If I had to choose one theme that has been running through my head/heart from Hearts at Home and Teach Them Diligently (and just life itself!), it would be relationship.
It's ALL about relationship.
I can't be the best wife, mother, teacher, or ME if I don't first work on ME. My relationship with Him above all else. I HAVE to be in His word for myself. NOT just devotionals. NOT just through music. NOT just through great books. Those are a part of being in touch and growing in Him and are fantastic TOOLS, but they are NOT the most essential. I HAVE to be directly in HIS word and in prayer FIRST. I'll never forget a speaker a previous year describing the Bible as a love letter to each of us. We most definitely wouldn't want to hand over a love letter from our beloved to be read to us by someone else first. I absolutely would want to read that first hand! We in effect do the same thing when we use our quiet times as only spending time reading what OTHERS have learned from the Bible. I am an AVID reader and an introvert and I find it vital to have myself surrounded by countless books, blogs, and writings/videos from great Christian speakers/writers. However, if I'm NOT in HIS word, for myself, first hand....I greatly limit my growth in knowing Him. His word is alive and active. To hear from Him, I have to be communicating with Him. Not having His letter read to me! When life is busy and overwhelming (let's face it---daily!!!) and I'm tempted to let actual BIBLE reading for myself slip down the list, I do picture holding a letter from Kevin and before opening it handing it to someone else to read to me. That just doesn't hold the same value!
I also have to take care of myself---physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I go through seasons of doing that fairly well and others of letting myself fall to the bottom of the list. I've spent the last several months at the bottom, but fortunately some wake up calls have been a catalyst to make changes and I'm bringing myself up that list! Sometimes it's saying a yes to myself and sometimes it's saying a no to other things. Even great things can be wrong if not balanced! (Yesterday began a new chapter as our schedules have drastically changed with how often I have" littles" and other activities...it WAS painful and IS painful to let things go...but the big picture is what matters most!).
It's about relationship with those that we love the most and need us the most. I learned valuable skills in teaching my kids at the conferences, and I can see some of those skills making positive changes for each of their different needs...
It's really about the RELATIONSHIP.
Knowing them. Loving them. Putting heart above all else. Bringing them to a place that lets them see Christ in everyday life. He will do the changes. His Spirit will do the leading. It's up to me to just make our home a place that invites Him into EVERYTHING. Lots of confirmation through the last weeks that show we are on the right track with many things and confirmation of areas that we've fallen completely off and derailed. It's about being a student of our child. It's about breaking down walls (especially OUR OWN) and getting in deep. It's about undivided attention. TRULY being present. Shutting down all distractions (especially those pesky handheld media devices!) and letting go of the to-do lists, should and shouldn't lists! JUST being present in THEIR world on THEIR level! If we want them to listen to us later, we have to make sure we are listening to them NOW! It all comes down to heart. Connecting. Growing together. Failing together and starting again. LAUGHING together.
The same with our spouses.
I also spent lot of time thinking about relationships and their values.
The kids were able to spend some quality time with us, completely away from the stress of life. (Yes, it did take a day to let it go and to physically see the weight lift!). Kevin and I were able to spend several days together with the ability to have uninterrupted DEEP conversation that seems to be limited at home (ha!---can't imagine why!). The kids spent several days with my stepmom on the farm. Yes, it's STILL hard when we arrive and Daddy/Grandpa isn't there---and I don't know if that will ever be a pain that gets easier---but they had a BLAST making memories. Bradlee was only 4 months when we moved, so EVERY experience back "home" is like a first for him and seeing it through his eyes is JOY! That time with her was truly a priceless gift. Just so much was packed into those few days for them! (Seriously---what boy wouldn't love riding through the cow pastures on Mema's camo golf cart!)Those days are incredibly important to us since we live completely away from family. We didn't get to see very many other family members or friends due to timing (especially with Spring Break travel) and with us spending only two nights at "home". (It also continues to remind me how much we miss others that we didn't get to see on this trip or others that live even greater distances away!)
For me, I also had the incredible gift of getting to see a VERY dear mentor in my life for the first time in WAY too many years. It was only a few minutes, but it did so much for my heart. Just a treasure. Words cannot express how much those minutes meant...just to see and hear this precious lady in person. It also thrilled me to unexpectedly see another local family at the TTD conference that is about to start their home education journey. NEVER imagined we'd run into a familiar face. It also reminded me of the NEED to support others along this journey (whether it's home education, during times of spiritual needs, or just a season of life...we ALL have people that we can join with to support!).We all have something to offer others and we all have need to be supported by others and learning for them. Relationship.
This week also cemented some other needs in relationships. Maintaining or setting new boundaries depending on the situation. Letting go. Learning to say NO more and continuing to say no in others. Letting comparisons go. Letting harmful relationships go. Continuing to forgive, heal, and move on in areas. Some relationships are messy and hurtful. As much as you wish they weren't, they are. Learning to be who we are as God designed us and not wearing the hats others wrongly put on us. Walking confidently in our shoes, on our path....not necessarily the path others have made or wish for us to walk.
With ourselves. Healthy ones that create the best opportunity to be the best we can be, to be a vessel that can be used the greatest by Him.
With our spouses. Fully devoted. Together on the same page.
With our children. Undivided attention.
With others. Supporting. Embracing. Letting go when necessary.