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)

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.

Spelling Strategies

Back in 2018, four of my kids (ages 9-12) were using Spelling Time – Master the top 150 misspelled words. They had so much fun with the silly sentence sections. I was reading their stories and was laughing so hard. The funny thing is that the prompt asks for a silly sentence and my kids are writing as tiny as they can to make really long silly stories. A couple of these kids were my biggest “do-nothing-whiners-i-hate-writing-can’t-think-of-anything” kids.

When Susie and Laura were 8 and 9 they really froze up when asked to write creatively or do copywork. But I just kept up, knowing that it is normal at those ages to not want to write. Since they are dyslexic they really needed to master reading before writing. Now they are having so much fun writing.

It was exciting to see the transformation. If your 8-10 year old is resistant to writing, just be patient. I actually focused on things they loved and didn’t push writing when they were really fighting it. I did require minimal copywork. I would often repurpose writing prompt pages in their journals.

Both girls finished Dyslexia Games B for the second time. They are both dyslexic, and their writing abilities have really jumped. The first time they did Series B they got good at reading, now after doing it twice their writing abilities are moving forward. I was going to give them Series C after finishing B the first time, but they wanted to repeat B because their new sisters were using B.

This is what spelling strategy has looked like at our house. What has worked best for you?

Check out more spelling options here!

Tea for Two…or Twelve?

This past week, we hosted a Medicinal Tea Workshop at Olive Branch Farm. Our next event will be in February…follow me on Facebook for that announcement.

Creating tea blends is a new favorite hobby of mine. I love learning about and creating these beautiful and empowering blends.

“Mommy, I think you are actually a doctor. A tea doctor. Cause whenever anyone is sick with anything you know what tea to make to fix them. Whatever is wrong- sore throat, coughing, puking, headaches! You really are the Tea Doctor!” said Leah, age 7, while she was helping me mix up a remedy in the kitchen for a friend who needed another batch of healing balm for a skin condition.

What happens when you model healing behavior? This. These four little sweeties organized their own tea party without any help from mom. They made the tea and hot chocolate. They got all dressed up. They set the table. They planned a game. They lit candles.

About a year ago, I mentioned to my kids that I was going to incorporate poetry tea time. I came home from work to my 10 year old having set this up. She was even dressed up. ❤ We each read a poem and then grabbed a handful of our magnetic poetry words and made silly little poems out of what we had. So fun! Tell us about your poetry tea time in the comments!

One of our many books featuring poetry!

Sarah’s 2023 Mom-Schooling Basket!

Today I took an hour
To rearrange my things
To think about my goals
And to reignite my dreams
I went from shelf to shelf
To gaze upon each book
As if to stop and ask myself
To take a deeper look
To think of who I want to be
The skills I hope to learn
To set imagination free
To love, to grow to yearn.
I found my favorite basket
Full of other people’s things
I dumped it out, and asked it
To be the keeper of new dreams.
I start fresh from empty
And held it with one hand
Without hesitation we
Set off to make new plans.
I found my favorite books again
And promised to begin
To treat them as my dear friends,
And then I found some pens
I found my father’s Bible
Filled with his notes and lines
I’ll take his thoughts once more to heart and try to make them mine.
I have a little journal, for each and every child
I fill the pages with my prayers
Through times of tears and smiles
I have some colored pencils
Some photos and memories
I’ll add a story book of course
For my little girls to read.
My basket is almost ready
My heart and mind feel full
Now I just need a cup of tea
And a journal for my soul
Today I took an hour
To rearrange my things
I’m ready now to grow and learn
And to reignite my dreams

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

Countdown to Christmas

It’s so much fun to share the Christmas season with my family! Having a house full of children is such a blessing too. How beautiful to celebrate the endless gifts of God, life, redemption, grace, healing, salvation, freedom, hope, peace, and liberty in Jesus Christ – my Lord. God is so good. Psalm 37. Use this journal to add a special heart focus during this season, or use it for “holiday school” this year!

“This is a perfect way to countdown to Christmas with kiddos! I loved that it started with a blank December calendar to fill in as you count down the days until Christmas. Each day has an assortment of the following: fun little poem, a coloring page to add your own touch, recipe to make together or a fill-in puzzle. There are places to illustrate poems, write prayers, and just overall document your hopes, dreams, and prayers during this holiday season! I love this time of year. I think this is a perfect way to spend time with my kiddos getting them in the Christmas spirit and making sweet memories together! I want to use this to share the joy of the season with them. I love that this is a fun way to spend time together, creating special memories as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus!” ~Creatively Crunchy Mom (Amazon review)

“We loved this journal for December homeschooling! My seven year old doesn’t color much, so instead I wrote math word problems relating to the illustration on the page, or directions for drawings to add to the pages. Together with the poems, writing and recipes it made for a delightful, fun December workload. We are a secular family and although it’s listed as a Christian resource, references are minimal and it’s mostly focused on family and traditions. We will definitely get another one next year!” ~Live2Learn (Amazon review)

“This is not a typical journal!!! This is ADORABLE in every way possible!! I really didn’t know what to expect but this is just great. The art work is so cute but still leaves plenty of room for the kiddos creativity to add scenes or backgrounds. I love how it does not concentrate on the commercialization of Christmas but instead the family life. The recipes are not too complicated which I find quite a bit in holiday type books. Another thing I really like is the author keeping it a CHRISTmas book and not a holiday book. It has writing activities but they are based on a child’s favorite thing such as a song, a memory, or a story so nothing kids will be too upset about doing!”~Dacia C. (Amazon review)

You can also grab our “Simply the Bible”: The Story of Jesus (New Testament text) with the Christmas cover to give as gifts this Christmas. This is an easily readable translation, given in the Dyslexie font we use for our Fun-Schooling journals.

Also, check out Anna Brown’s musical, His Story! Now is the perfect time to get this as an MP3 here! For more details, go to the site here. And keep an eye out for some very exciting news that is currently under wraps but will be released publicly soon! Featured below is Anna singing “Arrive” about the birth of the Messiah.