The Conlectio Newsletter
Does Jeremiah 10 Prohibit Christmas Trees? (And Other Questions)
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This morning's Ask Anything Monday (on IG and FB) had SO many good questions, I couldn't possibly answer them all prior to homeschool group. I tried to hit a few of them and then decided to answer a few more in today's newsletter - something I am hoping to do more consistently in 2023. 
The first question is one that comes up a lot at Christmas: Is Jeremiah 10 a prohibition of Christmas trees? Let's look at what it says.
Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.
 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.
 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
    their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
    because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
    they can do no harm
    nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:1-5)
As we continue through this passage, we see a repeated condemnation of those who craft idols - goldsmiths, silversmiths, woodcutters who shaped images specifically used for worship. Notice that the tree taken out of the forest (verse 3) is then shaped with a chisel and adorned with silver and gold as an idol. Christmas trees are not an object of worship - not in our culture and not in Christian homes! If we are to correctly interpret Jeremiah 10, we must derive the theological principle Jeremiah was speaking to Israel in that day. That principle is the condemnation of idolatry and a challenge to fear God rightly. If you are worshiping your Christmas tree - then yes, Jeremiah's condemnation applies to you. If you're not, well, enjoy the lights and decorations! (More on the history of Christmas, trees, and Santa in the Seasonal Celebration guide)
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Questions two and three are kind of a combo, so I'll answer them both: How to be a mentor to younger women? and How did you find FIVE godly older women mentors? Really struggling to find one. I want to say a few things about this.
  • First - and I discussed this Friday on Instagram - insecurity makes young women unmentorable AND unqualified to be mentors. When we live in a state of insecurity, refusing to embrace the grace and favor of God and consequently living in a state of judgment and self-focus, we are unable to learn from other women. We also can't effectively pour into other women because we're spending our time comparing ourselves to them. Insecurity destroys healthy relationship and the ability to pour out and be poured into.
  • Secondly, mentorship is rarely formal! If you're wondering how to pour into younger women, ask yourself - when was the last time you had them over to your house? When was the last time you just asked a girl out for coffee and learned about her life? When was the last time you invited your single friends to a movie night? It's in these contexts that trust and relationship is built. Then, when they have a deep question or need, you're there to help.
  • Piggybacking on that second point, finding a mentor doesn't have to be formal either. Of the 5-6 older women I consider mentors, many would simply call themselves my friends. And they are! But they are also a great source of wisdom I can draw on when I have questions about parenting, marriage, faith, or suffering. They are a variety of ages and from all kinds of families and backgrounds. Sometimes my relationship with them began because I reached out to them with a question. Other times it began because they reached out to me with an opportunity or invitation. From there, it was a volley of back and forth. For example:
    • I recently asked my friend Chels a parenting question about the little years.
    • I talked to my friend Lisa about her perspective on boundaries.
    • I went to coffee with my friend Jodie to talk about history and faith.
    • I asked my friend Karen for her thoughts on Christianity and platform.
    • When I was 18, my friend Barb led a small bible study and included me so I could learn along with the older women.
    • When I was 22, my table leader Grace invited me to her home.
  • Be sure that your standard for a mentor isn't unrealistic. If you're looking for the perfect woman… you won't find her. If you'll only be mentored by someone you agree with about EVERYTHING… you'll be waiting a long time. If you're waiting for someone to come to YOU instead of opening your home and life… that could be the problem too! If you feel like you can't find this woman in your church, have you asked around for recommendations or connections? Have you looked in Christian communities outside your church for women you admire and would like to spend time with? My criteria is Titus 2: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” I am looking for women whose lives, marriages, and parenting I admire and want to emulate. I want to know more about how they cultivated their family culture, their friendships, their work, and their character. Think about who you know that meets the above criteria, and just - have her over!
The last question is about work life balance: How do you determine what speaking events you say yes to? In the past, I took whatever events were 1) closest 2) able to pay my travel expenses 3) worked with my home schedule, limited to one west coast engagement per spring or fall. But after years of traveling 5-6 weeks of the spring and 3-4 of the fall, the toll has been too great. Even though my ministry influence and “demand” for speaking is now bigger than it has ever been, I have decided to cut my speaking back more every year. This year I only took Michigan engagements with a select few out of state and several personal trips. Next year, I will be speaking only three times: once in Houston (February), at our Italy writers/marriage retreats, and once in May at the Michigan state homeschool convention.
Several of my mentors are themselves speakers and writers, and their counsel at this stage of my life has been invaluable as I made the decision to pull back and prioritize my children's childhoods over the visibility of a stage. The stage will always be there. My children will not.
If you enjoyed this “AAM” style newsletter, hit reply and let us know! I read your emails, even if my team is who responds. 
Blessings to you, and - praying you find yourself a mentor, and that you enjoy those Christmas trees!

Black Friday Promo
Our winter launch has joined the world and thank you for shopping EWAT - you support this ministry and our team! This Friday, we will be running a special promo on apparel and some older items from previous launches. Watch for that!
Raising Tiny Disciples
We have announced that the revised and expanded Raising Tiny Disciples, my book on discipleship for kids 2-7, is launching again soon - and we've gotten a lot of questions about it! This edition is not a big change from the original, just with a new cover, theology scripts appendix, and additional sections on moderating sibling conflict. It will be available for preorder THIS FRIDAY and will ship Dec. 12th.
On Social Media This Week
  • Instagram: @phyliciamasonheimer (also shared to FB)
    • Monday: Ask Anything on FB/IG
    • Tuesday: The Conlectio
    • Wednesday: New Episode of Verity Podcast: Advent Devotionals
    • Thursday: Thanksgiving - no Day in the Life
    • Friday: Book and product recs (IG)
What I'm Reading 
  • Advent Devotionals: I am currently picking out my Advent devotional for December. Last year I did Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift and this year I am looking at a few options that I discuss in this week's Verity podcast episode (drops tomorrow).
  • The Hobbit: Inspired by our Rings of Power and LOTR binge, I finished The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth and felt led to re-read The Hobbit. It's just so good. Such a comfort read! I am a huge proponent of following your passions with reading. It helps you be consistent!
  • In His Steps: This is a really old classic and I bought a vintage copy at a thrift store (I collect vintage books). My copy was given to someone in 1948 and - wow. It could be written to the church today. It's about living out your faith authentically and not just in words. It's an allegorical story, which makes it super readable.
  • Psalms in 30 Days: I mentioned this beautiful book on Instagram. It's the green one, if you remember. I love that it includes readings for morning, midday, and evening, all from classic hymnals/creeds/prayer books and the Psalms!
  • Talkers, Watchers, Doers: This book about kid's learning styles is helpful as I home educate but I'm also using it to develop a bible study resource for all learning styles!
  • For more of what I've read this year, listen to this episode of the podcast!
What I'm Loving
  • Magnolia spinach tortellini soup: This is from Jo's second cookbook. I made this just to have on hand for snacks and my girls and I both love it! You can get tortellini for $4 at my Aldi, so it's an affordable soup too.
  • Fake tulips: When I first bought these I thought they looked a bit cheesy, but in the vase they actually look pretty real! (above) I used an old fishbowl as a vase. I like how they pull together the coffee table!
  • Peppermint Pinwheel Nespresso: We've been loving our Nespresso and I recently bought the Peppermint Pinwheel coffee pods. It's subtle but delicious! Ideal for people who drink their coffee black… creamer would alter the taste.
On the Farm
  • We winterized just in time! This week we got almost two feet of snow due to the winter storm that hit the Midwest. It's a little early for this much snow… we usually have several inches, but this is a lot for Thanksgiving week! We are enjoying it though!
  • Wintering Tips: My friend Kristen LaValley talks about wintering on her account and Substack and I am sharing a bit about it as well because many people here in the northern Midwest suffer from seasonal depression. When we decided to move back to Michigan, I knew I would have to be intentional to truly enjoy this season rather than complain about it like many Michiganders do - lol! Since starting my “learn to love winter” mission a few years ago, it truly has become one of my favorite seasons. I shared in last newsletter some of what I do, but one big question is where to get the right GEAR for winter. This is important, because getting outside is vital to fighting off SAD and enjoying the season.
    • Coats: I recommend Canada Goose, Patagonia, North Face, LL Bean, and Obermeyer. I own a North Face knee length parka and an Obermeyer ski jacket (both I bought secondhand. Poshmark and FB Marketplace often have good finds). It is worth it to buy the high quality brands - they will last you forever. I recommend buying a coat that hits mid-thigh or lower, otherwise it gets drafty (unless you're skiing/skating and have snow pants on. Then I wear a hip length). Also… for the love of all things, zip up your coat! We northerners don't walk around with our coats flapping open like we're in a Hallmark movie.
    • Vests: I have a thin Columbia ?? black quilted vest that I layer underneath my jackets when I need an extra bit of warmth, especially when skiing, sledding, or skating. Something about this weight.
    • Boots: Here in NoMi we all have different types of boots for different activities.
      • For deep snow and being outside for several hours at a time, I recommend Sorel Joan of Arctic boots. I've had mine for three years. These are not great for walking long distances, though!
      • For light snow/city walking but with a good tread, I love Lotta from Stockholm's Chelsea boot. I bought these after I bought and loved my Lotta clogs, and these are fantastic - I actually use them for my evening walks on the road! (Not ideal for snow deeper than 2-3 inches)
      • For winter hiking and snowshoeing, I use my Columbia hiking boots. These are not waterproof but usually I'm above the snow or on really compacted surfaces so it doesn't make a big difference. I use these with snow spikes/YakTrax.
    • Socks: I am a die-hard Smartwool fan. I have two pairs and plan to grab more. They are in investment upfront but seriously - investing in the high quality pays off in your winter experience, and if you take care of your things they will last you longer.
    • Hats: I usually only wear a hat if it's windy or really cold (below 20 degrees). For days that aren't windy I wear my gray wide-brim hat and for hiking or cold days, this pom pom number. 
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In Our Homeschool
  • It's Week 11 of Classical Conversations, and we are studying more about Russia and Ukraine, as well as the French Revolution, solar system, and Latin conjugations. We are taking a break next week for Thanksgiving so we're extending our study across both weeks. Josh is working 9-5 with his team daily to get all the winter collection orders shipped out, so he'll do math in evenings.
  • I took the girls to a local chorale performance. It's such a fun opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy the theater! We'll be back in a month or so for the Nutcracker.
  • Thomas and Friends Storytime: Ivan loves this podcast, and I love that it's less screen time but still something he loves! (He loves the classic Thomas the Tank Engine show, but we try to limit it)
for the awakening, 

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