Archives for June 2013

Almost July

Hey Friends –

Sorry this isn’t the most exciting post you will ever read. This is just a reminder for  those of you who have been following along through Google Reader.

Google Reader is vanishing from our lives on July 1st. (Why Google Reader instead of Google+, the world will never know.) I wanted to suggest a few other alternatives for keeping up with the blogs you follow (cough, including this one), just in case this is news to you.

1. Subscribe via e-mail. Check out the column on the right side of the page and you will find a little box that reads “Subscribe to Blog via e-mail.” This one is super easy. Enter your e-mail address and receive posts to your inbox any time there is new content on this site.

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2. Feedly“Feedly is a lovely, easy-to-use service for two categories of people: those who once used Google Reader, and those who’ve never heard of it. Because if you’re still starting your morning with a zigzag through a standard set of Web sites, you’re wasting time and energy. Feedly is what you needly.” – David Pogue, The New York Times

3. BloglovinBloglovin’ helps people discover and follow their favorite blogs. Today bloglovin’ has over 1.5 million members. The good news is that Bloglovin’ offers a really simple feature for importing the list of blogs you currently follow on Reader into your profile with Bloglovin’.

4. Have you found something else you like? Please chime in the comments section.

And speaking of July – this is the month I’m due to deliver a baby. Potentially even in the next week. (WHAT? Yes.) I will do my best to get back to blogging when I can, but I will more likely post little tidbits on my Facebook page until life is back to “normal.” Here’s the link if you want to stay in the loop. Just like the page and select “get notifications” under the LIKE.

Happy Thursday!

Ginger

Confession Time

On June 9th our Pastor shared a lesson entitled Coveting: The Disease of Discontentment. That was my first hint to the theme that would come across my path repeatedly over the subsequent days and weeks. We were challenged to examine the excessive desire to have what belongs to someone else. Although there are days when I think about how nice it would be to have her house with the pool, or his travel budget, I don’t usually notice myself trying to keep up with the Joneses. The disease of discontent hits us all in different ways but the indicators are seen in greed, reference anxiety, envy, and jealousy. The sad truth is that we have all been diagnosed with this particular disease. Thankfully our pastor reminded us that contentment, generosity, and well-placed hope are definite cures for what ails us.

But step number one in the healing process is realizing that we are infected. This not only takes admittance, but the willingness to dig deep in our own hearts.

Last Wednesday night my small group was gathered together and ended up discussing this very topic. (OF COURSE.) We were challenged to consider how coveting and discontentment rear their ugly heads in our lives. Prior to the discussion I had nodded my head in agreement at the sermon, but not really given a second thought to the way that I struggle with discontentment. When faced with the question I slowly began to realize my strain of the virus.

Confession time: I covet a lot of things. I want what you have. I covet your relationship with the Lord. I covet your dedication to prayer. I covet your willingness to serve on a moment’s notice. I covet your joyful spirit and pleasant demeanor even in the midst of challenging situations. I covet (and get irritated with) the fact that you seem to always seem to trust His will. I covet the way you are at peace with your body, personality, and life. I covet your contentment.

I did not share this at small group. I couldn’t bring myself to say it aloud, but I heard it clearly shouting from my heart. I gaze longingly at those around me who seem to have an intimacy with the Lord that I desperately desire but cannot seem to produce. I walked out of small group disappointed that I couldn’t share and unsure of what my next steps should be.

The next morning I opened up Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson and began reading where I last left off…

“Whenever we talk about moving closer to God, it is natural to feel certain reservations… We may be afraid of what we would encounter if we came too close to God. It is one thing to be told what God is like; it could be another thing altogether to discover the truth for ourselves! What is God really like? Can we survive contact? Perhaps we feel anxious over what God might demand of us if we got too close. Maybe God would ask us to give up certain relationships, life dreams, or things we enjoy. God might call us to do something we felt we couldn’t do, like work with the poor or become a missionary in Borneo. Fears like these can certainly make us hesitant to explore the deeper reaches of relationship with our Creator.”

Soul Feast

I know that’s a lot to take in, but it hit me straight in the gut. During the course of my reading I slowly began to recognize that the source of my discontentment isn’t really those I admire around me, but instead  the source  is really my own fears. Thompson’s words pinpointed the heart behind my coveting. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

That’s my anxiety! I fear that He calls deeper than I am willing to go. I watch M, B, S, J, E, A, and so many others actively listen and then follow Him: down-sizing, adoption, prayer, service, withdrawing and yet connected, at peace and in union with you… hearing AND following. He gives them much, and they take the next step. I stay on the fringe, on the edge.

Thankfully discontentment has a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t have to stay in this place. And that’s what I’m praying today. I realize that motherhood will change all of my relationships in deep ways, including my relationship with the Lord. I’m asking more than anything that it might draw me closer to Him. I have hope. He’s not finished with me yet, and I certainly don’t want to throw in the towel and call it a day.

I recognize this was rambling and I wonder if it even makes sense. More than anything I know that I needed to share this struggle with someone today. I just happened to choose you. Thanks for listening.

Following,
Ginger

Discontentment

content

I’ve been hit with a recurring theme over the past few weeks. Does that happen to you? The sermons at church, my books, quiet time, they all seem to point in the same direction. One single word: discontentment. Discontentment is such an easy states to slip into because it is our natural state. We quickly turn to things, people, or prestige to fill us up. Surely if I can just get/achieve/obtain/purchase ______________, then I will be happy, right?

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13, NIV

But then I read something like this section from Philippians and realize that THIS is what I’m missing. If I could just have this mindset, I might find all that I want and need. Paul is writing from the bottom of the pit, literally. When he wrote this letter it was as a prisoner in a jail that likely stacked one cell upon another, and his was at the bottom. Imagine what falls from the top to the very bottom… “ I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

As I look at my life I want to sort through this disease of discontentment. I don’t want to play this game that robs my peace and ruins my priorities.

More to come

Following,
Ginger

 

Friday Finds: On Repeat

Friday Finds Music

This song.

These lyrics.

I awake in the middle of the night and I hear it. I know these words are going to fill my head and heart when I’m fighting through labor. This song was the first one I added to my delivery playlist. First one.

Even if you’ve heard this a million times, I hope you’ll listen once more and be blessed by Lord I Need You once more this week.

 

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heartLord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need YouWhere sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in meLord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

______
Happy Friday, Friends.

Thursday Tip: Vulnerable

Yesterday was certainly a surprise for me. I wasn’t anticipating such a strong response to my post about letting go. By noon it was the most trafficked post I’ve seen since April. After picking my jaw back up off the floor and mumbling… “wha?“, I quickly opened the post to read what I was apparently missing. And that’s when I realized I hadn’t actually read the post the FIRST time before hitting publish. Spelling errors, missing words – if you read the post before 8:00am MST I apologize! HAH! Only you know that I attempted to use cagaries as a word. (It’s not.)

Not two minutes after I cleaned up the mess and had a little laugh, but also some self-punishment: “Ginger! WHY didn’t you use spell check? THINK. Let’s not get lazy!” I poured my off-brand honey nut cheerios and heard the familiar ding from my phone. I wandered over to the counter and discovered a text message from one of my favorite lovelies, Meredith. I’ve known M since she was in 8th grade and I was a sophomore in college. I was her Senior Counselor at summer camp and she has been a faithful pen pal ever since! Here’s what greeted me when I opened her note:

“Thank you for your blog posts and thank you for allowing others to see your imperfections… Your post sincerely encouraged me today and I appreciate them. I just wanted you to know I am thanking God for you.”

At this point I put down my spoon and closed my eyes. Two minutes ago I had been agonizing over my imperfect post about coming to grips with imperfections. Y’ALL. It’s a disease. I have this need to control every bit of information about me. Even as I share my struggles I still want them to be wrapped up in the prettiest package possible. Photo edited: check. Spell-check: check. Relatively decent sentence structure and grammar: check. Sharing enough without sharing too much: check.

I quickly responded to M: “Thank you so much for taking the time to write. Perfect timing. I had just realized I never spell-checked the post OR reread it. OY! Your text brought grace at the right moment.”

One text and suddenly I realized how humanizing vulnerability is for the soul. It’s good for the writer and the reader, the speaker and the listener. When we are willing to share our imperfect skin, homes, wardrobes, hearts, and stories, we offer something better than perfection. We offer ourselves. We are essentially saying, “I don’t have it all together, but I’m willing to share myself just the same.”

As I sat thinking another text came through from M: Haha. I didn’t notice those imperfections, just saw all of the truth.”

Aren’t those words to live by? There’s no point in faking perfection. If we live in truth, the imperfections take a backseat to God’s purpose for our lives.

So here’s the tip: let your guard down. Allow your friends to walk into to your messy house. Honestly answer the question “How are you?”. Stop competing on Social Media. I’ll start. Here’s my perfectly messy living room as of right now. Laundry, baby clothes, bags, shoes, it’s everywhere. I have to step over my junk to get to the kitchen. I should put a really cool filter on it and Instagram that. ;)

living room“Authenticity occurs when real people say real things about real issues with real feelings. When you’re authentic you live what you are.” Chuck Swindoll

Following and failing… and then getting back up again,
Ginger

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I didn’t post anything yesterday. Two years ago I would have agonized over that fact. Little by little I’m learning to accept imperfection. The good girl trapped in me really wants to do EVERYTHING by the rules. Believe it or not, there are not rules for blogging. Last year I made the switch from posting five days a week down to four… and even sometimes down to three. But I had yet to give myself permission to miss posting on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Don’t even ask where that OCD bit came from.

I spent yesterday packing my hospital bag and organizing my house. I’m nine months pregnant and nesting is in full swing. I don’t even have a kid yet and it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I have planned. So rather than beating myself up for not finishing every task, or for taking time to read over my lunch break, I’m learning just to let go. I’m a much more pleasant version of myself when I’m not stressed or anxious.

All of the progress I’ve made in the past year with my counselor is fueling the other aspects of my life. This self-shamer is leaving guilt at the door and learning to give grace more readily. My mantra…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28, MSG

 grace

Here’s how I’m practicing grace this summer:

1. The house doesn’t have to be perfect. Invite people into your mess.

2. It’s okay to play hookie every once in a while. I don’t want to miss an appointment or be rude, but sometimes I also just need to tell myself that the world will not stop spinning if I don’t write a blog post.

3. Sometimes we say “yes” to others in order to bless them, even when there’s nothing gain on our end. I will always remember my mom telling me about the shift she made in her thinking about funerals. She doesn’t attend for the person who has passed, instead she attends in order to love on those who are hurting and grieving. There are a lot of things I don’t “feel” like doing – but it’s not always about me, is it?

4. Give the benefit of the doubt to the cashier, waiter, or staff member. We never know what kind of day someone else is having. Atticus Finch will always remind me how “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird) Demonstrating patience is a tangible evidence of grace.

5. Write letters. There’s something so enchanting, exciting, and wonderful about seeing your name on an envelope that does not contain a bill. Perhaps your note might be the perfect picture of grace to someone struggling this week.

6. Daily connect with the Author of Grace. I’m working through a book that I’ve owned for nine years and yet have never actually read. I needed a workbook so I pulled Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson off my shelf. I’m only in the second chapter but this book is getting highlighted quite a bit. This section is sticking with me today:

“Spiritual disciplines are like garden tools. The best spade and hoe in the world cannot guarantee a good crop. They only make it more likely that growth will be unobstructed. They mystery of maturation lies in the heart of the seed, and the outcome of planting depends largely on the vagaries of weather. Still, tools are important in helping to ensure that planted seeds will bear fruit. Tools can remove stones and roots, aerate the soil, weed and water the garden.

Disciplines like prayer, scriptural reflection, and hospitality have the character of garden tools. They help keep the soil of our love clear of obstruction. They keep us open to the mysterious work of grace in our heart and our world. They enable us not only to receive but to respond to God’s love, which in turn yields the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.” (Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast)

I know the list isn’t long, so feel free to suggest some more. This is just what came to mind at the moment. I’m sure I will be seeking more grace in the coming weeks and months.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Top Picks

I’m checking in on this lovely and HOT Friday morning to share some of my favorite posts from the past few years. If you can’t tell, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Something about “The unexamined life is not worth living…”  – you know, that whole Socrates thing. So the gazillion journals have been pulled off my shelves and I’ve been going through years of posts on Xanga, Blogspot, and this site. For those of you who have only started following in the past few months, there are a ton of posts on all sorts of topics on this website. Simply utiize the search button or key words listed at the very bottom. But rather than send you on a scavenger hunt today I’ve decided to collect a few favorites- mine and yours.

Here we go! (Thanks to Abby for sparking the idea!)

top picks

Favorite Series:

Hindsight (all sorts of talented guest bloggers)
Navigating the High Seas of Relationships (a whole series on dating)

Favorite Thursday Tips:

Combat Lies
Color

About Self-Worth:

Self-Perception
Uncomfortable in my Own Skin

About Friendship:

Staying Sharp
Heartaches, Together

About Spiritual Growth:

Apathy
Check the Connection

Tough Questions from “Dear Ginger”:

Dear Ginger: The Fear of Being Left Behind
Dear Ginger: Help Please

Most Read:

Famine to Feast (healing after heartache)
Interested but not Desperate (when you really wish you had more than just a friendship)
Passion, Not the Fruit (determining your passion in life)

Personal Favorite stand-alone post:

Timing

 

Thanks for two and a half years of conversation and community! Here’s to the next season!

Following,
Ginger

 

Thursday Tips: Choosing to Remember

remember

Catching the theme this week? REMEMBER. Today’s Thursday tip is a retro video post with a ridiculous popped collar, but it holds truth for today!

We begin in Psalm 105 again:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced…”

Let’s take the time to remember all He has done! Catch you after the video:

Remember from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

“I REMEMBER the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”  Psalm 143:5

What will you choose to remember today?

Following,
Ginger

Not to Forget

Psalm 105: 1-7 (NIV)

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.

REMEMBER.

Psalm 106:12-13, 20-21 (NIV)

“Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel… They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things.

I do not want to forget. I want to remember the God who has done great things in my life…

He gave me a loving family.
He brought me to camp.
He gave me encouragement to live my passion.
He protected my heart and life.
He taught me to love through pain.
He showed me the way I should go.
He cultivated my story.
He directed my steps and journey.
He granted experiences.
He spoke to my heart.
He brought me to the desert.
He gave me countless opportunities.
He granted failure and favor.
He has given me a home.
He richly blessed me.
He granted the desires of my heart.
The Lord has done great things for me.
I will remember!

newtonPerhaps today is the day to make your own Psalm 105. Let’s remember what He has done for each of us, the way He has woven our stories. Let’s not forget.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: More Favorites

friday find favorites

I share a lot of purposeful blog posts, but every once in a while I enjoy kicking back and just sharing regular life with you. This is one of those days. I hope that’s okay with you. It has been a mile-marker of a week for me. I finished a MAJOR project (WOOT), stayed up way past my bedtime attending a Mumford & Sons Concert (outside, in Arizona, in June – yes, yes it was 99 degrees at 9pm), and then hit our one-month countdown for the arrival of baby girl. HOLY MOLY. You get the picture. I’m taking a cue from Maria Von Trapp this morning.

Without further delay, here are my favorite things from the past week/month…

 

1. A backyard concert of Awake My Soul

This has always been my favorite Mumford Song, and after the concert last night… its’ my favorite, favorite, favorite. I loved hearing 20,000 voices sing out

“In these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, 
you invest your life…”

The dogs singing along, the rich harmonies… I thoroughly enjoy this little video.

 

 

unglued

 

2. Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

Check out the subtitle of this book: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.

I feel like there has been something good to glean out of every chapter of this book. It’s only taken me a year to get around to reading it, but I feel as if it’s entered my life at just the right time.

“I can’t control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, ‘I have a choice to have destructive or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what’s wrong and make things worse, or I can ask god for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don’t feel good.'” – Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued

 

3. A blog post by Emily P. Freeman

I enjoy just about everything Emily posts on Chatting at the Sky, but this entry keeps coming to my mind.

“Why You Need to Tell Someone How Scared You Are.”

Intriguing, right? I don’t want to give the whole post away, but suffice it to say, it’s definitely worth you taking the time to click on the link and read the entire entry! Here’s a little taste: Sometimes it’s good to let them see you sweat even when it feels awkward. Fear seems to grow in the darkness of isolation. But when you expose it in the light of community, it tends to lose power. Sharing my fear is often the path that leads to courage.

 

 3. Mentoring Girls 101 from the LivingProof Blog

If you are involved in mentoring teens, tweens, or even college students – this post has some great basic reminders for those relationships. Sometimes the idea of mentoring or discipleship can feel overwhelming, but Lindsee shares some practical steps to get you started. These aren’t the ONLY ways to mentor, disciple, or build a relationship – just some suggestions!

 

4. The Dollar Section at Target

If you haven’t been to Target in the last week, let me be the first to tell you that there are some great $1 finds. I picked up a new coupon book, some stationary, a cosmetic bag, and a bunch of odds and ends to have on hand for gift baskets.

target bag

Thanks to Target, my friends can no longer make fun of me for carrying my lip gloss and lotions in a ziplock bag. Thanks to the brand new photo app #ABeautifulMess for making my kitchen floor look WAY more exciting. (And also, fyi, it’s a great app.)

5. A post from The Storyline Blog

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to read this entry based on the title: “A Question to Ask When Faced with Conflict.”

I figured the answer was simply: fight or flight… cover an offense with love or confront in love.

But then I read the incredible story of Leon Fleisher. And now you should be clicking over to read about this world-famous pianist and a question from the Benedictine Monks: “God, what do you have for me here?”

 

6. A small medium large Strawberry Slush from Sonic.

I know there are about 1,000 more exciting choices for your next Sonic run, but there is something so cooling and comforting about this drink. Perhaps my preference is related to the high of 106 and being 8 months pregnant, but who cares. It’s good. And now I feel the impulse to drive to Sonic. ;)

 

Stay cool, my friends! Happy Friday.

Following,
Ginger