazon during this period. This is a feat that is difficult to achieve, especially for the homeschool market. One of our Brain Games journals even made it to the top 200. 

This journal made the Top 200 Amazon list!

Families continue to pull their children from school in record numbers. It is expected a substantial amount of kids will remain homeschooled throughout the majority of, if not the entirety, of their education. The Thinking Tree has continued to add in new journals to meet the interests and needs of students. We even worked to incorporate COVID-19 into a journal so children could begin to understand the impact it has had on the world in a familiar way.

Also during this time, our collection of Art & Logic Therapy journals grew! They have helped so many kids and moms deal with Covid brain fog and other mental clarity challenges. Something good that has come out of this season of challenges, and we are very grateful!

The Fun-Schooling Story: The Thinking Tree Grows!

The Thinking Tree Grows

At first, we weren’t sure any of “this” would catch on beyond our circle of friends. As we were contacted by families asking for journals with different themes, we knew something special had come. I got to work creating more journals. Each was based on the same concept with different covers and interior artwork to appeal to kids’ interests. These core journals became the foundational journal for Fun-Schooling families.

 

We named our new company The Thinking Tree when we published Dyslexia Games. My kids got involved in creating journals based on themes they were interested in and subjects they wanted to cover. I created smaller journals to use as an in-depth study on a single topic.

A Facebook page and group were started. We got the attention of a few Mom Bloggers who shared our journals with their audience. I added in Math and Spelling journals. Thinking Tree was invited to homeschool conferences. A few of our journals became available through Barnes and Noble. I created a series of Mom School journals so moms could pursue their interests and be a good example. Word kept spreading about our Fun-Schooling journals and I became an unintentional entrepreneur! 

The Thinking Tree grew by leaps and bounds during the Covid 19 lockdowns…read about it in this post!

Read the beginning of the story here!

The Fun-Schooling Story: How We Began

Unlike other entrepreneurs, I never intended to start a company. My goal was to help my children develop a love of learning while simplifying homeschooling. I was tired of having a million notebooks for school. They all got mixed up. Kids couldn’t keep track of their stuff. Frustrated and overwhelmed, I decided to create a solution. There was no way I could have imagined my solution would turn into a business that would change homeschooling for thousands of families.

How Fun-Schooling Began

We were preparing for an international move and I was pregnant with baby number 10. I needed a way to have everything for my children’s education in one place. Nobody enjoyed having separate notebooks for math, copywork, spelling, narrations, nature study, history- you know the drill!  I also wanted my children to be able to be more independent with their schoolwork while I tended to the baby. I decided to use the ability Amazon offers to self-print books and create something different for my children.

The first Fun-Schooling journal was made for my children to use. We designed different pages based on all the subjects I wanted to make sure they covered. I added beautiful artwork- to keep them engaged and provide brain breaks by coloring. I broke each section up with a “start your day” page so they’d know how many pages to do at a time. When it was all said and done, I created a journal my children could use on their own, pursue anything they wanted to learn about, and cover everything.

We uploaded the file to Amazon and a few days later got our first journals in the mail. My family was thrilled. The kids loved having everything in one place. It turned out to be extra helpful for my children who were a bit more forgetful! I loved not having to remind them to cover different subjects or trying to keep track of which kid had done what every day. The kids were enjoying school more than they ever had before and I had much less stress. 

In the coming weeks, we shared our journals with a few homeschooling friends. Because of Amazon’s printing service, we could give them the link to get one for themselves. Before we knew it, we were getting checks from Amazon in the mail. Our friends told their friends and, as the story goes, a company was born before our eyes!

Our newest release available on Amazon!

A Fun-Filled Homeschooling Plan for Busy Parents and Active Kids

My Real-Life, Home-Learning Plan that is simple for parents and delightful to kids! Created by me, a mom who is currently Homeschooling 10 of her 15 Kids!

1. Logic Games2. Read Favorite Books
3. YouTube Tutorials
4. Nature Time
5. Online Math Games or Serious Stuff
6. Kitchen Time
7. Spelling Games
8. Complete 5 Workbook Pages or 5 Fun-Schooling Journal Pages
9. Play Outside
10 Art & Drawing
11. Just Dance
12. Chores
13. Online Games (a reward for chores and school)
14. Family Time and Board Games
15. Movie Time
16. Music Practice
17. Games for Dyslexia: DyslexiaGames.com
18. Fun Homeschooling Curriculum: FunSchooling.com
You can do these activities in any order, but Movies and Online Games should be close to last.