All I Want for Christmas (& Forever)

 

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Time is a precious commodity. I cannot believe how quickly the days and weeks roll by. There is so much I want to accomplish, and most of my list is really good: clean the house, write a blog post, laundry, sew some bunting, have neighbors and friends over for dinner, organize my freezer, call friends and have lengthy conversations, meet and know all of my neighbors, exercise, bake, attend classes, volunteer… I mean really. I could keep going, but I don’t feel like I have the time.

If I could ask and receive for anything this Christmas, it would be the gift of more time. (I promise I’m not speeding past Thanksgiving – more to come!)

Life will not slow on its own. I have to be mindful of the days and hours I’m given. In the midst of baking and holiday preparations, I have to tell myself to slow down and declare thanks for each moment. I have to remind myself not to wish these days away- believing somehow that living will be easier, cleaner, or more spacious in the future.

Life is messy in all its parts. The days will run into months if we don’t take time to pause. If we long for God to fill in our gaps, we must give Him space to move and be.

This year, may I suggest a gift for all of us? be

BE.

 “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, AMP

God’s answer for our busy schedules, constant striving, and stress-induced insomnia is simple. Be. Just Be.

Be rested.
Be known.
Be filled.

Carey Bailey and I have a dream to gift women just that. A weekend retreat to step away from the striving and to step into being present.

 

Here’s the heart behind With Joy Retreats…

With Joy from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to watch and share. I so hope to see some of you in attendance April 10-12, 2015. The Chapel Rock Camp and Conference Center is gorgeous and we are hard at work pulling together an incredible team and intentional sessions for our first retreat. For more information or to register,  follow this link to the With Joy Retreat website.

 

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Following,

Ginger

Live and Love

Friends, Texans, Countrymen –

I’m back after six crazy weeks on and off the road. I was blessed to cross the country and meet so many wonderful people. I found sweet hospitality in South Carolina, tender prayers in Texas, and authentic new friendships in Arizona. It has been one long and exciting journey. I am so thankful for the opportunity to do what I love for a living and then live with the ones I love when I return home. God’s calling on my heart gets me out the front door and these faces always bring me running back.

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Leaving each time is both liberating and so very hard. I step away from my immediate friendships and relationships to go and make new friends. Every airport drop-off, every hug, every long-distance call; it’s just hard saying good-bye. But I’ve learned, more than anything, to simply love wherever I am. Whoever God places in front of me each day, that is who I’m called to love. When I’m home, it’s my joy and struggle to love my family, friends, and neighbors more than I love myself.

When I’m on a plane, in a car, at a campground, riding an elevator, speaking from the stage- wherever that may be, I’m called to love those individuals.

I don’t know where you find yourself today, but I know that right here and now, you have a purpose. Our purpose doesn’t change simply because it gets hard. Our purpose doesn’t change even when the days become long and stifling. Our purpose doesn’t change simply because we feel bored. Our purpose doesn’t shift with our feelings because the One who calls does not change.

You and I were made to live and obey and love and believe right here…

“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, MSG

I’m looking to sharing more lessons from the road in the weeks to come. Thanks for your encouragement and patience through the writing desert.

Following,
Ginger

Notes from the Road

Hello from 35,000 feet in the air! This flight marks the halfway point of my full travel schedule for this autumn. I realize that this post is about 3 months post due. I must ask your apologies for stepping back from blogging (yet again) without so much as a “see you later.”

This four-hour flight without a baby has provided the longest window of time to process than I’ve had in a long, long time. Who cares how long the layover might be, the freedom is glorious! (Can I get an Amen?)

Since July I’ve had my gaze locked on seven upcoming speaking engagements. The variety of the groups keeps me on my toes and also necessitates hours of prep work. Thus any free time – aka baby-napping time – was devoted to study and preparation, leaving zero time to even think about blogging.

With almost all the work behind me, I feel like I can slowly start to bring writing back into my regular routine.

I realize I wrote last week about my new venture, WITH JOY RETREATS, but this week’s post sat like a blinking cursor. I don’t want to write just to fill up another page on the internet. If I get to choose what I speak about, my most favorite thing to share is whatever God is teaching me in that moment. I sat through my first flight just trying to summarize and think about all the most recent things God is teaching me and working through my life. I hope you find one or more of these tidbits to be challenging or encouraging.

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A FEW LESSONS FROM THE ROAD

  1. My abilities, although God-given, do not have the power to change hearts. Only God has that power. Lest I forget and make my calling about what I say or communicate, Paul reminds me in 1 Corinthians 3:7, So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 

Whether I speak to 250 Jr. High School Students or 50 women, obedience looks like offering up what I have and trusting God to give the growth. This freedom keeps me from negative self-talk or the tendency to feel puffed up by the compliments and encouragement of others. This truth reminds me to keep God’s Word at the forefront and my words and stories for the background. I still fail, often my motives are not pure, but I cling to the promise that God’s Word will not return void.

 

  1. I should seek God, not comfort, ease, or safety. I should seek God, not adventure, experiences, or a bucket list.

I can allow the Western story of culture be the lens through which I view scripture… “I can do all things. God has a happy plan for me. Delight yourself in the Lord and you get what you want. God makes everything easy for those who love Him. Following God is a great adventure, #as long as its not too hard.The mantra of my generation tells me I don’t deserve to be unhappy. I’m learning not to put those words in God’s mouth.

“What does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered? Or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?” Gene Edwards

 

  1. I know God desires obedience over sacrifice but I forget that often obedience requires sacrifice. I am on the road 17 days out of 31 in October. Thankfully my daughter and husband were able to join me for a large portion, but saying good-bye is still difficult. Through tears I broke down and told my husband that this is just hard. It’s hard living out of a suitcase, keeping all of the topics straight. It’s hard not getting to choose what I eat, when or if I exercise. So much of life on the road means things are out of my control. My husband, David, was gracious to remind me that there is a cost to following the call. The Bible is full of story after story where obedience means sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice is miniscule in the grand scheme, and other times obedience feels impossible because of the sacrifice required.

 

  1. I am compelled to love because I have been forgiven so much. I’m praying that my heart would continue to change. I want to be the one to volunteer when someone needs help picking up his or her kids from school or a ride to the airport. I long for my heart to stop trying to defend my sin to others, but instead respond in grace and readily ask for forgiveness. I’m reading the book “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller (HIGHLY recommend) and this definition of the gospel has been working itself out in my head and heart since chapter one: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Tim Keller

 

  1. Look for Jesus in everything. When I release my grip on my need for control and my definition of success and instead turn out my hands and say, “Give me what you want me to have,” something monumental shifts in my day. The peace that I can’t explain apart from Jesus, it’s at my disposal all the time. I boarded my plane this morning as one of the last passengers. Although my seat is in the front of the plane, my luggage is in the very back. When we touch down I will have to wait for the entire plane to empty to get to my luggage. Oh how I prayed to have overhead space right about my seat so I could exit and make it to my connecting flight with plenty of time. God was gracious to remind me of the question He asks me in moments just like this, “What if I’m writing a different story than the one you had planned for your day? Do you trust me?”

“Move toward God. In all things see Jesus. In all circumstances, whether success or failure, questions or answers, beauty or ashes, acceptance or rejection, look for Jesus.” Emily Freeman

  1. Hospitality is not the same thing as entertaining. I attended the Allume Conference this past weekend and the theme of hospitality is still ringing in my ears. Something Shauna Niequist said (or ALL of what she said) keeps pressing around my heart.
  • True hospitality is giving people a place to be when they would otherwise be alone.
  • True hospitality is a sacred space big enough to let God move in and through us.
  • True hospitality leaves people feeling better about themselves (rather than me) when they leave.

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All of the speakers were quick to remind us that there is something out of control and messy about hospitality- and that’s a beautiful thing. I want my front door to open more. I want to invite others in – not just the bits I choose to tell on social media or while speaking on a stage. I must get better about bringing people into my life rather than standing at arm’s distance. There’s so much stirring in me now, I can’t vocalize it all, but I’m excited- and terrified- and excited.

What has God been teaching you in this season of life?

Following,
Ginger

P.S. I just finished reading Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. It is not just for married people – lots of great truths for everyone in any kind of relationship or friendship. Also – it is hands down my favorite book on marriage, and I’ve read a lot of them. Put it on your list!

Big News – With Great Joy!

I know, I know. It’s been since July since I last wrote – but I had to take a moment and share some big news!

In February of this year I opened an email from my long-time friend, Carey. She hinted that God had placed a big dream on her heart but He also kept mentioning my name with the idea. The more she journaled and prayed, the more she couldn’t shake the thought. Here’s the start of her email:

Idea: You and I co-own and lead an Arizona Women’s retreat.

Deep breath!

She proceeded to list several reasons why she felt led, called, and why we might make a great team for this endeavor. Carey and I had worked together in ministry for years and had plenty of opportunities to lead and plan under pressure. Our styles tend to align, and our passion to see women encouraged and challenged to rest in the Lord definitely aligned- so I prayed, prayed with my husband, and then we started the first of many conversations that eventually created WITH JOY RETREATS, LLC.

cargingCarey and I (and our fabulously supportive spouses) are co-owners of a little company that seeks to provide respite and renewal to women through weekend retreats.

More than that, we’ve rented a site, booked some amazingly gifted people, and are now ready to invite 54 women to join us April 10-12, 2015 for our first retreat in Prescott, Arizona.

Here’s our official mission statement: With Joy Retreats creates a sacred space to rest, learn and worship. Speaker Ginger Ciminello and Life Coach Carey Bailey provide fresh Biblical perspectives for applying the transformative power of God’s truth to our day to day reality.

What can you anticipate during a With Joy Retreat?

  • In-depth Biblical teaching
  • Practical resources
  • Personal reflection
  • Guided worship through music
  • Creative outlets for practicing spiritual disciplines
  • Opportunities for new friendships
  • Laughter!
  • Authenticity and intentionality
  • Room to pause and be present

Registration for our first retreat, BE, opens Friday at 8am PST. There are only 54 spots. First come. First served.

Check out our gorgeous (if I do say so myself) new website for further details and info. I hope you will consider joining us or sharing this event with a friend who might benefit from time to rest and retreat!

Following,

Ginger

Book List #2

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HOWDY, FRIENDS!

I hope you have had a lovely summer full of fond memories and much-needed rest. School has just started (!) in my neighborhood, and I felt the compulsion to drift back into a more routine schedule and even try some writing.

I appreciate your grace and patience as I’ve continued to embrace letting go of some of the most time-consuming parts of my day. That release included this blog. Two years ago I would have been in full-on panic mode if I missed blogging more than three days in a row, much less only blogging TWICE in THREE MONTHS. HAH.

This post is a continuation of the reading list I shared in January and updated in March. I’ve always loved reading but I found the opportunity to do so dwindling in the past years. I missed it. Since making reading both priority and reward in 2014, I feel like I’ve finally found a balance that works for me and my days.

I’m sharing the books I’ve read these past months and what’s on tap for future reading. Check out the video below for details and a short list!

Book List Part 2 from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Books mentioned in this segment:
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger
Son by Lois Lowry
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

I would love to hear your recommendations for this year. What’s the best book you’ve read this summer?

Happy Reading!

Ginger

How to have it all AND balance it all. (Maybe not.)

Greetings, Friends!

Much has happened since I last posted – joy and pain, rest and activity, visitors, weddings, Easter celebration, losses mourned, books read, sleepless nights, starting a new business (more on this to come!), and delightful moments with a quickly growing 10 month-old girl.

For a large chunk of this spring my heart has felt a little dry and a bit distracted. I’m still learning how to do life as a work from home mom. In the past few weeks several kind friends asked how the balance is possible – raising a kid at home while working.

The truth is that there isn’t much balance going on.

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photo by Crystal Morgan Photography.

(Do you remember the last time I blogged? I certainly don’t. Sometimes I feel guilty for my absence/silence. Other times it doesn’t cross my mind. At all.)

I’m LOVING this new stage my daughter has entered. I treasure being a mom and I’m thankful for the ability to be at home with her. I really don’t feel guilty for not producing material on my computer because I’m too busy trying to keep up with a baby. I want to work, but not as much as I want to play with Norah.

I don’t wake up early for creative or peaceful alone moments. I don’t sneak out of the house in the evenings to punch out writing pieces or prepare for upcoming engagements. I never find myself slaving away at 11pm. I don’t know whether I’m lazy or just adjusting to reality. Pinterest is full of pins that tell me about the realization of dreams. Those dreams don’t play out in your sleep. They play out and pay out when you are willing to work. So right now I hope to spend the baby’s naptimes well and try not to get frustrated when she wakes up too early.

The question in every women’s magazine seems to be how to have it all and balance it all. I even downloaded a few books on the very topic but stalled out on reading when I realized the author wanted me to pause and journal about all the thoughts and feelings going on. It just felt like too much effort. I barely have the time to READ the book.

I don’t really know how to balance so the scales rest evenly.

But here’s what I do know-

  1. Seek God’s Kingdom first.
  2. Come to Jesus and He gives rest.
  3. If I want wisdom in all of these areas I need to get wisdom.

”The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7, NIV

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 

I need time in the Word and in prayer. I need it daily. Even as an artist who feels compelled to create and dream, my first need is the most basic and nourishing. My soul is thirsty.

I started the year reading a daily devotional, Streams in the Desert. It’s a lovely book, a compilation of thoughts from L.B. Cowman, written in the early part of the last century. The thoughts are deep, enriching and succinct. I told myself the single verse at the start of each page was enough to see me through the day, but really, I was still thirsty. And then I started doing my Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred Workout DVD.

Hang with me.

It’s a 20-minute workout that is super intense. She talks throughout the sessions and about the fourth time I worked out, something she said shouted to my heart.

“No. You do not get to do a 20-minute workout and take a break in the middle. It doesn’t work like that. If you want to see results, you have to be willing to do the work. You’ve been told to just take the stairs. We are feeding a culture of lethargy. You can do a tough workout.”

I want wisdom. I need wisdom if I’m to make it through any sort of day, pre or post having a baby. Life is complicated, challenging, and sometimes exhausting. So if my aim is gaining wisdom, the process includes time devoted to God’s Word for my daily fuel. It takes a different kind of effort and work.

God used a workout DVD to remind me that my lifelong pursuit isn’t to achieve some euphoric balance in my day. If I desire to see heart results: growth in my relationships, change in my character, and passion for the art I’m wired to make, I have to be willing to put in the work. Rather than balance- I want the scales to tip heavily toward Him.

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So the morning after my workout realization, I opened my Bible to the book of Isaiah. I fed Norah strawberries and cheese, poured a cup of coffee, and started reading outloud to both of us. There’s nothing quiet about our morning time. :) We read with vigor: “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns fo Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah…” (Isaiah 1:1)

Today we made it to chapter 37. I feel no more balanced than I did at chapter 1, but I feel as though my life is posed for a better alignment. (This post was super encouraging!)

Whether you are a student, employee, artist, spouse, single mom, working mom, retired dad, or volunteering grandmother- my encouragement for us all is to allign our hearts. Instead of worrying about balance, begin seeking after the Lord in His Word. “Open wide my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18

The beautiful result of quenching my soul thirst has been more peace, more quality time[!], and a stronger desire to create/dream than I’ve had in months. I don’t know if this means more blogging in the future or an extended “sabbatical” of sorts, all I know is what lies ahead of me today- and I’m at peace with it.

“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Isaiah 26:12

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: My BF or My BFF?

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Dear Ginger,
Long story short: I asked a guy to a dance and didn’t know my best friend liked him. She was going to ask him! But I only learned that AFTER the guy and I  had a great time at the dance and decided to start dating. He is so sweet and is a great boyfriend.  My girl best friend thinks he has to make a choice between us now because she believes he could have had feelings for her if she asked him instead of me. She thinks maybe we should both be just friends with him, but if I break up with him now because of her I know it will hurt him. But if I don’t, I think she might get hurt. I’m so lost and confused… I don’t know what I should do. I’ve been praying so much about it, but every time I hang out with him I feel guilty now. I feel like there’s no right answer. Please help if you can!
-M

Dear M,

First of all – I REALLY feel for you. I hate that feeling of being in the middle of something, especially any relationship drama. Obviously both of these relationships are very important to you, as they should be. So again, I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion.

I have a group of high school girls who come to my house on Mondays for small group. I told them about your situation and they all agreed that this is a tough spot. I wanted to get their thoughts about the advice they might give a friend in the same situation. In the end we decided that the #1 first course of action is COMMUNICATION. This translates into some potential discomfort for a bit, but if you want to find yourself with both relationships, it’s the best thing. I think you have a few conversations in your immediate future.

1.) Pray for wisdom about which conversation to have first, that God would give you gentle words and a loving heart even if your girl BFF blames you for things. Sometimes we have to just listen and not try to defend ourselves- and that takes a ton of self-control. When someone accuses me of something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I want to lash back with excuses, reasons and a litany of defenses. The Gospel (the Good News that Jesus took my sin and punishment upon himself) reminds me that at the end of the day I’m a sinner and I mess up…  even when I don’t mean to. But it also means that I don’t have to defend my cause. I can choose humility and to lay down my wants and needs for someone else. Grrr – that can be really hard!

2.) Have a convo with you and your girl BFF. Start by praying WITH her. Then talk through the whole situation, tell her you want to hear everything from her perspective. Let her speak first. Once she’s had the chance to share everything, ask if you can tell things as you perceived them from your side of the story: “I wouldn’t have asked him if I knew you were going to, but I also can’t change the past. I can only move forward with the situation we have now. I value you and our friendship so much and want to do whatever I can to preserve it.” Also, ask your friend for permission to tell your BF what’s going on- if he’s in the middle of this situation, he deserves to know about it so he can respond however HE wants to. You two gals shouldn’t make all the decisions for him.

3.) If that feels intimidating, have the convo with a neutral 3rd party. I wouldn’t suggest someone your age. Instead consider asking an upperclassman you respect, a teacher, youth leader, even someone else’s mom. It’s important to have someone hear you and make sure you both are listening to each other.

4.) Keep your boyfriend in the loop. He should know what’s up! If he doesn’t know about your friend and her feelings for him, he can’t react/not react in a certain way. She will continue to perceive his behavior as flirting if he keeps acting the same way. This convo might need to happen with all three of you. YIKES. I know. But in order for your boyfriend to say how he feels and have your friend believe it, she might need to hear it in person. If this sounds crazy, consider bringing in the trusted person from step #3. Everyone needs to get everything out on the table.

None of this is easy, but it’s so vital for the health of your relationships. Drama happens when people ASSUME they know how someone else is feeling. Talk it out. Pray a bunch. Ask for wisdom. Hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Here are some other blog posts for you to consider in this situation!

Drama Free
Drama Free #2
Smokey The Bear
Losing a Friend
Strained Friendship

From dead sticks to new life.

 

I’m sitting outside on my back patio enjoying a gorgeous spring morning. The highs sit in the upper 70’s (SORRY REST OF THE COUNTRY!) and remind me why living in Arizona is worth any discomfort the summer may bring. The trees are green, a light breeze rustles the leaves, and a humming bird hovers near the bloom of my Aloe Vera plant. New life is all around me.

But out of the corner of my eye I can see which one of these things is not quite like the other. My failed potting attempts sit together on my patio. You might never have guessed that these brightly colored pots once held oregano, rosemary, dill, and even tomatoes as recently as last spring. The soil is dried and cracked and browned sticks poke out from the surface.

Do you know what would happen if I began furiously watering and fertilizing these pots for the next month? Do you know what you would see in those pots?

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[Read more…]

Reading List Update

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I know. It’s been dead quiet around here, but it has been anything but quiet in my house.

Who knew an 8 month-old would be so screechingly loud? Love my little ball of personality, but MAN she is a lot of work. I’m not saying anything earth shattering here, except to acknowledge that this ideal of “having it all” and “doing it all” is a pretty big myth. I can give 100% to what’s in front of me, but that means something else isn’t getting done. I don’t want to multi-task my whole life, I’m not very good at it. So my working windows are really when my child sleeps – but that’s also my window for cooking, cleaning, showering, e-mails, lesson prep, and blog writing. Something has to give everyday, and as you could probably tell, the blog tends to get the stiff arm. My goal was to write once or twice a week. I want to hold to it, so thanks for your grace in the midst.

That being said, I HAVE been making reading a priority this year. We turn off the T.V. earlier or keep it off, and spend more time reading. Thus, I have a quick roundup of the goods thus far. Check out the video update on the 2014 reads below and I’ll catch you afterward.

Good Reads from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

So, here’s my original booklist for 2014 if you want to see the titles. I don’t know if I could really rank the books, because they’ve all been so good for different reasons. My husband and I are still reading “Dad is Fat” and I just started the Jeff Shinabarger book. So looking forward to vacations this summer to also get caught up on some fiction and memoirs!

What about you? Any good ones you’ve read this year? DO TELL.

Happy Wednesday!

Following,
Ginger

Why Waiting Doesn’t Have to Hurt.

 

I didn’t know how much my heart felt like it was waiting until the tears threatened to blind me on Sunday.

My husband sent me out alone (splendid!) for hours of writing and prep at a nearby restaurant. As I was walking out the door for my solo afternoon, I grabbed my copy of Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways. I ate my lunch in my spacious booth and turned to the pages I’d dog-eared in January. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I found it on the first page of chapter 9.

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The chapter title stood out from the page: WAIT.

“It is not important who does the planting or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

“Much good happens in the space where nothing is happening.” – Christa Wells

That’s all I read, the quotes before the chapter, and already my eyes welled up with tears. I didn’t even realize I was waiting. I glanced at the opposite page, the last paragraph of chapter 8 and read what I had underlined and starred earlier in the year.

“It is possible for us to uncover the art we were born to make and show up to release it into the world only to be met with silence, inability to make progress, and a seemingly impossible artless road ahead. The lack of movement isn’t because of fear or sin or lack of belief. Sometimes it’s simply God asking us to wait. – Emily P. Freeman

I shut my eyes and whispered a short prayer, “Why is it so hard to wait? Why does waiting hurt? Why can’t I trust you to make the seed grow?”

Six months ago I released my art into the world in the form of a book. I didn’t grow up dreaming of writing. I was much more interested in performing on stage. But the more time I spent speaking, the more the words filled my journals and soon my computer pages. The words came and so I wrote them out over three long years. . . loving and hating the process. . . wanting the wait to be over so people would stop asking how it was coming. I wanted the wait to be over because I didn’t know how to answer, I didn’t want to talk about it.

The professional talker didn’t want to talk about the art.

I was passionate about the topic, sure of the message, and yet, so ridiculously terrified to write and then release it to the world.

As the final steps of the publishing process came together, I was in the final months of my first pregnancy. The due date came and went and soon the waiting became frustrating.

NOPE. STILL NO BABY.

NOPE. STILL NO BOOK.

And then, within a period of six weeks – I could hold them both. Everything changed. And nothing changed.

While my roles and resume took a new direction, the person inside of me stayed pretty much me. Life was more full and complicated, but I still felt like  the twenty year-old version of me, so what am I DOING WITH A BABY?

I still wake up every morning and eat breakfast – granted it’s not always when I want to.

I still attempt to keep the house clean and organized. I meal plan, e-mail, shop, check the mail, and occasionally write. I also change diapers, wash tons of laundry, and try to keep up with the demands of an 8 month-old.

But writing a book has brought little to no visible change in my every-day existence. I’ll be honest: sometimes it’s really discouraging. I don’t think I was hoping for fame or notoriety. I didn’t need a post to go viral – but I still have that very human desire to know the art I’m making matters. What should surface as hope tends to overwhelm with fear. The fear pushes me to compare my book and platform with others. The fear demands I measure success in numbers and failure by a lack of response from every avenue I thought was a sure-fire win.

In those moments where I get caught in a whirlwind void of hope, when my waiting is full of fear, I throw my hands up and shout through tears, “It’s YOUR BOOK Lord. I trust You. . . but why in the world aren’t you doing what I think you should?”

“Fear says I’m going the wrong way. Doubt says I won’t find it at all. But hope? Hope says, Wait. It’s just a little farther. You are not alone and this is not just your idea.

My goal is a finished book – I call that my art. Yet there is a deeper work happening. I chase what I think is the art, but really that’s just the evidence. . . The real art is the invisible work happening in the depths of my soul as I uncover, sink, see, listen and wait.

The book is just the souvenir.” – Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

When I’m halfway through my third cup of coffee on my solo Sunday date, I slowly begin to look for the invisible work happening in the depths and the truth coming from those who love me in my worst moments.

David plays the purpose on repeat: If only ONE who needs these words reads them, it will have been worth it.
Carey writes to remind me that Jesus left the 99 for the 1.
My small group calls me to chase the Gospel rather than the idol.
My family members have all become book dealers. Who knew so many seniors in a retirement home would need a copy? Pretty sure my sister has copies in her trunk if you need one.
Friends who have bought, shared and encouraged.
And my Savior, who says the hope, the prize, is Him.

“As you stare at the stone of the hoped-for souvenir, remember the deeper work happening within you, where your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Emily P. Freeman

Waiting doesn’t have to hurt, because waiting is part of the prize. In the waiting I’m given a window into my heart and all that still needs redemption. Jesus reminds us in Luke 7 that “…he who has been forgiven little loves little.” I know God is using this season to show me the depth of my sin and the abundance of His love through the cross.

The feelings of disappointment are real and powerful, but, as Carey tells me, in the disappointment I am reminded of my appointment. My purpose to share Christ is unchanging. I must remind myself that in the small God sees BIG. The point isn’t for me to see results, it’s to offer my art, my life, and my waiting to Him and trust that He will change me in the process.

We WAIT in HOPE for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20

Following and learning,
Ginger