Wonderful! Absolutely Wonderful!
this past weekend i attended the Family-Centered Learning Conference in lovely lancaster, pa (hey, don't i sound just like the announcer for wheel of fortune or something?). anyway, it was absolutely wonderful and just what i needed. a big ol' hats off to Michele for pulling this off and most importantly for scheduling such terrific speakers. i was able to staff the Catholic Heritage Curricula vendor table and this was a huge blessing. i am normally not the type to go out of my little bubble and meet new people, even if i have talked with them online and hey, wouldn't it be great to actually meet them in person. by sitting behind this table i was forced to talk with people that i had never met before and it was wonderful to have "the table" as a conversation starter of sorts. it was just what i needed. now, back to the speakers. after mass Alice shared with us wonderful ideas on how to celebrate the liturgical year in our homes. her ideas were so practical and within reach that it really helped to scale down the plans that we sometimes make thinking, "oh, i have to get it all in or we're not really celebrating the liturgical year." next, Margot shared with us great ideas for learning with literature. she provided great examples and visuals and such great information that i hope to implement especially with our oldest this year. after lunch Mary Ellen gave the most beautiful talk on children with special needs. she had me crying and laughing in the same sentence. what an awesome example of mothering and true joy! Meredith followed this up with a talk on preschool learning. she provided great concrete ideas for schooling your wee ones and a very nice list of websites and blogs to search for ideas and supplies. Alice also presented the final talk of the day on socialization. this is the talk i want to spend the bulk of my post on, not to reveal all the magnificent details (you can head over to Family-Centered Press and purchase this great talk if you missed the conference)but to let you in on how this talk was exactly what i needed to hear and exactly when i needed to hear it. thank you to Alice for the blessing of this talk. despite never meeting her before, i felt at times like she was telling my story of the past few years, just using different names, places and slightly varying details. but, the most important pivotal moments were all there. i won't go into it all, because well, the long winded details are not important. i'm long winded enough in generalizations. so, let's use what i like to call "the bowling analogy." (for those of us who are coordination challenged, the bowling alley is as close as we get to participation in a real sport, please forgive me). anywho, in the past few years i have felt that God has put all my pins in order on the lane and it is looking just like i think it needs to. and just when i'm banking on this full set up of pins to stay there forever, He goes and bowls them down. and mark my word. God is a superb bowler. He has not been leaving 7-10 splits, He gets strikes. and there it all goes, the perfect pins, the perfect order, all of it. this has been our homeschool journey, so it seems, repeated, for the past few years. this is not to say we have had no support or interaction with others. we have a large group of homeschooling families here and i know that i can contact someone with a question at any time. but for the past year or so especially, it has seemed like ships passing in the night. i admire the families in our group, most of them significantly larger than ours and most of them also with some children much older than ours, that are perfectly happy existing on their own. i wish i could be like that sometimes, but i can't. i have never been good with the "i am a rock, i am an island" motif. yes, i'm perfectly content with a week at home with the kids doing whatever it is that we happen to be attending to that week. i love my family, i love my vocation and no matter what the circumstances, i wouldn't trade it for the world. it's just when it's going on week after week that my only interaction with another homeschooling mom is waving through a car window...i start to lose the joy, i start to lose the peace, i doubt, i second guess, i fear. i can't tell you how many times i have taken the decision to homeschool to prayer, telling the Lord that i can't do it and He comes back with a resounding, "it doesn't matter if you think you can't, you have to. it's My plan, not yours. I will provide again, just let me...and be patient." i know without a doubt that is the plan He has for us. He has made that abundantly clear. and that at times can feel like the greatest blessing and the greatest curse. i love the dynamic it produces in our family and i love knowing that in one element of my life, i am following the path that He has set out. that is the blessing. i don't love the doubt i sometimes feel or the depression over the isolation or the worry of "if i feel like this, what is this doing to my kids?" but you know what, i need to stop wallowing and start praying more. praying for the social atmosphere i crave and i need. will this fall into place in a day. probably not. but is He faithful, and will He give me whatever it is i need, no matter if i recognize it as such? definitely. He is setting it all up. patience. trust. thanksgiving. joy. perseverance. period.