Archives for August 2011

Check the Connection

I spend much of my day typing away on a lovely little Macbook.  It’s dependable and I very rarely get upset with it.  (Don’t try and tell me that you don’t get upset with inanimate objects.)  But lately I’ve found my blood pressure rises in the following situation.

I charge the laptop overnight.  I wake up and the red charging light has turned to a refreshing shade of green.  I unplug the mac and bring him over to the kitchen table.  Over breakfast I catch up on news, blogs, and e-mails for almost an hour.  By the time I’ve finished the charge level has drifted from 100% to somewhere in the 50th or 60th percentile.  So I take plug the mac back in, pour my coffee and head to “my spot” to have some time in the word.  I return to my computer to start the work day only to discover that instead of increasing in percentage, my power is now listed as “not charging.”  I fumble with the cord only to discover that the charge level reads 21% and falling.  At this point I begin my friendly yelling match.

What’s the problem?  In my rush to move from activity to activity in the morning I fail (on numerous occasions) to take the time to make sure my computer is actually connected to the power source.  It’s not enough for the charge cord to just be touching my computer, it needs to be properly and directed connected in order for any improved power levels.

It’s the same with our relationships.  I know that I can speak from experience when I say that too often I fly through re-energizing with the Lord and find myself falling flat.  Crisis comes and I recognize that I have once again made God my roof rather than the foundation of my life.  I talk a good game.  I read blogs and share verses right and left – but I forget to make sure that I’m actually connected to the main source.  I know when I’m chasing other things to fill me up.  I may not admit it to myself in the moment, but my journals are full of laments from the last decade where I say, “Lord, why am I so far from you?  Why have I stayed away from your word?  Why am I avoiding the very thing that I need so desperately?”

The Lord says, “All you who are thirsty,
come and drink.
Those of you who do not have money,
come, buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn’t really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.”  Isaiah 55:1-2, NCV

It’s true – you and I were designed to do extraordinary things… but not in our own strength.  If you find yourself running out of energy and unable to make it through the day, might I suggest something stronger then caffeine?  If your connection is loose everything else will be out of order: your emotions, your relationships, your priorities.

When was the last time that you drank deeply from the Living Water?  

My laptop is only useful to me when it has the power to run all of the programs I need.  Without the power, it’s just an empty shell.

Following,
Ginger

Fanning the Flames

Hi Ginger! I just got back from an amazing weekend at camp where God did some amazing things in my heart. How do you keep “the campfire burning” after you go back to real life? -T

Hi, T!  You always send timely questions!  The last time I talked about something like this I had just returned from a week of camp.  We explored how the elements that encouraged you to worship (the body of believers, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God) are all things that aren’t just for camp or retreats – but things that are accessible to us all year long.

I just returned from another retreat and I’m once again thinking of the young women who attended and praying that they would also continue to grow… that the fire that was stoked this weekend would not burn down to embers.

So, how do you keep any fire stoked?  (I knew 10 years of Girl Scouting would come into play on this blog one day!)

Continue to add fuel to the fire.  Sometimes a spiritual “high” can look a lot like someone spraying lighter fluid onto an already lit fire.  It goes crazy for a brief moment and then it dies back down.  If you want to keep a steady fire burning it’s going to take care and attention.  You need to be prepared to consistently feed yourself fuel and kindling.  What’s the fuel?

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

Stay Connected –  “We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.” Hebrews 10:25, GWT

I know it sounds almost too simple to be true, but I honestly think those two components are critical!  I know that post summer-camp, I used to fill up my journal with memories from camp.  I wrote about the talks I heard, the songs I sang, and the relationships I formed.  But all of the things I treasured: godly wisdom, worship, and friendships were also available to me back at home.

Remember, a relationship that’s just built on feeling isn’t built for the long haul.  It’s exciting to hear that your experience stoked and cultivated your spiritual flame.  I would challenge you not to spend your time trying to make your relationship feel the way it did during camp.  Instead I would encourage you to keep knowing God in a more intimate way through prayer and through His Word.

Let’s meet back here tomorrow and we will talk about this some more.

You tell me, readers.  How would you answer T’s question?

Following,
Ginger

Passion (not the fruit)

I spent ALL of last week on my adventure tangent.  The hope was that you would enter this fall/school year/semester/season full of renewed purpose, hope, energy, and passion!  I enjoyed reading through my old journals and remembering all of the random adventures the Lord has seen fit to take me on in these past few years.  Some (adventures) were taken willingly, while others I went crying all the way.  (For real.  Just ask my husband about the time I cried all the way through the grocery store.)

I received a pretty personal question last week.  I put off answering for a day or two because I knew the response was going to be a long one.  As much as I love writing, my head tends to work faster than my fingers can keep up.  So when I write something I’m passionate about it’s probably fairly comical to watch.  The question basically boiled down to “Do you have any practical advice on how to get started as a writer and a speaker?”

Short answer: I don’t really know how to do THIS.  I’m making it up as I go along!  I read a lot of books, blogs, watch conferences live, take notes, and say “yes” to just about every opportunity sent my way.

The long answer:  I think the first step in launching out into any dream career is determining your passion.  Identify THAT and you are already steps ahead of most of the adult world.  In my teens and early 20’s I felt paralyzed by passion.  I love and enjoy a lot of activities.  I could see myself happily employed in various avenues of the arts and education.  I didn’t know how to choose just one.  So rather than identify the outlet for my message, I began to think about the message that was burning inside of me.

Kevin East is the Senior Director of Camps for Pine Cove Christian Camps.  He is also a new voice in the blog world with great passion for leadership… he also happens to be someone I respect very much on a personal level.  He wrote a great post on blogging this summer that helped me to hone my own ministry vision in an even more specific way.  I want to encourage you to read the post and follow his blog, but I’ll summarize this particular post with one question:

What makes you angry?

Surprised by the simplicity?  I think I was.  After I recovered and read the rest of Kevin’s article I began a flurry of writing that gave me much needed direction and energy.

I answered his question [What makes you angry?] with the following:  An overwhelming number of young women seek attention from negative sources, derive their dreams from Hollywood, find identity in their appearance, and deem truth to be irrelevant.  This angers me.

THIS ANGERS AND IMPASSIONS ME.

Once I could identify my passion, I could more easily identify what my role might possibly be in God’s greater plan for redemption.

My goal/passion/mission: To encourage and sharpen young women to find their worth, identity, dreams and truth in the source of Jesus Christ.

Once that was established I considered the gifts God has given me in theatre and speaking, my high energy personality, my love for teens, and my desire to communicate God’s word in an exciting way and I knew that THAT was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

My husband and I made professional goals for each of us this year.  Mine included business cards, a website, at least 3 new speaking gigs, and a book manuscript complete by the end of the year.  These are pieces I can bite off and chew.  Since making those goals and praying over them God has somehow decided to give me even more than I could have asked for!  (He’s so good at that.)

I don’t know what next month will look like.  Sometimes writing a blog isn’t overly encouraging.  I don’t get immediate feedback.  90% of readers don’t comment.  Some days I feel like I’m speaking to no one – putting hours into something so that my family can read it.  (Hi mom!)  But every once in a while I get a comment or an e-mail that reminds me WHY I am doing this.  And sometimes, it IS one of my family members. :)  I love that God is using my ramblings to reach teens, women, and even men of all ages.  I welcome it!  But I don’t do this because I like it (although I most certainly do!), but because I am called to it and compelled by Him.

“Once God decides something needs to be done, it is never a matter of if… The issue is usually who?  Who will step forward, embrace the vision, and move ahead by faith?” – Andy Stanley

My husband said this to me sometime in May when I was feeling especially discouraged: “Church has them for one hour a week.  The world gets the rest.  That’s what you’re up against.”

I get excited and impassioned when I envision women who:
-Read the Word
-Respect their bodies
-Abandon comparison
-Find belonging, acceptance, identity, and redemption in Christ alone
-Embrace real life

I’m learning as I go.  I still fail.  But He seems content to use my failures for HIS glory.

I don’t understand why or how – I only know that once the vision is set- the rest is just details.  If you know the WHAT He is calling you to – He always has the HOW to accomplish the task.  It’s all His anyway.

With love and joy and passion (still following),

Ginger

But if I say, “I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
  Jeremiah 20:9

Friday Finds: Quotes

I’m happily sharing some of my favorite ADVENTURE quotes this week.  I have gobs of them.  Oodles of them.  I’m hoping one or two jump out and inspire you today.

“Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purpose.” (Kenneth Hildebrand)

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” (Ronald E. Osborn)

“A large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything.” (Laurence Sterne)

“Make no mistake.  God tests our willingness to follow Him in obedience even if no one will or can go with us.  We won’t embrace with both hands what God has for us if we hold our old lives with a death grip.” (Beth Moore)

“He (Jesus) is inviting us on a divine adventure.  He’s calling us to be spiritual pioneers, explorers, and even warriors.  To respond to this calling is to accept that you will be a sojourner relinquishing the security of being a settler.” (Erwin McManus)

“…Sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand… But one does not have to understand to be obedient.” (Madeleine L’Engle)

“It is a dangerous thing to underestimate your role in the story.  You will lose heart, and you will miss your cues.” (John Eldredge)

“The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” (Francis A. Schaeffer)

“We are not created to watch from the sidelines.  We were created in the image and likeness of God, to hear His voice and journey with Him.” (Erwin McManus)

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” Hebrews 10:39, NIV

Have any you love?  Care to share?

Have a FABULOUS weekend!

Following,

Ginger

Thursday Tips: Adventuring

“Adventuresome living is a perspective that touches every part of our being.  It’s seeing ourselves in relation to the One who created us, the One who gives us courage to face each new day.” – Luci Swindoll

Have you caught onto the theme this week?  It continues even in our Thursday Tips – check out the video and I’ll catch you after the jump!

Adventure from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Challenges for you:

-If you haven’t made a list of dreams before, what’s keeping you from doing it?

-Is your list full of dreams or plans?

-Is there anything on your list that requires faith in our Father for success?

-Have you ever made a personal mission statement?  If not, give it a try!

-I challenge you to find a theme verse for your year!


Following,
Ginger

My Chapter in HIStory

I’ve learned that in order to say yes to some big adventures, you also have to learn how to say no and wait.  I learned that lesson in a huge way during the summer of 2006…

“I am captivated by stories.  I find myself taken in by song lyrics, stolen from reality by a Jane Austin heroine, and challenged by the men and women of scripture.  All scripture is indeed inspired and written to teach us and bring us hope; however, it is the skillfulness with which it is all woven together that excites and thrills me.

I think what really gets me going is the way that my story is a part of His story.  Although my own story isn’t found in scripture, it’s amazing to think that I could have my own little chapter in the record of time.  Each book, chapter, and story is vastly different from the other.  Each call is unique and the Lord seems to use individual ways to catch the attention of His beloved people.

I was challenged last night to consider how the Lord might be calling me.  I recently interviewed for a completely different job than what I am currently doing.  I’ve been trying to listen to the Lord and make a clear cut decision, and I just wanted to hear an audible voice this time.  Samuel was audibly called when he wasn’t even asking to hear, while Moses saw a bush and Elijah discerned a whisper.  Jesus called out to Peter to walk on water as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ran into fire.  Isaiah had to race around naked for two years and Esther was challenged by her uncle to change the course of her people!  I’ve always wanted to be a dynamic character.  My prayer has been for the life less ordinary and the road less traveled.  I claim that I will take North Dallas or South Africa, I simply want a calling.

But I have received a calling.  I am called by my Creator to make his name known in every situation in which I find myself.  I do desire to work “in the way that I am bent” (Proverbs 22:6), that when I ____ I feel God’s pleasure.  I’m finding out that I feel like I might be able to fill in that blank with about 20 different things.

As I think about where this road I’m on may be leading me, I am reminded specifically of Abram.  The Lord called him to leave it all and come into the desert.  I examine my own comfortable suburban life and wonder if I am as willing as I claim to be.  I find comfort in the story of Abram.  All God told Abram about his ultimate destination was that He would be faithful to show it to him. But I’m excited because even if I really wanted it to be, my story is not Abram’s.  I am not going to Canaan, but God’s promise to finish his work in his people applies just as much to me as it did to Abram.  Slowly but surely I am learning what it means to rest in God’s faithfulness.  I keep reminding myself that there is a difference between waiting on the Lord and just waiting for life to pass me by.  I’m getting excited about “tomorrow”, not worrying, just making the most of today.  I am waiting with arms wide open to catch hold of the sail and let the wind take me.

When I was younger we spent almost every warm holiday at the family beach house.  Every available moment of sunlight was spent at the beach.  All 11 grandchildren and plenty of chaperones would make their way to our claimed patch of sand.  Some of my favorite moments occurred out in the water as we prepared to body surf the “mighty” waves that hit the coast of Texas.  We would go out into waist deep water, sometimes higher and then the waiting would begin.  Some would dive into any wave that came across, only going a few feet towards shore.  But if you waited for the BIG ONE and then took that plunge, you were rewarded with up to 20 seconds of a ride.  The undertow and power of the surge would throw you and push you towards any destination they chose.  My fear was always missing the BIG ONE.  I would begin to place all my attention on the perfect one and bypass the hundreds of smaller ones.  I’m not sure what the perfect one would have even looked like, but I wanted it.

I still want the BIG ONE.  I don’t want to forfeit because I’m not willing to wait.

I’ve made my decision.  I’m turning down the job offer.  It’s not easy, but I’m at peace.  I am setting out to make His name known right here; one conversation, e-mail, phone call, and relationship at a time.  When He wants me to move, I will be ready.  But until then, and beyond, I will be the adventurous heroine.  Watch out Jo Marsh, Elizabeth Bennett, and Anne of Green Gables.  My chapter isn’t nearly finished.”

The pages that followed that decision were more than I could ask for or imagine.  This whole journey has been that way.  Are you willing to dream and wait for the best?

  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
      and no mind has imagined
   what God has prepared
      for those who love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT

Following,
Ginger

Defining Adventure

How do you define adventure?

What does it mean to you to live an adventuresome life? (Luci Swindoll)

Adventure:
Out of the ordinary
Unusual
Unexpected
Untraditional

Quite a lot of UNs.  (Let’s think proactively.  Yes!)

An adventure is active, daring, even thrilling.  But could it also be quieting?

For me – to live the adventuresome life means taking steps toward a life less ordinary.  It means not always making the expected or comfortable choice.  I want a bank filled with memories rather than money.  I want new experiences in new places.  I want to risk more than I play it safe.  I want to live for something bigger than myself.

Dictionary.com has this opinion of our word – “ADVENTURE: An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”

Now consider this quote by Erwin McManus: “The center of God’s will is not a safe place, but the most dangerous place in the world. God fears nothing and no one. God moves with intentionality and power. To live outside God’s will puts us in danger, but to live in His will makes us dangerous.”

What do you think?  Is following your calling an adventure?  Have you embraced adventure?

How do you define adventure?

Following (and dreaming),
Ginger

I double dog dare you.

“All serious daring starts within.” – Eudora Welty

-I dare you to make a bucket list.

-I dare you to actually dream of a job that takes your breath away.

-I dare you to dream of a purpose that lasts past the honeymoon phase.

-I dare you to live now.

-I dare you to be uncomfortable.

-I dare you to go somewhere where no one knows your name.

-I dare you to get a move on.

(Personal journal post from 11/02/2004)

What dares do you need to issue?  I dare you to dare yourself.

“It has been said that sixty-five thousand thoughts float through our minds each day.  Every one of those thoughts has the seed of possibility in it.  We choose with our will what we’ll do with that thought.  Will we stay stuck in ‘If only…’ or ‘Why me’- or will we open our minds to ‘What if?’ and ‘Why not?'” – Luci Swindoll

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Loving Books

Here’s the final chapter of my response to V’s question, Do you have any practical advice for what Christian singles can do to prepare for a future spouse?

We haven’t exhausted the topic, but this is as far as I’m taking it this time around.  If you are interested on more posts about relationships, be sure to check out the previous series!  For now I will leave you with a book list.

I think my journals show that I started wanting a “someone else” sometime during the seventh grade.  Everyone seemed to be pairing off and I too wanted in on being part of a couple.  That desire for relationship has been a part of my personal journey and story.  At times it has been a dark part of my story.  But thankfully we serve a God who is all about redemption and restoration.  Along the way I have read countless books on the topics of spirituality and dating.  Below is a list of the most influential books that I read between 7th grade and saying “I Do.”  I recognize that not all of them will speak to you for the reasons that they spoke to me.  But they each played a part in writing my love story… for better or for worse.  I will try and summarize the time in which I read the books and the reason why each was so influential.

BOOKS

Lady in Waiting by Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall – I read this book several times between 7th and 10th grade.  I had always struggled with insecurity but had never known what to call it.  This book gave a voice to my fears as I realized that I was a woman of insecurity, rather than a woman who was trusting God for His timing in my life.

The Search for Significance by Robert McGee – This book was a great follow up to “Lady in Waiting” as it further explored fears of failure.  It contains a workbook portion and I have recommended it to several students who feel as though they don’t have a niche to fill.  This book was a powerful reminder that my significance comes from God alone.

Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot – I think I picked this book up when I was a freshman in college.  I was frustrated (yet again) that I wasn’t dating and was looking for help with patience.  Elizabeth Elliot’s own story of waiting was encouraging and challenging.

Breaking Free by Beth Moore – Eventually my desire to feel attractive and significant manifested itself in the way that I controlled my eating.  After a year of battling my weight I found freedom during this study.  Of course it is the Lord that frees, but the words in this study gave me the tools to discover how sin had taken me captive in the past and was continuing to do so.

Marriable by Hayley DiMarco and Michael DiMarco – If I’m really honest with myself, I picked up this book because a guy I was over the moon for wasn’t making a move.  I thought if I read the book I might figure out how to better communicate with him.  We eventually dated, but not because of the book.  The book held practical advice, the kind that we’ve been talking about all week long.  I probably got some of the ideas from that book and just don’t remember that they found their origin in Marriable.

I Married Adventure by Luci Swindoll – My whole perspective on singleness changed when I read this book.  Here was a woman approaching 80 and accomplishing more than most people could dream to experience in a lifetime.  Her courage, humor, and wisdom were part of the catalyst that led me to start thinking that I could take a big risk and make a big move away from the familiar.

The Art of Rejection by Hayley DiMarco and Michael DiMarco – I’ve talked about this little book before.  I wasn’t handling a break-up well and discovered some fabulous truths about how rejection can actually be a good thing.  If you are still reeling from rejection, get this little book asap!  While it won’t fix your hurt, it will provide a refreshing perspective.

Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam – I was 25 and alone in a big city.  I needed to know that there were other women just like me.  Connally writes in a style that is engaging, entertaining, and wise.  I was thrilled to find a book on singleness that didn’t make me roll my eyes with princess imagery.  (I GET IT ALREADY.  Someday my prince will come… blah, blah, blah.)  Connally made me laugh and encouraged me to value my life in a new way.

Wide Awake by Erwin Raphael McManus – Really I could have listed ALL of Erwin’s books on this list.  I love them.  I eat them for dinner.  This one fell during God’s perfect timing.  I had set out to risk big (apply for an internship in Africa) only to have my application returned with a big fat “NO.”  I was devastated.  “Wide Awake” encouraged me to answer the question Jesus asks blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”  I stopped crying and started living.

No Other Gods by Kelly Minter – After all the years of wishing and hoping I finally meet THE guy.  It’s a whirlwind of a relationship and somewhere in the middle I realize that my heart is leaning towards Him in a big way.  I picked up this book and it was a swift reminder that my heart can have only one King.  My (albeit amazing) guy wasn’t designed to fulfill or complete me.  This book was a kick in the pants.

Before You Say “I Do” by H. Norman Wright and Wes Roberts – My mom mailed this book to me in the weeks after my engagement.  I read it quickly.  There were quite a few “aha” moments for me reading this… enough of them that I feel like I can recommend it to you.  If nothing else, it sparked some great conversations!  P.S. Don’t judge the book by the cover.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas – I read A LOT of marriage books prior to the big day.  In my humble opinion, this was the best one.  The book talks about falling forward toward each other on a daily basis.  Great principles.  Godly wisdom.  Here’s the subtitle: “What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?”  Good question.  Good book.

Web Resources!

Love and Respect NOW – Joy Eggerichs writes a fabulous blog on love and respect in dating relationships.

Love and Respect – The Eggerichs (Joy’s parents) have an incredible book and a great blog all about love and respect in a marriage relationship.

Obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of books that can aid you in your own journey.  What books have shaped your love story thus far?  Any blogs you want to recommend?

More than anything, I want you to remember that just as your book list will look different than anyone else’s, so will your love story!  Our God is creative; so don’t expect Him to do the same thing twice.  Live your story… a life filled with love!

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tip: Make a list…

This Thursday Tip is also in response to V’s question about practical advice in preparing for a future spouse is going provide us with a few choices.

Make that two choices…

1. Spend your time hunting for Prince Charming.

OR…

Making a list. from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

2. Live your life and become the heroine of your story!

I would caution you against clinging to a list of your perfect idea of “the one.”  The One has given you a life to live and love to give right here, right now.

Following,

Ginger