Every Woman a Theologian
— The Strength Comes by Admitting Your Need—
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Dear friend,
I felt my chest tighten. Frustration building, anger rising – a burning desire to clang pots and pans as I did the after-dinner dishes. There was so much to do, so little time to do it. And time - what I need most these days - felt thin and not-enough. My children have no sense of time, particularly when the word “bed” is associated with it. I burned with indignation as – up to my elbows in a soapy baptismal – I heard the patter of feet in the upstairs hall.
Another climbing of the stairs. Another “teaching moment”. Another exercise of my waning patience. Another loss of minutes, precious minutes for manuscripts, for emails I should have sent, for dealing with devastating news – the kind that hangs in the back of your mind and doesn't leave. It's all still there, still needing an answer, but my minutes are rushing out the door as fast as my children's feet.
“I can't do this.” In a puff of suds I dropped the saucepan into the sink and yanked on my farm boots.
“Where are you going?” Josh asked, caught off guard.
“I just have to go outside.”
And I did. I ran outside in flannel pajamas and Hunter boots as far as I could walk into Farmer Bob's field. The Angus cows blinked through the fence, lowing and blending into the blackness of the northern night; it falls by 5:00 these days, darker with the gloom. For the last three years our winters have been abysmal. I grew up with layers of fluffy white snow from October to April; now it comes and goes, leaving sad brown landscapes and dreary skies.
I stood by the silage pile, arms crossed, staring at the blank, black sky. And out loud to that sky, I said the first thing that came to mind:
“If only You would let it snow.”
It wasn't really about the snow, but snow makes it better somehow. If it were white, and pure, and beautiful, maybe the brown landscape of pain wouldn't hurt so bad. Maybe what is wrong would feel a little more right?
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It was a breath of a prayer. Barely a request. And I don't check the weather, so I didn't know the forecast.
I went back inside and slowly ascended the stairs. Slowly I opened the door to my children's shared bedroom. They were not asleep but they were quiet, silenced by my previous firm appearance.
“I'm sorry I was rude to you,” I said. “It was wrong of me to be angry, even if you do need stay in bed. Will you forgive me?”
Two bounded to their feet clutching cribs and blankets, and cried in joyful unison: “We forgive you, and we won't hold it against you!” We'd taught that phrase time and again, laying down the rails of forgiveness, seemingly unheard and fruitless – but here it showed up like a crocus in May. I choked back the tears, then heard another child tiptoe lightly across the floor, wrapping little arms around my waist. “I love you,” she whispered. This is grace, I thought. 
The next day I woke up to a snowstorm. After weeks of rain and brown, a snowstorm. After all my raging – in my home, at the sky – even God saw fit to forgive me. 
“You heard me,” I whispered. My burdens were not (are not) gone; there are decisions to make, emails to write, conflicts to face. But He heard me, and He cared, as if to say: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome it all.” (John 16:16)
What ends could not be met
every need has met its end in Thee,
until, through triune outpouring 
of love so limitless
the gaps in my living
are filled up by grace.
Cover me, white as winter,
or there is no purity for me.
In the absence of my striving
fall on me
with grace like snow.
Strivings Cease, PDM
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The snow can't cover the difficulty of what Monday held. Christmas can't cure a nine-month-old pain (perhaps yours is older still). There is “no way out but through” when it comes to conflict and hard decisions. You and I must be strong.
But the strength does not come from trying harder in an imperfect human will. The strength comes by admitting weakness; by admitting need. By telling God what He already knows but wants to hear from your lips.
If only you would let it snow. 
A tiny prayer, a tiny desire, a clear answer.
 Because God is kind, the little things we see in this world are Him personally reminding us that His Presence will go with us and give us rest (Ex. 33:14). Sometimes the most beautiful expressions of His grace are found in our failures, when we repent, when we admit fault, when we acknowledge that we aren't perfect and we cannot be like God. And God, rather than driving home the point, comes down to us. We could not be like Him, so He became like us - in every way except sinfulness - to show us the way home. 
“I forgive you,” He said through the Cross. “And I won't hold it against you.” 
"I love you."
And this is grace. 
Five Faves

  • My latest thrift find: matching Hanna Anderson Christmas pajamas for me and Josh! This was quite a find and I am SO pleased. I got us each a set of organic cotton, matching pajamas for $7.50 each. Washed them right away and wore them into the cow field (LOL). The pattern is still on her site, on sale - but not for $7.50!
  • I made ginger molasses cookies from my friend Jami's cookbook and they were delicious! Chewy and easy to make (no chilling).
  • Dracula: Technically this should be in the books section but it's here because it's truly a fave. I am obsessed with this classic. Is it slightly terrifying? Yes. But now I understand how and why it shaped vampire lore for over a century. If you were a Twilight fan, you should read this original work by Bram Stoker. I was intimidated by the small print at first but I finished half of it in three days - it was that good.
  • Growth Book: I am something of a notebook connoisseur and am constantly trying out notebooks to find the perfect fit. I already have a note taking journal for Bible study, which is what the Growth Book is technically for - but I'm using it for note taking when reading books, for longform goal planning, and sermon notes.
  • This 7-day series on Advent and Loss by our Creative Director, Eric Novak: Eric helps make Every Woman a Theologian everything it is: he designs all our books and studies, casts vision for each collection launch, and singlehandedly made our beautiful website. He put together this series on navigating Advent in the throes of loss and I think it will greatly encourage you. (The emails will come from Eric, not from me.)
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Bible in a Year Club 2024
Registration Opens in ONE WEEK

Bible in a Year Club reopens for 2024 enrollments December 26th! I will be reminding about this weekly because we close enrollment January 3rd and will not open again until 2025. 
2023 was our first year offering this program. I spent 110+ hours creating content, videos, and finding extra resources for our students this time around, and hundreds of people are finishing the Bible (many for the first time!) at the end of the year! I am so excited to relaunch with a new group and add even MORE to the course.
Here is what Bible in a Year entails:
  • It is a SUBSCRIPTION based program. If you end your subscription, you lose access to the course. It is designed for the entire group to stay on pace with each other for community, hence the subscription based model (if you wish for a self paced program, Bible Recap may be better!). Cost is $15/month. 
  • BYC is focused on building the HABITS necessary to follow through on diligent Bible reading. Often the issue is not the Bible itself; it's a lack of training on habit formation, consistency, and discipline, paired with a perfectionistic mindset. The 2024 course will include more habit formation and spiritual discipline coaching since it is more of a coaching program (to stay on pace) than self paced course.
  • We use Teachable as the hub of course content. There is an app for iPhone users (not Android) and while there is a discussion option in the app, most of us use a Facebook group for discussion. The accountability and community aspect are fundamental to success!
  • Each week you receive the week's reading plan, a summary of the upcoming content, tips for studying according to your learning style, and a list of optional additional resources (videos, podcasts, sermons, articles, maps) to aid your study.
  • How much time does it take a day?
    • That's up to you and your study style. I instruct you on how to manage the reading plan in the first module, which is essential to the success of the course. Typically people read 15-30 minutes a day if they are taking notes. Others do deep study 2-3x a week and listen on audio the other days. 
    • The goal is to get the BIG picture of the Bible, not to do deep study! That's a great follow up to a one-year plan.
  • I've failed in Bible reading plans before. Can I succeed in this one?
    • That's up to you! I will give you the tools and habit formation teaching to help you, but you must take me up on them! The KEY to succeeding at this plan is stop trying to “catch up” when you miss a day and simply start where we are. Start on the day's reading and listen on audio to “catch up” later. You must let go of perfectionism to finish the Bible in a year. If you are ready to do that, this plan is for you!
  • What is required of me in the daily reading?
    • Nothing except reading the passage! You can go as deep as you want or have time for. The extra resources are there to support you if you have additional questions. The weekly PDF and video set the tone at the beginning of the week, and you can refer back to them as needed. The Facebook group supplies community and there are check ins throughout the week so you can comment when you've done the reading.
  • If I unsubscribe can I keep the reading plan?
    • No, the plan and resources are part of the program. If you unsubscribe you lose access to the plan and resources. But there are many free plans available through places like YouVersion if you wish to do one on your own!
The registration announcement will come after Christmas. We are hoping to supply an annual option and the monthly subscription option if Teachable will allow us to do so :)
What I'm Reading

Making Small Groups Work by Cloud and Townsend
A pastor friend of mine lent me this as I began plans for a new theology group, and wow! Such a wonderful resource. This would be great for any group leader to read.
Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach
I have read the original book by this author (I can't recall the name) but this one is simply lovely. Her writing is beautiful and her ideas for noticing the joy and beauty of an average day are fantastic. 
Other books I'm working on:
  • Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson
  • Parenting Toward the Kingdom
  • Wild Things by David Thomas
  • No-Fail Meetings by Michael Hyatt
  • Brain-Body Parenting by Mona Delahooke
  • Arminian Theology by Roger Olson
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At Home with Phylicia

  • We took a break from school this week, but we've been doing “Christmas school” for most of the month! Aside from our history study (Civil War) which we did our first week, we have been focusing on our Advent readings, Pilgrims' Progress, poetry memorization, Christmas carols on the piano, copywork and math. We are dropping math this week as we prepare for the holiday!
  • Though it's a bit of a whirlwind for work leading up to the holiday (and right after) we are working rest into our days with movie nights, puzzles, our Christmas read-aloud basket, and outside time.
for the awakening,