Archives for October 2012

Busy

 

Two months ago I would have looked at this graphic and exclaimed, “YES. More rest. We need more rest.”

I wouldn’t argue that point. Rest is important. Rest is commanded. But this week the reminder about busyness hit me in an entirely different way. Busyness doesn’t have to look like going 100 miles an hour. Busyness can take the form of a slower pace, but busyness takes the spontaneity from my days. I’m a planner and list maker. I work through my goals each day and feel satisfied as I accomplish even the most minute tasks. Everything around me, the books, conversations, studies… they all seem to be pointing to one conclusion: I’m too busy to hear the invitation.

 

Are you familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan? Here’s a refresher just in case:

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:25-37, MSG)

When I teach this story to kids I’m quick to point out how the Jews and Samaritans were enemies. The Priest and the Levite should have been the ones to help their fellow Jew, but it was the Samaritan, instead, who came to the rescue. Priest and Levite = bad. Samaritan = good. Conclusion: love people in the way the Samaritan loved the injured man.

We discussed this very story in a study last week and I left with the realization that the priest and Levite could have clung to the banner of busyness. Perhaps their hearts broke for the wounded man. Perhaps they even considered stopping to help, but their lists kept calling to them. “I would stop but that would make me late to my appointment. Surely someone else will stop and help. Any other day and I would. I’m not wearing the right clothes. I must see to the needs of the people in my own village. I stayed up all night praying, I must go home and rest.”

Coming up with that list of excuses was easy for me. I didn’t pause and labor over what to include… probably because I have a rotating file of excuses ready for any given day. I know I’m missing out on the blessing of serving others almost every day of the week. I stick to my schedule, my responsibilities, and my tasks. The problem with my full schedule, with my busyness, is that I essentially hold up my hand to the Lord and say, “My plate is too full. You better find someone else.”

The opportunity to bless and help others shouldn’t be viewed as a burden or an inconvenience, and yet that’s often how I live. What if instead we were to look and listen for God’s invitation to serve before we made our to do lists, or while we were in the midst of do-ing? “Father, I’m working on this project with my earphones on in this coffee shop right now, but if you want me elsewhere, please interrupt me. I want to hear you when you call.”

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps – reading the Bible.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

My prayer regarding busyness this week: to let the lists fall to the wayside so that I might have eyes to see those hurting in my path.

Following and learning,
GInger

To the Moon and Back

“…Love is never stationary.”  – Bob Goff, Love Does

Over the past month I’ve been to the pine forests of East Texas, the humid suburbs of the south, and the deserts and mountains of Arizona. I spoke to junior high students about “following” and finished “Love Does” at 30,000 feet. I ran and walked miles with my mom and shopped the afternoon away with my sister. I talked to my grandfather about stocks and met my cousin’s soon-to-be-forever family. I danced the Electric Slide with old and dear friends. I watched home movies with the superstars in the home movies. I saw the dark side of the moon and the green flare of the setting sun from the top of a mountain. It has been quite an adventure.

Today I am thankful for a grandmother who is filling my home with her paintings.
I am thankful for time with my brother, who should not be old enough to have a beard even if he’s 24.
I am thankful for the opportunity to witness wedding vows on a gorgeous fall afternoon.
I am thankful for the chance to do what I love by sharing what I love with young people!

I’m also thankful for changing colors SOMEWHERE in Arizona.
I’m thankful for two years with a man who enjoys two scoops of life.

I’m thankful for the setting sun and the chance to watch the stars and moon come out by night.

I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who goes before me, and hems me in from behind.

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.” 
― Bob Goff, Love Does 

Keep adventuring friends!
Ginger

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday, Friends.

I can’t stop thinking about dear ones on the east coast this morning. My sunny and 80-degree weather couldn’t feel more removed from the winds of the storm. Praying for safety and protection for all, and especially for the homeless population.

I’ve been on the road for the past week and a half, so forgive the infrequent posting. I’m excited to share what I’ve been learning through middle school students (yee-haw), time with family and friends, the book of Hebrews, and two of my fall reads. So much. I’m going to catch up on life today, but will be back with more soon. I promise. And if I owe you an e-mail or phone call… that’s happening too.

October Reads

I just finished Love Does by Bob Goff and just started Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner. Lots of dog-earring and underlining happening in these pages.

Q: What’s the latest on your reading list?

Following,

Ginger

 

Thursday Tip: Don’t Feed The Bears

Today’s Thursday tip: Pick your own blackberries and don’t feed the bears. Watch and listen…

“Do as the Israelites did in the wilderness. Gather your manna fresh every morning. Choose your own seasons and hours. Do not scramble over and hurry your reading. Give your Bible the best, and not the worst part of your time! But whatever plan you pursue, let it be a rule of your life to visit the throne of grace and God’s Word every day.” -John Charles Ryle

Following,
Ginger

Food for Thought

This fall I traveled with my family to Ireland. One word: amazing.

I love hiking and being outdoors, so this was the perfect location for some beautiful walks. One day early on in our journey we set out on what we believed would be a 6 mile hike to a boat dock. We would then catch a little ferry back to our starting location and snag some lunch. Only problem, around mile 6 it became clear that we still had quite a ways to go. We were nearing 1pm and by this point my oatmeal and granola bars were a distant memory. I was approaching hangry status. (Anger fueled by hunger. Can anyone relate?)

That’s when we saw the berries.

Although I was raised in Texas, I have zero memories of picking my own fruit. We lived in the suburbs. I know of farms you can visit and pick your own berries, but I’ve never been to one.

It took some convincing to get me to reach my hand into the bushes and snag my first blackberry. I was concerned about dust and bees and thorns and poison… you know, the usual. But I finally just reached into the brambles and pulled out a dark juicy one. SO GOOD.

There’s something about reaching out and grabbing that fruit, even if there’s a possibility for a scratch or sting. It just tastes sweeter when I pick my own berries.

Ready for the metaphor?

Check out the quote by Spurgeon.

“We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Big vocabulary words, but the point Spurgeon is making is timeless.

Intimacy with the Lord is sweeter when we dig into the Word with our own eyes. Sermons, books, blog posts, podcasts, youth group, Bible study… all of these are great ways to mature and grow in our walk of faith. But are we letting ourselves be “raised” by the books we read and the studies we attend rather than carving out our own time to read and enjoy?

Remember: there is no substitute for a hand-picked blackberries.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: The Whole Sweep

I have a beautiful video to share today. It’s worth the 7 minutes it will take to watch. Promise. The only catch? You have to follow the link below to get there.


The Whole Sweep of Scripture,

by N.T. Wright

GO, GO, GO!

“Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” -Charles H. Spurgeon

Happy Friday,
Ginger

Timing

His timing, His purposes, His wisdom…

In July of 2009 I turned down an amazing job at one of my favorite places on earth that would have subsequently taken me back to Texas. I was convinced that God had me in the desert to see things through. I started my job in the youth department, jumped back on stage in a local theatre production, began planning for an in-house girl’s conference, and made preparations to travel to Mozambique with the church. I felt like God had showered opportunity and blessing in spades! But mountain tops tend to come with their fair share of valleys. The end of September found me discouraged, opportunities removed, and with loneliness entering the picture in a very real and palpable way.

10-1-2009 | Journal Entry

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-deprecation, I am fighting… and

I feel like I am losing.

I shared as much with a few near and dear ones who came to my side and poured gentle truth onto my searing wounds. A friend wrote me a long letter and I copied these few sentences and pasted them into my journal…

Do you trust him? Do you really believe that what he has is better, even if it significantly harder and costs you more?  

A few days later my mother forwarded this devotional to encourage my heart…

Before the Flood, God had said, “Come into the ark” (Gen. 7:1, NKJV). The clear implication was that God was already inside, inviting Noah to join Him there. After the Flood, when God said, “Come out of the ark” (Gen. 8:16, NIV), the implication is that He had left and was asking Noah to follow. The great God of the Exodus Who led His people out of bondage to slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea to allow them to pass on dry ground and so escape the armies of Pharaoh – that same great God led Noah, his wife, his sons, his sons’ wives, and all the animals out of the ark!

God’s greatness has not been diluted in any way over the years of time. He is just as great today as He has been in the past. So why do you think He cannot lead you out of trouble? Why would you think He cannot lead your entire life so that you find peace and fulfillment? Why do you think He is unable to lead your children in the right direction that will be pleasing to Him and good for them? God is great! (Anne Graham Lotz)

And I began to cling to hope.

10-15-2009 | Journal Entry

What do I know to be true?

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 33:18-22, NIV)

You watch, your eyes are on those who fear you. Your love is unfailing. You deliver from death. You keep those who hope in you alive during famine. You are my shield and my help. You cause my heart to rejoice. We wait in hope for you. Your name is holy. Your love rests upon us. I put my hope in you.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

You are CLOSE to me and you save me even in my broken spirit.

On November 2, 2009 I met the man who is now my husband. The journal entries from November are filled with excitement and joy; a far cry from the hurts of September and October. I watched the Lord stand as my shield and help during some of my saddest moments, and I watched wide-eyed as He brought me to a place of abundance.

Today we celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I look back on the heartaches of 2009 and am so thankful for the love and support from friends and family who encouraged me to never stop seeking and trusting. I wanted adventure, direction, and healing in MY timing and within MY parameters. When I was willing to release my grasp and trust His lead, I could slowly glimpse the unexpected and beautiful story He was telling… in His perfect timing.

 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Amen.

Following and celebrating,
Ginger

Winner, Winner… chicken dinner.

Thanks to so many of you who subscribed, shared, and entered the “Graceful” giveaway! The rafflecopter program makes my job super easy. We have two copies and two winners!

Congratulations to Maddie Q and Erin W! You are the winner, winners. Shoot me an e-mail with where you would like me to send your copy of “Graceful”!

Too everyone who entered and doesn’t yet have one of Emily Freeman’s books, I wanted to be sure and promote them one more time. Christmas is around the corner. There is someone in your life (maybe you!) who could use a rush of grace in the form of one of these books. God speaks to us through many things, He just happened to use “Grace for the Good Girl” in my life.

Many of you have asked which book you should purchase or read first. I’ll let the author, Emily P. Freeman, speak from her heart.

“Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life” (for young women)

This book is for the prom queen, the athlete, the bookworm and the dreamer. For the self-critic, the silent judge and for the girl who feels invisible. Many girls in high school are trying hard to catch up but aren’t quite sure what it is they’re chasing. It’s no wonder they have a hard time understanding God’s grace as a gift they can’t earn or be worthy of. We don’t have to be perfect, but we can trust the One who is. 

“Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the try-hard life”

Growing up in the church, I picked up a version of the gospel that had little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with me. I tried hard to be good but never felt good enough. And so I learned to hide. I believe women need to talk about the ways we hide, the longing to be known, the fear in the knowing. Beyond that, I believe in the life-giving power of story, in the beauty of vulnerability, and in the strength that is found in weakness.

This book is an invitation to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. I hope in reading you will move from trying so hard to please God to discover what it might be like for you to trust him.

I enjoyed both books. I underlined and dog-eared in both books. But I do think each of them is targeted toward a specific audience, and rightly so!

“Graceful” is the perfect choice for any reader in junior high and high school, while “GFTGG” would be a great gift for women in college on up. The books contain some similar portions, but they simply approach embracing grace in a style that best fits the two audiences. These beauties will definitely be making an appearance under more than one Christmas tree this year. Happy Reading!

Walking in Grace,
Ginger

Grace for Today

This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all. 

…To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

 

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

-John Newton

 

May His grace be yours this day and always…

Following,
Ginger

It’s the final day to enter the GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” by Emily Freeman are up for grabs. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“An invitation has been offered, but only the desperate can hear it. Dare to life your eyes up from your books and achievements. Tilt your head toward the gentle whispers of a God who says, What is it you truly seek?” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)

 

Grace in Relationships

I love my friends. But I also often struggle with feeling responsible for the behavior and happiness of everyone around me. Can you identify? I will pretty much do whatever it takes to keep the peace and avoid conflict. But I’ve taken that behavior to the extreme. I will offer five hundred restaurants for my group of friends to choose from, but I do not want to be the person in charge of making that final decision. That’s too much pressure. I could choose the WRONG place.

As a recovering “good girl” I’m learning that having grace-filled relationships doesn’t mean avoiding conflict at all costs. Ephesians 4 does remind us “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” but I would be doing a disservice to my friendships if I never expressed my own opinion. Loving someone doesn’t mean just appeasing them. Love wants the best for another, even if that process is initially painful.

“Wounds made by a friend are intended to help, but an enemy’s kisses are too much to bear.” (Proverbs 27:6, GWT)

“It is so hard to receive criticism, but if you can’t you are showing one of the prime characteristics of a fool, according to Proverbs. Understandably, it is easier to receive criticism from someone who really loves you, but even then, it is always hard to listen to something that will bring you pain… I believe that one of the purposes of best friendships is to help one another recognize blind spots.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

My desire for approval sometimes puts me on the defense when it comes to receiving constructive criticism in my life. But thankfully, a new understanding of God’s grace is changing the way I give and receive love. His grace frees me from the need constant approval. Living in light of grace means that love is the highest priority in all relationships.

“Grace isn’t natural, but supernatural. The natural responses when you get hurt are either to strike back or to withdraw. When we instead step out of the way and allow God to work through us, responding with unfailing love, even perennials that have endured a deep freeze may lift up their wilting heads and live.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

How does God’s grace transform your relationships?

Following and learning,
Ginger

Heads Up!  A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“Because we are loved and known by a graceful God, we are free to relax our shoulders, unclench our fists, and open our hands to receive all he has to offer. And the best thing he has to offer is, quite simply, himself.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)