In Need Today

My faith is a floundering mess.

My soul is worn.

My heart hurts.

And all of this is over circumstances and relationships over which I have NO control. I tried to verbalize my frustrations and hurts to my husband last night. “Everything just looks so broken and there’s a stubborn part of me that believes if I could just be the one in control, it might go differently. If I was in charge of the internet, our website would stop being ridiculous. It’s making us look so unprofessional. Doesn’t God know that? Doesn’t He see her running and hurting? Doesn’t He know how much I want them to stay here? Can’t He just direct him? Why are these babies struggling? Why is everything so broken?”

For all of my  all of my words about hope, I still struggle with surrender. I struggle to release. Just like you, I have to remember that things are broken this side of heaven. I must surround myself with the truth of God’s character and promises.

A favorite verse keeps running through my head today. “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.

My studies are teaching me that the verb for let be in the original Hebrew, rapha, actually means to release, to stop fighting, to just drop it.

So much of my inner struggle over what I cannot control (circumstances or behaviors) comes from a disconnect between what I claim to believe and how I actually lean into God’s promises. As I prayed to learn how to release and trust, God has been faithful to actually teach me. I can normally navigate my life in my own strength. This season, it’s not possible. I hate it. And I love it. And I hate it.

I wrote this verse during my quiet time early this morning, “…May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Psalm 79:8, NIV

I am in desperate need. I need more wisdom. I need God’s presence. I need to decide today whether I will choose truth over feelings. My flesh says my prayer list holds reasons to worry and doubt. My Father says His ways are higher than my ways. And that, should be enough. That is enough… for today.

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12, NIV

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Our website is back up and running. Praise the Lord. There’s one small change if you are still having trouble connecting. We’ve moved from http://withjoyretreats.com to http://www.withjoyretreats.com. Our knight in web armor, big-time-help man deserves a lot of credit for his hard work. John Griffith, you are the bomb-diggity. THANK YOU.

Thank YOU for praying, asking, and encouraging this week. Both Carey and I have needed it. God is good, all the time. Let’s keep pressing on to know Him, friends.

Following,

Ginger

Trust is a verb

Trust

My ministry and business partner, Carey, responded quickly and specifically when I text her asking what one word I could pray for her during the month of January: Trust.

Neither one of us could have guessed all of the ways God would call her (and me) to trust at the start of 2015. Just a few weeks into a new year and changes were quickly brewing. In the midst of questions we entered into February and I text her again. What’s one word I can pray for you this month?

The answer came once more: Trust.

I prayed that she would continue to trust and I would begin to release and rest. And then, last Friday, our website for With Joy Retreats disappeared. That’s the not-so-technical way of describing the tickets, back up data, hosting, and other jargon I don’t really understand. Our business, which relies on the web for everything- ticket sales, information, registration, contacts – just went away. Even with some amazing help, we still don’t feel any closer to having the problem solved. We are praying a fix comes soon enough.

Even as I attempt to look at this logically through the lens of my faith, the questions and doubts keep coming: Ginger, will you release and rest in this? Will you trust that my plans look differently from your plans? Will you believe that I don’t need a website to accomplish my purposes?

I was in a bad place on Friday. My heart was racing for long stretches of time and I was close to panic. I had to stop and remember that in the midst of unexpected situations, I have a choice. Will I choose to believe that God cares for the details of my life, OR, will I spiral into worry, anxiety, and panic?

Trust is so much more than hopeful concept. In selecting trust as a prayer for these two months, I’m realizing how much Carey longs to know and live surrendered to God’s will. She is teaching me through every challenge and change that God is always faithful to His promises.

If you are one of the many who have attempted to find our With Joy Retreats website this weekend, know that you can contact us at withjoyretreats at gmail dot com and we can answer any questions and even register you individually through e-mail and an invoice. It’s a lot less fancy (and a bit humbling on our end) but we are going to keep rolling and trusting.

Registration is still open for the 2015 BE Retreat. Spots are limited, and the website is broken – but God is good and we hope you can join us in April to rest and be known.

With Joy Retreats Flyer (1)

Following (and trusting!),

Ginger

Afraid of silence?

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My stack from the library makes feel very spiritual and intelligent. I look at the pile and think, “Wow. What impressive books.” I just want you to know the state of my heart before we get much further.

But I’ve only read one of them and the due date is this Friday. I just finished Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Hailey Barton. I recommend it. I took pages of notes like a diligent scholar. There’s only one problem, this book isn’t meant to be a study. It’s meant to be a practice. In three weeks of studying about silence, solitude, and simply resting in God’s presence, I have yet to actually attempt even five minutes of silence and solitude. I have yet to receive the invitation. I’ve tried writing it on my to do list, but my toddler seems to wake just as I’m settling into stillness. Her nap time feels like the only time I can really accomplish, and so being still just feels so… unproductive.

Of course I realize that this post is in direct opposition to the post I wrote last week. I’m super great at telling others to be still and I am ALWAYS ready to journal and read… but those are all tasks. I can even turn prayer into a task.

The more I’ve wrestled with the need for silence and solitude, the more I have to realize how frightening the thought of NOTHING actually is. I want control. I need agendas. I long to feel accomplished and productive.

Barton gives wonderful insight throughout the book, normalizing my fears and helping me realize that this condition of striving is one shared by many of us.

“But silence is not always as easy as it sounds. At least that has been my experience. What sounds like an inspired idea in a spiritual director’s office is actually very difficult for those of us who have been moving so fast for so long… how surprising (and humbling!) to find that something so seemingly simple and doable can be so difficult! For the first year or so it seemed like all I did was struggle to make it to the ten-minute mark, all the while noticing the noisiness inside my own head, the pull of distractions, the resistance I felt to this new and challenging practice. Somehow during those moments the need to do laundry seemed more urgent, to-do lists began to compile themselves effortlessly in my head, people and situations I hadn’t thought of for years present themselves unbidden, emotions and questions I usually didn’t allow myself to acknowledge took me totally by surprise, The spirit of cynicism whispered, ‘How pointless is this? We’re not getting anything done here!'” (Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Hailey Barton)

I do appreciate some silence in my life. I awake most mornings to have coffee, prayer, and time in the Word. I treasure the quiet, the alone time, the chance to indulge and read. But I’m almost always researching, preparing, and writing down verses to text and send to others. Rarely do I let God speak directly to me. I set and keep the agenda for our meetings and I don’t allow for changes. Obviously I realize that I can’t continue in this pattern and hope for real change, growth or rest. There’s a part of me that desperately wants that kind of intimacy with the Lord, and the rest of me is scared. Barton echoes and validates that fear.

“The struggle into solitude is real because the danger is real – the danger of living the whole of our life as one long defense against the reality of our condition.” (Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Hailey Barton)

Yes. I fear silence because I know the truth of my condition. I am not enough. I cannot do enough. I will fail as mother, wife, and friend – **BUT the gospel** tells me I am more loved and accepted than I ever dreamed possible. That grace and level of trust should silence those fears and beckon me toward solitude with my Savior. “The gospel destroys fearfulness because it tells us that nothing we do will exhaust God’s love for us.” (Timothy Keller)

“When we sit quietly in God’s presence, the sediment that is swirling in our souls begins to settle. We don’t have to do anything but show up and trust the spiritual law of gravity that says, ‘Be still, and the knowing will come.'” (Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Hailey Barton)

Be still, and the knowing will come.

rest

—-

This was my kitchen 45 minutes ago.

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It currently looks exactly the same. It’s still a disaster and the minutes of nap time are ticking down.

But my spirit feels a bit better. I walked outside, sat on the patio and let myself be quiet. “Ginger, what are you doing here?” I simply shared how I felt with the Lord and then sat for almost 15 minutes. My mind wandered here and there, but I would try returning to that question. It was good.

I’m going to commit to being still every day until the With Joy Retreat – and beyond then. I’m excited to share what God is teaching me, where I fail at this, and how God’s grace covers my failures.

Registration for our 2015 BE Retreat is open for an extended period! Spots are limited, but I hope you will consider joining us as we walk out what this idea of being still and being known by a Gracious God. Follow this link for information and registration: www.withjoyretreats.com

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P.S. If finances are keeping you from attending, please contact me!

Following,

Ginger

**If I ever actually were to get a tattoo, it would either be a tiny anchor (Hebrews 6:19 reference) or script on my wrist saying BUT THE GOSPEL. That phrase wins everything.**

Learning to Be.

I’ve learned to adapt. The me of fifteen years ago would have had a minor meltdown over changed plans or to-do lists that remain undone. Life has taught me to prepare and then adjust. With seemingly so much to do and so little time to spare, I have learned to make the most of opportunities. My biggest chunk of time is between 12:30 and 2:30 (give or take) each afternoon. My daughter naps and I furiously run from task to task. Dishes, laundry, e-mails, maybe lunch, exercise, cleaning, phone calls, meeting. It’s MY time.

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You can imagine my dismay when my daughter awakens early from that afternoon nap. If you listen closely enough you can probably hear my cries from your home.

But my heart is slowly shifting.

In the Gospels we find Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. From the outset it didn’t look like enough. That boy with the lunch might have just kept it hidden. But when God steps into a situation, He makes plenty out of what seems tiny. He multiplies what we offer.

Monday afternoon I made myself stop. I was (once again) eating my lunch while I washed dishes. My mind was running in circles of worry and need. Frustration over the lack of time to accomplish was threatening to choke. So I did the only thing I know to do. I prayed aloud and I talked to myself.

“HELP, LORD.”

“Ginger, the dishes can wait. Light a candle, get some water, and eat the WORD.”

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I am desperate for wisdom in so much of my life: friendships, parenting, marriage, work, writing, and so on. My soul thirsts for something real and true. Something inside me is stirring to desire silence and rest over noise and busyness. The tyranny of the to-do can’t keep winning. I want TO JUST BE.

Perhaps you are like me and you need to train your soul to be still. I’ve got a pile of books, but really, I just need a chair and 10 minutes of silence. 10 minutes where I give up control.

Perhaps this video speaks to your heart as it does mine…

If you would like to be a part of the very 1st With Joy Retreat this April, there are still a few spots remaining.Still considering? Follow this link to explore, ask questions and register. Don’t miss out! Registration closes on February 1st.

Following,

Ginger

P.S. The breakout sessions have been announced! Check out the descriptions here!

With Joy Update

You spoke, we heard!

So many of you have expressed interest in attending the 2015 With Joy BE Retreat, and yet have felt the constrains of the $250 registration fee. While the cost of the retreat remains the same, we are now offering a payment plan. Our hope is that this option helps make the registration process more feasible and convenient for you.

 

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Payment Plan Option – Retreat Pass 
Here’s how it works…
  • The first non-refundable deposit of $125 is due upon registration. (This must be purchased by February 1st, 2015.)
  • You will receive an invoice for the remaining balance of $125 will be due no later than March 31, 2015.
  • Failure to make the final payment will result in forfeiting your retreat spot and initial deposit. This retreat pass includes 4 meals, 2 nights lodging at Chapel Rock Conference Center and all conference materials.

Follow this link for registration and more information!

Thanks for letting me break into regularly scheduled blogging to share the update! I’ll be back later in the week with a new post.

Following,
Ginger

Last Minute Gift List

Twas two weeks until Christmas and all through each day, the people were scurrying, ordering, and wondering what present to give Uncle Clay…

Love always perseveres.

 

Actually, we are down to the last few items on our list and – wait for it – we finally found the perfect gift for Uncle Clay! But perhaps you are still hunting for some unique gifts. Have no fear, this super handy list for last minute gifts is just for you!

1. For the young women in your life: My book – Forget the Corsage. I still feel strongly that this book is exactly what I would share over coffee conversations with any gal I could snag some time with. I’m passionate about the message and believe strongly that women (of all ages) need to be reminded that life is found in Jesus- not in a significant other, success, wealth, or even the pursuit of happiness. Written as letters to myself at various ages, I think this makes the perfect gift for gals ages 12 to 20-something. It’s full of my personal (and embarrassing!) journal entries and provides questions and space for readers to respond.

forget the corsage

 

2. For the person who has everything: make a donation to the Preemptive Love Coalition. I heard about this organization at the Allume Conference and was beyond moved. I told my husband that this year I want to fund a heart surgery. Take away all my gifts, I just want to help in any way I can. God continues to stir my heart for these children, families, and this country. Spend some time on the website watching videos, reading stories, and you will likely be pulled to action.

“Thousands of Iraqi children, born with life-threatening heart defects, are waiting in line for a lifesaving surgery. Already the world’s most common birth defect, heart defects are even more common in Iraq—some Iraqi cities estimate that their children are ten times more likely to be born with a defect.But their parents search for a solution in vain. Iraq’s once great medical infrastructure can no longer serve these children. 

To eradicate The Backlog of children in need of lifesaving heart surgery, Iraq needs a nation-wide solution for Iraqis, led byIraqis. That is why we created Remedy Mission – a pediatric cardiac training program that brings international heart surgery teams into Iraq to train locals and save children.”  

In simple numbers: $49 covers supplies, $275 sends a surgeon, and $650 sponsors a heart surgery.

 

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3. For your littles: These delightful books!

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

You Are Special by Max Lucado (Also comes in board book!)

God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner

 

4. For the fashionista in your life: Noonday Jewelry! I love this jewelry and am making plans to host a trunk show in 2015 because I’m that big of a fan. I’m not a fan of themed parties, but for this company, I will make an exception! Not only do I love the look of the products, but I so admire the mission and purpose behind everything they do.

“Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, we create dignified jobs at living wages. This allows our artisans to earn more in order to support their families. We also offer no interest loans and make advance payments on orders. This way we are able to shoulder the costs of materials and build a lasting relationship based on trust. We offer scholarship programs and emergency assistance. Noonday Collection also donates a portion of sales from adoption trunk shows to place orphans in forever families.

Noonday Collection is not a charity and we do not believe that providing a hand out is a sustainable long-term solution to poverty. We aim to be a sustainable business that gives women across the United States a way to make a lasting difference in the fight against poverty and injustice. This is what makes this movement so special. To learn more about Noonday’s impact, click here: http://www.noondaycollection.com/impact.”

 

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5. For the women who need rest: Registration for the 2015 With Joy Retreat: BE.

I absolutely believe in this retreat and the hope that it holds for all of us run down and worn out by doing, trying, and never-stopping. Consider joining us in Prescott, Arizona for a weekend of respite, creativity, and worship. Details about payment options coming soon so stay tuned if you’ve been waiting to secure a spot!

 

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I know I’m missing some other wonderful things to share, but the 16 month-old is demanding I take her hand and go get the mail – so if I want this post to ever see the light of day I must hit publish and go with what I’ve got! :) Thanks for understanding the infrequent posts and scattered thoughts. I’m working on giving what I can, when I can and dropping any sense of guilt for the rest. Anyone with me?

May your Advent be full of wonder and sacred pauses, and may your days ahead be merry and bright.

Let every heart prepare Him room!

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Congrats to Elyse R who was the randomly selected winner of the REST PACKAGE! Elyse was notified by e-mail and should be receiving her prize soon. Thanks to everyone who entered and shared!

The Gift of Rest AND a Giveaway

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We are approaching a time of year when busyness is prized. We sleep less, fill our calendars with more, and then wonder why we end up exhausted, irritable, and distracted on Christmas Eve. Pinterest would love for us to equivocate Christmas hospitality with extravagant entertaining. But what if we could challenge that idea?

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, means coming or arrival. Advent is the ultimate example of hospitality. It’s a breath of time reminding us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Rather than focusing all our energy on decorations and gifts, what if we could dedicate time every day to receive our King? What if rest was a daily practice?

“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 up 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)

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Chapel Rock Retreat Center

 

That pause or sacred rest is something so important to me. As someone who has a tendency toward doing, it takes dedicated heart and brain space to practice being still and being present.

To encourage that rest, With Joy Retreats is hosting a giveaway this week. We want to champion the discipline of stillness. Our upcoming retreat in April 2015 has EVERYTHING to do with rest… pulling back, being still, and filling up on good things. One lucky person will walk away with some fantastic tools for being still – even during the Christmas Season. (See the picture below!)

There are three ways to enter every day this week, December 1st-5th.

1. Share this blog post on Twitter or Facebook.
2. Share the With Joy Retreats Website with friends via e-mail.
3. Tweet about the giveaway.

 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway
If your name is randomly selected by Rafflecopter, you will win: Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw, Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts, Longing for More by Tim Willard, a “You Are Loved” Necklace from Lisa Leonard, a Scenty Plug-In and Two Bars, and a mug from World Market. Merry resting to you!!

Again, there are three different ways to enter each day until Friday, December 5th. Entries close at midnight and the winner will be announced on Monday the 8th. Best of luck!

As you prepare your home this week, don’t forget to prepare your heart and give Him room.

Following,
Ginger

Gift Certificate SquareP.S. If you are looking for a unique gift idea (for yourself or someone else!), consider gifting the 2015 With Joy Retreat. Check the registration page for details!

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

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