|Meeting Sally for the third time in my life|
First of all, if you don't know who Sally Clarkson is, I would suggest it's time to get acquainted. She and her husband wrote my all-time-favorite homeschooling book, Educating the Whole-Hearted Child. She also wrote my second-favorite homeschooling book, Seasons of a Mother's Heart.
These were some of her earlier titles, first published around the millennium but now updated and re-issued.
Basically, her books were (and are) a lovely blend of experience, wisdom, and well-told stories, all based on a Godly foundation. She has since moved into a more supportive role for Christian mothers everywhere, releasing titles like Mission of Motherhood, Ministry of Motherhood, and her latest, Different, which is about nurturing that difficult child through the "dark years" and emerging with a beautiful butterfly of a mature young adult.
I've come across Sally in person on two separate occasions: the first was in 2005 when she was visiting a homeschooling friend of mine near Oxford, England, and the second was the lunch date in 2014. Throughout all these years, I have been privileged to share Sally and her work with my sister-in-law Holly, long distance because she has lived in Dallas and, until June last year, I lived in England.
Holly has also drunk deep of Sally's wisdom through publications, but also, she has attended two conferences in the past. Yet, it has always been our dream to go to one together, so this past weekend, we were able to share our love for Sally and her guidance at the Renew My Heart conference.
|Holly and I avoid the book stalls|
Sally's conferences are amazing. Yes, there are hundreds of people there, but Sally is walking around the book stall, signing people's dog-eared and highlighted copies, swapping stories, and in my case, renewing our old acquaintance. No prima-donna, but accessible and making time for everyone.
"What are you doing here?!" was the first question she asked me. When I said I'd finally made the move I'd been seeking for so many years, she was quick to praise God for His goodness!
The conference itself seems to be one of the last ones she's planning to do, hotel rental being expensive when compared to the new social media outlets available. I found it a wonderful chance to meet new people since it was based around table groups, but there was also plenty of guidance and space to go off by ourselves and listen to God's heart.
My own quiet time could not have been more refreshing. I took off down the footpath around the man-made lake, thinking how great it would be if I could find some trees and, if possible, a fountain of some sort. I didn't really believe that would happen, but next thing I know, I'm at the head of the reservoir where the spillway is chucking down a sheet of flowing water. The sound was powerful enough to drown out the sound of the highway nearby - a reminder that God's Spirit can drown out the noise of life if we put ourselves in the right place.
|Refreshing Water and Quiet Thoughts|
Two more revelations came out during this time alone. One was that I needed to remember my calling - to home educate my children. If I was putting other things in the way, then I needed to re-calibrate. This led to my re-think of the schedule I've got for teaching English online to other homeschoolers. The fruit of that re-think has been announced for September 2017: no more classes during US morning time (except the day when one of my children already has an online morning class for Ancient History - I had to make at least one concession to my students in Dubai!).
With five minutes left of the quiet time, I lay back and look up into the trees. "God, tell me something. Give me a word. A picture ..." Yeah, yeah. In five minutes. Now .... go!
God rarely works that way, I know, but He was very good to me that day. He did give me a word. When Sally visited back in 2014, I always said I felt like Zacchaeus, hearing that Jesus was going to come to dine at his house that day. This time, God said to me, "Look at the tree ... it's empty. Zacchaeus is no longer having to work at seeing Jesus, but is now one of His intimate friends." The flood of acceptance for myself as a friend of Jesus was immediately clear. I returned to my table group so full of God-inspired refreshing - RENEWAL, just as the conference was aiming to achieve.
If you want to go to one of Sally's conferences, there are still two more planned for the year: South Carolina in March, and Oregon in May. She's also in London on March 18th. At our conference, people had traveled from California, Canada, New York, so if you have the time, you should get to one of these before she doesn't offer them anymore, even if it means a weekend of travel.
You won't regret it. She is a living hero of Christian homeschooling parents everywhere.