Every year, faithfully, for the last 20 years The Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network (OCEAN) has provided a humble little conference for Oregon and Washington homeschoolers. I first attended an OCEAN conference in 2011. We had just finished our first year of homeschooling. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by all these homeschoolers in one place!
This weekend I attended my third OCEAN conference (I missed last year due to traveling across the country). When I registered I did not pay attention to the theme for this year — Be Thou My Vision. The theme flowed throughout the entire two days.
Since this is the year of pushing me completely outside of my comfort zone, I volunteered. I was given the task of handing people a bag of goodies (AKA vendor ads) after registration. 6 months ago, I would have flipped. I would have asked my husband to pray over me twice, before leaving the house. I would NOT have gone without my medication and at least 2-3 tabs of the anxiety medication. You know what? No fear. No anxiety. I laughed. I enjoyed myself. I met people I would never have met otherwise.
I’ve still not mastered the art of actually remembering everything I want or need to take with me. I forgot my camera. So I was left with taking pictures using my camera phone. I apologize for the quality of these photos.
One thing I like about the OCEAN conference is the way they lay out the schedule. This year they had a large copy on a board which was very hand. Especially, when I forgot the room number on the way to the room.
The colors represent different “tracks”. Using the color you decide which workshops to attend. Although I wanted to attend several others I decided to stick with what I needed for this conference — encouragement as I enter the high school years of home education.
Because I volunteered I missed the first workshop. There was a general session after that, but we skipped and went to lunch because I was shaking and knew I wouldn’t make it through the general session.
After lunch we walked around the exhibitor hall before going into the used curriculum fair. I didn’t need anything but still managed to find something to take home.
The afternoon sessions on Friday I attended were by Heidi St. John from The Busy Mom. I first heard her speak in 2011. She caught my attention when she mentioned that she didn’t want to wear a denim jumper to be a homeschool mom. Um, can I get a hallelujah? After wearing jumpers most my life I DON’T want to wear one. What I discovered was that you could love the Lord, a lot, and be stylish too.
But honestly, Heidi’s gift is not that she makes you feel like you CAN do this. It’s that she can and does point you to the one who CAN do this. Every day, every moment, JESUS does. And although I know Heidi’s family was tired from a season of conference travel and desperately needed rest, I was blessed to see them pour out themselves just one more time. I was floored, by “Better for Best: Keeping Christ as the Center of Your Home.” Heidi rocked this session…no, she preached. She preached Christ. Using her words, her laughter and the WORD. She encouraged us become totally UNDONE. Because when that happens, we can fill up with Him. Just love the way she encouraged us. I left with a full plate, ready for the next day. (And I’ll probably share more about what I gleaned from her at a later date)
Saturday’s sessions were about me as a mom and wife. It started with Carole Barnier. Her session “Margins for Moms: Limits that Liberate” was funny and challenging. Until she said, “make white space on your calendar.” My sister jabbed me, “SEE.”
Ya, whatever. But she’s right. I DO need some white space on my calendar. Because I’m getting tired. And I want to go where YHWH leads me, but some things, I just need to wipe off my plate. She suggested something radical. A reset. A break from EVERYTHING. Friends. Social Media. Electronics. Just time spent on my relationship with Jesus and my family. To recharge my batteries. For 60 days. The thought, I cannot handle. But it made me realize. If my support circle, my social sphere only exists on the internet, do I REALLY have a circle of friends and community?
I have to pray about that…a lot.
Another family I was acquainted with yesterday was the Jacobson’s. I attended sessions by Matthew and Lisa in the weekend. Lisa talked about 10 ways to love our husbands. I figured that since this was the year of working on marriage this would be a good session. Lisa wrote a simple book called 100 Ways to Love Your Husband. She chose 10 things to focus on. The phrase that stuck out to me the most: “He needs the best of me, not the last of me.” Wow, did I ever need that reminder.
At the last minute I decided to attend Matthew’s talk on Winning and Keeping the heart of your Teen. Although this was really for fathers (which I figured out after the fact), it was YHWH’s hand that landed me in the class. Because I had begun to compare our families to others after two days of conference. My husband doesn’t attend conferences with me. We don’t sit down and plan out our lessons together. We don’t talk about how to parent our children. Often times I make decisions and pray that he’ll go with me…after the fact. As Matthew spoke, I began to let myself feel like I was doing this homeschooling thing all alone. And the fact that my son was 16 and we had only begun homeschooling 4 years ago…just left me emotionally undone. I managed to stay in the room. But I was crying and my sister just hugged me and prayed for me. And I felt a hand on my shoulder and saw a momma walking out the door.
After I was composed, I made it to the last general session, Remembering the Reason, Renewing the Vision. There she was. The momma who touched my shoulder. Complete opposite of me. She being Pentecostal wearing a head scarf. Me being a free spirit wearing leggings, boots and a lot of bling. But I walked up to her and asked her if she had put her hand on me. She smiled and I started bawling. Which made her cry. She just wanted to pray for me she said. So she did. And I prayed for her and her boys. And then she said the one thing that made my heart stop. “I pray for my boys. Their dad walked out when they were young.” You’ve been doing this…all alone? Homeschooling? Yes. She said. My heart broke. Because I only feel like I’m doing this alone…but I’m not. I have a husband, who takes care of us and loves us. He may not walk the halls of a conference center with me. But he walks the grass chasing a little white ball with people who will send him business. He spends the weekend working on things he needed to get done during the week, because I know he spent time helping others, and he doesn’t get directly paid for it. He wakes up early and spends time in prayer for us and for others. My attitude was gently and rightly corrected.
We exchanged information. She gave me her phone number. I will pray for her. And you know what … I’m going to try to call her. To reach out to her. It may not seem like we have anything in common. However, I’ve come to learn that my Father orchestrates things that I don’t understand. And if the only thing I gained from this conference was the chance to let a momma from central Oregon know that this momma in Hillsboro is going to be praying for her boys…that’s enough.
You see, Be Thou My Vision isn’t about homeschooling. It’s about remembering who we are, why we are here and who our Father is.
Learn More about the Conference & Speakers
- Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network
- Conference Exhibitors
- The Busy Mom on Facebook (Heidi St. John)
- Sizzle Bop on Facebook (Carol Barnier)
- Club 31 Women on Facebook (Lisa Jacobson)
- Matthew L Jacobson on Facebook
- #oceanconf – Twitter Hashtag