I was blessed to be able to go to the WATCH homeschool conference this year.
I am not a big conference person. When I first began "official" homeschooling 8 years ago, I went to a few of them. I walked away mostly overwhelmed and with too many (expensive) books that I just HAD to have from the conference vendors hall. By the way, I don't think I used half of those books that were promising to educate my preschooler to a Harvard level.
I also checked out a conference a year a half ago that most of my friends were raving about. I walked away from there feeling like a huge failure as a homeschooler, mother and wife. Not only did I not have 13 children in homemade, matching dresses all sitting through long lectures about the Pythagorean theorem without so much as batting an eye, but I did not grind all my own stuff, bake all my own bread and build the table to serve the bread on.
I did not prepare gourmet meals in a spotlessly clean house while said children were singing hymns as they were scrubbing the molding without being asked to do so.
I was not creating a flawlessly wonderful, gap free curriculum and lesson plan to execute it faithfully every day close our books one day 180 because we have finished it!
We DO not take elaborate trips to historical Jamestown to supplement our history. We do not volunteer to teach the blind to see, or whatever.
Are you kidding me? I am biased, I know. When I went to this conference back then....my life was in crisis. Serious crisis. My family was a mess, we were hurting units. Had I been on the mountain top instead of in the valley, I might have gotten a different reaction from it.
In all fairness, as a side note about all this, I am asking myself now....how can I talk to people and present my life and truth in a way that will not make them feel "less than"? Cause' you never know where someone is at personally.
You may share some great epiphany that the Lord has shown you on organizing your homeschool record keeping, for example that could totally bring some poor mother down.
Someone who is struggling to get out of bed each day.
Someone who is sure they are"the only one".
Pray about what you share and how it will affect others. Are we bragging or are we sharing with a desire to help someone. Do they really need to hear what you have to say, or is the need more that you have to say it? I have been guilty of sitting in on conversations where we all "one up" each other many times. "You use such-and-such curriculum...oh yeah? We finished that last year. Your 4 year old is reading? Oh, yeah...my 4 year old just wrote her first dissertation...." you know that conversation!
Overheard at the conference on this topic "be more quick to share your failures than your successes"...for that very reason. I get it.
I actually believed that I was the only one who did not do the things that I thought I saw these other families doing. Not that there is anything wrong with the things I talked about. More power to ya'.
What is wrong here, what is missing here is that we portray the LIE that this is what our lives are really like, all the time and we are somehow closer to God, or more holy than those who are not that way.
We will carry out this lie at all costs. We will drive our selves to exhaustion trying to be Martha Stewart and Julia Child every day. We will destroy our relationships with our precious children in attempts to make sure that they look perfectly put together and obedient at all times.
Ask me how I know.
The Lord has slowly been setting me free from many of these lies and our homeschooling has changed over the years. I am so grateful for that.
So, I avoided conferences for a long time. I just could not walk through the crowds of the ones who were "doing it all right" while I was the only one falling apart.
Well, now I know that all of that is not real. It just is not real.
SO...about WATCH. What I loved about WATCH this year...
I saw my friend Jennifer...who traveled many miles across the state to come to this! Always a treat to see her.
I got to see my friend Diana Waring. A wonderful woman of God who homeschooled her 3 children all the way through and is the author of a fabulous history curriculum (among other great books) She has mentored me, prayed for me and encouraged me more times than I can count. In some of my darkest days, she talked me through.
I also was privileged to hear Ken Ham from Answers in Genesisas the keynote speaker. There is not enough room on my blog to tell about this ministry. I encourage you all to go to this website now. I was able to buy several of his books. They will change my life forever. You will be amazed at how much, how deeply the lie of evolution has colored our lives...even as Christians. I was inspired again to stand on the Word of God on all issues.
The other speaker that really touched my heart was Todd Wilsonof Family man ministries. He is the one who carried the message to Get Real! To focus on what is important and to give grace to ourselves and others. He is an author and hilarious in his approach to speaking. I laughed until I cried! Check him out. He speaks a lot to dads...get your husband signed up for his e-newsletters.
What I felt from this whole conference was the message of GRACE and FREEDOM. I have often heard Diana speak about grace and freedom in Jesus, about taking off the mask and being real (or in our cases, the homeschool mom jumper! LOL) I have often heard her pray for moms to be set free.
This wish, this spirit, this cry of her heart, along with the others at WATCH whom I was blessed to meet this weekend....was evident in every workshop I attended, every conversation I had and even the quiet moments I found along the way.
I could tell that they had been praying for moms to be set free. I could feel it. I pray that the moms that I saw there felt it too.
You know the ones...new to homeschooling, wild eyed and desperate to "get it all right". Remember those days? I do.
Let me tell you now. It is not in how you homeschool, it is not in what curriculum you buy, what schedule you follow or what program you implement. It is not found in what you wear or don't wear, if you watch TV or not, what your house looks like, if you grind all your own stuff or if you sew your own dresses.
IT...the IT that we are desperately seeking...the gnawing fear that drives us to find IT....
can only be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and in trusting him to lead you in your homeschooling. In standing on the flawless Word of God.
He will fill the gaps (yes, there will be gaps in your child's education but do you think that if they were in public school those gaps would not be there?)
He will show you what is the most important thing about your homeschooling. Relationship with your children. Leading them to Jesus. Loving them. He will show you that He created each of your children to be exactly as they are and He gave them to you exactly as you are for a reason. There is no better mother for your children.
IT is really in those things. I am striving to remember everyday what the most important things are.