Every Woman a Theologian
—  How to Pray Continually —
Image item
Dear friend,
Many moons ago, in a prehistoric time, my mother took out a yellow stack of memory verses and taught me to say 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will in Christ Jesus.” Some things stick with you, and that verse did.
Even as a child, I wondered how Paul could advise us to “pray continually”. Pray all the time? How does one eat, breathe, or do daily tasks? Paul, I decided, had a lot of time on his hands.
When I came to the Lord as a teenager, I practiced prayer the way a zealous teenager who had a lot of time on her hands would. I made a prayer closet my family jokingly called “the shrine”: a wall of pictures, verses, prayer requests, and reminders. I smile as I remember that young girl's effort; my ardent attempt at relationship with God. It was a good beginning.
Time passed and it got harder to pray that way. I was working, traveling the country, then planning a wedding while finishing my degree. Years went by and then it was babies, a growing ministry, a farm. So many things pulling, pulling, pulling at my time. How I do pray continually now?
Image item
The pressure of my life forced me to realize that prayer is not kept to the closet. We assume this is the best, or holiest, way to do things, mostly because of Mathew 6:6: “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (NLT)
But in this verse Jesus is articulating a contrast of ideas: first, the Pharisee, loudly praying on the street corner for the attention of men. Jesus uses the word “but” as the transition to his contrast: “Instead of being like the Pharisee, who thrives on attention for his prayers, pray to your father in secret. Your reward is with Him, not popular opinion.” The focus here is not the closet; it is the reward. The Pharisee already received his reward through human attention. But the person who prays consistently and privately benefits from a richer reality.
The “closet” of this season might be your heart. That's how I take it, anyway. I can pray anywhere, anytime, anyhow, about anything. I can stop and pray out loud while driving, in the kitchen, or while cleaning toilets. I can pray as I discipline my children (this practice has greatly blessed our family). I can pray when someone is hurting (instead of “I'll be praying for you” say “Can I pray for you now?”). 
In a stunning turn of events, I've found it easier to fulfill Paul's call to pray continually in my busy, congested season than it was during the freedom of my teens and early twenties. Perhaps it's because the pressure forced me to pray in ways I hadn't considered before. God is not looking for a prayer performance; Matthew 6 proves that. He wants relationship. Prayer is not about getting things or forcing God's hand; God is not a pocket genie. But prayer changes us into people who take all of life as a personal gift from God. Prayer transforms us, opening eyes to God's answers and reminding us of His favor. Prayer awakens us to the spiritual realities in our homes, families, cities, and churches. 
No wonder God said to Israel, in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “ If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We live under a new covenant, but we have the same God, and the same principles apply. If we will only pray!
Image item
I read the words that Luther wrote:
“So much to do, I’ll spend three hours
in prayer.” I shrink and turn
to a calendar scoured for space —
I’m doing much, do I have three hours?
Should I make three hours?
Scratch it out between bacon and bedtime,
get up at four before the babies do?
I see the words that Tozer wrote:
“Any man who would truly know God
must give time to Him,” and I think:
I haven’t much time to give. These hands
are held by disciples who don’t tithe,
who walk on toddler legs. Is divided time
still time that counts?
But I know the words that Jesus said:
a welcome for the little and the lost.
This Shepherd-King who gently leads
those with young — He understands
divided time. The prayer split triple,
whispered by a stove, a sink, a blacked-out nursery, 
is liturgy too; full hands worship
as well as empty ones.
We are the daughters of Katharina
and Susanna, Perpetua and Lydia
who would not delay devotion
for some future day,
some noiseless morning,
to meet the God of unquiet
whose Temple is a kitchen floor.
This time is a seen and sacred hour
and I will not wish away their childhood
as if Christ is put off
by the bleating of His lambs.
This Seen and Sacred Hour, PDM
Five Faves

  • Ember Mug: I have mentioned this one before, but it is my MVP! Totally worth the money if you want your coffee warm without setting it on a desk warmer. 
  • Tortoiseshell Apple Watch Band: I love this band for a little upgrade to an Apple Watch. I think there may be cheaper versions on Amazon, too.
  • Wholehearted Quiet Time journal: This is what I am using for Bible in a Year Club this year. Also has a sermon notes section, prayer record, goal section and more. 
  • I snagged two awesome books at the thrift: Nave's Topical Bible and the Revell Bible Dictionary. They are older editions but a great addition to my collection!
  • I was asked for my favorite Bible commentaries. Here are a few:
    • The Study of God Bible Commentary series
    • The NIV Application Series
    • The Communicator's Commentary
    • Weirbe's Commentaries
    • The Layman's Bible Commentary Series
    • New American Commentary Series
    • New Beacon Series
Image item
Ask Anything Q/A

How do I discern whether to leave a church?
This was by far the most common question I received yesterday on Instagram's Ask Anything. It breaks my heart because it means there are some significant problems or struggles in these churches. Sometimes we need patience and grace; other times we can no longer strive in a space where leaders and/or congregants refuse to change. Here is an episode on this. 
Do you think there is a difference between punishment and consequence?
Yes. A punishment is usually direct, a consequence is allowed (some would say “natural”). But sometimes a consequence is also a punishment in cases where that is appropriate. Here is an episode on why God gives consequences to His children, but does not condemn them. 
What I'm Reading

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
UPDATE: Finished this one. OBSESSED. This will be one of my favorites for a long time. I cried at the end. Such a sweet ending. (Although I was shocked at how young everyone turned out to be when I added up the timeline!)
Gilead by Marilyn Robinson
Made it halfway through this one, which was my goal since I have a book club call about the first half on Modern Miss Mason. I am really enjoying it this go-around; the small town sweetness reminds me of where we live, and makes me reflect on the beauty of small things.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
After I read War and Peace last year, I knew I wanted to read more Tolstoy. I loved War and Peace and feel like Tolstoy's books are great for wintertime. 
Other books I'm working on:
  • Confessions by Augustine
  • Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson
  • Parenting Toward the Kingdom
  • Brain-Body Parenting by Mona Delahooke
  • Arminian Theology by Roger Olson
  • The Fun Habit by Mike Rucker
  • Morning Time: A Liturgy of Love by Cindy Rollins
Image item
At Home with Phylicia

  • Day in the Life, a sneak peek into an average day on our farm, is in my IG stories today.
  • I've gotten a lot of homeschool questions, and as much as I wish I could go back to my days as a home education advisor, I am too busy! But here are some answers to common Qs.
    • What curriculum do you use? We use Classical Conversations as our core and I heavily customize it. I supplement with library books for each subject and we use Math U See for math + All About Reading for Phonics. Both girls also do copywork. On top of this we do a daily morning time that incorporates literature, poetry, masterpieces, music, Bible and more.
    • How do you homeschool with a toddler? It's a juggle! Some days he sits with us and it is an opportunity to train him. Other days I rotate him through “stations”: watercolors, beanbags, trucks, and books. Some days I give him a video during our focused time. He joins us for morning time.
    • How do you combine classical with Charlotte Mason? These two approaches are often presented as opposites, mostly by dogmatists in either camp. I don't see the two models as contradictory. Both utilize literature as a center for education. Classical emphasizes memorization of facts which will later be connected and further on, debated. I think this is an excellent model for teaching, because terms must be learned before they can be used. We do a lot of memorizing and “exposing” at the young ages. On the CM side, I add in lots of outside time and nature study, living books, and narration (narration also fits well in the classical tradition). Things like Plutarch's Lives would also crossover between models. In short, I think the structure of classical better serves my kids than what can become a bit “loose” in the CM model, but they still benefit from many of the CM priorities. 
for the awakening,