Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I Learned at the Mum Heart Conference

I have just returned from my first Mum Heart Conference.  It was the most encouraging, inspiring, uplifting, convicting, and relaxing weekend I have had in a long time.
My friend and I left at 9am on Friday morning.  13 hours later we arrived at our hotel.  We drove 3 hours to Darwin, flew 4 hours to Brisbane, sat on the train for 2 hours, and then a new friend picked us up at the train station and drove us to the hotel.  It was a long journey, and honestly, that part is what almost made us decide not to go.  But I'm so glad we decided to make the long trek to Kingscliff, NSW.
It's hard to sum up an entire weekend all in one post, but I'd like to touch on the highlights and how God spoke to me.
When you meet with over 150 other ladies who are all in the same boat, it's quite an experience.  We all had several things in common: we are all women, we are all mums, we all are Christians, and we all homeschool.  It was a judgment free zone!
You could think of the Mum Heart Conference as a Ladies Retreat for homeschoolers.  If you know anything about Sally Clarkson's Mom Heart Conference in America, this is Australia's version.  The purpose behind it is to bring like-minded women together for fellowship, and to help encourage them in the Lord.

Sally Clarkson sent us a beautiful video message.
There wasn't one main speaker throughout the weekend, which honestly, I loved hearing from so many different women from all walks of life.  It was so wonderful to listen to these ladies' amazing stories, and to remind myself that I'm not alone in this journey.  I am not alone.  I needed that reminder.

I can't say I went home with the major secret to homeschooling success (well, actually, I kind of did - it's all God!), but I was given gentle reminders of things I knew in my head, and was then given the tools to move them to my heart and then to my hands.
There was a severe storm moving down the coast,  and all day Saturday it rained.  But Sunday, the sun came out and we were able to enjoy some time at the beach, which was a minute walk from the hotel.  I was able to go sit in the sand and talk with God about all I had heard the day before.
Some of my favourite talks with God I've had sitting at the ocean.  It's such a peaceful place for me.
As I sat there looking over my notes and praying for the remainder of the conference, the Lord reminded me of some verses that He had given me awhile back as my homeschooling purpose, theme, motto, or whatever you want to call it. 
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." 
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I realised I had lost my focus.  I had become so focused on my children finishing their workbooks and ticking of each subject, that I forgot why I homeschool.  Yes, it is wonderful to be able to choose our curriculum, and it's amazing to have Christian curriculum to choose from, but when that becomes our focus, we've lost the plot.

"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."

God spoke to my heart and showed me how I was going about this all wrong, how my focus had moved from Him to curriculum, and how I was trying to do this all in my own strength.  Thankfully, God is good, and He doesn't just show us these things and leave it for us to fix.  He is there, ready and willing, to help us fix it.
My (renewed) focus is (as the Scripture above teaches) to teach my children to love God with all their heart, and soul, and might.  By doing this, everything else tends to fall into place. 
Yes, the education part is important, but if I fail to lead my children to Christ, if I fail to show them by example how to have a close relationship with God, then...I have failed.
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.  It takes work. It takes determination.  It takes a lot of love, a lot of grace, and a lot of God.
But the benefits, the rewards, they are worth every difficult moment.
Like, I said, there was so much that I know in my head, but we get so busy in the mundane that we tend to forget it.  I know it's important for me to make time to spend with the Lord, to focus on Him.  But it's easy to get busy, and quickly read some Scripture and get on with our day without truly spending time with the Lord and focusing on Him.  And if I neglect that time with the Lord, my husband and children feel it.
(Photo  from Google search images)
One of the speakers spoke and use the analogy of a fountain.  I absolutely loved this analogy.  She spoke on John 4 and the Woman at the Well.  Jesus lovingly tells her about the Living Water.  The speaker talked about the fountain and how the spring is the Living Water, Jesus.  As the mum, we are the top tier.  We need to be in the Word and walking closely with the Lord so that we can drink from this Living Water.  By doing this, the Living Water spills over onto the next tier, our husband, and then onto the third tier, our children.  She cautioned us to be careful not to skip our husband's tier, and only spill over onto our children.  My husband needs me, and he is to come next after the Lord. 
I continued to think about this fountain, and how when we are flowing over into our husband and our children, then it also flows out onto others around us.  And isn't that the next greatest commandment?
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,
and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

I walked away from the conference so refreshed and ready to continue this homeschooling journey.  It was so comforting to hear stories from other mums, from stories of struggle to stories of success.  I can't recommend this conference enough, and have talked with my husband and have committed that if it all possible I will make this a priority every year.
I'm still spending time looking over my notes and Scripture verses that I wrote down, and will continue to share in the weeks ahead. 
If you are interested, the sessions will soon be made available on the Mum Heart Conference website.  Check it out here.
My friend and I on our way home.


Ainsley Smith said...

Love reading your thoughts about conference Jen. I have been thinking over my response too. Still working over my notes and processing all I heard.

Anonymous said...

Jen! This is wonderful. I LOVE your blog. Such a positive, uplifting emphasis. Thank you for sharing. And so happy you are happy to recommend Mum Heart to others far and wide. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts...and hugging you next year :) with blessings, from Barb

Michelle M said...

Great to read. I didn't realise you had come so far.

Amy said...

I was sad to have missed the conference this year. It is a wonderful boost isn't? I'm still referring back to my reflections on the conference I went to two years ago and continuing to learn from the inspiration I gleaned then. Love your thoughts.

Lou Ann Keiser said...

It's great you were able to go! I went to a homeschool conference years ago. It was SUCH a help to me on different levels. That Deuteronomy passage has much to say about how we parent, whether we homeschool or not. LOVED the fountain illustration! Thank you for sharing!

Angie Tester said...

Great post Jen! Definitely need to fix our eyes on Jesus otherwise we simply won't get the right result. Good reminders that savouring the Lord leads to eternal rewards while workbooks simply exist! Sounds like a wonderful positive uplifting time :)

Mrs Sharon Stay said...

I think what you said about not skipping the husband, to focus on the kids is a lesson I have had to learn a lot. Thank you for the reminder. It was lovely to meet you.

Belinda Letchford said...

It was so great to meet you - please do visit when you are in town. I read your post earlier but didn't have time to comment but reading it again I was glad to be reminded of the fountain story. I hope you've been able to tweak things at home to be able to keep your focus on your kids hearts once again.