My Experience at Teach Them Diligently 2024

May 06, 2024

I've been dreaming of setting up a booth at TTD for a year now. Last year, Karry and I got the chance to go to the conference by ourselves. Here are some photos:

With my favorite person at the whole conference. ❤️

I met Linda Lacour Hobar, the author of Mystery of History. These are fabulous history books, written from a Christian perspective. 

I heard Sonya Shafer speak and got my photo with her. She is so kind and I just love the way she teaches people to homeschool like. Charlotte Mason.

I saw Heidi St. John and chatted with her. Heidi is from the Pacific Northwest, where we used to live. Our family used to go to the homeschool resource center that Heidi and her husband started for youth theater classes.

I saw Ginny Yurich speak, and she was one of my favorite speakers. She is fun! I didn't get any photos of her or with her last year, or this year. 

We went to Black Rifle Coffee Company, which was good--but then we saw there was a Dutch Bros there! We liked Dutch in OR. This time, we got Dutch. Sorry, Black Rifle!


The TTD conference was such a lovely experience that year, and I knew that someday I wanted to have a booth at a homeschool convention, and was certain I would want to start there.

We volunteered at a booth for NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association) at the HEAV convention in Richmond, VA in June last year. Here we are:

We got good experience serving at a booth that year. I went through some training with NCFCA before helping at their booth, and their materials and set up were so professional and well-done. I also got to observe booths and figure out what I liked best.

The Vela Grant Made it Possible

I applied for a grant this last year. I got to pour my heart out on a grant application and explain exactly what I wanted for The Gentle Learning Company. I knew that I wanted to give reading plans away to foster & adoptive families, and I wanted to go to TTD to let people know about that.

When I learned that I had won the grant, I was AMAZED, and felt totally BLESSED! It seemed like a confirmation from God that I needed to press on and do the things He'd put on my heart to do! I got the grant money in September, and I booked a booth at Teach Them Diligently right away. Praise God for His provision!!!

Since getting the grant money, I gave away access to Cycle 3 to more than 500 people--another praise. God is so good--I was able to share my work & not worry about the costs associated with running the business while not making any money at it. 😂

Designing and Setting Up My Booth: It Reminded Me of Our Farmers Market Booths!

I loved dreaming about what my booth would be like. I had soaked up so many ideas from TTD 2023 and also the HEAV conference in 2023. I can't remember ever really considering booths before. Farmers' Market booths are kind of similar, though, and we used to set those up! Okay, I'll share a couple of photos from that time, so long ago...

That was our first booth set up, in 2013. I got lots of Facebook feedback, and then set it up like the picture below, with table cloths I had made for a Mother's Day tea party a few years earlier.

Some good news about our TTD experience this year is that Ruby was a little more alert than she was at the farmer's markets (being eleven years older may have helped):

My Booth at Teach Them Diligently

I tucked the blue tablecloth up after this photo, so it didn't show. I signed up for a double booth, because the booth we helped with for NCFCA was inline and had tall curtains on each side, which made it hard for people to see us. I wanted to make the booth cozy and warm and inviting and peaceful and gentle. Here are more details:

I sold stickers that I designed. so fun!

I also sold art cards for Cycle 4.

This is me at the booth. The booth to the right of us, Marci at The Thankful Homemaker, had similar colors. It flowed so nicely! I've been checking out Marci's website since we left the convention, and I already downloaded and printed several of her freebies. Go check out her site!

I got to talk to so many great people...


I was so excited when I saw that I was two booths down from Amber O'Neal Johnston, who writes at Heritage Mom. I follow Amber on IG and on her blog, and I felt like a giddy fangirl meeting her. She is so nice! And we had so much in common and talked a bunch. How cool! Our daughters also connected, and spent time walking around the vendor hall together. What a blessing. I thought our girls would be totally bored there, but they made a friend!

It is always a delight to see Kelly!! She goes to church with my parents in Knoxville, and she directs a homeschool community there. She's friends with my mom and my sister-in-law, but we've become frineds, too! She stopped by my booth and we got a pic. So fun!

I caught Heidi St. John right as she was packing up for the night and she was tired. The days felt long!!

I talked with Melissa Hannigan, the author of Inconvenient Parentingand Shay Kemp from Passersby Welcome. Shay is an encourager, and said so many kind things about my booth and my website. I went over to her booth later and it was SO homey and adorable!!

Last year, I connected with Tricia Goyer, and chatted with her more this year. She's written over 90 books!!! Amazing!! 

The girls each bought one of the sweatshirts from Tricia's booth. Here's Ruby's, when we were back at the campground, on the last night:

We were right next to Chris from Kaleidoscope Kids Bibles, who had a super cool and cozy booth. And, we were across from the lovely people who write music at Godstruck Ministries for Kids and Beverly Jacobson, who encourages homeschool moms. 

I got to talk to Ginger Hubbard, who wrote Wise Words for Momswhich I referenced in the notes for my speech. I told her that, and she brought me a free copy. She was very sweet and encouraging!!

I went over to the Gentle Feast booth because so many people kept saying the four-cycle approach I use is similar to AGF. I only heard of Gentle Feast a month ago, and I was so excited to meet someone who I shared similar ideas & visions with! I didn't get to meet the creator of AGF, but I did meet Mikyhla Dice, who hosts the podcast Because You Belong Here. You know how you can meet people in life and instantly connect & the conversation can get deep, quick? That's how it was when I met Mikyhla. I went over there to "talk shop"--curriculum, and somehow, we ended up talking about adopting from foster care, parenting children who have lived through trauma, and spiritual warfare. Whoa! Go God! I am grateful for being able to connect with Mikyhla!


I cheated on my diet and had Dutch Bros, and my book about adoption was what brought people to my booth...

I've been on the GAPS Diet lately, but I rewarded myself with a Dutch Bros coffee after I spoke--because why not? I actually had three coffees and an amazing hot chocolate over the weekend. I was back to drinking broth this morning (Monday morn), so I didn't fall totally off the bandwagon!

I met SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE who don't have blogs or podcasts or books to link to--or maybe they do, but I don't have those links. I was there to talk about the reading plans I create, but my book about adoption is what brought people to the booth the most. That was God! I met people who have felt convicted to step forward and adopt. I got teary-eyed with people over their stories. I prayed with some in tough situations.

I met a mom with a preemie son, who was hooked up to a nasal cannula (our son Isaac was born at 26 weeks and also had a nasal cannula). I met someone who is living in an RV and dealing with exposure to chronic mold from a previous housing situation. I met people who have one or two kids, and people who have three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine kids! I met grandmas who were there with their grown daughters who are now homeschooling. I met moms of toddlers who are just learning about the homeschool adventure.

I got to connect with Luanne from Kerusso t-shirts, and she prayed with me. I bought Karry a Star Wars themed shirt that says "May the Lord Be With You," and he wore it on May the 4th, of course. Others prayed with me, spontaneously, about my aortic aneurysm, and that God would heal it and help me find answers. Amazing.

I felt SO SO SO incredibly blessed by all of the people I got to talk with. There are so many neat people out there!

Briella & I met Ben Carson!!!!!

This is what I wrote on IG about it:

It's surreal that this even happened. The whole conference was big and amazing and such an overwhelmingly cool experience. But THIS on top of it? Wow. Thank you, God, for this opportunity for my girl!!!


I spoke in front of a room full of people (God has been preparing me for this for a long time!)

It was 2019 when I knew God was calling me to learn how to speak. Y'all--I was the quiet shy kid who hid behind my mom's leg. I am an introvert. I also want to be obedient to the Lord. I took an online public speaking course that began in February 2020, and then all of the opportunities to practice the skills I was learning closed down in March. Later that year, I was on a virtual writing/speaking conference, and I got to ask the leader, Chandler Bolt, about which subject I should focus on. I had published my book about adoption in January 2020. A long time ago, I wrote a blog about homesteading and nutrition. I hadn't written anything in several years, but the Facebook following grew to 45,000 people. What?! I wondered if I should write and speak about adoption, or homesteading, or nutrition (I got my NTA certificate, too!), or maybe homeschooling. Of the three subjects, I felt the least confident about homeschooling, because I don't hold myself or my kids to the school districts' standards. 

Back then, Chandler's advice to me was to focus on the homesteading blog again, since I had an audience there, and because it's a popular topic, and because, he said, "homeschoolers don't have money." I think Chandler gave good advice if my motivation was money, but it wasn't. What I really needed to do was to find out what GOD wanted me to speak about.

I kept praying.

I analyzed all of the ministry opportunities at the church we were attending, and ministries around town. I prayed about each and every one, and journaled, and researched...Where was God leading me? 

It was January of 2022 when I announced to my husband that I had a gut feeling that God was calling me to do something big, and I asked if he was okay with that?

Five years earlier, I'd sent out a survey to friends about their ideal homeschool community. I had jotted down a lot of notes about what I wanted in a community. Back then, I wasn't brave enough to start it. I knew a lot of people (we lived in OR then), but I didn't know who would follow me on such a new adventure! Our son Kaleb was pretty social and worried that if I started a homeschool group, none of his friends would join. It's true--when you start a group, you're there, and your kids are there, no matter who shows up. If all of your friends leave--you're still there to greet the new people. It isn't easy. My gut feeling was that it wasn't time to start the community back in Oregon, when the boys were still in high school...

Fast forward to January 2022: I was on leadership at a homeschool program in Virginia that had classes for seventh through twelfth grade. I was on leadership, but I barely knew any of the parents, because it was a drop-off program. I wasn't used to that, because homeschool moms in Oregon seemed to go where their teens went. I missed being able to meet the moms of the kids. I also missed being around younger kids. I tried to set up playdates with the families who had younger children. We hosted a swimming day, and one other mom showed up with her kids--a new friend! I also coordinated activities for the whole group and had one successful event during the entire time I held that position. There was no turnout for every other event. The program was so good for middle school and high school academics, but I wasn't finding "my people" yet. We'd moved across the country in January 2020, and it had been a rough road meeting people and finding friends. I was dreaming of a community where moms are involved, and where families have potlucks together, and go on field trips together, etc. I felt like it was finally time to DO what God had put on my heart five years earlier.

God led me and STAR Homeschool Community was born. It was easier for me to start a homeschool community in a new town, where I barely knew anyone, because I couldn't feel rejection when people didn't show up. 😂 Every new person who came was a bonus and a new friend!!

Fast forward more....I started STAR, I wrote reading plans for STAR families. I'm positive God has me in this place now, of ministering to and doing life with homeschool moms. I'm combining two of my favorite subjects in my work: spreadsheets and books. Who knew "work" could be so fun?! 

SO, I KNEW I was supposed to speak at TTD. When I got the Vela grant, and I signed up for a booth, and I saw the opportunity to speak, I took it. I've been nervous about it ever since then. I was shaky and nervous and praying for God's strength and words and everything, up to an hour before speaking.

When I went into the room (early), I was sitting at the front table with my phone, wondering how I would get through the next ten minutes or so, because I couldn't start too early...Then it hit me (thank you, God), go talk to the people...So, I did that. I chatted with the people in the front row and asked questions about them. That helped me feel comfortable talking to them, with a microphone (ack!), because I got to know them a bit, and they were just people, like me. It was like a conversation when I was speaking--though I was hogging a whole lot of the talking space! Haha! 😂

The room was packed. The audience seemed engaged. I HOPE what I shared was a blessing to them!!! God gave me everything I needed to get through that, and I didn't feel nervous when I was up there, at all. That was HIM. Not me.

I put all of the notes and links for my speech on my site, with a QR code to access it. You can see those notes here.


This was me outside of the room I spoke in. My girls were in the room, listening to my speech, but they didn't take any photos. Teens! 😂😂😂 

Overall, it was a great experience! I was so blessed by the people who talked to me afterwards and in the vendor hall that day and the next day. God is good. I am so grateful for what He's done in my life to bring me here and to give me this opportunity!!


The booth was home base for three days!

Some people remove the tables from their booth & set it up like a cozy living room or dining room. That's amazing. I wonder, though, where do they put their lunch cooler? What about their trash? The things they buy? We shoved all of that under the table--shhh. I think it's what most of the vendors do, actually! We lived in our booth for three days. The rent isn't cheap, so we might as well, right? Haha! 😂😅


Here are the girls reading their books:

And, Karry and me, on the last day, when I realized that I didn't have a photo of us together:

I am so grateful for Karry and the girls. They lifted everything into that booth, even all of the crazy furniture I picked out! Karry helped me so much, by making meals as I prepped for this conference, and by being supportive of all of my ideas. I am blessed.


I would do Teach Them Diligently again! To be honest, I'll need to sell quite a few reading plans and online classes to get there again, but Lord willing, I'd love to be there. It's a fabulous conference and I saw evidence of God's handiwork over and over there. He is good!!

Were you at the conference? Share your thoughts!!


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