I cannot believe it, but I attended my first conference over seventeen years ago. Where did the time go? Left to us, the first conference we attended was also going to be our last. But God had different plans.
Davis and I started out as reluctant and uninterested homeschooling parents. In the beginning of our journey we were only thinking in terms of a really short trip. We were not thinking long term. We weren’t thinking discipleship, curriculum, or character either. No, we were using homeschooling as a stop-gap, not a long term
A veteran homeschooling family told us about the conference and encouraged us to go. The most appealing part of the conference to us was leaving the kids at home and having a weekend away. It could have been a hardware convention, for all we knew. Our plan was to put Charles in school the next fall. We had done our time; we had a plan.
And so did God. When we arrived at the conference, I was shocked to see people just like me. I am really not sure what I had expected, but “normal” wasn’t it. Somehow I had expected the other attendees to be weird or strange or something. But they weren’t. They were just like me. And there were so many of them. I had no idea there were so many homeschooling families in our state.
Still our plan was to attend one workshop and cut out. We had no plans to stay for the whole thing, and we had other things to do. I do not even remember looking at the program to choose which workshop to attend. We just kind of found ourselves caught in the crowd and in a workshop with Chris Davis entitled: “Are You Lighting a Fire or Filling a Bucket?”
From the moment he started talking, it was as if time stood still. This was our moment to really consider this option. We hadn’t even thought about doing it for another year with Charles or the other children.
If this is your first conference, may I humbly suggest the following-
- Pray and ask God to direct your steps and show you the way you should go. Ask Him to guide you to the workshops you need to attend and to the people with whom you need to talk. Ask Him to grant you discernment and understanding.
- Engage your mind. Come willing to honestly consider what God is already doing in homeschooling families across the country and where your family’s part is in this movement of God.
- Spend more time in the workshops than in the bookfair. Listen to the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before. Take the opportunity to visit with them. That is what they are there for, to minister to you.
- Make a list of questions you would have and seek out those who are willing and able to answer them. What do you want to know? What is holding you back? Be honest with yourself and your spouse. Acknowledge that not all the questions will be answered in a weekend. Demanding that the questions be answered before you step out doesn’t take into account the faith element of this journey. Asking questions and desiring answers is one thing, but demanding them is another. God longs to grow us and show off to us. He grows us as we step out into situations, and He leads when we don’t have all the answers. These situations grow our faith and trust in Him who never leaves or forsakes us and who will not allow us to fall. He glorifies Himself when He shows off to us by answering those questions and even those desires that we thought He didn’t know about. That is to His glory. God is big enough for our questions. Through them we are often drawn to Him. The problem comes when we demand answers as if He owes us something. He owes us nothing.
- Dare to dream dreams and see visions of what God might do. It really isn’t about what you can or cannot do, but about what He wants to do through you! Your qualifications for this journey are simple: willingness to step out in faith and trusting Him who alone is able.
- Ignore the whispers of the enemy. First of all, he doesn’t want you to attend. Once you are there, he wants to distract you at every turn. Remember he comes to kill, steal and destroy. Christ came that you might have life abundant. He promises never to leave you.
I hope this year’s conference is only the first of many you will attend. I hope that you will be encouraged beyond what you could ask or imagine. I hope that you will join me in the adventure of a lifetime, and that you will step out in faith even though all your questions aren’t answered. Praise Him every step of the way.
And I hope that you will stop at one of my workshops or by the Apologia booth and tell me how it’s going. I’d love to talk with you!
Living by Faith and Enjoying the Homeschooling Adventure of a Lifetime,