Wild + Free Conference (Through the Eyes of a Foster Parent)

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I did something brave last week. I said goodbye to my kiddos and my husband and hopped on a plane across the country. Solo. I knew of some friends that were going but I was going alone. To get some respite. To refresh. To take time to process. An introverts dream to be honest.

The night before the trip was pretty crappy. As a foster parent there is always something and this time around it was something we weren’t entirely expecting. I was mad and frustrated. Mostly because I didn’t want this trip to have anything to do with fostering. It was a homeschool conference! I didn’t want to think about my role as a foster parent or have to start preparing myself to say goodbye to another little. I wanted to put it in a box and run as far away as possible. It didn’t seem worth it.

Saturday morning I heard Jessica talk about finding joy. My heart wasn’t really in it. I wanted it to be and I took notes- 5 practical ways to find joy in our everyday- but really, I was just mad still.  Then she mentioned Matthew 6:30. How wildflowers have to be ok with where they are rooted. They don’t have a choice. She talked about how how much God cares about them. My heart softened just a bit.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. -The Message

I listened to Greta talk about strategies in our homeschooling. (You can find her talk on her blog: maandpamodern.com.) She talked about being flexible. About knowing why you are homeschooling. Why it’s important to figure out a philosophy of education and finding a group of friends to journey with. She talked about avoiding burnout and refreshing yourself often.

“Find it – fill the cup so it can overflow without bitterness.”

Sigh. Overflow without bitterness. Was I really bitter? Did I lose sight of our goal here. Our goal in homeschooling? Our goal in fostering? Why are we doing this? Is it worth it?

 Stephanie Beaty talked about the concept of wabi sabi. Stepping out of chaos. The beauty of ordinary flaws. The preciousness of chips and cracks and imperfections.

Why do we not celebrate the cracks more often? Why do I not celebrate my hurting heart more often? Is it even worth it? 

Homeschooling is not easy. It really kinda sucks sometimes. A bunch of broken parents trying to guide a bunch of broken kids. Fostering is not easy. It really kinda sucks sometimes. A bunch of broken parents trying to guide a bunch of broken kids.

The very last talk we heard before we left was about Connection. Connection with our kids. About unconditional acceptance.

Accepting our kids where they are. Broken and messy. Accepting the foster system where it is- broken and messy. Accepting ourselves as we are. Broken and messy. 

I left asking myself, is it worth it? There are schools that will take the kids. There are other homes that will take littles that need it. I don’t have to do this. Any of this. 

I was so thankful for some time to process. I found the coolest little area to walk around. To go shopping. Eat dinner by myself. Get lost in a bookstore.  I made it to the hotel and got some sleep. I made it back on another plane to see my kiddos and my rockstar husband. And I realized, that maybe, just maybe it is worth it.

Even when we feel like we are failing. Even when it’s so hard we don’t think we can climb one more mountain. The mountain of laundry and paperwork. The mountain of learning to write or read or act like a human. The mountain of dishes and wifery (I know it’s not really a word) and mamahood. The mountain of grief after sending a little on their way. Maybe, just maybe, it is worth it.

We are living a beautiful life. A full life with many hearts to love. Many hands to hold. Many minds to encourage and spur in their love for learning. Doesn’t that seem worth it? A life of beauty?

It is so worth it.

I am beyond grateful for such a beautiful homeschool community that reaches far beyond the bounds of homeschool. 

The Mountains are calling and I must go. -John Muir

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