Archives for February 2013

Thursday Tip: Bathroom Mirror

thursday tips

I don’t know if it’s true for you, but I feel like the reoccurring theme of my life is: “I am not in control.” This truth is most evident when I allow myself to verbalize doubts, fears, and worry. Anxiety creeps into the areas where I feel out of control.

This might look like:

-an unknown future
-unresolved conflict
-unmet expectations
-guilt and shame
-waiting for answers
-uncertain next steps

Need I go on?

Wouldn’t you know that this latest season of life (pregnancy) continues to show me just how much control I do not possess. Who would have thought? ;)

Prior to pregnancy I struggled through my fears of life-change. I’m selfish. I like freedom and I really like sleep. No one has to remind me the potential situations and challenges that are headed my way.

But once I discovered that I was pregnant I began to worry that it might not be true. I kept expecting a doctor to tell me that they had made a mistake. The waiting between appointments was agonizing. I’ve never felt so completely out of control.

Then I started wondering why I wasn’t feeling the baby when everyone said I would. On top of that, I wasn’t showing and growing the way my other friends were. My head seemed ready for me to believe that this was all a dream… that someone was going to say, “I’m sorry, but something has happened.”

And then we discovered that this little one is growing, a girl, and ready or not… coming in July.

I have not been in control for one tiny second in this process. It’s going to be like this always, isn’t it? This is yet another reminder that (thankfully) He is the one calling the shots.

So how do we relinquish control? How do we entrust to Him that which we hold dear?

I know that for me it starts with believing the truth about who has the control. As Emily P. Freeman says, “I first believe the truth is true, and then I wait to feel it.”

I’ve started memorizing Psalm 139. I’m not sure how long it will take, but I know that I need a steady diet of truth if I want to make it through the anxiety that pops into my mind at 4am when I’ve woken up for the 3rd time. (Awesome.) He has been in control from the very beginning, and He will continue to be in control through this little one’s entire life.

And so I will write it, memorize it, claim it, and recite it.

“I praise you because [she is] fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

If you need a starting place when it comes to memorizing, I’d love to share this tip that’s been helping me for over a decade. It’s cheap, simple, and guaranteed to hang in front of your face at least once a day. Check out the retro video tip.

Marker Memorization from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Thanks for walking through the ups and downs and lefts and rights with me.

As always… learning and following,
Ginger

Every Season

I’ve been fairly “radio silent” for the past few days. Forgive the sudden absence. My parents flew into town to help us get ready for the coming addition to our family. We’ve experienced and accomplished som much over the past week. Ultrasound, doctor appointment, shopping, prepping, planning, painting… you name it.

There was much joy as we learned on Friday night that this baby, this gift that we call little one, is a girl. I’ve known, or at least suspected as much all along. I don’t know if I’ve fully wrapped my mind around the fact that we are having a daughter this summer, but that will come with time. I’m so thankful that she appears to be growing and thriving just as she should.

little one

But just as we were still dizzy with excitement we learned that my husband’s grandmother passed from this life into the next. She laid down for an afternoon nap and woke up in a much better place. There is peace in knowing she is no longer in pain, but there is certainly grief for those who already miss her so much.

Seasons of joy and grief overlapping at once.

As I sat reading and journaling this morning, the bridge of a song played over and over in my head.

“All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing… I have a reason to worship.”

I don’t know what season you find yourself in today, but I do know that the Great Comforter and the Great Giver are one in the same and always present. May the peace that passes all understanding be yours this day.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Cultivate

It feels as if I’m constantly moving from one awaited event in life to the next. I wait for vacations, visitors, treats, appointments… and most of the time I’m somwhere between irritated and excitedly anxious. But I so want to enjoy the present without living in impatience all of the time!

So how do you and I bridge the gap from impatience to patience?

Grow

1. Ask for it! 

God loves to give good gifts to His children. Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal.  I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week.  You could try this per day, per month, or even year.  But know that answer won’tjust come in an extra dollop of patience.  I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.

Remember strength training from yesterday? Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym?  Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter.  Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life.  “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you.  Help me!”

His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him!  (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)

2. Root yourself in good soil.

I can’t say it enough: eat the Word!  When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source.  Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff.  I’m going to be really honest with you.  I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it.  I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life.  I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!

Struggling with impatience?  Try memorizing some of these verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one ammo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant.  (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized?  Yeesh!)

3. Soak up the accountability.

Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves!  Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer.  If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots.  If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit.  (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.)  Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!

Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us.  Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!

Happy Thursday!
Ginger

Patiently

I learned about the Fruit of the Spirit when I was just a kid going to Sunday school.  I’m not sure I understood what they were, but I absolutely had them memorized thanks to a catchy tune.  Here’s the verse that addresses the fruit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23, NIV

Background info: Galatians is a letter written by Paul to a church in Galatia. In the paragraphs of chapter five, Paul is talking about having freedom through Jesus from sin and death and also how to live by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh… meaning my own selfish desires. He lists all sorts of behavior associated with living by the flesh, and it’s not a pretty picture: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions… the list goes on and on and doesn’t get any better.

But… (there’s a but) Paul then says that the fruit that comes from the Spirit are these 9 great characteristics.  These are the FRUIT of the Spirit.  So how does one grow a specific trait… say patience?

 basil

Patience is one of nine traits listed in the Fruit of the Spirit. Plant yourself, connect yourself, abide with Jesus and the Bible says that the fruit produced will be these nine eye-catching things. (Don’t you notice when someone oozes kindness or patience?)

But what happens if you feel like one or some of these fruits aren’t defining character traits for you? Is this yet another time to throw up your hands and shift the blame elsewhere?

I don’t think so.

We were born with personality traits  I’m fairly outgoing but my husband tends to be more of an introvert. He can speak to a whole room of people if needed, but he won’t enjoy it as much as I will. The Fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23 aren’t personality traits. They are different aspects of godly character– and character is something that can be developed and grown. I don’t get to blame impatience on my personality, even though I certainly might like to!

You see, usually impatience comes because I have unmet expectations. (We’ve talked about these before!)  We had a plan for the day and it didn’t involve the printer jamming, our friend making us late, or the driver in front of us going 15 under the speed limit. It’s all about control and it is all about ME. Notice that none of the Fruit of the Spirit have to do with self-promotion. That’s just it… it’s not about ME.

Step #1 to cultivating fruit: Recognize that it’s not about me because it’s all about Him.

Check out 2nd Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”

This passage talks about a definite change in our lives. When we recognize that we can’t hold it together, that we’ve made mistakes (yes, sinned), and that we need a rescuer… that’s when Jesus steps in to make us new. Notice it doesn’t say that we receive perfection in that moment. You and I are a work in progress for our entire lives.  Remember that God is FOR us. He’s not waiting for us to mess up, He is coming along-side us right where we are!

I recognize that sometimes impatience isn’t associated with irritability. Sometimes our impatience looks more like anxiety and worry. That’s still a problem because it’s basically saying that we distrust God and what He has for us.  God is head over heels crazy about us and (thankfully) He is in control. His timing is for His people.

Step #2 to cultivating fruit: Strengthen your muscles.

While there is no growth or change happening without the Lord, gaining strength in this area requires exercise.  I take the time to strengthen my arms with weights, and my spiritual life isn’t any different. I have to daily notate where I am living selfishly and not producing good fruit. Thankfully God seems to be totally aware of my blind spots and seems more than happy to keep giving me situations in which to recognize the lacking fruit. “I have the slow cashier again?!” Maybe that’s an opportunity to meet the cashier and show kindness… and in doing so you utilize vast amounts of patient strength you didn’t know you had! Growth is going to take some strength training, so don’t get frustrated if you feel like a lightweight when it comes to patience. The time devoted will pay off.

Cultivating good fruit in our lives is a process that will take a lifetime.  I will not arrive at a point where I am never impatient, but perhaps one day I will be thought of as a patient woman.

Oh would that day come sooner! ;)

Following,
Ginger

I Can’t Wait.

young

My mom was such a trooper when we were kids. She carted three kids and various carpool friends around for about 20 years- if I’m doing the math correctly. But more than the sounds and smells, I keep thinking about what she had to listen to during that time- especially in our early years.

Wee Sing

Raffi

Psalty the Singing Songbook

Round Up

We had multiples in each of these series. But there was another cassette tape that received plenty of play in the early 90’s. This song by Rappin’ Rabbit especially. (MOM – I AM SO SORRY.)

If you can get past the fabulous beats and catchy tune… just catch the lyrics of the chorus. Cheesy? YES. Have they stuck with me for over 20 years? Absolutely.

“I can’t wait to have patience, because patience is a wonderful thing. Hurry up, let me at it, got to have it now. I want it more than anything. This has taken long enough, give me some of that patience stuff.”

I can SO identify this week. I’m awaiting big news, exciting visitors, and much-anticipated events this week. I’ve tried to hard to remain in the present and not wish my time away. My prayers have sounded much like Rappin’ Rabbit. (Good grief, what a sentence!)

“Father, allow me to trust you and to rest. Let me have patience for each day, for each moment. PLEASE!!”

So aside from simply knowing we should be more patient, how do we actively cultivate patience in our lives? Let’s learn together, shall we?

Until tomorrow…

Impatiently,
Ginger

p.s. Please tell me someone else can identify with these golden albums!

Friday Finds: Reading My Mind

finds reading

I typically decide upon a theme for the week each Monday. I spend time reading, journaling, thinking, praying and then determine the posts that will follow. By 10:00am Monday morning I knew I wanted to explore hospitality this week.

Hours later my dear friend Renea beat me to the punch! She is a contributing writer to a great blog (Thinking Through Christianity) and also happens to be one of the wisest people I know. I wanted to share her thoughts on hospitality with you this Friday.

She begins…

When we hear or use the word hospitality, it conjures a pretty specific picture: (mostly married) women hosting dinner parties, (mostly married) women bringing covered dishes (which is Southern-speak for food that makes for delicious leftovers) to the homes of those who are suffering.

We might get a broader picture when we invoke the phrase Southern hospitality.* This consists of everything from someone offering you a ride in their chicken truck to nearest PepBoys when your car breaks down (true story), to bumming a cigaret off a stranger; from holding the elevator without being asked, to insisting on water breaks for the movers you’re paying by the half-second.

These are all good examples of hospitality. The first examples happen mostly among friends and family, the latter between strangers. Both are vital to the possibility of our progressing as… human beings.

But these expressions of hospitality are not usually part of our everyday comings and goings. They’re generally either extremely planned or extremely unplanned. And, sometimes what we primarily think of as hospitable acts lend themselves toward being extraverted acts.

Proposal: Hospitality is neither for certain sects of people—extraverts and women**—nor is hospitality a once in a while, or “merely polite,” venture. Hospitality, in it’s most essential form of expression, is ontological…

I can’t encourage you enough to follow the link and finish her article. (Don’t worry, I had to look up ontological for a refresher too. Ontology: The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.) She makes some great points that still have me thinking.

May our homes and hearts be open!

Following,
Ginger

Love Is.

Love is a post-it note in a lunchbox.
Love is patience with slow drivers and cashiers.
Love is warm food on a cold day.
Love is returning your grocery cart.
Love is retrieving the piece of trash in the middle of the park.
Love is doing the dishes… again.
Love of others isn’t very fashionable.
Love is often lived more than it is spoken.
Love is given, not guilted.
Love is a choice.
Love often comes without flowers.
Love is thankful.
Love does not only take the form of chocolate and balloons.
Love is a gift.
Love does not always appear in handwritten love notes.
Love is felt… and seen… and given as we live our lives.
Love is HIM.
Love is here.
Love is today… but love is also tomorrow… and every day that comes after.
heart
“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it — not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)
“…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. 1 Corinthians 13:3-10 (msg)
We are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day.Following,
Ginger

Martha, Martha

hospitalitea

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42, NIV

I’ve always felt like a Martha, and because of that, books that praise Mary in their titles have left me feeling defensive. “Couldn’t Mary have helped her sister and then they BOTH could have sat and listened together?”

When I read this story my heart goes out to Martha. Perhaps, like me, she was addicted to the approval of others, and relished the praise received from authority figures. I watch as an honored guest and friend graced her home and understand why she wants everything to be perfect: clean, inviting, pristine, lovely, filling, tasty… these are her synonyms for hospitality.

And yet, Jesus responds to her request (which was quite possibly passive aggressive, if not at least frustrated) with the following:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The Martha inside of me is crushed. I’ve been corrected in front of my sister and told I’ve chosen incorrectly. Obviously if Mary has chosen what is better, I’ve chosen wrong. And that’s the very word I am deathly afraid to hear: WRONG.

If I’m honest with myself I know that my greatest desire is to hear Him say, “Ginger has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I need the affirmation and approval, I’m addicted.

But by focusing in on better or wrong, I have missed His point completely.

Hospitality within your home and heart should not leave you upset and worried about many things. There has been one purpose, one goal all along. Sh’ma: Love God. Love Others.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40, NIV

Jesus desired for Martha to rest in His presence rather than worry about ironing napkins. He desires for me to rest in Him rather than stressing about menus and seating. In that instance I make hospitality about me, rather than my guest.

During my trip to Israel last spring, we had the unique opportunity to witness hospitality in the middle of a desert. We walked a great distance down a long dirt road, not really knowing where our final destination might be.

DCIM100SPORT

As we approached a small cluster of homes, our group of fifty Americans was greeted by scores of children who led us to the Matriarch of their large family. We were welcomed by the Bedouins and encouraged to sit in an open air shelter upon scores of rugs. The family received us and shared cups of hot tea and prepared bread on a fire before us. They fed fifty strangers. I didn’t witness scrambling or arguing from the women serving us. The smiles on their faces were constant. They appeared honored to receive us rather than imposed upon by our presence. We left considering how willingly we open our homes and hearts.

tea

My fear of getting it “wrong” often keeps me from the one thing that is needed… but I don’t intend to stay that way. My hope is to move toward an open door and open heart policy.

Following and learning,
Ginger

Hospitality

house

…”To be a hostess, I’m going to have to surrender my notions of ‘Good Housekeeping’ domestic perfection. I will have to set down my pride and invite people over even if I have not dusted. This is tough: My mother set a high standard. Her house is always immaculate, most especially if she’s expecting company. But if I wait for immaculate, I will never have a guest.

God’s Creation gives us a model for making and sharing homes with people, but the reality of God’s Trinitarian life suggests that Christian hospitality goes further than that. We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also to invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests- we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. It is this forging of relationships that transforms entertaining (i.e., deadly dull cocktail parties at the country club) into hospitality (i.e., a simple pizza on my floor.) As writer Karen Burton Mains puts it, ‘Visitors may be more than guests in our home. If they like, they may be friends.'”

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner

How would you define hospitality? Looking into this and more. Catch you tomorrow!

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Heart Checkup

We’ve been talking about awakening our passive hearts this week. I want to recognize that the transformation of our hearts isn’t something we can put on a to-do list or make into a resolution. Heart change comes from God alone, but I do believe that we also have a part to play.

Road

I was driving to an appointment last week and something just felt funny about my car. I turned off the radio and tried to listen hard. I’ve had a few friends traumatized by blown tires and I wanted nothing of the sort. I made sure I was in the far right lane of the freeway and then took an exit and pulled into a parking lot. Sure enough, the tire pressure in all four of my tires was low. After living so many years as a single independent woman I had prided myself on my car maintenance. But now that I’m married, it’s become easier for me to slack off responsibility and just think, “I’m sure he’s checking that.” But I’m the one that drives this car. Had I not been paying attention or listening while I drove, I could have experienced a worse case scenario. Thanks to a portable air compressor, the tires are now full and I’m back to driving with confidence.

Cue the metaphor.

We must keep checking on our hearts. We are the ones driving with them each and every day. I know from experience how easy it can be to just stop caring and fail to notice the state of our hearts.

The strength to fill, to revive, to replenish – that comes from an outside, greater Source… like the air compressor. But along the way we’ve got to be listening, asking and watching. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a blow-out to get me on course. Watch the retro video below for more…

Checkup from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Checkup. Fill up.

Following,
Ginger