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.

You Had Each Other First–Keep Each Other First!

Homeschool Mommy – Don’t forget that you are also a wife! (I know we have a few single moms here too.) We were just having a conversation about the guilt that some of us have experienced in the homeschooling community because we don’t always grind our own wheat, bake our own bread, do desk work for 6 hours, and look like pioneers. I think that it can be a beautiful life to do all that, I used to play pioneers with my children and do the whole classical education thing.

Here is the problem that I had… at the end of the day I was too tired from baking my own bread and arguing with my girls about wearing dresses… to give my husband all the love and cuddles he needed! So, first things first, you know! If what we are doing makes us too tired to be a good lover, we are doing too much.

Your marriage is first. The best thing you can give your children is the example of being an awesome wife who truly respects and adores her husband. Keep your husband happy, and let go of the things that make you tired at the end of the day. Save a bit of yourself for your lover. Give him your best. If you have little ones this may seem impossible… but it’s not. Find out what your husband and children really need and let go of everyone else’s expectations, and people who push academics as the key to success.

Follow the advice of the people you actually want to be like. If you have homeschooling friends who seem to have everything perfect, beware–their marriages are often suffering, and they have forgotten that they have husbands. Don’t trade your marriage in for the appearance of being a perfect homeschooling teacher. You are free to be a lovable wife, that girl that he married. That’s you!

Embracing Your Calling

This is me, “living my worst nightmare” (just kidding) speaking in front of 500+ people. Why does God call us to do things that make us so deeply uncomfortable, yet are such a blessing to others?

Let’s talk. What is holding you back from fully embracing your calling?

And FEAR doesn’t count.

If fear was your answer, in any way, shape, or form, give me a better reason why you are not totally living what you believe. You were put on this earth for a specific purpose and anything less is not acceptable. If you were called by God to accomplish something you will need to answer to Him alone for not doing it.

I promise, answering me is easier, and may be a first step toward living out your calling, because I’m going to pray for you to have everything it takes, especially the courage, to move forward!

If nothing else, get a book about someone with a similar calling who overcame all the odds and did it. Also, some dreams are not “realistic” and you gotta know when to let go and accept your limitations. But a calling is different from dream because when you take a step out into obedience to God, and start to take risks of faith HE WILL do everything within HIS power to provide, equip and protect you in this calling.

Maybe you are not a leader. Then get behind someone who is already carrying out a similar calling. What do you have to lose?

Is the problem “no support from your family”? Get down to the root of this issue. If you are married you should develop one vision for your purpose, and do the thing you both agree on! Don’t stay focused on the parts you don’t agree on. Build on common ground.

Are your parents holding you back because of their personal fears and failures? Are they trying to keep you SAFE in THEIR comfort zone for their “peace of mind”? Are they keeping you from fulfilling YOUR calling because it’s not quite what they had in mind, because you are all they have and they don’t want you to take any risks???? Honor them by fulfilling God’s calling. Go in faith.

After the event in 2019 in the photo at the top of this post, I heard many many stories about how hope was given, lives were changed, families were empowered to make brave choices… I stepped out of my comfort zone, and God blessed. And by faith, I’ve done it again since.

What’s holding you back?

Talking to a Child About Babies, Abortion, Puppies and Adoption

This is a painting I created when my first child was about a year old, showing his journey from the womb to his first birthday.

This post is a montage consisting of thoughts from Sarah’s Facebook posts (some of which are as old as a decade and yet as timely today as ever), as well as this first portion, moved over from Sarah’s old blog, dated 11/1/20. Having ten biological children and 5 adopted children, this issue is very close to Sarah’s heart, and she is a courageous advocate for the sanctity of life.

Yesterday I was volunteering at the S.P.A.C.E. Fun-Schooling Zone with kids whose parents can’t care for them because they are working and schools are closed. We were building an animal shelter out of Legos.
A little girl about age 8 asked me how I adopted my kids. I told her they were in an orphanage.

She then asked… “If their mother didn’t want them why didn’t she just kill them before they were born instead of putting them in an orphanage? That’s legal you know. Did you get them for free?”

The little girl has a puppy she adores. So, I asked her a question.

“If you had to move to a new home where you couldn’t keep your puppy would you find it a new home or would you kill it?”

She answered, “I would never move to a home where I can’t have my puppy!”

“So, you would change your plans and do what it takes to keep your puppy?”

“Of course!!!!”

“Do you think babies are as special as puppies?” I asked.

She answered, “Of course babies are much more special! But what can you do if you find out you are pregnant and can’t take care of a kid?”

I answered, “I would do one of two things. Contact an adoption agency to find a new home for the baby, or do what it takes to change your life so you can take care of a baby. There are many families that can’t have children that would love to give a baby a good home.”

“OH! Did you adopt because you couldn’t get pregnant?”

“No, I adopted because I volunteered at their orphanage, just like I volunteer here. They needed a family.”

“SO THEY ACTUALLY LIKED YOU?”

Go ahead and laugh. Yes, they actually liked me.

(click here to continue reading)

“How can I get my kids to help around the house?”

(post originally dated 11/19/14–migrated from Sarah’s old blog)

A homeschooling mom of four just wrote to me to ask how to get kids to do chores with a cheerful attitude. (I am a homeschooling mom of ten, ages 2 to 15, and one due in Feb.) I have had a lot of success in raising my kids to be happy helpers with a strong work ethic. So here is my advice.

The best way to get children to do chores with a happy and willing heart is to model for them the behavior you want to see. Sing and smile and dance and be cheerful when doing the housework, turn on the happy music, make it look fun. They will copy you. The most important thing is being a model of the smiles and work ethic you want them to have.

See your own work as a privilege and invite them to be part of doing things that you do. With my young ones I will say “I’m not sure if you are big enough to wash dishes.” And the reply will be “I’m big enough!” And they will set out to prove it, with pride. 

I also reward the kids for excellent work, even a smile from mom, or a handful of berries can be a reward. I want to teach them that quality work is rewarded. I don’t have extra money to pay them every time they do an extra job, so instead of buying them everything they need and want, I give them a chance to earn these things. Maybe you plan to buy new bikes for the kids in the future – don’t just buy them the bikes, let them help earn the money you are going to spend on the bikes so they will see the results of their labor. Maybe you are going to yard sales this weekend and expect to spend 3 or 4 dollars on toys, let them earn their garage sale money, even 25 cents can go pretty far at a yard sale! (click here to continue reading)

Dyslexia

(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)

Anna is the author of “Heroes & Villains of History” and “Writer’s Fun-Schooling Journal”

Isaac started reading at age three. Back then, I thought homeschooling was going to be easy. Anna, our second child, was born dancing, drawing, and dreaming, but at age nine she was still reversing letters and forgetting how to sound out three-letter words. She continued to struggle with pencil and paper, and I didn’t know why. I had started both children with the same reading program, but Anna wasn’t learning to read.

I tried several reading programs over the years, but nothing helped. Nothing interested her. Reading was exhausting and confusing. I really began to feel like there was something wrong with her, and because we were homeschooling, I blamed myself. I was afraid to talk to anyone about Anna’s problem with reading. I never suspected dyslexia. I just thought I was a bad teacher until Estera, our third, taught herself to read and write at age five. She would always play school with the workbooks that Anna couldn’t use. By then, we had dozens of them.

One fall day a couple of years earlier, Anna and I were sitting under the big tree in the backyard working on reading lesson number one for the 30th time. I was still trying to help her see the difference between b and d. We were making a new set of colorful flash cards but seeing no progress.

She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “Mom, there is NO difference! I will never read!” she said. “Can’t I just be an artist and a mommy when I grow up?” I remembered having the same dream when I was a little girl and the same struggles. I had blamed the school system for my problems with reading, but Anna was being homeschooled, how could the same thing be happening to her?

I looked up into the sky and asked God to show me how to help my child. The first thing I realized was that I didn’t have what it takes to help her and needed to seek out a professional. I had to get over my own fear and pride and ask for help. The first reading tutor we hired was mystified by Anna’s problem too, but we eventually found a specialist who understood Anna. The teacher evaluated Anna and revealed that she had dyslexia. (click here to continue reading)

“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.

Learning At Home

(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)

Anna at our home on Connecticut Ave, Fortville, Indiana

When Anna turned five, she joined Isaac with homeschooling. I realized quickly she struggled with pencil and paper. She didn’t like workbooks. She just wanted to play, draw, and learn about plants and animals. She was a child who loved to learn from experience. So that year we took many trips to the Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, and the White River Gardens. We also turned our house into a tiny zoo complete with fish, frogs, and kittens.

Our garden proved to be one of the best classrooms of all. We turned the garden into a big science project, and all of the children claimed areas of the garden for their own. It kept them all busy.

Isaac happily shoveled compost, laid mulch, lugged rocks, dug holes, and welcomed his payment of a dollar an hour. He put the professionals to shame with his hardworking spirit. When he finished his own work, he helped me collect all the empty flowerpots and began filling them up with soil and compost. He spent the money he earned from his gardening work on flower seeds, planting them in the pots with hopes of a plant sale later that summer.

Anna loved to water everything: the flowers, the trees, even the cars, cats, and her little sisters. She also loved to make mud. Her section of the garden was obvious—she was growing mud pies. Anna also was our budding artist, and mud offered her a fun way to practice her skills. I had to watch her closely, though, because one day I caught her and the little sisters stripped to their undies and covered with mud from head to toe. All you could see of the girls were shiny white teeth and smiling eyes. It was Anna’s idea of course. They were “painting.” (click here to continue reading)

First Year of Homeschooling

(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)

As the children neared school age, Josh and I knew that we would homeschool them. After our first year, we couldn’t have been happier with our decision.

In those first few months, I watched Isaac unlock the mystery of reading. With his new-found power, he set out to happily (if not slowly) read anything that sparked his interest. I also taught him the basics of math and then watched as he put all his learning together and started a successful jewelry-making business, not unlike my own childhood venture.

Apart from the basics, Isaac also took a special interest in fossils, so we took trips to Ohio and Florida to learn more. Our greatest surprise came when he found and identified a trilobite in a friend’s rocky driveway. Isaac also was fascinated with maps and started a globe collection, often looking for them at garage sales and thrift stores. He had fun comparing the changes that history made on his globes. China became one of his favorite countries, and he got excited every time he discovered a “Made in China” sticker. He also learned some of the sad stories behind those stickers, like the deplorable working conditions and child labor in factories. The missionaries who gave their lives to reach China with the Gospel became his new heroes. He wanted to learn Chinese, and he happily ate fried rice and noodles every chance he got.

Isaac also became a little builder, dreaming up projects with leftover wood from the mini barn. Anna followed him everywhere, and wanted to be his helper. Sometimes we took special trips to Home Depot so he could learn about all the different types of nails, latches, and power tools. One day he taught his little sister how to hammer nails correctly, and no one got hurt.