When I think back on our family’s homeschooling experience, I see a beautiful quilt. A crazy quilt describes it even better. Each “square” in every family’s experience is a piece of a quilt. The Master of the Universe puts them together to make something wonderful. We get to decide what goes into many of those individual quilt squares. If we live those squares faithfully, God will use them to bless our children. It’s a relief to know that homeschooling mamas aren’t the “quilters” of the whole family crazy quilts. We are, however, faithful square choosers.
When our family was homeschooling, we used some textbooks. We were involved with a homeschool group. We made academics a priority. But, without the squares I describe below, our quilt wouldn’t be the precious, memory-filled, cherished one that God continues to piece together today.
This is the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Ray and I went there on our honeymoon. God’s gift of marriage was the first square in our homeschool quilt. Our decision to keep loving each other – when it was easy and when it was hard – is a crucial piece in our family’s crazy quilt. If the Lord wills, we’ll celebrate 44 years in December.
This is an English cottage. Ray’s mother was from England. Learning about things English was a source of joy in our homeschool. We read English literature. We cooked English foods. We enjoyed contact with our English relatives.
This is the Bronze Star that Ray’s daddy earned during World War II. Ray and I know that the “squares” our parents put into the family quilts of our childhoods are foundational pieces of the quilt we added to with our children. Without World War II, Ray wouldn’t have had an English mother. Ray’s parents met in Bristol, England, during the war.
I made this square for my mama and daddy. My parents taught me to follow God, to enjoy life, to work hard, and to be dependable. They also taught me how to explore America on a budget.
Ray and I followed in my parents’ exploring footsteps. We took our children to 48 states – on a shoestring. In the quilt square below, the smaller square on the left shows the states we visited. The smaller square on the right one shows “Old Brownie,” the minivan that took us to many of them. We drove that minivan until it literally died in a hotel parking lot barely off the Interstate exit as we drove to look at a used car that was for sale by owner. We had to call the owner to come to the parking lot so we could talk about buying his Suburban. Needless to say, we didn’t have any bargaining power — but we do have a great family story!
These, as you see, are books. Ray’s daddy taught Ray to love books. We taught our children to love them. They still do, and so do their spouses and their children.
These are Ray’s and my matching English country dance clothes. We started English country dance because our daughter Bethany asked us to do so during her senior year in homeschool. English country dance introduced our children to people from far different backgrounds than they had known before. Now we have almost two decades of dance memories. All of us enjoy it still, and we have lifelong friends, and even a son-in-law, whom we got to know through dance.
This is Home Sweet Home. It’s the place — whether in Mississippi, Illinois, or Tennessee — where we decided what to choose for those other squares. It’s where we learned and loved and grew together. It’s the place our children left to begin their own family quilts.
It’s okay to dream about the finished quilt God is working on for your family. It’s okay to make plans, but don’t let worries about future quilt squares steal your joy. Don’t forget to enjoy the square you are living with your children today.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Charlene Notgrass is a veteran homeschooling mom. One of her greatest joys is encouraging other moms as they homeschool. Charlene blogs Monday through Friday at Daily Encouragement for Homeschooling Mothers. She also creates history curriculum that is fun for students and easy for parents. Charlene and her husband Ray were married in 1974. They enjoy classic literature, traveling together, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.t
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Notgrass History.