Summer Graces

When you live in the middle of a desert, you grow used to the oven that greets you in the middle of the day. But I will never adjust to having temps over 100 once the sun goes down. I do my best to get out of the house so we aren’t cooped up every day, but it’s still a challenge to keep from going just a little bit crazy.

I do well for pockets of time and then something happens to frustrate me: the cup of water dumps over, the website won’t load, the batteries died, the price changed, or the creative juices won’t flow. I am pretty bad with frustrations. But I’ve found that one of the quickest fixes for my mood is music. It’s an instant way to lower my pressure gauge. Sometimes I turn on kid music and dance with my daughter or blast top 40 radio and run laps in the living room. But the best fix this summer?

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Morgan Harper Nichols – this album is so, so good. My friend Carey pointed me in this direction a few months ago and I find myself listening to it at least once a day. The truth stops me in my tracks. The music is medicine to my soul. Here’s my current favorite off of the album, although I will probably switch to something else tomorrow.

 

 

Cooking through Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around breadthe Table with Recipes has also been aiding my summer sanity. I love me some Shauna Niequist. I feel like we sometimes share the same brain. This book did wonders for challenging my ideas on community and hospitality – as in – a paradigm shift. Some basic observations.

  1. Hospitality is not the same as entertaining.
  2. I want a tribe of people who know which drawer holds my spoons.
  3. There is something sacred that happens around a table if I will simply take the time to notice.

I don’t have the space to give you a full run-down, but know that this has been one of my favorite reads of 2015. I’ve also given away three copies of this book thus far. There’s another sitting in my Amazon shopping cart. The food is good, but I really love rereading my favorite passages and notes as I prepare to cook. I’ve never cooked all the way through any book, so this seemed like a great start. I made salad dressing for the first time. (As a Chopped fanatic, I’m only mildly ashamed to admit this to you.) I purchase almond meal and crafted homemade breadcrumbs. I just purchased new towels to try to make my own bread in the coming weeks. WHO AM I?

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book:

“I felt within myself the desire to shoo her out, to hide, to keep her from the disorder that is my real, actual life some days. But I took a deep breath, and she sat there listening to me across my dirty coffee table, and we talked about community and family and authenticity. It’s easy to talk about it, and really, really hard sometimes to practice it.

This is why the door stays closed for so many of us, literally and figuratively. One friend promises she’ll start having people over when they finally have money to remodel. Another says she’d be too nervous that people wouldn’t eat the food she made, so she never makes the invitation.

But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the riches moments in life–the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love–if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door. I know it’s scary, but throw open the door anyway…” – Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

I feel like reading this book pushed me to pursue deeper friendships, especially when it comes to the girlfriends in my small group. We’ve committed to eating together once a month in the coming year. We will meet in a home to break bread, ask the “how are you REALLY doing” questions, and study the word. I have no doubt that this tribe will come out of this experience changed. My people, my tribe – I like how that sounds.

 

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And lastly, I feel like I should tell you that yesterday was pretty much a wash. I struggle daily with balancing my various roles. On the days I get good time in the word, play with my kiddo, and maybe exercise, I feel some guilt about not working. And on the days when I try to make calls or send e-mails while my daughter is awake, I feel guilty about screen time or just not spending time with her. Yesterday I tried to cram way too much into her nap time. I wanted to clean the house, record a podcast, send e-mails, read, and exercise. Sounds like I have 6 hours to work with, right? FALSE. I get on average about an hour and forty-five minutes. At the hour and a half mark I began crying. Do you ever feel like you have so many “I HAVE TO DO THIS” that it’s hard to ever get to the “I WANT TO DO THIS”?

I was still living in that frustration around 7:30pm. My daughter was in bed, my husband left for the gym, and I was gearing up to do a workout DVD in my living room. But I was tired. I was sore. And a dear friend text to say, “What if you just don’t?” So I thought, “Lord, can you take care of me tonight?” I filled my water-glass, took a shower, lit a candle, and then wrapped myself up in clean sheets. I had recently checked out a new book at the library and I was finally giving myself the space to read.

small victories

Enter Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott. I love tender, crass, poetic, thoughtful Annie Lamott. She has eyes open to things I often miss. This quote in particular brought a smile to my tired face.

You can change the world with a hot bath, if you sink into it from a place of knowing that you are worth profound care, even when you’re dirty and rattled. Who knew?

The lesson of this summer has been to remember that God loves all of me extravagantly. He cares about my obedience, my service, and the condition of my heart- but He also cares about my body, my soul, and my spirit. He sees my weakness and He promises to match and exceed it with His grace.

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Summer On,

Ginger

 

Top 10 reads from 2014

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I realize we’ve already stepped into 2015, (Happy New Year – by the way!) but I’m only now taking the time to reflect. It was a good year of reading in my house; it almost feels impossible to rank these titles. Some were perfect vacation reads while others I will likely pull out and read again and again for spiritual growth. My top four are solid but everything after you could likely mix up the order and I would still nod my head in agreement.

So now – in a slightly particular order, my favorite reads from 2014…

 

hanging10. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Here’s where I warn you that a few of these titles aren’t a good match for young readers. This is one. Although full of hilarious stories, this one has colorful language and adult situations. I very much appreciate Mindy Kaling’s chutzpah as an intelligent and hilarious female writer and actress making waves in Hollywood. Her stories of summer camp made me snort on an airplane. Nuf’ said.

“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.” – Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 

 

 

 

 

written9. Written Together: A Story of Beginnings, in the Kitchen and Beyond by Shanna Mallon

“The truth is, for some people, trust looks like taking a leap, quitting a job or relocating or starting a new business; for others, trust looks exactly the opposite, staying where you are, settling in, unsure of what comes next. A lot of times, it’s somehow both. But in every case, trust is always about admitting what you do not know, recognizing what you cannot control, opening up the fierce grip you have on your own expectations and plans, and letting something better take their place.” – Shanna Mallon, Written Together

I downloaded this book an embarrassingly long time ago, but only finally read it this spring. This was a delightful little read. I’ve known Shanna peripherally through the blogging world for years. Reading this book in one sitting made me feel as though I had always known her. The recipes, photography, and stories shared by Shanna and her husband, Tim over at Food Loves Writing are authentic and lovely. What are you waiting for? Go download this little gem!

 

 

ways8. A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman

Emily went and did it again – yet another inspiring, challenging, and artistic book. This one came at the perfect time, the short months after releasing my own art, my own book into the world. I was short on sleep with a newborn and thirsty for affirmation. I would have preferred words to any sum of money. The Lord used passages in this book to encourage my heart and remind me that His affirmation, His words, were enough.

“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… 

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

 

guernsey7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A World War II Novel about a London author and her unlikely friendship with the residents of Guernsey Island. I read this in about three days on my summer vacation. Unique, entrancing, and highly addictive, it was a delightful way to unplug and relax.

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” – Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

 

 

 

 

devil6. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m not sure how to summarize, so I will pass this one over to the editor: “Erik Larson—author of #1 bestseller IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS—intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.”

Fascinating read, to say the least. This one also won’t be suitable for all readers. But murders aside, Cream of Wheat, Juicy Fruit and Ferris Wheels… who knew so much came from the 1893 World’s Fair?

 

 

 

 

 

mentor5. The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro

My mom was reading this book and told me it might be a little basic. The goal of the book is to encourage and equip the reader to meet with the mentors within God’s Word on a daily basis: aka read your Bible. I thought I would skim to see if it would be a good fit for my teen girls. Skimming turning to taking notes and notes turned to reading the whole book. There was nothing new in his suggestions and yet the way Cordeiro presented the material was both engaging and compelling. I quote him almost daily, “If you need to start something, start small, but start now.” There’s too much to summarize here, so you should probably just pick up the book. J

“The more you continue to read Scripture, the more you begin to think as He thinks and act as He acts. And that’s how, over time, you gain the wisdom of the ages…

You can’t see through to the future. Looking forward is often cloudy. Muddled. You fly blind. Except for one thing: obedience. It’s like sonar. Obedience will not remove obstacles. It will only help you navigate through them.” – Wayne Cordeiro, The Divine Mentor

 

 

meaning4. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller

I read this book in my Bible study class this fall. I’ve read a lot of books on marriage, and this one tops the list. It’s so rich, applicable and not just for marriage – but for all relationships. Put it on your list if you haven’t read it yet. My copy is heavily underlined and one I wish I had read when dating.

Here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be a part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to His throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” – Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

 

 

 

 

praying life3. A Praying Life by Paul Miller

“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) – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

This book has been a shout to my heart. 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.

 

 

mere2. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

This book has been on my reading list since 2008. I’ve started it countless times. I still found the first segment slow, and had to force myself to push through, but I’m so glad I did! The punches that stay with me were all in the last few chapters. I read them, and then reread them (isn’t this what you do with Lewis?). I’m so thankful for the illustrations and metaphors he utilzed to bring faith to life. I think this book is an invaluable tool for putting words to what often feels indescribable. I am thankful to have read it and plan to continue doing so every other year.

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Amen.

 

 

unbroken1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

There’s nothing like a coming movie adaptation to light a fire under me and cause me to read a book. I know I’m way late to reading this one, but it did not make the experience any less poignant or enjoyable. I find I really enjoy well-researched and detailed stories. I pored over the pictures and read up on history. There was so much about the South Pacific side of World War II that I just didn’t know. The story of Louis Zamperini is touching, riveting, and so well written by Hillenbrand. There’s a reason this was a #1 NYT Bestseller. If you are one of the few that haven’t read it, you should remedy that situation in 2015.

“Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.” – Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken

 

My pile for 2015 is already stacking up, but I could always use a few more suggestions! What was the best read for you in 2014?

Up on deck for me this month:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and David Powlison
The Fruitful Life by Jerry Bridges
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

 

Happy reading, friends!

 

Following,
Ginger

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

2013 – My Favorite Reads

This year was fairly sparse in terms of reading for me. My attention was split in a million different ways. I started a few and then didn’t come close to finishing. Fortunately I read enough to at least feasibly pull off a top 10 list. I had to pull up my library account and old journals to fill out my list. Blerg. I’m hopeful that 2014 will be full of a lot more books. As a family we are making a commitment to turn off the television and pull out a book instead.

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Here are my top books from the year – not necessarily released this year!

10. The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

If you are looking for an easy and quick read this is good one to snag. This was a nice fluff mystery that filled the void after I finished reading Persuasion again. The premise: what happens when you find a lost manuscript hidden inside an English Manor. Intrigue ensues AND you get to read the “found” book.

 

9. Persuasion by Jane Austen

Austen naysayers beware: I am a HUGE Austen fan. (Who married someone who is a naysayer. BOO on naysaying husband.) I am such a big fan that I did not go and see Austenland. I read the book a few years ago. Meh. (I’m secretly waiting for it on Netflix. Don’t tell.) Persuasion is my favorite book of them all. Ann is my favorite Austen heroine (Lizzie is a close second) and the love story within is beautifully compelling. If you haven’t yet read this for the first time (yes, this is my 3rd time to read it), please do yourself a favor and pick it up!

 

unglued8. Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

“I can’t control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, ‘I have a choice to have destructive or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what’s wrong and make things worse, or I can ask god for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don’t feel good.’” – Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued

Yes. Lots of good thoughts for someone who struggles with letting their emotions dictate their words, tone, and responses. I don’t want to fly off the handle. Unglued has seared this phrase into my memory: Feelings are indicators, not dictators.

 

7. Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break by Kelly Minter

This was a really good study on the book of Nehemiah. I love Kelly’s approach to the reader, very authentic and direct. She spent a lot of time encouraging us to consider what (a person, issue, challenge) was breaking our hearts. Once identified, we were to move to action just like Nehemiah. I thought the study fostered some great discussion and I’ve already tried two of the recipes included.

 

6. Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

“If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.” –Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow

I love Annie. She’s real. She’s rough. I don’t agree with some of the things she believes and writes, but I can’t fault her grit and charisma. Like many of her other books, this one is full of real-life examples, her personal theology, and a reminder that we tend to make everything overly complicated. She takes prayer back to the basics in Help Thanks Wow.

 

5. The Messenger by Lois Lowry

Why hasn’t this series been made into a movie?! I’m ready to watch it and then lament how they are not nearly as good as the books, but it was still fun to get out of the house and watch it any way! This is the third in Lowry’s “Giver” series. I’m reading book #4 aloud with David and we haven’t finished yet, otherwise Son would have likely made this list as well.

The Giver (book one) has been one of my favorite books for the past decade. It took having lots of downtime to finally check out the rest of the series. Think Hunger Games minus the violence. It’s young adult fiction but the themes within the book have nothing to do with teen romance. Each of the books has left me thinking for days.

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4. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

This is the second book in the “Giver” series and I loved it. This was my favorite piece of fiction to read all year. The heroine, Kira, is wonderful. I love seeing the world through her perspective and going on an epic adventure with her. There are rich themes running throughout this one!

From the Amazon description: In perhaps her strongest work to date, Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit and that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.

As she did in THE GIVER, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve, and what could be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira’s plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

I know… why haven’t you read the series yet?

 

gifts3. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

This book took six months to finish. The first chapters are heavy, raw, and dark. The entire book is WORDY. Rich, deep, and very poetic, I felt as though I had to take space in between chapters to fully digest all I was reading. They style of writing certainly won’t be for everyone, but the imagery and lessons are strikingly beautiful. Ann is so very gifted with words. I found myself wondering: WHO TALKS LIKE THIS? More often than not, I would pull out my journal and record paragraph after paragraph.

“Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

 

2. The Valley of Vision

My dear friend Becca gave me this copy three years ago and I still pull it out just about every morning. There are over 300 Puritan prayers inside. The humility of these prayers always stills my heart before I open the Word. I highly recommend this book as an everyday devotional.

 

greatest1. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

This book was such a special part of the Advent season this year. The daily readings were perfect. As I mentioned, Ann has such an ethereal quality to her work, that the smaller doses ended up making this work my favorite book of the year. The readings were poignant and dramatically helped to focus my heart each day of the month. I will be pulling this book out every December for years to come. (Thank you, Aunt Kathryn!)

“God can’t stay away. This is the love story that has been coming for you since the beginning.” – Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

 

There you have it. 10 books from my nightstand to yours.

But now I would love for you to return the favor. Share 1, 5, or even 10 of your favorite reads from 2013 in the comment section. (Tomorrow we tackle what we’re looking forward to reading in 2014!) I plan to compile those answers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blog comments and share the huge “YOU NEED TO READ THIS” list on Friday.

Following,

Ginger

P.S. I did read countless pregnancy, parenting, and baby books this year. If you would like to know which I recommend, feel free to comment and I will respond to you individually!

Dear Ginger: Book It

dear ginger

Ginger –

You read A LOT of books! How do you recommend getting started reading books? I have such a huge bookshelf with so many I want to read when really I feel like the Bible is the one I should be opening for the few moments I have each day to read. Do you set book reading goals? I sometimes think I’m just not a reader. But I feel like that’s like someone saying “I’m just not a runner.”

-L

Dear L,

As soon as you compared reading to running I totally understood where you were coming from. For years I was the non-runner in a world of race-loving friends. I strongly felt bibs were for eating and NOT for exercise. But there’s something about a goal that can get me to do the most unexpected things. I have to say it, declare it, and then just go for it. Thus this non-runner came home with her 13.1 medal.

run run

I love that you are setting a goal for reading. I think the “Book It” reading program in elementary school might have fostered some of my early page-turning. Winning prizes really appealed to me, and then the love for literature soon followed. I don’t enjoy all types of reading, some books make me want to poke my eyes out. I need stories throughout even a non-fiction book to stay engaged and interested. But I suppose I also just enjoy learning. I prefer to read paper books, although I do enjoy my Kindle while on vacation. I love to mark up my books with underlining, highlighting and lots of notes. I think it keeps me engaged and helps me to find passages that I want to refer to at a later time.

The list that your question came from just happened to contain a lot of Spiritual Growth material. I talk about a lot of books, but the list has been growing since I was about 13 years old. I also happen to have attended a ton of Bible studies that went through books and also have a degree in theatre ministry from College. Much of my required reading from school still sits on my shelves. But aside from that, here’s how I usually approach reading.

I spend the morning reading my Bible, usually over breakfast. I am a “MUST HAVE BREAKFAST” gal so it’s an easy way to make sure I get fed in every way possible. I typically read one page from “The Valley of Vision” prayer-book or “My Utmost for His Highest.” Then I start an entry in my journal and read anywhere from 1-4 chapters of whatever book of the Bible I’m currently reading. (I do set some goals in Bible reading. This year I’m reading through the Gospels over and over. There’s not a number of times I’m hoping to hit all four, I simply wanted to focus on the words of Jesus. So I suppose you could say it’s a theme rather than a goal.)

Since I eat lunch alone, (or dinner when I lived by myself) that’s when I spend a good portion of time reading whatever book is next on my list. I usually ask for books on my Birthday or for Christmas after keeping a running list of suggestions from others in the front of my journal all year long. I don’t have a “finish this by this time” goal – I just read a book until it’s done. Some slower books can take me 2-3 months on my lunch pace… but if a story or theme catches me I will usually make my lunch last a little longer each day.

I used to read fiction in the evenings until I realized I was reading more Harry Potter than anything else. (Not joking.) I needed some veggies and protein in my high-carb reading diet! I now typically only read fiction on vacation. It gives me something to look forward to and a good reason to load up my Kindle.

I’ve also learned that it’s ok not to read every page of a book. I’m not in school any more. If I’m struggling through a chapter for too long, I just move on. That’s really hard for my personality to allow, but I started considering that option after perusing these posts from “Following to Lead.” (How Do Leaders Read So Much? and To Read A Book in An Hour)

Like running, there are days when you pull out the book and do the work even if you aren’t feeling it. But don’t let a missed day keep you from jumping back in after a break.

Hope this helps! Does anyone else have any other suggestions for L?

Following,

Ginger

Advent Reading

Resource list #1. Favorite reads for December…

“Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas” by John Blase. I can’t tell you how much my heart enjoys reading the Story with new eyes. “This retold story of Word made flesh invites readers to react appropriately—with eyes opened wide in wonder, jaws dropped in amazement, and hearts rejoicing.”

The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent by Calvin Miller. These 31 days of readings and Scriptures will invite you to rest in the presence of God throughout the Christmas Season and the whole year. “Revisit the Manger… the miracle… the meaning.”

“How in the World to get ready for Christmas?”  A beautiful blog post by Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience. ”This will take time. This will take waiting. I must make space for these….”

God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This book comes highly recommended by one of my nearest and dearest friends. Becca’s desire to savor the mystery of the season causes me to want to pick up every book she reads… this one by Bonhoeffer especially!

God Came Near: Chronicles of the Christ by Max Lucado.  A beautiful book that paints a unique picture of the humility and humanity of the Incarnation.

Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen. This book was a gift from a dear friend and I have treasured reading it for the past 6 years. There are so many thought-provoking reminders throughout this devotional.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Every story bears His name… and I especially love the voice given to Mary’s story in this one! “At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David—every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together.”

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Although I don’t own this one (yet!) I’ve given multiple copies away in the past year. The text, the artwork… everything about this book is beautiful. “On one quiet night, creation whispered a secret. Grass and bees, robins and trees all spread the word. Sheep told their young while angels sang the song to the shepherds. Hushed news of a miracle echoed to the ends of the earth. The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived!”

What am I missing?

Following and waiting…
Ginger

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday, Friends.

I can’t stop thinking about dear ones on the east coast this morning. My sunny and 80-degree weather couldn’t feel more removed from the winds of the storm. Praying for safety and protection for all, and especially for the homeless population.

I’ve been on the road for the past week and a half, so forgive the infrequent posting. I’m excited to share what I’ve been learning through middle school students (yee-haw), time with family and friends, the book of Hebrews, and two of my fall reads. So much. I’m going to catch up on life today, but will be back with more soon. I promise. And if I owe you an e-mail or phone call… that’s happening too.

October Reads

I just finished Love Does by Bob Goff and just started Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner. Lots of dog-earring and underlining happening in these pages.

Q: What’s the latest on your reading list?

Following,

Ginger

 

Winner, Winner… chicken dinner.

Thanks to so many of you who subscribed, shared, and entered the “Graceful” giveaway! The rafflecopter program makes my job super easy. We have two copies and two winners!

Congratulations to Maddie Q and Erin W! You are the winner, winners. Shoot me an e-mail with where you would like me to send your copy of “Graceful”!

Too everyone who entered and doesn’t yet have one of Emily Freeman’s books, I wanted to be sure and promote them one more time. Christmas is around the corner. There is someone in your life (maybe you!) who could use a rush of grace in the form of one of these books. God speaks to us through many things, He just happened to use “Grace for the Good Girl” in my life.

Many of you have asked which book you should purchase or read first. I’ll let the author, Emily P. Freeman, speak from her heart.

“Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life” (for young women)

This book is for the prom queen, the athlete, the bookworm and the dreamer. For the self-critic, the silent judge and for the girl who feels invisible. Many girls in high school are trying hard to catch up but aren’t quite sure what it is they’re chasing. It’s no wonder they have a hard time understanding God’s grace as a gift they can’t earn or be worthy of. We don’t have to be perfect, but we can trust the One who is. 

“Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the try-hard life”

Growing up in the church, I picked up a version of the gospel that had little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with me. I tried hard to be good but never felt good enough. And so I learned to hide. I believe women need to talk about the ways we hide, the longing to be known, the fear in the knowing. Beyond that, I believe in the life-giving power of story, in the beauty of vulnerability, and in the strength that is found in weakness.

This book is an invitation to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. I hope in reading you will move from trying so hard to please God to discover what it might be like for you to trust him.

I enjoyed both books. I underlined and dog-eared in both books. But I do think each of them is targeted toward a specific audience, and rightly so!

“Graceful” is the perfect choice for any reader in junior high and high school, while “GFTGG” would be a great gift for women in college on up. The books contain some similar portions, but they simply approach embracing grace in a style that best fits the two audiences. These beauties will definitely be making an appearance under more than one Christmas tree this year. Happy Reading!

Walking in Grace,
Ginger

True You: Friday Finds

I will always, always recommend God’s Word as the first and foremost resource when it comes to centering ourselves in truth. So many of you ask for resources to help as you struggle through your own journey to be the True You – and I want to speak as clearly as I can: The Word of God is the ONLY book every written that will span the test of eternity!

“God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions.”  Hebrews 4:12, GWT

But I also know that God can and does speak through His people to encourage our hearts in other ways! That’s why I wanted to give you some books to pick up or put on your Christmas list! Those that are starred are more geared for teens, the others are for any age. I hope they continue to encourage your heart.

*God Girl by Hayley DiMarco

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting God of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman

You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth

*Redefining Beautiful: What God Sees When God Sees You by Jenna and Max Lucado

*Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Do You Think I’m Beautiful by Angela Thomas

TrueFaced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John S Lynch

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Please feel free to add your suggestions to the list!

Happy Reading and Happy Friday!

Following,
Ginger

Question #14

I’m buckling up and setting my sights on a goal. Because of that, I won’t have the time to devote writing posts for the blog during the month of June. But rather than just going silent, I’ve decided to try something different. I love hearing from you and thoroughly enjoy the interaction that happens in the comment section.

This month I’m going to ask YOU questions. I will weigh in with my own answers, but I’m mainly interested in just getting to know you. Some of the questions will be fun while others will hopefully take us deeper. After all… June is for questions.

 

QUESTION #14. Aside from the Bible, what book has had the greatest influence on your spiritual life/growth?

____________

This is such a hard question to answer! Why on earth did I ask it?

One book that I have read multiple times and treasure is God is No Fool by Lois A. Cheney. It’s a book of poetry that my college roommate introduced me to in the fall of our freshman year. I keep it on my bedside table at all times so that it’s ready to challenge, convict, and humble at any time.

Which book has inspired growth and change in your life?

-Ginger