Dabney Hedegard on Being a Professional Patient, Author, and Homeschooling Mom

(Elizabeth here! Today I am proud to introduce author and homeschooling mom, Dabney Hedegard. I first met Dabney at a writing conference where she was trying to sell a memoir about her life. Her story is one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard, and the moment I found out she was also a homeschooling mom, I knew I had to have her here on The Journal! She is an absolute sweetheart and one of the most friendly people I know. Please give her a warm welcome by leaving a comment or two. And now, Dabney!)

Dabney & FamilyGarden School: Dabney, can you tell us what made you decide an alternative education was right for your family?

Dabney Hedegard: After battling cancer twice (once while pregnant) and surviving four near-death experiences by my 30s, I honestly didn’t know how many days I’d have left to spend with my children, let alone teach them about life. So the short answer is, my clock was ticking. Homeschooling equaled precious time with my kids.

GS: What has been some of your greatest challenges as a homeschooling mom?

DH: Other than the classic furrowed brow from strangers and the, “Oh,” I receive after explaining why my kids are out of school, walking around CVS at 11:00 a.m. with me?

All kidding aside, I’d say teaching four children with different learning styles.

I assumed that since my first daughter sat for hours while I read aloud her history/geography/science subjects, that my second child would naturally follow suit. When daughter number two began kindergarten, I pulled out my favorite literature-based Sonlight curriculum, and read away. Only she twaddled fingers, yawned, and shrugged when I asked pop-quiz questions.

This obstinacy wouldn’t fly. Not at my Hedegard Academy, where the headmistress prided herself on bringing the child to the Sonlight standard. I reread the paragraph and slowed my speech to be certain my five-year-old daughter (who happened to be adopted from China) heard me.

Again, I got the blank stare and a shrug. It took me a year to realize my China-doll was a visual learner and enjoyed workbooks and DVD tutorials.

What’s that?

This workbook stuff flew in the face of everything I’d researched on how to be an awesome homeschool teacher. “Don’t do what schools do,” I’d always read. “You homeschool to give them a better education, which includes reading living books!”

Well, it turns out that my second child thrives when given workbooks and brightly-colored curricula. Eh, I surrendered my pride, learned from my mistakes, and discovered this child God blessed us with is wicked-smart—and she’s not an avid reader, but a superb memorizer and mathematician.

Sadly, I wouldn’t find out until the end of her first grade year that she had mild hearing loss in both ears. I thought I was a horrible mother until her doctor told me, “Whatever you’re doing to help with her pronunciation, keep it up. Her speech is incredible considering her hearing limitations. You might want to move her to the front of the class in school, though.”

“Well, that will be easy. I homeschool.”

“Oh,” his brow furrowed.

I couldn’t help but smirk.

GS: Conversely, what are some of the greatest advantages in your opinion?

DH: I have the freedom to reinforce that God has a plan for their lives. We all need someone to believe in us, and know that those desires placed on our hearts are there for a reason. Daily fostering that gift and watching it grow is a privilege.

Secondly, my kids love to cook, bake, read (well, three of them), paint, and write. These are activities they see me do, so they naturally follow what’s modeled. I’ve never required them to write at a young age, but since I’m an author, they see me set aside time for what I love most. Writing is fun for them. (Please don’t tell them it’s an academic requirement.)

When God IntervenesGS: You recently wrote a memoir about some pretty miraculous things that happened in your life. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

DH: I could tell you that at age 25 the doctor discovered a football-sized tumor in my chest. I could also tell you that my greater fear of the unknown grew in my belly, inches below this mass: a six week old baby. But what I’ve learned is that life sometimes isn’t in the living. It’s in the surviving. That’s where our eyes readjust to the truths surrounding our circumstances.

10 years and four near-death experiences later, I figured out that life isn’t so much about me. It’s about what He wants to do through me. When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers) is a story about an ordinary girl in search of hope.

GS: I think pretty much every homeschooling mom struggles with time management. How did you manage to write a book and homeschool, and what advice could you give to other moms who are struggling to balance their time?

DH: You can’t hear me, but I’m laughing pretty hard behind my computer screen, because there’s never enough hours in the day, it seems. The bottom line is: you make time for what’s important to you.

In the beginning, I scheduled my days into half-hour increments. I allotted time for school activities and evenings with my husband (if I didn’t pencil my man in, he may have been forgotten). Writing always followed my morning devotions. It had to. With limited freedom to think in silence, I woke at 5:00 am to scrawl the words out. I did this on and off for a little over four years.

Towards the end (the last six months), after my manuscript was picked up, my schedule went out the window. I’d wake a 2:00 a.m. with this spectacular thought (all God) and I’d write until 7:00 a.m., then crash for a few hours. Thankfully, my husband or my mother-in-law had the flexibility to help in the mornings or sometimes in the afternoons when I needed naps to keep up my nighttime habits. But, it was worth the sacrifice of sleep.

That’s what it boils down to: sacrifice. When God puts something on your heart, don’t question it. Run after it with everything you have, and expect Him to show up for the rest. The rewards far outweigh the effort. My kids have a legacy to pass on and the world has the opportunity to read the undeniable power of prayer and the proof that miracles still exist.

GS: What part does your faith play in your role as both a homeschooling mom and in your daily routine?

DH: Without Jesus, I wouldn’t have the patience to teach.

Let’s be honest. I’m human and determined and like things done my way. When you have a house full of kiddos, things typically don’t go as planned. This is when mommy needs an Almighty Counselor to stabilizer her semi-control freakish tendencies.

So the days I wake late and skip my quiet times, my now 10-year-old China-doll can sniff out my spiritless state just by looking at me. She typically asks, “Mommy, have you read your Bible today?”

After confirming that, no I haven’t, she’s said on more than one occasion, “Why don’t you go spend time with Jesus. I’ve got breakfast.”

No lie.

There’s me inside of me and God inside of me. One is obviously more consistently peace-filled. How lucky are we that we can tap into His goodness every single day? Glory.

GS: What’s one thing you wish you would have known when you first started homeschooling?

DH: To chill out and not worry so much about what other people think.

And, that it’s not so much about which curriculum you use, but the time spent investing in your child. I was a die-hard Sonlight junkie. I mean, any chance I could, I sang Sonlight’s praises because my firstborn, who is now fourteen, excelled so rapidly and tested years ahead of her grade. Then when my second child floundered using my pedestal curriculum, we turned to workbooks and other supplementary tools. She still succeeded.

This year, now that all four of my children are school-aged, we switched curriculums yet again and joined a homeschooling community called Classical Conversations. The kids congregate one day a week and learn all of their history, geography, math, English grammar, science, art/music, and Latin facts from tutors. The parents then spend the rest of the week reviewing and delving deeper into each subject. The younger kids use games and memorize information, which again thwarts the technique I so once loved. But so far, this program works, too. Even for my wiggly 8-year-old son. That’s a first.

When tucking my youngest five-year-old into bed at night, I hear her pray, “Thank you God for Classical Conversations.” I know that she loves what we’re doing, and it took much adapting on my part to get there.

It’s not so much about the curriculum as it is about them loving to learn. Find what’s right for your family. Flexibility is the key. That, and lots of prayer.

GS: Any last words or advice for our readers?

DH: Make it pleasurable for everyone.

If the kids hide when you pull out the curriculum, this might be an indication something needs to change. Not that it’s your job to cave to their reactions, but listen to what they love and adapt. This makes for a much more gratifying school experience.

Oh, and do what homeschooling guru Todd Wilson says: “Enjoy them while you can. One day they’ll be gone.”

Thank you so much for coming on, Dabney! It was a pleasure to have you!

Readers: Find a link to my review of Dabney’s book When God Intervenes by clicking on the “Freebies” tab!

About Dabney:

Dabney HedegardDabney Hedegard is an author, speaker, and professional patient whose four near-death experiences are chronicled in a fast-paced memoir, When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers, July 2013). Her journey of uncertainty and miraculous intervention is one she hopes will help others realize that God has the perfect plan for their life, even in the midst of their pain.

Dabney has been featured on In the Market with Janet Parshall, Chris Fabry Live!, and The Bob Dutko Show, to name a few. She and her husband live in West Palm Beach, Florida with their four children. She enjoys interacting with readers at dabneyland.com.


Handling Grief With Grace

    By Dave Miller

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." --A.A. Milne.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” –A.A. Milne.

I knew I would have to write about this sooner or later. I’ve been able to get a lot of it out on my Facebook posts. (What a surprisingly effective tool Facebook has become for allowing us to bear one another’s burdens!) A college friend commented on one such post, “Being your Facebook friend has been a crash course in how to handle grief with grace. God’s blessings will continue to sustain you and your family, David.” And so it is and so they have. So now I’m putting down a few of the ways that, by God’s grace, I’ve dealt with my own grief.

It is certain that no one is immune from loss. Who has not been touched by the death of a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a parent, a sibling, or a close friend? For the youngest among us, the passing of a cherished pet ushers in the knowledge of “the way of all flesh.” May my own crash course help in your own grief observed or to come.

The inexorable facts:

At 11:46 p.m. on Friday, February 15th, the cell starting to play my ring tone. I remember thinking, “Who could be calling at this hour?” It was the phone call no parent ever wants to get. Renee and I were in bed watching a forgettable movie that we’d downloaded from Amazon.com. We did not finish the movie that evening and I doubt we ever will.

“Are you the father of Marquelle Miller?”

“Yes.” I’m thinking this is not good.

“This is ____________ from Victim Assistance.” My first thought was Kellie had been assaulted. What else could this be about? She was living with her friend in Denver, a big city with more crime than in our little town.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that your daughter was killed in a car accident this evening…”

“No!” I slam the laptop shut. By now Renee is standing up with the realization that something is seriously wrong. I speak out the words that will change her life forever, “Kellie was killed in a car accident.” As the sentence, like electricity, flows into her being, her legs buckle and she kneels on the floor crying out, “No God, please, no, not my little girl, not my Kellie…”

In incoherent sentences, I try to talk to the victim assistance woman. (She came over a half hour later, and was very kind to us in our grief.)

This was the beginning of a journey that we–and many of you who knew and loved our daughter and Malachi, the young man who was also killed–have been shoved into. It’s one we would never choose nor wish on anyone, but our path is irrevocable. As is all of ours…

Marquelle "Kellie" Miller and Malachi Bilson.

Marquelle “Kellie” Miller and Malachi Bilson.

Though it’s excruciating to remember those first traumatic moments, I’d like you to have a window into such a gut-wrenching loss and how I dealt with the events that followed. I can’t go into much detail here but hopefully enough to reassure you that you can handle more than you ever thought you could, even the death of a loved one.

In this kind of a loss, some of the things you do will be automatic, some will take more thinking, but be at peace with whatever you do or decide.

We drove through the night with our family to be near Kellie. We stayed at our niece’s house in darkness. In the morning, I contacted the insurance company, spoke to the coroner, made a decision about seeing the body—he advised me to wait. Try to sleep, drink water, can’t eat. My son-in-law proved to be a godsend as he made calls to the towing yard and the police when the grief would overcome me.

Arrangements have to be made: Transportation of the bodies (both Kellie and Malachi came back over the mountains for the last time together in a van), funeral preparations (some funeral homes require payment upon services rendered. Ours let us pay later), burial or cremation (burial), open casket or closed (open). Will the graveside burial be for close friends and family or open? We decided to have the burial be small and the memorial service be for the community at large. Upwards of 700 people filled the local high school auditorium to remember Kellie and Malachi.

Dealing with the raw grief in the first days: I built Kellie’s coffin. It seemed the right thing to do. Activity is good. A dear friend helped me design and build it along with his son, my son, and son-in-law. My two brothers helped put the finishing stain on the Alderwood casket. It turned out to be beautiful beyond words, a worthy container to hold such precious contents. Her cousins made the cushion and found a suitable blanket. They wrote poems and verses on the cushion and the boys wrote and drew on the boards below. With every board I cut came a little healing, even though the realization of what I was building would force its way in.



casketbuilding group

There is so much more to say. Just know that people will come around you, help you take care of details, support you, love on you, feed you, say well-meaning but sometimes insensitive things to you. Let them. This is their way to help you deal with your grief. It will also help them heal from their own sorrow.

Perhaps you’d like to get more of the “raw footage.” I aired my grief to the public on Facebook. Scroll down to February 15, 2013. I’ll warn you, though, the cost of tuition is your tears. For it is in your tears that healing comes. http://www.facebook.com/davidjoelmiller

Feel free to add your comments either below or on the FB posts.



    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.



    By Shilo Bartlett

The list hanging on my desk today has about 15 things on it that need to get done. It stares back at me like a menacing cat in the corner, saying, “I dare you to try and take me on.” Its black ink has a dark feel. This is not a good list day.

Have you had a day like that? Where the things to conquer outweigh the normal goings on of your household by 2-to-1? That is a not so great day, right?

I have a solution!

There is more than one way to overcome this obstacle.

The first is to tackle the “cat” head on – just try and pound it into submission, one item at a time. This will result in what I will call “list exhaustion,” and will leave you feeling like you have fought with a tiger and lost. Scratches, bruises, mental fatigue, and diet problems always follow this route.

The second way to deal with the list is to take a ’round about route – i.e., circle the “cat,” don’t let it know you are coming, then pounce like a mad beast and ride the crazy ride. Hold on for dear life as you try and make the swirling stop. Can’t you just see it? You, riding a wild cat? Yeah, that’s one crazy way to take on “The List.” You slowly put aside your daily things, knowing you must attempt the leap at any moment, and then you just one by one knock them off while blowing what’s left of the normalcy of your day into the wind like the whirling dervish you are! This ends with another bad side effect just like the method above: headaches, children who will wonder if their parent has gone mad, and general disorder in your household.

There is, however, one more method of dealing with The List: Procrastination.

Yes, that is the method. This type of coping mechanism is one that has been proven throughout the ages as the most effective form of dealing with problems in your life that cannot be dealt with. This method requires nothing more from you than no effort at all. Yes! You look at that list waiting for you… staring at you… cowering like the cat in the corner… and what do you do? You don’t do any of it! You walk away and leave that cat to its own sad devices, and move on to living blissfully unaware of any problems, cares, or concerns of things left to be done. You move on with your life in great happiness that you have no worries, no chores, and no responsibilities. This method is the greatest yet to be applied by mankind.

Seriously though?

Procrastination is definitely not the method we should use in our lives with our responsibilities. I just like to amuse you with the ideas of what you could do with “The List” that all of us have in our lives. Sometimes it’s a daily list, other times it may be a list that you have had for years. Things that you would like to do with your life, things you know you should do for your children. “The List” can mean many things.

In my own experience, I have found that this List is like a mountain-a kind of challenge for myself. I have discovered, too, that there is a way to conquer every mountain or mole hill in a very successful way. You know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, Mt. Everest is definitely not climbed in one day, to say the least. Climbing Mt. Everest is a practiced art they perfect to achieve the goal of conquering that mountain. They train, and train some more, and acclimate, and gain muscle, and build confidence on smaller mountains before they tackle the big one.

There is a key in that method which I believe will help in achieving the various goals and lists each of us have in our lives. Small victories-small chips away at small things-always lead to bigger successes. That list? It can be finished! How? Small, even, realistic steps. Once you have conquered that small hill, and stand on top of it? The bigger mountain looks smaller, right? Yes – it looks achievable. Then you take on the larger things.

If there is a “List” or “Mountain” in your life, maybe we can try going at it like the mountain climbers taking on Everest, and not like the cat wrangler above.

Happy Mountain Climbing!


    Shilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Foundations for Learning


    By Dave Miller

[Dave’s note: What follows is a personal essay for a college application from a graduate of The Garden School. I hope it will encourage parents who have chosen private or homeschool education to “stay the course.”]

I’ve been blessed to be born into a wonderful family (in both the nuclear and extended sense) and to attend a quite extraordinary school from a very young age. My family has always cultivated my education and supported my quest for knowledge, but it was at The Garden School that I eventually understood what learning truly is. The Garden School is a classical Christian private school that students attend twice a week. The students work at home the other three days, following the instructors’ guidelines. The school is based on the idea that there is a Grammar stage, a Logic stage, and a Rhetoric stage. You learn facts, then you learn causes and meaning, and are finally able to communicate your ideas. The Garden School’s foundational principle is teaching students how to think, not what to think. And I thrived in this environment.

At The Garden School, I learned Philosophy from Plato, Chemistry from Lavoisier, Humor from Cervantes, and Poetry from Homer. I learned how science and music and art and government are intricately connected and cannot be separated without losing meaning. I learned to look at the stars and see Pegasus, to look at a snowy field and hear the poetry of Frost, to read a news story and recall a similar event our modern times have all but forgotten. I learned to love knowledge. I found I could dig deeper and understand, follow a path of logic and find a mistake, speak and have my opinions heard. The Garden School instilled in me a deep and passionate longing to know and understand.

[The essay goes on to talk about the writer’s decision to attend Colorado Mountain College to earn an Associate of Arts Degree as well as her desire to transfer to a four-year university. I hope you’ll agree that for this student, the years spent at The Garden School as well as the freedom of homeschooling provided a strong foundation for furthering her education.]

As a homeschool parent, what kinds of things do you do to help your child build a solid foundation for life-long learning?


    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.

A Sign of Love

    By Elizabeth Veldboom

(This article originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters. With Mother’s Day coming up next weekend, I wanted to dedicate it not only to my own mom, but to all you mammas here at The Garden School Journal, both near and online. You are some of the greatest moms I know, and we at GSJ would like to take this moment to honor you. To help wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, we will also be giving away one free copy of The Magic of Mothers and Daughters! Please check back this Tuesday for more details.)

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”

    -Author Unknown

I saw this sign in a classroom: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” It was a simple statement, yet it evoked such gratitude, such happy memories from childhood, I couldn’t help but smile.

My mom was my teacher growing up. Since I was homeschooled from kindergarten until fifth grade, it was she who taught me how to read. The sign brought back memories of her holding up Hooked on Phonics cards and rejoicing with me when I got the right answer. It made me remember trying to copy her perfectly formed letters as she patiently waited by my side. Her helpful presence was always there as I graduated from the short Bob Books to longer books at the library.

It was she who first introduced me to Nancy Drew, and because of her I still have a bookshelf full of all fifty-six of them. Snuggled against her on our couch as she read, I listened as she transported me to mysterious times and places. It was magical to be so enveloped in a world not my own. Her steady voice guided me through books I didn’t have the ability to read yet, and I marveled at the treasure she held between her hands-this treasure she’d chosen to share with me. Sometimes while reading she’d even don a Scottish accent, just for me.

Each day she’d decide upon a certain number of chapters we’d be reading. But as she finished that last sentence on the predetermined page, I’d prepare my plea: “Please, Mom! Just one more. I have to know what happens!”

She’d protest at first, but always acquiesced in the end. With one more chapter stirring my imagination, I always left content, dreaming of what would happen next and looking forward to the next episode.

Throughout the years, I never lost my love for reading. The magic and excitement never changed for me. What did change was my need to have my mom read to me. I could begin and finish a book when I wanted and I didn’t need her to sit down with me to help me through it. Soon our precious reading time evaporated all together. Instead, I locked myself away in my room to read.

I became an independent teenager who still loved to read, but who had forgotten where she first acquired that love. I grew to love writing, too, and found it was almost impossible to express myself in any other way. What had once enthralled me as a listener, I could now create! It was a whole new kind of magic, but with a forgotten source.

Until the day I saw the sign. Suddenly, it all rushed back to me. The memories of looking over her shoulder as she read, catching words I hadn’t known before like gold flecks in a stream. Flying on as wonderful a magic carpet as Aladdin’s, watching people and scenery flow below. The sound of her sipping from the cup of coffee she always brought, and her playful voice telling me to make a “duck butt” for a capital G. I smiled, realizing I had someone to thank.

I couldn’t wait to rush home and tell her. As soon as I got back, I updated her about all the happenings from the day as she glided about the kitchen preparing dinner. Then I remembered.

“Oh! Mom. Thank you for teaching me how to read.”

For the first time she stopped, casserole in her mitted hands. With a quizzical brow she asked, “What? Where did that come from?”

“Thank you for teaching me how to read. I read a sign in Mr. Jabbour’s classroom today that said, ‘If you can read this, thank a teacher.’ Well, you’re the one who taught me. So thank you.”

A look of touched surprise came into her eyes. “Oh. Well, you’re welcome, honey.”

We shared a fond smile, each of us remembering a certain green couch where it all began. The memories only we could share. It was only a part of my childhood, but how special it was. But even more special was my mom, my teacher.

Because of her, I have found a passion and a career. Because of her, I have been encouraged, guided, and taught. Because of her, I am inspired to pass on to my own children one day the gift she gave to me.

Mom and I hugging on Graduation day.

Mom and I hugging on Graduation day.

What are some of your favorite memories from childhood?


    Elizabeth V. PicElizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Susie Magazine and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com

Further Up and Further In

    By Shilo Bartlett

I looked up the phrase “carpe diem” the other day. I was curious since I’d been pondering other phrases such as “live for today,” and “you only live once.” I was thinking about the fact that tomorrow isn’t a given for some of us. Not in the morbid sense of dwelling on loss, but on the prospect of the good that is in store for us once we leave here. That it only gets better!

So the Latin meaning of the phrase “carpe diem” is as follows: Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – “Seize the day, putting as little trust as possible in the next (day)[/future].” There have been many interpretations of this, one being what I quoted before as the “carpe diem” seize-the-day mentality. It seems to be the concept that “you only live once,” so live now! Because tomorrow might not come!

However, I have a different thought on this.

I have read The Chronicles of Narnia many times, both on my own and with my children. The last book in the series is a type or shadow of the End Times, when the earth will fall apart and we will be with the Lord. As you read this book, there is a phrase that Aslan uses several times when talking about where the children are headed: “Further up and further in!”


They have left the old behind and are heading into the “new” Narnia- i.e. heaven- and can run faster than eagles. He encourages them to just keep going “further up and further in.” When they do this, they discover that the land doesn’t just stop, it literally keeps going as they discover it and unfolds as they go. They can’t see what is beyond, but they trust that they will find the new as they go further in.

This was very intriguing to me. It applies to so many areas of our life. It doesn’t just seem that we should live “for today,” but maybe trust that while we do live today, tomorrow will be taken care of. We can’t see what is over the hill, or around the corner, or over the mountain, but that doesn’t mean we should stop, does it? It just means we run faster at it! That unknown is not a bad thing; it is discovery, life well lived.

It is the challenge of life – when you run up against that unknown of tomorrow, or the next big problem, what do you do? He says “further up and further in”! That in itself is living, isn’t it? You are right here and now, living “the moment,” but yet looking ahead without fear. consciously choosing to move in the direction you are heading without wavering.

With our children it is easy to be afraid, to question ourselves as well as the paths and decisions we have chosen for them. The huge choice of what their education will be like is one that every parent faces. But instead of fearing that tomorrow is uncertain and you should hide from the challenges they are up against, maybe we can gain confidence from the fact that we can choose the path, then go “further up and further in”! Knowing that today we live by what we know, preparing for what we can’t see, and not being concerned that it will bring the unknown with it. Being confident that whatever tomorrow is or will be, we are here today, and we can enjoy that! To enjoy what He has given us right now, and looking forward to tomorrow. Not living as if it won’t come – living knowing it will!

And that to me is very, very “carpe diem.”

What areas of your life could use some “carpe diem”?


    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Is Literacy the Key to Happiness?

    By Marquelle Miller

(Elizabeth-or Lizzie-here. Today’s special guest post comes from Marquelle Miller. The following is a paper I received from Kellie when I assigned Persuasive Essays at The Garden School, and just happens to be the only paper of hers somehow saved on my computer. Kellie was one of those people who always brought a smile to your face with her joy, her own personal creativity, and all-encompassing hugs. She was a leader in all she said and did, and her sweet spirit continues to ripple into the hearts of many. Today it’s my privilege to share just a glimpse of that beautiful spirit with you.)

KellieCreativity is just as important as literacy. Have you ever noticed that there is a hierarchy in school of what subjects are taught? Kids have an infinite possibility of creativeness, why should it all be directed solely on math and science? The people who are good in those subjects are usually considered more intelligent than those who study drama and dance.

A hierarchical system is set up with math and science at the top, then Humanities, followed by the arts, music, drama, and finally, dance. I think that a balance of each of these subjects is necessary for people not to feel isolated. The expression on people’s faces is quite amusing when I tell them I do not take a math class and am required to be in a play. I’ve even had someone tell me flat out my education is stupid and that I need math and science to go to college. I have heard, time and time again, that character is more important than knowledge. But in order to grow in character, you need to be creative. Although there is a time and place for math and science, when a student is gifted in other things, having to sit at a desk solving math problems can and does suppress character.

Many would agree that people are gifted in different areas. For some it is being logical; for others, it’s dancing. Creativity is having original ideas that have value. There are endless possibilities of creativity, but schools tend to suppress it. Children will often have a go at anything, even if they’re unsure about it. School’s number one job often seems to be to stigmatize mistakes so the student feels downcast and stupid.

With this method it seems as though we are educating kids out of creativity. Being creative is very dynamic and interactive. Sticking kids in a classroom for hours upon end does not enhance artistic abilities. Everything kids do in school is preparing them for college, and if they don’t go to college they are, in the world’s view, a failure. While I’m not trying to elevate theatre and dance above everything else, I am saying those in the educational establishment could use a little stretching of their imagination, even if it’s not their calling or passion.

A hierarchy that values those who are more gifted in math and science is a rather crude way to measure people’s intelligence. Happiness is much more important than that anyway. If being creative is what makes you happy, why are the schools taking that away and forcing students to do other things? There is no reason not to follow one’s heart: if that means being a poor artist or musician so be it. Being creative should be a part of everything one does.


Kellie MillerSept. 22, 1994 – Feb. 15, 2013. Beautiful and talented, Kellie’s exuberant nature was a delight to all who knew her. Her legacy at the Garden School community as a student and her roles in school plays will live on. Kellie attended New Hope Church and had a strong faith that her friends couldn’t help but catch. She was active in the Glenwood Center for the Arts, and last November sang and danced in Aspen Community Theatre’s production, “Crazy for You.” We only got to be with her a short time, but her dancing spirit will be felt in our valley and beyond forever.