Friday, January 30, 2009

Choose Life

We were studying President Obama's Inauguration Address in my argumentation class today and I noticed that something was strangely absent from this passage,
"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. "
What about the "unalienable right-to-life?" I guess to President Obama that right is no longer a noble idea worth reaffirming; despite the fact that our "better history" thought it important enough to mention it along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence.

But to be fair, Obama, a Constitutional scholar, did say that determining when a baby gets "human rights" was above his pay grade. Thankfully his mother, without a Harvard law degree, had enough sense to know exactly when and chose life so that Barack Obama could be free to pursue his full measure of happiness.

By the way, NBC refused to air this commercial during the Super Bowl this weekend. Which is ironic when you consider the types of ads they have run in the past, including more than 500 ads involving significant levels of violence, including gun fights, explosions and murders. (HT: Barbara Curtis)

The more we hope for change, the more things seem to stay the same.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Win a trip to the Midwest Homeschool Convention

Do you have a bad case of cabin fever and need to get out of the house for the weekend? Are you a little down in the dumps over the state of your homeschool and need some inspiration? Or perhaps the state of the economy has put a strain on your family's budget and you just can't afford to purchase all the things you need for your homeschool?

If that's the case, then the Midwest Homeschool Convention maybe just what you need to help beat back the winter blues, ease your stress level, and maybe even put a little homeschool cash in your pocket.

The convention is located in Cincinnati, the speakers are awesome, the vendor hall is HUGE, and I'll be live blogging too. It can't get much better than that, right? Okay, it could be located in Hawaii but that would have made the event a lot less affordable. However, the hosts did come up with the next best thing to a convention in paradise...a contest where the grand prize winner will receive:

  • One (1) FREE Family Registration to the convention.
  • One (1) FREE hotel room for Thursday, April 16 and Friday, April 17
  • One (1) complete set of the recorded Sessions/Workshops from the convention.
  • $50 cash to spend in the HUGE Exhibit Hall!
Four other lucky winners will receive a family pass to the convention and $25 cash to spend in the vendor hall. Entry details are here.

Whether you're a new homeschooler or a veteran, there's something for everyone at the Midwest Convention. Hope to see you there!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spunky in real life

Posted because some days are just too memorable to forget....

Last Sunday evening, while attempting to relax after a busy church morning the phone rang...

Caller: Hello Mrs. Braun, this is Emily, director of Ever After Productions. I know that your son, Jason, is 18 so we really aren't required to call you, but I thought you should know that he was hurt during rehearsal a few minutes ago. We're not sure what happened but he collapsed onto the dance floor. We think he was hit in the face and was unconsious for a few seconds, so we called EMS. They will be here in any second but do you want to talk to Jason?

Me: Yes, of course!

Jason: Hey mom.

Me: Jason, are you okay? (Trying to sound calm.)

Jason: I think so. I'll find out for sure when they check me over.

Me: What happened?

Jason: I'm not sure, I was dancing and then the next thing I knew I was on the floor with a cold water bottle on the back of my neck. And now I'm just sitting here.

Me: We'll be right there.

We arrived just as EMS techs were finishing their exam. Thankfully, they did not see an immediate need for a trip to the hospital ER. We took our son, a bit shaken and wobbly, home to rest.

The next morning, he woke up with a good shiner under his right eye and a possible explanation.

Jason: I was going up for a jump. And I think that as my knee went up, my head went down. TKO.

Me: Well however it happened, I'm just glad you seem to be okay with no long term damage.

There's a moral lesson in this somewhere. Right now, I'm too busy feeling relieved to find out what it is and hopefully someday we're both going to look back at this and laugh. Hopefully.

(Note: This event actually happened a week ago and Jason appears to be completely back to normal, whatever normal is these days! He will be appearing as "Diesel" in the musical West Side Story this upcoming weekend. His younger brother, Josh, is playing violin in the pit orchestra. I'm very proud of both of them. If you're in the Detroit area, ticket info is here.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Silly Women and Highminded Men

In a possible response to John Holzmann's blog post about Sonlight being banned from the CHEC convention, Kevin Swanson, Executive Director of CHEC, provided some commentary about the women who discuss such matters. He said,
"Such wrangling usually only provides fodder for the silly women Paul speaks of, who are laden with divers lusts, not to mention the erudite, fleshly types who are "ever learning yet never quite coming to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:6,7). And I don't see how it serves to nurture the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace."
Looking at the verse Swanson referenced in context, Paul is actually issuing a warning against proud men who attempt to creep into houses leading "silly women laden with sin" captive. It is not "wranglings" that provide fodder for "silly women" but men who are "lovers of themselves" who cause these "silly women" to be led captive by divers lusts. Among women in the Christian homeschool community, one potential area of sin is the desire to present the perfect homeschool family image as created by men not God. A dangerous pursuit which often leads many women to follow the teachings of men, spend hundreds of dollars on their materials; and more importantly, accept and believe many false ideas.

How does a wise woman prevent this from happening?

Proverbs 31 tells us that an excellent wife, "considers a field before she buys it....and looks well to the ways of her household."

Given that it is women who typically attend the homeschool conventions and make the majority of curriculum purchases for their family, it is not silly but prudent for a wise woman to consider what material she uses to teach her children before she buys it. A wise women will ask questions and consider the views of Sonight, CHEC, and any other she encounters against the counsel of her own husband and the Truth of God's Word. Doing so provides a measure of protection from false teachers and error from creeping into her household; and if they are already present, to remove them.

The alternative is to check my brain at the door when I open an catalog or enter a convention hall and blindly accept whatever certain speakers say or do without question and buy whatever they tell me is "good and true." For me, such thinking is a recipe for disaster, potentially leading me captive by "highminded" men who have "a form of godliness but deny the power thereof." Paul encourages us in the 2 Timothy to "turn away" from such men.

To do anything less, would be silly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHEC says "no" to Sonlight

John Holzmann, co-owner of Sonlight, has a very revealing post up about how his company was banned from participating in the Colorado Christian Home Educators Convention.
"Shortly after I resigned, I received news that the company had been banned from displaying its materials at the homeschool convention sponsored by CHEC, the Christian Home Educators of Colorado, our local Christian homeschool association. The letter that informed us of our having been banned was strangely uninformative. Happily, I have enough of a relationship with the president of CHEC (not much, but enough!) that I wrote to ask what was going on, what insight he might be able to shed on the subject. . . . I mean: It's not as if Sonlight had changed in any fundamental way over the 13 years it had been in attendance at the CHEC convention. . . .

Ultimately, Sonlight received no written or full "official" explanation, but got the message: the convention committee was of the opinion that the company isn't Christian enough . . . primarily because it isn't strict enough in its young-earth teaching.
Sonlight was a significant factor in the early days of Christian homeschooling and remains a major curriculum provider today. It was our curriculum of choice for the elementary years. As with any literature-based curriculum, I didn't always agree with their choices or their positions on some historical events, but the fact that they were "not Christian enough" never occurred to me. If I didn't like a book selection, I just substituted my own choice or moved on to the next book. The additional commentary Sonlight provided was challenging and often educated me as I was educating my children.

Holzmann goes on to say,
"CHEC, apparently, can't trust Christian homeschoolers in Colorado to do their own research, read what "the other side" is saying, and/or come to their own conclusions in these matters. CHEC feels the need to protect homeschool families from themselves."
There is likely another side to this story, but given that Holzmann thought it necessary to issue a public statement, I hope that CHEC will be just as transparent and provide any necessary clarification of their position. Homeschool conventions are not churches, is doctrinal agreement a necessary prerequisite to participation? (See Conventional Wisdom for more thoughts and discussion.)

It is also worth noting that the Executive Director of CHEC, Kevin Swanson, is a speaker at the upcoming Mens Homeschool Leadership Summit in March. The purpose of the summit is to lay out a vision and a standard for home education in the 21st Century. I wonder if their vision includes a place for Sonlight? And if not, I'm curious to know which curriculums do receive their approval?

(HT: Karen Campbell)

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations, President Obama

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address has won over at least one member of SpunkyHomeschool - my five year old daughter, Elaina. She is now singing the praises of Barack Obama. Her reason? She likes his smile. Obama is very telegenic; but thankfully, the rest of the members of the Spunky household are not as easily swayed.

Obama's speech did have a few memorable moments, but overall it seemed a flat and not at all what I had expected. However, the phrase "new age" was used a couple of times and caught my attention.
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

"Everywhere we look, there is work to be done... And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do. "
To what "new age" is he referring that requires hard choices we have previously failed to make and also the transformation of our colleges and universities? I guess we're about to find out.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Carl Djerassi, the Austrian chemist who helped develop the earliest form of oral contraceptive, now laments the "demographic catastrophe" the pill has brought upon society.
Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction."
No kidding. The recent story of a 22 year old woman willing to auction her away her virginity to the highest bidder (current bid $5 million) demonstrates just how far we've fallen.

At least this woman understood the monetary value wealthy businessmen place on her purity. Others young people are willing to just give it away. A recent conversation with a young woman reared in a conservative Christian home alerted me to the reality that, to many young people, "hooking up" has nothing to do with marriage, a committed relationship, or even millions of dollars -- it's "free entertainment" in a world where being entertained is what life is all about.

It's not just personal purity that has fallen out of fashion because of the pill, but the notion that children are a blessing to a married couple whose vision for their family extends beyond the next promotion, the new car, and the two children they "can afford."

A few years ago, I met the wife of a wealthy executive at a Detroit Tigers baseball game. After being told that I had six children, she exclaimed, "I could never afford to have that many children!"

To which I quickly responded, "I can't afford not to." Not because we're independently wealthy, we're not. But because we understand and accept the idea children are a gift from the Lord and blessed is the man whose home is full of children.

I'm glad to know that
Djerassi regrets his participation in the creation of the pill. However, the invention of the pill didn't create the problem, it merely allowed people who refused to restrain themselves a way to act upon their impulses without immediate consequences. In a moral society where purity and children are valued, there would be no price high enough to permit a young lady to sell her virginity and no market for the pill.

(HT: Crunchy Con and Principled Discovery)

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Got wisdom?

I don't typically make New Year's resolutions; however, this year I made a commitment to be on the computer a lot less. I did not intend to completely eliminate if from my life, but that does seem to be the case lately! We've been busy getting back into the school routine and every time I thought about sitting down at the lap top, someone was usually already sitting there working on their school work. Homeschooling certainly does get in the way of what I want to do some days. but I wouldn't have it any other way. (Hopefully, this will be the year we purchase a second computer.)

For the first time, I have also developed a motto for the new year, "Got wisdom?" Mostly because I have five teenagers who are taking ownership of their faith and learning to walk alone with Christ in a world that rejects Him and His Truth. That takes a whole lot of wisdom for them...and for me.

As the parent of adults, I understand that my role shifts from being their primary teacher to their counselor. That shift doesn't happen overnight. It is a process that happens throughout the adolescent years as the child matures and begins to apply the knowledge they acquired in their early years. It can be a turbulent time that challenges the strength and endurance of any parent. They will make mistakes and so will I.

My eighteen year old son, Jason, described it well recently when he said "Parents are the bungee chord that allows the teenager to bounce around, while still retaining the ability to rein them so they do any long term damage."

Insightful and true. Obviously, the eventual goal is to cut the chord and birth a productive adult who is self-regulated and walking in wisdom.

We've labored and launched one child off into adulthood and soon another will follow. Unlike what many of the parenting books promise, there isn't a formula or a method that works perfectly every time, for every parent and produces perfect children. Perfect parents and perfect children don't exist - not even among homeschoolers and learning to let go isn't easy. But God's wisdom is perfect and able to guide both the parent and the child through the process.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

Got wisdom?

(Note: Got wisdom? is the theme of my keynote presentation, Learning to Let Go, for the Say What You Mean convention hosted free online on February 6, 2009.).

Monday, January 05, 2009

It's all about freedom

If you're looking for a way for your high school student to learn American government and what lead to the liberies our nation enjoys, Madison Youth Project is once again offering their excellent online course, Elements of Freedom beginning in January, 2009.
“The Elements of Freedom,” will give students a solid understanding of the critical role these freedoms play in strengthening society and sustaining our democracy. The American Founding Fathers established a firm foundation of liberty that continues to impact ideas and events around the world even today. How did the Founding Fathers develop their notion of liberty? This course will examine the Biblical and historical influences--from ancient Jerusalem and Athens to Magna Carta and the Mayflower Compact--that shaped the thinking of this profound generation. Dr. Robert D. Stacey will teach this course. Dr. Stacey is Associate Professor in Regent University’s Robertson School of Government.
The cost is a very affordable $25 and includes access to their extensive library of primary source documents. My son, Jason, took Dr. Stacey's his junior year and loved the experience. I'd think there would be a lot less confusion about the role of government in our lives if more students had access to a course like this. I plan on having my son, Joshua, take it his senior year.

(Note: Madison Youth Project is a sponsor of SpunkyHomeschool, but my recommendation for this course stands on its own.)

Where is Spunky?

I'm back from my Christmas break. My gift to myself was a computer-free holiday. I'm behind on my email, but taking time off allowed me more time to catch-up and connect with my family and friends. It was time well spent.

There are some upcoming events in 2009 that will allow me to connect with you that I wanted to let you know about.

Say Watch You Mean Convention: I'll be giving an online talk, Learning to Let Go, at this online event. February 4-6, 2009. Listeners will be able to ask questions and interact with one another as I share our family's homeschool joys and struggles as we launch our children into adulthood and their own walk with Christ.

Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati: If you would prefer to connect in person, then this homeschool convention, April 16-19, is the place. I'll be live blogging and presenting a few workshops each day. I'm told there's also going to be a contest coming soon for hotel accommodations and entrance to the convention. So stay tuned.