Archives for March 2013

March 28th Mercies

I’m not sure how many years it will take before I stop considering March 28th an anniversary of sorts. I didn’t buy a card and we aren’t going out to dinner, but I’m remembering it just the same.
The tree stump.
The book.
The ring.
THE question.
After just four months of dating, D asked me to marry him.
“A Severe Mercy” has been an important book in our story. I read about David before I actually met him. Talk about a first impression. When D mentioned this book on his eHarmony profile, I was schocked. I couldn’t believe I had found a guy who had not only READ this book, but had enjoyed it as much as I did. I knew there had to be something unique and special about this man.
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That hunch was correct.

 

“A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as “the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers.” Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful love born out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share.” -Jacque Holthusen

It was only fitting that the story of Sheldon and Davy be present at our engagement and that their words had a place in our ceremony. If you haven’t read the book before, may I suggest you add it to the list this year? It’s one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read.

“She knew without my saying that I was hers, that I was full of happiness that we were deeply together… wherever the road led. And I knew without her saying that she had, somehow, come to a new understanding that God in His ample love embraced our love with, it may be, a sort of tenderness, and we must tread the Way to Him hand in hand. We understood without words that we must hold the co-inherence of lovers and be Companions of the Co-inherence of the Incarnate Lord: she in me and I in her; Christ in us and we in Him.” – A Severe Mercy

 

Dear Sheldon and Davy…
Happy March 28th.
Following,
Ginger

Hurts and Hopes

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It’s been a whirlwind of a week in my life. How about you? It feels as if once again the hurts and hopes swirl together until there is no longer valleys and peaks, but instead a whirlpool of life experience.

A car crash that causes us to remember how fragile and short this journey actually is.

A wedding and celebration that point to the best parts of life on this earth.

New babies, old friends, close hugs, exhausting days, and a sun that just keeps coming up in the morning.

This is life.

I’m spending the next days speaking to two groups of teens. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? I love connecting. I love storytelling. I treasure when a student finds me in a hallway, lowers her voice and looks in earnest as she says, “The story you shared? That’s my story too.”

When we hold our hurts and hopes so close that no one ever sees or knows, we prevent shared experiences. But when we tell our stories we remind each other that we are all in the whirlpool together.

“I listened so hard because it felt like, while she was telling me stories, she was massaging my soul, letting me know that I was not alone, that I will never have to be alone, that there are friends and family and churches and coffee shops. I was not going to be cast into space.”  Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Share your story with someone today. The hard parts and the redeemed parts can both be equally encouraging and strengthening.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” Psalm 107:2, NIV

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Hiding It

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“How can a young person live a clean life?
    By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
    don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
    so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
    train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
    all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
    than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
    I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
    I won’t forget a word of it.” Psalm 119:9-16, The Message

I love the phrasing in this translation. “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart.” We’ve spoken at length about combatting worries, fear, anxiety, negative self-talk, doubts, and the like. Over and over I’ve mentioned filling up on the good stuff for those desperate moments. Replacing negative thought patterns can come from community, reading, music… but I believe one of the strongest tools we have is memorization. Today’s Thursday Tip is all about banking those promises in the vault of our hearts. Check out the brand new video below.

Memory from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Do you have any memorization tips to share? How do you stay accountable and active in this journey?

Following,
Ginger

Easter Memories

How time flies! Can you believe that next weekend will already be Easter?

Easter has always been a wonderful time to be a member of my extended family. The cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and many dogs head down to Galveston, TX to spend the weekend together. 21 people in any house can be a good time… as long as it’s not raining.

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We’ve always had good times in Galveston. The excitement of Easter derived not only from the Celebration of the Resurrection, but also from the Easter Egg Hunt and the Cha-Cha Church. The Church isn’t actually called the Cha-Cha Church, that’s just what a majority of my family calls the church. We attended the gathering one Easter morning and were quite the fish out of water. Perhaps it was the electric organ in place of our usual pipe organ, or the excited sopranos in the front row… whatever the case, my brother asked the next year if we would be attending the Cha-Cha Church again.

We attended the little church many times over the past decades. Our large family would absorb half of the seating. There was always a rush to be the grandchild lucky enough to sit with Grandma. Not only would Grandma tickle your arm with her fingernails until your skin almost fell off, but she is a guarantee for a great laugh during the service. For if any soprano in the front row should make an excited expression we were all in for it. Three rows of shaking family members who had been trained to listen with respect and silence were now losing it as they watched their matriarch with tears of laughter rolling down her face.

I remember one particular Easter when we decided to attend the early service. Usually our enormous clan could file into the sanctuary in shifts not really making a blip on the radar. The early service was almost empty when we arrived. We filed in taking our usual seats on the right and gasped as we noticed a new organist and the absence of the Island Choir. We all waited to see what this would mean for the service. As usual, the Pastor offered for any children to make their way to a special class and no one from our section obeyed. We do not leave our formation, no matter how much aunts and uncles prod. Don’t make me leave the pack! So we remained and the sermon proceeded and everything went as usual. That was until the end came too soon for the Pastor. He looked up from his hymnal and looked at our crew and said, “Well, I suppose we have time for some special music. Does anyone here sing?” In unison, 19 heads turned and looked my way. Oh joy. I was pulled up on stage to sing a duet with the Pastor. He offered to let me choose the song. I picked the first Easter song I could find, “Victory in Jesus.” We prepared to sing when suddenly the little organist cried out, “I don’t think I know that one.” Well, we didn’t let that stop us, now did we? My dad was sent up to accompany us and that morning I sang “Victory in Jesus” with the Pastor of the Cha-Cha Church.

The next year a similar situation came about, but I was not about to be sacrificed by my family. I stepped onto the stage with at least five cousins in tow.

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today…..”

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Favorites #2

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FRIDAY! I am so looking forward to a change of pace for a few days. And since it’s Friday, I’m sharing whatever I want for today’s find! These are a few of my favorite things for this week in 2013. (If this was 1995 this list would include TGIF, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and FunYums… just so we’re clear.)

1. Best recipe of the week: Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

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I cut this recipe out of my Real Simple almost two years ago, but have only made it one other time. After tasting his first bite my husband asked, “And why don’t we eat this all the time?” It’s that good. Once I worked out the kinks (using a mandolin to slice the eggplant evenly, baking on parchment paper to prevent sticking, keeping an eye on the oven), it was a really easy dish that looks like you’ve slaved the day away. You could definitely make a lower calorie option.

 

2.  Tool I use daily: Hebrew – Greek Keyword Study Bible

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I’ve spent the past few weeks writing and prepping for some exciting speaking engagements in March and April. I’m covering some new topics, so my Keyword Study Bible has been invaluable to me. I WISH I had taken Hebrew and Greek in school, but this Bible definitely helps the amateur when it comes to the original text.

 

3.  Wall art: Hand painted sign by Aimee Weaver Designs

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The 2nd half of my Birthday present arrived in the mail this week and I could not love it more! The verse from Song of Songs was actually part of the personal vows in my wedding. I’ve been waiting to order one forever and my husband finally beat me to the punch. He did good. The sign is gorgeous. Take a minute and check out Aimee’s designs!

 

4. Reading: Under the Mercy by Sheldon Van Auken

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I’ve touched on “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Van Auken before, but not in great detail. The book plays an instrumental part in my own love story. We had portions of the book read in our wedding ceremony. Needless to say, it’s one of my all-time favorite books. “Under the Mercy” is a follow-up to that memoir of love, loss, and eternal hope. I’m only a few chapters in and I don’t particularly want to put it down. :)

 

5.  Feeling baby girl kick.

I won’t get too sentimental, but I’m just about over the moon when it comes to feeling Little One move. She cracks me up. We’ve been trying to listen to her with a stethoscope and it seems as though wherever we choose to push in order to listen, she begins to kick aggressively. “STAY OUT OF MY ROOM.” Endearing now… we’ll see how that goes in the future!

I hope you had a great week and that you are planning some time for rest this weekend!

Following,
Ginger

Wait

 

Ten years ago I enrolled in one of my favorite college courses. Not only was the professor a personal hero and mentor, but the class itself was engaging, inspiring, and challenging. I was organizing my desk last month when I came across journal entries required as part of my grade for “Developing Faith in Children.”

It’s been so interesting to read back through the entries written by my 21 year-old self in the spring of 2003. Each entry in the book covered an assigned topic and the one I’m going to share stands out today more than the others- and not just for some poor grammar choices. It’s a letter I wrote to my child. I don’t have much to mention about it, I think the lesson I was learning in my own life is fairly apparent through these words.

To my child,

I am writing you a letter you might not expect to receive. If you are anything like I was around your age, you are starting to see a very interesting occurence. Maybe you saw it in the 5th grade, or maybe you will finish high school before you notice… but I doubt that. What I want you to remember over the years to come as everyone else seems to be “pairing up” is that relationships are meant to be cherished… BUT having a boyfriend or girlfriend cannot make you “complete”!

No other person can ever make you whole. I say this today, and I will say it over and over for the rest of your life.

Your fulfillment can only be found in a solid, intimate, growing relationship with _______. Care to guess? With your Creator! Another person can enhance your fulfillment, but they cannot be your fulfillment. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. It took me years before I realized that when my security, self-image, and wholeness were based truly on God, it didn’t matter who was or wasn’t in my life.

It’s the only way to go! Your purpose and self-esteem won’t fluctuate because they’ll be grounded in God. It’s an amazing thing. Will you trust Him to bring the right relationships into your life at just the right time? I hope and pray daily that you will.

Dear one, God wants your fulfillment even more than you do. His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.” So often we make this verse seem like a Christmas list – everything will be GOOD. But the promise is that this “good” is our conformity into the likeness of Christ – an event BETTER good! I love the way that Beth Moore puts it when she says that “God is faithfully putting a puzzle together in each life so that the final picture will resemble Christ.”

Again, I know this is not the “letter” you expected – but it was on my heart to tell you. I love you so very much… but He loves you even more!

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away… slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (The Message)

He’s never early! He’s never late!

Lifting you up,
Mom

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

 

I’m not sure what you are waiting for today, but my hope is that Habakkuk 2:3 encourages you in your own journey. I likely wouldn’t have chosen my own story from the front end of things, but I am so thankful for the One who is never early and never late. His timing is perfect and thankfully, He does strengthen us as we wait.

Following,
Ginger

Learning to Wait

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Journal Entry – April 2, 2008

Waiting is the worst.

The first day of school, Christmas Eve, movie theater slides, long lights with censors that don’t pick up your car so you back up and pull forward repeatedly in hopes that you will trip the sensor. I’m sure there are many other things that come to mind. I know much of it has to do with our culture. I need my microwave lunch faster and I find myself frustrated when the internet takes too long to load. Sometimes I scream loudly on my insides about having to wait, and often times in my car, I scream on the outside.

I think I’ve been doing some screaming lately. I’m generally quite content and have been for a good period of time. I’ve tried to tell myself that wishing time away will result in a life not fully lived, and who wants that? I’m in a little bit of a holding pattern for the minute. I’m hoping that I’m not missing out on anything, but I really feel as if I have been holding my breath for too long and fear that I may just faint before I’m giving the ok to come up for some water. Breathe.

Can you identify?

Although I definitely don’t feel like I’m holding my breath anymore, I do know how tempting it can be to want to fast-forward through any waiting period. This is a lesson I want to learn and live.

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” -Elisabeth Elliot

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Grace For Gayle

I met Gayle all the way back in 2000! She went to a local rival high school and then we both attended the same college. It’s always nice to catch a familiar face when you are in a new place. This past year Gayle launched a brand new dream and website and I would love to share it with you today. Gayle was kind enough to submit to a mini-interview so you could get to know her and a little bit about her heart. Read it and then make sure to bookmark or subscribe to Grace For Gayle!

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1. Tell me about your title, “Grace for Gayle.” What’s the story behind it?

I have been blogging since 2004; writing and photography have been a hobby and passion of mine for a long time.  However, around 2009, some especially challenging things cropped up in my life.  Things that challenged my faith, and ultimately threatened my life in a very real way.
The Lord is many things, but one thing that He is the most clearly to me is my Redeemer and Rescuer.  By the end of 2011, I had given up; I honestly and truly had completely given up on God, myself, and life itself.
 
On January 3, 2012, I experienced a radical change in my life, when God freed me from the strongholds and bonds that had taken over my life — He not only broke those chains, He shattered them.  Hallelujah!
As God and I started rebuilding my life from the ground up, I felt like He was prompting me to return to writing and photography.  I wanted to share my joy with anyone who would listen!!  So, I stopped writing on my previous blog, and started Grace for Gayle in March 2012.  I chose the name “Grace for Gayle” because I RECEIVED GRACE.  I received redemption.  I received mercy.  I received rescue.
 
I am reminded of the story of the prostitute who washes Christ’s feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair.  She so desperately needed Christ’s forgiveness that she didn’t care what the onlookers thought.  He said:
 
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” {Luke 7:47}
 
Those who have been forgiven much, love much — it is our human nature.  The reality is, I am alive today because of God’s mercy and grace, and I want to share that with the world, one blog post at a time.
 
2. Who is the target audience of “Grace for Gayle”?
I believe I am here to be an encourager.  I connect most with women, but I have a deep love for all people who are hurting and feel hopeless.  I write posts about a variety of things, from fashion and makeup and decorating, to embarrassing moments and funny things that happen in daily life.  But, all of it is through the lens of my faith, and I do my very best to weave God’s truth into everything I do.
 
There are soooo many hurting people out there, and a lot of those people are women, and a lot of those women are online!  I want to write about topics that interest women from all walks of life (moms, young marrieds, single folks, students!), and encourage them in any way I can through my writing.
 
A couple things I do consistently is Wednesday Wisdom (a faith-based post pretty much every week), I have a place for submitting prayer requests (anonymous is fine!), women can sign up for G-Mail (receive encouraging notes from me, via snail mail!), and many other ways to build community on my site.
 
3. What should we know about you?
First of all, I absolutely love you.  Cheesy, no?? ;) But in all seriousness, I love people, and would love to know you, personally. :)
 
Now that I hopefully have thoroughly convinced you either that I really do love y’all, or that I’m a little nuts (both?), I suppose I should tell you some other fun facts about me!  I was born in Indiana, raised in Texas, and have lived in Dallas almost my entire life, except for college (where I met Ginger!).  I currently live in McKinney, with my two dogs and two cats.  My profession is in Human Resources, but I dream of being a counselor someday.  I love working out (yoga, pilates, strength training), reading, blogging, and I’m addicted to podcasts, especially sermons.  I love to read, but rarely have time.  I love kids, especially hanging out with my friends’ kiddos.  I’m currently single, and currently not “looking” — and praying for contentment in that area!  (He’ll come along when he comes along, if he comes along . . . )
 
I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl: I either give something my all, or it completely falls by the wayside; I’m working on a little something called “balance”.  I am an introvert in an extrovert’s body, and treasure my alone time almost as much as being around those I love.
 
4. What’s something on your Christmas list this year?
Talk about planning ahead!  Christmas lists are hard for me, but something that is definitely on my list is a new DSLR camera, mine is starting to show its age!  I also have a whole slew of projects I’d like to complete at my house, so a shopping spree (or a gift card) for Lowe’s would also be fantastic. :)
 
5. And finally, what are three books that shaped or continue to shape your spiritual walk? (Aside from the Bible)
Having walked away from God for several years, I’m finding that I’m in need of re-learning things that my mind and heart used to know so well.  In the past, the books that I loved the most are The Unique Woman (Edwin Cole & wife), The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Gary Chapman), Sex, Love & Happily Ever After (Craig Groeschel), and my daily reads are Jesus Calling (Sarah Young) and Praying God’s Word Day by Day (Beth Moore).
What are you waiting for? Head over to Grace for Gayle and start reading!
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Happy Friday!
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Soul Searching

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“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…” Psalm 42:5-6, NIV

When the Psalmist wrote this, he was doing some genuine soul searching. I’ve been there. I have every reason to live with joy and hope and yet at times I feel the weight of worry or fear pulling down my thoughts. Dark and difficult emotions seem to take over without warning. Perhaps my soul could stand a good questioning.

Why are you still harboring anger?

Why is your fear based on numbers?

Why does failure leave you anxious?

“When you are confronted with a circumstance that challenges you, you have two choices. You can say to your soul, ‘Get depressed.’ Or you can say to your soul, ‘Hope in God.’ Place your expectation in the goodness of God. That’s what the psalmist did. He attached his hope in God to a promise from God.” – Jennifer Rothschild, Me, Myself, and Lies

That’s the idea behind today’s Thursday Tip. When we feel weighted by an untruth we attach our hope in God to a promise from God. Watch this retro video clip and I will catch you when it’s done.

Truth vs. Lies from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

As I said, I highly recommend “From Head to Foot” by Annie F. Downs, but you should know that since the creation of that video she’s come out with a NEW version of the book entitled “Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot.” I highly encourage you to check it out if you are a tween or teen gal. But more than anything, I encourage us all to continue to exchange those beat up playlists for a different tune.

Following,
Ginger

Beat Up Playlist

Here’s what you will find if you break into my journal entry for this past Monday morning:

“The overwhelmed feeling is starting to creep in! Full weekends, garage sale, wedding activities, preparation for speaking engagements, preparation for travel, blog posts, volunteer opportunities, youth ministry, friendships, registry, baby stuff. My plate feels full. Lot’s of good things, but that voice in my head wants to tell me this is too much and I should quit while I’m ahead.”

I took a break from journaling and started reading… but that didn’t last long. Soon I was back to journaling.

“Lord – I find myself dwelling on the things I am anxious about. Teach me to have a joyful heart in all of this.”

Step #1 was to admit my anxiety and recognize it wasn’t a place to dwell. I was letting my self-talk run negative and the cycle wasn’t breaking simply by dwelling on it. But step #2 was also within my grasp. Here’s what I tried next.

I wrote ANXIOUS HEART in my journal. Below it I listed every little thing that could keep me up at night or keep me on edge. I wrote out everything the little voice inside of me continued to throw in my face. But then I made another list.

I wrote JOYFUL HEART on the opposite side of the page and made my list of thanks. There were twenty-five items before I even stopped to think what else I could add. Before I knew it, I felt my entire mood shifting, my body relaxing, and my outlook changing.

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Yesterday I quoted Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Here’s a refresher:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.”

Our thought-lives play such a huge role in our every day lives! No one else may ever know what runs through our minds each day, but we know… and it probably is less that kind and less than beneficial. In fact, I often beat myself up with my own words. And when I beat myself I end up feeling defeated and lonely. When I worry I feel out of control and frustrated.

“Worry is fixating on or meditating on what if rather than what is. Our English word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan and the Old High German wurgen. Both mean “to strangle.” When we worry, we choke out the life-giving truth that should be filling our thought closets.” – Jennifer Rothschild, “Me, Myself, & Lies”

The words we listen to become the soundtrack of our lives. I can play my beat up playlist if I want, or I can switch to meditating on giving thanks for God’s wonders and God’s Word.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

If your thoughts today are less than pleasing, can I encourage you to hit the pause button? Play a different track. List your many blessings, call a friend, write a letter, get outside, open up the Word, and start meditating on the WHAT IS rather than the WHAT IF.

More tomorrow…

Following and learning,
Ginger