March 2012 - Sarah Mae
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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Holding My Dreams With An Open Hand


“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I wonder if sometimes God’s dreams for us are “lower” than we think.

“God-sized dreams” might be small, and tucked in, and quiet. Sometimes it’s easier to think that “God-sized dreams” mean big dreams, our dreams, the things that are exciting and appealing and out “there.”

I’ve often wrestled with the phrase, “God-sized dreams” because I don’t understand what it means. God-sized? Dreams? What does that even mean?

Read my thoughts (and questions) over at (in)courage today

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“I’m fat” and other things my daughter has heard me say

“Beautiful faces are those that wear, the light of a pleasant spirit there; beautiful hands are those that do, deeds that are noble, good, and true; beautiful feet are those that go, swiftly to ease another’s woe.” -Unknown

I am quick to blame the media and culture for the damage done to girls when it comes to their feelings of self-worth. The media is saturated with foolish ideals and hollow worth, and I think I’m better.

But then I hear myself say to my husband, “Ug, I feel fat, I need to lose some weight.” Or “There is no hope for my face, I feel so ugly.” I throw out those careless words and then look over and see my six-year-old daughter coloring near by, quiet, taking in my words. And it hits me.

I am the media.

I am the culture.

I am the one showing her that worth is in a face or the body. I tell her that her worth comes from within, and that God sees the heart, but then I make off-the-cusp remarks about how “I feel” so fat. The truth (the truth!) is that I’m healthy and have an amazing body created by God to walk and dance and house a heart and soul and lifeblood. I have these fingers that type quickly, and toes that keep me balanced, and a mind that is wonderful because of His design.

And so do my daughters. My beautiful, artistic, brilliant, poetic daughters.

I have got to learn to gate my mouth when I want to spew out the venom of self-loathing. I must instead choose to praise God for how I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I want to care for this mind and this body that God has given me, and I will show my daughters to do the same.

Are you with me?

Love, SM

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I Need the Mundane

(Source: mamakatslosinit)

I’ve been forgetting about the mundane, lately.

I consider the mundane to include doing the every day tasks that keep life out of chaos: doing the dishes, the laundry, cleaning up bedrooms, dining rooms, bathrooms, and living rooms, writing grocery lists that contain healthy food, doing the grocery shopping, preparing educational lessons, crafts, and all such tasks that I would much rather not do.

If I had my way, I would spend my days writing, spreading ideas, soaking up the sun, reading, and basically focusing on my needs. But that life certainly wouldn’t lead to a life of integrity or character or sacrifice. And what of my children? Who would train them or teach them in the ways of truth, goodness, discipline, and the importance of not leaving clean laundry unfolded in the laundry basket?

I could raise my babies on TV and “mommy’s busy” or I could raise them with play and “let’s clean up together and then read some books.”

I could spend bits of time with them here and there and hope/pray for the best.

Or, I could do the work.

I really want to do the work because I really don’t want to look back on my life and regret the decisions I made.

I don’t want to look back and say, “why didn’t I just turn off the TV?” “Why didn’t I play with my babies more?” “Why didn’t I teach them how to pray?” “Why didn’t invest in their minds when they are little sponges?”

I know I’m not going to get this “do the work” thing right, because I’m selfish and tired and some days, just bored. But I’m going to keep looking at my mama-resolution and keep trying. One day at a time.

I’m going to keep trying because the souls in my care deserve intentionality from their mama. If I don’t train them and teach them, who will? If I neglect my responsibility, they will be taught, by TV, the culture, their peers, but will the teaching be things that are beautiful and good and true?

And mundane?

Because I want my children to know how to scrub a toilet and hang their clothes and take a hurting friend or a new mama a meal.

I want them to serve, to be humble, to have self-control, to be patient, and kind, and mostly…

to love.

I think I will teach them the most about love if I give myself over to the “mundane” of life. If I give myself to the tasks that make a home, a home they will want to tuck into their hearts and hold on to. A home that offered them life and and an overflow of the kind of love that leaves the comfortable and lends a hand.

A home that I will look back on, Lord willing, in my old age and say, “I chose the beautiful mundane, and I don’t regret it one bit.”

What do you want to look back on one day and be able to say about how you lived your days with your children?

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How I’m Teaching My Daughter to Read (After Several Curriculum Attempts)

I am a curriculum junkie.

My thinking is that if I just have the right curriculum, I’ll follow through with it and my children will be smart, and I’ll have been a good teacher. But I’m pretty much a curriculum failure. That’s the downside. The upside is that I’ve learned a few things about teaching my children, and they involve little more than a library card, a notebook, and a pen.

The focus on education in our house right now is reading. My oldest is six and half years old and she still isn’t reading fluently, even though we’ve done reading curriculum since she was four. Here’s the part where I feel like a big homeschooling failure. We’ve never completed a reading curriculum, and let’s see, we’ve tried:


The philosphy behind Teach Your Child to Read and Spell (TATRAS) is fantastic, and by far my favorite way of teaching my child to read. It teaches using vertical phonics, which is all about decoding words so that your child not only learns to read, but also to spell. For example, when you learn the letter “a”, you learn all the sounds that the “a” makes. Love love love this. Unfortunately, the layout of this curriculum was confusing to me. I need to be able to have things simple: turn the page, do this, do that, bada-bing, bada-boom. I also tried starting this program when my girl was four. That probably wasn’t a great idea.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

We made it to lesson 87 and the lessons weren’t stickin. Neither of us enjoyed this program, and I especially didn’t like that decoding or rules weren’t taught-I want my children to understand the English language, not just be able to read. However, I know many people love this program. In fact, my mentor Sally Clarkson used it with her children.

Phonics Museum

Since we started with 100 Easy Lessons, my daughter was in a strange reading phase where certain things were too easy, but decoding was difficult. This curriculum is beautiful, and I love the art focus, but it was just too much for me. My daughter loved it, but that’s mainly because it involved crafts, and she loves crafts.

All About Reading

I wish I would have started my daughter on this program from the beginning. It’s simple, fun, easy for me and my daughter, and explains how we use language (why do we use a “k” instead of a “c”). At this point, however, I just use this curriculum as a guide.

Since I’ve experienced four different reading programs, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about teaching my daughter to read and what works for us.

What I’ve Learned About Reading Curriculum

I have found reading curriculum to be way more intense/complicated/busy than what is required to teach a child (my child) to read. I understand curriculum developers want to make it fun, but it just makes the process more difficult and time-consuming (unless you like that sort of thing – many people do, I don’t).

How I’m Teaching My Daughter To Read

I go to the library and check out books appropriate for my daughters reading level (what I know she can read with help). I look through the first book, write down the words I know she’ll have a hard time with and words where I can teach her a rule (“when you see ie together, you say “e”). Then write in my notebook the rules and the words I want her to learn. Once I’ve done that, I ask her to come for her reading lesson. We go over my notebook of words and sounds, and then I hand her the library book and tell her I’ve prepared her to read it. She reads, and we work on fluency. Then she’s done. Once she completes reading 10 books she earns a prize.

That’s it, that’s her reading curriculum. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

We don’t spend more than 10 or 15 minutes on reading lessons, but she will have to read me the book again in the evening, and of course, I read to her.

Eventually, we will use curriculum again for reading. For my other children, we’ll just go straight for the notebook and pen.

Love, SM

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It Doesn’t Help Anyone To Not Be Honest About Motherhood

Ocean Shores, Olympic Peninsula

I remember a few years ago when I was having a really hard time with the day to day of life. I had two little ones and was pregnant. I felt very lonely, I was overwhelmed, and I suffered from tremendous guilt that I wasn’t doing enough or being a good enough wife, mother, or  homemaker.

It was winter, but spring was just around corner and softball would be starting up for my husband again soon. The baby was due at the end of February. I asked my husband if he would not play softball that spring because I would have a 19 month old, a three year-old, and a newborn, and even one night away, let alone two, was more than I felt I could handle. My husband didn’t understand and was upset that I would ask him to give up softball. As you can imagine, we had quite the disagreement.

I shared with my sister-in-law my feelings of being overwhelmed and guilty. She encouraged me to express to my husband that I felt like I was drowning and he was asking me to swim harder, when what I needed was him to pull me out of the water.

I shared my feelings with my husband, and he expressed to me that he needed an outlet. He worked all day and than had to come home and relieve me, and he just needed a break. In some ways, he was drowning as well.

Those days with little ones and out-of-control hormones were dark water days.

I felt very alone, and very, very tired.

I want you to know how I felt because I want you to know that if you are experiencing a season where life feels under water and you are gasping for breath, that you are not alone. I really do understand. You feel crazy, emotional, tired, overwhelmed, and you’re not sure if you can ask for help. You don’t want to be a burden. But you’re not okay.

I remember those days.

You are not crazy.

Facebook statuses and blog posts where everyone’s children are happy and cute and “hahahaha” are just the pretty side of the painting. The art is beautiful, but creating it is messing, and time-consuming, and painstaking. Everyone’s children yell. Everyone’s children have conflict. Everyone’s children spill milk, pee in their bed, and ask a million questions when your head is about to explode. And sometimes, you do explode.

Cut yourself some slack, mama.

You are normal. You are kind of a mess (but not all mess). You are not alone.

Let me say it again: you are normal.

You will come out of this season.

My baby is three, and I’ve just now found dry land. I can breathe.

Hang in there, the shore is just a few more waves away.

Love, SM

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Need more encouragement? You might like, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by myself and Sally Clarkson. It’s for those who have ever whispered, “I just can’t be a mother today.”

I hold these pages, words of Sarah Mae’s and Sally’s, that are a gift to every mother, that welcome mothers everywhere out of hiding and loneliness and into a fellowship of sisters and mentors, that will make you feel not alone, that will make you feel that there is real God-given hope. -Ann Voskamp, New York Timesbest-selling author of One Thousand Gifts

Photo Credit: Ocean Shores, Olympic Penisula

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