It’s been a month since we left Lake Wales, Florida, after enjoying the 7th Annual Living Books Retreat at the home of Bob and Tina Farewell.  I am STILL processing some of the ideas that were talked about, and STILL recalling the great time that we had.  David and Shirley Quine were the main speakers. img_1298.jpg  Among their gems of wisdom, gathered over 25+ years of homeschooling nine children, they had quite a few surprising things to say! 

In a talk about stirring the hearts of our children in kingdom service, David said:

Informing the mind without stirring the heart is DANGEROUS!!!

 He explained that by sayiing we have to be sure we are not creating intelligent, ungodly adults who desire the SAME things the world promotes: security, comfort, a steady income, and entertainment.  We must WORK to bring the BEST resources to our students – stories of great men and women who BECAME great because they developed their God-given talents and abilities.  As parents we need to get to know our children: HOW has God gifted them and HOW can they use these gifts in Kingdom work?   There were misty eyes and yearning hearts as we all committed ourselves anew to discovering HOW to grow glory in the children God has blessed us with.

Another surprising comment was on YOUTH GROUPS, which, to many homeschooling parents, is almost a four letter word.  David and Shirley both regret the stand they took against peer relationships seeing now that it is a GOOD thing for kids to learn how to relate to other kids outside of the family.  As David said, if you find a GOOD youth group, with a godly leader, the 45 minutes once or twice a week that youth group meets is NOT going to ruin your children.   Indeed, it can help them grow and be challenged to be more totally God’s servants.

We struggled through this ourselves, hearing speakers quote verses from Proverbs about “the companions of fools” to make the case that children should ONLY be with their families.  I know I will be stepping on many toes by saying I agree with David, but, from THIS side of homeschooling, with three adult children, I see things differently.  The reverse pride that has developed in “home only” families is sometimes scary.  Kids who can relate ONLY to THEIR brothers and sisters are not kids who will change the world.   Kids of an appropriate age and temperment can challenge and change the viewpoints of those in the group who have not had the benefits of a great homeschool education.

 Chris and Tracy Klicka were at the retreat as attendees but were gracious enough to allow themselves to be put on display for a few brief talks.  As always, they were funny, challenging, and wise.  Klicka

 And then, there’s the food at the Chalet Suzanne.  WHAT a treat!  The Chalet’s website, shows only PART of the charm of this place.  We enjoyed a lunch of salmon, two breakfasts that were delightfully delicious  img_1315.jpg – this photo is the Eggs Benedict.  Thursday night of the retreat is the fancy dinner in the Dining Room at the Chalet – the chickenimg_1311.jpg is one of the Chalet’s specialties, and deservedly so!  I can’t believe I eat CHICKEN LIVER img_1308.jpg on broiled grapefruit each year, but I ENJOY it each time!
I also enjoy being the “Chief Cook and Bottlewasher” at the retreat.  People have asked for my soup recipe, so here it is:
Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Serves 8
2 c wild rice
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic studded with 4 whole cloves
Bring to a boil, turn heat down, cover, simmer 45 minutes (This will cook the chicken breasts along WITH the wild rice – smart thinking, huh??!)  Discard the bay leaf and the clove studded clove.  Chop the chicken breasts into nice soup-sized pieces.  Any liquid left can be added along with the rice and chicken.  If you keep the pot covered any extra liquid is absorbed into the rice.
In large kettle, melt 1 cup butter (BUTTER, not margarine)
3 carrots, grated
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup celery, chopped
When veggies are tender stir in:
1 cup flour
1 t. salt
Stir to make a paste (called a roux)
4 cups chicken broth (I make my own with 4 cups of water and 2 T chicken bouillon granules)
8 cups milk
 1 T. basil
1 bay leaf
Stir until mixture comes to a boil.
Add the chicken and rice
Simmer until ready to serve.  Right before serving stir in 1 pint of whipping cream.  Do not let the soup boil after this or the cream will separate.
A long explanation of what is a very simple but tasty soup.   I am from Minnesota, home of wild rice, so I can buy it inexpensively.  I think it is available in gourmet sections of stores.  I use ALL wild rice, not a mixture.
The retreat has been such a blessing in our lives.  Each year we enjoy the combination of alumni and newbies at the retreat.  This year we really missed Dawn and Alex!  However, from the first lunch on Wednesday to the last lunch on Friday, there is always a pleasant burble of conversation.  We’ve never felt like we’ve had to “break the ice” because there has never been any to break!  Homeschool book lovers LOVE to talk about their kids, their lives, and their books!   img_1325.jpg  Bob and Tina have a lovely living room that is conducive to chatting!
Every year we meet people who ask us about the retreat.  Every year we beg them to set aside the money and the time to come the next year.  We have NEVER been disappointed nor have we ever talked to a retreatant who has regretted coming.  Indeed, at THIS retreat, half the attendees were alumnus from past retreats!  THAT was fun yet I’m quite sure none of the new attendees felt at all left out – the alums were all friendly and willing to make new friendships.  It is SO great! I love this week in my life!!!
I hope there will be a retreat next year!  I’m already looking forward to it!

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