Every Woman a Theologian
— The Lord is With You, Mighty Warrior —
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Dear friend,
I started a new habit (ish). Or… I am attempting to start a new habit. I'm doing my bible study and prayer time… outside. Yes, it's barely April and yes, that means it's still snowing here and yes, that means I'm bundled up like the abominable snowman sitting on our porch, but it also means… yes, I get to watch the sun rise. And yes, I wake up to the day without a phone in my face.
For the last week I've made an effort to sit outside for a few minutes, bible and notebook in hand, to do the day's reading. We are in Judges right now and recently read the story of Gideon. I know this story well, particularly the part about the fleece, but this time I focused on the beginning of his story:
"The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Let's pause here. Gideon is living in a time of oppression. He's heard the story of God's deliverance but hasn't seen it with his own eyes. When the Angel of the Lord (which many scholars believe is an Old Testament appearing of Christ, or Christophany) greets him, Gideon responds with doubt. His response sounds a lot like many of ours: “If God is with me, why are these things happening? If God is with me, why hasn't deliverance arrived? If God is with me, why is there suffering?”
Gideon knew the story of deliverance but seemed unaware of two things: 1) the cycle of sin that caused the oppression he was currently experiencing and 2) the goodness of God. In that moment, he was aware only of what he could see, and what he could see didn't look good.
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The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord does not defend Himself. Instead, He states that Gideon already has a strength he is not accessing and issues a command… a command to execute the very deliverance Gideon desires! Gideon is unsurprisingly shocked by this delegation and is quick to remind God how unqualified He is.
The Lord answered, “But I will be with you." (Judges 6:11-16)

Before He called Gideon to a mighty work, God called Gideon a mighty warrior. He spoke the identity before He spoke the task. And God is always this way: salvation is a change of identity before it is a change of action. Christ transforms us, and out of this new birth comes new behavior. Our works show that our faith is true; we bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciples (John 15:8). The Spirit bears the fruit of God's holiness in our lives as we rely on His leading. But the fruit cannot grow without attachment to the vine. The task, mission, work or ministry cannot be completed unless we first embrace our identity as saints.
That is what we are: we are saints. Holy ones. Consecrated to God, newly born into a righteous identity. And righteous people don't make a habit of sin! This truth is what freed me from a former erotica addiction/habit (reading “spicy” romance novels, aka porn). For many years I simply accepted that I was a sinner, and sinners sin. But one day, reading the gospel of John, it dawned on me: My identity is not “sinner”. My identity is saint. This is how Paul, Peter, and James greet the church in all their letters. This is what I am ABLE to be because of Christ, so why am I identifying by my former life? 
When I accepted what Christ bought me - a new life - for real, I began to overcome my sinful addiction. I had momentum because those temptations were not part of me. I was not a “porn addict”, I was, and am, a daughter of the Living God. As such, it made no sense for me to participate in works of darkness. When I did fail, I could repent and be forgiven (1 John 1:9), get up, and live into the identity Christ bought me.
Freedom upon freedom. Strength upon strength. What God said to Gideon is, in a sense, what He said to me through His Word: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” I wasn't a mighty warrior - yet. But I would be. And so will you.
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The key to living as a “mighty warrior”, overcoming sin and growing in maturity, is not to obsess over your warrior identity or to focus more on yourself. The key is in the final interaction between the Lord and Gideon, that line where Gideon lists all his qualifications (or lack thereof). My CSB version phrases God's response beautifully. After Gideon says why God shouldn't choose him, the Lord simply says: “But I will be with you.”
Yes, but. 
Yes, you are the weakest and the smallest. But I will be with you.
And that makes all the difference.
God spoke the identity before He spoke the mission. In salvation, He won the identity, offers the identity, and invites you to embrace the identity - and without the identity, you can't complete the mission. Only when you see yourself the way God does, the way Christ made you to be as a new creation – only when you stop viewing your identity as “anxious”, “angry”, “addicted”, and instead view yourself as “saint”, will you begin to experience the overcoming life Jesus offers.
Sometimes you're healed right away. Many times, you'll choose holiness and trust every day. But you won't choose it from striving or shame or worry or fear. You'll choose it because it's who you already are. 
If it feels like the deliverance is far off, maybe God has invited you to be part of it but you haven't accepted your identity in Him… so you can't complete the work. The gospel is meant to be fully believed, not just mentally, but fully - your whole self in allegiance to Christ. Holding back hurts you. If you've truly given it all to Him, give it all to Him. Accept the identity He offers. 
Yes, it's the scandal of grace – and on the other side is real deliverance.

My Five Faves

  • KYYA toasted marshmallow coffee syrup: I have started making my favorite lattes at home with my Nespresso. Although its not quite the same as an espresso machine, it's good enough - and I love this syrup!
  • My new discernment series at bible study: I lead a local bible study for women on Monday nights and we are starting a new discernment series! I structure these studies as verse by verse, topical (we look at a topic from Scripture and discuss) and right now we are learning how to discern false teaching. 
  • I grabbed my easter dress from Marshalls - a floral, wrap dress with flutter sleeves… so comfy for Easter dinner! Here's something similar on Amazon.
  • Raising Boys to Men by Durenda Wilson: One of my mama mentors recommended this book to me and said it is excellent, so it's on my list!
  • Leah Boden's Charlotte Mason community: If you're a CM homeschooler you'll love Leah's community and book club, and it's only $8 a month!
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New on Verity Podcast

In case you missed it, we wrapped up the early church series and are moving into a new series: Beginner Believers! This new series will talk through the questions YOU had as a young believer to help you navigate those tough questions and gain solid footing theologically.
  • What is the gospel? // This term can feel so vague, and the ideas behind it even more confusing. People say “gospel” but what do they mean?? This episode gets into what the gospel is and how it transforms us. 
  • How do I know I am saved? // One of the questions MANY Christians ask, this is my favorite topic to discuss - because assurance of salvation is available for everyone. You do not have to live in constant doubt, and God does not desire this for you! He offers so much more. 
  • How do I understand the Bible? // A quick overview of how to read and understand the Bible when you are just starting out! 
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At Home with Phylicia

We are in week 22 of 24 in our homeschool co-op - which means we end the semester April 15th! After we finish out the season, we will continue full school until June 1, then do lighter school through the summer. (We do a neo-classical program, Classical Conversations, with a heavy Charlotte Mason influence). Here is a little of what we will do the rest of the year:
  • Cursive and handwriting: We used Roller Coaster Writer as an intro to cursive and have moved on to thrifted cursive practice book for Adeline. Eva is continuing to practice printing.
  • Geography: We memorize this over the year but I have not done a lot of the hands-on work, so we will review this and do the map work over the final six weeks.
  • Math: Adeline finished one of her math programs and is starting another (Math U See Gamma). She will do this through the summer and start her new program at the beginning of her 4th grade year if she has met 3rd grade stats. Eva is starting Addie's old program.
  • Reading: The girls practice reading daily with Bob Books (Eva) and chapter books for Adeline, and I do phonics lessons 2-3x a week.
  • Spelling: We have not focused intensely on this because phonics lays the groundwork for good spelling, so this will also integrate into the 6 week period before summer.
  • History: Our school year is history heavy and they excel at it, so we will review this periodically with picture books and etc.
  • Literature: We are wrapping up our annual read alouds - Pilgrim's Progress, Little House, fairy tales, Greek Myths, Shakespeare - so we will choose some new ones for summer.
for the awakening,