Every Woman a Theologian
—  The Church's Way Forward —
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Dear friend,
Last night the group of us - women of all walks, all ages and stages - gathered in my living room to study… polygamy. Yes, our bible study topic for the next few weeks is the nitty-gritty of biblical accounts: the hard, often-uncomfortable, ugly reality of relationships in the Old Testament. We chose it after concluding a series on the Holy Spirit. “I have a lot of questions about this topic,” one of the ladies said. “Me too!” Another offered. And so we decided… polygamy it is.
The picture above is the aftermath of our study: commentaries and Bible dictionaries strewn about, the whiteboard peppered with thoughts and comments and biblical references. We only scratched the surface of our questions, but we did it together. We did it in the Word. We did it with curiosity, not fear.
As we put our dishes on the counter and everyone began to leave, one of the ladies said something profound: “It's just so wonderful to be in a space where we can ask our questions and no one shoots them down.”
Discipleship - the process of becoming more like Christ, following after His teachings - is a slow process. A lifelong process. Christian books, Bible studies, conferences - these all play a part (and I offer many of them myself!). But the church's way forward is not with a bigger conference, another trade book, a new scripted study, or a bigger IG platform. These spaces serve a purpose, but they do not transform hearts on their own. To truly grow in spiritual maturity, Christians need other Christians. They need the local Church.
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Ten years ago Instagram was still new. We were posting pictures of our food with a vague caption. Not long after, we started sharing highly edited photos with long, mini-blog captions. I did this myself. I scheduled three posts a week with pre-written captions, sometimes pointing to a blog post. Then it changed again: Instagram Stories were invented, and we could share more of our lives behind the scenes. After that, Reels took over, and video became the focus of our former food-sharing app.
For Christian writers on social media, the constant changes required adaptation and flexibility. To reach people in the space, you had to adapt your methods, keep up with the algorithm, and adjust to the fast-paced changes of social media culture.
I did this for years, and still do (to a degree). But in the midst of the ever-changing landscape of online “ministry”, there is a stable, never-changing reality: people need real people. Christians need other Christians. No online ministry can ever, EVER replace the power of in-person discipleship. Comment sections can answer a question, but they cannot sit with the struggle of that question. Rarely are they a safe place to ask what you want to know. But a living room full of Jesus-loving people? This should be the safest place in the world. 
This isn't to say discipleship is easy or conflict-free. Often it's the exact opposite. But we learn in real-life discipleship how to navigate the tension of truth and grace; how to walk by the Spirit's wisdom in what to say and when. The protective, easy covering of the internet doesn't exist when you're face to face with someone. There is no way out… and that's a good thing. 
To grow as believers we must not only put ourselves in the vulnerable position of relationship with other believers (who may or may not agree with us on all secondary doctrines) but we must take seriously Jesus' final command to make disciples (Matthew 28:20). “Go into all the world” means “Go into your neighborhood” and “Go into your child's school” and “Go into your workplace” and preach the gospel…. if not with words, then with actions and invitations, (which eventually lead to words). Some will mock you. Some will discourage you. Some will leave you. Many will misunderstand you. 
Disciple anyway.
The local Church, on Sunday but beyond Sunday, is where Christians are formed into people who know the truth and live it graciously. This is the place we can wrestle out our questions. If you're like my group, you do it with chocolate cake and stacks of commentaries. God is not afraid of our questions; He invites us to bring them to the light and expose them to His truth. The less we fear the wrestling, the stronger we are in finishing the match. We don't have to have every answer right away, but we can journey together by His Word and His Spirit into the truth He offers. 
The way forward for the Church is boots-on-the-ground discipleship, and that starts with you, dear friend. You are called, equipped, and empowered by God to share His hope with those around you. You are more capable than you know… because you know Christ. 
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Stay here a little while,
before you go.
Sit with these questions around
the fire
and shake their hands.
Rather than running,
look them in the eye
and ask for an answer.
When I first faced them
I could have left the room,
and yes—I had one foot on
the threshold.
But no one kicked me out the door
for shaking hands with questions.
So I sat down and
found the Answer.

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How to Thrift Awesome Books

Instead of what I'm reading this week, here are my best tips for finding great books at thrift stores! I do not live in a highly churched area (not in the Bible Belt) but I find a whole host of awesome resources through regular thrift runs. (I also find great books and clothes in cities where people swear they have no good thrift stores… so I think it's an acquired skill!)
  • Make a list of your local thrift stores and visit them regularly. I visit each of my local thrifts about once a month. That's enough time to restock with new inventory.
  • Keep a list of books you're looking for. Older books will be easier to find than newer titles, for obvious reasons. I keep a list of kids books, theology books, and novels I am looking for in the Notes app on my phone.
  • Don't know what to look for? Use trusted lists! When I am looking for kids books, I always scan through books with a Caldecott or Newberry Medal. I also work from homeschool book lists (especially classical or Charlotte Mason), which are full of excellent literature recommendations proofed by other parents. For adult books, I look up lists of classic theology titles, commentaries, and devotionals I might want to read.
  • When scanning shelves, first figure out if they are sorted by topic. This will speed up your search. If you're looking for theology in the fiction section… good luck!
  • If you're unsure about a book, look at the author's educational background. Seminaries don't tell you everything but they will tell you a bit about their background. Also look at endorsements to learn a bit about the theological bias of the book.
  • Be open to different denominational views. In the stack above I have a Catholic commentary, a Mennonite book on the Spirit, and a Lutheran prayer book. I'll use all of them and sift through the information discerningly.
  • Always check the discard piles! Endcaps, other parts of the store… wherever people dump things they didn't want. Many times you'll find great books people left behind!
My Spring Collection Favorites

The spring launch is THURSDAY and there are so many delightful items in this collection! I cannot wait to see what you enjoy. Here are a few things I'm excited for:
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At Home with Phylicia

A few of my favorite recipes this week! Josh makes weekday dinners and I cook on weekends. I'm also loving an adrenal cocktail in the evening to help with sleep!
  • Lent Pretzels: I make these with home-ground spelt, but you can use whatever flour you like. For the dipping sauce, I mix a few tablespoons of mayo, stone-ground mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, and honey together for deliciousness.
  • HBH Orange Sesame Chicken: We make this with rice for an easy weeknight dinner!
  • My orange creamsicle “cocktail”:
    • 1 c organic orange juice
    • 1 c coconut water
    • 2 TB heavy cream, goats milk, or whole milk
    • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
    • 1 scoop collagen powder
    • 1 Tb maple syrup (Grade B if you have it)
      • Shake this up in a jar and drink OR add Olipop prebiotic Orange Soda for extra deliciousness!
      • *I tried the “sleepy girl cocktail” with tart cherry juice and magnesium for about two weeks and it didn't work for me… this is working much better! I use magnesium cream on my feet at night to supplement.
for the awakening,