“Do you really have a pioneering spirit?” I sat asking myself. I looked up the word in the dictionary and was surprised at what I found. It made me think more of John the Baptist than my great-grandparents.
Pioneer- One who goes before into that which is unknown or untried, to remove obstructions or to prepare the way for others.
What? I had this picture in my head of a woman holding a gun in one hand and a baby in the other, sunbonnet covering her face and apron blowing in the wind. Admittedly, I hardly ever wear an apron. I always think about it AFTER I’ve made a mess all over myself. I usually find a baseball cap easier than a sunbonnet, though I did make my girls wear sunbonnets outside until each of them was about five years old.
Reading this made me realize being a pioneer woman means more than the clothes I choose to wear or the hardships I endure living on the still mostly untamed prairie of “No Man’s Land.” Oh, civilization has made it out here. We have electricity, telephone service, and indoor plumbing, most of the time. Unfortunately, most of the community seems to have forgotten the basic skills our grandparents lived off of only a generation or so ago.
When we began our homeschool journey, the community almost went up in arms. People who started out in one-room schoolhouses or whose parents were homeschooled in a state where it’s written into the state constitution had forgotten their roots completely. My decision just to quit college and be a mother and housewife was something unheard of, even though nearly all of my elders remembered mom being home waiting for them when they got home from school, usually with a homegrown or homemade snack. What happened? Now, their children are mostly working hard just to pay interest on their debts.
I hear my peers regularly tell me, “Oh, how I wish I could stay home,” or “I wish I had time to learn to crochet,” …or knit, or sew, or bake homemade bread… It’s sad to me they feel so trapped in their situation that they can’t take time to learn basic homemaking skills. If you are one of those, don’t give up. Managing priorities is tough on all frontiers. Keep trying, though, because it is most important in your heart and then in your home. Pioneering this great frontier of home and family takes developing some very special character traits.
Attentiveness: The pioneer women of my ancestry knew they had to be ready for anything. From critters to weather, an emergency could arise in the blink of an eye. That hasn’t changed with cellular service. Today, maybe more than ever, we must be attentive to the world around us. For me, I don’t let the little children go outside by themselves early in the morning because of cougars and snakes. I keep them close to the house in the evening when the weather feels a bit wild, in case of sudden hail or tornadoes. I must be attentive to these things. More importantly is keeping attentive to destructive attitudes in the home. Discouragement, despondency, laziness, and bitterness are all attitudes that can overturn an happy home. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Boldness: Too often we are driven by fearfulness. Pioneer women didn’t have time to be afraid. I’m sure they had their moments. There were some frightening things on the frontier. Not only wild animals and bad weather, but grumpy Indians and drunk outlaws! (Disclaimer: I have Native American blood, of which I am proud, and they did have a real reason to be grumpy. Unfortunately, the terror some of them struck in the pioneers of the prairie gave a bad reputation that is even now hard to overcome.) The pioneer woman can’t just cower in her home with her children. She has to get out and do what needs to be done. In the process, she needs to be bold in dealing with those bad attitudes. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
Creativity: The pioneers of the wild West had to be very creative. A lack of trees meant many houses had to be dug out of the ground or built of adobe. Though the land is a “plain” and you can see for miles, once you start out across it with a wagon, you realize it’s full of canyons and hills. The outlaws loved it because it was easy to hide in. Keeping a garden watered can still be a challenge in hot, dry months. The best way to disperse of bad attitudes is to replace them with a good, hard-working servant’s heart. When we are busy being creative and serving others, we have little time to concentrate on things that breed bad attitudes. “Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10
Determination: Most of the pioneers gave up everything to come out west for a fresh start. Many didn’t stay. Many gave up after the first year. The cold, hard winters and hot, dry summers are enough to try the endurance of even the most stout of heart. Most lost family members along the way. Many babies didn’t survive to see their first birthday. Dealing with bad attitudes is hard. It seems easier to ignore it and plug in a video or game. We need the determination of a pioneering spirit to spend that extra time working things out in our relationships. “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:11b
Am I really a Pioneer? Yes. I am preparing the hearts of the next generation of our family to follow the Lord and His leading in their lives. I have removed the obstructions of bad traditions and wrong thinking. I am paving the road with Scripture and Truth that my children will be able to lead their children on with confidence. I am a pioneer, managing my little frontier with faith.