Over the weekend, I was blessed to attend the Real Refreshment homeschool mom’s retreat in Baltimore. This event is sponsored by Apologia, yes the makers of some awesome curricula, BUT it is not about hawking their wares – it is about equipping moms with the spiritual tools needed for homeschooling. Women travel from Massachusetts, New York, West Virginia, there was even a lady I met from South Dakota to attend this retreat as they are primarily held in Baltimore and Atlanta. Knowing of the large contingent of Christian homeschoolers just in the Maryland, DC, Virginia area, I am surprised that the event is not bursting at the seams. In the end, the women that were present were the women that God intended to be there and being one of them, I can say it was fantastic!
This is my second year attending and when I went last year, I was in a desperate place. I have homeschooled from the beginning but some things were not working with my then 3rd and 4th graders. Despite realizing that they weren’t working there was a part of me holding on to these not working items for.dear.life. Just like a kid trying to put a square peg in a round hole, I was forcing myself and my kids to suffer through some bad times. There was little to no joy in our homeschool and momma was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e and we all know that old saying……suffice it to say, things weren’t pretty. When I read about the retreat, I quickly sent hubby an email, saying momma needs to go to this and he so quickly responded with “yes, please register”. Yes, he was desperate as well for some change. On the first day of the retreat, the truths shared shed light into the dark places and just broke me down. On the second day, the truths served to build me back up but in a better way and when I left, I was free of some of those things that had me shackled. Hallelujah!!
Fast forward to this year and I was in a different place. I wasn’t desperate and at my wit’s end. I had seen how God had been changing me over the past year but I knew I wasn’t where He would have me to be. I didn’t know what to expect this year but I expected to be changed, in a good way. I arrived Friday morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed for the Nuts & Bolts section. I sat with some amazing women and bumped into a friend from the previous year. For the break-out sessions, I listened to Debra Bell. I absolutely adore this woman. She is so practical and shares insights that always speak to me. Her planners revolutionized things in our house after the last retreat. :). By the time evening rolled around for our main sessions, I was amped even though I knew there was going to be a time of soul searching and probably tears. At least this year, they included packets of tissues in the goody bag. I was right, the prayer session did lead to tears and became a serious point of reflection for me. As I drove home, I was deep in thought about a lot of things not just homeschool related but also friendships with other women related due to a talk by Deb Bell.
Saturday was another day full of God’s new mercies and grace and as I kissed hubby goodbye (kids were at my parents) and headed back to the retreat, I was ready for more. Saturday’s speakers didn’t disappoint! However, the last speaker, Heidi St. John, really cut to the core about the state of Christianity and how easily some of us are being deceived. I know not exactly homeschool related but it was in that as moms we are shepherdesses of the next generation. Not only our own children, but even their friends. We must always be on guard to the ways of the devil because he is out to kill, steal and destroy our marriages, our children, our families, and more. She showed a beautiful painting of a shepherdess and her sheep and the image really hit home for me.
At the end of those two days, I came home renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated. It was a blessed time and I look forward to next year. If you are a homeschooling mom, I encourage you to seek out this retreat or another because we all need to be poured into so that we can continue pouring out.