Finding Your Manna

Sarah from @momentsofmanna is a homeschooling mama to 7 (2 grown and flown, 5 still at home), who loves to create with her hands, dig deep and learn new things, wife of 20 years.

 

She doesn’t have all her ducks in a row, and her type B personality means flying by the seat of her pants most of the time…. But, she has a passion about sharing knowledge of all things herbal, homeopathic, homestead and doing life in the chaos that is life, with others, has a love of thrifting and handmade pottery, and is always searching for the Manna Moments.

I have always been told I am an old soul, and overly optimistic…. but, I believe there is a purpose in everything, every hair on your head is numbered and known to the Creator, every fiber of your being flows with His energy…. each of us has been wonderfully created, with a purpose, just the way we are. I was asked to share about myself, so here are some bits of my journey along this path called life, and how I started on the path to find my Manna….

 

Growing up in a semi rural place in central Ohio, my parents always had flower beds and a small garden plot, for fresh eating, on our 3/4th acre of land. When summer rolled around I would go spend weeks at a time with my grandparents, these are some of my fondest memories from childhood. It was with my Mamaw that I learned about the slow moments of snapping beans, canning them after, putting up tomatoes for the cold months, and what it was to squeeze the inner flesh of a concord grape into my mouth and taste that glorious sweetness on a hot summer day. They taught me what lessons had been passed down to them as far as saving for a rainy day, putting up for the dreary winter months, and making do, things I still carry with me and cherish.

 

My husband and I met our senior year of high school (ours is not a fairy tale story, but one of grit, hard work and redemption through it all), we had our oldest and began our adventure of marriage at 21. Neither of us grew up living holistically, I was homeschooled in middle school but otherwise went to public schools, and beyond the bits of gardening and what I learned from my grandparents, we never would have thought we would live the homesteading life we live now and love it like we do. We, like many others over the last 20 years, came to long for life out of the hustle and bustle of the city, a life where we were more sufficient (both self and community) and able to grow and provide for our family and others as much as possible.

 

Homeschooling was not on our radar for a while, despite the fact I was homeschooled for a time myself. Our oldest two children went to public school until their 4th and 1st grade years, before I finally made the case for us to “try” homeschooling for a year and then evaluate, By that time, we had 4 kiddos, and I had noticed how the oldest two were best buddies in the summer and then once school started after a few weeks the bickering grew, their closeness would wane, and there was little time left in the evening for them to pursue their passions. Then, we began noticing some issues with behavior and other things, leading to wondering if one child took after their dad who has diagnosed ADHD. 

We absolutely didn’t want their school experience to cause feelings of inadequacy, nor to quell the innate love of learning kids have, due to a difference in learning style or because they didn’t fit in to the “norm”…. we wanted our children to thrive and to follow their passions, in hopes of them turning those passions into earning a living to provide for themselves, in whatever way that looked like.

 

So, we notified the district and began. We went through trying curriculum and rigid schedules, co ops and community type homeschooling gatherings over a handful of years. These never seemed to fit well for our family and eventually we settled into a sort of unschooling rhythm. We teach the basics of reading, writing and math, when the child is ready and wants to learn (they will, I promise) and work hard to foster their love of learning above all. Library trips are frequent, if they have questions about something we look it up and discuss it, and as they find interests that aren’t quelled, we tailor other “subjects” into that field of study. We a kid that “hated” reading but loved math, found her some word problem books and narry a peep while she completed that book, and she now reads some for fun and is proficient.

 

Another kiddo “hated” math and loved reading, I was able to find reading based math books she loved, and this one loves cooking and baking and uses practical math many times a day. Cause, just like you and I, when do we learn best?! When we are inspired or excited, or when we are forced and made to when we dont have any interest at all? We learned this during the potty training phase of my second child, the process goes much quicker, easier, plus is retained without my attention when they are ready and want to, lol. Now having 2 grown and flown, one cleans and organizes others spaces (something she loves and is excellent in), another started interning at a car shop and now at 18 is ready to complete his testing for his certification to be a licensed automechanic (his dream is to own his own shop and have it set up with a foreman, so he can have more time with his family he starts in the future). The next 2 are building their crochet business to fund their dairy goat empire, and then build a forge to pursue blacksmithing. I’m excited to see what the next three pursue, it just amazes me to watch each blossom and grow into who He made them to be.

 

About 12 years ago began my deep dive into questioning all I had learned about food, medicine, and so much more. This was also when I discovered my crazy drive to research and dive deep, even when others thought I was “crazy”.

 

Our 5th child was born with medical issues and fought for her life the first 6-9 months, and that was the beginning of what now is. This is also when He began teaching me to find Manna Moments, even in the muck, the times when everything felt like it was spinning, and no one had answers….

Being a mama of a child with any sort of struggle, whether its medical, mental, emotional, is a club no one wants to be in…. the manna I have found is being able to listen to other mamas going through something similar, and if they want help, to be His hands and feet for them in their hard moments, or use the gift (some would call it a neurodivergent curse, but I don’t roll that way) of being able to dig and find info that might be helpful in their journey to help their child That’s the worst bit, watching your child have to walk through something and not knowing the outcome, wanting to fight and support your child, but not knowing how…. if you are in a season like this, know I am thinking of you and praying with you.

 

Anyways, I digress, there is no such thing as long story short with me I have come to realize the past few years..

 

So, her birth began my journey of digging and researching, and coming to where I am today, as well as years of chronic pain and issues I had been having that docs had no answers for….. through much research and digging, trying various ways of medicine. I have found the most healing with homeopathy (working with a homeopath for my chronic issues), herbs, and eating holistically, which fuels my passion to share what I have learned with others. The change didn’t happen overnight, we have run the gamut of ways of eating, alternative modalities of health, healing generational trauma and creating new pathways of thinking and doing…. and we aren’t finished yet.

 

About 3 years ago, everything almost fell apart with our family/marriage, right before the 2020 pandemic (that was declared the day we were discharged from a hospital 8 hours and 3 states away where our daughter had had another surgery). Hard work was done, some would say even miracles happened, and our redemption journey in our marriage and family began, which also rekindled our strong desire to get out of suburbia, away from the city and to get to work on the life we truly had wanted for years.

 

So, in 2021 we prepped and got our previous house ready (12 years in a small space with 7 kiddos and medical issues etc, you can imagine what “fun” that was, lol), listed, and it sold the first weekend. But, we didn’t have a place to move to, we had looked and looked….everything in our price range, in the area we were looking, was rubbish. Then, hubby had to switch jobs, which is typically a big no no amidst moving and in contract, but it worked it out to where it was a complete lateral move, so no issues…some would call it a coincidence, around here we call that a God thing! At this point, after 2 months of looking at places, I was going alone with our realtor as the kids were getting tired of disappointment. One Sunday, our realtor had 2 properties lined up and they were both not what we were looking for when we got there.. She then said, “I know this is a bit further, but a realtor friend of mine has it listed”, and I said let’s go. It was the one! After 3 months of looking, and an extension on our previous homes sale contract….and other issues I will save for another story, we had found our new homestead. I share, because He is in the smallest details, when you know you are on the path He set for you, though it seems like there are road blocks around every corner, and even when it seems like He is so far away or not present at all..

 

Why is all that relevant? Backstory is always helpful, to give perspective on what life looks like today, if you only see the end result and not the process to get there it may seem unattainable, unreachable, or give you pause and make you think its all glitter and unicorns….neither of those pictures are truth, in any situation one would want to achieve that I can think of.

 Everyone has a story, and a journey, and its never perfection or close to even if it seems that way… and its ok if your journey doesn’t look like someone else’s. Just because we do things a certain way here at our place, doesn’t mean it would work for your fam and vice versa, and that’s completely ok!

 

As of today, we have been here at our homestead of 9 acres for a bit over a year now. We have started new garden plots and had great harvest (and failures too), foraged the land for herbs and weeds for crafting tinctures, salves and balms with, grown our animal herd and will continue to grow it. We have begun our new adventure together. While some bits began in our “waiting room” years ago, gardening, canning, herbs, homeopathy, and devouring any learning resources on things I knew were coming “some day”, actually having this expanse of land and multiplying what we had done in the past has been such a cool thing, sometimes a very hard thing (we just remind ourselves that “nothing worth having comes easy”, mistakes and hard things happen and we learn and move forward, sometimes only by the skin of our teeth), but we are committed and cant wait to see whats yet to come.

What is a Manna Moment you ask? Its the way the sun sets and casts its glory over the horizon, the laughter of your child that makes your heart so happy, being His hands and feet to someone else to ease their burden and show them love, the kindness or smile of another they specifically chose to bestow upon you, the swirl your cream makes when it hits your coffee (or tea if that’s what floats your boat), your bestie’s squeeze of your bones after not seeing them for months…..these are the moments you tuck away, the bright spots even when things are rough, doesn’t matter how big or how small, it’s what brings your heart joy.

 

Manna is everywhere, we just have to choose to intentionally look for it.

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