Reflections at the Close of Ordinary Time

I’m a Baptist born and bred, but I have begun observing the liturgical calendar within this year. There is something grounding in reading the Bible seasonally alongside believers around the world.

This week—the week before Advent—marks the end of Ordinary Time, a portion of the liturgical calendar I didn’t even know existed. This season is not named because the season is average or boring. Instead, it is named for the latin word ordo from which we get our word “order.” It is a season of ordered life in the church—neither feasting or fasting, but faithful watchfulness for Advent.

There has been something resonant as I have read about the journey of Israel out of Egypt, or David’s path to the throne. Israel had escaped their season of suffering, but had not yet arrived  in the promise land (this was pre-40-years-of-wandering). David had been promised the throne by God, but Saul was not ready to hand it over. These were times of hope ahead, but also mourning was at bay for a moment.

And we know how things turned out. Israel had to wait longer than expected to take the promise land. David had to run and hide lest he be killed before he even go close to fulfilling his calling. But for a time, there was a time of faithful trust—a stewardship to be where God had placed them despite the average order of that time.

I find myself in a season of neither great joy or mourning, neither change or stagnancy, neither stressful or restful. My season in life is in and of itself an Ordinary Time. So what do I do in this time?

Honestly, I don’t totally know. I feel a little guilty not experiencing anything too traumatic or going through a huge life transition after a season of seemingly endless transition. I know this isn’t the case for most of you. But in a season to be marked by faithfulness, how does one seek to cultivate that faithfulness.

It looks like making space and time for practices that make me more like Jesus. It looks like reimagining a Sabbath focused more on reflection over my week and the week ahead and less like focusing on the inside of my eyelids. It looks like serving in and pursuing a community that is broken, but still where I am called to be. It looks like finding new ways to express gratitude. It looks like learning to lament with those who mourn and celebrate with those who are joyful.

According to Eugene Peterson, it’s long obedience in the same direction.

There is an order in this time in my life—a call to stay the course and faithfully look forward to whatever God may have ahead. I can so easily look at what has passed and want to dwell on its pain or cling to its victories. I can desperately race to what I think the future should hold for me, attempting to grasp or control.

Or I can do what is hard. I can dwell in the season God has placed me in for his purposes. Faithfulness and hope. That is what is being cultivated in these days.

As Ordinary Time comes to a close, there is an excitement to moving in to Advent. There is also the reminder to enjoy and rest in the order of my current days. I do not know what lies ahead, but God can be trusted in the order.

How has God met you in the Ordinary seasons of your life?

The Investment of Waiting

Last week I threw out the question of what it means to wait actively. I don’t think it’s really quite fair for me to ask you a question and not answer it myself.

So what is active waiting in my world?

After wrestling with the concept this week and some really great conversations over coffee, I came to this conclusion: Waiting is not the word. Waiting still seems to imply a sitting still, a holding of breath for something.

James 5 uses the metaphor of the farmer waiting for his crops. The Greek word used, ekdechomai, implies waiting with expectation. (That’s right, I whipped out the concordance on this one.) The farmer isn’t just waiting for whatever to happen. He is waiting for fruit. He does what it takes to ready the field and prepare for the harvest.

The farmer invests in his work.

So what does this mean for little ol’ me?

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the purpose of my singleness and where the boundary lines have fallen for me. I’ve also recently been a part of some great conversations on the needs and future of ministry for single young adults. Great things that stir in me a passion and desire to see growth; a longing for God to awake hunger for Him in the hearts of people in this stage of life.

And what is one thing that singles are told time and time again? Especially single women?


“Wait on God.” “Good things come to those who wait.” And then my personal favorite, “True love waits.”

But what does that mean? Are we supposed to sit around and do nothing while we wait for godly prince charming to stride in with his Toms-clad feet and Greek New Testament and whisk me away to a mission field in Asia?

Geeze, I certainly hope not.

I have observed a lot of women, who have been told for years to wait, grow frustrated, disillusioned, and bitter. What they have been told to sit and wait patiently for not come. I feel that tension myself,

So what do we do? Ya know, when there’s not much you can do.

We invest. We invest in where we are and what God is doing in us and in our communities. We seek out the input of older wiser counsel. We seek contentment while still pursuing growth. We serve.

So what does this mean for me personally? I want to start to build community with both women and men and provide context for thoughtful conversation. Essentially, I want to open my home for gatherings and encourage deeper discussion through thoughtful, others-focused questions.

I want to continue to study the word and become more firmly rooted in my identity through truth.

I want to explore the gifts I have been given further. I want to write like crazy and learn more about marketing.

I want growth. I want to see God bring it about in my life and want to watch it happen in the lives around me.

And, yes, this may be an idealistic rant of a hopeless romantic, but it is a rant I offer up to the father to do with whatever he sees fit.

We have been placed where we are in life for good reason, whether we see that or not.

So we can allow our discontentment to fester into bitterness. We can allow are hearts to harden as what we may want does not arrive in our timing. If that’s the case, we’re not really usable for God’s purpose.

Or we can enter into the adventure with God, wrestling with the tension of where we’ve been placed and where we wish we were. We can encounter him on a deeper level as we seek in invest in the stage he has intentionally placed us.

I would love to hear any more of your thoughts if you’ve been wrestling with the what it means to wait. Comment and join the discussion.

The 3 Questions That Have Emerged from My Singleness

I am the Charlie Brown of blind dates.

Not that I’m looking to go on blind dates. But as a single girl with a majority of married friends, it seems that everyone has some ‘Nice Guy’ in their back pocket they expect me to want to try on for size.

But the hilarious thing is that every time someone attempts to set me up with someone, they magically end up in a relationship a few weeks later. For real. This has happened a good four or five times!

Probably my favorite was at the beginning of this summer.

My sister had led on a youth trip and had met another leader she thought I ‘just had to meet.’ After some carousing from her, I agreed that she could give the guy my number… mainly because he wasn’t going to call.

And no, this isn’t one of those I-gave-up-on-the-thought-and-then-just-as-I-lost-faith-the-guy-called-and-now-we’re-married posts. Because I was right and he didn’t call… because honestly, that would have been weird. (Hi, your sister sent me your number via Facebook because she thinks I need to go out with more girls…) But this experience caused me to feel a little pressure from home and from myself.

I love my parents and sister, don’t get me wrong. They want good things from me and want to see my life move forward in whatever way God sees fit. But with talk of this around the dinner table, I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I was missing out on something.

I mean, at twenty-two, shouldn’t I have gone out with more people by now? Shouldn’t I have more guy friends that I haven’t gained through marriage to my girl friends? And then of course the age old question of all slightly socially-awkward bookworm girls everywhere: Is there something wrong with me?

Overwhelmed by a sense of impending spinsterhood and the projected baby-fever of my family (alright, perhaps there’s some hyperbole here…) I asked a friend if she would go to coffee with me. She is a awesome single lady in her mid-twenties and I just wanted to pick her brain on how she handled this kind of pressure.

Talking with her, I was able to wrestle with some of the lies within my own heart, as well understand that those in my life wanting me to look for love only were doing so because they themselves loved me. We worked through my neurotic questions together and I came away with some wisdom and a little more gumption to enjoy where I’m at.

So at twenty-two, is it bad that I haven’t dated a ton? Not really. I mean, yeah marriage is a thought in my mind, but it’s not a priority, like say, breakfast tomorrow or something. I’ve got time and God knows what he’s doing with that time be it dating, marriage, or otherwise.

And I don’t have a lot of guy friends. Should I be concerned? Not totally, but it’s probably healthy to put yourself in some co-ed situations. So I’m trying to get plugged in with the singles group at my church. Turns out about half of the world’s population doesn’t like Pride & Prejudice (ie. men) so I should probably learn how to communicate with them about other things…

So is there something wrong with me? Don’t tell me you haven’t asked yourself this question. It’s easy to ask when the longing is heavy and the loneliness endless. My wonderful friend was able to affirm in me what I want to affirm in you:

You aren’t single because there is something wrong with you. You are single because that is the season in which you are currently placed. Seasons do not last forever. Sometimes it seems like it will, but that is just a lie. You never know what God may have around the corner. That’s not for us to know. Our job is to wait and trust and find joy in where we are, even when it seems like a burden.

You are a beautiful daughter of the king. And that king has planed beautiful things for you, my friend. Be that a relationship, marriage, grand adventures, refusing to become a cat lady… There are endless possibilities and hope. There is always hope.

Alright, so how does this tie into my Charlie-Brown-blind-dating intro? I’m getting there, I promise!

A couple weeks after our coffee date, my friend and I met up again for dinner. She asked me how I was doing with the home/self-imposed pressure.

God has really been working on my heart this summer in the areas of contentment and gratitude and I was able to tell her honestly that I am happy to be where I am. Yes, I would like a relationship someday, but for now I am pleased to be where God has me.

Just as I voiced this, the guy my sister had tried to set me up with walked past the window by where I sat. I watched as he met up with a girl very obviously for a first date. I couldn’t help but laugh and point it out to my friend. Of all the restaurants of all the nights and of all the people. It was just too funny.

And really I could laugh with no disappointment. God knows what he’s doing and I can trust that.

I am finding that I would much rather go on single than be in a relationship I have to grasp and manipulate to make happen. We’ll just see how God responds to that thought.

In the mean time, what are some awkward blind date experiences you’ve had? Any strange set-up hi-jinx in your world?

The Holding Pattern

Last week, I wrote about contentment. This week, I want to talk about waiting.

All summer, it has seemed I have been in this season of waiting. There is a fabulous job opportunity that may or may not come to fruition and I am waiting. It seems like I will always be waiting.

If you’re like me, your brain just doesn’t shut off. I have played out so many scenarios in my mind. How will I react if I get it? How will I react if I do not? Will I cry? What will I do if it is full time? Will that effect my freelance work? What if I don’t get the job and will never make enough to get out of my parents basement? Does that mean I have to take up video games? What if they thought my outfit was awful in the interview? Did the color of my resume paper offend the interviewer? What if? How will I?Hmm? Hmm? Hmm?

The other day I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize and nearly had a heart attack. Could this be the call at last?

… It was just a wrong number.

I wondered if the guy on the other end had been calling ‘Teresa’ to tell her she got a job. Congrats Teresa! I hate you.

Okay, not really.

But it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. It sometimes feels like I’m going crazy! And I don’t mean the phone call.

I am in a holding pattern in which I have no control. So where do I go with that?

God is so much more patient than I. And he actually is in control.

When the buzzing monologue of what-ifs overwhelm my thoughts, I have found taking time to pray has been essential in this season. I am not going to get an answer in that time with Him. I am not really looking for an answer. That will come when the hiring folks make their decision in their time.

When we want something so badly, it is easy to get swept away with worries and what-ifs and miss what God may be up to. That’s usually what I do with my waiting periods. I worry. Until I figure out what’s going on. Then I’m usually disappointed when things don’t go my way or unfulfilled if they do.

The waiting is just as valuable as the thing you are waiting for.

I don’t care if it is for a job, a spouse, enough savings for a new car, dinner, cats to go extinct: the waiting is where God does some of his best work. It is a playground to experience gratitude, examine motives, and encounter the character of the Father.

And, yeah, sometimes it sucks! This summer has crawled by for me. I have a hard time scheduling things over a week in advance because I’m not really sure what life will look like in that short amount of time. I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket like phantom limb, having to remind myself it’s in my purse. I want this so badly, but I am not getting it right now and I have to learn to be alright with that.

I’ll tell you this though: God has met me in this holding pattern. He is sitting beside me while I wait to land. The moments when he invites me to into silence, to ‘Be still and know that he is God’ are what keep me sane. He offers peace. I find that I just have to trust that his way is best. Waiting and all.

I hope that if you are finding yourself in a holding pattern as well, that you find God beside you. Take some time today to enjoy the silence with him. Please enjoy as you loosen your grasp on the thing you are waiting for and offer it to Him with open hands.

The waiting is just as valuable as the thing you are waiting for.

I promise.