The Conlectio Newsletter
The Cost of Real Community
Dear friends,
Yesterday after our church's first service a group of families walked next door to the playground and, as our progeny swarmed the slides and swings, we talked about the cost of community. In the sermon this week, our pastors talked about the cost of Christian community: How we all want to be known, to have “our people”, to go deep with a group of Christians who know God for real - but so many of us forget the cost. 
We want community without vulnerability and accountability, and that's just not how it works. One friend and I shared our uphill battle to form community over the years: Unreciprocated hosting, uncomfortable coffee dates, try-and-fail friendships, small groups that began and then ended, relationships that drifted apart. Community is 
work and we should expect that. We should come to relationships expecting to do the hard work of relationship.
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But we should also expect that, in being known and being close to people, there will be a cost. That cost will be - in a sense - our freedom. This is what our pastors pointed out. You can't be completely “free” in cultural terms (no boundaries, no commitments, no accountability or confrontation) and also go deep with people who share your values. Community requires interdependence and vulnerability. Yikes!
I get so many questions about community in this online space. Statistics tell us we are lonelier than ever before while being more connected than we've ever been. When I look around at the beautiful community I've been given, I see several things that formed it:
  • Prayer. I have prayed for these people faithfully - before I knew them. And not just me, but others in our community! We prayed for people who shared our values and life stage. I was incredibly specific in that area - as I try to be when I pray! And years into this, years of continuing to invite, extend and connect to the local church, that prayer is being answered.
  • Reciprocation: Many people complain of no reciprocation to hospitality or community efforts, and while I've been there, there are a few things I'd say. First, many people need time to plan their schedule - last minute invitations often don't work and will result in a higher rejection rate. Similarly, invitations should be specific (date, time, expectation) so people have to respond yes or no. But ultimately, reciprocation will happen with people who see THEIR need for community and value it. Which brings us back to prayer! Pray for people who value this and who make an effort to prioritize it. Then do what you can, on your end, to facilitate it.
  • Grace: Legalism is the community killer. When people elevate second and third tier theological issues to the level of core doctrine, they often can't maintain friendship. How can you be friends with someone you believe is in sin for where their child goes to school or what clothes they wear? Josh and I don't parent exactly like our friends. Not all our friends homeschool. We don't all agree on second and third tier theology issues. But we are united around Christ and our core values for raising kids who love Him and know Him. This grace makes friendship possible and makes up for the gaps of difference.
  • Love for God: Ultimately the unity of the church, and true community, is formed through the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts. He bonds us to one another. As I walked with a friend today, she told me she can almost physically sense when she meets another Christian - before they even open their mouth! I've felt that too. Love for God bonds Christians to one another with a closeness and depth that, once experienced, is impossible to forget.
My encouragement to all who long for community is this: Be prepared to do the work, and to do it a long time. But pray as hard as you work at it, and watch God be faithful. I've seen Him come through in multiple churches, in multiple states, in all my life stages. He always comes through on this request! But it has a cost, and we have to be ready to pay it.
Community requires vulnerability, and it's the best risk you'll ever take.

June Collection Discount
We are counting down to the brand new EWAT collection launching June 23rd! Email friends will have a discount that is good ONLY through the 27th. After that, items will remain in stock but the discount won't apply. We can't wait to share these with you!
Some news you can't miss:
  • Verity Conference tickets are LIVE!! Our 3rd annual conference is BACK and we are so thrilled to offer it on a bigger scale than ever before. The focus is evangelism and apologetics - how sharing your faith with grace is not just possible, but can become a natural part of your life. Grab your ticket here - only 300 available!
  • A BIG thank you to all our models for the EWAT photoshoot last week! We had so much fun and cannot wait to see the photos - coming soon to the website and EWAT Instagram!
  • Popular hand-thrown mugs are selling fast! Shop them here.
  • Theology Basics Intensive Classes: Theology Basics is a four week, live course with me. I teach through basic doctrines of Christianity in a small group format via Zoom. Thanks to your responses, we have a short waitlist for live classes here at the farm this summer! These workshops would be one day long, from about 10 AM-4 PM. Lunch included. Interested? Reply this email to be put on our waitlist! (the ebook is available all the time right here)
  • If you are in the Theology + Coffee Club, I will be sending the email with tomorrow's call link later today.
I noticed a lot of questions about shows and movies on Ask Anything Monday, so instead of books, here are a few of our faves! 
  • A note about our preferences: The longer Josh and I have followed Christ the more sensitive we've become to content in media. While we don't believe in being legalistic about media or making decisions out of fear, we do believe that a heart sensitive to the Spirit of God is continually more aware of things that grieve and oppose him. Because of this, we use VidAngel to clean up shows with language and sex, and often will completely stop watching shows that aren't producing good fruit in our lives. Here's what we do watch:
    • Alone: This History Channel show was first introduced to me by my friend and podcast cohost (Raising Cross Formed Kids) Ryan Coatney, and my other friend Hunter Beless (of Journeywomen)! It's a survival show where ten people are dropped off in a remote wilderness and have to live off the land for 100 days. Whoever lasts the longest wins $500,000. Josh and I are currently on season nine and have enjoyed every minute!
    • Married at First Sight: This was the precursor to Love is Blind. What we found fascinating about this show was the discussion from the “experts” - a psychologist, sociologist, sexologist and spiritual director - about communication and success in relationships. We watch on Discovery+ (the only streaming platform we use).
    • Finding Our Roots: If you like history and genealogies, this is the show for you. This is a show from PBS that dives into the family trees of famous actors, politicians, and celebrities. My friend Jodie introduced me to it and it's riveting.
    • For the kids… Right now our kids are on a media “fast” for the summer, but we do allow an occasional show on RightNowMedia (which many churches offer to their members for free). Nest Entertainment's Animated New/Old Testament or Superbook are two of their favorites. We also do a Friday “alphabetic movie night" - a list of kids' movies in alphabetical order. 
Coming to the June shop launch!
What I'm Loving
  • Diana dress. I did not buy this Revolve “Diana” dress but I sure wish I had somewhere to wear it because it is stunning.
  • This square claw clip. Some of you have noticed I am growing out my pixie cut - a deal Josh and I cut with each other (I prefer his hair very short, he prefers mine in a bob, so he cut his and I'm growing mine. Compromise!). I was remiss in scheduling my hair appointment though (tomorrow!!) so this claw clip has been my hero. It's cute and small and great for short/mid length hair.
  • Early morning fishing dates. Josh and I have never shared hobbies or interests in common. It was our weakest point in premarital counseling and continues to be a struggle today (kids and business/ministry have helped, but you don't want to talk about those all the time!). The one thing we both like is fishing, but the best time is early morning. This week I asked my sister to stay over night to be with the kids at 6 AM when we went to fish for cisco, and she was kind enough to oblige!
  • My Powersheets Goal planner. I mentioned this periodically on Instagram but I am on five or six years using this, and it consistently delivers! It's one of the ways I can stay very clear on what I need to accomplish each day, week and month. I use it in conjunction with my Full Focus quarterly planner (PS is not a day planner).
  • Mealtime Hero Cards. Our kids LOVE these at mealtimes. They each get to pick one, and the girls love to pick female heroes from church history - so often, they can't find women in children's bibles beyond Ruth or Esther, and that's not the case here! The summaries are short but there are longer summaries of each person in the Church History Activity Books. 
Around the Christian World
In Our Homeschool
  • I love reading to the kids, and any homeschooler knows that books are the backbone of almost all home education methods. We use picture books coordinated to our CC curriculum, but I also use the “heritage months” to integrate diverse picture books into our daily routine. I forgot to include these over the last few months, so I am linking a few articles I used to compile my own lists. I review them when I get them from the library to decide which to read aloud (Black History Month list was sent in a newsletter a few months ago). While these “months” aren't necessary to read diversely, they are a good reminder to do so. 
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On the Farm
  • Not much has changed on the farm since last week, but we are still getting LOTS of eggs, which means egg bakes, cookies, puddings and pies are in order! I freeze cookie dough for future use and also freeze egg bakes to be heated later on.
  • Beets and carrots are finally peeking up in the garden! But this is my third year in a row my cucumbers have utterly failed. I may just give up on them!
  • A few of my direct-sow plants just didn't do well (such as said cucumbers) so I am going to buy some plants to replace them from our neighbors, Bear Creek Organic Farm.
  • We are reworking our grocery plan this summer. We experimented with bulk (50 lbs) orders of spelt, beans, spices and elderberries a few months ago, and we are probably going that route in earnest. I make my own bread (we used to be fully gluten free, but since being healed/in remission from my autoimmune skin disease, we have moved away from that to spelt and organic wheat) and make most of our snacks at home. We plan to buy more wheat, oats, beans, sugar, and spices in bulk to continue reducing our costs and trips to Costco (which is 1.5 hours away).
for the awakening, 

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