I’m BAAAAAAAAACCCKK! I feel as if I’ve been away from "Blogland" forever, and I’ve missed the opportunity to check in on everyone and to update you on what has happened with me and the family. In reading through the next lesson of the "I Am" Bible study, I found the perfect marriage between my next entry and the discussion questions for this lesson, which are as follows:
1. How would you answer the questions, "Who Am I?"
2. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt inadequate because of your lack of a ‘tagline’?
3. Do you have skills or position that you believe God could use mightily if only He would?
4. Have you ever lost a position or station in life you believe could have ‘helped God out’ with something He has asked you to do? If you haven’t lost out, do you perhaps feel you have to gain this in order to be useful to the Kingdom?
5. How are you with your dialogue vs. doubt conversations with God? Which does God hear most from you?
6. Do you believe God’s Wonders become more wonderful if they originate in the ordinary? Any Scripture references come to mind?
In my last entry, I confessed my anxiety, and my conviction to "do it afraid," over the conference and our first-time participation as vendors. As I shared, I had all kinds of visions about the weekend, from selling nothing to not having enough to sell. Well, the Lord blessed tremendously; though we didn’t sell out, we definitely turned a profit. Our weekend was paid for and then some. But the financial gain is only a small part of what happened during that weekend.
There is a tremendous amount of energy occurring within the African-American homeschooling community, reminiscent of what I read and hear about from those who were around 20+ years ago when homeschooling had an earlier resurgence as a viable educational option. The struggles of those in that wave were different, as where to buy curriculum is no longer a question–the question now is when to stop buying! Yet, the struggle is also very similar: where does my support come from? How do I involve my family in a positive way so that they don’t plant destructive seeds into the kids? How do I network to find other families who home school? Moreover, how do I start a network that can address minority-specific needs? I met families from Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Arizona, among other places, all gathered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to gather knowledge, confidence, and connectivity as they forward the cause. The energy was contagious; there is nothing like a good conference to spring you into a new year amped about home education and the possibilities. Next year’s speaker is world-renowned educator Marva Collins, who abandoned the Chicago public school system and opened what is now a nationally recognized home school/college preparatory academy (see here). All I can say is mark your calendars for the last weekend in July 2008; you don’t want to miss it.
I spoke of the money and the energy, which is enough of a blessing in and of itself. Yet another blessing was the marketing opportunity as people took cards and products to share with others in their upcoming conferences, and I’ll be featured in the upcoming NBHE newsletter. I look so forward to sharing what we’re about with others who are considering home education, and I have a wave of ideas spinning in my head about how to make the website, the blog, and the business itself more meaningful for all interested parties. Now to carve out time…I will have to be very disciplined this year in order to make all of this happen. As if this wasn’t enough, there was a mini-reception later at a local country club. Anyone who knows me would appreciate how much of this was God; I am such a plain Jane at this point in my life until I’m probably more the anti-country club type, but I spoke all weekend to other moms about being obedient to the open door. How dare I be a hypocrite, so I stepped into the offer that was extended, and was I ever glad of the chance to interact more closely with those who will further our cause. Praise God!
The amazing thing about the Lord’s blessing is that what I’ve listed so far are just the things that I see, and the Word tells me that eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man all that God has in store. So, as I continued to reflect on the questions for this week and on my last blog post, I thought it appropriate to pick up where I left off.
When I thought about answering the question, "Who Am I?” I realized that I’ve been different people in different seasons, but all defined using the same criteria. When I worked, I defined myself by my job. Life defined me to a large extent by my salary and my husband’s; it defined where we could go, when we could get there, and how many times we could return. The point is, my experience, and alleged expertise based upon my expertise, defined me. When I began the business, I found the homeschooling curriculum industry to be no different; almost every curriculum out there has a bio of a mom and/or dad and how they’ve homeschooled for 20+ years. You rarely see stories about divine anointing or God-given favor. I’m not "hating," as the kids say, but I didn’t have 20 years. When I started the business, I barely had two! Who’d listen to what I had to say? By formal training, I’m an engineer, for Christ’s sake (I recently found out that Mary Pride is also an engineer by formal background–LOL). What did I know about history? I have a cousin who is a professor in African-American history, so early on in the development of our projects; I contacted her, thinking that her wisdom would lend credibility to my work. She was too busy to help me, and so I struck out on my own, again "doing it afraid."
I now realize that had my cousin contributed to our projects, my testimony would have been about her achievements and her wisdom. Had I majored in something closely related to the work that I now do, I would have patted my own back about how my education paid off. It did, and there is a path of experience that led me here, but ultimately, I was put in a position where I can only point to God. I would have acknowledged Him anyway, but I would have given very little heart-felt credit to God and His vision.
Do I believe that ordinary people can be used for Christ’s glory? Absolutely. I also think ‘ordinary’ makes the miracle more special, and I stand as a living witness to the fact that people are in awe when they look at you, Joe Blow, and see the wonder of God.
So finally, who am I? Admittedly I still struggle with this one. During the conference weekend, I ran into someone that I once worked with as an engineer. When he asked me what I was doing now, I felt myself cringe as I announced that I was ‘in business for myself, homeschooling, and doing my own thing.’ Undoubtedly, I feared what might have been the follow-up questions: how did you get into that–did you have enough of the corporate world (read FAILURE), or you came home to be ‘mommy,’ huh, (as if I then laid my brain on a shelf). Later when I processed what I was feeling and why, I came to this conclusion. It is difficult to describe grace. It’s difficult to explain favor and/or anointing. People don’t expect that; they look for a set of experiences and expertise that have gotten you a certain level of success, largely defined by materialistic standards. It’s been a journey, and I’m not always sure that I’m there, but I described myself, as I see me today, and I confess this each day:
I am a continual work in progress who also happens to be, with much grace from God, a wife and a mom, a homeschool teacher, a college instructor, a business owner and writer, and a servant for the Most High.