It was mid-July and I was feeling especially fearful about the prospect of homeschooling again in the fall. My husband and I had agreed that we would divide our duties differently. Since we were working together in our home-based business, we would work together to get the household chores and homeschooling tasks accomplished as well. Still, my heart raced and my stomach flip-flopped at the thought of it. So, I prayed. I prayed for wisdom, for God’s will and for a friend. For the first time in many years, I prayed for a friend. It seemed silly, really since God has blessed me with so many faithful friends I am rich beyond belief (Sirach 6:14-16)! But, my original tribe, The Hens, are in a very different phase of their lives—almost empty nesters—while I am still years away from an empty nest. I prayed for a friend that could help me get through the loneliness and redundancy that one finds as a homeschooling mother: long days without adult interaction, math facts, grading, laundry, meals, etc.
The week had been a rough one. Sick kids and stresses in our family life and marriage were taking its toll on my mental well-being. Friday rolled around and our weekend plans had to be cancelled. Then, I remembered the Catholic Homeschooling Conference was being held that very day. Yes! Yes, I could still make it and even sneak in the social dinner gathering that Jenny had organized. I remembered seeing her post on Facebook and quickly replied that I would attend after all. It was only out of desperation for socialization that I was attending this conference. I still was not convinced that homeschooling was the right fit.
I arrived at the conference around 2 o’clock. The first observation I made was how many women I knew. Their faces made my heart fill with joy. “God has blessed me,” I thought to myself. I must have seen, visited and hugged at least twenty women in that first hour! As I was catching up with one mother, Ginny Seufert walked by. She has spoken at almost every homeschool conference I’ve attended for the past 16 years. She caught my eye because she looked particularly youthful and beautiful this day. I told her just as much. She was just on her way in to give a talk. My friend asked me if I wanted to hear Ginny speak. I wasn’t going to attend the talks. I still was not sure that I was going to homeschool. I was almost certain that I had heard it all before. This would be my 18th year of homeschooling IF we were to homeschool, that is. Still, I agreed to go in and listen. Ginny is always good for straight talk and hearty laughter.
I was not prepared for her talk this time around. Her topic was something to the effect of “Why You Should Persevere in Homeschooling No Matter What.” She pointed out all of the confusion in the world, the opposition to natural law and its infiltration into the educational system of even the youngest students. She then went on to discuss the Peshtigo Fire in 1871 in Northern Wisconsin and the miracle at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. Fascinating topics on their own accord, but especially relevant to me. You see, I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin almost 100 years after that horrific fire. My ancestors were Belgium immigrants living in the area at the time of the Fire. Adele Brise is a relative by marriage in my family tree and I had heard the stories of the fire and the miracles for many years. But, even more relevant because my own father was healed through the intercession of Mary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help on August 15, 1937. If not for that miraculous healing I would not be here today. My second observation for the day was that my life has a particular and unique purpose. Like Adele Brise, I heard the words in my head, “Teach the children the way to salvation…I will help you.” Moved to tears, I knew I would and I could return to homeschooling. Mary would help me as well. It was time for us to formally consecrate ourselves and our children to her. Mary always leads us to her Son, Jesus Christ; intercedes in begging grace for us; and protects us and guards us as she protected and guarded her own Son, Our Lord.