I wish it was last Friday again. I had the blessing of attending the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Atlanta, and it was amazing.
This was my second opportunity to attend - the first time was in South Carolina a couple of years ago. I had already decided that there was no way this conference would be better than that one. I mean, at that time I had the privilege of sitting in the same room with and listening to Ken Ham, Pam Tebow, Lou Priolo, Norm Wakefield.....
But I have to say, this was even better. I was not prepared for the things I was going to hear. Words that would be answers to prayers I have been praying for years.
I attended sessions all day, and each one brought encouragement in different ways. (The first session was a bit strange though. I had planned my day before arrival, and so I went into the first session not realizing that the original speaker was unable to attend and I was in an alternate session. It was a bit too conspiracy theory for me, but maybe there was some truth to what he was saying. But I will be staying away from AP History books in the future.....)
The biggest prayer I had before attending was asking for direction on whether or not to continue with Classical Conversations next year and hoping that something I would hear there would help in that decision. I didn't receive a blinding answer to that one, but I do believe pieces of that puzzle were shown to me during the conference, and over the past week I think I have made a decision - but more on that later.
I had the blessing of hearing Norm Wakefield teach once again. He's an awesome teacher and such an encouragement to homeschoolers. He taught on letting go of our fears and how we should not fear when Jesus is with us. We must remember that He is with us on this journey! I can't see Mr. Wakefield though without thinking about his daughter Alyssa's blog and what a HUGE encouragement it used to be to me. I sure do miss it!!
The biggest impact on my day, though, was listening to Mark Hamby. My second session was with him. I had never heard him speak, but when I saw that he was in one of the big rooms, I figured he must be pretty good. And I figured correctly. At the end of the day, he was speaking again. There was another session I was trying to decide between, but I ultimately decided to attend his. Best.decision.ever. His first session was great, but the second session was life changing.
You see, for years I have been living under the burden of and been bound by the teaching of "first time, cheerful obedience" by my children. In a perfect world, that's great. But with four children, the odds of getting first time, cheerful obedience over the years has been quite low. It's caused years of distress and has been quite a joy stealer in my life. But I trudged on - always looking for ways to instill that way of thinking in my children. I think for the most part, it left us all a bit (a lot) weary.
Then Mark Hamby taught on grace-filled parenting. Yes! This is what my spirit has longed for. I've even practiced it at times but then felt guilty because I felt like I had failed because the above paragraph wasn't happening. Then he stated the obvious, which I have overlooked for years. God is the ultimate grace-filled parent! Maybe those weren't his exact words, but that's what I got. I mean, how many times do we have first time, cheerful obedience when God is asking us to do something? What if we received immediate discipline every time we didn't? We'd all be dead!!
My "load" got lighter last Friday evening. I literally had tears of joy - almost felt like salvation all over again. If you're reading this and would like to know more, go to Lamplighter.net and under seminars you can download some of his messages. They're not identical to what I heard on Friday evening but are very similar (the one on education and the one on the four types of parenting).
(Speaking of Lamplighter.net, if you want some amazing books about virtue to read with your children - or have them read on their own, you don't need to look any further. I had discovered these when Madison and Cari were little but had forgotten about them. I pulled out one (Jessica's Prayer) to read with Amelia and Matthew, and I definitely want to add to our library.)
I'm already looking forward to next year's conference. As homeschoolers, any additional encouragement we can receive along the way should be graciously and quickly received. The Teach Them Diligently Conference has definitely been a source of encouragement to me. If you have the opportunity to attend in a city near you, I highly recommend it!