Get Your Free Off-Road Encounters Welcome Kit

Do your kids like stickers, pins, maps?

I'm not exactly a kid anymore, but I was excited when my Off-Road Encounters welcome kit arrived in the mail. If you haven't signed up to be part of this year's giving project, do so now. It's free, easy, and there is no obligation to give. The video series starts on Monday. Register today so your kids can get their stuff in time for the launch.

Off-Road Encounters Welcome Kit

Looking at the map, I was impressed with all the places we'll be visiting.

But then I read the email I got about Off-Road Encounters this morning and I was reminded that we're starting this journey in places I've only read about in the Bible. How exciting to visit these far-off locations that are, at the same time, somewhat familiar... and to see the need for the Gospel to renew this part of the world so tied to Scripture!

If you've already signed up, please continue to pray for this project. May hearts and minds be drawn to Christ, both at home and abroad, because of our involvement in this opportunity.

Thank you! I am so excited to see what God does as we partner together to see the Good News of Jesus brought to those who do not yet know Him as Savior and Lord!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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More Than Just Good Enough

I fight boxes that seek to define. I try to stay outside "the mold." I actively work to not keep up with any Joneses. And I seek to encourage my children to be who they are, not who I think they should be.

A lot of this stems from the way I was raised growing up homeschooled with Sonlight. My mom will have to be the one to explain how she did it.

Through the years I did band and karate, AWANA and swimming. I practiced and memorized. Some things I was good at, others not so much. "You swim because you love it," was my mom's refrain, not because I was successful and could win. I never was told, encouraged, or pushed to "be better," "try harder."

So, this is what I fight in my generation of parenting: the urge to put my kids in everything so that they will have the best chance of success. The urge to panic when they appear behind in one aspect of life or school. The urge to compare.

My children are who they are. They are created in God's image; they are their own people. They have different skills than I do, and each other. As they grow they will succeed with ease at some things and likely never master other skills in life. And that is more than okay.

That does not make them behind. It doesn't make me a bad teacher. It doesn't make them failures at life or mean I've held them back from the greatness they could become. Being who they are is more than good enough.

My Chaotic and Blessed Life

I sit at the pool and listen to a mom worry about her 11 month old not walking and her fear that he is failing. To this mom I want to say, "Look at your son! He is fine. He is just taking his time. He is moving and growing and being loved and held. He will walk when he's ready."

I compliment a mom about how cute her 2 year old daughter's voice is when she says big words and hear a smug, "Yes, she's very advanced." To this mom I want to say, "This was not a comparison! This is not a critique of every other 2 year old! Your daughter is cute; enjoy that, but that doesn't mean every other 2 year old saying 'jjs' or 'tomputer' is somehow less."

I want to combat our society that pits our children against one another -- that has standards and tests and rankings for every stage, and event, and thing our children do. Teach them as we go, yes. Have them "win" at walking, and talking, and color recognition, and ballet, and math, and reading level ... no.

My children are more than good enough. The education I'm giving them is more than good enough. Their childhood -- the love they are getting, the experience (albeit lots of playing) -- is more than good enough.

They will be great in their own right because they are who they are, not because I've forced them.

Until next time,

P.S. Speaking of children, we've added our 4th! Our first son, Jackson. He came by scheduled c-section and was our first with no complications. As his name means, God certainly has been gracious. Thank you all for your prayers. We are loving this season.

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The Apocalypse and Time with Your Kids

As a film guy, I like movies. I recently watched yet another apocalyptic film. I think it shed some light on what's behind the comment, "I could never spend all day with my kids!" You ready for this?

The movie isn't important. The setting is a little semi-self-sustaining cottage in the mountains run by a hippy and his wife. The "end of the world" happens when a computer thing goes batty, and now the house is full of six frenemies whose history and future provide the backdrop for the unfolding drama. We learn all about their past issues and current differences. Relationships form and others shatter. The close proximity, the stress of the situation, and the lack of connection and trust make certain interactions incredibly abrasive.

You've experienced that, right? In your homeschool, especially if you've "brought your kids home" after having them in school for a while, there's a certain tension. In many ways, you have catching up to do with your kids. I've detailed my own experiences with this when we had the girls for 9-months. I am all too aware of how close proximity, stressful situations, and a lack of connection and trust makes things abrasively miserable.

The End of the World?

But the movie doesn't end there. Neither should we.

By the end of the film, a new fledgling community has sprouted. People work together. Grace has been extended and accepted. Smoke still billows in the distance, but the freshly tilled earth, the laughter of children, and the beauty of friendships shines across the screen.

So, yes, sometimes homeschooling can feel like an apocalypse. There are periods where we feel trapped by the work and uncomfortably close. But what we're building is, literally, the future of humanity. And for all the struggle, it's beautiful in the end.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

Anna's post But I Can't be with My Children All Day Long Every Day! inspired this one. Check it out.

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"A scramble." I assume that's an adequate description of some of your days -- maybe every day is a scramble. There is much to do in daily life, and you've added "teach my children" to the list. It's no wonder things can get a little hectic now and then.

'Now and then? You clearly haven't been to my house, Luke.'

True. The point remains: You're busy.

And then one of your kids does something that completely derails you and stops you in your tracks, like Tanya's little guy who stopped to admire a sprinkler. (Click the link. It's a brief and very nice story!)

Years ago, someone shared a story about running late and, while driving up to the train tracks, was asked by her son, "Can we stop and watch the train?" Confused, she said, "But there isn't a train right now."

"I know," he replied. "Can we wait for one?"

(I wish I knew which blog this came from; Google has failed me. If you recognize your story, or the blog from whence it came, please let me know so I can add some link-love!)

Train Waiting

What makes these interruptions so important -- and causes us to pause and consider -- is that they remind us of something. These aren't the annoyances of traffic or diaper blowouts. These are genuine glimpses of humanity that shift our focus to the people for whom we do all this crazy amount of work. These serendipitous breaks from routine let us see, once again, that our children are here and part of this madness. In the activity, we can lose sight of them. But without them we wouldn't be doing this.

Enjoy the interruptions. Relish the reminders. You're a mom -- or dad -- and all this work is for your kids and totally worth it. The occasional interruption is a blessing from God.

Have a great day; may you find encouragement in the scramble.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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It's time to . . . clean house!

Vacuum cleanerYep ... it's that time of year again. Time for starting school, freezing corn, and cleaning out! For whatever reason I have always felt the need to clean house at the beginning of every school year. Sort of a "fresh start" ... not only for school, but also for our entire household. Even though my days of starting a new school year are behind me, fall cleaning is not. This past weekend we sorted and tossed, moved furniture, and cleaned from top to bottom. It has left a feeling of satisfaction and the sense that we're now ready for whatever this year's upstate NY winter has to bring.

I'm apparently not alone in my urge to clean. Over on the Sonlight Forums, Grace4all penned the following limerick:

"There once was a mom with ambition,
Whose sanity was under suspicion.
She was a bit rash as she threw out the trash
...the family barely survived her mission."

There are a lot of great books and blogs out there on how to effectively clean your house, but in the end, I've always found it was simply a matter of motivation and muscle-power. However, great tips and ideas are always an encouragement, and may even offer the missing motivation for deep-cleaning. A timely forum conversation can yield some great ideas! Here are a few that I've found worth repeating ...

Find an area you want to work on, set the timer for five minutes, and then stop working when it goes off.  Leave everything there (in that closet, cabinet or whatever) until the next time you have five minutes--either later that day or the next day.  Keep working on that one thing until it is done. (Grace4all)

Start a "Minimalist Game" - You get rid of one thing on the first, two things on the second, three things on the third, and so on until the end of the month. Some people in each game have followed the rules, others haven't, some are major hoarders, others just need to do a little purging ... but everyone is super encouraging as we all make progress.  (bethanyandtim)

Make your bed right before or after your morning shower. A neat bed will inspire you to deal with other messes immediately. (

Establish 15 minute housecleaning plans ... a list of 2-3 chores you know can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Maybe sweeping the kitchen floor, or dusting the window sills. (

Whatever motivation you need today, I hope this little conversation has provided a bit of "get up and go" for decluttering your home. Now don't sit there looking at your computer for a moment longer ... go clean that closet!

Still on the journey ...

~Judy Wnuk

PS ... Need even more ideas for organizing? Check out our "Organizing Your Home for Success" webinar.

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From Luke's Inbox: Now Is Not the Time to Learn About Islam

I understand that missionary work is very important. However, I don't appreciate you encouraging us to teach our children to understand Muslim culture and beliefs. I think this is particularly poor timing.

I appreciate the feedback. Of course, I was expecting this kind of response to some degree. But my conclusion is exactly the opposite: Now is the best time for you and your children to learn about Islam.

You and I both know that Islam is all over the news. But the news is very one-sided. How much better to take time to see how Muslims live, catch a glimpse of what they believe (such as what they think of Jesus), and how Christ has transformed the lives of some Muslim background believers? Equipped with this knowledge, do you not think your children will be better able to pray for this turbulent part of the world? Do you not think they will catch a glimpse of God's heart to bring grace and healing and peace to these people? Do you not see how amazing it would be to give a few dollars and have lives changed in the light of Christ's loving-kindness?

I do. It's glorious.

In desperate need of redemption...

I am so excited about this year's giving opportunity. The fact that recent events have made Islam a topic of national discussion, to me, glows of providence. Now -- now -- now is the time to get involved, to reach up to God and to reach out to our fellow man in desperate need of the transforming power of Christ.

Please, reconsider your part in Off-Road Encounters. You may be more comfortable previewing the videos -- which is not a bad idea. The video team obviously did not go to the more dangerous places where ISIS is currently beheading people, so the series is not going to give a complete picture of the entire situation in the Middle East (of course, I don't think any series could accomplish that given that the conflict is thousands of years old). Perhaps you'd like to share the message in a different way with your children. Awesome! But I do want to exhort you to be part of the solution by both praying and giving as a family.

Then again, urging is all I can do. You get to choose your next steps. You get to choose how you teach your children. That, like missions, is a major part of Sonlight. We believe in education, not indoctrination. I'm never going to tell you what you have to do or believe.

May God bless you this year, whether you get involved in this project or continue to pray for and give to the things that fit your family's missions-minded focus. The need is great all over the world. I am simply excited to see what God does this year through Off-Road Encounters.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Thinking About Adding Electives? Save 10%

As you settle into your school year, perhaps you're feeling like you'd like a bit more to round out your day. Perhaps some fun art books would be just the thing...

Now through October 31, you can add a small package of a few fun books to your curriculum and save 10% on an Electives package.

Save 10% on Homeschool Electives

You may not even have noticed that Sonlight offers Electives. People tend to talk about our History programs so much that our other stuff gets left out or overlooked. And when you're just starting your school year, it's better to ease into things and get your bearings. As we push toward the middle of September -- time sure does fly! -- you may be looking toward the colder, darker months where you may find yourselves snowed in or rained in or shut in for some other weather-related reason. And in those moments, where cabin fever threatens the sanity of everyone in your home, you'll wonder if there is something super-cool you could hand to your precious children to keep them from the brink ... those are the times when Electives are near essential to survival.

...perhaps I'm a tad melodramatic.

Point remains: Save 10% on an Electives.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

P.S. If your days are full enough already, seriously, no pressure. The last thing you need is to feel like you're "not doing enough." This sale is a great opportunity if you've been feeling a lack or art, or your child is itching to do some computer programming, or you'd like to dip your toes in music... that kind of thing.

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