Archives for March 2011

Thursday Tip: Marker Memorization

I received some great responses to the entry where I talked about some memorization tools.  I figured if it connected with some of you the first time, I might as well give it a second go.  This one is easy and I’m sure you have all the necessary supplies to make a go of it! (In other news – I enjoy sounding like a chipmunk.)

Markers + Mirror = Memorization Win.

Marker Memorization from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

This tip helps me, but what helps you?  What tools have you discovered to aid you in your own faith walk?

Following,
Ginger

Don’t feed the bears.

I don’t know if you’ve picked up on a theme on this blog, but I thoroughly enjoy imparting a love for God’s Word to others. I have friends who were burned by bad church experiences or lengthy religion classes and have since left their Bibles on the same shelf since 1998.

I believe that you really can fall in love with God’s Word. We’ve discussed the importance of hiding verses in your heart, being able to combat lies with truth, and getting away for some true rest. If you find yourself reaching for anything but that big black book on your shelf, here are some of my own thoughts about picking up this habit.

1. It’s really hard to read a book if you don’t open it.
2. The Bible is composed of 66 individual books inside of one large books. These smaller books should be read just like any other book: start to finish. I don’t recommend the flip and point method OR the blinded flip and point method.
3. There are books within the Bible that you will connect with more than others. I love the History books in the Old Testament but I know lots of people who will gladly camp out in all the “ians” books in the New Testament. (Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians… etc.)
4. If you are looking for a place to start, I might recommend the four Gospels – the books with names you can pronounce. (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.)
5. Make sure you have a translation that you can understand! If your Bible has gold pages and has multiple appearances by the word thee and thou that confuse you… you might want to find a new translation. I personally read from the NIV or New International Version. My husband reads from the ESV or English Standard Version. Other suggestions might be the NCV, NLT, NASB or even The Message.
6. Why not just get all your Biblical education from a Pastor or another book? Check out this quick film (that’s close to my heart) to make this very point.

 


 

The Bible is meant to be your guide, your food, and your sword. (Yeah. A weapon. Check out Ephesians 6.) It might be slow going at first, but the benefits will far outweigh the struggle! In 2001 I began to pray one prayer every night before I fell asleep: “Lord, let me love your Word.” I believe that’s a prayer God loves to answer.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16

If you are already reading the Bible consistently, what made the change for you? What book of the Bible did you start with?

Happy Reading and Feeding!

Following,
Ginger

In a Nutshell

Dear Ginger,

I’d like to know more about you.  What’s your story?

-M

Dear M – Thanks for your question!  I will try to answer AND be brief.  :)

I’m in a Bible Study on Tuesday nights with nine other women.  We’ve been sharing prayer requests, reading a book together, and sharing our stories.  Learning the stories of these women has changed them from casual acquaintances to spiritual guides and friends.  There is something so powerful about someone’s story.  The road that brought them to this point can’t be argued or debated… it just IS.

Here’s mine… in a nutshell.

 

 

In a Nutshell from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

 

We each have unique stories that we have lived and are now living.  What kind of story is your life telling? Do you have a theme verse for this season? Care to share?

Following,
Ginger

Vitamin Verse

I stumbled upon 2 Timothy 1:12 about five years ago.  It was one of those discoveries that leaves you asking, “Has this verse always been there?!”

“…Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

I tried to move on to verse 13, but my eyes pulled me back up to verse 12 again.  I thought through the words Paul had chosen.  “…Yet I am not ashamed, because I know WHOM I have believed…” So often I spend this life trying to know who I am, rather than whom I belong to.  Paul places his entire trust and identity in the one in whom he believes.  That belief has Paul convinced that God “is able to guard what I have entrusted to him…”

Many of us believe that God has the power and ability to protect us and provide for our needs but seem to leave out the action verb that Paul uses.  Entrust.  Webster’s gives this definition to the word entrust: To give over (something) to another for care, protection, or performance.” Not only does Paul believe that God has the power, but he gives it up and hands it over.  So often I bring my requests to the throne of God prepared to leave them at his feet but find myself backing away still clutching onto those same requests.

If I believe that God truly does desire my good, (which doesn’t actually mean easy or convenient, but rather being conformed to the likeness of his Son) then I will release my requests knowing that he is able to guard what I entrust to him.  Do I accomplish this just once?  Note the end of the verse: “for that day.” This is not a one time event.  This is the daily act of surrender that I will make for the rest of my life.  Some days this comes naturally and other days I must find my way back to this verse.  He has promised to hear my prayers and answer them, but do I trust him with what I hold dearest?  It’s time to take a deep breath and give up.

1 Timothy 1:12 is one of my vitamin verses.  I check it out on a daily basis to give me strength, nourishment, and encouragement to face the day ahead.  What are some of your go-to vitamin verses?

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds

Fridays are going to take on a new feel! Welcome to Fabulous Friday Finds.  I’m going to use it as a platform to recommend all sorts of things: blogs, books, movies, music, events, what to get me for Christmas…  You get the idea.

I’ve received several messages this week requesting some suggestions for small group and personal reading.  I’m mildly obsessed with reading, so I am more than happy to oblige.  People are different.  (Shocking.)  We have varied tastes and we absorb material in completely unique ways.  That being said, these books made the list because they have spoken into my life at one time or another.  Some are topical, others are devotional.  Not all of these books would be great for every age group – so I’m also going to try and give a rough summary of the book and the target audience.  Here we go.

Relationships
Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones (Good book for teen girls especially.)
Dateable: Are you? Are they? by Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco (I read this as a confused 20-something.)
The Art of Rejection by Hayley and Michael DiMarco (This tiny book was a huge help after a break up.)

Taking Risks, Living Adventurously, Embracing Life NOW
Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus (Read this book on the plane to Arizona.  It gave me courage!)
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (This book was perfect for dreaming big.)
I Married Adventure by Luci Swindoll (I love this book AND the journal that goes with it.)
Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam (Another great 20-somethings book)

Beliving Truth/Body Image
The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee (This is a great book for teens and college students.)
Me, Myself & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild (Although addressed to Moms, I went through this with a group of teens last year.  We giggled at some parts but it brought about great discussion.)
Breaking Free by Beth Moore (I have read the book and gone through the Bible Study 3 times.  This book was a catalyst for change in my life.)

Developing Relationship with God
The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg (ANY of Feinbergs books have a way of challenging me to view my pre-conceived ideas about God.)
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning (Breathtaking and beautiful, this book is for the faint of heart.)
Dangerous Wonder by Michael Yaconelli (A reminder to live with childlike faith.)

Devotional
Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeath (This was the perfect answer for a girl [me] who couldn’t focus when she prayed.)
God Is No Fool by Lois A. Cheney (I fell in love with this poetry as a freshman in college.  My grandmother found it in my apartment last year and has since introduced it to her book club.)

As I considered the countless books on my shelf, these are the books I selected for a short list for one simple reason: I reference them on a monthly basis.  These contain the quotes I pull for messages, letters, and blog posts. These are the thoughts I reference when looking for and giving encouragement.  These are the books that have pushed me along in my own stumbling way.  This list will probably change in another two months.  I am currently being challenged humbled by Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.  I’m fairly certain this will be a book I reread over and over again.

The important thing to remember is that these authors are human.  Their writings, the outpourings of the heart, are not infallible.  That’s why it is always important to be putting a healthy dose of God’s Truth in your diet. The Bible should still be your primary source for encouragement and guidance.  I don’t agree with everything in every book that is on the list but I connect with the hearts and imaginations of the authors.  I am looking forward to continuing new reading with the goal of recommending and reviewing books that can challenge and encourage both students and youth leaders alike.  If you’d like more information on any of the books listed feel free to comment or ask.

Last thing before I send you off to enjoy your glorious weekend: What books should I be reading?  What books did you find encouraging at different stages in your own personal growth?  What’s a book you read over and over and over?

Following,
Ginger

Scrambled Expectations

Happy Thursday! We’ve spent the better portion of this week discussing a great question by E. If you haven’t had a chance to read/watch the previous posts, be sure and check out Day 1 and Day 2 before continuing today.  E asked for encouragement when we feel like we aren’t meeting the expectations of others.  Here’s her question:

Dear Ginger,

This past year has been killer. I started off strong, fresh, and just ready to take on the world! My motto for this school year was Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” But lately, I’ve been completely drained, disappointed, and pathetic. I feel like all my efforts are in vain and no one sees or hears me, let alone appreciates me. Because of this, I have lost sight of pleasing the Lord and as a result, I’m not meeting other people’s standards they have set for me including friends, teachers, and my own mentees (people I’ve started to mentor). I’m constantly letting down people… Do you have ANY encouragement for a girl that’s utterly burned out, weary, and burdened?

-E

 

Expectations from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

E, I hope this discussion has helped encourage you in your journey.
Reminders:
1. This season is temporary – life won’t always feel like this.
2. Learning to juggle responsibilities is an excellent skill to acquire.
3. Make a list every morning of your big to-do’s and then pray over it – asking God to help you prioritize, to give you strength, and to let you love people in the midst of those tasks.
4. If you aren’t dependent upon God already – this will drive you to your knees and to Him.

Hang in there, His help is on the way.

Following,
Ginger

Weak = Strong

Welcome to part two of what has now become a THREE part answer to a great question from E. Yesterday we talked about one component in the entry Rest for the Weary. Today we are heading out to my garage to tackle finding strength in our weaknesses.

Here’s E’s question one more time:

Dear Ginger,

This past year has been killer. I started off strong, fresh, and just ready to take on the world! My motto for this school year was Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” But lately, I’ve been completely drained, disappointed, and pathetic. I feel like all my efforts are in vain and no one sees or hears me, let alone appreciates me. Because of this, I have lost sight of pleasing the Lord and as a result, I’m not meeting other people’s standards they have set for me including friends, teachers, and my own mentees (people I’ve started to mentor). I’m constantly letting down people… Do you have ANY encouragement for a girl that’s utterly burned out, weary, and burdened?

-E

 

Help Wanted from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Once again, thanks for your honesty, E.  For the rest of us, don’t forget to rest up and reach out!

Following,
Ginger

Rest for the Weary

 

Dear Ginger,

This past year has been killer. I started off strong, fresh, and just ready to take on the world! My motto for this school year was Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” But lately, I’ve been completely drained, disappointed, and pathetic. I feel like all my efforts are in vain and no one sees or hears me, let alone appreciates me. Because of this, I have lost sight of pleasing the Lord and as a result, I’m not meeting other people’s standards they have set for me including friends, teachers, and my own mentees (people I’ve started to mentor). I’m constantly letting down people… Do you have ANY encouragement for a girl that’s utterly burned out, weary, and burdened?

-E

E,

Thank you for your jam-packed question.  As I began answering you, I realized that this wasn’t going to fit in just one entry… so I’m ready to take as many days as needed.  Check out the video below.

Rest from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

If someone says, “I’m tired.”  The usual response is, “get some rest.”  The same advice applies here… the rest just looks a little different.  Praying for you. “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

Following,
Ginger

Hide and Seek?

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a restful weekend and are ready to take on the week.  Thank you for all the comments and questions that keep pouring in.  I’m looking forward to tackling them this week and next.  Here we go…

 

 

Ginger,

How do I know what God wants me to do?  I feel like I can’t tell the difference between His voice and my voice… and I want to.

-B.

Dear B,

First, I want you to know that God speaks to all of us differently and calls us differently! Check it out: Moses saw God face to face, Paul got a light, Isaiah had to run naked for 3 years, Jeremiah slept on his side next to a pile of burning dung, Ezekiel watched dry bones, Elijah saw the fire, felt the quake, and then found God in the whisper, Gideon was visited by an angel, and still others were met by talking donkeys and storms that held them at bay.  The important point is that you are aware and you are seeking.  When you desire to be in God’s will, He HONORS that.

That being said, have you ever heard of the game Sardines? I used to play it all the time as a kid.. It’s almost a reverse of traditional “Hide and Seek.” In Sardines the “it” person goes to hide and everyone else counts. Then everyone heads out looking for the person – we’ll call them “the sardine” for ease. If I find the sardine, I have to try to hide WITH that person in their hiding place. This continues until there is only one man left standing. The last person to find the crew will be “it” in the next round.

And? I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with anything.

The truth is that for a long time I thought of my relationship with God as if it was a game of Sardines… especially in high school and college. I wanted to know God’s will for my life so desperately. I felt that no matter how hard I asked or looked I just couldn’t determine what God wanted for me. And I looked at all of my friends, confidently making decisions, and couldn’t help but think that they had all found the answer.  That was it.  The entire world was hiding with God in a huge game of Sardines and I was the last one standing as they all told each other to “shh”.

Everyone else can find you, why can’t I?!” I lose heart and I resign myself to being last. Crazy, right?

Confession: I feel like that, every once in a while, even to this day. I’ve read and memorized Jeremiah 29:13 until it’s practically a daily saying: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Mark Batterson writes, “God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go.”

I don’t know about you, but that truth about God let’s me take a deep and contented sigh.  I can find joy and peace from knowing God isn’t hiding – He is waiting for me to seek Him… and when I seek Him I will find Him, right where He was all along.

Following,
Ginger

Word Spaghetti

Thanks for checking out the blog this week. I’m loving the questions, so keep them coming. I’ll be back on Monday with a new set of questions to explore and probably some fun random stuff that happens this weekend. Whether you are finishing up your spring break or just excited that it’s FRIDAY, I hope you have a fantastic day!

On the menu: Spaghetti.

Spaghetti from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

If YOU have any other suggestions for some great memorization tools – feel free to add them in the comment section!

Following,
Ginger