January Blog Party

JanuaryPrizePkgOur year-long 25th anniversary blog party kicks off today, and I can't wait to read your stories! In your blog post today, introduce us to your family. Are you just getting started homeschooling? Or do you have graduates? Or somewhere in between?

Even if you don't use Sonlight... or even if you don't homeschool... you are welcome to participate. Please grab a blog party button to include in your post or sidebar. Once your post is live, come back here to the Sonlight blog and link up with us. Then, be sure to visit and comment on other blogs who link up. It's a great way to gain new readers and make new friends!

Everyone who participates will be entered in a drawing for the great prize package pictured above. The winner will be announced on February 11, 2015.

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Inspire 25 is almost here ...

Facebook-Cover-PhotoPreparation for Inspire 25 has filled my days (as well as the rest of our team's) of late. We are so excited to share this fun-filled and inspiring evening with the thousands of folks who have registered already.

I'd love to give you a sneak peek to what we'll be sharing tonight, but I think I'll wait and let you be surprised, encouraged and inspired as a group this evening. Let me just say, we had a test run through yesterday with all our speakers, and we alternated between smiling and laughing and pondering and laughing and wiping misty eyes ... oh, and laughing!

So we have a busy day of preparation ahead ... tweaking last minute stuff, going over the details as a team, testing and double-testing the technology ... You can prep for this evening as well! Make sure you're registered on Facebook and/or Twitter and are logged in before our event begins. If you're planning to attend with a group of friends, be sure to plan for great munchies (and oh yes, lots of chocolate). If you're planning to attend by yourself, be sure you've got a comfy spot all ready and your favorite beverage close at hand.

I can't wait to connect with you tonight!!!

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

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Surviving Gloomy Days

Uff da. It's January.

We were home for the holidays when we typically visit family in Florida. That meant by about a week in I was going, "What? It's only the 3rd? It's snowy and cold! I want to be somewhere warm." ...I guess I'm not a huge one for winter.

We've been hunkered down, doing school, and sorting through life. I love to be outside, so I'm a bit lax on my household chores during the summer. Instead of fall cleaning, I wait for midwinter. It's too cold and gray to be out, so, time to organize the basement!

To fight the blues, it's really helped us to hold to a pretty strict (for us) schedule. It sets the pattern for our days. No matter how fast I work, I can't seem to get my own stuff done before 10. Between breakfast, laundry, cleaning up dishes, feeding the baby and generally picking up ... every morning is filled with a few hours of scrambling. I've taken a page from my mom's book and am trying to get my stuff done, and then do snack, and then start school. It's been good. It's allowed me to get back on track with my daughter's Bible study work and means the kids know the pattern of the morning. It also means my kitchen is clean for the day, which is really nice.

My husband and I have also been doing a diet reset, the Whole30, which is pretty time consuming cooking-wise. I've made a lot of really yummy food, and spent hours in the kitchen. This has been a new habit and I'm not sure if I'm excited for it to continue or if I'll be ready to change it up come January 31. I will say, it definitely keeps me on my toes and focused on something other than gloomy days. If you are needing a pick-me-up, maybe try a diet reset ... pretty brutal, but definitely distracting!

One of my dishes

So, that's where I am. Fighting the darkness of winter with business, cooking, cleaning, school. For someone like me who is much more free form during the summer, this works well. By the end of the day, I'm proud of what all I've done and I hardly notice it's dark at 5:15 (thankfully that's moving steadily later).

Excited to join you on the 22nd for Inspire 25! If you haven't signed up yet, you should join us!

Until next time,

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Socialization Ill: Conformity Over Compassion

Over winter break, one of "my" college kids was feeling lonely. Her parents' house was empty; she was away from the constant thumping whir of dorm life; not currently in contact with others who keep a vampire's schedule, she turned to the constant chatter of YouTube. And there she encountered Brave New Voices. "I must have spent at least an hour watching and re-watching these videos," she told me. Then she shared a few.

Please note: These videos are not child-friendly and discuss issues related to trigger trauma.

Two of the presentations we watched together: "Rape Joke" and "Somewhere in America". I'm glad I was aware that these are stories she's experienced. She was dwelling on these topics because of her past and present pains and horrifyingly real experiences. These videos spoke to her. They spoke about her. She felt, with the three girls in the second video, that the local mall was a capitalistic smokescreen erected to mask the realities of rape and hunger and privilege. School was a system designed to silence the oppressed, shame the wronged, and promote the trivial. The public educational structure that most people consider essential for equipping children for life in civilization was, at best, a conspiracy against minorities, women, free thought, and meaning.

Friends, there is truth to that.

I am not against public school. But there is a reason I so frequently share Paul Graham's essay on Nerds. See, the pressure of school socialization is to conform to the pattern of that world. And that world -- constructed by your peers -- is petty and pointless. There are great opportunities to be had, to be sure, but the socialization can scar you, so much so that someone started a YouTube channel to provide a cathartic outlet for those who feel silenced by it.

So while this beautiful, talented, wonderful girl was soaking in the brine of popular culture -- dictating her wardrobe, her mannerisms, her behavior -- I was reading missionary biographies and historical fiction which brought to light the travesty of rape, hunger, and the privileged elite. We homeschoolers aren't rocked by evil because we grew up learning about it. And it was no cursory nod from a paragraph on the pages of a dry textbook. We were in the dirt, the mud, the muck with people who bound up the wounds of the hurting, helped free people from literal slavery, and showed their friends their value in Christ. As Chesteron said, we didn't read about dragons to learn that dragons are real, but to learn that they can be killed. We don't wallow in evil. We approach these topics in an age-appropriate fashion with an eye toward building maturity.

Conformity vs Compassion

Homeschooling with Sonlight focused me on compassion.

The focus of the social environment at school is conformity. That is the opposite of compassion. And that is one more in the long list of socialization ills which plague the very halls of the system which claims to be a requisite for better connection with the people around us.

We Sonlighters don't need YouTube to tell us the world is broken. We've been learning what needs to be fixed from the start.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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The Shock That We're Normal

A mom, years after starting homeschooling, was asked by her mother, "But ... what about socialization?"

This veteran homeschooler looked at her mom in disbelief. Then, exasperated, she asked, "Have you met your grandchildren?"

<smile> I love that.

Too often, the socialization question seems a reflex. It's as if the person asking is quoting from a script they memorized but never bothered to understand. I've encountered this myself heading to the airport and at the local pool. The socialization issue is something people say; I don't think many of them mean it -- if only they took a moment to consider.


So when the socialization question showed up to a group of homeschoolers on Facebook, I smiled at the responses:

  • My personality is antisocial, but homeschooling helped me work through it.
  • People are always shocked when they hear I homeschooled. "But you're so normal!" lol
  • No one would ever guess I was homeschooled.
  • I'm so well socialized, normal people can't handle me!
  • Get-away-from-me-all-you-people-while-I-crawl-back-under-my-rock! jk
  • I've never understood the antisocial and sheltered stereotype.

I don't get the stereotypes, either. I mean, I do ... because this makes sense to someone who doesn't actually know many homeschoolers. But I don't because I've learned a bit more about what makes someone socially awkward in a school. And while I was sheltered, it was more like a day at the beach than a decade in a bunker.

We homeschoolers are normal. That means we display the regular range of idiosyncrasies. Some of us are loud, obnoxious, and a tad endearing in our bravado (me); others of us shy away from the spotlight, are careful with our words, and gain friends through our loving demeanor (my wife). But it wasn't homeschooling that did this to us. We were both homeschooled. As humans, we represent the spectrum of experience. Homeschoolers come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us struggle to read for years (me); others of us become phobic of math (my wife). And then there are those few out there who simply excel at everything (your children).

There is no determinism here directed by the magic that is homeschooling. We aren't able to dictate outcomes by our curriculum choices. What magic there is, and magic in spades, is the opportunity to connect with our children, to learn how to help them learn, and to show them a world into which they fit as only they can so that they are inspired to follow wherever the Lord leads. Homeschooling is a great option. But it is one of many.

The important question that we should all ask ourselves is "why?" Why did we choose the path that we did for this child? Because homeschooling, and homeschooling with Sonlight, offers a certain set of amazing benefits. And it's the pull of homeschooling that draws us back, year after year.

People are frequently shocked to find out just "normal" we are.

I am frequently amazed at just how good this homeschooling gig is. And when people get over the shock that I was homeschooled, I like to share with them these benefits.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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The Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler (25 Years Later)

Think back to 1990. Does your life now look like you thought it would then? If you're like me, that question might make you laugh. But praise God for opportunities to grow and serve in ways we would never have expected.

The Holzmann Family in 1989
My family around 1989 when we started homeschooling. (You can see more photos at 25.sonlight.com/timeline.)

For one thing, I used to want to be a children's librarian. But what I really wanted was to help children find good books to read. I think God has granted that desire.

And as I reflect on 25 joyful years of Sonlight, I can clearly see God's hand guiding me, even as He often changed my plans.

You see, John and I always wanted to dedicate our lives to Christian missions. We just thought it would look completely different than it has. After we finished college and got married, John earned his M.Div. and served as an evangelism pastor for a while. Then we moved to Pasadena, California, to serve as stateside missionaries for the U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM). It was a thrilling time in the field of missiology, as Dr. Ralph Winter developed the concept of unreached people groups and set out on the task of mapping out and reaching all such groups.

We were passionate about reaching the unreached. But we could never have predicted how that passion would unfold.

While we served with the USCWM, we were also raising our children and trying to choose how to educate them. I simply did NOT want to homeschool. When the idea came up, I refused. But then John was blessed to stay with a wonderful homeschooling family during a business trip. Their family dynamics and innovative way of teaching their children really inspired him.

We began to see that this might be the answer we needed for our own children's education. By the fall of 1989, the Lord overruled my reluctance and gave me the great gift of teaching my children. I quickly grew to love it.

Then God took our unexpected homeschool journey and used that to support the work of Christian missions in ways I could never have imagined.

When we started Sonlight in 1990, the second biggest reason for missionaries to return home from the field was that they couldn't find good educational options for their children. Sonlight has helped meet that need. I am humbled to hear of how many missionaries use Sonlight in their homes.

And what's more, through the path that God opened for us, Sonlight has been able to donate significant funds to strategic Christian missions over the past 25 years. Far more than John and I ever could have done on our own. (If you're curious, you can read about the four organizations we support.) Praise God!

And so I have not become a children's librarian. My kids did not receive their whole education at private or public schools. John and I have not continued on as staff at the U.S. Center for World Mission. We have not become overseas missionaries ourselves. But God has guided us on an incredible journey, and He is still guiding us now.

Have you been on an adventure as well? Has God given you unexpected opportunities to grow and serve? I invite you to share your homeschool story with me and other moms at 25.sonlight.com/sonlighter-stories.

As you serve in the trenches at home with your children, I am so grateful that I get to come alongside and help. As I wrote before, you are the reason Sonlight is celebrating 25 years. Please, come celebrate with us!

Blessings to you,

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Join us for a Blog Party!


Sonlight is celebrating 25 years this year and we will be partying all year long! As part of the celebration, we'll be hosting a Blog Party on the 25th of each month, and we would love to have you join in the fun! For details about how you can participate and a list of topics, visit our Blog Party page.

On January 25th we want to meet your family! In your blog post that day, introduce us to your family. Are you just getting started homeschooling? Or do you have graduates? Or somewhere in between? (Even if you don't use Sonlight... or even if you don't homeschool... you are welcome to participate.) Once your post goes live on the 25th, come back here to the Sonlight blog and link up with us.

Everyone who participates in January will be entered in a drawing for the fabulous prize package pictured above. Valued at $145, this inspiring package includes:

  • The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance by Heidi St. John
  • Help for the Harried Homeschooler by Christine M. Field
  • Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy
  • Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
  • The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias
  • A Treasury of Wisdom audio CD by Jim Weiss
  • Sonlight's heavy-duty canvas book bag
  • PLUS a Sonlight gift certificate for $25!

And in case you missed the announcement, Heidi St. John and Crystal Paine will be joining Sonlight's president Sarita Holzmann for our Inspire 25 online event on January 22. It's sure to be an encouraging evening. I hope you'll join us!


Posted in Karla | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments