on time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time these days – how I perceive it, how I feel about it. Is that something you think about? I have a hunch that a lot of us do, that it’s one of the running tracks ever-playing in the backs of our minds. Maybe it’s the fact that it never goes away, which leads to the fact that we must orient ourselves to it to dwell in a society, have relationships, earn an income. Maybe it’s the fact that we don’t know what to do with it, whether it seems abundant or whether it seems scarce. Maybe it’s that we’ve heard over and over again to “redeem” the time, and we’re just not always sure what that means, because the season has changed, or life has become more complicated, or careers or tiny little people absorb so many of our hours that redemption just sounds like too much effort, and we wouldn’t really even know how to do that anyway.
 
Time can seem like quite an elusive concept to me. This week, I thought I would be home every evening. I thought our patterns would remain relatively consistent. I thought I would work on certain projects and accomplish certain tasks, that my children would reap the benefits of a rhythmic schedule. Instead, I called a doctor Monday morning, got in a car Monday night, went to a hospital Tuesday morning, and since then I have shifted a fidgeting, uncomfortable baby from hip to hip more times than I can count. This wasn’t the plan, time. Didn’t you know that? Who do you think you are?
 

This is what I’m saying. We have BIG FEELINGS about time. And I want to know what your feelings are. Will you tell me? I think this is a conversation that stands to benefit each of us greatly. It is certainly a topic that touches each of us, every second, in more ways than we generally notice. Comment here, on Facebook or on Instagram and let me know.

 

Time Question (2)

a name for the color.

I am staring at a bridal portrait of myself – twenty years old, hair and skin made perfect, white dress, sparkling eyes. There is a wedding picture in the next frame. Jared is kissing me on the cheek, boyish hair grazing my temple. These pictures flood my heart with nostalgia, with sentiment. In the same breath, they grip me hard, leave my system a bit shocked. It has been almost eight years since we took those pictures, made those vows. How can so much have happened in so little time? When I think about everything those glowing faces do not know, cannot know about what it is to come, it takes my breath away.


Nine days ago, last Tuesday, Gabriel went into surgery early in the morning. We have shared many of the details of what occurred, what we know, how he’s doing. There is a lot we have not shared, not thoroughly.

Sometimes, there are too many threads in this tapestry of our lives. Sometimes the awareness of how many stories we are living makes my soul bone tired, forces me to choose just one to tell, for now. We can come back to the other later, I tell myself.

Sometimes, it’s just too hard to tell two stories at once when I’m still living them both.


 

“Was Gabriel’s surgery successful?”

That is the common question, the expected inquiry. Medical procedures can so often be adequately assessed in this way – successful or unsuccessful, perhaps neutral. Gabriel does not tend toward the “so often” path.

Gabriel’s Achilles tendons were severed, legs casted in hopes that the tendons will heal properly, lengthened. He handled anesthesia well, and his pain was manageable with rare exceptions, quickly solved. He has slept and crawled well, and he does not express irritation about the casts. For this, we are grateful beyond measure. We are confident of God’s goodness in this, of His pleasure in answering the prayers of saints who asked Him to provide comfort and joy.

During the surgery, Gabriel’s orthopedist, Dr. Stephenson, hoped to conduct nerve and muscle biopsies, which would provide her with more information about the behavior of Gabriel’s body on the cellular level. She could not get the biopsies, because the muscles and the nerves are not there.

Full stop. That which should be there, inside every body, every leg, every foot, is simply not there.

This is not a small thing, and it is magnified by the fact that there was extra, useless tissue inside Gabriel’s feet and ankles, yet another sign that the instructions given by his genetic code since conception are faulty. Parallel to our confidence in God’s kindness toward us in the past nine days is our confidence that God was there was Gabriel was created, when his genes were formed. We are sure that He was there, and that He did not intervene when mutations occurred.


“It’s like Gabriel is within the spectrum of the color red,” Dr. Stephenson said just after the surgery, “but he’s not quite fuchsia, not quite fire engine. His red doesn’t have a name yet. So, that’s what we’re doing. We’re looking for a name for the color.”


These are not the days of ups and downs; these are the days of intertwine. These are the days of celebration as Gabriel balances on his knees and claps for himself, as he chases his brother around the house. These are the days of a pricked heart when social media reminds me that babies far younger than Gabriel are pulling up, standing, walking. These are the days of pillows under casted legs, the satisfaction and relief of helping a baby too young to speak his needs find comfort. These are the days of thinking back on the moments after the surgery, the moments of no name for the color, and wondering if it will always feel like this, so nebulous, so unsure.

There was another phrase the doctor used while we sat in that room, just before I was whisked away into the recovery area to await a sedated Gabriel’s awakening.

“I think we know at this point that whatever we are looking at is very likely to be progressive.”

“Very likely.” These are new words. Before, it has been “possibly,” it has been “this is similar to CMT, and CMT can progress.” It has not been “very likely” to us until the past nine days.

Before anyone comments with, “it isn’t new to God” or “don’t let those words limit God’s power,” let me just save you some time. We know. We really do know. We are not shaken, nor uncertain of God’s ability. We are in no way less convinced of His power than we were before “very likely” pierced the air. But we are grieving. We have been grieving for a long season, and there is not time to heal, because the news refuses to cease in its onslaught. This surgery confirmed all the more that we are not simply looking at a correction of anatomy, but a DNA-level malfunction from conception.

And He did not intervene.


I used to be one of those people who saw God’s goodness so clearly, even in the midst of pain. It’s harder to see it now, to point it out and claim it with confidence. It is like I’m holding my hand in front of my face, certain that it’s there, but the room is dark, so I can’t actually see it. It has to be there, right? I know it’s there. Sometimes I can almost feel the warmth of its closeness. But I cannot see it.

People approach me often, families at church, friends of friends online. They tell me that our story gives them confidence in Jesus, that we are a picture of suffering well. I say, “thank you, God has been good to us,” because I do not know what else to say, because this is an opportunity to preach to myself. Maybe that is what I am really thanking them for.


We do not know what progressive means, and no one can tell us. There are stories of sibling groups, three out of five sisters with a CMT diagnosis: one still walks, one does not, one won’t by the end of high school. There is the story of our family, a mom and two sons with identical mutations, the two sons both carrying an additional mutation from their dad. Yet one is born into the world and requires no intervention, no months of casts, no surgeries, no trips to Houston where I enter into the hospital and am quite certain by the time I exit that I am no longer her, and who am I now?

These are the days of intertwine. They are the days of no name for the color, of spectrum, of gratitude and grieving.

“We will know more about this as Gabriel shows us,” Dr. Stephenson said.

What this means is, if he is going to walk, we will know when he starts to walk. And, if that occurs, then we will know if walking will be taken from him if one day he wakes up and his legs do not move. We will know if he will lose sensation if he expresses tingling or numbness. We will not know because a test tells us what is coming, because a vial or monitor holds the answer. One day, something will be different. And then we will know.


I cleaned out a bookcase yesterday. I took a volume called, “Let Go and Let God” and put it in the “to sell” pile. Maybe you would rather not know that.


 

I do not know what it is to embrace the goodness of God in this moment, what it is to rely on Him. So I wake up in the morning, and I turn on songs that offer me better words, words of Scripture and words of the people of God Who have been in this middle place of surety and uncertainty all at once far longer than me. On Holy Days, I light a white candle, I think on the themes of the season. I ask God how I can know Him more in all of this. I ask myself if I actually want to know Him more, if I think He is the type of God I want to know. Something in my soul keeps saying yes, and, perhaps because I do not know what else to do, I say “okay,” and I keep talking to Him, keep asking Him what He is doing and Who He is. I keep reading the Daily Office, even when the passages are about Jesus healing sons, even when I want to slam the gospels shut because their power still lives and my child is still half wrapped in plaster.


I do not think God owes me any answers, about His plan, about what is going inside Gabriel’s body, about why He allowed any of this to happen. I do not think I would like any of the answers He could offer me, nor find them satisfactory. I think that the only answers with the power to provide any comfort are the words telling me Who He is. So those are the questions I’m asking. Those are the answers I repeat to myself, singing to Gabriel in the rocking chair, a made up tune, “Our God is kind, our God is kind, our God is kind.” I sing it over and over and over again. I ask God to convince me of it as I rock, as Gabriel’s casts scrape my arm. There is so little else I know how to do right now, so I am doing this.

There is no name for the color, but there is the white of the Holy Day candle. There is no name for the color, but there is the blue of the plaster casts draped across me as I sing the truth over us.There is no name for the color, but there is the name the Lord gave us for our son, “Gabriel, God is my strength.” There is no name for the color, but there is the name of Jesus, tumbling out of my mouth in a breath, a prayer all its own, because I have no other words.

This is what there is; this is where I am. And He tells me that He is above, before, within, over it all. So I keep talking to Him, keep singing and lighting the candles. I wipe off the blue casts and check for swollen toes. I ask Him to be near, and He says He will be. And it will be enough.

 

 

 

 

 

giveaway winner + liturgical calendar resources for all

Congratulations to Sarah De Sousa on winning a
Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner!

we have a winner!

Thank you so very much to everyone who participated in the giveaway, shared about it on social media, and left so many thoughtful comments about how liturgy intrigues and benefits you. Your words made for so many little bright spots in my weekend!

For those who were hoping to win but didn’t have their names chosen by the magical raffling widget, take heart! There are still excellent resources available to you through Sacred Ordinary Days.

The FREE Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook contains “all the most essential elements of the planner.” It also serves as a companion guide to the Sacred Ordinary Days podcast, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

The FULL PLANNER and art prints of the liturgical wheel calendar and a prayer labyrinth are available in PDF form here. The PDF of the planner can be sent to a print shop to be bound.

Thank you to Jenn Giles Kemper, creator of the Sacred Ordinary Days planner & podcast, and to everyone who entered the giveaway for being such a valuable part of our conversation on the Christian year. I look forward to many more discussions as we continue exploring the Life of Christ through the liturgical seasons and holy days together.

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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the baptism of the Lord [reframe series].

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey. 

The Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism of the Lord - www.JoyWovenDeep.comWhat day does it fall on? The answer to this varies based on tradition.
Western Anglican & Roman Catholic – January 10 (the first Sunday of Epiphany/Ordinary Time)
Episcopal USA & Eastern Orthodox – always January 6 (as part of the “The Great Feast of Theophany” – what we observed as Epiphany)

What season are we in? Epiphany/Ordinary Time (January 6 to February 9, 2016)

What’s this day all about?
The Baptism of the Lord celebrates just that, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and Christ’s earthly ministry was initiated, which is cause for celebration indeed. This account can be found in Matthew 3.

What’s the history of this celebration?
Well, it depends a bit on who you ask. Because some view The Baptism of the Lord as an integral part of Epiphany, and some view it as a separate feast day, the historical accounts can get a little crossed and confusing. For the purposes of this blog, we will mark four holidays which are all in the spirit of Epiphany, of which this holiday is the second. The baptism has always been recognized by the church as an imperative moment in the story of Christ, worthy of celebration.

So, how could we observe it?

  • Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.
  • Read the Lectionary texts.
  • Pray “the Collect” for The Baptism of the Lord.
  • Sing or read aloud When Jesus Came to Jordan.
  • White is the color for The Baptism of the Lord, so a vase of white flowers, a white candle, or a white tablecloth could serve as a simple day-long reminder to reflect and celebrate.
  • Reflect on your own baptism, or, if you have not been baptized, consider talking to your church’s leadership about taking that step.
  • Bundle up with family members, friends or roommates and visit a nearby body of water. Take a moment to read the account of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew, and reflect upon and/or discuss what the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry meant then and what it means for us now.

What’s it to me?
Reflecting on the initiation of Christ’s earthly ministry fills me with joyous anticipation, similar to advent. The baptism, like the birth, is an inductive occurrence, a sign of the things to come, a revealing of the Holy One Who will do what no one else could ever do. Because of our place in church history, we know what is coming next. We know that Christ will go on to spend three years doing the Father’s will on earth, loving, healing, proclaiming, teaching and sanctifying. And we know that, ultimately, His obedience will lead Him to death on a cross, and, gloriously, to the resurrection and ascension. This moment of baptism reminds me of the things that were to come after it, and beckons me to hope for the things that are to come when Christ returns.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Baptism of the Lord celebrates the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry, marked by His baptism by John the Baptist after which the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Jesus. We celebrate the beginning of Christ’s ministry as it teaches us more about Him, gives us hope for what is to come both Scripturally after the baptism and in the future when Christ returns, and it invites us to join with Christ in both baptism and the ministry of reconciliation.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

  • What are your ideas for observing Baptism of the Lord?
  • Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?
  • Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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PS – Today is the last day of the (sold out!) Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner giveaway! Click here to enter.

WEEKEND GIVEAWAY!

FullSizeRender (10)Welcome to the first ever GIVEAWAY POST on Joy Woven Deep! I am so excited to be raffling off a copy of the SOLD OUT Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner.

This thoughtful, beautiful planner is the catalyst that led to my deep interest in the Christian year, and it has served as a gracious guide on this new journey (which I am documenting in the Reframe series). The planner is a perfect combination of practical calendar pages (monthly, weekly and daily), and spiritual refreshment and development through prompted reflection, Daily Office and Lectionary passages, information about the Seasons and Holy Days, and so much more. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I’m so thankful to my friend Jenn Giles Kemper (creator of the planner) for embracing this giveaway idea!

The giveaway will end Sunday night and I will announce the winner Monday morning, along with some more resources and opportunities from Sacred Ordinary Days. Best wishes, and thank you for participating!

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epiphany [reframe series].

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey. 

Epiphany
(Also known as Three Kings’ Day or Feast of Theophany)

Epiphany Star

What is it? A holy day in the Christian calendar/liturgical year. Some also recognize it as a season of Ordinary Time in the liturgical year.

What day does it fall on? January 6 (13 days after Christmas)

What season are we in? Epiphany/Ordinary Time (January 6 to February 9, 2016)

What’s this day all about?
Epiphany (“to show”/”to reveal”/”to make known”) is a celebration of the gospel being for all people, of Christ coming not only for the Jews but also the Gentiles (hallelujah!). “Western Christians celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, while Eastern Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist” (Sacred Ordinary Days). The star revealed the Son of God to the Magi, and the Magi’s response to Jesus revealed that He is Lord over all.

What’s the history of this celebration?
Epiphany was celebrated as early as the 300s A.D. and has since been observed in a multitude of ways. Some view it as an entire season, beginning the day after Christmastide ends and concluding the day before Lent/Ash Wednesday. For those who view Epiphany as a season, it is a season that also contains other holidays – Baptism of the Lord (January 10), Presentation of the Lord (February 2) and Transfiguration of the Lord (February 7).

So, how could we observe it?

  • Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.
  • Read the Lectionary texts.
  • Pray “the Collect” for Epiphany.
  • Write “20+C+B+M+16” over your doorway in chalk. The first and last two slots refer to the year, and the letters refer to the traditional names of the Magi – Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior. The letters also function as an abbreviation of “Christus manionem bendicat,” which means “Christ bless this house.” This page features a blessing to pray while writing/marking.
  • Bake a Kings’ Cake.
  • Light a candle in the darkness of the morning or evening, symbolizing the star in the dark night which led the Magi to the Christ-child.

What’s it to me?
Some of the themes associated with Epiphany are journey, rhythm and manifestation. These words infuse me with such hope as I reflect on Epiphany and realize that the journey toward, with and led by Jesus has been a marker of those who call Him Lord, for centuries, millennia. “Rhythm” is a deeply meaningful word to me right now, as seen by its inclusion in the subtitle of this series, and I am drawn to ponder its meaning and implications even more during the season of Epiphany. Manifestation, oh my, this one could be (has been) an entire book. The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The True Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. Immanuel, God with us. Just as the Magi recognized the Christ Child, just as John the Baptist knew the One Who was greater than him because he was before him, Jesus was made manifest that we might know Him, worship Him, be saved by Him. He descended, manifested, offered Himself up to death that we may journey toward Him, with Him, in Him.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Epiphany celebrates the Son of God becoming a man. Whether the celebration reflects upon the visit of the Magi or the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, it calls us to remember the One Who made His dwelling among us, Who is the fullness of grace and truth and Who came for us. The soul of Epiphany is not merely that Jesus came, but that He came and we know for certain Who He is – He is Lord.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

  • What has your experience been with the Christian calendar, liturgy, holy days, etc.?
  • What are your ideas for observing Epiphany?
  • Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar pique your curiosity?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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holy name of Jesus [reframe series].

Earlier today, I published a post announcing a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey. 

This post will both introduce us to the feast day celebrated on January 1, as well as some basics of the Christian calendar framework. Like the secular calendar, the Christian calendar has seasons, holidays, and assigned meanings to certain times of year and certain days. The same way that Americans have a common understanding of the feelings and thoughts surrounding school getting out, Thanksgiving approaching or, most recently, New Year’s Eve, the Christian calendar beckons us toward a common experience in relation to our beliefs about Christ, His life and how He intertwines with our lives today.

If you come across terminology you are unfamiliar with, know that you are not alone, and check out this page.

Let’s begin!

The Holy Name of Jesus
(Also known as The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ or The Feast of the Circumcision)

holy name

What is it? A holy day in the Christian calendar/liturgical year

What day does it fall on? January 1 (8 days since Jesus’ birth. Yes, I know Jesus wasn’t actually born on 12/25. It’s okay. Humans need days to grab on to, like totems, like anchors. These will do.)

What season are we in? Christmas (December 25, 2015-January 5, 2016)

What’s this day all about? Holy Name of Jesus celebrates the day when Mary and Joseph brought the 8 day old Christ child to the temple. At the temple, He was circumcised according to Jewish custom, and given his name, Jesus.

What’s the history of this celebration?  In 567, The Council of Tours/Gallican Church established the holy day, to be observed by fasting, as a response to the pagan celebrations of the new year. (citation)

So, how could we observe it?

  • Read the Daily Office texts here  or via this app
  • Read the Lectionary texts
  • Pray “the Collect” for Holy Name
  • Listen to and sing songs that exalt the name of Jesus
  • Produce art or a creative project inspired by the name of Jesus
  • For parents, consider ways we can present our children to the Lord, just as Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple
  • Light a special candle reserved for Holy Days and Sundays

What’s it to me? I am fascinated by the origin of the observance of Holy Name. I am convicted, inspired and strengthened by the idea of joining with the saints of The Council of Tours who were dedicated to a different way, to keeping themselves unstained by the world and its pagan practices. While the New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting practices of our modern age are in no way sinful, and can in fact often be agents for good, I am thinking about them differently this year, considering how I can begin my year in the name of Jesus rather than in the name of human ambition. What a perfect way to begin our “reframe,” to start a Christian rhythm that will pulse throughout our year.

So, boil it down for me, would you? Liturgy, a Greek word, is often translated, “the work of the people.” What if our work today was to consider how the year laid before us can be brought into submission under the name of Jesus? I’m so grateful for the call of Holy Name, the call to pause and reflect on the sacredness of the name of Jesus, the faithfulness of His earthly parents, the preciousness of the Word made flesh, an infant among us.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

  • What has your experience been with the Christian calendar, liturgy, holy days, etc.?
  • What are your ideas for observing Holy Name of Jesus?
  • Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar pique your curiosity?

We’re in this together, friends, this quest to see Him, to know Him more. I’m so very glad for that fact.

In closing, I am praying the Collect for Holy Name over us. Join me?

E
ternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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a new series for a new year.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it is to bring all things into submission under Christ, how all things, really, are His already. I’ve been thinking about what it is to acknowledge His superiority, to observe the patterns that God placed into the universe before humankind existed.

One of the ways I have slowly begun expanding my understanding of God’s sovereignty, of just how everywhere and over all things He actually is, has been through beginning to study and understand the Christian calendar, the liturgical year. I’ve realized that, for me, there is no better way to find His presence in each crevice of my life than to recognize that I am not merely called to invoke His name into my schedule, my finite construct of time, but to recognize that He created time, that His body, the Church, has been viewing it in a different way for thousands of years, that I can join in with the saints in their observance.

For those of us who have not grown up in traditions that typically observe all aspects of the Christian calendar, this task can seem a bit daunting. I have had the joy of coming across some invaluable resources and the earliest experiences of acknowledging a new way of marking time in the last several months. In recognition of how much there is to learn, to hold, to treasure, and in light of the opportunity to start afresh that the new (secular) year brings, I am going to start a series on this blog, something I haven’t done in a very long time.

Reframe: A Year of Christian Rhythm

 

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Throughout this series, I will post about each major season in the Christian year, as well as the Holy Days, resources that have been helpful to me, and ideas for beginning to see time in a new way. This is not something that can only be done one way. This is not something that can only be done in a certain “right” way. There is a vast expanse before us, there is room for gathering around the pillars of orthodoxy, claiming our sameness at the core, gleaning insight from our differences. There is so much room at the table, so much truth, so much grace and, dare I say, so much creativity, that is here for the exploring, for the taking, for the growing.

I will begin the series tonight with a post on The Holy Name of Jesus, today’s holy day. In the meantime, I invite you to peruse the following resources which have been invaluable to me in the journey this far.

Resources:

Sacred Ordinary Days Planner/Essentials Workbook by Jenn Giles Kemper (this has been my main resource thus far. The Essentials Workbook is a free download and the Sacred Ordinary Days Tribe Facebook group is filled with rich conversation.)

A Sacred Journey Blog & Calendar by Lacy Clark Ellman

Sacred Ordinary Days Podcast with Jenn Giles Kemper & Lacy Clark Ellman

Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals 

Soon, I will create a page to house these resources, and I will add more over time as well.

The beauty of the Christian calendar is seen most clearly when it is observed in community. Please join in the conversation on the blog or on Facebook. Have you ever observed the liturgical year? What thoughts does it bring to mind? Does it seem inviting to you, or daunting? Or is it somewhere in between? Let’s journey together.

From Him | Through Him |To Him,
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