Archives for July 2013

A New Prayer

I’ve struggled with having a consistent prayer life for as long as I can remember. I get into a routine and then something happens and suddenly I realize that I haven’t been in communication with my heavenly Father for days. Sometimes it’s all I can do to pray in short spurts – “I need You, Lord!”

God hears our prayers – all of them – the desperate pleas, the silent hopes, and the thankful jubilations. He loves to hear from His children.

My prayers have shifted in the past two weeks. My labor began in the dark and early hours of July 13th and ended at 10:28pm with the birth of our daughter, Norah.

babybaby

My prayers throughout the day were cries for help, begging to see through to the end of the pain… but as soon as I came face to face with our little light (the meaning of her name), my prayers took on a whole new dimension.

Never have I felt so completely without control. This little life is dependent upon her dad and me for everything. Her cries of hunger, exhaustion, and discomfort are for us to relieve and tend to. I do not want her to know hurt or pain. I want her to stay safe in my arms, forever.

But I know I have to relinquish this control. I must trust the Lord with the life of my child, just as I have trusted Him with my own life.

As wave upon wave of contractions threatened to leave me sobbing on that Saturday afternoon, I recited the words of Psalm 139 over and over and over again. Particularly this portion from verse 16:

“All the days ordained for me we were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

All of our days, mine and Norah’s, are in the hands of my Father. And so I turn to Him in what feels like every second of the day. I pray. I ask. I give thanks. And slowly, I learn to loosen my grasp and to trust.

feet

Thank you so much for your patience during this transition time. I hope to be back to blogging regularly in a few short weeks. In the meantime I will post here and there and share some favorite throwback posts.

Following and learning… every second of the day,

Ginger

Dear Ginger: Seeking and Waiting

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,

I’m trying to wait but how do I know what God wants me to do?  I feel like I can’t tell the difference between His voice and my voice… and I want to.

-B.

Dear B,

Thanks so much for writing!

First, I want you to know that God speaks to all of us differently and calls us in different ways! Check it out: Moses experienced the radiance of God, Paul got a light, Isaiah had to run naked for 3 years, Ezekiel watched dry bones, Elijah saw the fire, felt the quake, and then found God in the whisper, Gideon was visited by an angel, and still others were met by talking donkeys and storms that held them at bay.

The important point in your question is that you are aware and you are seeking. When you desire to be in God’s will, He HONORS that.

That being said, have you ever heard of the game Sardines? I used to play it all the time as a kid. It’s almost a reverse of traditional “Hide and Seek.” In Sardines the “it” person goes to hide and everyone else counts. Then everyone heads out looking for the person – we’ll call them “the sardine” for ease. If I find the sardine, I have to try to hide WITH that person in their hiding place. This continues until there is only one man left standing. The last person to find the crew will be “it” in the next round.

And? I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with anything.

The truth is that for a long time I thought of my relationship with God as if it was a game of Sardines … especially in high school and college. I wanted to know God’s will for my life so desperately. I felt that no matter how hard I asked or looked I just couldn’t determine what God wanted for me. I looked at all of my friends, confidently making decisions, and couldn’t help but think that they had all found the answer.  That was it.  The entire world was hiding with God in a huge game of Sardines and I was the last one still looking for answers.

Everyone else can find you, why can’t I?” I would lose heart and I resign myself to being last.

Confession: I feel like that, every once in a while, even to this day. I’ve read and memorized Jeremiah 29:13 until it’s practically a daily saying: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Mark Batterson writes, “God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go.”

I don’t know about you, but that truth about God let’s me take a deep and contented sigh. Even in the midst of confusing times, waiting periods, or even silence – I can find joy and peace from knowing God isn’t hiding – He is simply teaching me to seek after Him. Don’t give up! Continue to pray, to ask, and to follow.

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

Praying for your time of waiting!

Following,
Ginger

Remembering His Timing

I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite posts today. I can’t talk about trusting God’s timing without sharing part of the story of His timing in my love life. My husband is just one of the blessings to arrive when I least expected it…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Blog post from October 17, 2012

His timing, His purposes, His wisdom…

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

10-1-2009 | Journal Entry

I feel like I’ve become an emotional mess. I see myself not able to take any of the advice and wisdom I give to others. I am no more able to take every thought captive than I am to keep from crying when someone asks me how I’m doing. I am giving far too much weight to the opinions of others. I am not clinging to Him alone. I lay on my bed and wept several times last night. The only thing that could stop my crying was to read Psalms aloud at full force through the tears. I am fighting loneliness, I am fighting self-deprecation, I am fighting… and

I feel like I am losing.

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

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

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

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

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

And I began to cling to hope.

10-15-2009 | Journal Entry

What do I know to be true?

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:18-22, NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

10-17-2010

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

Amen.

Following and remembering,
Ginger

Seasons of Waiting

One of my favorite lovelies, Megan, got married this weekend. Woohoo! I was so sad to miss the wedding in Louisiana. Boo. I know it was gorgeous and I’m sure plenty of tears were shed. She has an incredible love story set to the tune of “waiting on the Lord” in the key of patience and trust. I missed her wedding because I am 9 months prego and my due date was actually Saturday. I’m learning my own lessons in waiting.

I want what I want when I want it. I am an American consumer used to getting her way. I’m thankful that things don’t run on my timeline. Perspective has shown me that God’s ways and timing, although sometimes frustrating in the moment, are always for the best. This week I’m taking the time to give thanks for His timing.

passion

More to come… unless Baby Girl shows up and surprises me.

Following and waiting,

Ginger

Loop

Have you recently stopped to consider the conversation that plays in your mind on a regular basis?

I’ve been memorizing Psalm 139 throughout my pregnancy and verse 23 just happens to be my verse for the week. After sharing thoughts about meditation yesterday, this verse could not be more timely. Here’s what it says:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23, NIV)

The Psalmist is requesting for God to examine everything that he meditates upon. As I recite the verse in the shower, as I clean the kitchen, or on a walk, I’m asking for the same thing. I am asking my Heavenly Father to sift through and know all the words in my heart and mind. Only slightly nerve-wracking, right?

So today I have been taking my own sample collection of words. I have tried to record (in my journal) or consciously take note of the thoughts that run through my head and heart.

I’m going to challenge you to join me. Pull out a piece of paper and write out the phrases you most often speak to your soul.

Here’s a short sampling from mine: You could do this better. There’s so much to do. Try harder. You should be more prepared. You should be a better friend. You are going to be an emotional trainwreck. Be afraid. Nicely Done (SARCASM).

I realize that I’m fairly sarcastic with myself, and more than anything the voice inside is pushing to do more, be more, try more, or simply feel more guilt. GAH. Haven’t I been through this? I feel as though I’ve made real progress in the past year to move beyond performance evaluation and into nurturing my soul. Any one else struggle in this arena? I know the truth I should cling to, the soundtrack that would energize and encourage me, and yet I keep pulling out an old cassette tape that should have been trashed years ago. I don’t want the thoughts in my brain to work like an involuntary muscle, and that’s why meditation must come into play.

There’s a reason why God gave commands to His people and then challenged them to live them throughout the day.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NLT

So often my reading in the morning can stay just that: reading in the morning. If I don’t make an effort to latch onto a phrase, thought, point, word, or verse, my involuntary muscle kicks in. That’s why memorizing a huge chunk of scripture has been such a blessing during this season. I’m up in the middle of the night more times than I would like to admit… okay, like 3-5 times. My bladder must be the size of a mustard seed. It’s ridiculous. Sometimes when I wake my brain is looping a top 40 hit from the radio, or I start in on the to-do lists, or the anxieties, and I know that I need to shut all of that down if I ever want to get back to sleep at 3:20am. Reciting Psalm 139 in my head or praying have become the go-to meditations… and it’s so peaceful, comforting, and beneficial.

doorframe

Meditating has become the way that I let the truth infiltrate my heart and mind. Meditating changes the loop playing in my head and redirects my thoughts toward what is excellent and praiseworthy.

So that’s my challenge for all of us today. Consider your tape, and ditch it if it needs to go. Make the word part of your day. Talk about it with your friends. Look at it on your mirror. Write it on your hand. Tape it on your window frame… meditate on it day and night.

Following,
Ginger

Meditate

word

“Meditation… was a simple repetition of the ‘word’ received from lectio [reading]… The ‘word’ was repeated in the mind, or even on the lips, until it formed in the heart.” 

-Basil Pennington, Lectio Divina: Receiving the Revelation

The word MEDITATION is intimidating. One of the main reasons I’ve typically chosen pilates over yoga is because of meditation. I have to shut off my mind? I can’t even do that when I want to fall asleep. I remember taking a voice and diction class in college and being encouraged to meditate on a color as we produced different sounds. I was rolling my eyes the entire time. “Heeeeeeeeeee. HAAAAAAAAAAAAA.” [Sure. That was purple and green. Meditating is awesome.]

But when I read verses like the following, I  realize that I am encouraged to meditate!

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8

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

“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15

I am reminded that meditation does not look like humming with my legs crossed. It can, but it can also be an active filling of my mind rather than just clearing. Sometimes I need to clear it. I need to shut out my voice and the self-talk that loops on repeat. I must quiet my heart and head, and sometimes the only way that I can seem to do just that is through… well… meditation! I just haven’t always identified what I was doing as meditation. But my most recent reading in Marjorie J. Thompson’s Soul Feast highlighted meditation in a different light.

“The meaning of mediation in historic Jewish and Christian practice differs in that meditation involves an active mind. The type of mental work is quite specific. It is not the critical, analytical, or formulating work of Bible study, which may inform meditation but remains distinct from it. The mind work of meditation moves us to reflection on where we are in the text. Active imagination can sometimes help us find connections between our life stories and the great story of God’s redemptive work with us. Mediation engages us at the level of the “heart” in its biblical sense, where memory, experience, thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, intuitions, and intentions are joined. This is where we are likely to discover what a given passage means in our lives personally or as a community.” – Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast

I’m looking forward to reading and studying further. More to come this week.

Following,
Ginger