The weekend started with kids having fun in the lobby of the hotel...
Aili and Ian were sword fighting with some free posters but here it looks like she is listening to his heart??
Next Shrek characters appeared...funny moment...when we first walked in I saw a red haired character in green dress and I kept calling her Merida...when I saw Puss in Boots I realized, "OH...that is Feona (Sp?) - NOT Merida!" lol... I apologized to the character! haha
Ian enjoys characters...Meisi was pretty scared of them. I'm sure she'd never seen anything like them!
Next we were surprised with an upgrade to our room! A nice benefit of spending many, many nights in Marriott hotels in China. :)
To be completely honest... My prayer and goal for going to the homeschool conference was to either figure out that homeschooling really wasn't for our family after all or learn how to thrive at homeschooling rather than survive (secretly hoping I would hear the first option). :)
The outcome -
So. Much. More.
So much more than just information about homeschooling...
Isn't that how God works?
We ask for something we think we need or want and He gives us -
So. Much. More!
I learned so much I don't think it is possible to elaborate fully in a blog. Here are just a few highlights. :)
Don't worry - I'm not going to try to talk you into homeschooling...certainly not what this is about!
I would never want you to try that if God hadn't called you to it! It is hard enough when He has!
One of the speakers said, "If God has told you to homeschool you should know -Homeschooling is HARD but it is the hardest, best thing you will ever do!"
That alone was something I needed to hear (even though I didn't know I needed or wanted to hear that) over and over from the speakers (and these are people who love homeschooling)...
When I read blogs about people who are blissfully happy homeschooling and can't imagine doing anything other than that... I feel I must be doing the wrong thing because I'm not sure I could describe any day like some homeschoolers do on their blogs....
So to hear these speakers speak openly about how some days they sit and cry with their kids, that they frequently make calls to their husbands for help because the day has been so hard, how homeschooling has brought them to their knees more than anything else...
Hearing them say that homeschooling is
So. Much. More than just education...
Wow! My feelings/fears/distress might be more normal than I believed!
Many of the same messages (like that one) resonated with me through different speakers on totally different topics. The key message for me was:
- Investing in what matters most - my relationship with God, nurturing my marriage, discipling my kids...
What I learned about Myself - as I mentioned in this previous blog about homeschooling -
- I am selfish! I'm missing out on my life and my relationships by spending way too much of "my time" on email or facebook and not with my people.
- I love exhibit halls - the conversations, the choices... it is like intelligently deciding which product is best for which patient (pharmacy mind not too far gone yet). Only this time it is which product is best for my children - really enjoyed it (was very intrigued by all the families with wheeled carts though pulling around all their purchases) which leads to...
- I don't like spending money (aka tightwad)... but super excited and at peace about the purchases I made (which are being mailed to me because I like nice boxed sets that tell me what to do when). :)
What I learned about my husband- he is an amazing multi tasker!
- He can keep Meisi entertained (drawing with her, playing on ipad with her...) while still listening completely to speaker, taking notes on phone and pictures of lecture screen - ALL at the SAME time!
- He actually enjoys taking all the kids to the pool at once and it doesn't stress him!
- He exemplifies the foot washing servant leader of Christ as he will step in and do whatever is needed at any moment for our kids or me.
- He is amazing ( I already knew that but sometimes good to be reminded) ;)
What I learned about my kids - they are EACH masterpieces.
- They want Brian and I to be their parents.
- They long to have our undivided attention (ahemm...put down the phone), and
- They long for us to actively listen and engage in conversation.
- They actually like being homeschooled.
- They each want to be the teacher's pet (and it is possible to allow them each to be).
What I learned about my relationship with God - this one is the most critical and while much of it isn't new to me - it renewed me this weekend...
- God loves me and knows me better than anyone (even knows my thoughts).. AND... He still likes me - He enjoys my attention and our time together. John 13:34-15: Love one another as I have loved you.... How/when did he love me? Only when I am good? Only when I am living life for Him and following Him immediately? Nope - when I was living in darkness, a sinner, ungodly - that is when He died for me...and you.
- Even with all my baggage and special needs - he adopted me into his family which has no biological children. Even still I struggle with attachment... even though I KNOW He loves me the same today as yesterday and forever (He is unchanging)... I STILL try to work to please Him... I still try to do it my way, even though I know He could do it better His way....I try to do more instead of letting Him just love me and pour His grace out on me...
What was Heartbreaking??!!
the realization that my kids also struggle with the same things...from ME
Transforming to realize
- that more than any subject we may be trying to work thorough (math worksheets or writing assignments) or more than any task we are trying to complete (think doing dishes, cleaning rooms)..their hearts and our relationship is most important (don't ruin the relationship over school or chores!)
- That EACH of my children are masterpieces - hand crafted by God Himself! (so treat them as such).
Before anything or anyone else - I MUST continue to grow in my relationship with Christ. That means
- coming to Christ daily (continuing to sit in my special place, reading His word and praying to Him then listening for Him)
- taking His yoke (asking Him what He wants me to carry instead of being burdened by what I think I should carry) and
- then learning from Him on my knees (because I certainly need new wisdom and mercies daily...ahemm.... I have 3 kids ,24 hours a day, 7 days a week !).
Before my relationship with my children - I must nurture my relationship with my hubby...This is HARD! So So hard when kids are young. And even harder when you are a tightwad like me (paying for sitters then going on a date - are you kidding me??)
But it is imperative...
If Satan gets a foothold in our marriage....it makes it easier for him to get to our kids...
That makes this mama's hearts beat a little faster just thinking about it...
Brian and I must make sure Jesus is the center of everything ( "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.") Ephesians 4:12
We must -
- share our interests (verbally) - not just the "fluff", surface talk we do about our days,
- spend time together (without children) and
- be intimate (physically, spiritually and intellectually).
All these things I have known and at some point I have lived but how quick I am to turn away...
How quick I am to respond angrily when I've repeated myself 10 times to the kids (feel I must have an invisible cloak on or something)...how quickly I am to rush around to get from point A to B yelling "Hurry - get your shoes on!"..
Then I wonder why my kids so quickly snap at each other?? hmmm....
Throughout our adoption process we've focused on the verse,
1 Corinthians 13:13 "Faith, Hope and love but the greatest of these is love."
LOVE!! 1 Corinthians 13 expounds upon how our Heavenly Father loves us... Which should also be my model for how I love my children...
"love is patient, (oh patient...hmmm)
love is kind... (usually doesn't mean yelling about getting shoes on or counting to three)..
...love is not easily angered, (yep, struggle with that one when my invisible cloak is on)
it keeps no record of wrongs... (yep, gotta work on that one...)
love never fails..
So thankful He loves me this much. So thankful He is refining me and not done with me yet.. So thankful tomorrow is a new day and we can start fresh!
He gives us So. Much. More
He loves us So. Much. More
Today I'm "running to his arms"... One of my favorite praise songs ("Forever Reign").. Listen to it here:
My spirit has been renewed. I'm sure I will slip and will fall but praise the Lord He is going to still be there to embrace me and love me through it. I hope and pray I can pour out that same grace to my children. Loving them, truly LOVING - even when it is hard. Liking them even when it is harder. Waving and smiling at them instead of looking at my cell phone checking facebook....
So I came to this conference hoping to hear something like, "Yes, Deidra - you are right - you aren't cut out for homeschooling and you should quit." But instead I heard,
"Education is Discipleship.
This is the best thing for your kids.
You are the best teacher for your kids.
Above academics is your relationship with them and
Homeschooling WILL be hard but it will be the hardest, best thing you will ever do!"
Now - please hear me that I am not saying I heard it is the best for ALL kids... God doesn't usually talk to me about your kids... He only told me it is the best for mine. Will we homeschool through high school? I have no idea! I just know that for now we are continuing to be a homeschooling family. And for the first time I am excited about it and eager to see how God uses this to grow us. While realizing, just as a farmer doesn't see oranges growing in a few days or months from his newly planted orange tree... it will take time to see the fruit of this calling in my children...
Today I feel transformed from where I was just a couple days ago... renewed and at peace with where God has us right now.
Still amazed how He continues to give us
And when those cloudy days come (and they will come), when I am tired and weak and I'm again questioning my sanity... I will come back here to remind myself, "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so...Little ones to Him belong - they are weak but He is strong..." and that "My heart will sing, no other name...Jesus...Jesus"
Onto a lighter note...PICTURES!!!
The kids really enjoyed the convention as well!
The last night in the hotel, Aili and I sat and talked in the bed about how much fun she had and how she was sad to leave. When I asked if she was surprised at how fun a homeschooling conference could be she said, "What? I thought it was a church thing!" :) Love it -granted - not all homeschoolers are Christian but love that there was such a great faith based group there!
Meisi enjoyed all the free stuff she got (candy from the Wycliffe folks, Mickey ears from another booth and then loads of attention from the lifesong for orphans booth - yes, this was all at the homeschooling exhibit hall). :)
All the kids were excited to get Krispy Kreme for dinner one night! Yep, this kinda goes back to my tightwad issues... eating at the Gaylord is more expensive than eating at Disney! So KK for dinner it was - judge me not - the kids were elated!
We did splurge the next night and went to Logan's Roadhouse - our favorite steakhouse (so many great Kentucky memories)!!! Turns out Meisi loves it too (she had a baked potato) and kept saying, "yummy" over and over. I think our guide in Anhui was right - Anhui girls do like ANY kind of potato! :)
We spent one evening at Downtown Disney with our friends. Wonderful how our kids just enjoy being together running in circles and playing silly made up games. These were a couple of my favorite pics - her little Asian squat!
Being silly with Jie Jie (big sister). :)
Meisi was super proud of herself to pull her own luggage out of the hotel. :) When she got to the van she cheered, "Yay" and gave high fives to each of us. :) I continue to be amazed by our precious little gift! Have I mentioned the ONLY show she will watch from start to finish is, "Yo Gabba Gabba!" She loves to dance and sing! :) Was super stoked to find this shirt for her! She points and says, "Gabba Gabbaaaaa - yay!" :)
On the way home from Orlando we stopped off at LEGOLAND (yes I know...living in this area is really tough for families with kids - lol. We will certainly miss all this fun when the military moves us again)...
How cute that she picked up the pandas out of all the options?! :)
We really enjoyed our weekend and first family vacation! :) I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend as well. Please take a moment to pray for the families of those who have lost a loved one who gave their life for our freedoms. As a military wife this is very close to my heart... I'm very proud of my Airman and his service and thankful he is home with us this year. I am praying for all those whose spouses, sons, daughters, moms and dads are not.