Attend! Company on Life’s Pathways

Doubtless, it will come as no surprise that I like words. I like clever words. I like words used in creative ways, in clever combinations.

I like words used in old ways.

I love finding definitions in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary.

The first definition in the 1828 for the word attend is “To go with, or accompany, as a companion, minister or servant.”

Today, we don’t use ‘Attend’ in this sense, but I find I love the idea of it.

I need to hear the instruction in it.

Who are the companions of the homeschooling mom? Who goes along the way with us? Who do we accompany? Who are we supposed to serve?

In December, during Sunday School, we watched a video on the Shema, so it is recently in my thoughts,

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV, emphasis mine)

I’ve long thought that the Shema is one compelling argment for homeschooling.  We have our children, we walk with them and teach them diligently of the Lord from morning to night – using his creation, seeking Him in the Grand Puzzle together, as companions.

The first two verbs in verse 7 are teach and talk. We are to “teach to.” That is directed, there is an object of our teaching: our children, it’s one directional. But then, we are also to “talk of” the words. This is a conversation, two directions, between us and our children. We teach and we learn as we accompany them.

I was listening to Pam Barnhill’s most recent Your Morning Basket podcast (fantastic pocast, if you aren’t listening you should be) while walking the dog on Tuesday. She interviewed Sonya Shafer from Simply Charlotte Mason about narration (it might be my favorite episode so far). It was fantastic. So very helpful. Sonya talked about how important it was that we listen to our pupils as they narrate. Look them in the eye; Attend! to what they say. We know this, but the reminder is good. I minister better to the children when I Attend! to what they have to say and what they think.

I’ve gotten lazy over the past couple of years. My children are getting bigger and more capable. They dress themselves, they have chores, they can do some cooking. I’ve taken advantage of that. Breakfast happens during my least favorite time of day, and they are capable of doing all sorts of breakfast foods.  This past couple of weeks, I’ve been back to making breakfast, upping my breakfast game as it were, and, lo and behold, my children are happier and better fed and better behaved. (I have found Simplified Breakfasts and Lunches to be very helpful tools) That makes a difference in our day. Lunches, too, are better when they’re comprised of better food and more complete; when a grownup attends to it. I Attend! to my companions, serving their needs.

It isn’t easy to change habits, but is sometimes necessary in order to Attend! our companions on life’s pathways.


  1. "…when you lie down and when you rise up" are hard for me sometimes. My 4yo has been asking lots of questions, especially at bedtime, about God, sin, etc. which is wonderful, but I have to fight the urge to just get them to bed so I can have time to myself. :/ And when they are up, chattering away in the morning, and I haven't even had coffee, it's easy to be grumpy and tell them to be quiet. Good reminders here, Dawn.

    1. Oh, yes, and I am not in the toddler-season at all anymore. I've been working at getting up early – 6am and instead of drinking coffee first thing, drinking a bottle of water. That has been surprisingly helpful. Anyway, getting up before my children, while hard and not my preference (at all) is a better start for our days. Have you seen Pam's new "Minimum Viable Morning" … that might have some helps for you?

      Also, and I repeat myself, no babies or toddlers here. When I had babies and toddlers, I muddled. But I had no teens at the same time. It's hard, I know.

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