For us, the ICHE state homeschool convention begins on June 4. I spend the afternoon getting everything in order--all my supplies, paperwork, convention binder (aka my convention brain!), etc. Then we--usually Fernando and I--head out to the hotel for a banquet ICHE hosts at the hotel for the convention speakers. Sometimes we stay at the hotel, but honestly, the convention venue is about five minutes closer to our home than it is to the hotel! So unless my speaker needs me at the hotel, it's so much nicer.
Your speaker?, you ask. As ICHE's coordinator for special and struggling learners, I find speakers for each year's convention. I look for speakers who can relate to homeschooling parents, who have something "meaty" and of substance that these parents are looking for. This year, I had Dr. Jeremy Fritz with Brain Balance Centers present several workshops at the convention.
The Speaker Hall before convention started.
Dr. Fritz's table.
On Thursday, the convention began mid-morning, with us arriving, making sure our speaker table is in order, checking out the workshop rooms, making sure my speaker(s) arrive, helping my speaker set up his table, and a host of other preparations before the doors open and attendees arrive. Then there are three workshops, back to back to back! Finally, a break, which means getting my speaker where he needs to go (usually to dinner at that point!), then eating dinner and talking to people in the Oasis--a special room set up by Bret and Michelle where new homeschoolers can come have their questions answered, or just talk to someone about homeschooling, etc. I love being in there, talking to people, listening to their stories, and encouraging and praying for them.
Dr. Fritz presenting a workshop.
The convention seemed to go typically, without drama, but it seemed a bit impersonal. Always in the past, people would come up to me and talk with me, and connections would be made. It was like a mini reunion each year! But Thursday seemed to just be a "regular" day.
Everything got personal when a young lady grabbed me on Friday after a workshop, and asked, "Do you remember me?" (Yikes. I hope this was going to be a good story!)
She went on to remind me that I had spoken to her in the Oasis the previous year, and that I had encouraged her not only to continue homeschooling her special needs daughter, but to also start homeschooling her son. (This is where I gulped.)
She concluded, "Well, my husband and I did pull our son out of the public school and brought him home. And I have to tell you, this was the most special, fulfilling, incredible year that we have spent together as a family! Thank you for your encouragement! We have been so blessed!"
I share that not to boast, but to share with you the realization that our words are powerful, and that if we let the Holy Spirit speak through us, and use us, the Lord will build His body according to His purposes. I spent the rest of the convention on a spiritual high!
The above image was another highlight of the convention. Caleb, Andy, and Dan Romanowitz (friends of our guys) got to play a "mini concert" before one of the main sessions! And I had enough time to whip over to the sanctuary to snap a few pictures of them for their mom, and to sit with her and simply enjoy and take in their music, a style of bluegrass and Celtic. Wonderful!
Cindy, Dr. Fritz's assistant, working his very busy speaker booth.
Another blessing was that Dr. Fritz had an assistant (or two) working his booth the entire three days. When he came four years ago, my guys manned the booth. But they didn't know much about Brain Balance Centers, and couldn't explain much to the attendees. They simply were there to have a physical body at the booth. This year was so very nice with Cindy working all day, every day, pretty much wearing herself out talking to parents with lots of questions. She was such a big blessing to have at the convention!
Dr. Fritz is also amazing! He spent a number of hours talking individually to parents, having them sign up for mini "consultations" at his speaker booth. He is so full of energy, so passionate about helping kids, and he poured himself out over the course of our three-day convention. And his wife and he have a two-week-old baby girl at home!
Another neat story happened in the Oasis. I was able to talk one-on-one with a lady who really just wanted to stop homeschooling so she could pursue her dream of working in theater. I could tell she had a gift, but she felt like it would wither and die if she continued "putting it off." I asked her what her husband's opinion was, and she answered that he would support her in whatever she decided. I explained to her that he probably does have an opinion, and suggested that she ask him if they should continue homeschooling, and wait for his answer. I prayed with her and she left. Indications seemed to be that she intended on pursuing her dream.
Dr. Fritz demonstrating a concept with a volunteer from the audience.
Late Saturday evening, after convention had ended, I got a call from Michelle, the Oasis coordinator. She said that that lady had come back to one of the ICHE leaders and told him to tell whoever counseled her and prayed with her in the Oasis that she did indeed ask her husband and left it in God's hands. And, that on Saturday morning, as she and her husband woke up, he turned to her and said, "You know, we can continue to homeschool." She took that as his answer, God's peace flooded her, and she went back to the convention that day with a new, firm commitment to continue homeschooling.
What a great way to end this year's convention!
Back to life,
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