Living the Dream

I have been pondering the idea of living one’s dreams and realize that I have been so content everywhere, through everything because my dream is him. And every minute of every day, shared anywhere, through anything is fine with me, because he is with me, loving me, and being mine, and sharing it all, making life, thriving, surviving, struggling, hurting, traveling, serving, staying home or going to Rome–it really doesn’t matter. My dream is fulfilled every morning, waking up together anywhere, because we have this day, by God’s grace, together.

There is no better dream that the one I’m living. After almost 25 years of marriage, I’ve known him for 32 sweet years of my 46, and I can say our love is everything that God created love on this earth to be. The sweetest parable of the love of Jesus Christ with His Bride. Like Ephesians 5 says that marriage should be.

Morning mist and autumn skies

Summer passing in your eyes

I light a fire, and start the coffee brewing

I am up, and you sleep in,

I’ve kissed you twice

And will again

When the coffee’s hot and mine is sweet

With honey, sugar, caramel, chocolate or maple

It doesn’t matter to me, any kind of sweet will do, and I’d even take my coffee black

If I could quickly crawl

back in bed with you.

The children sleep, just eight are here,

The other seven are world travelers now,

Somehow that happened

as our life together graced this globe,

and we are here just staying warm and true

‘Cause every dream I ever had was found

In another morning coffee cup with you.

It means we have another day,

and it tells me of last night,

When you were snuggled by my heart

And I turned out the lights

And you were first to fall asleep

Asking me to bring another blanket

Where did it go,

when we kicked it off last spring?

I kept you warm, I always do,

it’s mutual, it’s loving you,

and living every day like it’s a dream

It isn’t what I thought or what it seems

But every morning coffee that we share

Reminds me that we made it through

the darkest nights, the blood, the hope, the tears,

the baby cries, the sleepless years,

the morning flights, the silly fights,

the love, the loss, the pain.

The seasons change.

We have seen the winter pass from island sand

and I’ve run barefoot through the snow holding your hand,

and it didn’t really matter, come what may,

’cause every morning coffee shared with you

is testimony to another dream come true.

‘Cause every morning coffee that we share

is the story of another night with you.

Read Josh and Sarah’s story here.

The Four Sisters and the Chocolate Chip Cookies

Anna and the girls, 2017

(from Sarah’s blog archives, dated 10/13/2013)

I love to make up stories that teach little lessons to my children.  Here is one of their favorites, that they want to hear over and over.

Four Sisters and the Chocolate Chip Cookies

There was once a family with four sisters.  The oldest girl was about eleven her name was Lily.  Next was Lucy, she was eight.  The six year old’s name was Seashell, and the toddler’s name was Daisy.

One morning their mom woke up early to bake chocolate chip cookies for a Valentine’s Day party. After the cookies came out of the oven she started making breakfast.  The smell of the cookies filled the house as the daughters woke up one by one to wander into the kitchen.

Lily came into the kitchen first.  She saw the big plate of cookies on the counter, warm and yummy.  She saw her mom at the stove cooking breakfast.  “Good morning mom! Are these the cookies for the Valentine’s Day Party?  They look yummy!”   She didn’t ask for a cookie because she knew that she would have some at the party; besides she didn’t want to spoil her appetite for breakfast.  Her mom smiled, and told her they would be leaving for the party after breakfast.  

Lily was helping her mom set the table for breakfast when Lucy came skipping into the kitchen.  “Mom! I want a cookie!  I NEED a cookie now!”  Her mom stopped stirring the oatmeal and explained that breakfast was almost ready, and she could have cookies at the party.  “That’s not fair, why do I have to eat oatmeal?  I want a cookie!  All the other moms give their kids cookies before breakfast!  Why can’t I have a cookie now?”  The mom didn’t give in, and Lucy had to wash the mixing bowl, sweep the floor and and scrub the cookie sheets, and every time she complained her mom gave her another job. It wasn’t long before Lucy quit whining about the cookies.

While Lucy and her mom cleaned and cooked in the kitchen, little Seashell peeked around the corner. She could smell the cookies, and now she could see them.  She was in the other room when she heard Lucy throwing a fit.  She really wanted a cookie but was afraid her mom would say “No.” Seashell took a look around the kitchen. When no one was looking, she snuck quietly into the room and grabbed six cookies, hoping no one would notice.  Once she had stolen the cookies she dashed into the bathroom, hid in the bathtub and ate everyone of those cookies. The first four were really yummy, but the next two gave her a tummy ache.  She wasn’t so sure if she would feel like going to the party after all.

Rachel, 2012

It was almost time to eat breakfast when little Daisy toddled into the kitchen. She saw the cookies and could not resist. Before anyone could stop her Daisy reached up to grab a cookie, but instead of taking one cookie Daisy grabbed the whole plate!  All the cookies came crashing to the floor–what a mess!  Smashed cookies were everywhere, all mixed up with the broken glass from the shattered plate.  

Lily rushed into the kitchen, picked up Daisy and carried her out of the room so she wouldn’t step on the glass.  Daisy was crying, but then she noticed that she still had one cookie in her hand, that’s when she stopped crying.  Lily helped her mom make another batch of cookies, but there were no more chocolate chips, and they were late to the party.  Most of the family had a lot of fun anyway… well everyone except Seashell, who felt so sick from all the cookies she had stolen that she couldn’t enjoy all the fun, games and treats at the Party.  

After I tell this story to my girls I ask them what girl they want to be like, and everyone of them tells me that they want to be like the big girl, Lily.  Then I ask them what girl they usually act most like, and they shyly confess that they usually act like Lucy and sometimes even like Seashell. This story always gives me a chance to teach them about the stages of growing up, becoming more mature, and developing self discipline, patience, and self control.  I tell them how it’s normal for little kids to whine, sneak and make messes but big girls need to know how to make good choices.  Then I will ask them if they want to pray and ask God to help them become more like Lily.  This lesson has proved to be very powerful and effective in their little lives.  

Best Books for Big Families

Do you have three or more children? Congratulations. You are outnumbered! 
Here are some of the best books for busy moms! Be inspired with PRACTICAL ideas on how to manage a home full of children, and ENJOY IT! These books were chosen because they all give you tips and fun ideas about how to love your kids, without losing your mind! All written by experienced parents, who consider every child a blessing! 

1. Back to Basics: Raising Self-Sufficient Children
http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-Raising-Self-Sufficient-Children-ebook/dp/B003XVYHES

2. Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal
Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love 
& Giving Life to 10 Children  
Kindle:www.amazon.com/Windows-Our-World-Crossing-Children-ebook/dp/B00PBDOTLM
Paperback:www.amazon.com/Windows-Our-World-Crossing-Children/dp/1502510111

3. More Hours in My Day
http://www.amazon.com/More-Hours-Day-Emilie-Barnes-ebook/dp/B005WWN6HU

4. The 5 Love Languages of Children 
http://www.amazon.com/5-Love-Languages-Children/dp/0802403476

5. Loving Our Kids On Purpose: Making A Heart-To-Heart Connection
http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Kids-Purpose-Heart—Heart/dp/0768427398

6. A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family
http://www.amazon.com/Womans-Guide-Raising-Large-Family/dp/1423604512

Make this stack of books YOUR Christmas Wish List!  Just share this blog post with your husband, mom, sisters and friends! 

Have you read any of these books yet?  Write a review here for any of them! 

Free Kindle Reading App – Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers

Let Them Be Bored

(excerpted from advice offered via a Facebook post in 2016)

let your child be bored

Mom Tip: Boredom is not a bad thing.  When a child is bored don’t look for a way to entertain them. They need a little time everyday when they don’t feel like doing all the normal things they usually do. They need time to think, ponder, reflect, tinker, wander, and think some more.   Modern parents don’t realize that boredom is essential to childhood development and parents are quick to feed the child’s first desire: To be ENTERTAINED. 

What is your child’s DEFAULT MODE when they have a moment of boredom?  Some kids turn to a device, a game, TV, a book, a coloring book, go climb trees, start drawing, or of course they start whining, picking fights and complaining.

I will take a little time now to think of every person in my family and see if I can answer that question: What is the first thing they want to do when they have a moment of boredom or free-time?

Me:  I default to cleaning… or nit-picking everyone else for leaving messes.

My Husband: He defaults to… me… He wants to have time with me, if I am busy he thinks of some errand to run.

Isaac (16): Music.  He wants to go do something related to music.

Anna (15): Hmmmmm… 1st she wants to talk or play with her sisters. If they are busy she goes to her room and dumps out her creative stuff, or bakes or asks for the password for the computer, or bickers with her sister. She always finds something to do, and there is a lot of variety in her choices.  She is the child who is NEVER bored.

Esther (14): Guitar practice and reading.

Rachel (13): Piano and Journaling.

Naomi (11): She wants to play Minecraft, but usually she takes the dog for a walk. If the weather is bad she rearranges all her stuff in her room.

Susie (9): She asks to use the computer, but usually ends up getting out an animal encyclopedia and makes tiny animals out of paper, then she cuts them out and gives them as gifts.  She made a zillion little paper birds recently, I showed her how to create a book with them.

Laura (7): Wants to watch Dogs 101, over and over and over. If I say no, she finds someone to play with or fight with.

Joseph(6): Just started playing Minecraft a month ago.  So first he asks to do that. When I say no he plays with Legos or draws Minecraft pictures.

Ember(3): Dumps her clothing drawer and puts on something that is her “favorite color” of the day. Once she changes her clothes she joins in on whatever Laura or Joe are doing. (click here to continue reading)

Just one more story?

Dyslexia-Games

One more story, one more song, one more page

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

“Ready to Pop!”

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

“You look about ready to pop! When are you due?” a stranger asked me one day in the checkout aisle of the supermarket near our home in Fortville.

“Oh, last Saturday,” I said, smiling.

Her eyes got big, her mouth dropped open, and she didn’t know quite what to say. I could tell she was afraid that my water would break any second and the baby would drop out, right in front of her.

“Don’t worry,” I replied. “My last three were over a week late.”

“Uhhh, how many more do you have?” she asked, her eyes still big.

“This will be number six.”

“So . . . and then are you done?” she asked.

I smiled. “On no, we are just getting started!” I joked.

She laughed, but a concerned look remained on her face.

“How many do you want?” she asked, as if I were collecting snakes. It’s funny the things complete strangers want to know right there in the grocery store.

“We’d like to have as many as we can get,” I replied, as if I were collecting treasures.

“Goodness! I have two, and they drive me crazy!” she said. “Two is enough for me!”

“The first two were a challenge for me, too,” I agreed. “With the first couple, you are getting all your practice. You are learning to be a parent, and every phase is new. But just like anything else, the more experience you have the easier it gets. I think it’s sad that so many people stop at one or two. I’ve been able to enjoy my last three so much. I have all the joy of parenting, and not as much of the stress. And now that my oldest children are big, I’ve got some wonderful helpers. I think that many people imagine that having six kids is like having six two-year-olds all at once.”

“You look too young to have so many,” she said.

“Well they keep me in shape. I don’t have time to sit around eating Twinkies and watching soaps,” I said.

“So how old are they?” she asked.

“My oldest, Isaac, is seven. Anna is six. Estera is five. Rachel is three, and Naomi is one and a half,” I told her, as if rehearsing a poem.

“I bet you are hoping for a boy this time!” she said, keeping a tally of girls versus boys.

“Isaac would love to have a little brother, but I don’t mind having a house full of little girls! So I’ll be happy no matter what I get.”

“Just wait until they are teenagers!” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to that!” I told her. And once again, her eyes got big, her mouth dropped open, and she didn’t know quite what to say.

“I had wonderful teenage years!” I continued. “I think my kids will too. Those were the most fun years of my childhood— camping with my family, learning to sew, starting a business, making Thanksgiving dinner, falling in love with my husband . . .”

“Teens are so troubled and sassy these days!” she said. “I guess there’s not much you can do about that.” (click here to continue reading)

When Children Make Mistakes

(This series of blog posts is excerpted from Sarah’s book, Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal – Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love & Giving Life to 10 Children)

I’m learning to show my older children grace when they make mistakes. It is very natural to look at the older child’s mistake, forgetfulness, immaturity, and failure with a response that says to the child, “How can you be so stupid? How can you be so childish? Failure is NOT an option! I can’t believe you did this again! What’s wrong with you?” But I must ask myself—how do I want to be treated when I mess up? What did it feel like to be a child shamed in the sight of my parents?

Today, when I fail, what do I desire from the ones who love me? Mercy? Yes. Forgiveness? Yes. Restoration? Yes. Kindness? Yes. Help? Yes. Grace is what I long for when I fail. God our Father responds to his children with mercy. Shouldn’t I treat my children the way I would want to be treated? Shouldn’t I ask myself, What is the heart of God for this child who has fallen down, who has messed up, who has defied me? It’s hard to treat a child with grace when they fail. But if it is grace I want when I fail, shouldn’t I give that same grace to others when they fail me? It’s easy to judge, condemn, and ridicule. Do I want judgement, condemnation, and ridicule? No, not me—I hope for mercy.

My children are certain to make a lot of mistakes along their paths in life. They will do things that I think are stupid. They will hurt me with their words, actions, and carelessness. They will ignore my plans, hopes, dreams, and desires for them as they follow their own passions, callings, and desires. What will my response be then? I only hope and pray that I will show them mercy, forgiveness, and grace. I need to give them freedom to grow up, to become adults, to make their own choices, to learn their own lessons, and to find their own way.

I hope and pray they will know that there is hope, grace, restoration, and mercy to meet them in the dark, in the pain, and in the rebellion. I don’t want to reject them when they disappoint me. I need to hold them and teach them mercy and then guide them into the truth. I want to be like Jesus who said to the woman caught even in adultery, “I don’t condemn you; go and sin no more.” If Jesus can have this heart for such a woman, can’t I have a heart of mercy for my child who disappoints me with her actions or words? It’s hard to love with God’s merciful love, but now that I know the grace of God myself, how could I withhold this grace from my own precious children?

May the Lord help me to balance justice with grace as I raise all these beautiful little humans that He has so graciously entrusted to me. May I learn to love them with the compassionate heart of the heavenly Father, who remembers that we are just dust. May I show them mercy starting now while they are still young.

Sarah’s Mom Tips: What to Do with Mom Guilt

A mom asked the question, “How do you deal with the fear of missing out and mom guilt? The feeling that it’s just never enough, and you’re never enough and can never be good enough or do good enough?”

Let me tell you why you are so afraid of getting it wrong. You were probably educated under a system that searched for your mistakes, and you were constantly being judged by what you did wrong. You would complete your work, and your teacher would take it and grade it. And how are papers usually graded? By finding all the mistakes and pointing them all out to the child. That’s very likely what we grew up with. So now we have become adults, and we’ve become parents and homeschool moms who are still afraid of making mistakes. A lot of us have a fear of ruining our kids.

Please don’t raise kids who are afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are fine. It’s through making mistakes and trying things that we learn how to overcome, and we learn to be okay with not being perfect. We learn about grace, and we learn about mercy. We learn about trying again. You are not the sum of your mistakes and your imperfections.

Let me give you an example about how to change your perspective. If you’re a mom who grades her child’s papers, here’s what you need to do. Let’s say your child did a creative writing project. And they fill an entire page with a story. The traditional educator in you is going to look at their creative writing and you are going to put a line under every mistake. Then you’ll tell the child that they spelled 20 words wrong, and made 10 grammar mistakes.

Here’s what the Fun-Schooling mom will do.

You will look at the creative writing page, and you will circle every single thing they did right.

Then you are going to say, “Wow, you just wrote a 400-word paper, and you got 350 words correct!”

That is so much more encouraging than saying, “You got 50 things wrong.”  

Focus on what they did right, especially if it is a creative project. If your child is being creative, focus on the story, on the heart, and on character. Stop focusing on their mistakes. We are ruining kids by obsessing over mistakes and judging them by everything they are doing wrong instead of what they are doing right. Of course, kids are going to make mistakes. Of course, they’re going to be horrible spellers. Of course, they’re not going to know anything about grammar no matter how hard you try to teach them, except what they learn playing Mad Libs. Of course, they’re not going to get phonics. Of course, they are not going to memorize their multiplication tables. Most every mom I know has a kid who struggles to memorize their multiplication facts and is bad at spelling. You know why these kids can’t do it? Because they are 8 or 9.

Learning happens at its worst when it’s all about just memorizing information. Kids will learn when they are motivated by their passions, hobbies, joys, collaborating, exploring, bonding. You might have a kid with symptoms of ADD who can’t focus on anything and can’t follow instructions. You tell kids like that to do something and they do something opposite. Or they get started doing some type of school thing and twenty seconds later they get distracted and go from one thing to another. You think this child doesn’t have the ability to follow directions or focus until you give them the Lego set of their dreams. Then this same kid sits down for two hours straight and goes through that instruction book, reads every little bit of instruction, finds every little Lego piece and builds the thing. That child has you tricked. If they can build that $50 Lego set with 2,000 pieces, they do not have a problem with attention span. The problem is with how boring their education is. Fun-Schooling–and the themes we offer–are a wonderful answer to that problem!

Raising Kids Who Are Thinkers

I’m the girl who could not handle structured schooling, it’s because I’m too much of a leader. In the 1980s, when I was in school, it was common for girls to be more easily manipulated by an authoritative system. It was expected of girls to give in, and learn in silence.

Traditional school works so hard to create submissive students. It crushes leaders.

Many boys are also natural leaders and don’t submit quickly to a authoritative system. It’s actually a good quality! Many kids, like me, resist submission, more and more these days. But schools tend to squelch individuality.

Schools don’t raise up leaders. We often are trying to push our kids into submissive learning, and that’s the main idea of socialized public schools. Get all kids to conform, make them good employees and obedient citizens. What are they trying to REALLY do? Create a population that doesn’t ask hard questions.

THINKING moms want to nurture THINKERS and LEADERS. May your homeschooling style reflect the truest of your values and the most precious of your goals.

What does it mean to raise a THINKER?

  • You may raise a child who will question the religion they grew up with.
  • You may raise a child who will question what they hear on the news.
  • They may question the information in their college textbooks.
  • They may question your morality.
  • They may question their future boss.
  • They may question pop culture.
  • They may question family stereotypes.
  • They may question popular political policies.
  • They may question the motives of loved ones.
  • They may question traditional values.
  • They may question law enforcement.
  • They may question the traditional historic narrative.
  • The may question their identity.
  • They may question their heritage.
  • They may question the main stream thought cycle.
  • They may question the wisdom of debt.

Can we all agree we want to raise THINKING children who are brave enough to question everything? Even traditional values and popular reasoning.
If you say you want to raise a THINKER but will shun your child if they ask uncomfortable questions, you are not really raising a thinker.

My teens all went through a stage of deeply questioning my faith, values and political perspective. For example some of them came through this period of intense questioning with a decision to be part of a church that is not like the one they grew up in.

Are you okay with raising thinkers? It’s risky! You may try to say “Be a thinker… but never question…”
And don’t forget kindness, compassion, understanding and personal liberty in the process!