Wednesday Throwback

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

-COLLEGE REDO-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following,

Ginger

Friday Quote

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

1 Corinthians 7:17 (MSG)

Happy Friday, Friends!

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Cultivate

It feels as if I’m constantly moving from one awaited event in life to the next. I wait for vacations, visitors, treats, appointments… and most of the time I’m somwhere between irritated and excitedly anxious. But I so want to enjoy the present without living in impatience all of the time!

So how do you and I bridge the gap from impatience to patience?

Grow

1. Ask for it! 

God loves to give good gifts to His children. Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal.  I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week.  You could try this per day, per month, or even year.  But know that answer won’tjust come in an extra dollop of patience.  I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.

Remember strength training from yesterday? Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym?  Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter.  Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life.  “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you.  Help me!”

His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him!  (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)

2. Root yourself in good soil.

I can’t say it enough: eat the Word!  When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source.  Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff.  I’m going to be really honest with you.  I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it.  I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life.  I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!

Struggling with impatience?  Try memorizing some of these verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one ammo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant.  (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized?  Yeesh!)

3. Soak up the accountability.

Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves!  Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer.  If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots.  If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit.  (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.)  Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!

Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us.  Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!

Happy Thursday!
Ginger

Love Is.

Love is a post-it note in a lunchbox.
Love is patience with slow drivers and cashiers.
Love is warm food on a cold day.
Love is returning your grocery cart.
Love is retrieving the piece of trash in the middle of the park.
Love is doing the dishes… again.
Love of others isn’t very fashionable.
Love is often lived more than it is spoken.
Love is given, not guilted.
Love is a choice.
Love often comes without flowers.
Love is thankful.
Love does not only take the form of chocolate and balloons.
Love is a gift.
Love does not always appear in handwritten love notes.
Love is felt… and seen… and given as we live our lives.
Love is HIM.
Love is here.
Love is today… but love is also tomorrow… and every day that comes after.
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“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it — not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)
“…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. 1 Corinthians 13:3-10 (msg)
We are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day.Following,
Ginger

Love ALWAYS PERSEVERES.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.”

Love always perseveres.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  Matthew 1:18-25, NIV

I hate running but I’m spending a lot of time these days hitting the pavement and training for a big race.  Around my 4th or 5th mile my knees start hurting and my brain begins to tell me that I should probably just stop.  But if I stop at mile 5 in training, there is no way that I’m going to make it to mile 13 on the day of the race.

It’s always easier to quit than to keep going.  Perseverance is one of the greatest marks of maturity.  Continuing to press on even when things are difficult isn’t a natural human response.  Persevering in relationships when they are inconvenient or unpleasant… that requires a supernatural kind of love.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:1-5, NIV

David Smith says that “Love continually pours itself out for others — not conveniently, but continually.

Nothing about Joseph’s role as Father was convenient.  He had every legal right to divorce Mary.  Jewish law even went so far as to say that Joseph could have Mary stoned for her illegitimate pregnancy.  When Joseph decided to listen to the words of the angel, he also made an active decision to love Mary as his wife.  He would adopt a son who was not of his flesh and blood.  He would care for a girl who was likely the talk of the town and the subject of constant rumors.  He would love them even if it cost him everything.  Note that he didn’t do this because Mary was “the one” or because he chose “the right person,” he loved his family because that’s what God asked of him.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5, NIV

Read all of 1 Corinthians 13 (again!) today.  Be sure to notice that you will not find any verses that say love is convenient.  It wasn’t convenience that caused the Son of God to enter the world as a child.  Convenience didn’t compel Him to walk this earth.  Convenience didn’t hold Him on the cross.  His love never, ever stopped.

Love always perseveres.

Following,
Ginger

Advent Resource: THE STORY- The Bible as one continuing story of God and His people.  I believe that the impact of the Christmas Story is felt and realized most deeply in the midst of the entire story of God’s Word!  That’s why I’m recommending The Story. “God goes to great lengths to rescue lost and hurting people. That is what The Story is all about—the story of the Bible, God’s great love affair with humanity. Condensed into 31 accessible chapters, The Story sweeps you into the unfolding progression of Bible characters and events from Genesis to Revelation.