Collective, week 2

Another beautiful week of educating my children in a purposed place of nourishment, focused on the paideia of the Lord. While the weeks and days pass with plenty of hiccups and speed bumps, those are not the things which take paramount place in retrospect. Looking back, what comes to mind are the moments of pursuing joy, story, music, fellowship, and wisdom. What a grace this is!

I give a lot of credit for that (especially beyond the practice of grace, repentance, and forgiveness regularly) to our routine of Collective. If you haven’t read anything about what a lot of homeschooling moms call “Morning Time,” please allow me to highly recommend my friend & mentor Cindy Rollins’ newest book, A Liturgy of Love. This very sweetly, beautifully, winsomely describes and defines what my family pursues in our Collective hour both on our own at home most days but also now every Wednesday at our co op, Paideia Studies.

I would love to share with you what we have been enjoying in these settings. It is so hard to succinctly share it in just a simple blog post. There is no way to flesh it out and give it dimension, complete with scent and sound… but this is at least a tiny glimpse.

Paideia Studies Collective, Week Two:

Devotion: Questing for Truth—discussing the council of Nicaea, the Nicene Creed, and the theme of needing to divide words and the Word with valor & verity.

Verse: Psalm 86:8-10, 15 “There is none like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Yours. All the nations You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name. For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God… But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Catechism: New City Q1-2
Q. What is our only hope in life and death?
A. That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
Q: What is God?
A: God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in His power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through Him and by His will.

Creed: Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from Heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin, Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered and was buried;
and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
and ascended into Heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the living and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified;
who spoke by the Prophets.
And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church;
we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and we look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Hymn: St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Psalm: 117 (canon by Dr. Erb) and 3 (to the tune of Amazing Grace)


In Praise of Dancing by St. Augustine

I praise the dance, for it frees people
from the heaviness of matter
and binds the isolated to community.
I praise the dance, which demands everything:
health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.
Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people,
who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling.
Dancing demands a whole person, one who is
firmly anchored in the center of his life, who is
not obsessed by lust for people and things
and the demon of isolation in his own ego.
Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates
with the balance of all his powers.
I praise the dance.
O man, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven
will not know what to do with you.

from Altus Prosator by St. Columba

Mighty powers of our great God
make the earth’s globe suspended stand,
its circle poised in the abyss
by God’s support beneath, and by
the Almighty One’s strong right hand.

Loop: Composer: Gregorian chant, Guido of Arezzo

Art: The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, 1434

Home Collective, Week Two:
(in addition to what we bring home from co op)

Psalm (today was 49)
Proverb (today was 2)
John (today was 20)

(G) King Alfred’s War Song
(A) Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
(E) The Wild Rose by Wendell Berry
(S) The Kite by Harry Behn

To the Word sea shanty (BibleReadingChallenge)
Psalm 69 (SacredPsalmody)
Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder (HappyHymnody)

Church History:
Radiant by Richard Hannula
Peril and Peace by Mindy and Brandon Withrow

Medieval History:
Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer
The Mystery of History II
A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer

Read Aloud:
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Gray

Quid est veritas?

Quid est veritas? (What is truth?) This is what Pilate said in John 18:38, as a sort of jest to Jesus after Jesus says that He is witness to the truth. Shortly before that, in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, in John 17:17, He prays to the Father for His disciples, “sanctify them in Your truth. Your Word is truth.” You can honestly spend hours poring over verses that talk about truth in Scripture. Verity. Steering away from falsehood and purging out heresy has always been a core tenet of Christian study.

Psalm 25:5
“Lead me in our truth and teach me,
for You are the God of my salvation;
for You I wait all the day long.”

One of the things we want to encourage here at co op is the pursuit of truth (along with goodness and beauty). To find truth, we need to divide words, and especially the Word of God, with valor and verity. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”

One of the ways that a group of people tend to practice unity throughout Christendom, and continuing now in our time, is the corporate confession of a Creed. Last week I mentioned that the word creed comes from the Latin word credo, which means “I believe.” In a church, denomination, school, or co op, confessing a creed together formally helps us unite on truth. It was Saint Augustine who said, “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity” — and a formal creed can be a way of isolating what the essentials actually are.

2 Timothy 2:15
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

In 325Af, a council was held in Nicaea to address heresies from Arius, who failed to affirm the full deity of the Son of God. Arius taught that the Son is a created being, is not eternal, is a lesser god, and does not share the Father’s essence or nature. Back in the early 2nd century, Tertullian had provided the Church with the formula that God is one substance consisting in three persons, but he had not given the world a complete understanding of the Trinity. Perhaps this is because it is a mystery! The concept of the Trinity continues to puzzle even the greatest theologians and faithful Christians. Bruce Shelley says in Church History in Plain Language, “the great merit of the creeds is that they left the mystery intact.”

But the fuss that was made over Arius’s ideas caused great strife and division, even riots. The center of all this was Alexandria, Egypt, where Arius was a pastor. The Roman Emperor at the time was Constantine, and he couldn’t escape the threat of what was going on in the Church because it was overflowing into other areas of life and politics as well. So Constantine called an empirewide council at the city of Nicaea, in Asia Minor, saying that “division in the church was worse than war, because it involved eternal souls.” More than 300 bishops attended, debated, and eventually denounced and condemned Arius’s view. But they realized that wasn’t enough: they needed to compose a creed to have a unified statement of belief on essentials. All but two bishops signed the finished statement of faith. Those two were exiled, along with Arius.

It is a blessing and encouragement that the Nicene Creed, which expands on what was formulated in the Apostles’ Creed in the early 2nd century, is still affirmed today in churches around the world. When questing for truth in theology, Scripture is obviously always the ultimate and complete authority. But things like catechisms and creeds are additional helps in boiling things down to essentials and definitions.

As we go about our pursuit of knowledge and wisdom here at co op, it is our hope to not only seek truth and speak truth, but to do all of this in an atmosphere of unity in essentials, liberty or diversity in non-essentials, and charity in all things. May we ever sharpen one another in godliness and good fruit, spurring one another on toward love and good works, deepening in our discernment of Truth.

1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.

Family Business

Proverbs 16:3
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

One year ago today, Olive Tree Bible Software officially became our family business. On a day when people around our country are reminded of a travesty and horror that fell upon our nation twenty years ago, I want to take a moment to ponder the goodness of God in His continued faithfulness to His people and to honor the husband God gave me.

Steven has labored for Olive Tree since early 2009, originally working in the basement of the company’s founder. It was a small business, but growing. There was obvious blessing from the Lord in paving the way for technology to be used in encouraging His people to study His Word, and my husband was eager to participate in the development. Using his background in both biblical studies and computer technology, he spent the next few years cultivating skills and passion for the particular niche of Bible study technology on smartphones and other personal tech devices.

While Steven moved up from position to position, gaining leadership skills and dabbling in just about every aspect of the company during his first five years at Olive Tree, he eventually took the position of running the company, even when it was owned by HarperCollins Christian Publishing. I don’t remember the first time my husband ever mentioned to me that it would be really neat to own Olive Tree himself, but it seemed like more of a pipe dream for a long time. Not that working for a huge corporation doesn’t have some blessings and benefits, but we really missed the small, local, family run business culture that the company had had the first few years. Steven never seriously thought about leaving the company to start something different, but there was a definite longing for business ownership and small business culture—to be free from red tape and city bureaucracy, to be able to focus on the particular vision for Olive Tree rather than be pulled in multiple directions under the larger umbrella of a big publishing house with agendas outside of our own company’s vision.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands… so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

It was early in 2019 when the conversation changed, and the discussion of owning Olive Tree ourselves became serious. No longer a simple pipe dream, but a strategic plan. While I am not at liberty to share all the ins, outs, ups, and downs of the process, it was quite the journey. Involving our parents from the beginning, and our children once the sale closed, it became a generational endeavor. Closing dates got pushed back more times than I can remember, particularly because trying to get all the legalities lined up with all the proper boxes checked at the right times felt like shuffling a deck of cards in a tornado. It was a real test of faith and fortitude. One of the trickiest parts was that this enormous project on our part literally had to be kept secret, under wraps. Only our parents knew. Employees, friends, prayer partners, our siblings, our children… keeping this huge thing quiet was a real challenge. Not because we can’t keep a secret. But because we legitimately know the value of shared burdens and partnered prayer. Our children got the short end of the stick, but thankfully the Lord is incredibly gracious to us, and they are fully engaged and supportive. It was hard for them when there was stress or tension in the house, meetings and appointments we couldn’t explain, etc. Now we have sons excited to intern for the company and continue the vision themselves, longing to wear the mantle of the family business when they are grown.

But it wasn’t until a year after we thought the sale might close that it actually finally did. Thanks to the crazy kafuffle of a virus that shut down our entire economy, things like small business loans were frozen and business trips to sign papers were no longer allowed. The funniest things put speedbumps in the way, and we could do nothing beyond simply holding out our hands to give all the details to the Lord, trusting His timing would be perfect, even when our deadlines and timelines were continually bumped and erased and bulldozed.

One year ago, my husband stayed particularly late at the office because it was finally happening. All kinds of details with technology and finance and passwords and passcodes had to be switched at the end of business day on September 11, 2020. And on Saturday, September 12th, we were suddenly (at the end of a long, drawn out, unpredictable process) the owners of a small family business intent on sharing the Word of God with others.

So now my husband works from home, has about twenty employees, and deeply loves the work he pursues. He loves technology. He loves Scripture. He loves providing for his family. He loves the intimate, somewhat crazy culture of the folks who work for him. And I am delighted to support and assist him in what small ways I am able. There are sacrifices and hopes, difficulties and rewards. It is good work, a good heritage, and we praise the Lord for putting work into our hands that we can share with every neighbor for the furtherance of His Gospel.

Colossians 3:23-24
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

I am proud of my husby. And I am grateful to our Lord.

Paideia Studies, Firsts

First year, first day, first class. We started it all off by gathering as families in a sanctuary. There’s nothing more symbolically appropriate than embarking on a new journey by first marking that first step with worship. The Doxology came first, a benediction for students & teachers came at the close, and some contemplation of good, true, beautiful things came in the middle.

As a type of convocation speech, this is what I shared for the families as a morning devotion on our inaugural co op day:

The first thing to orient our minds today is just a brief meditation or defense of Classical, Christian, catechistic education. And this is because that is what we are meeting at Paideia Studies to pursue.

In brief, Classical refers to the old paths of scholars who have gone before us—as opposed to the newer socialist method of education that has been promoted by government education over the last hundred and fifty years. Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” One of the main pillars of Classical education is its aim to equip the students to learn for themselves. So our aim here at co op is not to give you all the answers, or to teach you things to regurgitate onto tests. We aim to give you a love of learning and an atmosphere in which to have socratic, godly dialogue. By the end of even just this one school year, we long for you to have increased in knowledge, but also in understanding and wisdom. This education is not about mere information, but about the Christian life and the lordship of Christ over all things. Psalm 103:19 says “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules over all.”

The term of Christian flows naturally from that, doesn’t it? And even our youngest students can probably tell us what it means. What does it mean to be a Christian? To belong to Christ, to bear His name, to believe in Jesus. So the education we pursue here together is a Christian education in that we acknowledge that everything about us belongs to Christ and ought to carry His banner. Romans 8 tells us that “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit… You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you… if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness… All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God… The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs.” Hopefully, you will find that everything we study here together will be approached and discussed in light of the Gospel, the Creator, and the Font of wisdom which is God. Again: we long for you to increase in knowledge, but also in understanding and wisdom. Why? Because this education is not about mere information, but about the Christian life and the lordship of Christ over all things because the Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules over all.

The third term I would like to present to you is catechistic. Is anybody familiar with the word catechism? What does a catechism do? What is a catechism for? A catechism teaches by two means: question/answer and repetition. It is for the embracing of truth, the memorization of truth, and the embodiment of truth. But then the question arises: if we learn by repetition of questions and answers, is that overemphasizing mere parroted knowledge? I will answer that by reading you what Moses was commanded to tell the people of God. Deuteronomy 6:5-9, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” A few chapters later, Deuteronomy 11 lists off that same catechistic pattern. So that sounds pretty repetitive! There are certain things that God deeply wants etched permanently on the hearts of His children. And we desire to pursue this in imitation of God our Father.

Our ultimate prayer as Christian families gathering to pursue education together ought to echo the prayer of Christ in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

And ultimately the way we will seek to cultivate this in ourselves, our families, and our co op goes back to Proverbs 1. “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”


Lord God, your Spirit of wisdom fills the earth and teaches us your ways.

Look upon these students. Let them enjoy their learning and take delight in new discoveries. Help them to persevere in their studies and give them the desire to learn all things well.

Look upon these teachers. Let them strive to share their knowledge with gentle patience and endeavor always to bring the truth to eager minds.

Grant that students and teachers alike may follow Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, for ever and ever. Amen.

Consider the Lilies

Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

My children and I enjoyed a quick jaunt into a store this week to purchase a few last-minute things as we prepare to embark on a new school year with a new co op and new friends. Gluesticks, construction paper, and some pants-without-holes. Who knew that little boys needed new pants once they’ve been handed down three or four times? 😉 This gave me a neat opportunity to chat with the kids again about why we dress the way we do.

Does it matter how we dress our bodies? Yes and no. I love how people use 1 Samuel 16:7 in conversations about clothing… when it’s not actually talking about clothing, but physical features.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”

This verse is often taken out of context, but reading it in its actual context clarifies that it’s not about what we put on or don’t put on. It is talking about not judging a person for their physicality. The Lord knew that David was young, small, ruddy, handsome, and had notably beautiful eyes (1 Samuel 16:12). This was not going to be the stature of someone the people expected to be anointed to take the place of Saul.

So is it true that the Lord looks on the heart? Absolutely! Praise the Lord, and amen! He cares not about our size or our beauty or our raiment.

But if that verse isn’t really talking clothing, then is there someplace else in Scripture that DOES? Interestingly, clothing is actually mentioned a lot throughout the Bible! In fact, from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, we see clothing playing a prominent role. Genesis basically jumps right into it by starting off with complete nakedness, God names it very good in its context of perfect creation yet untainted by sin, and then we quickly find leaves and animal skins being repurposed into coverings for humans after the fall. Historically, right back into biblical record, clothing told you something about the person it clothed: their status, their occupation, their gender. Even the color of their clothing may have an indication: just look at references to white and purple in the Bible.

Different clothing communicated different things: royal robes, sackcloth, leather belts, clothing of a prostitute. What they wore communicated something. And that fact has not changed with the passage of time. What WE wear also communicates something. Ought we to be anxious about that? Absolutely not. Jesus exhorts us NOT to be anxious about what we will ear or wear, because when we walk in faith and pursue wisdom, the Lord provides.

Luke 12:22-32
“And He said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

There ARE, however, a few basic standards which we can see woven throughout Scripture, and which ought to continue to be guiding us in clothing choices with wisdom. Dressing according to your gender (Deuteronomy 22:5), recognizing clothing as a basic need (1 Timothy 6:8), pursuit of modesty (1 Timothy 2:9-10), not judging/condemning based on attire (James 2:1-9) are some basic underpinnings that we can infer from Scripture without legalism but with freedom.

I confess that I do not ask myself these questions upon waking before I pull on my clothes each day, but I do think they are worthy of consideration more than just occasionally:

What am I trying to say or accomplish by how I dress and what I wear? Does my clothing illustrate my surrender to the Lord? Does my clothing represent my belief that Christ is Lord of all? Does my clothing enable me to profess honor and reverence to God and humility toward man? Am I practicing modesty and discretion? Do I dress with dignity and strength? Do my clothing choices agree with what God declares about my gender? Is my heart content and cultivating godliness? Are my clothing choices consistent with the transformed thinking that ought to accompany my transformed soul?

Another thing, which is perhaps less easy to cite by chapter & verse, is how clothing throughout Scripture helps us see the occupation of the person. And this is a practice which has continued through the centuries, even today. In a hospital, you can tell who are the medical workers and who are the patients or visitors. It is easy to discern the difference between military personnel and civilians. In historical practice, it has been easy to tell who the pastor/priest/leaders are in a church because of their particular raiment.

Peter Leithart says, “clothing is a sign of a position in the world, a position in society.” He argues that even in our casual, glib era of modernity we do still believe in uniforms. “If someone knocks on your door claiming to be a cop, we expect them to be wearing a police uniform. If a judge shows up in jeans and flipflops and begins to preside, we think somebody else has taken over.” I agree with his logic about the appropriate nature of uniforms for certain offices. You would not work in the garden wearing formal garments, you would not wear a swimsuit to a wedding, you would not wear pajamas to a job interview. Different clothing ought to be designated to different offices. Different vocations require different uniforms.

What about the office of education, then? What about the vocation of a student? How ought my kids to dress to reflect their status as students, as children, as Christians? What clothing choices might best reflect our conviction to bring them up in the paideia of the Lord?

There is an essay by Douglas Wilson (listen to him read it aloud to you here, or snippets can be found here) about school clothes which I find very winsome and provocative in the best of ways. I commend it to you, not only for these following quotes:

“Of course, we should dress for comfort, but the biblical view is that we should also dress of the comfort of others. Today our natural tendency is to dress to suit ourselves. In another era, students would dress to make themselves presentable. Now students want to dress to make themselves at ease. The former generations thought of others; we now insist on putting ourselves first.”

“The Christian approach is incarnational and insists on discipling the whole person. Everything is to be brought into submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, and every thought is to be made captive, every collar obedient, and every pair of slacks honoring to Him (2 Cor. 10:4-5).”

“The triad we want to urge in classical Christian education is truth, goodness, and beauty. When it comes to aesthetic issues, the Christian world is horribly compromised. One of the tasks of the Christian school is to help bring us out of this aesthetic relativism by teaching students to love that which is lovely – in music, in painting, in poetry, in drama, and in dress. Whatever is lovely, Paul says, think on this.”

“Left to themselves, the students will establish their own informal dress code. This is another inescapable concept: It is not whether there will be cultural enforcement of dress standards, but which standards will be applied and by whom.”

“Young people today are desperately trying to vandalize the image of God that they carry about, despite themselves, in their bodies.”

“The wearing of clothing that does not fit, does not flatter, and does not proclaim the lordship of Christ is commonplace, and unbelievers will frankly acknowledge that this is the statement they are trying to make through their appearance. They are trying to proclaim the autonomy of self, and while they are at it, they are declaring how miserable such autonomous selves are.”

“Imitators of the world’s culture from within the church know everything about the world’s culture – except what it means.”

“This desire to fit in or to be thought cool is not a new phenomenon. The Bible calls it worldliness (1 John 2:12-17). All this is bad enough as a phenomenon within the broader Christian world. But for the board, administrators, and teachers of a Christian school, to be culturally clueless is disaster.”

I just love that last fragment: to be culturally clueless is disaster.
So how do we pursue enlightenment regarding our culture? How do we discern between worldly culture and godly culture when it comes to clothing? How ought we adorn our bodies in a home (or church or school or co op) where we actively proclaim the lordship of Christ and pursue His paideia?

This is a conversation I am eager to share with others. To banter and dialogue. To sharpen one another. I don’t have the answers. But I am seeking to grow in wisdom and grace and loveliness. I long to be more like Christ. May I know what garments to don, and when to set them aside to wash the feet of the people I serve. May I consider the lilies.

Culture, 2

If you are forty years old, having never been taught to swim, do you think you might have a slight disadvantage at the beach compared to a twenty year old who just learned to swim? And what about the five year old who has been at the beach every day since their second birthday, splashing in the waves and learning to float? What if you were born into a family who not only visits the beach every weekend but also has a swimming pool in their own backyard… and your parents taught you to swim at the same time they taught you to crawl, walk, speak, and potty train?
It might all come down to swimming skills… but it legitimately plays out differently depending on when you were tossed into the water, and how long you’ve been splashing, floating, paddling, treading…

Were you just recently tossed into the waters of educating children at home? Or has this been something as natural to you as making your bed in the morning? For me, it is the culture in which I was brought up. It is the habit I have cultivated for decades—first as a home educated child/student, and now as a home educating mother/teacher.

In talking with my new friend (mentioned in this post), she commented that it seemed easier for me to grasp and apply many of the principles—and some of the methods—we read about this summer in a long-distance book discussion group. She wondered aloud if it was because these were not new concepts to me (as many were to her), but rather familiar snippets that could honestly have easily been written by or about my own childhood experiences with education… not to mention my children’s experience now. The culture my friend was raised in was not the paideia of the Lord. The culture I was raised in was the paideia of the Lord.

It is easier to pass on an already-existing, thriving, familiar culture than it is to begin a brand-new culture on your own. Somewhere in the middle is the option of adopting a culture with which you are somewhat familiar, and which someone else can assist you in cultivating.

This is where the sourdough comes in.

I have a small container of sourdough starter in my fridge, which I have fed and kept and used and shared for a decade or so. But I did not start from scratch with it—that blessing was handed down to me from my parents. Back in the 1970s, my dad was intrigued by the idea of sourdough and he wanted to pursue that for his future family. So he read and researched and talked to sourdough folks, and learned that he could start a brand-new sourdough culture on his own. He set out a flour and water paste in a warm area, and waited for the natural yeast in the air to settle in. He knew that it could happen, and he hoped that it would happen… but starting from nothing takes time and faith and grit. (Things my dad has never lacked.) Long story short: natural yeast from the air landed in the paste and began to multiply. It began to bubble. It grew lively. It grew pungent. It grew efficacious. It did what culture does: it multiplies, spreads, takes over.

Scripture talks about yeast—using the word leaven. Some of the contexts and connotations are negative, some are positive. But the ultimate point of all the Scriptural examples is this: leaven leavens! Don’t be surprised when the culture being cultivated multiplies. It is inherently contagious, because that is the way God created it.

This applies to many kinds of culture—in my home, we see it most readily in sourdough and homemade yogurt… and in Christian paideia.

I was raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord under the leadership of Christian parents (and multiple generations of Christians before them), who knew they wanted to build a family culture of education and worship and structure based on Scripture and focused on following Christ.
My husband (also raised under the principle of the Lord’s paideia) and I now seek to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, continuing to build upon the foundation we already have beneath our feet, to perpetuate a family culture of education and worship and structure based on Scripture and focused on following Christ.
My friend at a completely different spot on the map, with a completely different background (spiritually, educationally, familially), is seeking to raise her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, starting from scratch to build a culture of education and worship and family structure that is based on Scripture and focused on following Christ.

I did not have to catch the leaven on my own. My parents spent decades doing that work—in their parenting and educating, and in their sourdough. They passed along to me what work they had spent their lives doing, and I simply continue it, building upon their shoulders. I am parenting and educating similarly (but not identically) to the upbringing I received—the culture I perpetuate now in my home is not unlike the culture in which I was raised. I also have the sourdough culture in my fridge which is from the original culture my dad caught a decade before I was born. (We do actually joke that the sourdough was my parents’ first child.) And I can share a lump of the sourdough with someone else who wants to cultivate that habit and blessing and keep the leaven alive. Taking a bit of my sourdough would be an easier start in the art of bread baking than if you caught your own natural yeast the way my dad did. I can walk you through how to feed it, keep it, cultivate it, use it, and share it. But giving you an hour long introduction to sourdough culture is equivalent to you reading a book on a particular education/parenting culture. It is easier to continue cultivating a culture when you were steeped in it yourself. Extra grace and patience is needed when culture-cultivating!

Culture is alive, efficacious, contagious, potent.

We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.
-Voddie T. Baucham Jr.

Thankfully, we do not have to stay in a particular culture. God created us in His image, not in the likeness of tiny microbes. So we can choose to cultivate something new by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just because you came from a particular culture does not mean you can not take a lump from somewhere else and cultivate something new. It is simply harder to purge old leaven than it is to cultivate new leaven. (Corroborate that with Scripture!)

Start from scratch with nothing but raw ingredients and a heap of faith and grit!
Or take a lump from a culture you admire and want to perpetuate yourself.
Or continue the culture you already have and love, by nurturing it regularly and keeping it alive with fresh cultivation and courage and patience.

Stand fast! Be brave! Be strong! Let all that you do be done with love!

Raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That is the principle of Christian culture which we need to cultivate, perpetuate, and share. There may be many methods of pursuing this—but pursue it we must. The Lord requires nothing less. Our children belong to Him. We need to care for them according to His principles, in His paideia, and for His glory.


If paideia is the entire enculturation
of a person or society,
then what is culture?
How do we begin, start, create,

cultivate a specific culture?
How do we then maintain, tend, keep,

and share an existing culture?

Paideia is the word handed down to us from ancient Greece, which means education or upbringing, the culture of a society—this was broadly understood to mean that this was the all-encompassing atmosphere and education necessary for the continuance of the Greek values and methodology. Particularly passionate Greeks wanted to produce similarly passionate Greeks in the following generations. Paideia was the word used to describe the way their culture and life and belief system and practices would be perpetuated. But in our modern American social elitism, I don’t know if we even understand culture anymore. We think it is simply what surrounds us, with its ever changing ebb and flow, dependent upon the whims of the society and their winds of change which always blow.

Culture is a word that has a noun form as well as a verb form, and both have an interesting nuance when it comes to raising the next generation in a specific paideia.
As a noun, culture means:

—the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.

As a verb, culture means:

—maintaining conditions suitable for growth.

Interestingly, I find the definition of enculturation to be a sort of marriage between the noun and verb forms of culture:

—the process by which an individual learns the traditional content of a culture and assimilates its practices and values.

Enculturation and acculturation are two vastly different things. And I think one of the sad realities is that a lot of Christians in our nation have given way to acculturation rather than actively pursuing the enculturation of our children for the kingdom of God. Briefly put, acculturation is the amalgamation of multiple cultures, as opposed to enculturation which is the acquisition of one’s own primary culture.

For the Greeks, they wanted to raise good little Greeks, and they actively pursued a Greek paideia. They certainly didn’t want the influences of outsiders to overwhelm and overtake their children, thereby staining and ultimately derailing the next generation. When Paul used the term paideia in Ephesians 6:1, he used that word specifically because it would have been commonly understood and recognized by those who received his letter. He exhorted fathers to raise their children in the paideia of the Lord. He was promoting a culture centered on their heavenly citizenship over their national citizenship.

Philippians 3:20—But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a principle which withstands time and supersedes location. The paideia of the Lord is a culture which transcends time and location!

What do you want your children raised for, educated for, brought up to love and pursue and perpetuate?

I for one long to raise my kids for Christ, to educate them well in order to equip them to glorify Him through their lives as His image-bearers, brought up to love things which are good and true and beautiful, to pursue the spreading of God’s kingdom on earth, and to perpetuate the line of Christ and practices of piety… in other words, I want to bring my children up in the paideia (nurture, admonition, education, culture, principles, instruction) of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am hands-down, fully-in on that. Lord, grant me strength and shower me with mercy as I strive to accomplish this on Your power and grace!

A new nuance to contemplate, and that which has recently intrigued me, is the verb form of culture. “Conditions suitable for growth.”

I know a lot of people have been thrown into a lot of new things in the last couple of years, as though tossed into the water without the slow and careful teaching of swimming and floating methods. Things that I honestly have not been thrown into or had to develop myself, because I have honestly just always lived and swam in this water. In a recent discussion with a new friend (one of the founding members of Paideia Southeast, a new sister community for Paideia Northwest which I founded in 2018), I was reminded once again that learning something new and countercultural is harder to recreate than continuing to perpetuate something old and already culturally assimilated.

Two things a lot of people have been thrown into recently are sourdough baking and schooling at home. So I will use these as my primary examples here.

I was brought up on homemade bread. My children have been brought up on homemade bread. And one of the many types of bread I like to make is sourdough bread. In fact, I like to use my sourdough starter as a base for almost any kind of bread I make. I have a friend who really wanted to learn to use sourdough bread a couple years ago, so I gave her some of the sourdough starter from the container in my fridge, told her how I care for it and use it in baking, and wished her well. Again, about a year ago, she came back to me asking for starter and instructions… because it hadn’t worked well for her, she kind of forgot about maintaining it, and she’s not really sure what happened, but it definitely derailed and she tossed it. But with the craze of sourdough bread baking during the insanity which was 2020, she remembered that she once had an interest in this particular thing, and that she had access to someone who was already elbow-deep in the process. I haven’t asked her how it has been going over the last ten or twelve months, but I wonder if she has been more proactive and diligent and engaged in the sourdough process this time around. I wonder if she has been able to taste the wonder of the fruit of those labors.

I was also brought up on home education. And my children likewise have been brought up on home education. But I happen to know that there are plenty of cases over the last nineteen months where families have had their kids brought home to pursue their schooling out of forced necessity rather than choice—and while some have embraced it with skill and joy, others have found it to be a nightmare of overwhelm or dropped the ball from apathy or simply found it undesirable to have to sacrifice their days and hours and resources to educate kids themselves. This was not an ocean that I was pushed overboard into—it is a sea of blessing which I would gladly drown in, but prayerfully swim and float through by God’s grace. It is the same water (educating kids at home), but being shoved overboard into it is vastly different than searching for the water and wading in slowly from the shoreline… which, I would argue, is also vastly different than simply having already spent your whole life in that water (yep: I think I just labeled myself as a mermaid).

Two crazy metaphors which cannot overlap and seem unrelated if not opposed?
I don’t think so.
(…but humor me, and stay tuned for part two…)

Puddles of Glory

It rained last night. Real, wet, heavy drops. It thundered but no lightning struck nearby. The ground is still wet this morning. The bugs and birds are literally dancing with delight.

The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.

We sing Psalm 19 for the month of August, and we seek to see how its every sentence is applicable for us in this current time and place. God gloriously, faithfully shows us His glory and His handiwork.

In the muddy puddles. In the bowing sunflowers. In the wriggling worms. In the clucking hens and crowing rooster. In the shadow-dappled grass. In the image-bearers making French toast in the other room. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


Today, I launch fully into another Paideia Northwest conference season with joy and weight – this is good work, it is big work, it is valuable and sweet. I am deeply humbled at the work God has put into my hands. I did not seek this, but I gratefully receive it. I have just opened registration for this year’s event, Rest. If you or anyone you know is interested, it’s best to get a jump on signing up. We sold out very quickly last year, and this year is shaping up to be similar. The details are occupying the corners of my brain space: luncheon details, decoration details, vendor details, volunteer details, printing details… Twelve weeks from tomorrow, we will be gathered in Post Falls – and I am here for it.


I find that I love organizing and creating lists and compiling details and pulling together lovely things. I have a penchant for pulling people together for common work and encouragement. Never before would I have thought that’s something I loved… but I do. Another evidence of this is found as I am also preparing to launch fully into directing the Paideia Studies co op. We begin meeting in just twenty days! I’m trying to finalize details for this work too. Printing off copies of the Collective plans for every family – thirty-one weeks of devotion, Bible memory work, poetry, loop studies, Medieval art study… I had so much fun compiling true, good, beautiful, pertinent, and worthy things for our year of education. My hope is that having it all laid out so far in advance will bless my future self, and serve the ten families in our group well. I pray that it is so! All of the details necessary for a co op director to have in order seem to be smoothly sailing at this point… again, I pray that it is so. I am grateful for the steering committee and board, and the prayer and conversational support the network provides for our co op. I am grateful for the mamas who are learning new methods for building upon familiar principles. I am grateful for the kids who are about to embark on new friendships, new studies, and new projects. I am grateful for the church where we are meeting each week this year – for their hospitality and generosity and kindness. I am grateful for the limitations we already face: limitations in space & size & scope & time. Limitations are a blessing for someone like me who can so easily be tempted to bite off too much at a time, or jump in too deeply before wading.


And so as Paideia Northwest and Paideia Studies (which nope, aren’t actually connected – one is a business I run, the other is an old fashioned cooperative I direct – and they just both bear that beautiful Greek term in their titles) are both preparing to launch their 2021 endeavors into the world, my hands are extremely full. And I am grateful to remember what paideia means. I am grateful to rest in the culture that has been passed to me. It is bubbling and vibrant, and I am eager to pass it along to others who want to pursue this culture for their families, their children, themselves, their souls.


The Lord is good. Blessed be His name.

Singing Psalms with Little Saints

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,
Teaching and admonishing one another
In psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,
Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16
Long before I became a mother, I yearned to have children who sang. During my own years of home education in a Reformed Christian family, we grew our love of hymns into a love of Psalms—a love of melody into a love of harmony—a love of corporate singing on Sundays into a love of singing at home as a family all week long. I loved almost nothing more than monthly Psalm sings with our church family—and to this day, there is almost nothing which fills me with more delight than filling my home with the echoes of boisterous harmony. This love, instilled during my own childhood, was something I longed to continue cultivating as I moved on to college academics and beyond.

To read the rest of this article,
written by me for my friend
Amy Sloan to share,
head over to