The Conlectio Newsletter
The Functional Atheism of Millennial Christians
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If I say I love Him, a love both with and for,
there will be daily evidence of change -
a transformation
within and without.
This “long obedience”
is not for the faint
but for the victor.
Fortunate for us
the victory is already won.
Sanctification, 2021: PDM.
I got up at 6:30 for some quiet alone time. I was sitting on the sofa in the dark of winter morning when - no later than 6:53 AM - I heard the scuffles and shouts of a sibling fight. 
6:53 AM.
And I felt the rage welling, boiling just beneath the surface. I slammed shut the devotional I was reading and dropped my prayer journal to the floor, storming upstairs to find out what was going on. All I wanted was to start the day well for once this year, I seethed. Just once.
That was just the beginning. For the next five hours nothing went “right”. I loaded a few dishes, read a book aloud, tossed in some laundry - the simple things. But the bigger things that desperately needed to be done were drowned in exhausting, minute-by-minute discipleship. This is where most books and blog posts and Facebook shareable graphics will tell me: “Those things won't matter because the more important thing is yOuR ChilDrEn'S HeArTs!" But I don't think I'm alone when I say: some things DO have to get done for the good of the home, family, and to pay for the food on the table. (Including things like this newsletter!)
In that moment discipleship felt pointless. No one was listening. If one child wasn't upset, another was. As soon as I dealt with one heart I was met by another. My willpower was quickly depleting and I was begging God for the very self-control I was teaching to my kids.
In that moment, Jesus' “yoke” - His teaching - didn't feel easy. It felt crushingly hard. How can I teach them honor, respect, and self control when I feel like I'm about to lose it myself?
For the last year I've been paying attention to the parenting narratives being taught to my generation. I've noticed a lot of Christian women utilizing secular parenting resources, which I found a bit odd (parenting is discipleship; it follows that your primary source for parenting guidance, as a Christian, should be fellow Christians). But I withheld judgment to explore the resources for myself. What I found alarmed me. Many Christian parents are utilizing secular tips and tricks and even scripts for parenting their kids - scripts that at times include unbiblical theology/ideology, but in most cases, simply cut God out of the parenting process completely.
In other words: many millennial Christian parents are raising kids in functional atheism.
Functional atheism is a term used to describe a worldview that is Christian, or deist, but spends so little time talking about faith or living it out that the “believer” is atheist in action. It's as if God doesn't exist, because he plays no significant role in daily life, conversation, management of emotions, and more.
Christian kids deserve better. They deserve the whole truth, and not just the whole truth spoken - the whole truth lived.
Let's go back to that heavy yoke. On the days when the call to self control and respect and honor feels heavy, I have to stop and ask: Why? Why do I feel like Jesus' teaching, the fruit of the Spirit, are too much for me to bear? And the answer comes to me in flashing lights: Because no one can bear the fruit of the Spirit except the Spirit.
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That's right. When I'm trying to rely on my own inherent “goodness” (my willpower, my technique) I am as effective as I am well-slept, well-fed, energized, and fully caffeinated. When these natural resources run out, I am left with nothing except the 
supernatural. And that's exactly what I needed in the first place. 
When I am about to lose it? That is when He wins. "His grace is sufficient for me... for His power is made perfect in weakness." (1 Cor. 12) When I cast myself on His strength in front of my kids, they learn how powerful God really is, how real His presence, and how true His care. When I have to live by faith? Then I can teach faith to my tiny disciples. 
Here me when I say: all creation speaks God's glory and even secular sources can help us. God designed our bodies to need food, and margin, and rest; He designed us to operate with wisdom. But all these things are meant to be taken through lens of God Himself - not separate from Him. Christians have access to the greatest power this world has ever known. That power, God says, is specifically designed to make up for our weakest moments. 
When the yoke feels heavy, it's not the yoke that's weighing on me. It's my own striving. My reliance on myself. My human tendency to run to scripts and people and the quick, implement-able advice instead of showing my kids in real time how to run to the arms of God. It's me, being a functional atheist. But I could be a model of dependency. There's a whole lot of talk among millennial parents about “modeling”: be a role model of fitness. Be a role model of perfect gentleness. Be a role model of impeccable self mastery.
And that's the fatal flaw of the secular system. It's all based on works. It's all based on a self control without the Spirit who gives self control. It's all based on… you. You with no God, or no God who is worth His mettle. 
But our God IS worth His mettle. We have an advantage, but He's an advantage many believers never even take advantage of.  In those moments of anger or overwhelm or overstimulation I can actively cast myself on the strength of God and invite His power to equip me. And my kids can watch me do it because it's not based on me. It never was. 
So yes, let's be role models. But let's be role models who model supernatural strength when the natural runs out. Let's be role models who pray aloud for the things they need. Let's be role models who are seen poring over Scripture just as much as they are seen working out. Let's be role models who show our kids the power of a life fueled by the Spirit of God. Let us be so, so careful of the voices we consume and the worldviews we swallow - remembering that wisdom always starts with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10). Fear of the Lord is a deep awe and reverence for Him, an assurance of His affection. That kind of deep assurance and awe only comes when your primary source of identity comes from Him. And that only happens over time spent in His presence.
Take the time, friends. Take off the heavy yoke and take His easy one. The secular way is failing you - reducing you to willpower, anxiety, and crippling fear that you're ruining your kids. His way is the way of life abundant, joy, and peace. Which sounds better to you?

Before I left social media for the month I promised I would answer three Monday questions each week in this newsletter. Here are this week's!
  • Which journal do you like more, Give Me Jesus Journal or Wholehearted Quiet Time? I promote both these journals because I think they serve different people. The QT journal is great for someone who wants a one stop shop. It has a calendar, prayer record, sermon notes area and bible study notes area. It's very thick and would last a long time. The GMJ is better if you tend to take more notes - it has more notetaking space than the QT. It has room for prayer but not a place to record lists (ValMariePaper can be used for that!).
  • Recently found out I am pregnant! Maternity/books/newborn must haves? After three babies I have narrowed my list down a whole lot! I can honestly tell you - you need a lot less clothes than you think for the baby. I got smart with Ivan and he has two bins for newborn to 3T! This blog post from my postpartum with Ivan has some of my other postpartum faves. For pregnancy: I loved PinkBlush for maternity dresses and 10/10 recommend a maternity “Spanx” shorts set for under them. 
    • I would also recommend listening to my pregnancy and birth episode of the podcast for a theology of birth that is hopeful, not depressing!
    • This breastfeeding episode - on the theology of breastfeeding and how to find freedom from moralizing of this issue - would also be a good listen.
    • Holy Labor is my favorite Christian book on birth and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is my favorite secular one.
    • I also recommend my prayer guide for pregnancy, birth and postpartum - I wrote this after my pregnancy with Adeline and it has since been updated! Includes affirmations for birth and my complete list of verses I prayed over my own births and pregnancies.
Thank you for reading the Conlectio! As always, I love reading your thoughts and replies. My team responds for me, but I do read what you share!

What I'm Reading 
  • Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a classic for homeschoolers and I am enjoying it!
  • Abortion and the Early Church by Gorman: Loving this and would highly recommend to all Christians in today's age.
  • Pastors and Their Critics by Beeke: Have not started this yet but looking forward to what this book says about criticism in ministry and how to navigate it healthily.
  • The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp: This is my Advent devotional this year. 
And still reading:
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend 
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • The Care of Souls
  • On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther
thank you for reviewing Verity Podcast!
What I'm Loving
  • Your Podcast Reviews: Thank you SO much for the sweet reviews you've given Verity Podcast! Just a few recent reviews are above (pictured). You make this work so worth it! A new season starts in January exploring how our theology directly impacts culture - stay tuned in iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcast player!
  • Handel's Messiah: Though sickness in the house ruined our plan to go as a date - Josh stayed home with the kids - I got to go to Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra's performance of Messiah and it was as beautiful as I remember it.
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  • John Wesley's Sermons: I ordered a collection of Wesley's sermons and am loving these especially since they were preowned and I get to read the previous author's notes in the margins. One reason I love used books!
  • Show Her Off at-home dance program: You know this is good because I listed it two weeks in a row! But after a few more lessons, I have to share it. Josh and I have taken a lot of dance lessons over the years but it's never enough time to really get in a groove. And we don't have a lot of places to actually GO dancing up here, so we don't get practice. This program seriously gets you dancing quickly with simple, clear instructions. I grabbed this program on sale with some serious doubts (we've done in person lessons before) and honestly, it's so fun. Definitely worth the money!
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On the Farm
  • The entertainment center turned bookshelves: Josh and I have been working on this for three months and are ALMOST done (a little sanding and some touch ups!). We are so pleased with how this turned out! Josh bought the center off FB Marketplace for $250 and we paid about $80 in paint and primer. It took a coat of primer and two of white paint, plus some expense for the storage baskets (HomeGoods). This replaced the low wall that ran along the stairs to our basement. I'm in love!
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In Our Homeschool
  • Christmas Pageant: all three kids were in our church Christmas play this year and Addie had her first speaking part - just one line, but it's a big step for her and we are so proud of her bravery! As you can see, Ivan played a sheep. He took his role very seriously ;)
for the awakening, 

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