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Note - Though our family has chosen to home school (and the subject comes up in this post), I am in no way suggesting that every one should go that route.  I believe the lessons I've been pondering are applicable to us all.

I recently went to a homeschooling conference for the 7th straight year (yes, I'm the mom who started  going to these before I actually had children) and once again found it incredibly encouraging.  It is interesting to look back over the years and see how my thought processes have changed.  My first couple of years I went because "everybody was doing it", well at least in my social circle.  The speakers were wonderful and even more so the late night giggles with the gals I shared a room with.  After I had my first couple of kids, I started going for different reasons.  I was looking for something.  I was looking for the RIGHT way to homeschool.  I would literally walk around gawking at the sweet natured & polite teenagers and think to myself - ok, where are there parents so they can tell me how to do this thing.  They must be doing something right.  I couldn't wait to find out the formula.  A few more kids and a million parenting books down the road, I often found myself feeling torn between a number of methods...I really wanted to know which one was the right one.

Although the homeschool conference speakers are always encouraging, this years speakers did something really special - in many of the sessions they spent a good half of the lecture opening up the floor for discussion.  They would ask a simple question like "is it ok to let your child study into the wee hours of the night?" or "what would you do if you found your teenager reading upside down?" or even "do you make them eat the crust?".  The answers were AWESOME - and not a single one of them was answered in the exact same way.  The responces were obviously coming from very loving, intelligent, devoted parents - and yet the answers couldn't have been more different.

I too, decided to ask multiple moms a single question. It was,"how do you find the balance between keeping your house in order & spending quality time with your kids?".  I really thought someone would have it down.  But almost every mama (whether they had 1 kid, 5, kids or 10 kids) laughed, mentioned a few tricks of their trade & then said something to the effect of "if you get it figured out - PLEASE let me know".  Some mamas said the mess didn't bother them, some mamas said they had family clean ups 2 or 3X a day, lots of mamas said the kiddos helped (but all in different ways).  None of them gave me the pat answer I was looking for, like - "oh that is easy - just do '________'.  I think there is a part of me that thinks, or thought, that at some point in this parenting journey we get it down.  We know the answers & can then be the encouragers instead of the learners.  But here is the thing.  Every mama there was there to learn.  They were there because they had a need.  And you know what, that was encouraging.

The speakers at the conference placed an incredible emphasis on the importance of the Word of God in our daily lives (both for parents and students) and that was/is our common thread.  Every single one of us is needy.  And though it is tempting to think we can find the right answers through some kind of formula, in actuality it is not having the answers that lead us to THE answer.  Our Father in Heaven is longing for a relationship with us.  A daily, weekly, hourly, minute by minute, second by second relationship.  This life is hard, but through His word & prayer* He pulls us into a different way of looking at things.  And though He might not tell us exactly how to clean our house (though He might), if we really seek Him He will show us that being consumed by the state of our homes is so much less than He has to offer.  He'll beg us to stare at Him - who He is - what He has done for us - who we are in Him.  And in the moments that our sinks are overflowing (as mine is right now), maybe he'll send a friend to help, or perhaps He'll speak through the beauty of music while you wash, or if on the off chance you can't find the energy to wash one more dish, He'll fill you with all the grace & peace you need as you remember...
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

*In regards to Prayer/Bible Study...If you struggle with spending time in the Word and/or prayer, I have a suggestion that has helped me tremendously.  Instead of deciding that you are going to make yourself have a "quiet time" every day & then giving up when you miss a few - try starting with praying this every day.  "God, please give me a love for your word & prayer".  I tried to make myself read/pray for years & I really didn't think such a simple prayer could make a differnce - boy, was I wrong.


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