Archives for July 2012

When Rest is Active…

As we drove through the desert on our journey home from Mexico, I couldn’t help but remark how green everything looked, even in July! Temps here are usually around 110, so finding anything but brown was a pleasant surprise.

Showers and dust storms followed us all the way home. My backyard that usually consists of rocks and sparse plants is now starting to have green growth popping up everywhere. Even the smallest amount of water brings about life in this desert.

But do you know what isn’t flourishing? My potted plants. I’m trying desperately to keep basil, oregano, and rosemary alive during the hot summer months, but I seem to be failing. I move the pots in and out of the sun, fearing that too much or too little might undo a whole year of progress. I debate  the times of day and amount to water… and all of this trying, studying, trimming, and working… seems to be killing the poor plants.

My weeds are flourishing and my herbs are choking.

Sounds like a metaphor for rest to me.

“A” sent in a great question about finding ways to rest even in the busyness of life. But rather than talking some more about what rest looks like, I want to talk about how we often work to rest, rather than just resting. We focus our energy to rest better: sleep later, say “no” to activities, find time to do something we love, read our Bibles more, attend another Bible Study… and end up feeling exhausted rather than rested. Like my herbs, all the worry and care isn’t providing the environment for growth. (This is the story of my try-hard life!)

I’ve realized in the past month that I’ve always thought rest was really associated with sleep and forgetting a to-do list. And while rest can definitely involve both of those things, I’ve come to believe that it can be so much deeper and richer. Kevin East wrote a blog post earlier this month that still has me thinking. The post was about the treasure of hand-written notes. I totally agree, there’s nothing this “written words of affirmation” gal loves more than a long note. But the part of the post that spoke directly to my heart was actually a quoted portion of a letter that someone had written to Kevin. Here’s what I mean…

In the late 90′s a good friend saw in me a never-stop-working mentality.  There was always something that could be improved, or a new idea that could be hatched.  I was working myself to the bone and was on pace to fizzle out soon.  It was in that season that I received this letter in the mail.  It read:

Remember, rest is not in sleeping late.  It is not in being alone.  Rest is active, and full of faith.  It is sitting before the Lord and drawing all your desires from him.”

He went on to quote Psalms 62:1 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.”

The letter set me free.  It reminded me that I wasn’t working to please God, but working out of His pleasure in me.  That freedom allowed me to stop and enjoy the journey He had me on.  I took that letter and read it to my staff each year for the next ten years.

I’ve said those words aloud to my soul several times over the past week. Rest is active, and full of faith. But just because something is active doesn’t mean that it has to be an exhausting activity.

The weeds in my rocky backyard are growing because they were positioned to simply receive the rain. They didn’t move around hoping to get the best sun angle or perfect water amount, they just grew.

We are going to keep running with this theme all week, but I wanted to kick it off with the realization that rest comes primarily through trust that God will provide for all of our needs. In the midst of my to-dos and tasks, I must trust that He will give me the strength, stamina, and courage to face this day. I don’t just work harder to rest, I shift my mindset and surrender by trusting His power and perfect provision.

“Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— “Come to Me.” And it is a voluntary coming.

-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 13

Resting through trusting,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: How do you rest, practically speaking?

Dear Ginger,

I just read your “One Thing” post, and I realized that I have been struggling with this all summer. I have been taking two online summer courses to get ahead in my math and science. I was doing great until they pushed my due date back two weeks AFTER the middle of summer had gone by. Now I feel like Martha. I have to work and work and work until everything is done. I just don’t know how I can relax and let God help me when obviously he isn’t going to log onto my account and do my homework for me. Help please?

Thanks! – A

Dear A,

Thank you so much for such an important question! Not only do I identify with your struggle, I’m also trying to work out the solution in my own life as we speak. Last week we talked about the importance of rest, but you’re right, I didn’t offer up much in the way of any practical solutions.

I keep thinking life is going to calm down and then I will be able to rest, but I don’t think it works that way. I have to seek out rest even in the midst of the craziness of schedules. Sometimes that’s going to look like saying “no,” but sometimes it’s going to require us to find peace and rest IN the busyness.

I hope you’ll drop in each day as we discuss practicing Sabbath, taking pauses, and resting from worry.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29, The Message)

Following and learning,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Grace for the Good Girl

I wandered through the halls a nervous wreck last Friday evening. I walked back and forth hoping to catch a friendly eye. This was my first big time conference and I was attending all alone, feeling smaller than ever.

I recognized the author of one of my favorite blogs in the hallway and stopped her. I’m usually terribly awkward when it comes to meeting anyone remotely famous. However, she was gracious as I gushed and grabbed her hand and fumbled over my words. She simply smiled and asked me a few questions about myself. Soon all of my pent-up nerves were leaving.

I went to the She Speaks conference with every intention to network, dream, improve my speaking skills and connect with a publisher.

But I did not meet with a book publisher last weekend even though I was on the top of the waiting list. I spent hours preparing my proposal last week. I furiously finished drafts and letters and chapters… and I never got the call.

But I wouldn’t trade the weekend for anything in the world. For two days I sat at the feet of Jesus and listened. He spoke to my worried, fearful, and busy heart: “Just stop.”

I wandered over to the resource table and surveyed the vast selection. Out of all the resources available on writing, speaking, and teaching I ended up selecting a book on Christian living, the book by the smiling blogger from the first night.

I purchased “Grace for the Good Girl” by Emily Freeman and finished half of it on the flight home Sunday… tears flowing all the way. I read paragraphs aloud to my counselor on Monday, feeling as though I finally had words I hadn’t been able to express during a whole month of counseling.

“Somewhere along the way, I got the message that salvation is by faith alone but anything after that is faith plus my hard work and sweet disposition. I lived under a system I designed for myself and I labeled it The Gospel. As a good girl, every choice I made was dictated by a theology of self-sufficiency. Life was up to me, and I was prepared to get it right.”

Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl

I choked those words out through tears, but the kind of tears that mark the start of a very good thing.

Who knows? Perhaps the sole reason I attended She Speaks was to accidentally accost Emily in the hall and then be prompted by the Spirit to pick up her book. Regardless of His reasons, God is using her words to touch the heart of a tired good girl.

I should tell you that I haven’t finished it yet. But that’s how much faith I have in recommending it. I still have 70 pages to go and I’m declaring it to be one of the most influential books in my spiritual development. If you’re tired of trying to hold it together – I highly recommend this book.

Happy Friday!

Following in freedom,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: A Place to Rest

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) -Mark 6:31, NASB

Today’s Thursday tip is all about finding that secluded place in an urgent world…

Oh that we would taste, see, and experience the Lord’s goodness today!

Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts. -Jeremiah 15:16, NASB

Following,
Ginger

One Thing

I attended an amazing conference in North Carolina this past weekend. My brain and heart are still unpacking all of the lessons I heard, the many good things to remember and record in my journal. But this weekend wasn’t what I’d expected.

I did not meet with a book publisher this weekend. I was on the top of the waiting list. I spent HOURS preparing my proposal last week. I furiously finished drafts and letters and chapters… and I never got the call. I didn’t expect that to happen. Initially, that was the one thing that I wanted most from the conference.

But I wouldn’t trade this weekend for anything in the world. For two days I sat at the feet of Jesus. This try-hard good girl is so exhausted from keeping it together.

Confession: I have always resented the Mary half of Lazarus’s sister team. There was so much to DO. How could Mary sit there and let Martha DO EVERYTHING?
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.

Luke 10:38-42, The Message Translation

This weekend Jesus said in many words to my resentful heart,“GINGER, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is essential…”

I have so many “many things” on my to-do list all of the time. It never ends and I never feel I’m enough.

Today I’m at peace with the ONE THING. I’m at peace with His hand in my life. I’m learning how hard it is to rest when I hold onto my plans and dreams with an iron fist. When we trust Him, we find REST in Him.
Rather than anything on your to-do list, He wants YOU today.
Following and learning,

Ginger

 

Drained

Here’s the truth: I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour trying to write ONE blog post. Sometimes I do spend that much time on a post, but usually I have something to show for it. Right now, I’ve got nothing. I’m drained and empty… but not in the down and out sort of way. I feel as though I’m letting go of a bunch of junk in order to get filled up with something better.

I am being drained for good.

I just googled “What is it called when you drain a swimming pool and then refill it?”

Guess what? It’s called: DRAINING AND REFILLING and thanks to many of the search results I now know that pool water and the chemicals within can go bad after a few years. The pool needs to be emptied of the old water and refilled with new, setting all the chemical levels again. If you simply continue to treat the old water you will never achieve the pure balance that fresh water can give.

God is draining me this summer, and He’s insisting that HE be the one to do it, not me. Ordinarily I would rush in and take over, wanting to do the work. Gently but firmly He is telling me to sit down and let Him drain and refill. He wants me to rest.

He wants US ALL to rest.

Somehow over the past few years I taught myself that resting looks like trying harder to pray, read, and listen. Resting was a lot of work. Those elements can certainly BE restful, but not when they live on my to-do list and prompt condemnation in my heart. Here’s how Dictionary.com defines REST.

rest

verb

  • to refresh oneself, as by sleeping, lying down, or relaxing.
  • to relieve weariness by cessation of exertion or labor
  • to be at ease; have tranquillity or peace
  • to repose in death.
  • to be quiet or still.

So why should we rest?

1. Resting demonstrates an obedient heart. (God told us to do it!)

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

 

2. Resting demontrates trust that HE will finish the work He has started in us.

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me, your love, O LORD, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.”  (Psalm 138:8)

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  (Isaiah 30:15)

 

“Be still – The word used here – from רפה râphâh – means properly to cast down; to let fall; to let hang down; then, to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue…” From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

 

Resting leaves the work to Him.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

 

Following,

Ginger

Rest

“God never asked us to meet life’s pressures and demands on our own terms or by relying upon our own strength. Nor did He demands that we win His favor by assembling an impressive portfolio of good deeds. Instead, He invites us to enter His rest.”― Charles R. Swindoll
Time to take a deep breath…
Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Treasures

FIELD
TREASURE
DESIGNS

Today’s Friday Find is a fabulous Etsy Shop!

-The owners happen to be friends of mine.
-The products happen to be fantastic.
-The prices are a steal.
-Two words: reclaimed pallets!

I hope you’ll spend a few minutes browsing, pinning, and even purchasing some of the treasures from the Bacon’s Shop!

Happy Friday!
Ginger

Thursday Tip: Adventure is Out There!

“It’s daring to be curious about the unknown, to dream big dreams, to live outside prescribed boxes, to take risks, and above all, daring to investigate the way we live until we discover the deepest treasured purpose of why we are here.”
– Luci Swindoll, I Married Adventure

Today’s Thursday tip is all about stoking the fire of adventure…

“We have no idea what lies ahead or how God will open doors of potentiality when we consciously choose to get out of the ruts we’re in and start moving down new paths about which we can be excited–even passionate.”
-Luci Swindoll, I Married Adventure

Happy adventuring, my friends!

Ginger

Out of the Boat

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

I have 6:30am flight to Charlotte, North Carolina this Friday morning. I’m attending the Proverbs 31, She Speaks Conference. I’m really excited and a tad bit nervous for my first gathering of this kind. There are lots of new opportunities for networking, learning, and growing, but I kind feel like I’m walking into my freshman year of high school all over again. Yeesh. When does that go away? Perhaps it’s the 650 women in attendance (that’s a LOT of women), or the business professional dress code, or the evaluation groups… but I feel a little like a fish out of water.

And while I think some of my feelings are valid, I’m not about to let them do the decision making over the weekend. Typical Ginger would keep to herself, act like there’s something interesting on her phone, and head to bed around 9:30pm. It’s time to move past typical if I want to see some growth.

I’m hoping that I muster all of my courage and become a social butterfly. When we are forced to break from our comfort zones, I think it pushes us to rely on God and to stop making excuses for the stagnate parts of our lives. Adventures begin with doing, going, and trusting. Peter may have only walked on water for a few moments but he is still the only one of the twelve disciples who can say they walked on water AT ALL. God-sized adventures start when we get out of the boat.

“Make no mistake. God tests our willingness to follow Him in obedience even if no one can or will 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

“While at first simply trusting God to take you outside your experience is a huge leap of faith, eventually God will expect more of you.  Remember, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Erwin McManus

Is God calling you to take a step out of the boat?

Following,
Ginger