Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hilda Van Stockum and G.K. Chesterton

Isn't it wonderful that there's a direct connection between Hilda Van Stockum and G.K. Chesterton? I discovered on her website obituary while piecing together the Catholic Homeschool Carnival that Hilda Van Stockum "converted to Catholicism in 1939, influenced primarily by such leading Catholic writers and intellectuals of her day as G.K. Chesterton and Monsignor Ronald Knox."

This makes SO much sense to me! Hilda Van Stockum was a major lifeline that helped me get through the tougher earlier years of raising a large family, homeschooling, dealing with massive home projects, the frustrations and challenges of working with some children with "special needs", a husband with a large commute, years with only one car, long winters in a teeny house, financial stress, the pressures of others who thought we were crazy and didn't understand and all the rest. There was a LOT of joy too, of course, but we had our share of tough days. Her book Friendly Gables, especially, was one that I ended up pulling out to read to the kids when we were having a bad day. It worked such wonders for me and for the kids! This experience firmly convinced me of the value of good children's books for parents to read!

In a lot of ways we're busier now - more commitments, more projects, more life buzzing around. But in general I'm more at peace with myself after working through questions of doubt and issues about how to do things. I have a daughter who babysits! The larger house we live in now makes long winters MUCH more enjoyable. Financial pressures and self-doubt are always present in some degree, but getting to experience some of the results of all those crazy efforts of the past through the kids starting to grow up and seeing their enthusiasm for life and learning develop has made a huge difference.

Now the big questions for me (and I do worry myself over these) run more along the lines of how to try and help beginning homeschoolers who are overwhelmed with all the choices and possibilities and decisions to get a good start through my work on the web and homeschool workshops; to make sure I don't over-universalize my own personal experience; and things like that. Last summer when I was trying to finish up two talks on homeschooling and kept running into mental blocks or self-doubts it was Chesterton that I turned to. I finished both Heretics and Orthodoxy in the two or three weeks before the Minnesota Conference and they were *just* what I needed.

Both of these authors have a way (and an often humorous and delightful way) of putting things back into perspective for me when my head was "out-of-whack"; to help me not take myself so seriously; to "see" more clearly and to remember what really matters.

So, hurray for my two favorite authors (Hmmm, did I really mean to say that so strongly? I think so.) and the previously unknown (to me) connection between the two!!!

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