To Sum Up a Homeschool Conference…

THSC 2014 Encouragement by Chocolate

THSC 2014 Encouragement by Chocolate

I had all these words floating around in my mind over the past few days… words that tried to somehow grasp at buttoning up the experience of THSC and presenting it neat-fit and tucked in. But there wasn’t time enough. I treasured the weekend up and decided to share it tonight before it was lost.

There were things worth remembering… things like the women I saw in the hallway, crying together; praying together. There were moments of laughter between friends over words misspoken before bedtime and shadow puppet stories on the wall done by teens who had to be shushed a hundred times so we could sleep.

The only silence was in the shower, waiting on the hot water to get hot enough – or maybe the hallways after multitudes of homeschoolers packed in to hear the keynote speakers. Even my moments of reflection on the balcony in the humid Houston night, decompressing after crowd overload, were filled with the sounds of cars and people below. It was not so unlike a busy homeschool house full of children, but different since all the little ones crying and needing attention weren’t mine.

Face Time had to suffice for those late night missing-my-little-dudes spells.

THSC Photog

The Photographer and her Crazies

There were times that God reached out to me through others in the last five days. Hugs, yummy food and supplements from Barbara (she even brought me home-made paleo chocolate cake and honey chocolate mints)… and my new friend, Luisa, who walked up to me and told me my photography was a ministry and she appreciated me (just when I was bummed out for a string of shots that didn’t turn out the way I wanted).

Join THSC!

THSC booth at the 2014 Conference

People smiling – and really meaning it.

Who could forget the friendly vendor who offered to give me a set of curriculum five minutes before closing, just because! Thank you!

There were moments that I won’t ever forget: like the poor valet who opened the back of our SUV without checking to see if anything was going to fall out, only to be doused by three gallons of chicken broth and all of the ice and food in one of our 3 coolers!

Walking salmonella danger, I kid you not. There was not enough cash in the world to tip the guy.

Hillbilly Healthy Eatin'

Restricted Diets and Hotels aren’t necessarily bad bedfellows.

Then there was the two carts it took to get our “kitchen” up to the 6th floor… and how our parting bell boy managed to get it all on ONE, nearly making the tires go flat (I should have taken a picture).

Book Signing with the Duggars

(most of) The Duggars sign their latest book…

I could tell you about how the Duggars seemed like a totally normal family – and how their kids seemed totally normal, too. Or maybe I could tell you about how honest and open Rachael Carman was when I spoke to her briefly at Encouragement by Chocolate.

Just remember – no one is above needing the shoulder of another friend – whether they are TV stars, conference speakers, or just an obscure and introverted homeschool mom with a fancy camera and rented lens attached to her face.

The Carmans at THSC

The Carmans at THSC

{ Be real, mama. Someone needs to see that you aren’t perfect and need Jesus just as much as she does. }

I could tell you about the dads, too… oh, so many of them. The ones that fed, and watered, and changed, and burped, and carried, and played with little ones so their wives could listen without interruption. I know those guys don’t know that other people were watching – but seeing their dedication made an impact on me.

{ I’m pretty sure the dad who fell asleep with the baby on his lap didn’t know I was watching, either… or taking a photo that may end up on THSC emails! }

I nearly cried when this dad gave his little girl a drink of water (no small act goes unnoticed by our big Dad in the sky).

Homeschool Dads Rock

Mark 9:41 in action.

Thank you Jesus for homeschool dads (even the ones who are way too afraid of estrogen and curriculum to go to THSC).

I could tell you about the teens. Smiling, laughing, helpful teens – serving the THSC conference so that everything was able to HAPPEN. You guys rock.

{ Homeschool teens are what made me want to homeschool in the first place. }

THSC Teen Staff

Teen Staff shirt-signing aftermath…

{ Don’t let low expectations in the world out there get you down. SHINE! }

I could tell you about the special ed program… every year the same workers return and many of the same children who have special needs. It isn’t just a daycare. These program workers LOVE on the children who take part in their program. They call them “their kids”.

THSC Special Buddies Program

THSC Special Buddies Program

They look forward to the event all year and I love being able to get a behind the scenes glimpse of a part of THSC that most people don’t even KNOW EXISTS. What a huge difference this program is making to help these parents recharge… and how cool is it for these special kids to be in a safe environment with workers that love them!

As an introvert with a camera, I view the conference like a fly on the wall. I get a huge overall picture of this amazing event with seven thousand homeschoolers. I see the baton passing down from one generation of homeschoolers to the next.

Tim Lambert

The Lamberts

I watched Tim Lambert teaching a room full of brand new homeschoolers about the legalities of educating their kids at home in Texas. It took me back to 2001… and made me feel pretty old.

I watched older seasoned homeschool moms helping newbies; explaining to them how to use different types of curriculum, giving them parenting tips, and discussing education techniques and methods.

I saw the bright eyed newcomers picking up their first set of boxed curriculum. Been there, done that!

Beverly Parrish speaking at THSC

Beverly Parrish speaking at THSC

I heard the collective sigh of many a harried mom of a homeschooled high schooler as Bev Parish told them they needed to lower their expectations and put relationship first in the last few years of school.

My camera and I traveled through THSC this year – for the fourth year in a row as the official conference photographer – and my heart captured just as many “pictures” to take home. I hope I can revisit them all year and keep the encouragement on time-release. Come January, I know I’ll be needing a boost – especially with only 2 years left until my eldest is DONE!


THSC Friends

Cherished time with friends, a sense of belonging to something wonderful and amazing that is shaping the heart of not only my children – but a nation. Real parenting – purposeful education – a desire to honor God and seek His richest blessings… this is what underlies the entire event at THSC.

Woodlands Waterway Marriott

Woodlands Waterway Marriott

The aroma of Christ is stronger than even the Woodlands Waterway Marriot hotel lobby air freshener (if you went, that will give you a chuckle – I bet you can remember that smell, too).

Each year when I return home, I wish we could have another four days to do it all over again. This year was no different.

I can’t wait until next year.

Tired Photographer in Crazy Socks

Tired Photographer in Crazy Socks

After my feet, hands, and arms recover, of course.

Bring on the three days of cooking ahead of the event. Bring on the blisters in my boots. Bring on the creaky shoulder and bruised hands (those lenses are heavy). I’d do it all over in a heartbeat… and there’s not much I would change.

{ Except maybe securing that ice chest a little better. }


  1. says

    Love this post — you have a gift for capturing moments from behind the lens of your camera… I love the last picture — cute boots! 😉