The Conlectio Newsletter
— Five Ways to Make Bible Study Happen on Busy Days —
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The black cows saunter across my field of vision, slowly making their way through the snowy lane to their empty feeders - waiting for Farmer Bob to come with more silage. I can hear the feet of five children running upstairs (the girls have friends over after homeschool group) and I'm thinking about what to send in this newsletter.
I decide to keep it simple, to keep it to the kind of thing I'm living: how to make God a priority on the busy days. Because I get it - that's where I am.
There will always be those days we don't get to the Word, and there will always be people to tell you: It's okay. Give yourself grace. Some days we need that. But other days we need to be reminded that the Word of God is the word of life and we need it more than anything. Some days we need grace. And some days the grace is a kick in the pants to do the hard thing. We need the Word to live the kind of life we all want, the kind we are all striving for. The Word is the difference between striving on our own strength and relying on His, but so often we put Him off. We replace Him with anything and everything else: sleep, Netflix, social media scrolling, texting, laundry, and friends.
We will do almost anything else before we will meet Him. And then we wonder why we don't know His voice.
I understand this temptation as much as the next person. This morning, after my husband and I worked out, I had 20 minutes before we had to leave for homeschool group. I had the lunches packed and my teaching supplies by the door and somehow I found myself with a knee tapping nervously, trying to think of other “preparations” to do. My Bible sat in the basket on my coffee table, ready to be used. The reading plan was right there (I'm leading the Bible in a Year Club with the Every Woman a Theologian community plan). I even had a cute bag of highlighters and sticky notes and my journal (coming to the spring launch 2/23!).
So what was my excuse?
Truth was, I had none. I was procrastinating. I was giving into my fleshly desire to avoid the thing I needed most.
So in that moment of resistance, I chose to step INTO the discomfort instead of running from it. I chose to open the Bible on my lap and read one chapter. Take a few notes. And that turned into more. I ended in prayer and I started Monday so much happier - because the Lord knew I needed Him, and I only discovered that by showing up.
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Every day is a busy day for me as a homeschooling, working mom of three. There are countless things I need and want to do. Because it is important to me to keep my Bible research and my personal Bible time separate - to keep my intimacy with Him real and not “marketed” - I struggle as much as anyone else with putting off time with God. And I'm a Bible teacher!
I have learned over the years to circumvent my own procrastination, to recognize my patterns of laziness or avoidance and put God first, because He already IS first - and I need to act as if He really is. Here are five tips for making Bible study happen on busy days:
  1. Plan your week ahead. Every Sunday night I sit down with our Google calendar and my planner and plan the week. This is not a rigid, hour by hour plan, but a view of the upcoming commitments for the next seven days. I can see what days I have early morning meetings, what days are more full than others, and this allows me to determine when I can have a deeper study time and when I need to “give some grace”.
2. Adjust your expectations. If you expect your time in the Word to be this perfectly curated, instagram worthy “quiet time”, you'll not only miss the point of the study itself but will also refuse to show up when the circumstances aren't perfect. I have a whole episode about why this doesn't work long term.
3. Get creative with your consumption. I really encourage a few days of notetaking and reading the Bible physically a week, but this doesn't need to happen every day. If it's between not studying and listening on audio, listen on audio! Read the text while listening. Or listen to something like Streetlights Bible which is Scripture, rapped!
4. Let go of morning study. I find that morning study is best for me because the longer the day goes by, the harder it is for me to fit in the time (or the less willpower I have - this is proven!). But if you can't do morning, stop idealizing it and choose another time! There is no holiest time to study the Word and meet God to pray. Whatever time you do it, matters. So pick a time that works and show up for it!
5. Be honest with yourself about your busyness. We are all busy. But sometimes our busyness is a choice. We are not all victims of our time; we all make choices that affect the margin in our calendars. This is something I am continually growing to understand. Five years ago I said yes to countless things I didn't have to say yes to, all because I was afraid of letting people down. Then I wondered why I never had time for the Word or why it was so short and hurried and - surprise surprise! - it didn't seem to make a difference in my anxiety levels. The issue wasn't that the Bible “didn't work” or prayer “wasn't effective”. The problem was that I was living a life of people pleasing instead of God-pleasing, and I was literally putting people BEFORE God. I was willing to say yes to people before saying yes to God. And my life reflected that. I would make time for anyone except Him. So be honest with yourself: is your busyness your season, or are you living without boundaries? Are you telling people “yes” before you've even prayed or talked to your inner circle? Sometimes it's a mix of both. 
The beautiful thing is that God always offers us a hand to help us change. You can stop right here, in this email, and ask Him to lead you, to change your priorities so He is truly first. I hope you do!
The basket, bags, highlighters, bookmarks and bible studies pictured are all coming to the spring launch of Every Woman a Theologian Feb. 23rd! 
Mark your calendars because when we sell out of collection items we usually don't restock. The comfort crosses and baskets in particular are limited time only. We also have live snake plants and pots coming to the shop! 
Notetaking journal is Well Watered Women's Give Me Jesus journal.
Ask Anything Monday Questions

I am Arminian in salvation theology but I am attending a PCA church. Can I make it work?
I attended a PCA church for some of the time I lived in Virginia and absolutely loved it. You can definitely make it work if you are willing to overlook the differences in soteriology that will come through in sermons, worship, and in discussions with your friends. I would probably say you'll need to “out” yourself eventually and prepare yourself to defend your point of view, but most godly, humble Calvinistic/Reformed Christians will overlook the difference. The reason we ended up leaving that church was mostly due to differences on the issue of baptism (believer's vs infant). But if you can agree with the church structure and overall doctrine enough to participate fully, it can definitely work.
How do you keep your cast iron so nice? What oil do you use?
I love and use cast iron daily! Whatever oil I have on hand is actually what I use. Often that's olive oil, but if I cook bacon in the pan I'll be sure to rub a little of that into the pan after washing it with hot water. I'll do the same with butter. I try to cook really fatty foods the first few uses of cast iron - like browning beef or melting butter - and rubbing the rest into it. I seasoned mine in the oven a few times but honestly daily use has seasoned them best! (we haven't used any nonstick pans for almost 2 years)
Thought life after overcoming erotica. I can't unsee and unread what I've been exposed to.
As you probably know, I relate to this very much. I can easily call to mind every pornographic scene I've ever read from books dating back to my early teens (when I was exposed). This includes content in “Christian” romance novels. First, my encouragement: there will come a day, if you grow in the Spirit and in discipline, that these memories will not come to mind so easily and you will find yourself more and more free from them! Until then, there is some work to do. The Spirit is sanctifying you, but you must participate in His sanctification. And that means listening to what He wants you to remove or add to your life. 
Things I had to remove in my season of separating from my porn addiction: move theaters, streaming media, fiction books (at least without heavy screening; usually I read only classics), some social media, sexually promiscuous music (even the “harmless” stuff).

Things I added in: being outdoors, reading great literature, hobbies (like cooking, or drawing, or writing poetry), spending time with godly friends, being in the Word, listening to music that was uplifting or just instrumental.
When we remove something we must replace it with something better. This is the season of changing your tastes; you're training your mind to consume what is true, good and beautiful. And that takes time. DO NOT be discouraged, intimidated, or cowed by friends who think you're becoming a “prude”, who mock you watching old movies or reading old books or abstaining from the things they are free to do (however un-beneficial they are). Remember that you are doing what is best for YOU and the Lord's will for your life. Chances are they're just convicted by your decisions.
It took years of separation from these things for me to re-train my thoughts; I'll be honest with you. But in the meantime I cultivated a taste for better things, and when I eventually became stronger and more free I didn't really desire a lot of that stuff anymore. That may be the same for you <3 (PS there is a new podcast out called Liberator for men and women recovering from porn. It looks good!)
What I'm [Still] Reading

  • A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny: I had paused this Louise Penny novel and picked it back up on audio this week!
  • War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy: Josh got me a beautiful copy of this for our anniversary and I am loving it! Several of you recommended a podcast by Center for Lit called “How to Eat an Elephant” where the hosts discuss W&P by five-chapter chunks. It's so fun and they notice things I also noticed!
  • Becoming Free Indeed by Jinger Duggar Vuolo: I preordered this a month ago and it finally came (I am pretty sure they had to reprint because it's so popular). I am about a third of the way through and am just delighted with it. I truly believe this book will free many people from both legalism and unhealthy deconstruction. While I don't agree with John MacArthur on many things (Jinger is in his church and holds to his theology) the book itself is even-handed, kind, and well written. 
    • *I recently saw a post indicating that Jinger had “dishonored" her parents by writing this book. That couldn't be further from the truth. This book is so respectful to the Duggar family and parents while also making a clear delineation between her family and the harmful ideologies of ATI and Bill Gothard. It is not a tell-all or gossip column; it is consistent in its intent to share Jinger's personal story and help other people find freedom from legalism.
  • Kingdom Through Covenant by Peter Gentry: My friend Ryan Coatney sent me this when I asked him some questions about covenantal theology.
And still reading:
  • Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend 
  • The Care of Souls
  • Conservatism by Roger Scruton
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What I'm Loving

  • Sabbath routines: All my faves lately are routine related. Ha! I think it's because they have made SUCH a difference in my overall rest and rejuvenation. Yesterday's Sabbath routine was no different. We both served at church (Josh and I serve in children's ministry) and upon returning home, spent the day reading our favorite books and reading aloud from James Herriott while the kids played on the living room rug. I made baked beans and cornbread and in the evening the girls packed their lunches for homeschool co-op (this is a literal lifesaver - kids packing their own lunches!!) and I set everything out for Monday. I kept my phone off or away all day until evening and didn't turn on a screen until after dinner. This pattern has been something we've tweaked for the last year and it has truly been a blessing to our fam!
  • Lotta from Stockholm Chelsea Boot: I mentioned this when I bought these about five months ago, but I have to circle back around and say these are my FAVORITE winter boot for shallow snow (they are in the picture at the bottom of this email). Leave it to the Swedes to come up with the best winter wear (I always look at what they are wearing since our winters are so similar). I was torn between these and the classic Blundstone but ended up with these because I love Lotta clogs and, well, they were cheaper. I am 100% glad I went with these. These Chelsea boots have a thick sole with a LOT of grip but they are still insanely comfortable and roomy with woolen socks. I actually wear them for my winter walks with zero discomfort. I bought my normal size (10). For deep snow, I recommend the Sorel Joan of Arctic boot.
  • Blackwing Pencils: Also an anniversary present, Josh bought me a pack of Blackwing pencils from our local indie bookstore. I am not usually a pencil person… I prefer pens (Sharpie fine point to be exact) but these are the actual best. The erasers are square and so satisfying.
  • Instrumental Music: I mentioned this last week on IG I think, but we use Sonos speakers in our home and I play a lot of instrumental music in the background. Sometimes we use the speakers to play homeschool audiobooks and songs, but mostly we just play instrumental music. A few Spotify playlists/search terms I use regularly:
    • Shimmering Strings
    • Instrumental Calming Celtic
    • Morning Quiet Time
    • Acoustic Instrumental Folk
    • Calming Piano
    • Instrumental Hymns
    • Not Quite Classical
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Home & Homeschool

  • Barley Chicken Feed hack: A friend sent me a reel on Instagram about budget chicken feed and I am hankering to try it! Basically you create six trays of barley seed and water it twice a day. Then you feed the sprouted seed to your chickens to reduce feed costs! Anyone with animals knows that feed is skyrocketing with everything else, so I may try this to reduce costs in winter.
  • This week's meals: This week I am using my cookbooks (shared last week in the newsletter) to make:
    • Salmon and baby potatoes
    • Pork BBQ ribs and baked macaroni and cheese
    • Thai lettuce wraps with rice noodles
    • Poblano Quesadillas
    • Gingered Pork Chops
    • Corn Spoonbread for our small group potluck
      • Our philosophy on food is perhaps a bit old fashioned and not everyone will agree with it, but we simply expect our kids to eat what we make. If they absolutely hate a food (e.g. shrimp) they get to pick one food they don't have to eat when I make it. When I was growing up, we could change the food we didn't like on our birthday each year. Otherwise, the kids eat what we eat - though we might reduce the portion on foods that are new. We don't require finishing an entire plate if they are full, but if they come back hungry an hour later, they are provided the food they didn't finish earlier that evening. This is just what we do as a family; not inviting opinions on it :)
  • Week 16 in Classical Conversations is all about World War II, the second law of thermodynamics, the area of a rectangle and more. We did some fun art studying Monet and for science focused on center of gravity. I acquired some WWII books from the library for read alouds and we will be doing some Balkan recipes since that is where we are in geography this week.
What a waste of zeal, to spend my heart and hours after a power You did not appoint,
for a cause You did not lead!… 
may all of what I am
be spent in service
of all of who You are.




for the awakening,