Archives for February 2012

Keeping the Peace

I’ll be honest with you, friends. Yesterday I did not heed my own post, much less God’s Word. We talked about the command given in Matthew 6 by Jesus, the command that’s 100% for our benefit: “Do not worry.”

But lest you think I’ve somehow graduated from this area of struggle, let me share with you how my evening progressed.

LAST NIGHT
10:02 pm I hand my laptop to my husband and ask him to read through the post about worry. My husband and sister both have the esteemed (and non-paying) position of proofreaders for my posts. He finishes and gives me a correction or two and then we close up the laptop.

10:11pm I begin tearing up. I’m struggling again because of numbers on a scale, the amount of projects due at the same time (why is it always feast or famine?), and everything else I could choose to think about in that moment. My husband calmly asks me what’s wrong. I start to make my list when he gently reminds me, “Didn’t I just read a post written by someone about not worrying? None of these things are worth the worry about, right?” I’m nodding through my tears but I’m just so frustrated that I can’t pull it together and listen to the call of my Savior, “Do not worry.” 

10:20pm We pull out the book that we’ve been reading in preparation for our upcoming trip to Israel. “Going Places With God” by Wayne Stiles is a devotional book about the lands of the Bible. We take turns reading aloud, and last night just happened to be a night for me to read. As I read about the gardens, Eden and Gethsemane, I can’t help the tears that begin making their long trek down the side of my face. But I push through and eventually read… “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. Only the Lord knows the staggering potential inside each decision we make. Like Adam in Eden, we can compromise God’s Word in the here and now and live with overwhelming regret. Or, like Jesus in Gethsemane, we can take God at His Word…”

10:26pm I’m in tears again, but this time peace and hope have somehow started to force their way through my worries. As I close my eyes to fall asleep I hear God say, “Will you take me at my Word?”

TODAY
God is leading me into peace this morning by showing me His Word.

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.” Romans 5:8, The Message

People with their minds set on you,
   you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
   because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
   because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” Isaiah 26:3, The Message

We need to keep our minds in the right place, taking Him at His Word if we want to move from WANTING peace to EXPERIENCING peace. I have so much to learn.

Seeking peace,
Ginger

Peace beats Worry.

Rock beats scissors.

Scissors beats paper.

Paper somehow beats rock.

Peace beats worry.

I come from a long line of worriers.  I believe the predisposed gene for it increases through the generations.  My mom actually has two times the normal dose within her. (WINK.)  The pinnacle of worry occured the year that I graduated from college.  I was moving out for good, my sister was moving into her first house at college, and my brother – the baby, had just gotten his drivers license.  We didn’t even really need to worry for ourselves – she worried enough for the rest of us.

WORRIES

That being said, I’m fairly confident that I received the dominant trait for worrying.  I “plan” ahead simply to mask my worrying.  I worried that I would never meet “the one.” I worry about making friends, I worry about keeping our fig tree alive, my weight, my business, our future… I could go on and on, but it’s probably better if I don’t.

Sometimes I try to mask my worry by praying. My long-winded prayers are often brought before the Father  just in time for me to let go… once the event is over.

“Thank you God that somehow this happened and you pulled me through. I’m sorry I was freaked out the whole time. I probably should have asked for help at some point. Thank you for seeing me through… again.”

CLIMBING

Picture this:  I decide to climb a mountain, we’ll say Pike’s Peak.  I have a heavy bag of equipment that I will need for camping later that evening, but not during my hike.  I’m slowly heading up the mountain when someone in a jeep pulls up and offers to drive my pack up a good portion of the mountain so that it will be there when I need it.  But I refuse… perhaps I might need the tent on the way up!

I know it’s not the best analogy, but you get my drift, right? It’s ridiculous to think that I wouldn’t hand off the heavy stuff when someone asks to help and yet that’s the way I so often come before the Lord.  Matthew 6 is very clear about what we are to do with our burdens:  DO NOT WORRY.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  Matthew 6:25

This isn’t a suggestion.  Jesus doesn’t merely say “I would suggest you don’t worry.”  This is a command.  A COMMAND – just like those 10 we know so well.  So why do we take this one so lightly?

Satan will try anything to distract us from the peace God wants to give!  Don’t let him win with worry.  Give it up – Jesus knew what he was talking about!

PRAYER > WORRY

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7, The Message

Peace wins over worry when we learn to pray. My mom teaches me this by example on a daily basis. Although she airs her worries, I also know that she takes them daily to the throne of grace and asks God to give her peace. She reminds me to pray about everything, to pray specifically, and to pray with thanksgiving!

Let the peace of God move in your heart this week! Turn your fears into prayers and those prayers will turn to peace!

Listening and Following,
Ginger

Peace Like a River

“Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165, NIV)

Where and how do you find peace in this crazy world? I hope you’ll share in the conversation this week!

Seeking Peace,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Heartache Help

Fact: We all experience rejection.  (Sometimes on a daily basis.)

It can be a tough road to navigate – especially in relationships.  So the last point I want to make about navigating through heartache is that we need to learn to embrace rejection.

I present to you, “The Art of Rejection” by Halyley DiMarco & Michael DiMarco.  I’ve quoted their book several times over the past week with good reason. This little book helped me to view my own breakup with rational and logical thoughts. I couldn’t get past my wounded feelings and needed fresh perspective.

The DiMarcos firmly and gently helped me to navigate all of the emotions and dilemmas that come along relationship rejection.

From the back cover:  Rejection Happens.  And it’s never fun.  But with the right perspective, you can turn it into something positive.  Learn how to view rejection as an art form instead of a painful experience that requires healing.  In The Art of Rejection you’ll find…

-Reasons why it’s okay to break up

-Do’s and Don’t of calling it quits

-What to do when rejection happens to you

This book didn’t just help me in dating relationships, I’ve referred to this book countless times when I feel rejected by friends, acquaintances, and even places of employment.  If you are struggling to move past a broken relationship, this might be a great little book for you.

I’ll close with one of my favorite paragraphs from the book:

“YES, you are good enough, but you aren’t for them. Those are two different issues.  YOUR goodness has nothing to do with them.  You are two different people with two different lives that happened to cross.  Just because this person has rejected you doesn’t mean you are defective or bad.” The Art of Rejection

May we always remember in the midst of our heartaches that we serve a God who is all too familiar with feelings of rejection and hurt.  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Isaiah 53:3

Following,
Ginger

(The bulk of this post is from a previous entry in April of 2011.)

Look Outward

Day 4 of heartache

“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” (The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis)

JOURNAL ENTRY
“I spent about three weeks hiding tears all day long.  I was a mess.  So, I started in the Psalms.  I clung to the verses.  They are plastered on post-it notes all over my desk.  And as I made it to Psalm 33 I found out that he was keeping me alive during the famine.  I turned my eyes to see the students and friends around me and I began praying – boldly.  I have seen God radically alter the lives of my kids.  This Sunday I marveled as a girl I have been lifting up to the Lord since late September asked me to stand with her as she decided to be baptized.  I entered the water and joined the Pastor with tears in my eyes.  I was witnessing these students coming from hollow existence into real living one at a time.”

GET TO GIVING
If we want to see our grief melt into joy, the first step is usually to change our point of view from inward to outward focus. The truth of the matter is that joy flows most often when we take a step back from ourselves and notice those around us. Joy comes from blessing and encouraging others, rather than focusing on our own needs. When life is “all about me” it leaves little room for the joy that emerges through loving people.

“When we’re feeling our lowest, helping others actually makes us feel better about our world because it reminds us that the world isn’t all about us. Volunteer with strangers or attend to those family members or long-lost friends you’ve neglected during your adventures in romance gone wrong.” (The Art of Rejection, Hayley & Michael DiMarco)

STAY CONNECTED
The temptation can often be to desire that all time spent with friends post breakup be focused on our feelings and the challenges we are experiencing. We definitely need and want accountability in those times to keep us from taking steps backward. However, if all of your conversations are about your breakup, you aren’t doing yourself or your friendships any favors. Remember that your friends have struggles and challenges of their own. Be sure that the conversation and relationship goes both ways. Stay connected and attentive to the lasting relationships that God has placed in your life!

“Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.  For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.  You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.  You let men ride on our heads; we went through fire and water but you brought us to a place of abundance.”  Psalm 66:8-12

Psalm 66 reminds us that God has preserved our lives and that He has been the one to keep us from drowning in our hurt. Our hurts linger because our expectations did not meet up with reality. But “the only way you will be destroyed is if you let yourself be destroyed.” (The Art of Rejection)

Fix your eyes upward and outward. He will see you through.

Following and Listening,
Ginger

Grieve

Day 3 of Heartache

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless- – it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” – C.S. Lewis

Journal Entry
“That quote by C. S. Lewis perfectly describes me.  So protected.  I’ve been learning to let walls down that I didn’t know I had and the result of vulnerability and tears isn’t quite comfortable for me yet.  I feel like I’ve become an emotional mess.  I see myself not able to take any of the advice and wisdom I give to others.  I am no more able to take every thought captive than I am to keep from crying when someone asks me how I’m doing.

I am giving far too much weight to the opinions of others.  I am not clinging to Him alone.  I lay on my bed and wept several times last night.  The only thing that could stop my crying was to read Psalms aloud at full force through the tears.  I am fighting loneliness, I am fighting self-loathing, I am fighting… and I feel like I am losing.  The danger in drawing close to people is that eventually they will disappoint you or you will disappoint them and you start thinking of a friendship as “I do more than they do…” and it goes from loving selflessly to trying to just be unselfish with my love.  It’s hard being one of the only ones without someone else all the time.  It’s tempting to make another friend my everything – to want someone to have that kind of time to devote to me – but I know that role can only be filled by the Lord.”

Change brings grief.  Heartache teaches us this lesson well. I know from personal experience how difficult those raw feelings can be in the moment. (Or the months that follow the moment.) That’s why it’s so important for us to allow ourselves to grieve.

But how do we prevent grief from swallowing us whole?
Staying connected to the Lord and His Word is key. But it’s also important to acknowledge that there is a time to mourn and a time to let go.  Holding onto hope for the relationship, bitterness and anger, and even a desire for friendship can perpetuate your grief.  Remember, if you’ve broken up one of you is broken. This doesn’t make for a good or beneficial friendship.

“Whether you’re the one doing the rejecting or the one being rejected, now that it’s over, you are left with two options. You can hang on or let go.

No one can do this for you. No one can ease your pain. It’s up to you. If you want to become the person God wants you to be, then you will look at this experience as another step on the path to the top of the mountain. It will be the only way that you can get from the dark valley to the top of the towering heights to bask in the sun… if you are a brave soul and choose to fight, to climb inch by inch up the rough terrain of pain, then we guarantee you that this experience with rejection will make your life better.

A wise soul sees that rejection is just another door eliminated in the process of finding the one we’re looking for. He doesn’t run and hide or return to the door to try the lock one more time. The wise soul fears nothing the world or others can throw at her. She has a healthy perspective that dating, like life, is fraught with rejection. And rejection is life’s process of elimination for discovering your purpose.”  (The Art of Rejection, Hayley & Michael DiMarco)

My advice for beneficial grieving: write about it. Let yourself chronicle the story of your relationships and even recognize the signs that the end was near. Don’t spend time writing an angry diatribe. Instead, use this as a way to list all of the things this relationship taught you. How will you be better prepared for a future relationship? Turn your story into praise and thanksgiving even in the midst of hurt.

Here’s part of my list from a past relationship examined:

What have I learned?
-In a relationship no one has all the answers. Every set of people is different.
-My head and my heart are often in competition. God’s guidance and providence win out in the end.
-If you aren’t willing to risk big you will never win big.
-Don’t hide, but don’t chase.
-God is walking this with me.
-Some days it sucks not to be able to just give him a call.
-God answers prayer in His timing and His ways.
-God’s timing is perfect.
-I want what He wants… and if that doesn’t involve marriage it will still be hard- but I’ve got to want HIS best no matter what.
-It’s okay to cry.
-It’s okay to hope.
-It’s not okay to not trust.

This is not the time for “How can I get this person back?” Whether or not it was of your own choosing, that chapter is shut and a new one has already begun. It’s up to us to trust His timing and His unfailing love.

“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? …But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”  Psalm 13:2, 5 

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful…” Psalm 18:25

And He will show Himself faithful to you.  He will keep your lamp burning and turn your darkness into light… just give it time.

Following and Listening,
Ginger

Famine to Feast

Dear Ginger,

How do you let go of someone in your life after a break-up? I don’t feel like I have anyone I can talk to about this! What do I even begin to do? It’s not healthy NOR is it beneficial. I have to figure out how to let this relationship go… even if that means losing the friendship. How do I let go of the past and embrace the present? –G

Yesterday I shared a question right from the pages of my own journal. I know several women who are experiencing this kind of heartache right now, so I wanted to devote some time to the topic. Whether or not you have experienced the ache that comes with a break-up, I know that we have all experienced the hurt that comes when any relationship changes. Coming to the realization that relationships are seasonal can be one of the most painful and freeing experiences of this life.

My friend Jon was quick to comment on the post in the early hours of Monday morning. His wisdom for healing after heartache was pointed and encouraging. Here’s what he shared:

Good stuff, right? Each of those areas of growth are so important when we are struggling to let go.  And yet, in the depths of our pain and tears they might seem too… well, too easy for such deep heartache. But don’t disregard them just because of the alliteration. There is truth to each of those points.

GET TO GOD. DIVE INTO THE WORD.
In my most recent heartache, studying God’s Word was what got me through each moment of the day. I was literally reading scripture in between each and every work assignment. I explored the prayers and praise of King David by reading through the Psalms. I found that he expressed so many of the emotions and fears that I was feeling.

I committed Psalm 33:18-22 to memory… covering my computer, hands, and even car dashboard with this hope:

“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-20

TURNING A CORNER
My heartache turned a corner right around the time I reached Psalm 33. I discovered that God was speaking in my mess and pulling me closer toward Him.

Perhaps you find yourself feeling loss at this time. Friendships have dwindled, dating relationships haven’t gone as you expected. Will you trust Him to see you through this famine? He has the power to sustain us even when it feels like the world has turned upside down.

May I encourage you to place your name in the passage? Try something like this:

“But the eyes of the LORD are on Ginger who fears him, on Ginger whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver her from death and keep her alive in famine. She waits in hope for the LORD; he is her help and her shield. In him her heart rejoices, for she trusts in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon me, O LORD, even as I put my hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-20

As much as I want to control who enters and exits my inner circle of friendships and relationships, I just can’t. I’m so thankful for a God who has placed unexpected personalities in my path to shape and mold me. I’m even more thankful for the rejection (yes, thankful for rejection) that has forced me to cling to my Father and trust His timing and provision.  When you feel at a loss, open up God’s Word and speak truth out loud to your crushed spirit.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Praying for a Psalm 33 moment in all our lives this week…

Listening and Following,
Ginger

Moving On

Dear Ginger,

How do you let go of someone in your life after a break-up? I don’t feel like I have anyone I can talk to about this! What do I even begin to do? It’s not healthy NOR is it beneficial. I have to figure out how to let this relationship go… even if that means losing the friendship. How do I let go of the past and embrace the present? -G

Confession: no one mailed this question in. The G in the letter is actually me.  That quote is pulled directly from one of my old journals. I had lunch with a friend last week and she’s experiencing much of the same heartache. How are we supposed to respond to a breakup when we know it’s for the best but we still feel the hurt? That’s what we are going to attempt to answer this week. I hope you’ll feel free to add your voice to the conversation!

Listening and following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Good News

“If Jesus appeared at your dining room table tonight with knowledge of everything you are and are not,

total comprehension of your life story and every skeleton hidden in your closet;

if He laid out the real state of your present discipleship with
the hidden agenda,
the mixed motives,
and the dark desires buried in your psyche,

you would feel His acceptance and forgiveness.”

– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

This quote, this book… so good. Add this one to your reading list.

Happy Reading, friends.

-Ginger

p.s. We are headed back to Mexico this weekend for another medical clinic. Your prayers for safety and gospel connections would be greatly appreciated. D’s bringing his stethescope and I’m bringing out the JSB in Spanish again!

Thursday Tips: Pull out the Markers

My friends.

I once made a video about one of my favorite ways to pray. It was one of my favorite videos I have ever made.  And to this day it is the 2nd least viewed video in the history of ever.

I’m sharing about “Praying in Color” again today because this avenue for prayer gave me such freedom in my prayer time!  I was just telling another friend about it this week and I became so excited that I knew I wanted to share the video again.

I tried my best to create a short clip to help you understand the process developed and written about by SybilMacBeth.  Sybil has lots of her own videos, books, seminars and other helps on the Praying in Color website and blog that I would encourage you to check out if this at all speaks to a creative side of you.

Let’s face it: we were made by a Creative God to increase His goodness in this world.  Since we are indwelt by His Spirit and made in His image, we can also claim creativity as one of our defining traits… even when we don’t feel particularly gifted in this area.

I can tell you that some of my friends and co-workers panicked when we tried this together.  They wanted more rules and structure.  That’s fine!  This isn’t for everyone.  This is hopefully just another suggestion to get us out of our usual patterns and into some much needed time of communion and communication with the Father.

Here goes nothing!

Praying in color,
Ginger