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.

Experience Homeschooling Joy Show!

Sarah is excited to be a part of the Experience Homeschooling Joy Show on December 6th and would love to see your lovely faces there.

This is a free, live event, hosted by Christine Owens.

We have secured a seat for you at experiencehomeschoolingjoy.com/brown . We can’t wait to see you there!

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.

Experience Gifts-We’ve Got a Journal for That!

If your kids don’t need one more video game or yet another fashion doll or action figure for Christmas, perhaps you might consider the gift of an experience instead! Click the highlighted words below, which are hyperlinked to some fun options!

Here’s some inspiration:

What unique ideas have you tried?

My Morning Meeting

I have a meeting coming up with a very powerful and influential person. And He’s taking requests from anyone seeking His assistance.

Yes, this morning, I’ll be spending an entire hour with the King of Kings, the One who created the universe, and I’ll be bringing to Him all the cares of this world, all my dreams, ideas, struggles, heartaches and gratitude. We will be talking about His plans for the future of this City, State, County and Planet I call home.

He’s asked me to get a few things done for Him, but I think He invites me to these frequent meetings because He has come to see me as a treasured daughter, rather than just a business partner. It’s not all about His power and authority, it’s a lot about His compassion and love as well. He has a beautiful dream for the world, and was so happy to share that dream with me.

He’s asked me to take on the role of Ambassador, representing His Kingdom of Heaven, during my stay on Earth. Such an honor!

I’ll be getting my resources, instructions and an “all-access pass” to all the specific locations that He would like to send me to, so I can take care of some business for Him here and there.

He has some pretty big ideas, and is getting ready to launch a few new projects that are going to transform the culture. He is also unveiling His newest production, and has given me an insight into what’s happening behind the scenes.

It’s been such an honor to be invited into the Throne Room of the Creator, and I’m just so humbled to have His ear. He always listens so well and never hesitates to tell me what’s on His mind.

What’s been really great lately is how He has been introducing me to some of His team members and is letting me study along side some of His best instructors as I get ready for my next assignment.

He let me know that I am always welcome to bring friends with me when I visit. I can also bring requests from any of my friends and loved ones who don’t have time or courage to show up in person. But He keeps reminding me that I need to let me fellow humans know that His office is open, yet so few come! He is expecting your company soon. He had an open door policy, just walk in with Jesus and you are good to go. Once you have a seat, He will tell you all about His plans! So exciting!

If you have any requests, I’m happy to present them next time I go for a visit. But just remember, you don’t need me to bring your requests to the King… but if a lot of us are asking about a matter and a few of us agree on things that need to be done on Earth, He’s really supportive!

I’m not exactly sure why He is so faithful to answer our petitions and attend to our cries… I think it’s because when it really comes down to it, He’s so much more than a King. He’s a loving, caring, and protective Daddy, who wants to have a strong relationship with His children. He just loves us.

Start a Fun-Schooling Co-Op!

Step one in beginning a Fun-Schooling Co-Op is to Flip to Fun-Schooling yourself! Then you are prepared to encourage other moms to join you on your journey! Here are some photos from our Co-Op at Olive Branch Farm.

How Do I Start a Fun-Schooling Co-Op?

1. Create a Facebook Group: “Fun-Schooling in My Region, My State” (If there are no other homeschooling families in your city interested in FUN expand you reach to the county or region, like Central Florida, as soon as you decide on a region, post it in our Fun-Schooling Moms Homeschool Support Group so others in the same area can join you and not duplicate. Check comments for duplicates before you create a new group.)

2. Share some posts from our main page and FunSchooling.com in your group.

3. Invite me to your group.

4. Everyone who starts a Fun-Schooling Facebook Community group should join our Leaders Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/637742757064906/

What Do Fun-Schooling Co-ops Do?

Co-ops are private gatherings, like birthday parties- so don’t worry about legalities as long as everyone who comes is invited. Some people worry about creating a formal organization but that’s not needed when you are getting started. Everyone can pitch in and contribute like family.

They schedule FUN social activities for local homeschooling families and support each other while using Fun-Schooling Journals. They may plan activities based on a common Fun-Schooling Journal or Theme. For example if your group is using the Nature study PDF you might do nature crafts, weather experiments or go to a nature preserve together.

What are some activities we offer at Olive Branch Farm? Our always-evolving list includes: Pottery Painting, Watercolors, Gardening, Swimming, A Disk Golf Course, Soccer Field, Scooter ramps, Bikes, Scooters, Skateboards, Horses, Music Room, Lego Zone, Jewelry making station, Library, Fidget Room, Zip Line, Farm Animals, Nature Park, Cafe, Pool Table, Volley Ball, Preschool Zone, Snack Bar, Board Games, and our Herb Garden and Orchard.

Need inspiration? Here is a great resource:

The Faces–Not Just the Feast or Festivities

Thanksgiving 2017

It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in all the shopping, menus, and special trappings of the holiday season. Let’s look for new, creative ways to make memories and love others this year.

The holidays can be hard for some, particularly those who have suffered a loss. If you have someone who needs to know that they are loved, get our Little Book of Letters from Your Friends for them and pass it around to all their friends and family.

If you have a friend who is moving, in the hospital, expecting a new baby, going through a trial, or suffering from loss – they need to know that they are loved and remembered. You and your mutual friends can fill this little book with letters, verses, poems, prayers and affirmations. How wonderful it would be to open up this little book while experiencing a lonely moment, in the waiting room or on a plane.

This book can also be used as a book of celebration and courage! If someone you love is celebrating an important event, like a graduation, or moving to a new place, this book can become a wonderful keepsake full of encouragement and celebration. If someone you love is having a birthday, fill this book with blessings for the new year!

What could be more special than a book of letters from the ones you love? Think about the people in your life who need to be remembered or celebrated. Light up their lives with a little book of letters. This book will become a priceless treasure.

Sometimes we need to give a gift that reminds our loved ones of how precious they are. In a digital world, sometimes we need to put our love on paper.

Pick up some colored pencils and gel pens to give along with this book. This book has some beautiful coloring pages that can bring peace and joy to your friend during quiet moments.

This is the perfect gift for anyone whose love language is “Words of Affirmation” or “Gifts”.

When Your Children Love the Sea…

When you visit the ocean you can try to understand your place in a bigger story.

The waves keep rolling in, washing away my footprints. The sun rises higher, like it does every day. The tide comes in as usual. The heat rises and falls. The shadows lengthen and shrink.

Are your kids in love with the ocean? You’re in luck! Look at all these beautiful books you can choose from!

See a flip through of our All About Oceans Marine Biology Handbook here:

Fun-Schooling Pep Talk! (Part 2)

I ended my last blog post telling you that after 16 years of motherhood and trying lots of different homeschool methodologies, I quit.

What did I quit?

I quit dipping my toes in the shallow water while my children called to me from the deep end where they knew best what made them sink or float and I learned to trust.

I had tried a little bit of so many different things and nothing added up, it was all too hard, too much, too soon, and I tried. I thought I had failed and yet they thrived because everything I thought would never be enough added up to so much more that I could ever understand. And they were brave, and they were curious, and they were hungry to learn about this planet we call home, and I never thought I could ever give enough, but all I have is all God gave me… And it’s plenty.

But what about the mess, the stress, the fears, the changes that I struggled with in the dark, while my children were playing in the light? I was trying so hard to do it all, and so many voices from the outside spat out worries, saying I’m not enough. But I was enough.

These are the children entrusted to me, and this is the place we are in, and these are the tools, the ideas and the passions we share. And my children will not be like any others, they are not even a bit like each other, but they are the ones that I have been given to love.

So after 16 years of struggle, of reading mountains of books on dyslexia, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, Autism, Delight-Directed learning, Montessori, Free Schools, conventional education, one room school house models, entrepreneur-based learning, passion driven learning, element, flow, talent and disability… I tried to put it all together, and glean the best of every world, and customize every child’s education based on their learning style, love language, career goals and special needs. And I wore myself out. Until I gave up trying to do it all, and created the first Do-it-Yourself Homeschooling Journal, just in time for the birth of my 10th baby.

I created the journal from a place of pain, discouragement, need, and hope. I had given up the idea that I could custom design each child’s curriculum and decided to find a way to set them free to “Do-it-Yourself” within the boundaries of all the wisdom I had embraced over the years. When I created the first DIY Fun-Schooling Journal I thought I was cheating my kids, because my whole plan was to make a curriculum that set ME FREE from having to homeschool! I was going to put my entire philosophy of how children learn into a journal that would keep them busy learning for 4 hours a day for 60 days… So I could take a break for 6 weeks with my new baby. It worked.

They used my system to study their passions and cover all the basics while I took care of my baby and enjoyed her to the fullest. The DIY system worked so well I was able to focus more and more on being mommy and less on stressing over Homeschooling. So when the 6 weeks were over, we didn’t stop Fun-Schooling. My children wanted more DIY Homeschooling Journals, but they wanted to help design them, and so we did.

And now we are overwhelming YOU, with so many options for homeschooling that maybe you are smiling through your tears cause you have no clue what to do, and you want to dive in deep but it’s still scary. So you wonder how to start, and you haven’t read the 200 books I read that inspired me to design this system of learning, and you wonder if you should trust, try it or keep experimenting. Something in you says go all the way, and other voices say it isn’t safe, so what are you gonna do?

Is there a way to homeschool without fear? No. I don’t think so. It’s the fear that motivates us to be brave. It’s not the kind of fear that hurts us and binds up and traps us. It’s a feeling of greatness, wonder, power and depth that makes each of us feel so small…

Let that kind of fear stir up courage to do what you need to do, to be who you need to be, to dive in completely, and trust. It’s more fun in the deep end anyway. Just ask your kids.

Want to take it to the next level? Start your own Fun-Schooling co-op! Here’s the perfect book for you!

Fun-Schooling Pep Talk! (Part 1)

When you first started Fun-Schooling with Thinking Tree Books you were probably feeling kind of overwhelmed with all the options to choose from, not sure how to build a curriculum for your child. You just look at all these beautiful books and wonder what’s inside and wonder…

Will my child be able to embrace this style of learning?

Is it enough?

Is it okay for children to have fun and study what they love instead of staying on the tried and true educational path set years ago my the experts of yester-year?

Is it really okay that they are not learning all the sames things the grandparents studied in the 1950’s?

Can Fun-Schooling really provide a well rounded education when the whole point is for the child to dig deep into their specific passions and interests?

So many questions, fears, worries all mixed with the joy and wonder of discovering a way of learning that makes total sense!

So you dip in your toes, and maybe your child just gets it and is already diving into the deep end.

Or maybe you get it because you read Brave Learner and Unschooling Rules and The Unhurried Homeschooler and it all is the perfect fit for the homeschooling plan of your dreams… But your child has been so scarred by “kill and drill” learning methods that they resist EVERYTHING.

Or maybe you were so relaxed in the past, and gave your soul over to radical Unschooling, and now your child scoffs at your efforts to get more organized with Fun-Schooling… because they would rather play Fortnight, and doesn’t that matter anymore? They fuss and cry at ALL structure.

So we plan, we dream, we fight, we cry, and we let go, and then we hold on tight because that’s motherhood.

And all you know is that trying to be a teacher is no fun, because your child actually can not sit still, and you know in your heart your child was not created to sit still… Children need to be free within safe boundaries, to learn when curiosity sparks, to discover who they are, what love is, and to learn to think deeply, live passionately, to grow through the growing pains and to learn to navigate this Earth, with wisdom.

And so you balance freedom with responsibility.

You measure out the boundaries of purpose and pleasure.

You walk the path ever-changing, never knowing where this road will lead… because it’s full of wonder, and questions, and struggle, and newness, and growth. And just when you think you mastered the game, the rules change, the seasons change, the relationships change, and life happens…

And it’s oh so messy.

And you wonder how you could ever prepare a child for the unknown future of a changing world.

You study the child. You seek to understand their individual gifts, weaknesses, passions and learning styles. You adapt your strategy to their personality and everything keeps changing. And then they are gone.

Go ahead and cry, because this is every mother’s journey and even more so when you take on the great responsibility of giving your child an education that was dreamed up, just for them.

I hear you. I see you. I’m on this journey too.

And I hope that all that I have been through raising 15 vastly unique children, each with gifts and problems all their own, and dreams so diverse it’s enough to make you crazy. And somehow, after about 16 years of doing this Homeschooling Mom thing, I quit.

Come back soon for my next post, to find out what I did next!