Last week I had the privilege of spending a few days at a conference on faith, family, and homeschooling. The Teach Them Diligently conference. It was so refreshing to sit and listen to speakers encourage and challenge me in my personal walk with the Lord, in my parenting, and in my homeschooling. We could all use some encouragement from time to time, right?
There were so many good sessions that I wanted to attend, but of course I could only chose one per hour, and that was a challenge.
I heard from a mom of 9, in a room with a broken air conditioner and she was about 8 months pregnant! Amy spoke on scheduling your day, and how to fit the good stuff in. Whew, that is so hard. I have often heard myself exclaim that there just aren't enough hours in the day. The reality is, the Lord has given me the time I need to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish. The challenge is for me to order my days so that the most important things are completed. I spend plenty of time working on schedules trying to make my home run more efficiently, but I still have a long way to go before perfecting them. I won't give up...I will continue to pray for God's guidance and wisdom, so that I can order my days well, and accomplish what He has for me!
I heard from a mother-daughter team passionate about the next generation - specifically that they know about the constitution and the roots of America. Jenine Turner and her daughter Juliette shared a book that Juliette wrote when she was only 14 that explains the Constitution of the United States article by article in a language that children can understand. Juliette said that the next generation MUST know what their rights are so that they will know when the rights are being taken away. I couldn't agree more!
I heard from a father of four who has done extensive research on the question of dating vs. courting. Nathaniel and I are fully aware that our choices for our family on this topic may make others question and judge, but we are committed to following God's call for our family despite the criticism. That includes raising our children to follow the principles of courtship. Mr. Gunderson said so many things that are truth about courtship. Courtship is not an arranged marriage, like so many misunderstand it to be. Choosing a mate is a BIG deal, though, and it is wise to seek council from family. Just think, a girl is choosing the man under whom she will submit for the rest of her life...that is a huge decision. (And no, it doesn't mean submission like a slave, but rather biblical submission to her husband.) At every turn, dating focuses more on privacy, being alone together, personal space, and entertainment. Courtship is getting to know someone in the context of family, both yours and theirs, and being open and accountable to parents. Mr. Gunderson said so many things that were wonderful and challenging...I could go on and on about his wise words. If you are interested in the Dating vs. courtship questions, I'd encourage you to get a copy of his book Courtship and Dating: So What's the Difference?
I really enjoyed a session given by homeschool veteran Pam Forster...a mom who homeschooled lots of children and is now on the other side, playing with lots of grandbabies. Her session was entitled 'What I Would Do Differently" and it was a blessing. She was able to say, from her wisdom and experience, things that she would do differently if she knew then what she knows now. Examples included praising her children more than she corrected them, praying MORE, trusting God MORE, and worrying less. She gave fantastic examples and stories and I left encouraged that I could learn from her experience. She has already walked this path I am on, and listening to her, heeding her words, will help me to make some changes now. Just maybe I can save myself some worry. Maybe I can alter my own bad habits, and become a parent who praises MORE than I correct. Just as scripture says, the younger women can learn so much from the older women. We should do more of that!
A few of the sessions I attended were given by Josh Duggar. For those unfamiliar with that name, he is in fact the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting. And yes, we watch lots of that show around here...good wholesome family entertainment that shows healthy family dynamics instead of children with no parental involvement (think about all those shows where there are no parents in the episodes. Yuk!) or shows where children are disobedient and disrespectful to their parents/elders.
But I digress. Josh gave three powerful sessions of faith, family, and freedom. He spoke on finding your vision, both for yourself and your family. He encouraged us to surround ourselves and our families with other like-minded people who will constantly point us to God. He encouraged lives of service and action, both at home, in our communities, and in the government. He spoke about passing on the torch to our children, but first reminded us that the torch must be lit! He encouraged us to stand firm, and hold fast to the truths we find in scripture. Strong families are the answer to many of today's issues, and he boldly challenged us to seek God and create strong families. He spoke of working hard. He spoke of liberty and freedom, and unfortunately much of America doesn't even truly understand the definition of these things. He asked how we could think that the world would honor God's design for life, when even those of us to claim to be Christians (Christ followers) are not able honoring it. I say that oftentimes we look a little too much like the world, and we aren't different enough. He was inspiring, challenging, encouraging. It was good!
I even got to meet him and chat with him for a little while afterwards. He is absolutely genuine...a kind heart who is passionate for Christ.
Needless to say, my time at the conference was well spent. I left excited, challenged, and encouraged. I came home with several books to read and a notebook of notes to ponder, re-read, and pray over. God was so good to allow me the opportunity to attend. It was the first time the Teach Them Diligently conference had ever been held in Dallas, and I am looking forward to TTD 2015!