Finding Joy…

Finding Joy in Restoring Your Heart

I want to encourage all of you to attend the CHEACT Conference this year! In February of this year, we moved away to a little city in Oklahoma, and how I will miss going to the Conference!  Even though I am a seasoned homeschooler, it was the highlight of my year, every year (besides the Used Book Fair, of course) I usually had to volunteer for my two hours to get in, but it was certainly worth it.  Even if you are a little shy of volunteering and afraid you will make mistakes, I survived both and learned to love it.

Perhaps, you have been feeling it is not worth it to attend or maybe you are just settled in your way of doing things.  Still, I hope you choose to go, even if you are burned out.  I recall one year that I felt that way. I had to take all six homeschooled children with me alone, with almost no money.  In spite of several inconveniences, it was uplifting to see that there really were so many other mothers homeschooling, too. Also, I gave myself the freedom to skip some sessions, reducing my stress. I browsed the Exhibit Hall at a slower pace since everything does take twice as long with several children and we had to choose carefully that year. I forced myself to talk to vendors and mothers as I had time. Gaining friendships there was a great boost to me all year. Most of all, I asked God to show me a new thing I needed to learn to help us with schooling, plus one thing I needed to change to make our homelife better.  These alone were invaluable when I implemented them.

Every year since that first year at the Conference, I have tried to learn at least a homelife and a schooling tip, and it helped me to plan on purpose for the sessions and to look forward to it.  One year, I was feeling very overwhelmed with the thought of homeschooling five with a toddler and a newborn.  I struggled not to cry through the conference (imagine that!)but a surprise awaited when I went to the Maxwell’s session on managing your homeschool.  The bigger surprise was that God especially provided for me to buy their book and God replaced my tears with triumph. (It was exactly what I needed then, and still helps me plan each year (even though that newborn is eight now!)

This spring, the OK City conference here provided the same valuable help.  Not only did I learn a great tip there on raising boys (homelife), but I found just the right schooling help for math when the boys showed me Amoeba Math, an amazingly detailed computer game to enhance their skill and speed in math facts from the basics up to algebra!

In a recent year, I saw only one topic that interested me, so, (gasp) after that session, we all spent both days just browsing the book tables buying lots of quality reading material along with the few texts we still needed, plus hours catching up with friends, of course.  In contrast, one year, I actually “begged” a graduate to come with me and help with some of my children, and she was glad to do so. I was actually able to sit through a few sessions without having to leave with a fretful baby. The Conference helps me so much.

Alas, I have to miss it all this year!  Moving has been quite a unique experience! Via Brett Adams, God sold our house within one week. That was the sign I asked from God, so I am at peace about it all even through special challenges! My husband accepted a position as a music director and they are letting us use their missions apartment at the church, living out of suitcases, until the old house we are buying is finished being remodeled.  The apartment is like a motel room that sleeps 7 (plus use of the church kitchen.) Except for basic schoolbooks and our computer, our things are still packed in boxes, which we can get to if needed.

This temporary arrangement is even remodeling my own thoughts regarding needs and wants, as well as my view of surrender and service. I had read of someone who took a blank piece of paper and signed his name at the bottom and laid it before the Lord in prayer and asked God to fill in his future in anyway He saw fit. In early January, I felt strongly that I should do the same, so God has been detailing a surprising plan.  As I adjust day by day during this long four months, I have discovered a helpful principle. Mainly, when it comes right down to it, we all need so much less than we now own and also less space to be happy in than we think. Now, in less than a week, we will finally get to move into that house.  It took longer than originally thought, and much help from others as well, to find all the main problems and fix them properly, then, finally, coat the whole inside with new paint.

I keep thinking this process is just like our lives as homeschoolers.  There are so many hidden places in our lives that are hidden even from us, until some one notices a tiny crack and pries a board loose and sees the rotting area behind.  The shock can be terrible to behold and the price to fix it can take great effort and more money and time than you dreamed, when you discover that you really have to replace a floor, wall, and ceiling in your home (or your heart) with new, sturdy material.

We homeschoolers can get so used to the daily, hectic pace of life and feel completely satisfied with all we are doing for our children that we fail to realize there is some transforming left to accomplish in each of us, something that is spreading suffering just under the surface of getting by. But we can choose to be transformed by God’s power in our lives to help us change, just like some butterflies I “mothered” recently.

The most unusual way I have been privileged to serve at the new church is to be the keeper of butterflies for our VBS program.  Our Pastor has suddenly become gravely ill with cancer and needed major surgery and his wife asked me to care for the caterpillars when they were shipped in, as she would be gone for weeks caring for him.  It is a difficult time here for all the members, but our Bug Zone VBS was a blessing to all as each adult and child learned how God can transform their lives. I felt awed by watching the stages of those creepers becoming butterflies, watching over them daily, and feeding them often when they finally emerged, until they were released at the end of the week.

This is also why the homeschool conference is so important!  Not only are we instrumental in helping our children emerge safely into adulthood, but we must carefully feed them good things often each day to help them thrive.  What better way to prepare for the year ahead than by feeding your own heart and soul some nourishing ideas and prying up the boards of your mind to see what needs improving while you get to attend the conference?

© 2012   Melanie Lippert  Psalm 113:9 / Joyfulmoms.net    (Joyfulmoms@alippert.com)

P.S. Write me for more info on Amoeba Math and a free children’s Titanic story!