My family had gone skiing for the day, leaving me alone. My younger son expressed his concern again and again that I might be sad or I might get bored. I assured him again and again I would be okay.
My day started with goodbye hugs and kisses and a leftover burrito no one wanted. Coffee, devotions, and then I headed out to the barn. I did all the barn chores on my own, something I have not done in years. I did not rush to get through them, but I lingered with the animals. I forgot the beauty of the barn and the beauty of being alone, yet not alone, in the stillness of a gentle morning.
In our pragmatic society, beauty is often set to the side, and what a tragedy to our souls.
This quote is written in my notes from the 2016 Living Education Retreat, where I first “met” Jason Fiedler. He was the closing plenary speaker, and I suppose it was a bit of a one-way meeting. I left thinking, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if he would be able to speak at the Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat?” He and his wife drove away with my name on the list of attendees everyone received in their folders.
Move toward something and not away.
Jason’s plenary was in part responsible for the second CMER. The first CMER made its debut in February, 2016. But the planning team wasn’t sure what the future would hold. The attendance had been small; we didn’t break even; we were not known names in the Charlotte Mason community.
Your idea is worth a risk.
But we had a mission for the CMER: to build Community through a retreat more accessible to those living in the middle of our country; to provide Motivation by coming alongside parents seeking to use a Charlotte Mason education; to inspire self-Education with diverse topics and speakers; and to encourage Reflection through prayer, the Word, and purposeful times of quiet.
We own the failure, and we have very little to do with our success.
Most of the planning team was actually at the 2016 LER. As we drove home, with the providence of Jason’s words fresh on our minds, we made the decision to take the risk of a second CMER.
Others saw the amazing gift Jason has of speaking and connecting with the Charlotte Mason community, and he was invited to be a plenary speaker at the Charlotte Mason Institute Conference in 2017. Meanwhile, at the CMER, we continued to take risks, inviting Nancy Kelly to be our 2018 Plenary speaker and going under contract for the entire Hideaway Inn and Conference Center. We praise God, we had just enough registrations to cover our costs, and, with the support of our families, we committed to a fourth CMER.
There is nothing more important than the soul of your spouse.
It was my husband’s idea to extend an invitation to Jason to serve as our 2019 plenary speaker. My husband has had the privilege of reading through all of Charlotte Mason’s Volumes with Jason over the past two years as part of Art Middlekauff’s Idyll Challenge.
“Why don’t you ask Jason Fiedler?” was my husband’s simple solution.
“You actually know Jason???” Short of knowing my husband met once a month online with men all across the country to discuss the Volumes, I didn’t know much more about his reading group. I still had a very one-sided relationship with the Fiedlers. I sat next to Jason and his wife Amy during a book give-away at the LER in 2017, and Jason whispered an answer to me, allowing me to win all three Ourselves Volumes from Riverbend Press. It didn’t seem quite fair, but he had already won a book and couldn’t win again. Again, my name was on the list of attendees everyone received in their folders.
I just steal great ideas.
We hope you are able to join us at the 2019 CMER to hear the beauty of the words of Jason Fiedler, a father who is intricately part of his family’s journey of a Charlotte Mason Education, as he blesses our community with wisdom, laughter, and tears through his amazing talent as a speaker and story-teller.
What could be in something beautiful?
All quotes in italics are from my notes taken during Jason’s plenary at the 2016 LER.