Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Convention "aha"

I imagine that there were thousands of people at the Great Homeschool Convention this past weekend.  And if you asked each of them what they learned from the conference, every answer would be different.  Even for the ones sitting in the same sessions, listening to the same speakers.

This was my third convention, and I was less prepared and organized than I have ever been.  I had no real game plan other than:
1.  Drive to convention hall without getting lost
2.  Check in

Don't misunderstand.  There were a few speakers and things I wanted to "hit."
 * Adam Andrews from Center for Lit because he's "my people".  :-)
 * Any of the Classical gurus like Andrew Kern or Christopher Perrin because listening to them makes me feel like I've climbed the mountaintop and asked the wise man the meaning of life.  I only understand half of what they say, but I feel smarter just for being there.
 * Heidi St. John, the "Busy Mom" because she's famous on Facebook and all
 * Something to help me get Bethany reading.
That was it.  4 sessions from 3 full days of options...

I had at least glanced at the schedule, so when I arrive I decided to sit in on a session about making your kids into "world changers'.  I figured it was as good a place as any.

But starting with that little talk by Steven Lambert (a precious gentleman, by the way), God began clearly speaking to my heart.

First, I have to back up.  For the past 7 months, I've been supposed to be really "hitting the books" with my kids to make up for the time I was working and not able to give them 100%.  Helping them get "up to par", whatever that means.  But it just hasn't happened.  In some cases, it's been because of unforseen health issues.  But in others, it was simply because I didn't know how.  All the methods and books and "push them harder" people suggested just seemed wrong for us.

Then about a month ago, I noticed something.  Without any pushing or prodding by me, improvement had been happening.  But not just in academics.  Even more importantly, in my opinion, all my kids had grown and matured beyond my wildest expectations in their relationships with each other and with God.

Yet even with the knowledge that God had used my being home more to help grow the "who" of my kids, I still felt like I wasn't measuring up somehow.  And it was with that mindset that I walked into the convention and sat down in Steven Lambert's session on creating world changers.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I expected.  But it wasn't what I heard.  Not exactly, anyway.  What I heard was an affirmation of what I had been feeling along with an explanation of why it was important.  Mr. Lambert pointed out that we have been born on a spiritual battlefield and that the enemy wants our kids.  It doesn't matter how smart or how strong or how fast they are if we are not teaching them what it means to know and love and live in communion with God and to know, love and live in communion with people.  The curriculum we use, the schools that we go to don't matter if we lose that battle.

WOW!  So not what I was expecting, but yet exactly what I need to hear from God.  From that point on, before I decided on any session, I asked God for direction.  That He would put me where He wanted me to be and that I would hear what He wanted me to hear.  And I did.

It seemed that the theme of the soul of the child over everything else permeated the entire conference for me.  From sessions on assessment to genius, it was repeated over and over again..

Do I think that God wants me to go off the reservation and just talk philosophy with my kids?  No.  I do think, though, that He want me to be more intentional in my efforts to reach the hearts of my children.  I need to continue to push through in math and science, but not because we are behind or we need to get to a certain place.  Instead it is because God uses everything, all of creation, to reveal Himself to us.  And when I don't make sure my kids are exposed to that, I'm keeping them from exploring a facet of God's glory.

But here's more great hope!  There's no one perfect way to do it.  It looks different in every family and for every child probably.  But, to roughly quote Steven Lambert again, the key is consistency.  He said teaching our children is "simply a walk of faith which is summed up best by Eugene Patterson as a long obedience in the same direction."

I came home from this year's conference with a few new practical things to do and try for this and that.  But more than anything, I came back comforted in the knowledge that even at my worst, I am exactly where God has placed me and am doing exactly what he has called me to do.

But I still hope that one day I'll go to the Classical forum and understand more than 30% of what they're saying!

Linking up up WalkingRedeemed.org

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