Archives for September 2013

Hopes and Dreams

Bibles

 

During my summers in college, I worked as a camp counselor. I spent three months each year ministering to junior high students and added all sorts of skills to my resume: I taught sailing, basketball, drama, and high ropes. I fought off bees, ate my share of corn dogs, and made countless friendship bracelets. I loved almost every second. But some of my favorite moments were spent in the home of my camp director. Each week his wife would host some of the women on the staff for a small group. We sat in the air-conditioned living room, eating popcorn and maturing through the study of God’s Word.

I remember one conversation in particular. We were discussing the dreams we had for our lives when she issued us a challenge …

That’s the start of my post that I’m sharing over at Trochia. I am beyond blessed to be guest posting on their blog and hope you’ll click on the link below and keep reading. Here’s an incentive for you: they are giving away TEN free copies of my book this week. Who doesn’t like free books?

Click here -> Life Starts Now: Trusting God with our Hopes and Dreams 

Hope you win!

Following,

Ginger

Friday Finds: Overwhelmed the Right Way

Friday Finds

Thanks for sticking with me through a crazy week. My new normal as a mom continues to keep me on my toes and forces me back down on my knees. I cannot do this job, much less my other jobs, on my own. I’ve recognized (through tears) multiple times how desperately I try to manage on my own, but really, I need help from every possible source.

But as I indicated yesterday, one of the surest ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed by a to-do list is to stand in awe, to be completely overwhelmed by a generous, loving, and powerful Father.

I felt that on Sunday morning as we sang song after song. I can’t even tell you what lyrics touched my tired heart, all I know is that the moment I released, threw my hands out and let the tears fall, I stood in awe. My list of reasons to be thankful kept flowing and suddenly I was overwhelmed by the nearness of our God. When the service ended someone remarked that I looked refreshed and renewed. I joked that 6 hours of straight sleep, coffee, and a shower will do wonders for you … but I knew in my heart that this renewal came from something bigger and deeper.

As I rocked my daughter to sleep yesterday afternoon, my tasks threatened to take all of my peace again. But out of the corner of my eye I spied this book on her shelf. I’m a HUGE fan of Max Lucado’s books for children. The Boy and the Ocean was a gift from my friend Carey and her family. I pulled it out again and let myself see the ocean, mountains, and stars through the eyes of a child … and in turn my voice cracked as I savored the overwhelming presence, love, and power of our God.

boy and ocean

Whether or not you have a child in your home or you are a kid at heart – you want this book. I typically gift The Jesus Storybook Bible for new babies, You Are Special for high school graduates, and Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing for everything else, but this book is heading onto my list. The illustrations are GORGEOUS and the refrain a perfect reminder,

“[God’s love is] always here. It’s always deep. It never ends. God’s love is special.”

There’s nothing complicated about The Boy and the Ocean. Plain and simple, God’s love is always here.

Happy Friday!

Following,

Ginger

Crazy Thursday

Good morning! To those of you that received the abbreviated post early this morning, I apologize! I had every desire to finish that post and have it ready to go, but life stepped in and rearranged my plans yesterday.

I took a two month old to the grocery store for the first time.

The good news: we survived, but we’ll just say that all of my brain power and energy were sapped.

The even better news: I did not say “I feel so overwhelmed” yesterday. Instead, my prayer was, “Lord, let me be overwhelmed by your goodness.”

That’s the kind of overwhelming I want in my life: more gratitude, wonder, and attention to the way my heavenly Father loves me on a daily basis. Tomorrow I’m sharing a Friday Find that reminds me of just that!

Following,
Ginger

Unbury

Yesterday we started our conversation about feeling overwhelmed. Today we are going to address the first definition of the word: 1. To bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

When I admit to feeling overwhelmed by my life, I am essentially saying that I am living in a grave. The weight of the dirt changes in various seasons of life, but chances are, you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t think we are supposed to feel this way. I know we’re not supposed to live this way.

Did you know that unbury is a word? I’ve never used it before. It means to remove (something) from under the ground. Friday morning I felt as though I finally came above ground. My to do list was just as long as it had been on Thursday. The items that had brought me to tears on Wednesday night still needed to be tackled. So what changed?

I learned some simple steps to getting unburied.

Step #1. Talk to yourself!

My pastor quoted D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Sunday. This is a good one.

jones

We spend so much time listening to our worries and fears. I how tempting it can be to dwell on your problems the moment your eyes open in the morning. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is suggesting that we instead start the day by dwelling on our joys.

 

Step #2. Claim truth!

On Friday morning I woke up, poured my cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table. Even though I wanted to rush to shower or jump straight into my never-ending task list, I instead pulled out my Bible and journal. My daughter rocked contentedly in her chair (for a brief moment!) and I started by reciting the verse that kept coming to mind.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2, NKJV)

I could feel those items on my list wanting to bury me, so I started saying the verse aloud. Over and over I repeated those words from Psalm 61 until I began to picture myself being led to a higher rock. I needed a visual picture. This time last year we were visiting Ireland. Gorgeous, green, the island was a perfect break from the desert heat. We spent many days hiking in craggy rocks. Those rocks are what I pictured on Friday morning.

 

rocks

 

Step #3. Admit your feelings in prayer.

I knew what was making me feel overwhelmed, so I listed everything out in my journal. Then, one by one, I listed everything in prayer.

Lord, I cannot write all of these posts without you. Lead me to the rock that is higher …

Lord, I cannot figure out how to balance all of my roles right now. Please lead me to the rock that is higher …

Father, I don’t know how to make this decision. Lead me to the rock that is higher …

With each prayer spoken it felt as though layers of dirt were being pulled off of me. The burden was lighter every time I admitted I did not have the answer, the stamina, or the wisdom to face this day.

 

Step #4. Focus on this day.

The moment I let my brain dive into everything I have to do in October, the overwhelmed spiral would begin again. One of my favorite verses, 1 Timothy 1:12, says … “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 

God is faithful to give me the strength for right now. Don’t let the worries of tomorrow affect your mindset today. Remind yourself that God is able to guard what you entrust to Him today.

 

Step #5. Get vulnerable.

Wednesday night our small group convened at our house. We all went around the room sharing our stories from the summer. We hadn’t convened since early June and a lot of life change has taken place. When it was my turn I started crying. Gah. Not my favorite thing to do. I used the key word: overwhelmed. I tried to convey that I am so thankful, blessed, and grateful for this season of life, but that I just don’t know how to structure my days so that I can be both mom, wife, blogger, friend, and now author.

Had I not shared on Wednesday night, I would not have received the texts, e-mails, and phone calls that so encouraged me on Friday. The Lord knew exactly when to send in reinforcements. When we are willing to get real, others respond in turn.

So that’s the short initial list that has been guiding my new outlook. Instead of letting myself get buried by emotions and fears, I’m choosing to be active in my unburial. Who knows if that’s a word?

 

Following and learning,

Ginger

Over+whelmed.

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 2.19.49 PM

-Google search

I throw around the word overwhelmed like it’s my key word lately. I don’t want it to be my go-to verb, but it seems to sit on the tip of my tongue and the forefront of my mind. “This is so overwhelming.”

I know our lives don’t look exactly the same during this season, but I do know what it is like to be overwhelmed in LOTS of different life seasons.

Finals week. Rehearsals. Auditions. New School. Practice. Social events. Projects. Appointments. Tasks. Responsibilities. E-mail inbox. Chores. Relationships. Health. Exercise. Packing. Waiting. Dating. Planning. Lack of sleep. Correspondance. Dreams. Goals. Training. Conflict.

You get the idea.

This week I want to examine how to take the over out of overwhelmed. I think it can be done.

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”       – 10 Things I Hate About You

Q: What currently makes you feel overwhelmed?

Following,
Ginger

Wednesday Throwback

I’ve been cleaning up  the files on my computer and I came across this guest post spot that I wrote for a friend. I know the semester has been well underway for a few weeks, but I thought it was worth a share even in mid-September!

-COLLEGE REDO-

Don’t even get me started on the fact that I am old enough to have my 10-year college reunion soon. I still feel like that 18 year-old who pulled up in front of Gardner Hall with her parents and matching Target bedding set. If I could walk up to that version of myself today, I might just slap her in the face… not in a mean way, just in a “Listen here, girlie” way so she’d know I was serious.

I didn’t have a freak-out or breakdown in college, per say. I walked in and out a relatively adjusted member of society. There are simply some things I wish I’d done differently. And luckily for you, I’m going to share them right here, right now.

throwback

1.     Remember that change brings grief. Everyone is so excited the first few weeks of the semester. And yet, I found myself blinking back tears on more than one occasion. I wasn’t homesick; I was missing my “normal.” Every face, place, class, and relationship in my life had suddenly changed. If I could sit with the18 year-old me, I would tell her that it’s ok to grieve those changes. You don’t have to run past them and ignore the feelings. Acknowledge them, be sad about them, but then embrace the new adventures that lie ahead.

2.     Eat with a different set of people once a day. Forget A, B, and C crowds. College creates a uniquely level playing field. Take the opportunity to walk up to a group of people and introduce yourself. The conversations will all start the same way: your name, your major, and where you’re from, but from there they can lead anywhere. Friendships start when someone is willing to take a risk and say, “Hey, can I sit here?”

3.     Plug into a church by the end of your first semester. You can church shop for four years and still never find a home. Or, you can pray and decide that there is a timeline. Locating a church home is more than walking into the same church for the last service (Likely 10 minutes late) each week. Invest in such a way so that you are held accountable. Volunteer! I finally started volunteering as a junior and my church-going experience vastly improved. Those 4th and 5th grade girls were looking for me and I didn’t want to disappoint. When you feel known by a body of people, it’s hard not to love where you are planted… or sleep in.

4.     Stop comparing your (love) story to anyone else’s. There will be people from your class who marry before they graduate. Engagements abound the spring of senior year. I mourned the fact that everyone else appeared to find their match in college. In retrospect, I wish I would have shook off the worry and sadness and just enjoyed the journey of my college years. Comparison stole my joy. (This is quite possibly the reason I would actually slap my 18 year-old self.) “Ginger, stop waiting and sighing and start living your story.”

5.     Try everything. (Within reason!) I attended maybe 3 sporting events in all four years of my education. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken a walk out of my world in the theatre department and experienced all of the things my university had to offer. An art department on campus usually has a gallery. Music departments offer countless recitals. Even the science buildings offer displays. And yet, I can count on my hands the free concerts, multi-cultural events, or even socials that I attended. School is more than studying. College is more than your major. Intramurals would have been the perfect chance for me to do something I loved without fearing making some sort of a team. Audition, sign up, join, go on a trip… now is the time to learn how God has uniquely wired you to serve Him and love others.

6.     Remember that friendships are seasonal. As we get older the breadth and span of our relationships get wider and wider: high school, college, camp, work, church, neighbors, family… and on and on! I can’t keep all of those balls in the air. As painful as it is, I had to finally realize that friendship works both ways. Some friends I bounce the ball to them and they joyfully send it right back. Others seem to… well, drop the ball. Not everyone will return your texts, e-mails, or calls. That hurts, but it’s ok. Mourning that change is healthy and necessary. We just have to be careful about hanging our happiness on a friendship or relationship.

7.     Choose wisely. Indulgence is fabulous. Every once in a while I love having dessert for dinner, but my freshman year in college I made it a precedent. More often then not I walked up to the Belgian waffle bar and then topped it off… not with syrup, but with a trip to the Blue Bell Ice Cream bar. Just because you CAN choose anything in this newly independent phase (what to eat, when to sleep, what to tattoo, who to date) doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Choices always have consequences.

You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23, NLT

8.     Stop worrying so much about post-graduation. My senior year of college I was tied up in worry knots. I kept asking that God would show me exactly what to do after graduation. I finally went and made an appointment with one of my favorite professors. Through tears I explained to her my deep desire to know God’s will for my future. I listed all the reasons why He should tell me exactly which job to take: I could obey Him quickly, I could stop worrying about this, I could spend more time praying about other things, etc.  When I finally stopped talking she met my gaze and asked “But what takes more faith – an arrow that says “go right here” or taking steps each day to draw closer to Him?  Your desire is to honor God with your heart, gifts, and talents.  Where can you possibly end up in this world and not be able to do that?”

Do the work, use your head, make an effort, and then trust the Lord.

I’m sure I could talk to my 18 year-old self for hours on this topic, but those seem to be the tips that resonate after all these years. Everyone talks about how college is the best time in your life, and for that reason some people don’t seem to ever want to let it go. But I firmly believe that the present can be the best time in your life. So live in it, wherever you are!

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there…” 1 Corinthians 7:17, The Message

Following,

Ginger

Sharing the mess.

I know what you’re thinking. ANOTHER post about being authentic in our messes?

I have to. This is an exercise in changing my mindset. I am perpetual perfectionist, and if I can’t actually BE perfect then I will often give the illusion of perfection. I don’t say it, but I also don’t ask for help. I enter relationships that are convenient. But this is all about to change.

This Wednesday night our home will be filled with an additional fourteen adults and three more infants. Our small group is convening for the first time post baby boom. We’ve debated about where to host this ever-growing crew and it became obvious that the Lord was asking us to open up our home this time.

Remember that part about the illusion of perfection?

 messy

This is what my kitchen currently looks like. I told my husband last night that even if someone came and babysat for two straight weeks I still couldn’t get to everything on my list. This is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

My list is too big. I feel overwhelmed. Any of these tasks alone would be enough to fill my days.

-Writing for other blogs … when I feel like my inspiration has vanished.

-Speaking outlines

-Caring for a new baby

-Maintaining friendships

-Time in the Word

-Cooking and cleaning

-Exercise? (HAH!)

-Growing my marriage

-Book promotion

-More thank you notes

-Financial decisions

-My own blog

-Connecting with neighbors

-Investing in the community and our church

I need a workable plan/schedule. LORD I NEED YOU!

And after coming slightly unglued, I felt the Lord speak into the massive messy list. “You need me.”

I’m not sure why I thought I could do this, any of this, on my own. I didn’t notice the change. I was lifting up my concerns and requests to the Lord when one day I must have just started reaching up and taking a few of them back. “Oh, I’ll take that one. Don’t worry about this one. I’ve got it.”

I don’t got it.

I teeter on the edge of grace and mess each and every day. Here’s the real kicker- life was like this even before the addition of a baby! God is simply using this lifechange to remind me that I cannot do any of this on my own. Why would I want to?

I’m telling you and I’m telling me: stop taking the stuff back. He really wants to take it! This week I’m meditating, claiming, writing and memorizing these gems.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:2, NIV)

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

Be encouraged. Share the mess.

Following,

Ginger

 

Friday Quote

ftcquote

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life …”

1 Corinthians 7:17 (MSG)

Happy Friday, Friends!

Following,
Ginger

From the bottom of my heart.

thanks

Thank you!

I don’t know if I have the words to say how much I appreciate the kind words and responses that you’ve sent my way since the release of my book. To say I’ve been blown away would be putting it lightly. So I figured I’d just say “thank you” face-to-face. Check out the video below. (If you’re reading through e-mail click on the link!)

Thank You, Thank You! from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Today I concur with the Apostle Paul:

We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our lives. That’s how dear you were to us! 1 Thessalonians 2:8, GWT

Thank you, friends.

Following,
Ginger

The Story of a Story

About two and a half years ago I left my job working in youth ministry at a church to begin working full-time as a writer and speaker. It has been an exciting and crazy journey. I am so thankful for the countless MOPS groups, youth ministries, camps, and schools that have allowed me the opportunity to come and speak. In between speaking prep and connecting through this blog, I have been working on a manuscript. It has been a labor of love, although I certainly haven’t loved every minute of the process. I’ve confessed to you before- I don’t really see myself as a writer but I do believe I have a very specific message to convey.

I lived my entire high school journey in expectation of my senior prom. I had the dress, the heels, and the perfect hair but I didn’t have the date. At the last-minute, I recruited a friend to accompany me. He was to pick me up at the house, escort me to dinner, and drive me to the dance. He was supposed to bring me a corsage. Instead my date arrived to the dance after 10:30pm. (He had a good excuse!) He rushed in to find me standing at the bottom of the escalator that had already delivered my entire senior class to their “Night to Remember.” I had waited by myself for over an hour because I was convinced that I couldn’t enter the dance until I had my date and my corsage. (I did not have a good excuse!) I danced to only three songs that night and spent most of my prom thinking, “No one will ever want me.”

Since that time God has laid those words heavily upon my heart. If I truly am a daughter of the King, then I know the response to my own lament. Not only does Christ want me, but also He has given me an abundant and exciting life. His love provides the courage to live adventurously regardless of any dating status.

That’s the inspiration behind my book, Forget the Corsage.

 cover

Forget the Corsage is a reminder to stop waiting for life to happen to us, but instead to go and live life to the full right now. It can be tempting to buy into the lie that real living starts when we graduate, get the perfect body, find Mr. Right, and land our dream job. But the truth is that we are waiting for something that has already been given to us from God: life to the full.

Who is the target audience? You. I told my first readers that the book was geared toward young women, but then everyone told me that window was too narrow. Not only was the age gap to small, but so was the gender gap. Although I’m addressing women in the book, I think guys could find it interesting and helpful as well.

What kind of book is this? This book is in the form of a spiritual memoir. You will find it filed under “Non-Fiction Religion/Spirituality.” It is written in first person so that the experiences could be shared directly and straight from the heart. I wanted to connect with the reader in a very personal way. This is the story of a young woman who believed two lies:

(1.) That she was unwanted and undesired

(2.) That her life would only begin when she found “The One.”

This is also the story of a God who taught her fragile heart to trust that His good IS good.

Where can I find this book? The book is currently listed with Westbow Press, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble. I’m hoping to get the book into some local bookstores near my home and to some of the places I speak most often. (Hello, Texas!) The book is available in hard back, soft cover, and ebook. It is currently available for order!

What’s next? I’m hopeful that I will develop a way for you to order the ebook straight from this website. I have a webpage for my book that is almost finished. (I was holding revealing all the details about the book until EVERYTHING was done, but when is EVERYTHING ever done?) The new site will keep anyone interested with information about book signings, speaking engagements, and any new developments with the book.

I’m honored and blessed by the response that this little book has received so far. Thank you for the love you’ve shown through texts, Facebook, Twitter, and personal e-mails. You’ve made my year!

 Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 4.07.43 PMScreen shot 2013-09-09 at 4.07.30 PM

Much of the next steps are going to be grassroots efforts and require a lot of work, but I’m excited for the coming months. If you are interested in being a part of this next phase, feel free to contact me through the CONTACT GINGER tab at the top of the page! In the meantime, spread the word, snag a copy of the book, leave a review of the book on one of the websites, and know that I’m looking for opportunities to speak to groups and share this message!

More to come …

Following,
Ginger