In another way, the retreat will never end. By God's grace and for his glory, friendships have been made and strengthened. Motivation is high to continue on in the journey of parenting and educating our children. Life is so much richer with all heard and learned--more than can be pondered and thought about--but trusting the Lord to bring it out of our hearts and minds at the needful time.
There are thoughtfully written surveys to read and on which to reflect, questions the wrap-up panel did not have time to answer and are committed to answering, prayers for wisdom and guidance for the future, and ...
... the realization that though I asked others to share their Charlotte Mason stories, I never shared mine. The decision was not intentional; I had planned to share my story, too. Time just kept running short, and I delayed my story again and again until there was no where else to where I could delay it.
I do not share my story now because it is something you need to hear or because it is particularly special in any way. I shared with someone that as I listened to all the other stories, I realized that through each one my own story had been told. I share it simply because I believe it is the right thing to do. It just feels wrong to not do something I asked everyone else to do.
Silvia's beloved quote from Cindy Rollins is still echoing in my thoughts: "We are coming from poverty to something rich. The journey is going to take a long time." I indeed came from poverty.
It took a few years, but I still remember the exact moment of my senior year he changed my view on children. I can close my eyes, and I am there. I can feel the betrayal gripping my heart as I realized I had been lied to--children were not hindrances robbing time and resources from the better and more important thing we could be doing. Children were the better and more important thing. I turned down a post-graduate scholarship, began to serve my five-year commitment to the Air Force, and was not sure what would come next.
We now flash forward a decade. My husband and I were convicted we should homeschool our children, which was to begin in just a few months, but we had no idea what to do. I checked out books from the library in an attempt to begin my research, and at the beginning of one of the books was a test. My husband and I both scored off the charts "Charlotte Mason." What was that? We had never heard of it before. I quickly learned that "it" was a "who" and that she was extremely complicated, as seen by the fifteen-plus subjects I would need to teach my children, the six volumes which had to be read, and the chaos I perceived on the Ambleside Online website. At the advice of friends, I turned my back on Miss Mason and signed my oldest up with a virtual public school.
This began six years of miserable homeschooling. While friend after friend shared her glowing story of how much she loved homeschooling, my testimony was that I hated it. Still, I continued on, compelled by conviction, pride, and the almost daily prayer, as I looked ahead to many years of misery, that at some point the Lord would change my heart, at least a little, so I would actually like what I was doing.
Tears flowed most days, yelling was common, a challenging adoption sucked away vital emotional resources, and a child was almost enrolled in a private school. The thought, "There has to be a better way. Do you remember Charlotte Mason?" often came knocking, but the fear of dedicating nonexistent time and energy to learn something new seemed impossible.
And then, almost two years ago, I received an e-mail from Jennifer which would forever change the course of my family's life. "Hello everyone! ... My family and I have just moved back to the area ... We are homeschooling our children and are looking to get connected with others. One way I am doing this is to offer a new co-op/home group for families using the Charlotte Mason method. ... If you or anyone you know is interested ... contact me."
The Lord, in his perfect timing, had answered my desperate plea, and I have not looked back. By God's grace, Jennifer, as a gentle guide, patient philosopher, and faithful friend, opened the door to an educational philosophy which is now leaving no stone unturned in our family as we are embracing children--and adults--as persons and seeking an education which is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. It has not been easy; do not be fooled that it is all sunshine and clean floors in my home. We are human; we struggle, and we sin. We are coming from poverty. But there is a peace and joy which was not present before. The journey toward something rich is indeed long, but there is no where I would rather be.