Paideia Conversations, Ep. 17

We are one day closer to the 2022 conference brought to you by Paideia Northwest, and in this episode of Paideia Conversations, we are joined by author, blogger, speaker, and podcaster Pam Barnhill to chat about wonder, wisdom, and worship – and how they work with one another, challenge us, bless us, and equip us… especially for those of us who are homeschooling moms trying to balance all the housework, homework, academics, and attitudes day by day. Pam’s contagious laughter is sprinkled throughout, and this is a conversation you won’t want to miss. Pop open a bottle of ginger kombucha, pop in your earbuds, and come chat with us!

Links and Resources

Better Together by Pam Barnhill

Gather by Pam Barnhill and Heather Tully

Plan Your Year by Pam Barnhill

Your Morning Basket website

Your Morning Basket podcast

Cindy Rollins, Morning Time for Moms

Amy Sloan, Humility and Doxology

Brandy Vencel, Afterthoughts

Mystie Winckler, Simply Convivial

Dawn Garrett, Lady Dusk

Scholé Sisters

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie

Gingerberry kombucha

How Great Thou Art hymn

5×5 Reading Challenge

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Publix fried chicken


Melissa: Hello and welcome to Paideia Conversations where we dialogue about all things paideia. I am your host, Melissa Cummings, from Paideia Northwest. This is where you can listen in as Christian mamas discuss our purpose to raise our children in the nurture, admonition, instruction, and discipline of the Lord – His paideia.
Joining me today for this paideia conversation is Pam Barnhill from Your Morning Basket. She is the author of Better Together as well as the new book Gather, and a neat book for homeschooling moms called Plan Your Year. She’s going to be one of the speakers at this year’s Paideia Northwest conference, Wonder Wisdom Worship. In fact, she is the keynote speaker, so I’m very excited to introduce her to you today, and we invite you into this conversation with us as we continue to practice, pursue, and implement paideia.

From Gather: exploring the wonder, wisdom, and worship of learning at home by Pam Barnhill and Heather Tully.

When we think about creating wonder in our homeschools, it can seem like an insurmountable task. How am I supposed to keep up with the laundry, deal with my children’s attitudes, and still have children who are “feeling surprise mingled with admiration”? Come on! There’s only so much one woman can do in a day! When I start to think of wonder as a verb, though, that is when the idea starts to seem a little more doable. The wonder we seek in our Gathering time is that desire or spirit of curiosity. This is something we can model for our children on all but the worst of days. When we realize that wonder doesn’t have to be a big event, but can instead be a small moment, it becomes even more accessible. Small bits of curiosity practiced throughout a childhood add up to a life filled with wonder.

These few minutes of shared delight at the beginning of our school day builds a habit of laughter and enjoyment that we hold onto as the day and the checklist grow long. We fill our cups first so we can pour out goodwill towards each other the rest of the day. The next day, we will begin by filling our cups again.

Gathering helps us to order our affections rightly. Saint Augustine’s philosophy of ordo amoris, or the order of loves, is about loving God first and most in our lives. When we do this, we love everything else rightly under that supreme love. Satisfaction comes from the right ordering of loves. It eliminates complaints and quarrelsomeness, and it’s a big part of what educating our children is about. So if teaching our children to know God is our primary job as parents, how does Gathering time help with that? It helps by placing our focus on truth, goodness, and beauty.

Our aim is to teach our children to know and love God. We teach this in part by exposing them to all the beautiful and good things He has made. But what if our children do not like those things? They aren’t interested. They find them boring. Do we stop? No! Instead, we expose them to more. It is only by learning to appreciate God’s creation that we succeed in ordo amoris. And it is only by making God being central in our affections that we can enjoy these things properly. Once God is seated in His rightful place in our affections, our love for Him will sanctify our hearts and passions, leading us to value the things of this world appropriately.

Melissa: all right, so everybody probably knows who you are, more or less, but just for the fun of it…

Pam: oh, no.

Melissa: [laughter] well they know you through Scholé Sisters, because…

Pam: well that’s true.

Melissa: we have Scholé Sisters with us every year. But if you could just briefly introduce yourself, as well as tell me something you love about educating your kids for Christ.

Pam: so my name is Pam Barnhill. I am obviously a homeschool mom of, gosh, my daughter, it’s her senior year this year. And I haven’t said that out loud too much, because I am totally unprepared for this. And it’s not that I’m unprepared for, like, it, it’s not like, oh I’m worried about the transcript. I just don’t want her to leave. Is that bad? [laughter] That I don’t want her to leave our home?

Melissa: I think that’s a good testimony.

Pam: yeah. We’ve been homeschooling since the very beginning, ever since she was a little preschooler. We probably started way too early. And I have three kids: seventeen, fifteen, and twelve soon to be thirteen. So we almost have three teenagers in the house. I’ve been married to my husband Matt for twenty-eight years.

Melissa: congrats!

Pam: he will tell you it feels like a million. I don’t know why he says that. [laughter] And yeah, I’m a former… I like to say recovering public school teacher. And yeah, so that’s us. And one of my favorite things. You know, I’m gonna probably talk about this a lot during this conversation, but it absolutely is Morning Time, and the time that we spend together as a family every single day. It what, it’s what keeps me from burning out. It what, it’s what keeps me learning. Like I have learned far more from educating my kids at home than I ever learned during my own years at school. And it’s, despite the ups and downs and the ins and outs and the tough times, and the “he touched me,” and the “would you make him quit” and all that stuff. It’s the part that, that just brings the most joy to my day.

Melissa: yeah. Yeah, I love that. So that is something that you’re going to be talking about… I mean, you talk about… you write about it, you blog about it, you do how many podcasts about it?

Pam: just two, only two.

Melissa: just two?

Pam: so one is about, yeah, one… Your Morning Basket is all about Morning Time. And we have over a hundred episodes. Which if you had said to me, goodness, four or five years ago when we started it now, that we would have over a hundred episodes just about morning time, I would not have believed you. [laughter] And then the other little podcast I do is the Ten Minutes to a Better Homeschool podcast. So it can be about anything homeschool related.

Melissa: okay. Okay. I feel like your name… Cindy Rollins was kind of like this as well. You know, your name is associated with that idea of Morning Time. Is it Amy Sloan that says if Cindy Rollins is the mama of Morning Time, then you’re the auntie or the big sister?

Pam: the big sister, yeah.

Melissa: the big sister of Morning Time.

Pam: yeah. But you know what, Cindy was my mentor when it came to Morning Time. But also Brandy Vencel and Mystie Winckler were very much my mentors as well when I first started it. And then, I didn’t know, she didn’t really help me beforehand, but Dawn Garrett started working with me fairly early on in the process of… I’d only been doing Morning Time maybe two to three years before she started working with me. And so coming alongside her. So I have… Cindy started it all, but I have so many wonderful mentors about Morning Time.

Melissa: yeah.

Pam: yeah. Love it.

Melissa: yeah, well I kind of feel like that’s where Scholé Sisters has been such a blessing too. That idea of “find your sisters” – and it sounds like that’s what you’ve done in your own experiences. You’re not just creating this on your own. You’re not even just taking something that someone else taught you. But you took an idea and then you’re iterating it in community, even if it’s community from a distance…

Pam: mhmm.

Melissa: and implementing it that way, and then sharing it with others of us who, you know, are still a few years behind. My oldest is only fourteen, so we’re just, you know we’re just getting to that older kid thing. So I’m, I’m following, I’m the little sister. [laughter] I’m the one looking up to the rest of you. I’m being pulled along. So I’m grateful for people like you.

Pam: yeah, that’s fun. Well, and the whole Morning Time podcast idea came out of the fact that, you know, Sarah Mackenzie is a very good friend of mine. And she had written Teaching From Rest and had started traveling around the country talking to moms, and you know, back in the day, she and Mystie and I would get together and chat, and she was like, there’s so many moms who have very specific questions about Morning Time. And that, at that point Cindy was not in, she was not there. You know, that was just not what she was doing at that point. And so there was kind of a void there. And it was something I loved doing with my kids and something I loved talking about. So that was, that was where it started, and you know it’s been so much fun to talk about through the years.

Melissa: yeah, yeah. So, give me a quick idea of something that you plan to bring to the table at Paideia Northwest. Is it Morning Time? Is it a different niche?

Pam: well, I tell you, Morning Time will be a big part of whatever it is. So anything I’m talking it. The examples, Morning Time is gonna be there. It’s gonna come from Morning Time. But I have a quote I’m gonna share, I absolutely love this quote from G.K. Chesterton. And it is, “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.”

Melissa: mhmm.

Pam: and so that’s kind of like where we’re gonna start the conversation about, what are some practical ways that you can bring this idea of wonder into your family, into your home, into your homeschool, or just you know into your home in general. And this idea that, you know, so often when we think about inspiring wonder in our kids, it can be a little bit overwhelming for us. Because you know, what’s bigger than wonder? Right? It’s a huge, big thing! Except it doesn’t have to be. And so we’re gonna talk about the different between the noun wonder and the verb wonder, and how we can bring some of those things into our home without it being just another thing that gets added to our to do list or has to, you know, the box has to be checked off. A lot of times moms are either, like, overwhelmed by the thought of adding something else or they’re like, how do I even start?

Melissa: yeah.

Pam: you know. And so we want to kind of break that down.

Melissa: that sounds so good. This is completely a personal tangent. But today I was cracking eggs, I was making zucchini bread… because it’s August and we have lots of zucchini, and we have a whole bunch of chickens so I have a whole bunch of eggs. So I was making zucchini bread, and I cracked a couple eggs – they were perfect. Cracked my third egg, and… there was a baby, like, a baby chick developing in it. And I thought, oh my word, I had no idea! I don’t know how many days it had been hidden somewhere in the straw, or, I don’t know. Anyway, and I thought, oh I wanna hide this, I don’t want my kids to see this, it’s you know… and then I thought, you know what, how often do we get to see something like this? And just to see, okay sure, they’re probably gonna be like, Mom, that’s gross. But to enjoy the wonder of that!

Pam: yeah.

Melissa: so it’s almost a perspective of: yeah, it doesn’t have to be some great big thing, I didn’t have to do a whole unit study on the development of chicks. I could, that would be fun, and maybe this will inspire that kind of thing. But just as a catalyst for, Mom was gonna crack an egg, and look, there’s, there’s a chicken developing in there. And it’s sad, you know, now it’s, it can’t continue to live. But how wonder-filled is it to see that? And just to have that surprise us. And I think that kind of thing can happen in the most unexpected places. Like just making zucchini bread on a Monday morning.

Pam: and just the fact that you, you realized that possibility and, you know… because a lot of times, we would be like, oh, well my kids could never experience this, because you know, what’s the likelihood that we’re gonna stumble upon this big glorious moment of this chick breaking free of its shell? You know? And so, how often can we make that happen? Not very often for most of us. And you know, you realized in the moment that I can use what I have here…

Melissa: yeah.

Pam: you know, to inspire a little bit of wonder. Albeit in kind of a sad way. [laughter] I’m like, you’re the farm girl because like you’re definitely way calmer about this than I would have been.

Melissa: well I think it just goes back to that Chesterton quote, that the world is full of these wonders. There will never be a lack of it. You know, they’re everywhere if we have the eyes to see.

Pam: oh yeah. So much.

Melissa: oh, it’s such a good world.

Pam: great example.

Melissa: so of the three words – wonder, wisdom, and worship – that we’re kind of presenting as the main core for this year’s event, how are they presented or prioritized in your home? And I have the feeling it’s probably gonna go back to Morning Time!

Pam: how did you know?

Melissa: I just had a feeling! [laughter]

Pam: I mean, totally! Like if anybody’s saying to me, how can I do this wonder, wisdom, and worship thing in my home? I’m like, here I can lay out a plan for you!

Melissa: yep, let me give you a basket!

Pam: yeah, it’s called Morning Time, let me give you a basket. That’s exactly right! But I love, I love the idea of just Morning Basket. And you know once again marrying that idea that goes back to Teaching From Rest, and the idea of I’m bringing my basket. Because you know Sarah talks about in there the feeding of the five thousand. Where you know, the disciples bring the little basket with the fish and the loaves in it, and then you know, Jesus turns it into so much that there are, what, twelve baskets left over?

Melissa: yeah!

Pam: and so like, we bring our basket, we’re faithful to doing the work, and He turns it into so much more. And I love that analogy for my Morning Basket.

Melissa: mhmm.

Pam: I bring my little basket each morning, and I put in those elements of wonder, of wisdom, and of worship. And then He’s the One Who’s gonna take and do the work, and make it into so much more. But yeah, that’s exactly how we do it. We do it with Morning Time. So.

Melissa: yeah. How do you see wonder, wisdom, and worship… how do they speak to one another? How does wonder inspire us to worship? How does worship increase our wisdom? How does wisdom give us eyes to see the wonder? Or how does wisdom deepen our understanding of worship? What are some of those intertwining things for you?

Pam: I think you don’t need me to say anything at all. You just said all of it right there. [laughter]

Melissa: oh! [laughter]

Pam: I mean, you’ve done such a great of doing it! But it’s very much, is the case is that, I mean, think about truth, goodness, and beauty. None of these things exist – wonder, wisdom, and worship – truth, goodness, and beauty – none of it exists in a vacuum. It’s all dependent upon each other. And I think, you know, God has a plan where He ties these things together. And so we do, we you know, we have to have wisdom to know that there are wonders out there and we’re going to see them. And all of these wonders that we do experience leads us into an attitude of worship. And so there’s very much an intertwining of them, and I think you expressed it wonderfully. So.

Melissa: because I said something, somewhere on, online… briefly about wonder increasing my wisdom, or when I embrace wonder my hope is that it increases my wisdom, and the more I increase in wisdom, I hope that that just brings me to worship God more richly, more deeply. And someone commented, “but don’t lose the wonder.” And I said, oh yeah, totally! I, it’s cyclical and it’s intertwining, and they’re all mushy and they shake around together. It’s not a linear thing. It’s not like you go from A to B to C. It’s just alphabet soup. It just all goes around.

Pam: well, and I think maybe the caution there, I think is, you know, the caution there would be to think, well, I know too much. You know, I’ve become too knowledgeable. I’ve got so much wisdom that I’m no longer going to be able to wonder at anything, you know. I’ve just, you know, I have a fifteen year old right now whose favorite saying is, I’m always right! [laughter] And I’m like, oh, if you only knew! And actually I think the thing I told him yesterday was, boy, you are your mother’s child, aren’t you? [laughter] But I think one of the things, that age shows us is that, you know, you, you can never be too wise. You know. Like you can be too big for your britches. But honestly, if you, if you have grown so “wise” – and I’m using air quotes here – that you no longer can experience the wonder, then, then you’ve lost it altogether. And I think that’s probably what they were cautioning you against. And as we grow in wisdom, true wisdom, I think what we see is that there are more and more wonders out there to behold. And that’s why Chesterton said this quote and not, you know, me.

Melissa: yeah. I almost wonder if wisdom is that glue. You know, if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and then it’s wisdom that goes out and infiltrates, bringing us to more wonder and more worship. Hm. I have a few more months to ponder this!

Pam: I’m gonna… I was gonna say, I’m gonna ponder that one before I get there, and see where that goes. [laughter]

Melissa: we’ve got a couple months, so you know, maybe we’ll have some good answers by November fifth. We’ll see.

Pam: yeah, that’s interesting to see how the wonder plays into that…

Melissa: yeah.

Pam: wisdom and worship piece from that verse you just quoted, yeah.

Melissa: well I remember talking to Heather Tully about that before you guys were officially writing your book, Gather. And we were talking about wonder, wisdom, and worship; and it ended up as, isn’t it your…

Pam: it’s the subtitle, yeah.

Melissa: subtitle, yeah. And I’m really excited that not only will we get to have you at the conference, we will also have Heather Tully at the conference. And I think we’re even gonna have some Gather books there.

Pam: yes. Yes, we will get some out there.

Melissa: so that’s gonna be a lot of fun. We’ll get to share, we’ll get to share that. I also want to know, since I just mentioned Gather, what was your favorite part of putting that book together with Heather?

Pam: the fact that Heather came with this wonderful idea, you know. She just came with this beautiful, wonderful idea, and her photography is so stunning. So just the opportunity to bring, you know, go into the… we ended up with nine different families in there. I didn’t have to go to anybody’s home, which quite frankly as an introvert, I was pretty happy about. But she went and did all the hard work, and then brought back the photographs, and then we were able to take those photographs and create just something that was so beautiful but also so practical for homeschool moms. And you know, she came to me with the, the concept, and we just built upon it from there. And so, I don’t know. I love that it was such a fabulous idea and she let me part of it. I think that’s my favorite part: she had such a fabulous idea, and she let me be part of that. So.

Melissa: aw. Yeah. Mm. I love that book. I love the pictures, I love the stories, I love the people. You know, so many of those people are people that I follow online sort of, like, oh here’s a deeper look into this specific thing, and it’s just… it’s a huge gift, so.

Pam: yeah.

Melissa: okay. Now just for fun, I like to have some silly, silly questions. So what is your current… and again, this is, this is summer so maybe it changes once fall comes around or something… but what’s your current favorite drink of choice?

Pam: right now it’s kombucha.

Melissa: kombucha. What flavor?

Pam: yes. I like anything with ginger, so like Gingerberry, Gingerade. I do not brew my own. I’ve tried it before. Heather tells me I should go back and do it some more. But you know, I just, I go to the store and I buy it. Anything with ginger.

Melissa: yeah, fun, okay. And what is a hymn that you love?

Pam: How Great Thou Art, which I think is lovely to go right along with the wonder idea. But that’s one of my absolute favorites, so.

Melissa: mmm, now I’m gonna have to go back and look at the lyrics. O Lord my God, when I in…

Pam: in awesome wonder.

Melissa: wonder, yeah.

Pam: consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. Yep.

Melissa: okay, we might have to sing that at the conference.

Pam: we can do it!

Melissa: I think, there we go. There we go. I might have been hoping you’d give me a good idea. [laughter] One less thing for me to have to make a decision on. There we go, it’s done. And then, this is always a dangerous question for any Scholé Sister but I’m gonna ask it anyway. What have you been reading lately?

Pam: oh man, I forgot you were gonna ask this question. I’ve been reading a business book. Is that bad? [laughter]

Melissa: no, that’s continuing education right there! That sounds like it should be on a five by five challenge.

Pam: okay, and it’s also been summer. So I have, if you haven’t, so it’s not the most scholarly scholé of works… but a friend recently recommended Where the Crawdads Sing to me…

Melissa: I just bought that! I just stuck it on my bookshelf behind me!

Pam: okay, I really thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a fabulous summer read. I love bubble bath books, and it was the perfect bubble bath book. But one of the things I do like about the book was how autodidactic the main character was. And she does a lot of teaching herself, and getting into the, she becomes a naturalist… not a big spoiler there… and really like dives into the natural world around her. And because of that interest, because of her wonder, she becomes an expert on the subject. So.

Melissa: perfect. Perfect! Now, I just also have to know, do you have crawdads around where you live?

Pam: not that I’m aware of. [laughter]

Melissa: it just sounds like such a southern title to me. Although we have crawdads in the little river that’s just down the road from me, and we’re not in the South.

Pam: we probably do. You know, we probably do in the little rivers that are around here. But…

Melissa: but your kids aren’t out there like snagging them in nets and bringing them home and asking you to fry them up.

Pam: no, no, no. They know better.

Melissa: [laughter] my kids have done that! It’s not wonderful, actually, so hmm.

Pam: my kids would be saying, can we go down to the store and get some fried chicken? That’s what they would be saying.

Melissa: well, even grocery store fried chicken has to be pretty good in the South, so.

Pam: oh it totally is. And it’s actually so much better, for just to go do it, than it is to like heat up and mess up the house making it yourself. I’m like, yeah, I’ll totally go get you some fried chicken.

Melissa: that’s a hot tip. If I ever get down to the Deep South, that’s what I’ll be doing. I’ll be going to Safeway. Or the Piggly Wiggly.

Pam: the Piggly Wiggly is awesome. Piggly Wiggly is awesome. But we get our fried chicken at Publix and we love it. My endorsement.

Melissa: there we go. [laughter] I appreciate hot tips like that. Okay, well hey, thanks for taking the time to check in about all things conference, and chatting about wonder with me. I’m, I’m so excited to be able to just focus on those things – on wonder, wisdom, and worship – over the next few months, and then culminate it all in November…

Pam: yeah.

Melissa: at this event.

Pam: I’m expecting some fall weather when I come, please.

Melissa: you know occasionally we’ve had snow.

Pam: I don’t want that.

Melissa: okay. [laughter]

Pam: but I’m just, I’m just ordering up some fall weather so I can bring a sweater or two.

Melissa: yeah I was gonna say, feel free to bring a sweater. I’m trying to think, someone once brought… oh maybe it was Cindy from Tennessee… brought like a scarf and… oh we did have snow. We did have snow that weekend. So it’s already happened. It won’t happen this year.

Pam: I’ll bring my big coat just in case. I have one. I have one! I’ve had it for like twelve years now, and yeah, I’ll bring it.

Melissa: yeah, be cozy. We’ll have some hot tea set aside, or something with ginger.

Pam: awesome.

Melissa: yeah. Okay, Pam, thank you so much. We’re looking forward to having you here.

Pam: well thanks so much for having me, Melissa, I really appreciate it.

Melissa: yeah, yeah, we’ll be in touch!

Pam: thanks for having me. We’ll talk to you soon.

Melissa: okay, bye!

Pam: all right. Bye.

How Great Thou Art. Text by Carl Boberg, 1885. Translated into English by Stuart K. Hine, 1949.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great thou art! How great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burdens gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great thou art! How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation,
To take me home, what joy will fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great thou art! How great Thou art!

Melissa: and that brings today’s conversation to a close. You can find more encouragement and conversations on paideia at and for encouragement and ideas about raising your children in the nurture, admonition, instruction, and discipline of the Lord. Please join me next time for another paideia conversation. And in the meantime, peace be with you.

Similar Posts