Archives for May 2013

Friday Finds: On Waiting

Friday

It’s been one of those weeks where everything is happening last-minute. I feel like I can’t stay on top of my own schedule. I have been furiously working through my manuscript and part of the process has been fleshing out my Bibliography and notes section. FAVORITE part of any project. (Not even.) Who knew I was actually going to need a page number for all of the quotes I utilized? Luckily for me this has meant a pleasant stroll down memory lane as I pull out the books that have influenced so much of my life. As I paged through Passion And Purity by Elisabeth Elliot, I was struck by a few passages that I wanted to share this morning.

Steadfastness, that is holding on;
patience, that is holding back;
expectancy, that is holding the face up;
obedience, that is holding one’s self in readiness to go or do;
listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear.
(S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer)

Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying wasted to your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge. Remember that you are not alone. “The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage.” (Deut. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Whether you are waiting, lonely, or at rest, I pray God’s presence would be real in your life this weekend.

Blessings!
Ginger

Getting Ready

trust quote

Does anyone else find anxious thoughts to be a default mode when it comes to the unknown future? Anyone else feeling nervous about a coming transition?

Had you asked me  a month ago to identify my nerves on a scale of 1-10 (1 being totally calm, “ain’t no thing” and 10 being “I can’t fall asleep at night/these thoughts consume me”), I would have likely said a 6 or maybe even a 7. The more books on pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing that I read, the more fears I seemed to add to my list.

But in the last week I’ve felt and watched that worry level drop all the way down to a 3… and at times even a 1. I KNOW. It’s been amazing.

Although you aren’t likely in the exact same situation of anticipating the birth of your first child while finalizing the manuscript of your first book, I believe that the tools for combatting worry are the same regardless of the extenuating circumstances. These points carry over the various question marks in our lives.

1. LIST IT AND MATCH IT.

Once I’m able to take those circular thoughts that keep racing around my head and put them on paper, they seem to lose at least a portion of their strength. Often the list is shorter than expected. If it’s something stealing peace in your day then make sure you write it out, even if you feel like it’s silly. Sometimes seeing how silly a worry looks when written is all that it takes before I’m able to cross through it.

For example:

  • We still don’t have everything we need for a newborn baby.
  • My face might be swollen in our first pics together as a family.
  • Labor could be far more painful than I’d ever imagined.
  • I don’t get to eat while in labor. (I am the worst case of hungry [hungry + angry] you’ve ever seen.)
  • Embarrassing moments will happen at every turn in the hospital.
  • I will have to fight for my preferences in the hospital.
  • I will never finish the manuscript.
  • AND ON AND ON.

Once I captured every worried thought, I jotted down two Bible verses on the top of the list.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NIV

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3

So how do I take those thoughts captive and keep my mind steadfast, trusting in God?

I identify each fear and assign a truth match. Something like this…

Even if labor is more painful than I’d ever imagined… He will be with me, strengthen me, and help me.Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Even if I have a gazillion embarrassing moments in the hospital… it really ain’t no thing in the grand scheme. I have to remind myself that the medical staff have all seen CRAZY things during their career. This part of life is beautiful AND messy. At the end of the day… I can cast all that anxiety upon the Lord, because He cares about my worries and fears.Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

2. CARRY THE TRUTH.

Once we’ve identified the problems and set out to get rid of all that anxiety, I believe we have to make the choice to actively walk in that truth. So after you’ve matched your fears with God’s Word, jot it down on notecards and keep it at your side! Memorize the verses. Choose to take God at His Word.

“Beloved, belief is not a feeling. It’s a choice. We may live many days when we don’t feel loved or lovely; but in spite of our emotions, we can choose to take God at His Word.” – Beth Moore, Breaking Free

3. TALK THROUGH IT.

I’d recommend that you talk through the whoppers on your list with someone who has walked a similar path, a specialist, or someone who is spiritually mature in this area. I have been asking specific questions of my doctor. I’ve talked through my specific fears with my husband and he and I talked about ways he could encourage me during labor and delivery. Sometimes keeping yourself in the dark can produce way more fears than you need. Vocalize what’s keeping you up at night to someone you trust. 

4. PRAY THROUGH IT.

Life up your fears and requests to the Lord throughout the day. Share any remaining fears with a prayer partner. I love when someone asks me to pray specifically for a need. As much as I enjoy writing out a long list of names, I am always challenged to pray more when I know what to ask my Heavenly Father for.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13

5. GIVE OUTWARD.

Sometimes I just need to get out of my head and concern myself with something other than MYSELF. Loving others is a great way to shift our focus outward. A laundry list of worries can keep us self-focused and isolated. Call your friend. Send a card. Pick up your neighbor’s paper. Hold the door open. Volunteer with the refugee family. You get the idea. When I start giving my capacity to worry decreases immensely.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Regardless of the date my daughter arrives or how prepared I feel, this transition is going to happen.

crib

  • You will start college in the fall.
  • You will find the job you’ve been hunting.
  • The move will happen.
  • The unexpected will occur.
  • Your friend might transfer to another school.
  • Your plans might have to change at the drop of a hat.

Transitions are coming. We can’t control much of the circumstances but we can choose to control our thought patterns.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend these weeks in joyful expectation rather than anxious trepidation. Life is too short and our God too loving for us to spend it walking on eggshells.

“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. Dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip or dance, but do not tiptoe.” –Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution

Following more and worrying less,
Ginger

Ready

“God called unto him… And he said, Here am I.”  Exodus 3:4

“Readiness for God means that we are ready to do the tiniest little thing or the great big thing, it makes no difference.  We have no choice in what we want to do, whatever God’s program may be we are there, ready.

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God.  A ready person never needs to get ready.  Think of the time we waste trying to get ready when God has called!  The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the ready soul, it is ablaze with the presence of God.”  (Oswald Chambers)

Getting ready for summer… getting ready for what the next months hold.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Releasing Control

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Did the title make you shudder?

The Thursday Tip I’m sharing this morning came out of a real life experience from this week.

  • I had something on the calendar.
  • I was looking forward to that event on the calendar.
  • One phone call an hour before the event and suddenly everything changed. The appointment was cancelled.

And by my response… you would have thought I’d been told that my leg would be amputated later that day.

I don’t like last-minute changes. I like to be in control. ALWAYS. I’m learning new lessons about this every day. Here’s what happened:

Thursday Tips: Releasing Control from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

I love this quote from John Newton. I’m copying it onto a card and placing it on the front of my calendar today.

“…If the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient; – then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue… How happy are they who can resign all to him, see his hand in every dispensation, and believe that he chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves!”

Amen. Amen. And Amen!

May this reminder serve to give us all peace in the midst of changed plans this week!

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Book It

dear ginger

Ginger –

You read A LOT of books! How do you recommend getting started reading books? I have such a huge bookshelf with so many I want to read when really I feel like the Bible is the one I should be opening for the few moments I have each day to read. Do you set book reading goals? I sometimes think I’m just not a reader. But I feel like that’s like someone saying “I’m just not a runner.”

-L

Dear L,

As soon as you compared reading to running I totally understood where you were coming from. For years I was the non-runner in a world of race-loving friends. I strongly felt bibs were for eating and NOT for exercise. But there’s something about a goal that can get me to do the most unexpected things. I have to say it, declare it, and then just go for it. Thus this non-runner came home with her 13.1 medal.

run run

I love that you are setting a goal for reading. I think the “Book It” reading program in elementary school might have fostered some of my early page-turning. Winning prizes really appealed to me, and then the love for literature soon followed. I don’t enjoy all types of reading, some books make me want to poke my eyes out. I need stories throughout even a non-fiction book to stay engaged and interested. But I suppose I also just enjoy learning. I prefer to read paper books, although I do enjoy my Kindle while on vacation. I love to mark up my books with underlining, highlighting and lots of notes. I think it keeps me engaged and helps me to find passages that I want to refer to at a later time.

The list that your question came from just happened to contain a lot of Spiritual Growth material. I talk about a lot of books, but the list has been growing since I was about 13 years old. I also happen to have attended a ton of Bible studies that went through books and also have a degree in theatre ministry from College. Much of my required reading from school still sits on my shelves. But aside from that, here’s how I usually approach reading.

I spend the morning reading my Bible, usually over breakfast. I am a “MUST HAVE BREAKFAST” gal so it’s an easy way to make sure I get fed in every way possible. I typically read one page from “The Valley of Vision” prayer-book or “My Utmost for His Highest.” Then I start an entry in my journal and read anywhere from 1-4 chapters of whatever book of the Bible I’m currently reading. (I do set some goals in Bible reading. This year I’m reading through the Gospels over and over. There’s not a number of times I’m hoping to hit all four, I simply wanted to focus on the words of Jesus. So I suppose you could say it’s a theme rather than a goal.)

Since I eat lunch alone, (or dinner when I lived by myself) that’s when I spend a good portion of time reading whatever book is next on my list. I usually ask for books on my Birthday or for Christmas after keeping a running list of suggestions from others in the front of my journal all year long. I don’t have a “finish this by this time” goal – I just read a book until it’s done. Some slower books can take me 2-3 months on my lunch pace… but if a story or theme catches me I will usually make my lunch last a little longer each day.

I used to read fiction in the evenings until I realized I was reading more Harry Potter than anything else. (Not joking.) I needed some veggies and protein in my high-carb reading diet! I now typically only read fiction on vacation. It gives me something to look forward to and a good reason to load up my Kindle.

I’ve also learned that it’s ok not to read every page of a book. I’m not in school any more. If I’m struggling through a chapter for too long, I just move on. That’s really hard for my personality to allow, but I started considering that option after perusing these posts from “Following to Lead.” (How Do Leaders Read So Much? and To Read A Book in An Hour)

Like running, there are days when you pull out the book and do the work even if you aren’t feeling it. But don’t let a missed day keep you from jumping back in after a break.

Hope this helps! Does anyone else have any other suggestions for L?

Following,

Ginger

Blessings by Surprise

wreath

I took this photo with my phone, so apolgies that you can’t see all of the perfect details created by my friend Carey. The wreath has Peter Rabbit details and lettering that spells out “Rejoice!” There could not have been a more appropriate centerpiece for the weekend. A whole gaggle of lovely and wonderful people took time out of their Sunday to shower Baby Girl and I with love, gifts, encouragement, and really good food. I felt so blessed to be in the presence of so much joy.

I remarked multiple times about how surprised I was to have so many gathered together from various circles of my life. Because Phoenix has some ridiculous urban sprawl, some of the guests had to travel for over 45 minutes to attend, and yet they still came.

And then, the youth group that my husband and I have volunteered with for the past year surprised us with a mini showering of gifts at our end of the year picnic. Talk about a tear-inducing weekend, but these were the best kind of tears.

I think it’s hard for us to believe that God really does give good gifts. (It’s probably because our own hearts can be pretty stingy examples of generosity… or at least mine is.)

The abundant blessings on Sunday reminded me of the lengths our Heavenly Father goes to shower us with love. There’s not a bullet point for this post. I don’t even really have much more to say other than to remind us all that HIS GOOD IS GOOD.

When you end up alone in a giant city… His good is good.

When your plans fall through… His good is good.

When you fear leaving what you have to embrace what could be… His good is good.

When you obey even when you don’t want to… His good is good.

His good is so good.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Simmer Down Now


Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
 -Ambrose Bierce

There’s much when it comes to how we used social media. I couldn’t help but think about this retro video post as I was writing this week. When we consider how much to share on-line I want us to also take a step back and think about WHAT we are sharing.

Note: It might have been 92 degrees in November during the filming of this, but it is currently 103 in May. Tell yourself wherever you live that your weather is delightful!

Catch you after the video:

A Challenge for the week: Think before we post. May our words (typed or spoken) bring joy and encouragement to anyone listening or following…

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” James 1:19-20, MSG

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”Ephesians 4:29, MSG

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

Following,
Ginger

#AmIpretty

heart

I mentioned yesterday my concern about the LIKE ME aspect of social media. I’ve been thinking about for a while but it has really come to a point as I consider what it will be like to the mother of a young woman in just a few years.

After I speak at schools and conferences I end up with lots of new young followers through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m honored that you/they have any desire to see pictures of the chalkboard in my kitchen or the thoughts I share in 140 characters. But I’ve also noticed how few young people utilize the privacy settings available. Even though I live a fairly public existence on-line, I am very careful and cautious about the personal information that I do share. The majority of my teen friends on Instagram typically have a thousand followers. When I asked them about the account they could tell me to the precise number of how many people were following and liking on that day.

And then I saw this piece on Good Morning America.

I don’t know about you, but I find using tags like #hotornot, #beautypageant, and #amIpretty to be alarming, to say the least, especially when that’s being asked by young women to friends and even strangers.

Has Instagram become a self-esteem meter? Are we, in essence, asking Social Media to tell us that we are pretty?

I know I’ve only addressed teens at this point (none of my friends in their 30’s are posting “selfies” every day), but I want to acknowledge that the world of “likes” can be a dark addiction for any age. When we seek the approval of our peers to the detriment of our contentment, that’s a dangerous place to be.

So do we toss it all out the window in hopes of finding a cure? Maybe. I definitely admire people who take a step back from Social Media or who have never wandered into the format. But personally I find value in being able to connect with my friends and family who are so far away. I love seeing pictures of weddings I miss. I treasure the baby pictures. (I’m going to try to not go overboard when I’m a mommy. Hold me to it.) Facebook is one of my favorite ways to send my brother a laugh and let him know I’m thinking about him. But I also know that comparing myself to others is a real option when we are all checking out the “best-foot-forward” images of our idealistic lives.

So here’s my challenge to all of us. A few questions to consider before you post:

1. Why are you posting this picture? I try to ask myself this each and every time I hit “post.” I let this question lead me to really consider my motives. Is this true, noble, lovely, or excellent? (Sometimes it’s just funny, and that’s cool too.) Am I looking for an emotional shot in the arm through likes and comments? Am I seeking emotional empathy through a website?

A lot of times I will sit with a photo for 20 minutes and then decide not to hit post. Perhaps I’m over-thinking everything, but in a world that tells me to post everything, I just have to put my foot down and sometimes say NO.

2. Is this humor at the expense of someone else? There’s laughing WITH someone and then there is laughing AT someone. I post funny and ridiculous video clips on my brother’s timeline all the time. It’s our little shared love language. But I’m also careful not to let that humor spill over into being mean. Screaming goats = funny. Celebrities embarrassing themselves while drunk = unkind.

3. Am I posting out of anger? I’ve blogged about this one before. If we are to be known as a people of love we should really be slow to post. May our words (typed or spoken) bring joy and encouragement to anyone listening or following.

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29, MSG

4. Have I checked my security settings lately? I had to throw this out there. Be careful about geotagging your location. With whom are you sharing your daily routine and schedule? I don’t want to become someone overtaken by fear, but at the same time, I want to be smart and protect the privacy of my family. Who can see your pictures? Why do you need them to see your pictures?

5. Am I looking for social media to boost my self-esteem? Even if you won every Instagram beauty pageant and received 300 likes on your next post, my guess is that the high would only last for so long. The “likes” of others can never fill us up. Genuine peace and contentment come when we love ourselves without the approval of others. But true self-worth is found when we see ourselves through the eyes of our Creator.

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7, NIV

At the end of the day, my hope and desire is to run everything I present to the world through this filter…

Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10, NIV

Following,
Ginger

LIKE ME

Are we living for likes?

Tumblr. Instagram. Snapshot. Twitter. Facebook.

There are so many different avenues to get your face, life, and thoughts out for the whole world to see. There’s something exciting about connecting with so many people, but I think there’s also a hidden drug in the midst of all this “self” content.

Has your day ever been made or broken by likes or comments? Does your self-worth swell and blossom with every new follower? In just five short years we have become a like-obsessed society, myself included.

This week we are going to discuss the pitfalls and positives that social media has to offer… and why it matters.

LIKE

I’m curious. What’s your social media media of choice? What do you check first when you log on each day? (My typical order: E-mail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flipboard, and then maybe Pinterest.)

Following and hopefully learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Get Real

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I think a lot of us are pretty good at acting and pretending. We smile through pain and maintain the image that we want the world to see. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision and sometimes… it just happens. That’s why today’s retro Thursday Tip is all about awareness. How do YOU answer this question: “How are you?!”

Check it out.

Thursday Tip: Stop Pretending from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Do you struggle with fine-itis too? What would happen if you were to answer that question honestly? What if you let yourself feel AND be vulnerable with those feelings? What then?

“…If you are anything like me, then you know the fine art of how to be vulnerable enough so people believe you are authentic, but not so vulnerable that all your mess hangs out. You know how to be vulnerable with boundaries… We may be able to hide some of the mess with each other, but we have a God who sees and knows and loves no matter what. He is a generous, patient, compassionate God and his expectations of us are not the same as our expectations of ourselves.” (Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl)

Even if you still struggle with sharing all of your mess with those around you, I would encourage you to allow yourself to be honest in your time with the Lord. Nothing will surprise Him… He knows and LOVES the True You. Find freedom in being totally honest without any pretending.

Following and learning,

Ginger