Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Setting the Stage

book image from
desperate mom.com
During my angry mama phase, I picked up a book at our local Family Christian bookstore called Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I had never heard of either of these women before and wasn't even looking for anything in particular that day (my husband likes to go when the CDs are on sale for $5!), but the title and the image on the cover of the book leaped off the shelf and into my heart. I bought the book, took it home, read it, underlined it, copied whole paragraphs into my journal, and then went online to find out more about these wise women who wrote such inspiring words. I discovered that the more mature co-author, Sally Clarkson, hosted several conferences around the country called the Mom Heart Conference and that in just a few months, she would be bringing this conference to a town less than 100 miles away from where I live, just down the road from my childhood home where my parents still lived in a large, now-empty house. I immediately emailed all my close mom friends, hoping just one of them would want to accompany me for the weekend, bribing them with free lodging at my parents' house.
SIX friends responded to that email and registered for the conference with me, based, probably, mostly, on wanting a night away, but also on the promise that the speakers would reach to a mother's heart and all of us, with 17 kids between us at the time (now there are 21!) were feeling the need to be encouraged by someone who had raised children and raised them well.
Momference 2014! I am so thankful for these amazing, supportive,
hilarious, honest women I am undeservedly blessed to call my friends.
I had no idea before attending Mom Heart Conference that year that Sally Clarkson has written multiple well-received books on mothering, has homeschooled all four of her now-adult children, and is an impassioned advocate of home education.  And while I enjoyed the conference and the company of my six girlfriends without the usual interruptions that come with small children, homeschooling was not even a blip on my radar at the time. I did purchase two books that weekend from the Clarkson family, one, a family devotional, and the other, a book about books written by Sally's eldest daughter Sarah called Read for the Heart. I determined that using these two books would be a good way for me to still nurture and reach my kids while the majority of their wake time in years to come was spent at school.
Flash forward two years and while I referenced the book list book a couple of times prior to heading off to the library, we still mostly come home with the current favorite books of the moment, regardless of content (mostly, I do have some standards!) and the devotional sat on the shelf as the morning rush and the afternoon homework grind and early bedtimes have taken away most of our non-school daytime hours.
Imagine my surprise that at the same time as I started seriously thinking about home education that I would be totally fed up with my disorderly house and as a result had picked up a book by Sally Clarkson about making a life-giving home (the only other book of Sally Clarkson's I have ever read besides Desperate).
Now that the homeschool train is fully in motion for our family, I've pulled that family devotional down from the shelf and have used it to start outlining Bible lessons to start each school day. Sarah's book about books is sitting (in my still-a-work-in-progress homeschool room) right next to Honey for a Child's Heart and The Read-Aloud Handbook. And while I wait for my copy of Educating the Whole-Hearted Child to be delivered next week, I've had to seriously hold back from marking up a borrowed copy of the same title as I read with excitement and encouragement about how Sally and her husband Clay raised their four children to be successful, Godly adults.

Yesterday I wrote about seeing the big picture and remembering this sequence of events today is further confirmation that while we may make plans, ultimately, it is the LORD who determines our steps. What a blessing and a relief it is for me to trust in Him!

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