A Change of Heart
It’s early Tuesday morning, and the kids are starting to bustle around upstairs. One by one, they find me, and grab my phone to look up the weather for the day. “Where are we going for nature day, Mom?” is always the common question.
Last summer, God pressed upon my heart that I needed to change “my” way of teaching homeschool. Wisdom came in the form of seasoned homeschooling moms, who would encourage me and continue to say the same thing to me: “It’s more about relationship, than curriculum.”
At the same time, our family discovered the Nature Pal Exchange. With a bit of uncertainty, I signed our family up for our first round. Our family has always loved to explore outdoors – hiking, camping, and backpacking. However, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to lead my family in completing a bonafide nature exchange.
With our new vision of homeschool, every Tuesday we came together for a brief morning time and headed off to explore anywhere outdoors. As a momma of five children, ages 1 to 12 years old, the plans for the day could come across as over-ambitious. Exploring on our nature days isn’t always like the nicely staged pictures of Instagram. There are always complaints, bug bites, quarrels, and frustrations (myself included).
We persevered. And then it happened – we watched our children begin to transform while they were outside. They began to look at their surroundings with new eyes. My son, Will, who speaks love in gifts, would run up with some leaf, rock, or pinecone saying, “This is for our nature pals!” We would now visit our favorite places, familiar places, or new places, looking around with a different perspective. What a beautiful act of love the Nature Pal Exchange became. Our children were exploring and playing outdoors, running around wild & free. They developed a determination to share our part of California with another family. At the end of the day, we came home with stories of our exploration & a trunk full of our nature treasures to share with our new friends across the continent.
It’s now Monday afternoon. Our nature pals have finally received our treasures from California, and we climb onto the couch, huddling together, watching them open up our box over a live video feed. My face hurts from smiling. Our kids laugh and squeal as they watch. It’s the quietest it has been in our house all day and our hearts are full. One of my daughters, Ellie, thanks God for giving us sweet nature pals. We realize how much Nature Pal Exchange has enhanced our own family’s relationships, as well as forming new ones.
-Heather Jerrolds / @headyj