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Illumination Learning

About this website:

The Background Story

In 2006, my husband and I were approved to be foster parents in Kentucky. We had struggled with infertility for many years and after a trip to Saint Basil Academy, we decided to take in foster children in the hopes of eventually adopting them.

Being foster parents…was stressful and intense at times – not because of the number of children we had, but because of the situations we were dealing with from day to day. I quickly found myself writing, almost nightly, as I reflected on our day, especially in relation to how I reacted to situations.

I found I needed to remind myself of all the positives happening and while I didn’t want to just ignore all that we were struggling with, I needed to write in order to reflect, focus, and work through those struggles.

After three years of being part of the foster care system, we closed our home to the potential of more children and chose to focus on healing our new family. During those years, I found that writing had become an integral part of how I processed my thoughts. I could reflect on our days as I re-read the words I had tapped away on my keyboard after the rest of my family had fallen into a deep slumber.

Illumination Learning is the result of those foster care years and the story of our family’s continued journey. I highly doubt it would be what it is today (or even exist at all) if it were not for those formative years of being part of the foster care world. My children were often showing me a side of myself I didn’t always like. I found myself deep in thought often – and as I re-read what I had written at night, I found that over and over again, our family was always in a state of peace when we had made an effort to place God first in our lives. It was these moments – these glimpses of light – that I chose to start sharing so I could focus on the positive in our life while we were working through the struggles. It was here that Illumination Learning found it’s place in my life…and from there has grown to what you see today.

We are not a perfect family, but we sure do strive to place God first in our lives. Years later, I enjoy going back and reading old posts. These posts are moments along our journey and are comforting to me as I look back at the progress our family has made. Too often, it’s easy to focus on where we still struggle instead of stepping back and marveling at our grand story – where we started, where we are, and the opportunities we have to continue improving. Every family has a story. What’s yours?

The Illumination Learning logo and name were inspired by a pilgrimage to Agia Sophia in the fall of 2007 with my husband.  I was staring at the ceiling and marveling at how these crosses were still illuminating the ceiling despite the effort to paint over them.

About Me:

I grew up Orthodox and many of the stories I share here are shaped and influenced by my parents’ example for us.  When I was 14, my dad, Fr. Bill Christ, was ordained to the holy priesthood at Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Boston, Massachusetts.  I am the oldest of six kids and have always loved taking care of kids since I can remember.  My educational background is elementary education.  I have taught in daycares, elementary public schools (including one year with severely autistic children), church school, and have homeschooled my kids since my oldest was in third grade – many, many years ago.  I have been a church school director and a St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Coordinator.  My husband and I were foster parents for three years and took in five boys under the age of 5 in just over one year’s time for a grand total of six kids in our home.  We adopted our oldest three foster sons and our youngest two foster sons were adopted by extended family.  Currently we have six children – one girl and five boys ranging in age from 22 to almost 2.

After reading the following excerpt from Sophie Koulomzin’s book, Our Church Our Children – I simply cannot phrase it any more perfectly about how I feel towards the works I offer here on Illumination Learning:

You know, you can live year after year and then come up against something and suddenly feel that this is THE thing, this is the thing you have been looking for all your life, this is what you have been thinking about, this is where all the different circumstances of your life were leading you.  I guess what I mean is that I have discovered my vocation, just as a painter or a musician might.  Even if for the rest of my life I have to pound away at typewriters in 15 different offices, I know that I will always work with children and for children.  Children are my vocation, I suppose.  My head is bursting with ideas of all I want to do, and even of the books, or at least a book I want to write, a book on church worship for children.  After all, this is not THAT impossible.

Jennifer Hock

Jennifer Hock

Founder of Illumination Learning

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