I have just been to the 2013 Mum Heart Conference in Newcastle, NSW. Once again it was a time of refreshment, renewal and heart to heart stuff for homeschool mums. The conference was run by a group of volunteering mums, some of whom had never met, in real life, until the conference. The theme was A Mum and her Many Hats.
In keeping with the theme we were asked to bring a hat (or decorate a hat) that represented your life. This is my hat…. It represents
- My family – the central focus (other than God) in my life
- Photos of our beautiful region as where we live influences many of life’s opportunities
- Photos of camping because we love camping, though we don’t do it enough
- A heart – because we are all about relationships
- A Hand – because we are all about being practical, helpful and involved with people
- A little sign that says “Live life” because that is at least part of my motto and in a sense represents my blog and website.
Each of the sessions picked up this theme with
- I am a child of God
- I am a Mother
- I am Myself
- I am a Homemaker
- And though there was no session addressing the issue of I am a wife, some of those issues were talked about in a Q&A session.
And it was all wrapped up with a practical session to make us think about going back home and working on the things we had been inspired with.
Some of the highlights for me (not in any particular order):
Winning the Hearts of our Children by Tara Marsh covering the “Mother” hat. Our children have to choose to open their hearts and receive our heart instruction and encouragement. Will our children choose to follow us, like the disciples chose to follow Jesus, or will they close the door to their heart? We reflected on the different things that damages our relationship with our kids (aka, closes their heart) and the things that open the door to their heart that is, wins their heart. We need to become students of our kids to know them in order to see these responses that they have towards us.
I can’t remember what session it was in but a quirky little saying evolved “Put down the Duckie” and this was taken from a little musical clip by Ernie from Sesame Street fame where he was trying to play the sax but whenever he played it squeaked. As it turned out he had a his rubber duckie in his hand which he was reluctant to put it down because he loved it so much but it hindered his sax playing. The idea was that if there are squeaks in our home, as in lack of family harmony, we may be holding onto a rubber duckie and we may just have to put it down. Ernie put it down and he played beautiful music. The challenge is – what am I holding onto, what ideal, what resources, what habit, that isn’t really working for me, isn’t really producing the fruit I want. I may need to put down the duckie!!
I need to look after myself a little better. Elizabeth Brunacci gave a great presentation on the importance of looking after ourselves and that there is a difference between being selfish and simply looking after the self as we are made (our being). She outlined three different aspects that she has found important: look after your body, your soul and your spirit. Then she went through the things that she finds important for her well-being in each of those areas. I think though that it is important for each person to think about this for themselves and not copy the things that work for her, or the things that work for me. But to help you kick start your thinking here is my list that I’m thinking about:
- Body: I need to drink more water, eat more fruit and veg, snack less (on processed food), exercise and go to bed at a decent time (and for those who know me IRL – they’ll be rolling my eyes at this point because I’ve been saying these things for a long time – but I’m still working on it!
- Soul: This is probably the area where I look after myself the best. I take time to create regularly, I have given myself (as Elizabeth put it) permission not to work after dinner, and I’m starting to find ways to add beautiful, nice little touches to my life just to enjoy!
- Spirit: The challenge here was that this is the key area – the other aspects of looking after ourselves will never make up for not looking after our relationship with God.
Sally Knoechel shared a family tradition of writing a birthday blessing – affirming the things that her and her husband sees in each of their children on their birthday. This struck a chord with me – I write a letter to each of my children, reflecting my prayer for them. I have a little question though that I’ll be thinking through – are my prayers based on areas I think they need to work on, or are they an affirmation. I’m not sure one is more ‘right’ than the other – it was just a perspective for me to think about.
A very personal highlight was to spend the day with a dear friend – always good to chat about life, to catch up about our families and to share giggle!
The last highlight for me, was meeting faces to people who have been reading my blog. Some go back as far as 2006! It was such an interesting thing to find faces to readers and I thank each of you who I talked to for the encouragement you gave me.
It was very encouraging to be in a room with 122 women, who though their journeys are all different, their families are all different, their homeschool choices are different, their …. Everything may be different except for their love of God and their desire to touch the hearts of their children.
My prayer for all who went to the conference is that the words that God spoke to your heart will take root – not in your effort, and certainly not in guilt of not doing enough, but rather take root in the heart of God and produce fruit in your family life.