From HOW eNews Issue 1, Volume 1|
Recommended Resource for January
Reflections of a Homeschooling/Filmmaking Mom
Eighteen years ago, when my husband and I prayerfully decided to homeschool our children, we had no idea what an adventure and what a blessing it would become. We certainly never dreamed that it would lead to the large-scale production of a full-length historical Christian film. How did it all begin? For us the three “active” ingredients were: love of God, love of family, and love of history.
Like most homeschoolers, our greatest desire was (and is) to train our children in the ways of the Lord. We taught them that the one great and overarching goal for their lives should be to please Jesus. From the time they were small, we would ask them things like, “Do you think Jesus was pleased with the way you spoke to your sister?” We also encouraged them to do their best in everything, as unto the Lord, and to do all to His glory. (1Corinthians 10:31)
Through unit studies, historical fiction, and countless junior biographies, our children learned to love history. They first began acting out history while playing with their historical Playmobil sets. With a lot of help from Gramma, they began making historical costumes to play “dress-up” and act out history. Dressed in period costumes, we visited living history museums, and discussed history with the re-enactors. It was great fun.
When we moved to a house with a few acres and some woods in the back, my fourteen year-old son, Aaron, was anxious to build a log cabin. My husband told Aaron, “I’d love to help you build a log cabin, but we can’t cut down our trees. If you can come up with some logs, we’ll build a cabin.” Not easily discouraged, Aaron kept his eye on the ads in the local paper. Believe it or not, just a few weeks later, the following ad appeared: “Logs for sale: $10.00 per truckload.” Some of our children’s homeschooling cousins came to help build the cabin. And that was the beginning of our large-scale backyard productions.
Move the calendar forward about five years, in the same backyard. Instead of a log cabin, there is a full-scale fifth-century fortress. About fifty long-haired, savage-looking, screaming Saxon warriors with torches, a trebuchet, and a battering ram are expending all of their strength in an attempt to destroy the British stronghold.
Fast forward several months. It’s the middle of the night, and my sister-in-law Adrianne and I are standing in the middle of our pond – only our pond has been pumped and drained in order to build an army camp where a dramatic sword fight is about to take place between my son Aaron and my nephew Nick. Filming is about to begin. Wait! They’re using real swords! Adrianne and I look at each other questioningly. Have we gone mad? She and I are some of the most safety-conscious homeschool moms you have ever met – or at least we used to be!
Although the lion’s share of the filming was actually done in our backyard, we also filmed in seven other locations in Michigan, two in Ohio, two in Indiana, two in Illinois, and one in Missouri. That meant a lot of traveling, and meeting many wonderful homeschooling families who opened up their hearts and homes to our large filming family, which came to be known as Burns Family Studios.
While enjoying a patriotic concert on a short break from filming, a woman asked me this question about our film project, “How did you get your kids to do this?” I replied, “You mean, how did our kids get us to do this – it wasn’t my idea!” In retrospect, we can clearly see that making this movie was actually God’s idea. He gave the vision for this film to our children. (By our children, I mean the children of the two Burns families that God melded together; the fathers are brothers, and the mothers have become sisters, just as all the children have come to love one another like siblings).
In a two-family meeting in our family room in the spring of 2005, our older children presented their vision to the whole group. Most of us were really excited as they unveiled their plans for a historical epic with hundreds of extras, battles, horses and the like. But the ever-wise and practical Dads started talking about schedules and time-lines and finances – nothing like a dose of reality to spoil a dream! Seriously, though, the Dads helped them to develop goals, and the strategies to reach those goals; they helped the kids to develop lists of things that had to happen before each next step could be taken. These lists became our prayer lists.
Making this movie became an amazing adventure of faith. We were all regularly amazed as we would pray for big things, like a solution for a difficult problem, and we would watch God answer our prayers in a way that was over and above all that we could ask or think. One example is the horses. None of us had much equestrian experience; our lead actors had only ridden once or twice. But the greater problem was, who would loan us the horses? And where would we film with horses? Our property was too small. We were praying that the Lord would provide for this vital need – somehow. That “somehow” turned out to be the Atherton family – a wonderful homeschooling family from Indiana. They emailed us and offered the use of their horses and the four hundred acres that they lived on. We were awed at this direct answer to prayer. The Athertons turned out to be the first of several families who were willing to loan us their property and their horses.
God is so good. He clearly showed us, time after time, that He wanted us to continue this work. Through his people, and primarily through homeschoolers, he provided the help, the expertise, and the funding to enable us to complete this project. More than five hundred people helped with this project – in a myriad of ways. We are truly grateful to the Lord, and to those that helped us, for allowing us to complete this project. Now our goal and our prayer is that God would use Pendragon, Sword of His Father (pendragonmovie.com) for His honor and glory. We hope its message will encourage others to follow the vision that God has for them.
For more information on Pendragon visit
To purchase the Pendragon movie at a special discounted price use the following link:
Tracey is a homeschooling mother of four from Ortonville, Michigan.