My memories begin in the Colorado Rockies west of Denver. I was the oldest of three children and was just two years old when my family moved to the mountains. From first to sixth grade, I attended a two-room rural school. The first three years, I had only two classmates and the same wonderful teacher, Mrs. Amy. Despite the fact that the school district was small and impoverished, I was blessed with excellent teachers. There were no libraries and very few books other than worn textbooks. Some years ago a teaching colleague asked my dad, "What's your secret for fostering Susan's love of reading as a child?" He answered without hesitation, "Deprivation."
The junior high school had a very small library in a closet. One of our seventh grade assignments was to use reference books to look up answers to a list of questions the teacher provided. A light went on for me that day, about the time I located the name of the sixteenth pope. The knowledge of the world could be found in books, if I just knew where to look! My desire to share that moment of illumination with my own students led many years later to my first book, Facts Plus.
My high school graduating class numbered 25. An advantage of small schools is that an individual can take part in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, and I did. In addition to participating in clubs, I edited an award-winning school newspaper and served as secretary of a very active student council. Apart from school, I loved horseback riding and downhill skiing, as well as traveling and camping with my family.
I was valedictorian of my small high school class and won a full four-year National Merit Scholarship to the university of my choice. I chose the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) because I wanted to teach kids. I graduated with a B.A. in Elementary Education and later earned numerous graduate credits.
I considered working toward a graduate degree during the year I took leave to write Facts Plus, but it was expensive and would consume time needed for the project. My primary goal has been to produce useful and practical resources for educators rather than to earn advanced degrees. I was educated to be self-educating, so I make use of my seventh grade insight. Everything I want to learn can be found in books (and online), if I just know where to look!
I've had a variety of work experiences. In high school I waited tables and sold concessions at an ice skating rink for $1.25/hour. During my college years, I did secretarial work at the University of Northern Colorado Library and took temporary jobs with Manpower and Kelly Services. I helped organize the 1976 National Association of Biology Teachers convention during my junior and senior years at UNC.
For a couple of years after college, I played guitar and sang folk music professionally.
The first year I taught, I traveled to five public schools a day to teach English to non-English-speaking children whose parents were attending the University of Northern Colorado. I moved to Alaska in 1979 and taught preschool / kindergarten for a semester in a private school before being hired by the Anchorage School District, where I taught 6th grade for four and a half years, 5th grade for two years, and 4th grade for two and a half years.
I resigned in 1992 to focus on writing books and to spend more time with my husband, a retired teacher.
I've spoken at state home school conventions in Alaska (APHEA and IDEA), Colorado (CHEC), Minnesota (MACHE), Washington (WATCH and WHO), Indiana (IAHE), and southeast Texas (SETHSA), as well as at the northwest regional convention of the International Reading Association and numerous smaller conferences. At one point, my husband and I had to choose between spending more time on the business or backing off and doing less. He preferred less, so less it has been. I still love to share ideas with educators, but my schedule is in God's hands. I make every effort to respond to invitations, but no longer seek them out. Recordings of my workshops are available on this site for use by anyone, anytime.
My mother is a strong Christian. My dad was hostile toward religion. Mom drove us 25 miles each way to a Baptist church every Sunday during my childhood because it was the nearest church that taught the Bible as God's authoritative Word. Although no one else at my school was Christian, I loved Jesus and read the Bible every day.
College was a watershed. As much as I wanted to believe the Bible was true, my faith was undermined by my professors. People at church were unable or unwilling to answer my questions. Some were shocked that I would even ask questions. I was told I must pray and have more faith, that God would bless me if I did what He commanded. So I prayed more, read the Bible more, and did my best to muster up more faith. I begged forgiveness for every unconscious sin. I'm an overachiever by nature and always try to do my best. I did everything I could to hold on to faith, but my commitment has always been to truth, like it or not. At one point, I found I could no longer believe the Bible was true on the basis of faith alone.
As I struggled with disappointment and depression, I reached out to Christians. They indicated I was somehow to blame for my emotional anguish. My sin must be the cause! I hadn't yet read the Book of Job and was deeply hurt by what some Christians said and did at that time. I didn't like the arrogance I saw in them. I wanted to stay as far away from them as possible.
The people I admired and enjoyed were secular humanists. The philosophy I was taught at college was positive and upbeat. It was appealing to think that people are good by nature, that I am good by nature, that my problems are due at least in part to authoritative parents and repressive outdated religious ideas. My problems weren't my fault! It was freeing. I could breathe.
Thirteen years passed before I was ready to reconsider Christianity. During that time, I lived by a philosophy of secular humanism, although I didn't even know the term. I wrote the poem to the right, entitled "Drought", during that time. My mom prayed for me faithfully, every day.
At one point, a Christian friend invited Dennis and me to a Larry Burkett class on managing money. The friend had gotten out of debt after taking the class himself. I wanted the same for us. I thought Dennis might be more motivated to do what I wanted if he knew God agreed with me!
I was not interested in attending church services, but one day an old friend we met in the foyer invited us to the worship service. His daughter was singing a solo that day. I complied, unwillingly. The message of the sermon intrigued me. The pastor stated that the Bible makes sense. When it doesn't seem to make sense, it's because our understanding is incomplete.
"OK," I thought. "I'm an open-minded person. I'm willing to hear you make a case for that astounding statement."
There was no pressure or I'd have fled. I learned something new every week. Church became a highlight of my week, even though I wouldn't have described myself as a Christian and didn't want to socialize with anyone there. I had to consider Christianity apart from the people who profess it. My commitment was to truth. Truth stands on its own, distinct from the flawed people who proclaim it.
I read through the Bible and noted every question that came to mind. I took my list of questions to the pastor. He answered the questions he could, lent me books, and was honest enough to say he didn't have answers when he didn't. He was confident that anyone sincerely seeking truth would, in time, find Jesus.
My husband and I have been blessed with excellent Bible teachers. At one time in the 1990s we attended church and three in-depth Bible studies every week. One of our teachers lent me a video series on creation by Ken Ham. That led me to research everything I could find on evolution and creation, especially Darwin's Origin of Species. I read books attacking creationism and books attacking macroevolution. I looked for the answers both sides gave to their critics' objections. After reviewing and weighing all the evidence I could find, I became convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the theory of evolution I was taught cannot be true. That doesn't mean the Bible is true, of course, only that it might be. I continued to study the Bible, and over the years became convinced it could not have been written by humans on their own. Humans don't know the future. Humans would have edited out the parts that reflected negatively on themselves.
As all this was going on, I was invited to speak to more and more groups of Christian homeschoolers, not because I was Christian but because they liked my books. I met joyful, intelligent Christians, people I admired, people with strong values and strong families. Everything worked together. God had a plan and eventually my mother's prayers were answered. I reconnected with truth at its foundation and began to heal.
Jesus is Lord! The Bible is true. I am saved by grace. Praise God!
For details and lists of resources that made a difference for me, check the following links:
- Is Evolution True?
- Evolution: Quotations
- Evolution / Creation Reading List
- Conversations with My Readers
- Is the Bible True?
- My Prior Philosophy Failed
- Sin and Evil
- The Jews, Jerusalem and the Nation of Israel
- Biblical Prophecies Fulfilled
- Historical and Archaeological Evidence
- The Bible Itself
- Whatsoever Thing Are True (a book I wrote a few years after the articles above)
Source: www.SusanCAnthony.com, ©Susan C. Anthony