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

A “Little” Survival Kit

Do you need a Mom School Survival Kit?

These little books help so much because they give you a realistic perspective on how to accomplish the most meaningful things. We grow to be intentional about how we spend our precious time. We learn to invest in the things that make a lasting difference and make everyday life sweet and memorable. These little books help you let go of the things that hold you back, while seeking what truly matters. You will learn to evaluate the demands upon your life, and take a simple, yet mighty step into your dreams, purpose and passion.

As women we feel like we can’t give in to the joys of life if the demands of life are screaming at us. We deny ourselves fun, joy, peace and harmony in life because we are focused on our failures… and the failures of the people around us.

We have to learn to give up on the things that steal our joy, those thoughts that tell us we are falling behind. We need to set aside that vision of what everyone else thinks we ought to be, and be who we were born to be. We need to find true joy in serving others, in caring for our homes, in bringing laughter and smiles to the table… even when things are far from perfect.

We need to learn to find joy in the mud puddles of life. Raising a child is hard. Homeschooling is demanding. Meeting the needs of a husband is challenging. Putting away leftovers and remembering to eat them… ugh who really cares, when what is really needed is more smiles and hugs and passion.

How do we focus on the important things without neglecting the rest? I made these little books to help you discover how. And it only takes 4 minutes a day. You can just keep this book, and a pen, by the toilet, if nothing else.

Need some specific encouragement from other moms? Aside from joining our Facebook support group (and there is also this group if you are new to homeschooling!), grab a copy of The Homeschool Letters! In this book over 35 homeschooling moms share their hearts, explaining what they wish they knew when they first started. The art and logic activities in this book are borrowed from the book “Lost & Found” it’s a brain fog therapy for women who need to sharpen their minds.

Or maybe you need a secret weapon for the “littles” in your life?

The Littlest Kindergarten Workbook is all about animals, and its 4.5″ x 6″ size is perfect for tiny hands.

It has over 100 pages of do-it-yourself beginner learning, covering everything from letters, numbers, weather, shapes, colors, poetry, animals, handwriting and more. Includes a poem that talks about God’s gifts to us.

Just a “little” encouragement to help you begin the new year well!

Fun-Schooling Themes for 2023!

Make sure you never miss out on special sales, coupons, and giveaways this year as we feature journals for these themes in the coming year! Join us in our Mom’s Homeschooling Support Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FunSchoolingwithThinkingTreeBooks/

January- Language Arts

February- Math

March- Animals

April- Social Studies

May- Mom School

June- Core Journals

July- Science/ Technology

August- Back-to-School

September- Minecraft

October- Fashion

November- Cooking & Food

December- Holiday School

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.

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.

New Year Savings!

🎉 We’re ringing in the new year with a coupon!!

Use CODE 2023FunSchoolingTime

for $23 off your purchase of $25 or more*

at https://www.funschooling.com/

🎇 Code works for anything bought directly on our website.

🥳 Expires January 4th.

🌠 What will your family do to welcome 2023?

*not valid on Amazon or the Dyslexia Games website

Holiday School!

Christmas with the Browns, 2018

Here are some lovely ideas from a chat we had on the topic of Holiday School last December:

-Holiday School is a break from the “normal” rhythm of school to enjoy the holiday season

-Can be all of December, Thanksgiving-the new year, a couple weeks before the holiday, or the 12 days of Christmas (Dec 25- Jan

6)

-There’s no wrong way to do Holiday School- just take time to enjoy time w/ your family and enjoy this special season

-Time to enjoy holiday-related activities like cooking, baking, making decorations and gifts (great handicraft time!), learning to play or sing a carol or hymn, make wrapping paper, help write and address the family cards, play games and make puzzles, listen to music, create art, watch holiday movies, etc

-Enjoy holiday activity books like hidden pictures, holiday-theme word searches, crossword puzzles, and lots of coloring pages

-Work on holiday-based words in whatever foreign language your kids are studying

-Try to learn a carol or hymn in another language

-Lots of families read a book per day

-Some families keep the “core subjects” or do one main journal per day and lots of extra fun holiday activities

-Do Holiday theme copywork, recitation, and dictation

– Learn about how places around the world celebrate

-Learn about other winter holidays besides what you practice

-Dive into some of the legends of the season

-Memorize a different version of the Christmas story in the Bible each year

-Memorize a passage of a famous book

-Create a holiday play

-Let your kids script a play of Christmas Carol, The Night Before Christmas, or the 12 Days of Christmas song

-Also a great time to relax and refresh after a busy year

-All ages can enjoy Holiday School. Tap into what your kids are interested in and see where it leads

-Some families choose to do a special unit study around the holidays too

-Teens are often really tired by the end of the year and may need extra time to just REST

Enjoy this little video of our family Christmas caroling in Italy, a decade ago! Merry Christmas!

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.

Special Media Event: Celebrating with Anna!

A special media announcement just went live! Anna’s musical, His Story, will be opening at Grandscape in Dallas Fort Worth area, and tickets are now available–click here! Opening night is May 18th! This will be a 360-degree theatrical production performed in a beautiful 1,300-seat Italian show tent on the grounds. They are expecting 10,000+ unique visitors each week, so get your tickets now! Special rates available for groups of 12+. Learn more by emailing groups@hisstorythemusical.com or by calling the toll free number (855) HISSTORY / (855) 447-7867.

Read more about the musical here. Here is a link to the live event from Grandscape. Hear Anna share some thoughts about her inspiration and beautifully sing portions from the score, Bruce Lazarus and Willie and Korie Robertson (Producers) share some background and thoughts, see the stunning performance location, hear Richard Boyer, (Mayor of The Colony) and Kronda Thimesch (Texas State Rep), Jeff Calhoun (Director) and Jeff Lind (President of Grandscape) share some supportive words. Let’s celebrate with Anna!

From the His Story: The Musical website:

Anna started writing His Story, The Musical at the age of 16 while on a mission to Africa. A dyslexic, unable to read or write before 9 years old, homeschooled, Anna focused instead on the arts before writing her first songs at 15. As a social-media-savvy Gen Z, she sees a chance to reach her generation with the timeless story of light and hope. Anna is an author and illustrator of over a dozen educational books, some bestsellers, for children, especially kids with Dyslexia and teens with their passions and career goals. Anna currently lives in Dallas and travels often doing research for writing projects, which include several new musicals.

Our company “The Thinking Tree, LLC” produced the original concept album of His Story the Musical, and is now co-producer of the theatrical performance.

Shop Anna’s Books:

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?