Pioneer Files: Notes from a Homeschooling Veteran

A man who lives without honor will not gain by education.

It’s Okay to Breathe

The beauty of a home education is in its flexibility. Some days God had plans for us that differed from those I had made. There were days that an illness, death, unplanned visitor, or impromptu field trip invaded upon my neat lessons plans (yes, I made lesson plans) for the day. Then I tried to take a deep breath and flow with God’s plans. After all, this was a good way for my children to get a taste of real life uninsulated by the artificial culture of an institutional atmosphere.

Here, again, were the opportunities for learning as our children watched us interact with others and respond to life’s pressures and demands.

Please have fun.

We loved to occasionally surprise our children with time off for a special family field trip. And yes, we even took days off just to relax at home. It usually didn’t take long to recover lost ground. I just tried to not make it a habit to let trivial distractions consume our days. It took determination to keep going every day, year after year, and to keep moving toward our goals.

Daily experiences are wonderful teaching resources. Often the best lessons emerge from odd moments or spontaneous conversations. A lunchtime discussion of the news or the discovery of a bird’s nest during a morning walk can provide happy memories and direct our attitudes in a life-changing way.

This happened to me.

The Walk that Changed a Life

As a teenager, I was already an avowed evolutionist, well-trained by my public school teacher to scorn as backward anyone who believed in special creation by God. But one beautiful day, my beloved Irish grandmother came to visit us. She and I took a walk in the sunshine, just basking in the joy of each other’s company and conversing in the natural way that sometimes only grandparents and grandchildren can.

That day, we fell into the subject of evolution as we walked. I defended it with youthful egotism; she opposed it gently. At that moment we happened upon a bird’s nest perched in the branches of a dwarf fruit tree, lying low enough for our inspection. Our movement disturbed the young birds, and in unison they raised up their fuzzy heads and opened their wide red mouths for breakfast.

As Grandma Jean and I chuckled over our discovery, she suddenly and urgently cradled the rough nest in her hands, looked at me tenderly, and softly asked, “Now, Pam, can you look at this and tell me there is no God?”

I was cut to the quick. This was no scientific debate, no angry exchange of facts and theories. It was nothing less than the Spirit of God, using a little mousy-haired woman to draw my heart to Him.

To this day, I can’t explain why her simple statement touched me so deeply. I can only say that when I looked at the nest and those little birds inside it, I knew without a doubt that I was wrong. Only much later would I read the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans and learn that creation itself testifies to the reality and nature of the Creator.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. -Romans 1:20

It was not many years later that Grandma Jean died. But that one day sent me on a journey to find her God and to know Him as she did. It also taught me to never underestimate the work of the Holy Spirit in the simple things we do with our children.

It’s okay to breathe, take a walk, and let God lead your path through parenting.

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About PamThorson

Pam is a licensed practical nurse, author, caregiver, and veteran homeschooler. Her first book, Song in the Night, recounts her son's fight for life after a spinal cord injury. Her second book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver, offers hope and encouragement to those who care for others. Her third book, Arrow: the History and People of an Idaho Community, Volume One, presents the history of the community of Arrow, Idaho.

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