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I invited Sarah to contribute to Homeschool Highlights because I like her book, Journeys of Faithfulness, a devotional for girls, featuring four Biblical women who used their lives for God. I also admire her character. One night, in years past, I acted as nanny to her and her little brothers so that her parents, Clay and Sally Clarkson could go out on a rare date. Sally reciprocated so that Dean and I could do the same. This was when we lived near each other and young Sarah sometimes played with my little girls. At the time of this writing (2003) Sarah is age eighteen and a graduate of homeschool. My girls have graduated as well. Time flies when one homeschools (and relocates from state to state several times).
     Sharah loves books, Celtic music, long walks and travel adventures. When she is not at home enjoying a good book (or writing one) she travels with her parents for Whole Heart Ministries.
     Her article was sent to us untitled so the title you see is mine. I think you will find this piece to be a nice mix of action, practical advice, personal experience and what is “lovely and of good report.”
     –Karen

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homeschooling
Journeys of Faithfulness: Stories for the Heart for Faithful Girls
Sarah Clarkson / Faithworks Publications / 2002
It was a warm spring day, and a gentle sun was shining over the mountains near our Colorado home. I could feel the warmth as I knelt behind a stand of scrub oak trees with half-grown leaves, peering intently between the branches at the clearing on the hilltop ahead. Everything was completely still, no movement could be seen nearby, and the only noises were the cries of the magpies, and a soft hum from the wind. Joy, my five-year-old sister crouched right beside me.
     “Do you hear dem Sabah? I can’t see dem yet.”
     “Shhh!”
     A sudden crashing through the bushes and wild yells on the opposite side of the clearing caught our attention and Joel, my thirteen year old brother, pushed hurriedly through the thick branches, with Nathan (11) close behind him. Joel had good reason to run, for Nathan was brandishing a long stick, swinging and yelling as he pounded through the underbrush.
     “I’ll catch ye, ye Jacobite spy!” he yelled in an imitated British accent.
     But Joel had found his footing now, and faced his opponent with a heavy broadsword made of tubes and duct tape.
     “Ye’ll never catch me alive!” he challenged, rolling his r’s, “Scotland forever!”
Crossing swords, they swung their weapons with vigor. Just when it looked like Joel had been “wounded”, Joy and I rushed from our hiding spot. We ran down the trail to the clearing. Waving her shawl with great energy, Joy ran at Nathan, yelling fiercely at him. He threw up his hands in mock terror, and retreated, as I very seriously dressed Joel’s wound.
     “We must get back to the fort, we must hide!” gasped Joel, breathing hard.
We set off quickly through the bushes, we girls holding our shawls over our heads with one hand, and lifting our dirndl skirts with the other. Joel brandished his sword as he ran, against all the hidden dangers along the trail. A few more seconds found us entering a stand of young pine trees, and soon we had reached the mound of huge rocks in the middle. The fort stood strong, and we sat down with great relief in the protective circle of the rocks. Another skirmish ended victoriously. Scotland forever!

At that moment, I think we really half-believed we were hero warriors and maidens, fighting for the freedom of our beloved country. A rush of excitement, courage and daring filled our hearts. We felt that pretending or not, we could do anything. Such is the power of imagination.
I have been an “imaginative child” all my life. When I was a tiny girl I would dance through the house in a pink ballet suit, twirling my shawl in all seriousness, disdaining anyone who dared laugh at me. I soon progressed to pretending I was a princess in distress, escaping from dark castles. Soon though, my imagination was kindled to even greater feats as I was introduced to the real life adventures of history.
     That day on the mountain had been born as we studied the Jacobite Revolution in Scotland. I was reading Kidnapped (by Robert Louis Stevenson) aloud to the other kids, and we decided we were staunch defenders of Scotland’s freedom. It was of especial interest to us, since both of my parent’s ancestors originally came from Scotland.

homeschooling Little Women: The Whole Story Series
Louisa May Alcott / Penguin Putnam Inc. / 1997
     I have always treasured my times of imagination as some of my favorite memories from childhood. But recently, it has dawned upon me that those hours of imagination gave me much more than just good times. Having graduated in the past couple of years, and begun my career as a writer with the publication of my first book, I have been asked by many parents, what most influenced my life and desire to be a writer.
     I sat down to reflect upon it one day. I asked myself as honestly as I could, what has really made me who I am? What in my life most excited me to want to do something great? What inspired me to live well? What made me want to learn more? At the end of my reflections I came to a definite conclusion. I can say with absolute certainty that imagination, and the things that inspired imagination have had the deepest influence on what I want to do with my life.
homeschooling Heidi, Unabridged
Johanna Spyri / Dover Publications / 2000
homeschooling Anne of Green Gables, Deluxe Hardcover
Lucy Maud Montgomery / Random House, Inc / 1998
     All those times of imagining built into my heart that I had to do something good and purposeful with my life, just like all the people I was pretending to be. My pretending began with companions from the stories I read, and their worlds. But as I grew older, I was freed to imagine my own world, independent of even the stories I had read, and I began to picture great things that I personally wanted to do. So my dream was born to write great stories that would make other kids imagine just like I had. Now, as I am at the beginning of adulthood all those times come back to me, and they keep me going, they keep me working at my dreams because I believe I can do something to make the world more beautiful.
     Deep down, at the heart of my imaginings, were my dreams. Imagination took me beyond the bounds of reality, and let me believe for a bit that I had it in me to be a hero, to save someone’s life, to brave danger and hardship, to accomplish something big, to write a great book, (I haven’t stopped imagining yet). It convinced me that I too, like all of the people in the stories I had heard, could change the world.
     So you see, imagination has had a profound influence in my life. But I would never have been able to imagine all those grand things, if I was not given great stories, courageous examples from history, and books that ushered me into my imaginary world. They had to be moral, beautiful stories. My parents made sure that from my earliest years of learning, I was supplied with only the best sources for my mind. They made it their special mission to fill my head with wholesome, exciting, pure images. Every child has the ability to imagine, but they can just as easily imagine darkness, cruelty and wickedness instead of greatness if they are fed with the wrong things.
homeschooling     My primary source for imaginative material was books. I have read literally thousands of stories. Whole, living books influenced my mind more than anything else. Once I learned to read, my mom gave me the choice of taking a nap in the afternoon, or reading for an hour. That was no choice to me, and so in every day of my early years there was an hour of reading. Classic children’s literature like Little Women, The Secret Garden, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty, and the Narnia series were my normal fare. Years later, those are still some of my favorite books.
     My mom also used historical fiction to teach us history, and this played a huge part in my imaginative world, as well as beginning my love to learn. By using stories to teach us history, my mom made “school” seem exciting. After all, history is really all about great stories. I think that this is a key to making learning enjoyable. I not only learned the facts of history, I learned the ideas that made it happen. I think children really begin to learn when their imaginations are engaged. I might not remember the date of every battle in WWII, but I could tell you in great detail all about the people involved, their countries, and the issues that began the war, and believe me, I could tell you about it with great passion!
homeschooling The Chronicles of Narnia,
7 Volumes

C.S. Lewis / Zondervan Corp. / 1994
     After school, and our hour of reading in the afternoon, we kids almost always rushed outside to pretend what we’d just learned, which brings me to another important part of imagination. A child has to have time to pretend. Really good imagining takes time, lots of it, usually outdoors. I was blessed to have parents who provided that for me. In our family, we knew that afternoon television was almost never an option. We had to turn all the “screens” off and be creative. “Screens” included TV, videos, computers, electronic games, etc. When left to ourselves for entertainment, we became incredibly creative.
     When my mother had just begun to home school me, she heard the reports from a study on what makes a genius. Two of the leading factors were extensive reading, and a great deal of alone time. She took it to heart, and though I’m by no means a genius, I know those things have shaped my whole life.
     For me, being educated at home played a huge role. Since all school took place in our home, my parents had control over the books I read, activities I did, and they were able to oversee the filling of my mind. I was less peer dependent than many kids, and enjoyed my free time when I was alone. I had more time to play, to imagine, and to pretend.
     As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen again and again the great rewards to be gained from many hours of imagination. As a writer, I suppose you could say I’ve made imagination my business. It’s also my passion.
homeschooling Little Women: The Whole Story Series
Louisa May Alcott / Penguin Putnam Inc. / 1997
     I think we’re living in a world that’s losing it’s ability to imagine greatness. Once we lose the great stories and good images, and children are no longer able to dream of doing exciting and great things, we lose the ability to change the world for good. So I want to tell every parent I can to help their child to imagine. Give kids books that will fill their mind with goodness, and history that will show that bravery and courage make a difference. I want to tell kids to let their imaginations run free, to pretend all the wonderful things they want to do, because it will set them on a path to really doing it.
     I’ll never stop imagining, no matter how old I get. I still sit on my bed sometimes and daydream about all the amazing things I’m going to accomplish someday. I know I can, because I can see it so clearly. I can imagine it.