Grow a Garden

Well, we’ve done it. We’ve written our first children’s book! When I say we, I most definitely mean we. This book was a family affair in every sense of the word. The entire book was illustrated by my phenomenally talented children (under the direction of my amazing mom).


The cast of Kingdom Twindom got a name change: meet Lily, Lola, Luke, Laura, and Landon. But the adventures are the same! The next two books are in the works, and we’re sure to find time to write and illustrate from our cozy new home in the mountains.

Yep, I said the mountains. We’re headed home. Of course, if you follow me on Facebook this is already old news. But oh, new tidbit, the chickens are coming, too! The Beverly Hillbillies have nothing on us.

It’s a bittersweet move, and we will miss our church family dearly. I’ll blog the story, and the move, soon. For now…buy the  book and help us live more adventures!




My Five-Year-Old Character Builder

Picture it. We’re sitting in church–in worship. Everyone else is wading into the presence of God. They’re wading deep now, and I’ve just noticed that my five-year-old has left his chair. Now he’s motioning to me for something. I shake my head slowly and calmly, and I’m careful not to upset him. No, I didn’t pack any granola bars.

Now give me back my purse. 

I’ve decided to stop with the whole granola bar sham. I just fed him before we left. I do feed my children! He doesn’t eat them because he’s hungry, anyway; he eats them because I don’t feed him junk at home. He won’t eat just one, he’ll eat them all. He’ll eat the ones I packed for his brother and sisters, and I’ll let him. I’ll let him because their guilt-inducing “I knew you loved him more!” stares are significantly less annoying that his in-public tantrums. So, no, no more granola bars. You can lie down under the chair and color, and that’s it.

(I wouldn’t make him go under the chair, but he likes it ’cause it’s a fort.)

About ten minutes later, he’s no longer under my chair. He’s under a chair…but it’s five rows back. I shoot an apologetic look to the man who’s been waiting for me to notice. Sorry, I was trying to worship.

I put my head between my legs, and I shoot my son the look. He army crawls back to our row. No, I don’t have any granola bars. I have crayons!

At this point one of two things happens: either I win, or he keeps trying to win.

Now, let me explain: I have five strong-willed children. The first four are strong-willed as depicted in most of those “how to handle a strong-willed child” books. They’re fun. And it’s funny that I used to think they were difficult. Not ha ha funny…but still. My fifth child is a gift from God meant to crush me beyond recognition. He’s my twin (he says so). He’s amazing.

That being said, he usually tries to win. He’s rarely satisfied with the crayons, and I’m sent searching for plan B. I might threaten him with consequence: “Sit still or you’re losing five tickets…six…seven.” I might give him a choice between or b. I might try to stall him. But there’s a point when humiliation becomes inevitable. He’s getting loud. We can’t stay here. Head down. Deep breath in. Scoop the kid and start mall-walking…now. 

We head for the restroom. If it’s a bad fit we go outside for a walk. But this is Missouri, and apparently it’s icy in the winter and blazing in the summer, so we usually head for the restroom.

“Put me down! Put me down! Let me go!” 

I’m dying.

Once in private I can talk him down. I usually convince him to return and sit nicely until it’s time for his class to start. During the process of our discussion, though, others come and go. I smile. I greet the ones I know. I try to act unphased, but I’m not fooling anyone. Then it happens…not every time, mind you, but enough times that it warrants a blog post (at least once a month for the last five months). I reach my wrist to my forehead to wipe the exhaustion-induced layer of sweat; some sweet face smiles at me from the mirror as I’m leaning hard against the cold restroom wall. She says, “Oh, I know you! Aren’t you Sarah? I’ve read your book!”

I quickly rehearse the last thirty seconds in my mind. I wonder just how bad I look(ed). I smile and reach out my hand to shake hers. And I die a little bit more.

Here’s the ironic part: Very few people have read my books. Let me clarify that number: VERY. FEW. But my tiny audience is primarily made up of Christian-roots/Hebrew roots Torah keepers, and my small church is a popular hub. This is the only place on the planet where I’m likely to be recognized by a stranger. I’m a writer because I like  not being seen. It’s a big jump from those days in my twenties when I wanted to be an actress. But I’m here now…all comfy in my sweats with my hair in a messy bun.

Somewhere in my life I got the idea that people wanted me to be perfect–that they expected me to be. I don’t expect others to be perfect (I just assume they are). My assumptions about others expectations have led me to a form of hiding. I don’t hide when I write (I don’t tell it all, but I feel much more comfortable being “real” when I’m behind my computer). In person, though, I still want to present an above par, semi well-adjusted mother who is not handicapped by the fact that she is single. This is especially true when I’m meeting a stranger who already knows who I am.

As I was pondering this today, I had to smile. The Father knows me; He knows me so well. He brought me here because He knows me so well. He continually provides me with opportunities to embrace His holiness. He’s relentless, actually. He does want me to be perfect, but His idea of perfection has nothing to do with my hair, my clothes, the disposition of my children, or the dryness of my forehead. The kind of perfection He’s seeking is void of me and completely chock-full of Him. He’s just breaking me down and building me back in His image. Don’t mind us. He does this in public because I need to let go…to stop the stupid striving that was never from Him to begin with. So the next time you’re privileged to witness the Father refining someone else, especially through their children, say a little prayer for them…and feel free to introduce yourself (even if that someone is me).


31 Days to Lovely Promo

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“Beauty of the Lord” by Jared Anderson, “Where Faith Comes From”



Wilderness Fast: Day Seven (Final Day)

I had mixed emotions about the last day of my fast. On one hand, it all felt way too easy and short. There was not one single day that I went without food. I hadn’t expected that. On the other hand, I was voraciously salivating over the jar of peanut butter in my fridge. I will be growing peanuts…pronto. I was also missing coffee. Work went much more smoothly last night.

Over the course of the week I researched everything. I walked through the woods with more boldness than ever before (though carefully donned in tall boots and long pants). I learned more than I’ve learned in a week since…I don’t know when. I lost five pounds, I took in zero toxins, and I sweat more than maybe ever in my life. I feel really good about that.

I didn’t end up catching any more fish. I did spend hours praying by the pond (and not just praying for fish). Whether God was in the lack, or I just gave up too quickly, I really can’t say for 100% certain. I do know, though, that the lack of fish is what got me hunting for mushrooms. If I hadn’t hunted for mushrooms I wouldn’t have found the chanterelles. And if I hadn’t found the chanterelles, I would never have researched them and found that they are one of the few mushrooms that battle candida (the very condition I’m fighting). Never tell me God isn’t cool.

This was my last meal on the fast. I waited and waited to eat it while I fished for two hours in the rain (I wanted to go out with a bang so badly). The fresh wood sorrel was supposed to be a bed for fish. Rest assured, there are a few cooler days headed this way, and we will be eating fish again soon.

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I feel that I’ve always had an appreciation for food and for farmers and for nature, but nothing like I gained from this week. I cannot sip my coffee without thinking of the backbreaking work that went into it and praying that the workers are blessed. I hope I never open my fridge as nonchalantly as I’ve done for so long. I know I probably will. It was just a week, and quick lessons fade fast. But I pray at least some of it lingers.

It was a really good week.

Wilderness Fast: Day Six

Yesterday was Shabbat. I don’t have much to report except that we rested according to the commandment. I picked a light meal from the garden, and I topped it with oil and herbs and leftover roasted rutabagas.

On Friday before sunset I’d gone fishing with my oldest boy. We just spent a few minutes by the pond.

“Mom, do you think we’ll catch something tonight?”

“I don’t know. I guess that depends on whether the Father wants me to eat fish or not.”

And then it hit me… That’s not what this week has been all about; that’s what life is all about.

Still no fish. And that’s fine.

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Wilderness Fast: Day Five

I just realized that I don’t have any photos from yesterday. I did eat, but the day didn’t go as planned. I set my alarm for six in the morning so I could get up and catch enough fish to last me through Shabbat. Then around midnight (I was still up working) I heard moaning from downstairs. Miss M couldn’t sleep; she was stuffy and suffering from an earache. I dragged her upstairs and into a hot shower, then I slathered her in eucalyptus oil and sent her back to bed. I sat back down to work. That lasted about ten minutes before she was up the stairs again. Earaches are the worst. We spent the rest of the night on the couch watching the Dick Van Dyke Show. I put garlic oil in her ear, and I stumbled to and fro the microwave to keep her rice sock hot. This story is very relevant, because soon it was six o’clock in the morning. I didn’t try to fish.

Around eleven o’clock Friday morning I made my way outside; I wandered into the woods a little ways. I didn’t go far. I was wearing boots with shorts (’cause I’m classy). Between all the woods trekking, heat, and late nights, I’m really starting to struggle. I could use a cup of coffee.

I found some black raspberries and wood sorrel in the woods, so that was brunch. And though it wasn’t much, it really picked me up. I spent the rest of the day crawling through Prep Day and eating radishes and baked rutabaga chips. Late in the afternoon Mom picked me a salad from the garden. Before starting this week’s fast I’d committed to a year without sugar or gluten. I’ve been battling candida for years, and I’m determined to finally beat it. That being said, the amount of rutabaga I’ve eaten this week has probably been unwise. I’ve enjoyed it, though…especially the baked chips. I like chips.

While I was in the woods I found more St. John’s Wort than I know what to do with. It might be a small thing to most people, but the wheels in my head are spinning. I cannot wait to see what I can do with this amazing gift!

Wilderness Fast: Day Four

No fish. Again. I know there are still fish in that pond, because they keep nibbling and chomping…we hooked and began to reel in three different ones yesterday (or the same one three times), but we didn’t drag any of them to shore. We did hit a motherload of chanterelles! I like to have something “meaty” with dinner…and mushrooms work great for that.

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I sat by the pond and shelled hickory nut after hickory nut, because I was determined to make a cheese-less pesto with lots of lemony wood sorrel and basil. That would have been nice with fish. But every time I turned to bait another line, my little fishing buddy stole my nuts. So, there was no pesto. Instead I made a really nice sauce (my mom’s idea) out of reduced fresh tomato with basil, tyme, and little rosemary. The sauce paired so well with the chanterelles (besides being gorgeous).

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Roasted chanterelles, roasted lamb’s quarter stems, and sauteed wood sorrel with lamb’s quarter. I would have paid big bucks for this meal…it was amazing.

While we were hunting for mushrooms, Miss C and I bagged every plant and flower that looked remotely interesting to us. When we got home, we got out the laptops and had a fun nature lesson. We’ve only positively identified Daisy Fleabane and St. Johns Wort, but I’m really excited to make St. Johns Wort tea for the winter (St. Johns Wort isn’t great for summer because it can make you extremely photosensitive–something I already struggle with).

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