The Conlectio Newsletter
— Your Normal is God's Holy —
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In a tender place the dawn glows blue
dousing snow in cobalt swaths
until wings beat sun above the woods
and all that lived in dark is lost.
The music of this breaking morning
is scraping stools and stumbling feet;
the croak, reluctant coffee pot
the sizzle, iron over heat.
We make the day while sun is shining
our work below, it journeys lonely
observing on its steady path
what we call normal – God calls holy.
Normal, PDM.
There's a Catholic shrine not far from here. Though I'm not Catholic, I go there a few times a year to pray and read the Word. I walk down the paved path, venture through the woods and, as the leaves part, look up at a 50 foot tall crucifix. The iron Jesus hangs in perfect silence, the stations of the Cross circling to His right, rows of benches scattering out before Him like rays of sun.
And every time, I think: This is what holy feels like. 
As I sit in the perfect quiet, Bible open on my lap, I sense the sacred.
But moments like that don't make up the majority of my life. Most of my life is spent filling breakfast bowls, folding laundry, dry-shampooing my greasy hair, writing emails, forgetting deadlines, driving to meetings, and writing words. Especially in choosing to live where I do - removed from the hub of a city, traveling less and less for ministry - there is not a lot of glamour here. I am the one scrubbing chicken poop off the eggs we collected. I'm changing diapers. I'm vacuuming crumbs out of the sofa. No matter what Instagram makes it look like, I live a normal life.
But the wild adventure of this walk with God is that normal is His holy. It is IN these normal places and spaces that God does His deepest work. Our mountaintops with God (as I wrote about last week) cast vision and give us foresight, but in between those mountains are the little steps that make such a vision real. Normal is where holy people are born. Normal days, normal marriages, normal jobs. The people who live for high points will never have the strength to sustain them because they don't do the faithful work in between.
 I believe, to the marrow of my bones, that these normal days are sacred. What doesn't feel like Eucharist does not diminish the presence of God, who is always at work to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Phil. 2:13). This means that every act of every day can be done in view of His goodness (to His glory). 
As I sit in the perfect cacophony of little kids, Bible open on my lap, I sense the sacred.
This is where sanctification - the molding of my heart to His - happens best. 
(More on the process of sanctification in my new book, Every Woman a Theologian)
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Ask Anything Monday Questions

Are there any spots left for your writing retreat to Italy?
Yes! We have 3 spots left. This retreat is for writers and creators who want to work on a project in the beauty of Italy and connect with other Christian creators. The retreat is in April and is all inclusive except for flights. Duende Retreats is handling all logistical questions and details! 
Advice for getting a college and career group started?
Josh and I were in college ministry for 3.5 years and loved working with college and career students! This question came from someone who it sounds like is leading a group of peers (as opposed to us old married people leading). Either way, we found the best success in simply going through books of the Bible chapter by chapter and discussing. This way we got in the Word and prayer while also addressing all the big topics the Bible speaks to. We did Revelation, Colossians, the gospels and more. A few more tips are in this post.
How to teach the Holy Spirit's help to kids who aren't technically saved?
The Holy Spirit indwells us upon our salvation, but He also speaks, calls, and convicts prior to that too (otherwise we would never come to Christ at all!). Our conscience is a reflection of this. We all have a conscience; God's Spirit, His common grace to tell us what is right and wrong. We can sear that conscience by habitual sin (1 Tim. 4). This means our kids, even while unsaved, CAN learn to identify and obey the Spirit's voice. This is a skill they would need whether they choose Christ or not. If they choose Christ, it's a foundation for a healthy pneumatology (theology of the Spirit) and if they don't, they will still remember what they were taught later on. I have shared extensively about this in the Obedience highlight on Instagram and in Raising Tiny Disciples (ebook is $5 only through tonight). 
When teaching this to our kids, we say: “When you are tempted, God always offers a way out (1 Cor. 10:13). If you pause, you will probably hear a still, small voice telling you the right way. That is the voice of the Holy Spirit telling you the best choice, for you and for others. If you need help in that moment, come to us and we will pray with you.  Ask God to help you count to ten, breathe in and out, and calm yourself. Then, choose the thing that honors God and others." 
When kids feel like they CAN'T do this, it's a great opportunity to talk about the gospel! “If you feel like this is too hard, that's because you aren't meant to do it alone. The Spirit will dwell with and help you when you choose to let Jesus be king of your life. Until that choice is made, being ”good" will always feel hard. That is why we need Jesus!" Erasing the hard from choosing right also erases the gospel. It was my own inability to do “right” that brought me to Christ at 15. 
Is there hope for a Baptist/Catholic in a romantic sense to be together?
Because Catholics believe, doctrinally, that the only true Church is the Catholic one, it is highly unlikely a relationship like this could work if you remain Baptist. They will expect you to convert to Catholicism. While I definitely believe there are Christian Catholics, there are enough significant theological “jumps” within Catholicism to make this a relationship I would discourage if I were talking to a young woman in my life. I am currently studying Catholic theology using Scott Hahn's book Signs of Life and it has only confirmed this. I know the dating world is hard, friend, but you definitely want to be completely unified (as far as possible) on what church you'll be in and how you would raise future children. Don't make that road harder than it has to be! 
(And if it helps, I let go of a lovely Catholic young man in my single days and it was very hard. But it led to me meeting Josh, and I have never been more grateful to be yoked to someone who truly shares my theological values. It has proven essential to our finances, parenting, and current ministry.)
Why did you choose not to raise support? 
I assume this question is asking why I did not begin Every Woman a Theologian as a nonprofit and choose to fundraise support. This was one of the things I definitely did NOT want to do when beginning our ministry/business. I wanted it to be self sustaining. My primary reason for this is: there are thousands of organizations that really need your generous donations to survive and I don't want to take away from those. Secondly, I would rather you receive a good or service (book, mug, shirt, class, course, etc) for your hard-earned dollars, to have something in hand that you can use. Some of what we sell, like books, is obviously spiritual content, which always feels a little muddy from a ministry perspective. But we would either be supporting the ministry and team by asking for money or supporting the ministry and team by letting you choose what you want to buy with your money. We do our best to constantly evaluate the cost of our items, how we can make them affordable as possible (especially for small ministries and small rural churches).
 And for those who can't afford them, we have a scholarship fund that renews each month (money we have set aside to provide resources to individuals, but especially for ministries/disciple makers) who can't afford them. 
Email if this is you.
How do you balance homeschool and outdoor/enriching activities?
I homeschool daily from about 10-12 PM. Part of that time is spent outside, if we can, and if it doesn't work in the morning we go out around 4 PM. Some mornings I will break things up by going to the library to do schoolwork there, moving some of our tasks to evening and doing a “field trip”, etc. The girls can do all their work in about 2 hours, and some of that can be listened to on audio in the car. 
What I'm [Still] Reading

  • Christianity and Liberalism by Machen: Excited to start this classic from the early 20th century.
  • John Wesley's Sermons: This anthology was a Thriftbooks find.
  • Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a classic for homeschoolers and I am enjoying it!
  • The Read Aloud Revival by Sarah Mackenzie: Really enjoying this one! She is one of my favorite authors and I love encouragement to keep read alouds a priority in the home!
And still reading:
  • Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend 
  • The Care of Souls
  • In His Steps
What I'm Loving

  • Update on our “margin” schedule. We are on week three of our new home schedule (if you missed it, we assigned themes to each evening of the week). The last two weeks have been so refreshing. We know what we plan to do each night even if it's just being home, playing a game, or singing together with the piano. We have one night assigned for hosting, one night for small group, and every other week Josh goes out for a game with friends:
    • Monday: “free” night; Josh may play a game virtually and I may go out with friends or read
    • Tuesday: small group
    • Wednesday: hobby night; paint, music, read, draw
    • Thursday: game night, either with friends or with kids
    • Friday: hosting night
    • Saturday: family movie night/TV show catch up night
    • Sunday: planning night
    • I use Saturday mornings or Friday afternoons to catch up with friends/meet for discipleship. This allows me to homeschool four mornings a week and get most of my work done the afternoons M-TH. Josh and I also have morning meetings (6-7 AM) 3x a week.
  • Phone-free time: Another thing we're working on is phone-free time. This is time during the day when our phones are completely off and away. Week one I had 20.5 hours of phone-free time during my waking hours; week two I had 17. My goal is 90 hours phone free (not counting sleeping) this month. (And since I work from my phone, this requires some intention)
    • Another part of this that I'm trying out: using a real camera instead of my phone. It's an extra step, but it creates the separation I needed. I want my kids to remember me without a phone in my hand. All the pictures in this email were taken with the Canon I bought from a friend.
  • Vic the Vac: For Christmas Josh got me a Yeeti vacuum. I have never been on the Robovac train; I don't mind vacuuming each day (I do a zone of the house each weekday). But once Josh set it up… my life is changed! It is so nice to have it remove a task from my list.
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Home Sweet Home

  • What I made: This week I cooked 5-6 recipes from Jami's cookbook, including homemade tortillas with home-ground spelt. They were messy and time consuming but REALLY good, especially the second day. We used them for deli meat roll ups and beef tacos. I also made:
    • Bean and chicken chili
    • Gnocchi chicken soup (Half Baked Harvest cookbook)
    • Pizza pockets (using the sandwich bread recipe from Jami's book)
    • Granola bars
  • Spring garden planning: This is my favorite time of winter! I start sketching out where I want to put everything in the ground and raised beds. We will finally put up a fence this year and I hope, due to my lack of travel, to get everything started WELL when we can plant mid-late May. I love The Family Garden Plan to help with this.
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In Our Homeschool

  • CC Week 14: We are studying WWI this week and states of matter, so I grabbed a whole bunch of picture books around this theme:
    • What is a Solid? (I also got the Liquid and Gas versions of this)
      • this connects nicely with our study of steam engines last week when we looked at the Industrial Revolution. We will continue talking about this and connecting it back to the beloved Thomas the Tank Engine
    • Art Fraud Detective
    • Christmas in the Trenches
    • Finding Winnie (an old favorite!)
    • Rags: Hero Dog of WWI
    • DK Find Out WWI
    • War Horse (we also got the DVD for when we finish it)
  • For Geography we are studying Baltic Europe. This mostly involves map/globe work and I'm now integrating recipes from that area of the world.
  • A homeschool basic is – follow your kids' interests! Addie loves space and stars, so we took her telescope out for a test and are praying for another clear night (we haven't had more than two sunny days in a month). 
Everything I have was first in
a treasury inaccessible to me.
Unlocked by grace,
bestowed by kindness,
given with mercy
to be re-gifted again and again



for the awakening,