Archives for August 2012

Friday Finds: Blog Roots

I was so excited to guest post over at SingleRoots a few weeks ago. Speaking of excitement… One of the editors, Jessica Bufkin, was kind enough to spare a few moments and answer some questions about the unique content and format of SingleRoots.

Jessica Bufkin

Ginger: So Jessica, tell us about yourself and your connection to SingleRoots!Jessica: In my former life, which ended just one year ago, I taught junior high English. Eighth grade English for twelve years, to be exact. I loved teaching, but I also was feeling as if God was preparing me for a change. I thought I might apply for international teaching jobs at some point in the future, but I had no idea that He would eventually lead me down a completely different path to becoming Editor of SingleRoots.

 

G: How did SingleRoots get its start and its unique name?

J: I met Ryan, the other member of the SingleRoots team, in college in Louisiana. We like to joke that I was his Spiritual mentor because I was a freshman intern at a campus ministry when he entered as a freshman. I taught him everything I knew.

A few years ago, he relocated to the DFW area, where I was living, and we reconnected. After numerous conversations with many of our friends about singleness, the Church, intentional living, and a host of other topics, we saw a need for a site that addressed more than just our relationships. So much of the conversation with Christian singles is about marriage—and that’s important—but we’re not one-dimensional and we wanted a conversation geared more towards how we could make this time in our lives count for the Kingdom.

We settled on “SingleRoots” because we loved the idea and the visual of being “rooted.” So often single adults, Christians included, are transient and afraid to put down roots until marriage. We put things off and tell ourselves that we’ll do “that” when we get married. Instead, we wanted to remind ourselves that roots are good things. Ultimately, though, roots don’t develop overnight, or when you put a ring on a finger. They take time to grow, and we don’t press pause until we have someone to grow them with.

Since we were both in our 30s and single for longer than we thought we would be, we figured it was definitely an area in which we could contribute some thoughts. We launched the site in October 2011.

In other news: He got married in March; I’m still single. (Note: If you want to get married, you can apply to be my roommate or co-worker. I have a stellar track record of marrying off both. I’ve yet to find someone who can do the same for me. Just saying…)

 

G: Who is the target audience for SingleRoots?

J: Well, you see, that’s difficult to define. I mean, obviously, it’s single adults. And, if we’re truly narrowing it down, our target audience is twenty and thirtysomething Christian singles. But, we have college students, single parents, singles over 40, even married people who read (and sometimes write for) SingleRoots. We love that so many different people are a part of our community. 

 

G: If you could have any living person guest post on SingleRoots, who would be your dream pick and what topic would you want them to cover?

J: I would love to have Donald Miller write for us. He’s such a good storyteller; I would give him carte blanche to write about any topic of his choosing.

 

G: We talk a lot about practical tips to develop healthy relationships and spiritual disciplines on this blog. Finish this sentence: The most helpful piece of wisdom anyone has ever given me has been…

J: My mother told me that a Southern woman should never leave the house without earrings and lipstick. In my own life, I’ve tweaked it to lip gloss, but that advice has served me well.

However, if we’re talking healthy relationships, that sage advice came from my brother. I called him once to say that I wasn’t going to be able to follow through on a commitment I had made to him. I had a sturdy defense prepared and was ready to argue over why it was imperative that I let him down. He pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks when he said, “It’s okay. I know you, and I know you would do it if you could.” He continued by saying that it was important for us to always assume the best about each other.

Whether it’s family or friends, we tend to automatically assume that there was ill intent when we’ve been wronged. It’s so much more freeing to choose to remember and believe in the goodness of the people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with than to believe that they were trying to hurt us. Of course, communication is vital, and we’ll probably need to talk it out, but assuming the worst until then doesn’t help matters. It’s important to remember what we know to be true about them.

 

G: What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Asking me which of my brothers I love more would have been an easier question than this one. As a former English teacher, so books are more important to me than handbags, Sonic ice, and social media combined. I’ll limit it to the following:

The best fiction book I read this year was Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron. It made me want to go on a pilgrimage to Italy and trace the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Few fiction books have made me consider my own spiritual walk the way this one did.

The best non-fiction book I read this year was Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. I love her writing style, and the vignettes she shares from her life. I just know we’d be BFF in real life. So until then, I just stalk follow her on The Twitter.

 

G: If you were to invent your own flavor of ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s, what would be in it, and what would it be called?

J: When I was in Spain last year, we had a crepe that was made with white chocolate Nutella. And I don’t mean white chocolate plus Nutella. I mean they had a jar of white Nutella. It was to die for. I can’t find it anywhere, though. I’ve even Googled it. So, if I were working on new ice cream flavors for Ben and Jerry, a white chocolate Nutella one would be at the top of our production list. It would be called, “My Nutella, -ella, -ella.” I’m sure Rihanna would endorse it.

 

G: For all our sakes I hope that your wish comes true. All I want for Christmas is some “My Nutella, -ella, -ella”! Thank you so much for sharing your heart, humor and the vision behind SingleRoots!

NOW EVERYONE – go and add SingleRoots to your Google Readers! You can also follow Jessica and the crew on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Friday!
Ginger

Prove It!

How many times have you thought or heard the following: it doesn’t matter what THEY think, it only matters what God thinks!?

It’s easy to turn that truth into a trite little saying, but here’s the thing… How God sees us should be the only opinion that matters – after all, He made us. He made us! Since we are His children, our identity should only be found in how He values us. He made us and loved us enough to give us free will, the choice to love Him or leave Him.

Let’s go back to the very beginning and get the story straight. God created us. It started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He gave them everything and told them simply to “Enjoy!” Sin entered the picture and because of that, Adam and Eve (and the rest of us from there on out) were exposed to death. We were separated from the God who created us. The penalty for Adam and Eve’s sin… and our sin is death; the payment is blood. Thankfully our Father considered us valuable enough to buy us back through the death of His son, Jesus.

Think about it this way: we determine the value of something by how much we are willing to spend. If I walk into a store intending to buy a flat iron, without having done any research on flat irons – I’m limited to two things: what the box says and how much the flat iron costs. Of course the box is going to talk up the product. I have yet to see the company gutsy enough to print: “Fairly decent flat iron. Let’s face it. You’re paying $20 for this. Don’t get your hopes up.” So if I can’t trust a box to tell me something more than the voltage and information about a warranty, I have to go by price. I immediately rule out the cheapest brand and if I have the money, I will probably take the top of the line. Why? The price indicates that this flat iron is worth the extra money. The value of the flat iron is indicated by the expense. While I may not be willing to spend $185 on a new flat iron, I certainly might be prepared to pay that amount for some new photo editing software. I place a higher value on my photos than a flat iron. (Let’s face it; my hair is already straight as a stick.)

Do you know how frustrating it is to lose something you just bought? I seem to do that with new pens. I have a certain kind I like – chosen for grip, writing ease, and ink flow. I get a package of three and sooner than I would like – they’re gone. I’d like to believe I’ve misplace them, but I know that my co-workers sometimes just need a pen and they reach for one off my desk. I don’t think anyone intentionally steals my pens, I just think they forget to put them back. But imagine my frustration if I watched someone take and use my pen and then only agree to give it back if I paid them a fee. I already paid for MY pen once; no way I’m doing that again… especially if they raise the price.

I’m notorious for shouting the phrase, “prove it!” to my friends when they make a bold statement. Usually I’m joking around, but sometimes I want them to put their money where their mouth is. “I can run a five minute mile!” My response? “Prove it!”

God proved how much He valued us by what He was willing to spend. You can shout “prove it!” all you want and He will always have the best response ready for you. Remember, He already owned us once before. He bought us again with the life and death of His only son, Jesus. Jesus had done nothing wrong to deserve punishment, and yet He died in our place. He died for me. He died for you. The cost of that sacrifice shows that you are a priceless treasure of the King of Kings. The gift of His son Jesus demonstrates God’s great love for us.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

You are valuable. I am valuable. He’s proven that fact once and for all.

Following,
Ginger

True You: Beautiful

“As people who have been created by God, we are infinitely precious to Him because we are His creation. Regardless of our outward appearance, we are all made with that spiritual potential to relate directly to Him, spirit to Spirit…

You may not look so favourably on your outward appearance, but when God looks at you, He sees His beautiful daughter. While God cares deeply about our own personal struggles with our outward appearances, whatever they may be, He cares even more for you.”

― Corallie Buchanan, Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
    Forget your people and your father’s house.
The king is enthralled by your beauty; 
    honor him, for he is your lord.” (Psalm 45:10-11)

We are continuing to explore the work of the Master Craftsman this week. I hope you’ll join the conversation…

Following,
Ginger

Inside and Out

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; 
      you formed me in my mother’s womb. 
   I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! 
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made! 
      I worship in adoration—what a creation! 
  

 You know me inside and out, 
      you know every bone in my body; 
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, 
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 


   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; 
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you, 
   The days of my life all prepared 
      before I’d even lived one day. 

 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! 
      God, I’ll never comprehend them! 
   I couldn’t even begin to count them— 
      any more than I could count the sand of the sea. 
   Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! 

Psalm 139:13-18, MSG

Challenge for this week: Write your own Psalm of praise thanking God for how He made you! Be specific, be honest, and be thankful – for every single part of the True You He created.

Following,
Ginger

Fearfully and Wonderfully

Psalm 139 says that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. It tells me that God formed me and wove me together in my mother’s womb even before she knew that she was going to have a child.

He chose my green eyes, and my frustrating eyebrows that seem to have a mind of their own. He chose my dishwater hair color, my body type, and my height. And yet too often I carelessly comment about how He formed me.

We are all quick to lament the size of our thighs, the length of our noses, and even the shape of our toes! The words “fearfully” and “wonderfully” express the gentleness and tenderness with which we were created.

Have you ever held an infant before? Better yet, have you ever seen someone who is reluctant to hold a baby? It’s generally not because they dislike babies. They usually refrain from holding the baby because they fear hurting it. They recognize that something so fragile requires tender care. God showed ultimate tenderness as He formed us. David wonders at God’s care when he says in Psalm 8:3, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.”

Why mention the stars when talking about how God created us? Read it again. The universe is the work of God’s fingers! There is no part of us that was casually or thoughtlessly formed. If He perfectly placed flaming balls of gas and magma into the sky, what does that say about how He created you and me? He declares you to be His poema, His poem, His masterpiece. Not only that, but He continues to think on us even after He created us!

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!”

(Psalm 139:17, NLT)

God not only created you as the crown of His creation, but He thinks innumerable precious thoughts about you!

I hope you will treasure that thought and promise today.

Following,
Ginger

Trim

There are good haircuts, and then there are the kind you give yourself when you are slightly emotional and facing your mirror. Please tell me someone else gave themselves bangs just because they were having a bad day. You should have seen the stylist give me the evil eye when I told her I needed her to fix my mess. I cut an uneven chunk from the center. She was able to at least hide it and then I had the frustrating job of trying to keep my bangs plastered to my head for the next few months.

SO FANCY in 2006

I’m hoping this is going to be the good kind of cut.

And it’s really not so much of a cut as it is a trim.

I’ve been blogging full-time for about a year and a half, but I’ve been reading blogs since the days of Xanga back in 2005. My google reader is well stocked with posts to amuse and challenge me for every lunch break from now until 2015. I seriously can’t keep up. There are so many blogs, pics, memes, posts, podcasts, social networks… it can be really overwhelming.

Honest moment: sometimes certain blogs take so much time and energy to read that I actually just let them pile up in my feed until there are about 12 of them and I just clear them all. I don’t read them. Often it’s the blogs that post every day that just don’t get my eyes and my time.

And yet, here I am plugging along and posting every single day of every single week.

I didn’t want to take anyone by complete surprise just in case you mark the start of a new day with blog reading. My mom is amazing and writes an e-mail to a group of family members just about every day and she’s done this for at least the last six years, if not more. On days when she doesn’t write I will often text or call, just to make sure everything is ok.

Everything is more than ok here. I just feel called to invest more time into guest blogging, book writing, speaking preparation, and building relationships.

From here on out I’m only going to be posting 3-4 times a week. Tuesdays will likely go silent and I will either share a Thursday Tip OR a Friday Find each week. I’m hoping this will lead to fresher content and a better experience for us all as a community.

As always, I would love to answer your questions, respond to your comments, and hear directly from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and follow.

Following,
Ginger

p.s. If I EVER come up to you and say… I’m thinking about trying bangs again… just slap me.

Learning to Say “No Thank You”

I’m honored to be guest-posting over at Single Roots Blog today!

 

How to graciously say “no thank you” to another date.

I moved to Arizona from my beloved state of Texas in the fall of 2006. I came alone, not knowing anyone. Eventually I did what any single and adventurous young woman might do; I signed up for online dating.

I actually met my husband through online dating in 2010, but my first go-around wasn’t quite as successful. My first date was with a very nice man who loved God and others. He just also happened to be… clingy? Yes. Clingy. I received a laminated poem on our second date. When I broke things off after the third date there were tears. His. Not mine.

To keep reading follow this link over to Single Roots to read the rest of this post!

Following,

Ginger

Friday Finds: Beautiful Blogs

 

“… So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, MSG)

Today I wanted to share three blogs that are continuing to talk about issues and struggles unique to young women. Spend some time searching out the wisdom and practical application available through these unique resources. I hope that you are encouraged in your journey…

Lies Young Women Believe

Annie Blogs

The Whatever Girls

Keep pressing on, friends. Happy Friday!

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Make it Stick

H asked a great question on Monday about seeing ourselves through God’s eyes.

I struggle like everyone else, feeling like I’m a yo-yo of emotions when it comes to my weight and looks. But do you know what I’ve discovered that helps more than anything? God’s Word.

I know, I know. I talk about it all the time, but really, God’s Word has the power to ground my emotions and pour peace on my worries. I don’t have a magic drug to fix my own perceptions, so instead I memorize Bible verses that see me through even my darkest of days.

Here’s a retro Thursday Tip that’s all about hiding God’s word in our hearts…

Spaghetti from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

 “The mouths of those who do what is right speak words of wisdom. 
      They say what is honest. 
  God’s law is in their hearts. 
      Their feet do not slip.” Psalm 37:30-31, NIRV

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11, NIV

May His word be in our hearts…

Following,

Ginger

God Looks At the Heart

Thanks to a thoughtful question by H, we are spending this week reminding ourselves how perfectly God created each of us and how deeply He loves us.

As I considered how to respond to H’s question, I couldn’t help but think of the many times in my own life when I have felt ashamed or upset because I couldn’t make myself live up to the standard of our culture’s beauty.

I remember the start of 4th grade as if it were yesterday. Our classroom was oddly located overlooking the school gym, making concentration next to impossible if any other class happened to make their way to P.E. during a test. The carpet was peach and we had windows that also faced the back parking lot and soccer fields.

I can’t recall what I wore on the first day of school, but I vividly remember a boy walking up to me quite candidly and piping up that “My dad said you got fat this summer.

Not, “How was your summer?” or “I wonder what 4th grade will be like?” or even “I don’t know what to think of Mrs. So and So.” Not only do I wonder what compelled the boy to share this information, but I also wonder what made his father decide to proclaim that message to his son. One sentence and I carry it always. Isn’t it amazing how hearing from others can affect how we feel about ourselves?

It’s the inside that counts”… right? But I care a lot about what other people think. I mean, we want to look a certain way, be in the right group, say the right things. And sometimes that goes well for us, but other times it just… doesn’t.

I remember being in school and loving recess. Any good game requires selecting teams. And how do we usually pick teams? Team captains. Being team captain was awesome. You got to pick your friends and the really good players. But any time you played and it wasn’t your best friend as the captain, or it was a sport you weren’t really good at… bad news, right?

You watch as everyone starts calling out names. You just cross your fingers and hope. Please oh please let my name be called next! I’ll be better than last time. I promise! And still you weren’t called. Who wants to be picked last? Not me. Not most of us. It’s hard when it feels like everyone is judging you based on how you look. Most people care about the outside. And that even includes people who really love God… like His prophets.

There was a prophet of God named Samuel. God actually came to Samuel and said that he was supposed to go and pick the next King of Israel. We can find that story in 1 Samuel Chapter 16. God told him to go to the city of Bethlehem and to find a man named Jesse. When Samuel came to Bethlehem he found Jesse and his eight sons. Samuel told Jesse that he wanted to worship God together with all of his sons and then eat a meal together. That sounded like a good idea, so Jesse called all of his sons together…or at least most of them.

So Jesse comes back to meet up with Samuel and his first son walks in and Samuel thinks to himself, “This has got to be the new King! Just look at this guy! He’s huge!”

But God told Samuel “Looks aren’t everything. You can’t just be impressed by the outside. This is not the guy I’ve picked to be king. Men look at the outside, but God looks on the inside… I look into their hearts. So, Eliab, the first son turns out to not be the King, but Samuel didn’t have time to worry, because Jesse’s next son, Abinadab showed up to be introduced. Even though Abinadab was handsome, Samuel knew that Abinadab wasn’t God’s choice for king either.

Next came Shammah. Samuel got pretty excited, because Shammah was a good dresser and looked the way a king should. But, Samuel realized that Shammah wasn’t going to be the King either. This went on and on with the next four son’s of Jesse. They were strong, warriors, smart, and even fun to be around. But God did not choose any of these seven sons of Jesse.

Samuel turned to Jesse and said, “Don’t you have any other sons?” Jesse did have another son, but he was so young and inexperienced that they hadn’t even told him about the dinner. David, the youngest, was out taking care of the family sheep.

The other sons of Jesse must have been pretty surprised to hear that Samuel wanted to meet the runt of the family who was just a shepherd boy. Everyone was getting pretty hungry, but Samuel told them they weren’t moving or eating until someone sent for David. 

Check out 1 Samuel 16:12-13. “Jesse sent for him. He was brought in… God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.”

When Samuel came to choose the next king of Israel he thought he would pick the biggest son of Jesse. He then thought he would choose the athlete, or the guy who dressed like a king. But God had something else in mind. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” Jesse’s youngest son, David, was out tending sheep. He hadn’t been brought in to meet Samuel with the rest of his brothers. David probably felt left out… maybe even purposeless.

David was Samuel’s last pick, but he wasn’t God’s last pick. God chose David out of all of Jesse’s sons, out of all the men of Israel, to be KING. God picked the right man for the job. Even more amazing, God has chosen us to do mighty things for Him.

The Bible says that even before your mom knew she was going to have you, God picked you. God loves each of us just the way we are. I’m claiming that promise today… and for my fourth grade self.

Following,
Ginger