Happy Father’s Day with a Peek Into the Past

Happy Father’s Day to our amazing dad! Since I shared a special twist on this year’s Mother’s Day post, I wanted to do the same for Dad’s! What awesome memories flooded me as I scanned in old pictures to share.

Dads are a key foundation in a child’s life. Growing up, I knew my dad was always there for me. He listened, he encouraged, he spent time with my siblings and me, and he did many things to lighten Mom’s load. How many guys do you know that will grocery shop for their wife AND take all the kiddos? That was my dad!

Dad faithfully led our family in following Jesus, and also gave us an amazing example, not only by spending time in God’s Word personally each day but as a family.

We love you, Dad! We can never thank you enough for your love and investment in our lives and the lives of the next generation! Happy Father’s Day!

Reading to Christopher and me!

Spending time with Nathan and Christopher.

When I was about 3, he took me out for a daddy-daughter date. He would have been about 34 in the picture above!

He has a soft spot for dogs! 🙂

Dad gave lots of backpack rides to his littles.

Even though work projects would have been easier without small children helping, he knew it was part of the process to equip them. Now, each of my five brothers are great with projects!

Giving a blessing to Joseph on his spiritual birthday.

Before blog days, he and Mom spoke to a homeschool group overseas, and they were also able to spend a little time in Switzerland, celebrating their 25th anniversary! How grateful we are for parents who LOVE each other!

Baptizing Anna

Feeding chipmunks with Mary

Did you know Dad takes great pictures? It’s true!

Dad has a tremendous love for God’s Word.

Here he is again with a son, doing a project together. This is where our house currently is–so we were just in the beginning stage!

Hiking with the family in Colorado

Dad loves to share with Christian parents! His books continue to go out to families across the nation, along with his weekly Seriously Dad e-mail.

The sweet bus days!

Dad loves his grandchildren!

He’s truly a man with a vision!

Happy Father’s Day also to my brothers, Nathan, Christopher, and Joseph! Love you guys!

“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house:
thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.”
Psalm 128:3-4

Kittens for Christina’s Birthday!

Is there anything sweeter than a little girl and a kitten?

Is there anything better than a-once-in-a life-time birthday present?

Is there anything more exciting than the-once-in-a life-time birthday present being a surprise?

It was all there double for Christina’s birthday!

A few days before I received this text from Nathan, he asked if he could use my cat carrier:

Are you going to be home today around one? If so, I would send Christina up to your front door to pick up the carrier, but she wouldn’t know she’s picking up the carrier just that she needs something for our birthday outing today, and you give it to her, and she comes back to the van.

That was the start to a day I don’t think Christina will ever forget. Four kittens came home in the van along with kitten supplies. One of their stops was Petsmart, where they loaded up with all kinds of supplies!

Two kittens were for Christina’s birthday, and two went out to Melanie’s parents’ farm. Nathan and Melanie have sought ways as city dwellers to help their children learn responsibility (chickens, kittens… 🙂 ).

Update: for those asking, the girls named them Tiger and Pickles. Pickles comes from a book I read to them called The Fire Cat (Titus2 Amazon affiliate link, see our Privacy Policy here.).

Trusting in Jesus,

Sarah experiencing kitten love (and claws :))

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150:6).


Part 1: The Book Writing Process

“I think it would be very educational (not to mention fascinating) for you to guide us blog readers through the process of writing a book. From the initial idea to the finished product, step-by-step.” A blog reader

Book writing is a process, so I’m going to divide this into a series.

  1. Ideas! That’s where you start, and I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not overflowing with countless future book ideas. I have some, but not a crazy number, as some people do. The Lord is faithful to give me each story, and so I believe my lack of having a storehouse creates an even greater dependence on HIM! With my current book, my initial book idea completely changed about three months ago. I still may write that first book someday in the future but not now. As I work on ideas, I discuss it with my team. 🙂 See my team below. They are amazing! The ideas they come up with?! Whew!

2. Outline! So once I get the story plot concept, I outline it to see if it works in an actual story. This for me is the hardest part of the journey. One can only sit and brainstorm for so long! But I take my brainstorming in manageable chunks. Then, I go to my team of helpers and run through my ideas. Several in my family should be fiction writers themselves (seriously!). We usually discuss my outline after dinner and Bible time. They’ll give me suggestions of things I ought to change or that don’t make sense or fresh ideas.

I love this verse on my wall!

3. Character Profiles! This is a new thing I’ve implemented in my current book. To keep my characters unique and to help me as I really learn them, I have profiles listing out what kind of person they really are: their likes, dislikes, personality, etc. I’ve studied a book on personalities (there are many books out there!) which has helped me to create real-life characters.

4. Pre-Book Trial Run! This is another new thing. Although my family has critiqued and gone through the book, I don’t normally have others read it until about the time it goes to a copyeditor. But, this time around, I selected a number of people to FaceTime/Skype with, and I told them my story. Their response?! They loved it! It was also great for me to be able to articulate my book in 30-45 minutes of time and also to see what my weak areas were.

We’ll stop with those and delve into the actual writing process next time I share.


Brainstorming with coffee and my favorite dog :: a perfect combo.

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:
bind them about thy neck;
write them upon the table of thine heart.”
(Proverbs 3:3)

Sunday Lunch at the Maxwells

(I, Sarah, will need to work on getting a whole family photo better without a wide angle lens. I’m going to try for a photo from the kitchen. It’s simply impossible to do from the edge of the dining room and get everyone!)

On Sunday after church, we have the delight of the family joining together for lunch at our house. The girls and I do the meal preparation work because we want to give the mommies a break. Typically we have the same simple menu, one we started years ago when Steve wanted to make Sunday more of a rest day for me. Steve, with the help of the girls and me, makes up a huge batch of burrito beans every few months that we freeze and defrost for Sunday lunches.

Green salad
Bean burritos with fresh homemade whole wheat tortillas
Chips and salsa

Recently we moved to buffet style and paper goods to simplify. We reached the maximum size of our dining table seating18—and have a high chair at each corner of the table, and we are still a few more than that.

Our Sunday lunches are happy, loud, and a sweet time of family connection.

Trusting in Jesus,

Abby and Bethany often help Sarah make tortillas. Abby has been Sarah’s apprentice for so many years that she can easily roll them out herself.


Since we’ve overfilled our table, Anna sat with Ruthie here, and also got some baby-holding time in.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren
to dwell together in unity!”
(Psalm 133:1)

How to Start Lettering

A question posted from one of our blog readers: I was hoping Mary would share how she got started lettering. My girls want to try to learn this skill. Does Mary have any resources she’d recommend to learn? There are so many things out there to choose from, but I’d love help!”

Before Mary left for her trip, I asked if she could write a post on how she got started. I’m excited to share with you her journey.

I (Mary) can remember in May of 2015 saying I really wanted to learn to better letter when I tried to write something beautiful, much to no avail. I enjoyed art and the beauty of letters interested me. There are so many shapes and styles. I began to doodle around and enjoyed it very much. Lettering is a bit overwhelming because there is so much talent out there! I haven’t set out to be a pro because that’s not the direction I’m going, but I desire to keep improving as I learn and do the best I can do. It makes me so happy to see how happy nice lettering makes others! A world opens up of turning any text into something beautiful and personal, and that means a lot to others which makes it very worthwhile. 

So, for the real question: how did I learn? I learned by copying others (and as exactly as possible), doodling, and a lot of practicing (Sarah’s note: she usually had a pen and notebook next to where she sat in the living room so if there was idle time, she’d practice and practice her lettering). I’ve watched some videos from SkillShare, but it’s amazing what can be learned through observation. I like to look at signs, banners, billboards, the Internet, and text anywhere as I go about life. It’s helpful to see how others arrange letters and that can spark new ideas. 


This is Mary’s first picture of lettering something. She got the idea on the Internet.

This was Christmas that year.

Shortly after that, and before I got Ellie, she decorated the door with the above.

Then, in just one year’s time, her lettering looked like the above — completely her own idea!

Honestly, doesn’t that Mom above make you smile? Compare it to the mom on the plain white envelope to the right. It’s okay, I can say that because the one on the right is mine. Mary’s beautiful lettering DOES make a person smile.

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he
hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can
find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Random Life Kicked Up

Another month is history, and wow, so much happened! Here is your peek at random life. The joys and the funnies and the real deal.


Mary working on a sewing project before her trip.

Christopher and Anna Marie invited us over for a “thank-you-for-helping-after-Elizabeth-was-born” special dinner. Here Anna, Jesse, and Mary are enjoying watching the kids ride their trikes around the deck, and of course, the kids enjoyed an audience.

Anna took the girls out shopping. Love this selfie!

Dad working

Dinner with John and Chelsy

The children like to pile up and come down the slide together, and then kicking the ball off the slide makes it even more exciting.

Volleyball on a warm spring evening with siblings and friends

This is the kind of delicious dinner Anna sometimes makes for us.

Update: Several have asked about the recipe for the above dish. I have good news! I found the information. It’s called Chicken Potpie Galette from the Taste of Home April / May 2018 issue. You could likely find it on their website.

Mom is faithful to do a special yearly picnic with the kiddos having to do with a book she began reading to them when Abby was little.

The girls picked up sticks in Grandpa’s yard!

Shopping day for my sisters in preparation for their trip, and of course, what’s a shopping trip without coffee? I wasn’t able to make it due to my book project.

New pink polos.

Decorating the birthday cake.

Abby turned 10 and had a special breakfast with her daddy.

Making yogurt.

Since I don’t have a way to post Live photos (taken with an iPhone), I took a clip of this. We were smiling for the photo, and Arnold decided to jump for the streamer Mom held in the middle of our picture.

Planting flowers.

Repairing GiGi’s fence.

Special Aunt + Niece time out.

We four spent great times together before the girls left (above pictured before a game of Spikeball). Jesse and I miss them!

Calia and Anna are quite the buddies, and here they are peeking on baby birds.

Arnold and Ellie.

Celebrating GiGi’s birthday. Those cupcakes Mary made were amazing!

Miss Calia was really into helping GiGi with her gifts and cards.

Bible time on the porch.

Some of the kids watching a driveway get put in. What is it about big machinery and little kiddos?

This is seriously Arnold’s favorite spot right now.

Kyle is growing up!


Working outside, and this particular Saturday was TOASTY!

A great game of Dutch Blitz with Chelsy, who loves it. I love it too, but somehow I’m not very good on my own team.

A playtime with Aunt Mary the day before she left.

At Memorial Day, we expanded to a second table, as we can no longer seat everyone around our big one. It worked!

Making her brother a birthday card!

This was an EARLY morning smoothie.

Helping Dad change out the washer.

Jesse setting up his hammock to sleep outside one night.

Ellie and I one beautiful evening recently.

There you have it. Random life at the Maxwells.

“I will bless the LORD at all times:
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Psalm 34:1