No More Holding Back

berries

Well HELLO there. It has been 3 months since my last blog post and about 5 months since I was posting on a regular basis. What can I say, life has been full and my computer has remained closed. I’ve been reading, playing, running, connecting, studying, teaching, parenting, prepping, traveling, resting, cooking new recipes, and trying to just live in the moment. I wouldn’t trade the last few months for anything.

But since the last post in March, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of another story behind the garage sale. God has been teaching me a beautiful and messy lesson about hospitality. I’m learning more and more what it looks like to not simply offer the convenient, easy parts of my life- but to offer all of my life and trust the Master. Here’s what I mean…

No More Holding Back from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

John 6:5-15 The Message (MSG)

When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”

One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.

When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.

Whether blueberries, loaves or fish, I long to be a woman who opens the doors to her home, sets out the very best, and stops apologizing for the state of my kitchen. I want to unclench my hands and give it all to the One who makes miracles over lunch. No more holding back.

– – –

More to come – recipes, a With Joy Retreat update, some new favorite things, top reads this year, and even a foray into podcasting. WHAT.

Following,
Ginger

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?

sticks

[Read more…]

Stress-Free Living

Today I’m happy to share some words by Donna Gaines and the post could not be more timely. Who couldn’t stand to hear more about stress-free living? I hope you are blessed by her words! I’m looking forward to reading her new study, Leaving Ordinary!

– – –

What keeps you awake at night?  What puts a knot deep down in your stomach? What is it that you have allowed to steal your joy?  Regardless of what it might be, God wants to set you free from all anxiety.  You may think that is impossible.  But God has commanded us to not be anxious (Phil. 4:6-7). I have described this “stress-free” living in my new book Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God Through Extraordinary Prayer.

cover-leaving

The Bible tells us, we are not to live as “mere men” (1 Cor. 3:3 NASB). We leave “ordinary” behind when we meet Christ and begin to live the Spirit life that only He can provide.  This extraordinary relationship leads to a stress-free life. In Philippians 4:6–7, we are commanded to be anxious for nothing (nkjv). But how are we to do this? By trusting the One who has called us and is preparing us for heaven. I did not say that you would have a “pain-free” or “trouble-free” life. Jesus said just the opposite. He said, “In the world you have tribulation,” then added, “but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 nasb).

If He has overcome, we can overcome through Him! The Spirit of God has the ability to lift you above the circumstances of your life so you begin to see them from an eternal vantage point. That means taking the intrusive thoughts of anxiety and worry that seem to bombard your mind at times and refuse them entrance. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (nasb).

Instead of worrying, turn those anxious thoughts into prayer requests. Jesus has told us to “cast all [our] anxiety upon Him, because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7 niv). As we do this, we can claim His peace that will literally build a fortress around our hearts and minds. Then Isaiah 26:3 will become a reality: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)

(Leaving Ordinary, p. xiii)

Faith and worry cannot coexist in our hearts.  We either trust the Lord, or we lean on our own finite, human reasoning, vainly seeking to solve our own problems.  Sadly, our “problems” are often the proverbial “what ifs” that never actually materialize.  Our adversary, the devil, is always ready and willing to provide his annoying “fiery darts” of anxiety, that send our minds into tailspins of speculations and vain imaginations. With these he keeps us distracted and spiritually disengaged while simultaneously robbing us of the peace that Christ died to purchase. Fortunately for us, there is a better way!

Choose to believe – trust Christ to carry your burden as you roll it over onto Him through prayer.  Then His peace will be yours and you will feel that all too familiar knot in your stomach relax as Christ takes over.  This, my friend, is the stress-free zone Christ has provided for all who believe.

– – –

Donna Gaines –  In addition to InScribed’s Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God Through Extraordinary Prayer Donna is the author of two other books, There’s Gotta Be More and Seated: Living from Our Position in Christ. Donna is also the editor of A Daily Women’s Devotional. She is married to Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. Known as “Mom” to her son and three daughters and “Nonna” to her six grandchildren, Donna enjoys Memphis bar-b-que, Alabama football, and anything that you can douse with salsa. Leaving Ordinary is available now.

Just Ask

I have 11 cousins on my dad’s side of the family. We spent a lot of time together growing up, so we are a fairly tight-knit bunch. I’m in the older bunch of kids, so I spent a lot of time “mothering” the little ones. Carter was no exception. I’m sure would be pleased for me to share the fact that I helped potty-train him in one weekend. He was one cute kiddo and only slightly annoying. :)

He had a habit of asking questions. Lots of questions. ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Ginger: Carter, look at the bird flying so high!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because it’s pretty!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because God made it that way!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: He’s very talented.
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because He’s the creator of everything.
Carter: Why?

And on. And on. Lots of what, why, and how questions from that little guy. He was so persistent in asking.

carter.jpg

I think Carter was onto something.

In the midst of feeding a baby, staying connected to my family and community, dusting end tables, and writing – God seems to be echoing the theme of asking.

I’m memorizing the book of James and keep returning to chapter 1 starting in verse 5. “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, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Feeling utterly without wisdom in so many areas of my life — big dreams to small tasks — I began to ask. But often I ask like Oliver Twist with my, “please Sir, I want some more” doubts. I don’t really expect my baby to actually sleep through the night or see total change in a life, or wake to a picture of how the dreams could become a reality.

And then my morning reading of Streams in the Desert took me to Psalm 27:13, and I realize I have not placed my confidence in the one who is completely trustworthy when it comes to my hopes and needs. “I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Throughout my days the theme echoes louder and louder.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

 Ask confidently. As a toddler questions or asks for their juice, we can approach our Father and simply ask for what is on our hearts. This simple concept is one I had failed to fully grasp until God began pulling on my heart. Ask, Ginger. Just Ask.
From Paul Miller’s A Praying Life
“Let’s do a quick analysis on how little children ask. What do they ask for? Everything and anything. If they hear about Disneyland, they want to go there tomorrow.
How often do little children ask? Repeatedly. Over and over again. They wear us out. Sometimes we give in just to shut them up.
How do little children ask? Without guile. They just say what is on their minds. They have no awareness of what is appropriate or inappropriate.
Jesus tells us to watch little children if we want to learn how to ask in prayer. After introducing the idea of bold asking in the Sermon on the Mount (‘Ask, and it will be given to you’) he tells us why we can boldly ask. ‘Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!'” (Matthew 7:7, 9-11)
 This book, A Praying Life, has been the final shout to my heart. (I  recommend it!) I’m encouraged and challenged to ask my Heavenly Father for all that is on my heart. Paul Miller reminds me  to not “be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”

I knew in my head the promise of prayer, the invitation to ask and receive, but I rarely took God up on it. My prayers were timid. I often talked myself out of asking, reasoning that if God wanted something to happen, He would just make it happen. I forgot about the relationship, and His desire to meet me in prayer. He loves to meet our needs.

So now I’m asking. I’m asking for the baby to fall back asleep, the parking place to free up, the neighbor to come outside, and my day to be directed by His agenda rather than mine. There is so much joy and freedom to be found when we stop giving excuses and simply take our everything to the Lord in prayer.

Just ask.

Following,
Ginger

Fill it Up, Hold the Guilt

I signed up for a mentoring program at my church. I’ve been paired up with a mentor (hurray!!) and this week was our second time getting together. We’ve elected not to go through a book or create any additional homework. We are attempting “life on life” discipleship. This week we walked, next week we are making dessert together. During our quality time we share a little bit about our past, our present, and especially what God is teaching us.

About 45 minutes into our walk I made the remark that I just felt a little dry. Life has been filled with lots of great things, but lately has left little room for me to open up the Word each day. I explained,

“I wanted to pull out my Bible this morning, but every time I went to open it, my daughter just needed me. Diaper changes, naps, feeding, falling, teething, and then the laundry buzzer sounds.  I feel like it’s just out of my grasp today. I so need it to set my mind and heart each day or I just don’t think I can make it.”

My mentor shared about her past struggle with legalism. She felt guilty for years because she wasn’t a morning person and rarely pulled out her Bible until the evening.

But then she decided to stop feeling guilty and just start enjoying the time she did have to read. The important thing was to not get caught up in rote performance. Her words have replayed in my head for the past few days.

“You talk about filling up in the morning and getting set for the day. That’s great when that can happen, especially if it’s how you are wired. But don’t forget that you have the Holy Spirit – you ARE filled up.”

 filled

I’m the first person to tell you not to let guilt keep you from the gift of God’s presence, but I often forget that truth in my own life. This season of life makes me hunger for the Word like never before. That’s a good thing. But I cannot let myself feel guilty or defeated if I don’t have that thirty minutes to give. I can turn to the Lord and know that He is faithful to give His presence in so many ways, especially in prayer. Time in the Word is worth it, but I don’t have to live like my well has run dry. My cup runneth over because of a living, moving, and personal God. He provides streams in the desert.

Maybe I’m the only one who needed that reminder today. But just in case, I thought I’d share it here too.

 “… keep on being filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18, ISV

Following in freedom,

Ginger

I need an anchor for my days, even the hangry ones.

It’s amazing what lack of sleep can do to a person, isn’t it? I’m generally a fairly even-keeled gal throughout my day. (Some of my family members are laughing because they might disagree with that sentence.) Let me make a more truthful statement. As long as I’ve eaten (stay away HANGER -> hungry + angry), slept, and things are under control, I’m really pleasant and easy-going.

HAH.

I just reread what I wrote. So maybe I’m not as even-keeled as I would like to imagine. Having a child has illuminated this fact to the nth degree, because my friends, I HAVE NO CONTROL. This is a good thing. It brings me to a place of humility, dependence, and empathy for others. But I don’t really like it. I don’t like waking up in the middle of the night and hanging out with a teething baby for two hours. My emotions run the gambit during that period. First I’m calm and caring. Then I’m tired and desperate. Then sometimes I’m weeping and asking WHY ARE WE AWAKE ALL THE TIME, FOR THE LOVE? Then I can drift into a prayerful and thankful phase. . . but if this phase continues for an hour and my child isn’t getting any closer to calming down, then bring on the bitterness and desperation again. It’s quite the cycle.

I’m not in control. WHAT?

The sleepless nights over the past week were compounded by a busy schedule and lots of speaking and writing requirements. Exhaustion + high expectations = tears and prayer and more tears and more prayer.

After some soul-searching and talking through why I was actually feeling upset, I came to the root of the issue. I don’t like when I’m not in control. Not at all.

But if I try to hang my days on an anchor other than the Lord, I will find myself adrift. As soon as I turn to my own resources I end up frustrated and overwhelmed. Nothing else is weighty enough to see me through the challenges. My performance, recognition, perfection, roles; these are a one-way ticket to a meltdown.

“I’m a bad mom.”

“I’m not cut out for this.”

“If I just try harder.”

“I can’t let them see me fail!”

Sacred Echoes

Enter Hebrews 6:16-19. The phrase “anchor for our soul” came to my heart one challenging morning and I pulled out my Bible to find the verse and context. I have been reading the passage repeatedly every day since.

“People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (NIV)

anchor

During one of those nighttime parties last week, I began singing my old favorite, Come Thou Fount. After about 15 minutes of singing every verse at least three times, I determined a new song was required. The first hymn that came to mind: On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. I couldn’t remember all of the verses, but I knew enough to get me through that night.

As I sang I began to see the connections with Hebrews 6 for the first time. A smile crept across my face in the dark, early hours of the morning.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
-Edward Mote

The anchor was showing up everywhere I turned. We sang this hymn on Sunday. My research for a lecture led me back to Hebrews 6. The echo was loud and clear. Margaret Feinberg describes the echoes this way,

“I call them sacred echoes because I noticed that throughout my relationships, daily life, and study, the same scripturally sound idea or phrase or word will keep reappearing until I can no longer avoid its presence.” (The Sacred Echo)

As I walk through my days I now find a new course of action for my heart.

Rather than, “Am I good enough?” my question is simple. “Ginger, what is your anchor?”

What is your anchor?

When I’m desperate for approval or recognition – His anchor holds.

When I’m exhausted, frazzled, and worn – His anchor holds.

When you feel less than – His anchor holds.

This is a truth I will tell my soul a hundred times today and then a hundred times tomorrow when we wake up at 3am to do it all over again. . . because let’s be honest, the waves just keep on coming. But thankfully, His anchor holds.

Following and learning,
Ginger

Growing Forward in 2014

growth

Usually I am so jazzed to be making lots of lists this time of year, looking back and dreaming forward. I do have pages of notes full of lessons learned in 2013 and thoughts for 2014, but when I saw my friend’s pointed question at the top of my newsfeed, I couldn’t help but reevaluate my lists.

“What are you most excited about in 2014?”

I set my fingers on the keys and considered responding in various ways.

The deeply spiritual: experiencing God’s Grace.

The attempt at humor: showering daily.

The practical: sleep.

But my honest answer?

The first thought that came to mind when I read that question: a night away with my husband… next October.

I love Norah to the moon and back, but baby girl won’t take a bottle, thus making us fairly inseparable.  So call me crazy, but I’m looking forward to getting away, if even only for two days… next fall.

But if I step back and examine the goals I’m laying out for 2014 (here’s my process for creating goals), I can admit to not feeling a ton of excitement. Does that sound awful?

Let me rephrase.

The other night I was working through my goals and I began to feel very, very overwhelmed. Paralyzed, in fact.

The reality of my days has changed so much in the past year. I told my husband through tears that all of this goal-making was important, but it just didn’t seem feasible. I’m lucky if I do much more than keep my daughter and I fed, clean, and out of pajamas by noon. So when I keep seeing tweets and posts about goal-setting and BIG dreams for 2014, I can’t help but start to feel a little discouraged.

Are there seasons where we hang up our dreams for a while?

I don’t believe so. I think there are seasons where we simply need to think about our goals differently.

“Consider the lilies how they grow.” Luke 12:27

The whole point of making goals for the year is to foster growth. Even if a goal is about scaling back, I make that goal in order to grow. So yes, I make the goals and declarations (maybe not a 30 point manifesto or even 10 big hitters) but I claim something for 2014 in order to grow forward, to lean into the gospel.

“God doesn’t want us to give more, God wants us to give the best.” –Margaret Feinberg, Scouting the Divine

How can I give God the best this year?

How can I live out of joy, gratitude, and contentment rather than worry, stress, or anger?

How can I do less and yet experience more of what really matters?

My word for 2014 is INTENTIONAL. If I desire to see growth in all sorts of areas: social, family, career, physical, personal development, and spiritual – I must look at even the smallest moments with intentional eyes. Joy will come when I give thanks, when I notice, when I appreciate, when I acknowledge God’s hand each and every day.

I’m looking forward to 2014. I’m excited for the growth that’s coming.

Following,
Ginger

Step #10. Give Love

season

I promise I’m not just stating the obvious when I tell you that giving love is an important part of tuning our hearts this season. I’m not talking about the sweater you ordered for your Mom or the cookies you are giving to your child’s teacher. I think our hearts allign with the Lord and are attuned to sing His grace when we give to others outside of our immediate family, and outside any expectations. So often we write a check for charity out of a surplus, but I want to challenge us all (myself included) to really ask and pray about how you can share this Christmas. How can we love the stranger, the difficult neighbor, and even the rude driver in the parking lot.

I know that more often than not, entitlement keeps me from loving more freely. “She was SO RUDE. I would be nice, but only if someone respects me first.” “I don’t have time to hold the door open.” “No one else is slowing down, I’m just going with the flow of traffic.

I think entitlement is sometimes hard to recognize because it’s so ingrained in our culture. The American Dream says if we work hard we deserve a big pay-off. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. It sounds like the making of success. But I not only demand and deserve success, I also deserve to be right (as the customer), to be heard (as a citizen), and to be happy. So you can imagine my relief when I discovered Acts 20:35 (NCV) which says:

“I showed you in all things that you should work as I did and reap the blessings of your labor. I taught you to remember the words Jesus said: ‘You deserve to succeed and be happy.’”

Except that isn’t what the verse says at all.

“I showed you in all things that you should work as I did and help the weak. I taught you to remember the words Jesus said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “ Acts 20:35, NCV

give loveStep #10. Give Love

Jesus tells us that we are more blessed when we give love than when we expect love.  This isn’t just a nice sentiment to quote to children when they are consumed by the wants of Christmas.  He’s stating a fact.  We will be blessed [divinely or supremely favored; fortunate… blissfully happy or contented] when we stop seeking self and begin to seek the Lord and His desires.

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17, NIV

The real truth is that you and I don’t deserve anything. But thanks be to God who has not withheld His love from us. When we focus our source, direction, and identity in Him who is love, we will slowly begin to leave the demand for self behind.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40, NIV

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

 

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

Step. #7. Give Grace

Step. #8. Prepare Him Room

Step. #9. Set Your Hope.

Step #9. Set Your Hope

season

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, NIV

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:30-37, NIV

Forty-two generations of hoping.

Nine months of waiting.

One teenage girl.

One eternal promise.

Mary teaches us all what it means to hope. She hoped in the words of an angel who said the impossible would happen.  She hoped in a God who had chosen an unassuming Nazarene to bear the Messiah. She hoped that this baby would bring hope to all.

hope

Perhaps you are hoping for answers or resolution in the coming year. Perhaps you too wait in expectation to see what this season will bring. Maybe you don’t even know what to hope for, you simply have a yearning for something different.

Mary shows us where to place our hope. If we desire to have hearts that sing of grace, we must place our hope in the Messiah.

stepStep #9. Set Your Hope.

Are you crushed by circumstances?  He is your hope.
Are you worried about upcoming situations?  He is your hope.
Are you stinging from wounds?  He is your hope.
If only for this one moment today- take time to stop. Gaze at the Nativity scene in your home or even locate one in a neighbor’s yard. Look at the Messiah and take a deep breath of hope. Imagine His first breath of life and find hope in knowing that His life gives YOU life. Take heart, the King has come. Take hope, the answer is here.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:22-25, NIV

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

 

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

Step. #7. Give Grace

Step. #8. Prepare Him Room

Step #8. Prepare Him Room

season

Joy to the World is one of my favorite Christmas Carols, and it might just be THE favorite. This morning sealed the deal.

Here was my expectation:

  1. Lay baby girl on the floor near the lit Christmas tree.
  2. Warm my one cup of coffee and take my Advent book, journal, and Bible into the front room with the tree and baby.
  3. Light a candle.
  4. Read today’s entry from The Greatest Gift. (Two days in and I highly recommend, by the way. thank you, Aunt Kathryn!)
  5. Play Christmas Carols on the piano while Baby Girl drifts to sleep.

Doesn”t that sound lovely?

After step #2 it was clear that the morning would have to look a little different from what I’d imagined. I ended up on the floor reading aloud to Norah, letting my coffee cool, not journaling, and then pulling her onto my lap as I sang…

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart, prepare Him room…” 

She stared at the lights and ornaments and I just took a moment to pause. I smelled, took deep breaths, sang, and took it all in. I gave thanks without saying a word.

More than any ritual, routine, or ceremony, this time of Advent calls for sacred spaces in the ordinary. It does not require books, crafts, projects, or perfection. This season exists so that we might let our hearts prepare Him room.

step

Step #8. Prepare Him Room

If we desire hearts attuned to sing of His grace, we must also make room for Him in our hearts. Our God has promised to be with us. Emmanuel, God is with us, but will we take time to be with Him?

If you are looking for some ideas to create a little space each day, check out these Advent resources.

Preparing Room

Advent Sounds

Advent Viewing

Advent Reading

“This, this, is the love story that’s been coming for you since the beginning. It is possible for you to miss it. To brush past it, to rush through it, to not see how it comes for you up over the edges of everything, quiet and unassuming and miraculous—how every page of the Word has been writing it, reaching for you, coming for you. And you could wake on Christmas only to grasp that you never took the whole of the Gift, the wide expanse of grace. So now we pause. Still. Ponder. Hush. Wait. Each day of Advent, He gives you the gift of time, so you have time to be still and wait.” – Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

tree

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

Step. #7. Give Grace