Today’s post is a bit unorthodox. You will hear about an incredible new audio drama by Phil Lollar, co-creator of Adventures in Odyssey, and what YOU can do to help make it a reality. (It’s called Iliad House and you’re about to get the inside scoop because I am a member of the team!)
You will also find out the dirty little secret behind why I never became a veterinarian. But most importantly, you will hear the practical steps that my parents and mentors have taken to help me realize my dreams so that you can help YOUR children do the same. (Get ready to be impressed by how many things you are already doing to help make your kids’ dreams come true!) So today’s post is a little about me, but it is mostly about you.
When I was around 10 years old, I was thinking of becoming a veterinarian. My parents were cool enough to arrange for me to shadow our veterinarian (who was also a homeschooling dad) for a day. I was so excited! The day started off really well. But then we made rounds...and I’ll never forget the moment the vet got out of his truck, grabbed a long plastic tube, and then shoved one end of it up a horse’s nose while putting the other end in his own mouth. GAG!!! That was a vivid and defining moment in my life. All my veterinary ambitions have since been relegated to enjoying the literary worlds created by the likes of James Herriot and Hugh Lofting.
This is merely a humorous example of a process that became very important throughout my homeschooling experience. Between the ill-fated horse visit and going off to college, I had many more opportunities to get hands-on experience in various professional fields, pick the brains of people I admired, and flex my entrepreneurial muscles. While attending Patrick Henry College, I was further immersed in the apprenticeship and mentorship model. To this day, the people who invested in me during my time at Patrick Henry College continue to do so. I now consider them not only mentors, but also friends. There have been many, but three particularly have done so much for me that it is only fair to call them out publicly at this time: Dr. Michael Farris, Mike Smith, and Elizabeth Smith. (I wouldn’t really be me without you all - thank you so much :)
I have had basically three all-encompassing dreams throughout my life: to serve at the top levels of government and diplomacy, to inspire and empower people to become their best selves, and to write. At Patrick Henry College, I was given the tools and encouragement to realize the first dream as a White House intern in the Projects and Policy Office of Laura Bush. That internship was unforgettable and invaluable. Now, as a coach, speaker, and trainer in a mentorship program with Dr. John C. Maxwell, I am currently getting to work with and learn from the top leadership and personal development experts in the world on projects to which I would otherwise never have access.
And finally, through an exciting internship with my childhood hero - Adventures in Odyssey co-creator, director, writer, and actor Phil Lollar - I am in the delightful throes of learning by doing on his new audio drama, Iliad House. I am learning first-hand the mechanics of script writing, the art of voice acting, and the Sun Tzu-level strategy and planning required to create an imaginary world that will be growing and viable for many years to come. But even more than all of the skills I am getting to hone, what has impacted me most are the people of Iliad House.
When I asked Phil Lollar for a virtual internship (he lives in California and I live in Florida), I wasn’t sure what he would say. After all, I had only briefly met him at the HSLDA Leaders Conference in Orlando last year; he didn’t have to answer me at all. But not only did he welcome me to the Iliad House team, he also encouraged my own personal writing. He included me in Google+ Hangouts, group emails, art discussions, and marketing strategies.
When I started joining in, the other members of the team could have politely ignored me and let me sit quietly through the meetings. They would have had every right to pile me with beginner tasks while they worked on the meaty aspects of planning, strategy, and execution. But every single member of the Iliad House team has welcomed me to the project by encouraging me, asking for my feedback, and generally keeping me involved.
But why does this matter to you? I’m sure you are happy to hear that I am getting to hone and use my gifts with amazing people, but that isn’t why I’m writing to you today. I am telling you about this because I want you - homeschooling parents and homeschooling advocates - to realize that this is an example of the kind of creativity and camaraderie you foster EVERY DAY.
Don’t believe me? Let me put a finer point on it - nearly every member of the Iliad House team was...*wait for it*...homeschooled. (And, many of us attended Patrick Henry College.)
I don’t believe this is a fluke. There is just something about homeschooling that can make a child feel that he or she is immensely special, incredibly gifted, and designed for a purpose (which of course all children are :) Homeschooling provides unique opportunities for each student to find and pursue his or her gifts and passions in practical ways. What the Iliad House team embodies is what you each endeavor to give your children every day: a sense of purpose, a place to use unique gifts, and a way to give back to others.
It has been my experience that most homeschooling families work very hard to help each of their students find role models and inspiration. My family was constantly doing that very thing. For me, that first real spark of inspiration to become a creative writer came from listening to countless episodes of Adventures in Odyssey. It became my dream to write a script for the show and to voice a character. Little did my mom know that introducing me to John Avery Whittaker and the rest of the gang at Whit’s End someday would lead to working with Phil Lollar himself!
The Iliad House experience is one for which I am continually grateful. I have been astounded at the spirit of good faith that prevails among the entire group, both in times of triumph and in times of challenge. I’ve seen men and women of faith gather to express their unique gifts in a spirit of celebration - a celebration of God’s creative gifts to us and a celebration of the exponential multiplication of our gifts working together. This is something I hope every one of your children experiences. Someday, it would be my pleasure to be able to mentor and encourage YOUR children!
In summation, here are the things I believe you can do right now to help your children realize their dreams:
- Help your children find their strengths and pursue them with passion
- Foster excellence and fun (not perfectionism) by encouraging them to jump in before they are “ready”
- Encourage your kids to volunteer in their areas of strength and look for ways to add value to other people
- Remind them to ask: for help, encouragement, mentorship, etc.
- Feed their imagination and encourage them to keep dreaming...
And speaking of feeding the imagination, it is my great hope, and the hope of the entire Iliad House team to be that new catalyst for inspiration and creativity for your children and your entire family!
Now that you've seen some of the beautiful Iliad House images created by our amazing artist Cliff Cramp, are you ready to hear more about Iliad House? Good - because we have just launched our Kickstarter campaign.
What does this mean? If you go the the Iliad House Kickstarter page you can back this project by pledging just $1 (if you like), or more (backers will only be charged at the end of the campaign if we reach our funding goal). You will be helping us make our dream - igniting your children’s imagination with great stories, well told - a reality.
And no one can tell a story like Phil Lollar - watch the video below and let Phil tell you in his own words about a boy, a strange mansion, and a train traveling through time. And when you do, I know you will want to back this project and share it with all of your friends!