The Conlectio Newsletter
— Misunderstood? God is Still With You —
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When you become a bridge
the hardest part is
the misunderstanding,
because bridges are
always connected to
the Other Side.
You’ll be walked on
and have to bear the weight;
passed over
just to watch them go.
Some will use your structure
to scream
at the side they used to be.
You’ll even hear them
whisper beneath you,
though they think you don’t have ears.
Some days you’ll want to quit.
You’ll long to stop
holding the tension,
holding onto that troublesome side.
Except both sides have their troubles,
and your job
is to stand in the gap.
So you do.
You grip the one
and grasp the other
so a willing few can pass between
and meet in the middle
of understanding
while you remain

Interdenominational, PDM.
This morning I was reading in Genesis 31. Jacob is about to leave his father in law, Laban, and  is discussing the move with his wives (Laban's daughters Leah and Rachel). In the course of the conversation Jacob says, “Laban's countenance has changed toward me… but even so, God has been with me.”
That verse stuck with me.
Jacob could tell Laban was angry with him, or jealous, or envious, or whatever unstable emotion Laban was currently embracing (he had many and had changed Jacob's wages ten times). But in the midst of Laban's behavior toward Jacob, Jacob recognized one stable thing: God has been with me. 
When you grow up exposed to people who use their emotions to destroy, divide, and wound others, you become accustomed to managing what other people feel. Stay quiet. Don't make a fuss. Be alert. Here's what you can say, and what you can't say, and here's when to leave. If you've experienced this you know exactly what I'm talking about, and even if you haven't experienced it, you may still struggle with the desire to manage people's feelings. It's just a human thing to do.
Jacob may have attempted this with Laban; the text doesn't say. But at some point he got fed up with it and decided: This ends here. I'm following the voice of God now; He has always been with me. I kind of love that Laban's countenance had turned AWAY from Jacob while God's was turned TOWARD Him. Sometimes it takes the rejection of people, the disappointment of trying to please them, to drive us to the heart of God.
But in choosing to obey God's voice and release people (and their opinions) to the Lord, we will be misunderstood. And that, to me, is the hardest part. 
You feel distant. You're not showing up. You aren't prioritizing the right things.
 The only way to endure such accusations is to know that we know that we know the voice of God. If He has called us out of the land of Laban, no one can alter that command. Let the chips fall where they may and let the opinions land how they do; God's voice is God's voice and we only have one Master.
I wish I had this internalized. I wish it was easier than typing the words on this page. It's not easy, and I haven't learned it, but I can tell you that I AM learning how to let the voice of God be my primary authority - above every other voice. But let me be clear that this is NOT a condescending thumbing-of-the-nose at every person who speaks into my life (or yours). Christ makes teachable people. He makes people willing to be taught and ready to learn.
But there is a difference between being taught by the godly and being guilted by the blind.
You will be misunderstood when you listen to God's voice and follow Him bravely into holiness. You'll leave behind the people who want to excuse their lack of faith, lack of conviction, lack of love. Their countenance might change toward you and when that happens, you must remember what Jacob did: God has been with you.
And He still is.
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Ask Anything Monday Questions

Help! I'm late to the party. Is the Italy writing retreat still open?
We have a few spots left due to a cancellation but they fill up quickly, so let us know if you're interested!  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. It is all inclusive except for flights. Right now, I won't be hosting another writing retreat in 2022 and won't be traveling outside of Michigan after this retreat, so I'm excited to hang with you!
Boundaries for managing personal social media scrolling?
Since much of my work happens online/on social media - marketing, advertising new products, answering questions, etc. I have to be very careful with this. I am not against scrolling; I actually enjoy it and enjoy keeping up with good content and my friends who are writers online. However, I've also seen how social media is a major distraction and time waster, how it increases anxiety and reduces my ability to discern what I am personally called to say. Here is what I do:
  • Use the “mute” button liberally. If I don't feel comfortable unfollowing someone, I will mute them. This isn't personal. It's just a way for me to better respect them and the relationship, especially if they are posting things that raise my hackles.
  • Delete apps daily. I delete Facebook and Instagram off my phone every day. I re-download them when I need or want to use them. It's nice to have them off the phone.
  • Answer comments/DMs on my laptop. I have a business account and I don't personally handle DMs (usually) but when I do, I do it from my laptop. Something about this feels way safer and less apt to lead to a scroll. It's also more emotionally sustainable for me.
  • Three strike rule: I give each follower of mine 3 strikes. If they comment rude, unnecessarily divisive, or condescending material, they get three chances to shape up. If they don't, they get blocked. That's not really about scrolling, but it's helped me online.
  • Follow things/people that upbuild and inspire me, but use them as a launching pad to real life. Which is better - watching my favorite violinist, or learning to play the violin? Watching my favorite artist paint, or learning how to do watercolors in real time? The people I follow inspire me, but I want to do something with that inspiration. Our margin schedule (that I've mentioned the last few weeks) has really helped with that. Monday and Wednesday nights are dedicated to our hobbies and activities and I make time for them now that we have a dedicated night.
How to define sin?
This is the definition from the Theology Scripts for Kids in the back of Raising Tiny Disciples.
"To sin means to miss the mark. Have you ever tried to throw a basketball into a hoop? Did you miss? Let’s pretend the hoop is God’s loving, holy law. When we sin, we miss the hoop! Missing the hoop means missing out on God’s goodness and blessing. He wants you to choose holiness—listening to His voice when He tells you to honor Him and honor others. 
We walk away from sin NOT because we’re afraid of getting in trouble, but because we know God loves us and wants to bless us with peace, joy, and a relationship with Him."
What I'm [Still] Reading

  • A Charlotte Mason Education: Though I do a classical/CM combo method, I enjoy getting ideas from the CM world!
  • Good Poems by Garrison Keillor: I love reading poetry on winter nights and this collection is fantastic.
  • Fellowship of the Ring: After finishing The Hobbit again, I debated starting LOTR because it's a time investment AND a re-read for me. But I was in a LOTR mood. IYKYK
  • John Wesley's Sermons: This anthology was a Thriftbooks find.
  • Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a classic for learning how to find good books for your kids. I disagree with her on a few things but overall love the content (it's an oldie but goodie).
And still reading:
  • Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend 
  • The Care of Souls
  • Conservatism by Roger Scruton
What I'm Loving

  • Winter evenings: I've said this before, but I love winter. There are a variety of reasons but the chief is that I can rest at home, get outside in the cold, ski, skate, and sled, among other wintery things. I made a goal of learning to love winter a few years back and it's stuck (I don't want to waste 6 months of my year!). That said, winter evenings are especially my favorite because we keep them pretty slow: reading aloud, playing music, running the diffuser with lovely scents, lighting a fire, lighting candles at dinner. This all sounds super idyllic but if you look at each of these things they take very little time or money. It's a conscious choice to keep the TV off, say no to extra commitments, and enjoy the evenings. For this year, we're not packing the kids into classes and lessons and responsibilities to preserve this peace.
  • Duolingo French: I am on unit four of French basics and I've learned a lot! Addie and I do it together and can hold a decent beginning conversation. *I screen the stories before reading them with Adeline as a lot of these incorporate LGBTQ relationships. 
  • Evening walks: Either before or after dinner I'll go for a short walk outside on the road. It's the perfect thing to end the day.
  • Bodyweight workouts: Josh and I are on level two of a bodyweight workout we are doing together. While I don't love bodyweight, it's been a great way to get consistent in working out before starting something more demanding. I do Pilates on off days.
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Home Sweet Home

  • Sunday Date: After church this week we took the kids to go sledding, then we all went to the movie theater to watch Puss in Boots. It's not my favorite animated movie ever, but it was cute! (John Mulaney voiced the villain, which was kind of hilarious)
  • Beef Season: This is the time of year we get our beef from Farmer Bob, our neighbor. We split the cow with my parents and sometimes another family, and the beef lasts us until the next year. It's pretty neat living right next to your meat all year, watching the farmer grow the hay and corn, store it up, and feed them all fall and winter long. The girls have learned a lot about where their food comes from! (In the past, Josh has even helped process the cow and I've processed the organs with him.)
  • What's Cooking: This week I am making a lot of soups for lunch, usually with homemade spelt bread. I'm making some weeknight salmon from the Magnolia cookbook and I"ll use the leftovers for the Salad Nicoise from the same cookbook! I basically use three cookbooks: the two Magnolia ones and one by Half Baked Harvest.
    • Spinach Tortellini Soup (dinner and leftovers for lunch)
    • Salmon and Baby Potatoes (dinner)
    • Salad Nicoise (lunch)
    • Spelt Pizza Pockets (lunches)
    • Shrimp and Grits (dinner)
    • Polenta Eggs and Spinach (for lunch, using leftover grits)
    • Table Skillet Porridge (from Magnolia, for breakfasts)
  • 1000 Hours Outside: We have about 10 hours of dedicated outside time this month, which doesn't sound like much, but we didn't have snow until a few days ago! Twenty degrees with no snow is hard for littles to enjoy. We mainly did hikes and walks. Now that they can play in something, we'll log some more outside time. (My goal is only 20 minutes a day, so we still got outside most days, and we make it up being outside 5 hours a day or more in summer!)
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In Our Homeschool

  • CC Week 15: Today we learned about the countries of the Levant, a little about the metric system, and more on WWI. I am learning with the kids this week since I don't actually know a whole lot about WWI! Here are a few of the books we have for this week:
    • Where Poppies Grow
    • Winnie by Sally Walker
    • Shooting at the Stars by John Hendrix
    • DK World War I
    • We are watching War Horse this week since we didn't get to it last week.
  • For our art this week we imitated Degas by tracing with pencil, then using pastels on muslin. This was a super fun activity I may duplicate at home! 
  • We plan to try some Turkish recipes this week as we study that area of the world.
  • For memory work review (Latin, science, history, geography, math), I had my students earn a wooden block for each question answered correctly. Whoever had the tallest tower at the end of review time “won”. 
  • We are almost done with Little House in the Big Woods. I read aloud ⅔ of it, then grabbed the audiobook on Libby so the girls could listen when I needed to work. Other read alouds we're still working on:
    • Thomas the Tank Engine Complete Collection
    • Turn Homeward, Hannalee
    • The Name of the Wind (This is Josh's current novel but when he's with the kids, he often reads it aloud to them, editing anything not age appropriate)
    • Beatrix Potter Complete Collection
  • When I finish these, we will move on to Norse Mythology and James Herriott next!
Awkward it is
to stagger uphill
under a magnifying glass… To the left and to the right,
a yoke that tilts heavy.
How slow am I
to keep in mind
it was never mine to bear.




for the awakening,