ordinary time.

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 Season of Ordinary Time

What is the time span of the season? Ordinary Time begins the day after Pentecost. In 2016, it began on May 16th. (Jared’s 30th birthday was last weekend and I needed to take a break from blogging, so I missed introducing Ordinary Time & documenting Trinity Sunday.) Holidays include:

Trinity Sunday – May 22
Visitation of Mary – May 31
Nativity of St. John the Baptist – June 24
Holy Cross Day – September 14
All Saints’ Day – November 1 (observed November 5)
Christ the King Sunday – November 20

What’s this season all about?
“Ordinary Time is the season of the everyday…perhaps it is for Ordinary Time that all of [the prior] seasons prepare us, for it is in our everyday lives that the lessons of each season play out and bring about change.”
– Lacy Clark Ellman, Sacred Seasons Calendar

“The Season after Pentecost is a season of Ordinary Time, after the Church is given the gift of the Holy Spirit as a companion and tasked with carrying out God’s work in the world. This is the longest season the liturgical year, celebrating our role in the ongoing life of Christ.”
– Jenn Giles Kemper, Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook

What’s the history of this observance?
Ordinary Time is different from the rest of the seasons in that it is, well, ordinary. This season is marked by the activities of the thriving Christian life – discipleship, faithfulness, service, relationships, ministry, stewardship, creativity, etc.

What’s it to me?
Mmm, Ordinary Time is our bread and butter, Christian. This is what we are here for. We store up and cherish the holy, wild moments of our faith – the moments occurring at advent, lent, Easter, Pentecost – and we treasure them as we go. The fact that Ordinary Time begins the dawn after Pentecost is fueled with meaning. Now that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, it is time to go and do, to love our neighbor and make disciples.

It’s easy for us to believe that commonness is empty or flat, but Ordinary Time tells us differently. Commonness is dimensional, it is filled with meaning and purpose. It’s the season we were designed to engage with all the calling, vocation, and passion within us. It’s the season where we empty ourselves on behalf of others, that they may know the love of Christ. I’m thankful for a season that gives hard work a rich context, weaving it in to the life hidden in Christ.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Ordinary Time beckons us to engage our everyday lives with purpose, passion and reliance on the Holy Spirit. This is the season for ministry, discipleship, hands to the plow.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray, or perhaps memorize, one or more of the prayers for Ordinary Time.

Read At The Intersection of Time and Eternity by Michelle Van Loon (a lot of links for various denominational observance of Ordinary Time included).

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the season of Ordinary Time.

For kids: Ordinary Time lines up well in our part of the world with the conclusion of the school year and beginning of summer. As you make plans and/or a schedule for the summer with your kids, consider implementing a small service project or engaging in a ministry opportunity or two that will help your kids pick up on the rhythm of Ordinary Time.

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 Ordinary Time?

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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the friday features: may 27, 2016.

The Friday Features exist to fuel you with you sparks of joy and propel you toward the things that matter as you head into your weekend. If you’d like to submit an article to be included in the features, you can send me the link here.

For When You’re Working on Your Summer Reading List: The Summer Reading Guide by Anne Bogel

For the Nostalgic: For When I Am Yearning by me for The Mudroom

For When You’re Figuring Out How to Think about the Baylor Situation: Touchdown Jesus by Valerie Dunham for Christ and Pop Culture

For The Frazzled and Frantic: There’s Never Enough Time by Jen Pollock Michel for her.meneutics

For When Christianity Strikes You as Utterly Bizarre: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life by Nicole Cliffe for Christianity Today

For the Party People: Celebrate Shalom by Osheta Moore & Me for Shalom in the City Podcast

Here’s to a restful weekend!

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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when i am carving a space for doubt.

cave light

Several months ago I was sitting in a counseling session, my arms wrapped around a pillow, which I assume was strategically placed in the chair so that nervous, rambling people like me would have something to hold. There was a little end table next to me with a clock, the time on which never failed to surprise me. Didn’t I just get here, and now it’s time to go?

I was sharing a deep joy with my counselor, which is not exactly the norm of what I disclose in that setting. I had come across an author, Julia Cameron, whom I was loving, whose work was meeting me right in the place where I was, which was saying something, because I wasn’t exactly sure where I was or how I got there. I certainly couldn’t have told someone else how to get there. But all the same, there we were.

My counselor smiled. “Julia is just one of those authors who shows up when you need her,” she said. “Julia’s books find you.”

I loved this. It was a little silly and a little esoteric and a little just right. It was a word aptly spoken.

A few weeks ago, this happened again, this books finding me phenomenon. Through a series of podcasts and social media posts, I was reminded of an author about whom I knew three things: his name, his father’s name, and the names of his two books. His name is Barnabas Piper, his father’s name is John Piper (heard of him?), and the names of his books are The Pastor’s Kid and Help My Unbelief.

Okay, so there’s one more thing I knew, at least subconsciously. I knew these books, in title alone, were (unnervingly, perhaps) in sync with my own life. I knew that I should read them. For some reason, about ten days ago, I finally decided to buy them. And, in keeping with my overzealous, nerdy ways, I read them each in one sitting, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

There are about 1000 directions I could now take this post. I could take you nearly page by page through the books and show you how I felt like the words were reading me. I could take a few main points and talk about how I’ve seen them in my life and still do, whether as a ministry/pastor’s kid, a pathological doubter, or the inseparable intertwine of both. I could do my best to describe the immeasurable relief of the reminder and truth that doubt is not, necessarily, equivalent with unbelieving.

I may explore many of those thoughts further in later posts, but today, there’s one thing I’m (to employ an overused Christian phrase) “wrestling with” pretty fiercely, and it’s this:

I think the main reason these books connected with me so viscerally is that they carved out space within the conservative branch of evangelicalism in which I live for doubt, criticism, unlearning, relearning, and belief in the hope for a better way.

Is it just me or is that not something we do very well in some of our more buttoned up departments of this weird and wild faith? I applaud our progressive friends in this area. They are unafraid to ask questions and let them linger a while. But even as I clap, respect, read, and learn from these brothers and sisters, I can’t necessarily make a home for myself in their midst. There are parts of me, whether by upbringing or conviction or personality, that lead me toward a more conservative theological framework.

But there are days when I find myself bumping up against the sides of this house we’ve built in our corner of the world. There are times when I’m wondering why its ceiling isn’t a bit taller. There are times when I’m clawing at the walls. There are times when I think about some of the expectations my Southern-bred, nondenominational, homeschooled peers and I grew up under and I wonder what they actually have to do with Christianity.

(This is not a parental call out, by the way. My folks are well aware of my perpetual questioning and sorting. This is, rather, the confession of an evangelical who is still in her twenties and is still becoming herself and has her fingers crossed that she will learn how to be okay with that before she turns 30. We’ll see.)

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’ve been in the evangelical world for a long time, if not your entire life. There’s a good chance that you schlep suitcase upon suitcase of baggage associated with church around with you, that you could unpack layer upon layer of what you were told was right or wrong or pure or lovely or acceptable or distasteful. In all likelihood, so much of what you were taught is right on, in line with Scripture and the person of Jesus. In the same breath, it’s highly likely that some of what you carry around in the bag labeled “Christian” really should not be associated as such. It’s likely that some of it was culture, some of it was preference, and that some of it was downright toxic.

I imagine that there are several different reactions occurring as this piece is read. Some of you are, I hope, nodding. You get this. Some of you are nodding internally, not sure you’re bought in enough to give a physical sign of assent. Some of you are head-shaking or rolling your eyes, because this sounds at minimum not worth discussing, perhaps like whining, or at worst, like stirring up dissent.

While I doubt that I can give enough disclaimers to get everyone on my team for this conversation, I’ll offer a few. Much of what I’m pondering these days, what I’m seeking to shed and seeking to keep, is simply part of being human. We try things on to see how they fit. We grow up a certain way then realize there are other ways and maybe, to borrow an analogy fromThe Pastor’s Kid, we want to end up at the same destination as our parents or Christian culture of origin, but we’re going to drive in a different lane to get there (I’m talking in terms of style/preference/secondary issues here, not orthodoxy).

This post, or series of posts, is not going to end with me bailing on the faith or even shifting much from where I am, I imagine. My goal, really, is to be more honest about the fact that I am heavily in process, and that I think we, the community of faith, need more spaces to speak that truth. In my opinion, the meat of those conversations should happen face to face, friends on a couch. But I also think there’s a space for public process, for giving permission to others to doubt, to have questions and to adjust, not only by saying the permission exists but by modeling it ourselves.

Emily Freeman recently said, “Grief lives really close to passion & heart. When you access the grief, you can access that which makes you come alive.” As previous posts attest, I’ve “accessed” grief in deeper, more painful, more profound ways than ever before over the last two years. A switch flipped in my mind and heart that day in the doctor’s office, the day when the sonogram told us that Gabriel had a birth defect, that all was not well. And more switches have flipped so many days since then, ushering darkness into parts of heart and soul.

I am of the childlike belief that God is the only one whose light contains the power to dispel the shadows within, that His gift of calling and writing and desire inside me to create space for myself and others to breathe through shifting understandings of faith while remaining oriented to the truth is a manifestation of that light.

This is not, at all, the piece I sat down to write. I had something else on my mind, loosely related at best. But here we are. I hope this was for you, reader. If you’re a doubter or a questioner or a persevering yet pondering evangelical, know you’re not alone, and that you’re not doing it wrong just because you have screeching uncertainties. He is true, and He is near. That’s all I know, some days, and He says it’s enough.

pentecost.

pentecost imageOn 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.

Pentecost
(also known as “The Feast of Pentecost”)

What’s this holy day all about?
“The Feast of Pentecost marks the arrival of the great Comforter and Advocate Christ promised when he left this earth: the Holy Spirit. As they gathered together for their own celebration of Pentecost…Christ’s disciples experienced a Divine sensation unlike any other they had ever known.” (Sacred Seasons Calendar)

Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is recorded in Acts 2.

What’s the history of this observance?
Pentecost occurred during the Jewish Festival of Weeks/Festival of Booths. “As with the term Pascha, in Pentecost Christians borrowed a Jewish term and applied it to their own festivals. Tertullian (3rd century) knew of Christian Pentecost, and the Apostolic Constitutions (4th century) speak of the Pentecost feast lasting a week. In the Western Church the vigil of Pentecost became second only to the Easter Vigil in importance. Eventually in the West, Pentecost became a Sunday set aside for baptisms.” (citation)

What’s it to me?
Pentecost gives us a taste of what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that it was better that he leave and the Spirit come. Rushing like a wind, the Spirit of God overcomes the gathered ones and they are filled with Him.

I’ve been in the church for my entire life, 28 years, but the Holy Spirit remains a mystery to me in so many ways. I think, in part, that this is good. But I also think that there are layers of Him that I need to press into further. The Holy Spirit makes us feel afraid, I think. We’d like Him to be a bit more caged, a little quieter. But I need Him louder, bigger, stronger. I need to stop viewing the Father and Jesus at one end of the table and the Spirit at the other. I want to press into their intertwine further, and better understand the Spirit’s function within the Trinity and within me.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the day when the Spirit of God was sent to the people of God on earth.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray the Collect for Pentecost: O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Rejoice! The pouring out of the Spirit is the creation of the church. The Spirit is what bonds the people of faith. Have someone over for dinner, text a fellow believer, thank God for the local church. Celebrate the chaos and the glory that is the body of Christ.

Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Pentecost and Ordinary Time season (which begins tomorrow) through the one page summary.

Offer up this prayer for Pentecost.

For kids: Read Acts 2 out loud. Find some great ideas here, including how to make an origami dove which represents the Spirit, and ribbon streamers which represent the “tongues of fire.”


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

What are your ideas for observing Pentecost?

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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the friday features: may 13, 2016.

rp_img_0636-1.jpg

The Friday Features exist to fuel you with you sparks of joy and propel you toward the things that matter as you head into your weekend. If you’d like to submit an article to be included in the features, you can send me the link here.

For When You’d Like to Bid the Internet Farewell: I Am More than a Computer by Seth Haines

For the Dreamers, the Lovers of the Word, the Lovers of People Near and Far: Seminary Is Not About Me by Aleah Marsden for Her.Meneutics (Christianity Today)

For When You’re Curious about the Ways Worship + Performance Intertwine: How the Hillsong Cool Factor Changed Worship for Good and for Ill by David Roark for Christ and Pop Culture

For the Skeptical of Sharing: The True Value of Vulnerability and Why It’s Worth It by Me for iBelieve

For When the Future is Fuzzy: The Question to Ask When Answers are Unclear by Melissa Kruger for The Gospel Coalition

For The Wonderers + Wanderers: Marked by Uncertainty by Sarah Elizabeth Finch + Me for Sarah Elizabeth Finch

For When You’re Pondering the Precious: Dear Jackson: The Work on the Ground by Hilary Yancey

Here’s to a restful weekend!

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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marked by uncertainty.

Over the last few years, my cry of, “help my unbelief,” has gotten louder and more desperate as I have (involuntarily) joined the club of special needs mothering, of loving a child with a condition that does not have case studies, does not have examples, does not contain surety of what will or will not happen. This has driven my heart to the depths, and has led me to a diagnosis of clinical depression. In it all, the Lord has been kind, even when I haven’t been able to call Him good. He has been kind through the community of believers around me, through the bright eyes of my two sweet boys, through the strength of my husband, through our families who love us well. He has been kind in giving me an outlet, writing, that requires little more than a laptop and eyes that can stay open long enough to compose a sentence. He has been kind in teaching me how to rest just a tiny bit better than I used to know how to do (which was pretty much not at all).

To read more, click on over to Sarah Elizabeth Finch’s blog where I’m honored to be featured in her Marked By series.

the friday features: may 5, 2016.


The Friday Features exist to fuel you with you sparks of joy and propel you toward the things that matter as you head into your weekend. If you’d like to submit an article to be included in the features, you can send me the link here.

For When You’re Hurting: Suffering Is Not for Its Own Sake by Tammy Perlmutter for The Mudroom

For the Unsure Voters: Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils? by Russell Moore for Christianity Today

For When You Just Can’t Stomach a Guy Referring to His Wife as His Smoking Hot Bride One More Time: Stop Calling Your Wife Hot by Barnabas Piper for The Blazing Center

For the Hurried in Heart: The Spiritual Discipline of Being Where You Are by Emily P. Freeman

For When You’re Aiming High for Mother’s Day Gifts: 10 Mother’s Day Gift Suggestions by Hillary Stonger (my sister!) for Neiman Marcus

For the Bloggers + Personality Typing  Enthusiasts: The Enneagram and Blogging by Leigh Kramer

For When You Want to Hear me Say the Phrase “Non-Podcast Appropriate Words”: Pursuing Joy While Parenting a Child with Special Needs | Feathers: Faith in Flight with Amy J. Bennett and me

Here’s to a restful weekend!

From Him | Through Him | To Him,

Abby

ascension of the Lord.

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.

Ascension of the Lord
(also called “Feast of the Ascension”)

What’s this holy day all about?
Ascension of the Lord is the observance of the fortieth day after the Resurrection (celebrated on Easter), when Jesus ascended into Heaven. The ascension is recorded in Acts 1:1-11.

What’s the history of this observance?
“Though the New Testament writers don’t devote a lot of words to explaining the details and significance of Jesus’ ascent, the Ascension would become an essential part of Christian doctrine. Both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds include a statement about the Ascension. The church was celebrating the Feast of the Ascension as early as the fifth century, if not earlier” (citation).

What’s it to me?
The Ascension represents a great deal to the Christian, teaching us more about the person and power of Jesus. Jesus does not merely vanish, as He had done before (road to Emmaus), He rises and disappears into the cloud. Tim Keller writes that this may have been to conjure up images of a coronation ceremony. Jesus maintains His humanity as He passes through the time-space continuum and joins the Father.

So…what’s it to me? Let’s be honest. These are the accounts in Scripture that make me think, this. faith. is. nuts. We actually believe this! We actually believe that our God made man dwelt among us, lived a perfect life, died that we may live, was resurrected from the dead, then ascended into heaven. There’s a part of me that almost starts laughing at these crazy realities. I near giggle at the wild, the rampant God-ness of it all. The Ascension calls me to press in to the deep, supernatural, He is a little like us but we are nothing like Him truths of Christianity. And it compels me to long for His return.

A bit more concretely, Jeff Robinson writes that Tim Keller observes:

  1. The ascended Christ is available for loving communication and fellowship. He is supremely personal.
  2. The ascended Christ is supremely powerful. As the ascended king, he is sovereign over every part of the created order.
  3. The ascended Christ guarantees that you can know you are forgiven, accepted, and delighted in by God the Father. He is our advocate who intercedes constantly for us.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Ascension of the Lord commemorates the day when Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after the resurrection.

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 Annunciation: Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. 

or

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Take some time to watch the clouds, to consider what it would have been like to watch Jesus pass through them, His promises still ringing in your ears.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of the Easter season through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Easter/Eastertide.

For kids: Ann Voskamp has assembled a great list of ideas, which includes cloud watching, releasing balloons, and making a rainbow cake to represent the rainbows encircling Jesus on the throne.


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

What are your ideas for observing The Ascension?

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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3 giveaway winners + 2 minute truths + 1 thank you & opportunity.

Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to try your chances in the Joy Woven Deep Mother’s Day Giveaway! It was such fun to watch the entries pour in, and each of the gals who participated in assembling the packages joins me in thanking you for the ways you promoted the giveaway and supported these dreams we’re living out in our day to day lives even on a place as wild + ridiculous as the internet.

Mother's Day Giveaway (1)

I wish I could give a gift to each of you, but since I can’t, we’ll settle for three :).

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.50.15 AM

Sign & Sparkle: Whitney Langdon Putnam
Style & Sweets: Sara Harper Taylor
Scripture & Spa: Sally Paradowski

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll be in touch with you via Facebook message or email this morning.


Before we step back into the reality of our Monday, I wanted to let you know about a little project I’m doing with my friend Sarah Elizabeth Finch. Sarah Elizabeth (SEB, to many of us) had the brilliant idea to post a devotional on her Instagram account with the hashtag #twominutetruths every day in May.

What a perfect month for this! May is crazy, at least in our neck of the woods with a youth pastor husband, multiple high school graduations, college graduations, wedding invitations aplenty, end of the school year events and preparations for summer.

I’m incredibly thankful for SEB’s idea, so thankful in fact that I’m jumping on the bandwagon! SEB is going through the book of James, and I am sharing Scripture & insights on the concept of time, on what it is to redeem it, on how we make the most of all of this “meantime” – the space between in the wait for glory.

Two Minute Truths: In The Beginning

Come join us on Instagram, and perhaps consider starting your own series as well! It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. The heart behind this is to encourage the people who scroll toward our little image squares, to use something as mayhem-leaning as social media to strengthen spirits and reflect the glory of God. We’d LOVE to see what you come up with, just make sure you use the hashtag so we can follow along!


Thank you x139583 to all of you who responded to my requests for insight into your Myers-Briggs personality types and way of thinking about books + entertainment! I do a little happy dance (sometimes in my heart, sometimes in my kitchen with two little fellas joining me) every time I see a new email with responses, and the privilege of reading your thoughtfulness and preferences is a joy. I’m working hard on a blog post that explores our personality types and how we engage the world of literature + media, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

((If you’d like to share your Myers-Briggs type with me and answer a few questions about your books + entertainment consumption, just shoot me an email here. If you don’t know your type, you can take the test here and verify it by reading profiles here!))


I’m praying for your Monday – for contentment, belief, opportunities and desire to serve those in your path. May we know nothing better than to be joyful and do good all the days of our lives (Ecc 3).

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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