“Family is everything,” Carol Sagebin declared in a recent e-mail exchange and video chat. That phrase was a recurring theme as we discussed her life and passion for Big Ocean.
Family brought her to Big Ocean. Her sister-in-law is Carolina Sagebin Allen, Big Ocean’s founder. (It can be confusing since both women are named Carolina and called Carol by family and close friends. At Big Ocean, we refer to her as Carol and her sister-in-law as Carolina.) Though she was a newlywed at the time, Carol said this maternal brand of feminism “struck me deep as I felt the same way. I felt like it was one of my callings on earth, to help Carol (Carolina) spread the goodness Big Ocean brings. I started by helping her with graphic design and managing social media.”
Carol’s favorite memory within Big Ocean also involves family. She was her expecting daughter Eloah, and decided to donate her baby shower to bless families with greater needs than her own. Those at the shower donated to a local non-profit called Mother’s Refuge. “That’s what I love most–being able to help my community with the little that I’m able to offer. Where before I felt hopeless because the world was just too big, now Big Ocean Women taught me the little things I do at home and around me make a difference.”
Now a mother of two and business owner, she laughed when asked how she balances these demands on her time, while continuing to serve in Big Ocean. Remembering that family is everything and also recognizing her husband Eduardo’s strength and support are key factors. “I take one day at a time. I try to remind myself that right now my role as a mother is the most important. It’s really hard, and I’m grateful my husband takes his fatherhood seriously because I couldn’t do it without him. I try to not get stressed out by things out of my control and prioritize family time over keeping the house sparkling clean all the time. One day my kids will be out of the house and I’ll miss the mess. My husband and I try to help each other so we’re both not overwhelmed. I’m most grateful that we switch back and forth kid duties so I’m able to continue being an artist and we can each have a part in our art business.” See Big Ocean Tenet 4.
Carol describes growing up in a powerful family which gave her a foundation on which to build. Pointing to the Big Ocean tenet, “We greatly value the unique and contributing roles of families,” she gives examples of these roles. See Big Ocean Tenet 12.
“My family life was always a strong one. I was born in Brazil and lived there until age 13. Living in a third world country wasn’t easy, especially for my parents. My childhood memories are all very happy. I can’t picture a lot of material things, but I can picture my mom and dad in every moment.
My dad worked two hours away most of my life, … but once he was home, he was home. He worked so hard to provide for me and my siblings, eight of us, so that my mom could fulfill her dream of being a homemaker. She was loving, kind, and optimistic. When I struggle, to this day, I try and follow her example and be faithful and happy. She never judges, she sees everyone in a Christlike way, she sees them all as if they are her own children. She reminds me of what heavenly mother would be like. I feel like I can tackle any problem that comes my way because of the faith and hard work my parents taught me to have.”
“I’ve always been artistic, and lucky to have parents that supported me by buying me sketchbooks and materials to experiment with. It wasn’t until I came to the United States and took art classes in school that I realized my love for drawing and pottery. I now have my own art studio in my basement and get to share it with people every day.”
“Family is everything. No matter the circumstances you’re in, if you have strong parents that work together, who serve others, who teach you material things don’t matter, then you can overcome anything.”
This power from her family is evident in her transition as a ninth-grade immigrant. She didn’t understand the language, school system and culture in the United States and her mother couldn’t communicate with her teachers. They both felt hopeless. She was bullied and picked on and became and shy and introverted. She was also helped and comforted by teachers and others who were kind and patient. Eventually she chose to conquer the language, graduating with an almost perfect GPA and an enhanced art diploma.
Besides living her dream as a wife and mother, she cares deeply about sharing what she knows with others through Big Ocean. “It brought me hope and comfort within myself, knowing that by simply being the woman I am, I had power within me to help my family and community. By contributing my talents with Big Ocean Women, I feel peace in knowing it’ll reach further and further helping women worldwide see their true value in society. My service helps me more than I help them. And by serving alongside the women in my local cottage I know that I can have a part in bettering my neighborhood and community.”
Her dreams also include having a little farm surrounded by animals. With three dogs and chickens, she says she is getting there. However, she explains, “Because of everything I’ve been through, I can adapt to any surrounding and make friends wherever I am. I would happily live in a tiny house.” Because, you see, family is everything.
Carol’s family extends to heaven. Her favorite Big Ocean tenet is, “We are women of faith.” She explains, “Having faith is a major part of my identity; it’s gotten me through every obstacle and strengthened me in every way. Knowing that I have a purpose and I’m watched over and protected helps me every day. Above all, Jesus Christ is my hero; I base every decision upon Him. He was there for those in need, even for those who didn’t seem to deserve it; I try to think that way on a daily basis.” Even globally, family is everything for Carol.
Written by Norma Hendrickson