Every Woman a Theologian
— God is Waiting to Be Seen By You —
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Dear friend,
As I was catching up on Instagram after the weekend I came upon this quote on Leah Borden's stories:
“What makes a poet a poet? The slender antenna of awareness combing the air for messages.” - Luci Shaw
I'm a little bit of a poet, and this quote resonated with me. I find it to be deeply true: every time I go outside, or stand by the stove to make soup, or fold toddler boy jeans, I try to notice. Notice the way the trees roll purple-gray on top of one another, into the hills. Notice the way the oregano pools in little pods on top of the soup; is it an oregano meeting? Notice the way Ivan's jeans are torn in little-boy places, like heels and knees and bun pockets. Notice it may be the last time I fold this pair, the ones he outgrew.
My friend Tabitha text me a few weeks ago, another quote about poetry: Every poet has a central emotion from which they write. “What do you think yours is?” She asked. I've been mulling that over ever since. Tab suggested “freedom”, and I think that's partially true. But there is something more to it than that. And I think it has to do with noticing
My philosophy of education underlies much of what and how I teach theology and how I approach life in general. This philosophy is ultimately founded in cosmology, or my theology of the universe and its purpose. I believe a personal, loving God created this universe and put us in it to experience relationship with Him. I believe this God is constantly redeeming the sins of humanity, showing Himself personally, lovingly, and specifically through creation: in the trees, snow, stars, and humans themselves, including the creative ability of humanity – art, music, dance, writing, architecture. If this is true, education is not just a pursuit of disembodied subjects but the return to subjects as a reflection of God's nature. In both the classical and Charlotte Mason models of education, students are taught to notice everything around them, asking: How does this connect to the greater themes of goodness, truth, and beauty?
Because this is how I was educated, it's a hard habit to lose. I notice everything. And I teach my kids to do the same. When I became a Christian I began to notice the ways God reveals himself in the seemingly mundane, “meaningless” tasks of daily life (my next book is all about this). In history, I saw Him raise and lower kings. In science, I saw His impeccable eye for design and function. In literature, I saw the creative ability of humans made in His image. In art, I saw the expression of His incarnation. I noticed regular life, “boring things”, but through them saw God.
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November: if you can find beauty here
you can find it anywhere.
The trees are bare: they reach many-fingered
to a bluebonnet sky. And snow comes
but never stays: settling in the cuts
the plow made…
A kind of healing in the running scars.
What grew there once is stacked in rows,
chopped up in piles so we last the winter.
Not lost or gone; transformed
from beauty to substance
in its own way, beautiful too.
The cold echoes in my ears,
the layered hills from brown to purple turn
in the leaving light, but I -
I walk to another gleam: warm and yellow,
a candle in a window, the lamp by the stove,
the dark and cold a backdrop to home.
You can find it anywhere, the beauty here:
settling in the cuts your life made.
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I argue that we are all poets, in our way. All of us can and should have a slender awareness combing the air for messages. Not random, impersonal “signs” from a disengaged universe, but the truly magnificent presence of a loving God.
I see Him everywhere. I experience Him everywhere. But I also look for Him everywhere. And when your eyes are open to seeing, you rarely stay blind to His goodness. 
I believe beauty can be found in November. I look for it on Monday afternoons and I always find it: in the snow coated evergreen branches, in the steam curling from my coffee cup, in the smile of a rumpled six-year-old, in Rembrandt's strokes of a storm-tossed ship. In it all, God whispers: Here I am, loving you. 
God speaks personally. He speaks through His word, His people, through nature, through dreams, through all common-grace goodness. In suffering, the presence of Jesus Christ was my comfort. When it felt like my prayers for healing weren't answered, I knew there was a good reason why – because I could see God's goodness in every small thing around me. This is no credit to my personal ability, but it is a credit to how I was taught to live: with eyes open to notice God. It's a gift I won't keep to myself because it will change how you live. Not just change your life; change how you live it. Live with eyes open to Christ, and you'll find Him. He is waiting to be seen. 
Five [Christmas] Faves

  • I shared this last week: Pip and J Papery's Jesse Tree advent ornaments are my favorite holiday tradition. It's simple, easy to use, and beautiful. You can even hang them on your Christmas tree instead of hanging them on a separate Jesse tree.
  • Christmas Book Basket: Between our own Christmas book collection and the library, I collected 25 Christmas books for our “book a day” tradition. The kids get to take one out to read aloud. Here is a great list of Christmas books.
  • Operation Christmas Child: this is over now, but we find that doing a shoebox with the girls has been a great practice in thinking about others during the Christmas season! My aunt used to be an area director for OCC so I grew up familiar with their work and am grateful we can still contribute.
  • We are reading aloud St Nicholas: the Believer as our Christmas season chapter book. Learning the true story of Christmas and St. Nicholas can give kids a deeper appreciation for and connection to this sweet church holiday!
  • Christmas movie list: have some friends you want to have over for hot chocolate? Do a weekly movie night! I love to work down movie lists. I now prefer Great American Family movies over Hallmark, except for my classic The Christmas Card. Our other faves:
    • It's a Wonderful Life
    • White Christmas
    • Vintage: Rudolph & Frosty
    • Elf
    • Polar Express
    • Santa Claus 1
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Ask Anything Q/A

Question: How do you celebrate Advent? What do you do when you light the candles?
This question came from someone who wasn't sure how to move forward with celebrating the Sundays of Advent and the routine of lighting a candle each Sunday until Christmas Eve/Day. I have readings and a guide to celebrating Advent in this book (also available as ebook). We like to light the candle on Sunday lunch and do the reading from Seasonal Celebrations. We keep it very simple on Sundays, doing most of our Christmas discipleship during the week. (see At Home section)
What I'm Reading

The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart
After finishing Modern Miss Mason, I picked this one back up. I never finished, partially because it was SO good I had too much to process! I am back at it again.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
I completed Emma and moved on to this one! Same era, but different author. It's cute and humorous.
The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury
This is one of my dad's books, borrowed on a whim. It's the story of Chief Red Cloud and the war between the Sioux tribe and U.S. government. Sometimes I follow my “gut” for what historical books catch my interest, and this was one of them.
At Home with Phylicia

Our homeschool co-op ends on Dec. 4, so after we finish out week 12 of our studies, the rest of our month will be dedicated to an Advent/Christmas study! Also: I totally missed sharing my Thanksgiving resources last week! Here is the guide I used, from Etsy. Here are a few of our Advent traditions and what we're using:
  • My Advent guide this year is by The Peaceful Press. I am so excited!
  • We always attend The Nutcracker as hosted by a local arts center, and if Josh and I can squeeze it in, we will go to Handel's Messiah as well .
  • I love to bake, and this recipe for Orange Cranberry Bread looks amazing. 
  • For Thanksgiving I made a pilgrim flannel graph with Adeline. I found a nativity version (there is Nutcracker too!) on the same site. It's a bit labor intensive to cut everything out, but so fun when it is done!
  • For a guide to how we do Christmas without celebrating Santa, check out this free guide.