“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!