Every Woman a Theologian
— What if the Slow Life is the “Real Life”? —
Image item
Dear friend,
We were camping this week (it was lovely) and I started reading a book called Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants. Since I wrapped up reading War and Peace and finished the upcoming Leviticus bible study my reading opportunity has greatly expanded, and the first place I like to start is in books about “slow spirituality”.
I usually read 5-6 books at once, so I'm also reading a Jewish book about words (Chofetz Chaim), a parenting book (Grace Based Parenting), and some church history material, but my favorite so far has been Monk Habits. This quote may be why:
“Is the monastic balanced life, which puts possessions and relationships and life of the soul in proper perspective, less real than our consumptive preoccupation with gadgets, television, celebrities, war, and spirit-numbing work? Who has distorted reality: the monk or the materialist?"
I'm certainly not saying I agree wholesale with monasticism; nor that I'm retreating from the world of soccer and social media to live only with my garden and my goats (saying that makes it sound like I'm halfway to a convent already!). I read books like these because they keep my heart and mind rooted in a reality too-quickly forgotten: the slow life IS real life
I hear college students go away to camp for a week and come back saying it was “time” to “re-enter real life”. But what Monk Habits points out is that the experience at camp, the community, the communal singing, the spiritual intimacy with God, the nights around a fire - that's real life too. And it doesn't have to be segregated to camp life alone. 
Image item
In January of this year Josh and I implemented a new family schedule. We called it our “margin schedule” and we created themed days of the week, setting aside certain nights for social events, certain nights for media consumption and most nights for time with family. It looked like this:
  • Sunday: church, no media, weekly planning meeting
  • Monday: free night (take turns going out with a friend, read, play at home)
  • Tuesday: small group night
  • Wednesday: hobby night (music, drawing, reading)
  • Thursday: game + pizza night
  • Friday: hosting night
  • Saturday: family movie night
During a very stressful 2022 (and honestly, 2021) we had fallen into the habit of defaulting to media consumption, whether on phones or via streaming platforms. Every night was TV night. Josh and I were exhausted and making ourselves more exhausted with our bad habits. So we deleted all our streaming platforms except Right Now Media (through our church) and Discovery+ (cooking/home shows and documentaries). Then we changed our family culture by changing our family schedule. 
As home educators, we obviously have a lot of control over the kids' school schedule and sports, but most families have more control than they think. It's a conscious choice to submit to the rat-race and “keep up” with everyone around us or to consciously opt out and choose a slower life - a life where we are fully attentive to the goodness before us. Josh and I wanted to be fully awake, fully present, and we didn't want to be owned by commitments that stole evenings, weekends, and especially Sundays. So we just… said no. And said yes to slow. 
Image item
This choice came with sacrifices, the first being my speaking schedule. For the last seven years (and before Adeline was born) I have traveled in the spring and fall, sometimes as many as 6 weekends each season. Last year I was gone a total of 30 days (which means Josh was single parenting a month out of the year). This year is much less, but next year will be zero. Yes! For the first time since we have been married AND dating, in 2024 neither Josh nor I will travel for work at all. This commitment means saying no to some organizations that I love and would be honored to join. It means saying no to wonderful churches and camps and gatherings of teenagers who I'd love to meet in person. But to say “yes” to the life we need right now, we had to say “no” to something good.
There are other things we've said “no” to and things we're evaluating; sometimes we say “yes” to something now but in another season, it's not a good choice. And everyone has a different experience of what is stressful and what is not; what accomplishes the vision for family/home/community and what gets in the way of it. Josh and I still have to work (I have to write this newsletter each week, for example!), homeschool our kids, change diapers, feed farm animals, scrub floors, fold clothes and vacuum cars. The ordinary stuff still exists. But that's the whole THING: the ordinary stuff is the good stuff. It's the holy stuff. It's the place we are truly formed… slowly. 
The question Monk Habits made me ask is: Have I given into a subtle, subversive materialism in how I view my home, time and family?  Have I made time in my calendar for what truly, truly matters: my kids, being outside, being with friends, loving my church, reaching my city?
Our margin schedule may seem extreme (as might us lighting candles for week-day dinners, reading aloud a hundred books a year, limiting our kids game time and media and singing together as a family) but it is a perfect example of “discipline leads to freedom”. Each successive month has shown us the freedom of saying “no”. It's a freedom because we also get to say “yes”:
  • YES to date nights with my best women friends
  • YES to fireworks and hamburgers with seventeen kids running barefoot and free
  • YES to finishing books, not TV shows
  • YES to learning a new skill, or improving an old one
  • YES to watching my littles fly around the yard on a tiny four wheeler
  • YES to celebrating the success of my friend's downtown business
  • YES to walking through the farm market and knowing the librarian's name
  • YES to being consistent at church on Sundays so relationships can grow deep
  • YES to early morning coffee dates that never stay “surface”
We said no. And now we get to say yes. And I think you will, too. 
New This Week
  • Cheaper shipping: We have changed to a flat rate shipping format! This means that any orders over a pound will cost $10 to ship while orders under a pound will cost $7.50 to ship. But orders with only literature products in them (i.e. books, posters, coloring books, and stickers) will only cost $5 to ship!
  • Price Drop: Knowing and Believing God's Love has dropped to just $15 for an amazing study on 1-3 John. We've also dropped the price on How the Bible Came to Be to $15—it's an amazing book on the historical accuracy and formation of the Bible, and a must-read for any Christian.
  • Printable Reflection Cards: A lot of you were asking for the popular New Testament reflection cards in a printable version—now they are available for just $8!
  • Gift Cards: They're finally here! Just digital for the time being, but you can email your friend a gift card of any amount! Grab them here. We'll be adding more designs for different occasions as well!
  • Early bird Tickets for Verity are almost sold out: Insider tip—If you are coming, this is the cheapest price you'll pay before prices go up very soon. Make sure to grab your tickets today before they're sold out!
Ask Anything Q/A

How is your social media break going? What have you learned so far?
I have been taking a month off Instagram every summer for three years - maybe four? Every time I “learn” the same thing… social media is destructive. I know that sounds severe especially since so much of Every Woman a Theologian is built on it and right now, requires it. But it's the truth! Social media destroys attention, contentment, relationship, and joy. And I am never more joyful than when I am off of it. I am still trying to figure out how to sustainably teach and lead online without being bound to it… constantly having to change and improve boundaries to make it possible. I never regret being away from it, even though I LOVE interacting with my followers! They are the best people. I am always looking for other ways to have that interaction that doesn't include social media (one reason I love Verity Conference so much!!!)
Best books of the Bible to study when recovering from legalism?
Since legalism twists the character of God, I think books that consistently speak to His character are the best start! Legalism also focuses on behavior rather than intimacy with God, so books that speak to relationship are good too. I would recommend Psalms, 1 John, and the Gospel of John. 
Image item
My Five Faves

  • I am finished with War and Peace!!! I think this deserves a post of its own - after six months (almost exactly!) I finished the nearly 1400 pages of Tolstoy's whopping tome. I am indebted to my followers who recommended the “How to Eat an Elephant” podcast because it has been my companion this half a year! I can honestly say I loved this book. While parts were hard to get through (Tolstoy's philosophizing about history) the overall story was a timely reminder that the goodness of life in 1812 and now isn't really that different: it's being outside, or around a dinner table, with the ones you love and who love you. It's walking through suffering with your eyes on the purpose and the heart of God. In a way, I felt more connected to the people who have come before us by reading War and Peace. If you can commit to it, I really recommend giving it a try.
  • Canada Geese Quilt: We finished this read-aloud in the car on the drive home from our annual family camping trip. It's a quick read - only six chapters. The girls loved it and so did I! It's a beautiful story of birth and death and how we can hold grief and joy at the same time.
  • Aldi has a deal on flamingo floaties - $5 each! I bought a flamingo and ice cream cone float for our beach wagon. (P.S. Aldi and meal planning in the Whisk app is how we keep our grocery budget low!)
  • Joggo App: I'm using this app to restart my running routine after 4 years off (I broke my leg four years ago and have a plate in my knee, which has kept me from running all these years). So far I really like how it customizes the plan to you and your current level.
  • The Book Nook in Cadillac, MI: Our family camping trip is at a different Michigan state park each year and this time we were at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac. We made a few jaunts into town (so cute!) including to the Book Nook used bookstore. I didn't have enough time to peruse the stacks, but I did come away with some great selections! (Below; the Jack Rogers and dresses I got at a different thrift store, 50% off)
Image item
At Home with Phylicia

A little glimpse of what's bringing us joy at home: routines, homeschool, kitchen and home life.
  • Nature Display: I reorganized our school area (aka dining room) to highlight the kids' nature finds. Now the bones, sticks, rocks and feathers have their own spot and don't end up under beds for four months.
  • Adeline has almost finished her 2nd grade book list: She has three more books to read and between the list and Alphaphonics (for review) we have seen SO much progress in her reading. 
    • *Someone asked me how I felt about Memoria Press reading vs. Classical Conversations - CC doesn't provide a phonics curriculum, I use All About Reading. But I can say that MP's program definitely left major gaps in Addie's reading in kindergarten. I would have done AAR from the beginning if I had it over. Eva started with AAR and is ahead for her age. 
  • Looking to make this Dutch Baby for breakfast one morning this week! Recipe
  • Our current farm projects at Willows Bend are putting in a clothesline and landscaping our front garden beds, plus leveling and laying down landscape fabric for the future pea-stone placement in our garden areas. 
for the awakening,