When the desert really is a desert.

 

Personal Journal Entry: August 23, 2006

As I think about where my road may be leading me I am reminded speicifcally of Abram. The Lord called him to leave it all and come into the desert. I examine my own comfortable life here in Texas and wonder if I am willing to leave. Will I really pack it up as eagerly as I make it seem? I think I’m ready. Good-bye Ur, hello desert.

The desert is hot and flat and I have no idea where we are going. But I’m excited because my story isn’t the same as Abram’s. We are not going to Canaan – but God’s promise to finish His work in his people applies to me just as much as it did to Abram!

Ginger, don’t miss out on the journey by being so caught up on the final destination. This may be your only time on a camel – so open up your eyes to to the story! Allow His Story to saturate your’s and you will end up in the most exciting place possible… His Will!

On September 5th I applied for a job that would eventually take me to the desert of Arizona. Stepping into new adventures requires the courage to leave some old ones behind. How tightly are you clinging to Ur? (I’m asking myself the same question all over again!)

Listening and Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Silence

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, 
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning. 
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). 
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, 
   quietly hope for help from God.

Lamentations 3:22-26, MSG

I’m still learning to apply those three things to my situation.

1. Passionately wait.

2. Diligently seek.

3. Quietly hope.

And I would add to that list:

4. Keep walking by faith.

Sometimes I forget to continue moving while I’m waiting, seeking and hoping. Jesus demonstrated leaving the throngs of people and going off on a mountain to pray… but after a few hours he came back down and kept loving those very people.

So how do I face the unknown future?

I walk in the truth that I know, I claim God’s good promises, and I confidently acknowledge that He will guide the life I have entrusted to Him.

Still learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Go

“The Door we fear going through most may be the very one where we will meet God profoundly.”  -Erwin McManus

Today’s Thursday tip is all about having the courage to take the first step.  Watch below and I’ll catch you after the jump.

“Make the best decision you can with what you know now.  The future is not guaranteed, so… work with the choices presently avilable to you.  Then leave the outcome to God.”Revelations of a Single Woman

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?”  Jeremiah 32:27

Question to ask yourself: Are you hiding like Saul or climbing like David?

Following and listening,
Ginger

In spite of…

SCARY DECISIONS
Choosing a college
Deciding “what to do with THE REST OF MY LIFE”
Making a big move to another state
Trusting someone to say “I do” and enter into marriage
Starting my own business venture

I suppose scary is relative.  There are plenty of scary movies or situations that are definitely much more worthy of the “scary” title.  I’ve definitely had those moments.  But what I’m talking about is the kind of fear that keeps us up at night or the anxiety that keeps us guessing and worrying throughout the day.

I don’t even like choosing where to eat my meals, much less what to do with the rest of my life.  So when it came to my college graduation I had a plan… I wasn’t hearing God audibly, so I tried to quiet myself and just listen.  I tried driving my car out into the middle of a field and opening the sunroof and looking at the stars.  I tried opening my Bible, closing my eyes and pointing… but I didn’t really hear anything.

I felt desperate.  I had tears rolling down my face during prayer as I begged, “TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

But what takes more faith – an arrow that says “go right here” or taking steps and trusting that He sees me and will guide me?

COURAGE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR, BUT THE ABSENCE OF SELF
I become nervous even when I speak or take the stage.  It doesn’t mean I’m doubting… I just have to learn to go IN SPITE OF the fear and remember that He is with me.

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

If you are searching for answers today, trust that God will be with you wherever you go.  Seek to honor Him with your life and He will continue to guide your steps.

‎”Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” -Corrie ten Boom

Following and listening,
Ginger

That’s a Relief

THE SITUATION (And no, it’s not found in Jersey)
One of the biggest obstacles to living a better story can be fear!  (At this point you can all roll your eyes as you picture bungee jumping and moving to South America.  Duh, Ginger.)  But I’m not even talking about THAT kind of fear, although it is very real.

I’m talking about the kind of fear that comes from wanting to follow rules.  As a rule-follower by trade I know all about wanting to make the right choices, to only choose things that align PERFECTLY with God’s plan for my life.

THE CHALLENGE
Here’s the problem with that – we only get to discover God’s plan as it unfolds, and not before that!  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a “God App”?  It could tell me (just like GPS) where to turn, how fast to go, and how long it will take me to get there.

But part of having a God who loves us enough to give us freedom, is learning to live and move within that freedom.  So what, we just take a step forward and hope we don’t fall into some pit?

Yes.  (Kind of.)

THE SOLUTION
God gives wisdom to those who seek it!  This doesn’t guarantee a perfect track record for any of us, but it should hopefully add some more hope and confidence to move forward trusting that He is powerful enough to teach us and take us where we need to be!

“If you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
 and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
   and find the knowledge of God.
 For the LORD gives wisdom,
   and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 
Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”  Proverbs 2:3-6, 9-10

Do you have a big decision in front of you this week?  Ask the SOURCE of wisdom to pour it out generously.  He loves to give good gifts.

Living out His Story,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Dig out the Tutu

A time to dance? (My sister makes an excellent dance partner.)

From Matthew 25 in the Message, starting in verse 14:

[God’s kingdom] “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

 19-21“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

 22-23“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

 24-25“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

 26-27“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

 28-30“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

And then I sat with my mouth open, stunned at what I had read.  Check the video:

So go forth and share what you’ve got!

Following and sometimes dancing,

Ginger

First Responder

G.I. Joe didn’t have a large presence in my upbringing, but he did teach me that “knowing is half the battle.”  What a wise little army guy.

There’s no way today that I can predict how I’m going to respond to the trials and challenges that await me in the coming years.  Statistics will tell me that I cannot escape the following at some point in my life:

-I will feel betrayed.
-I will suffer loss.
-Someone I know will lose their job, car, or house.
-Someone I know will be diagnosed with a disease.
-I’m going to lose friends and family members.

I don’t like typing those sentences, but they are a part of this life.  There’s no way around it, but there’s certainly a way through it.

So if I can’t predict my response, what can I do to prepare for those events?  What can I know now if knowing is half of the battle?

1.  Recognize that trials are a part of this life.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” James 1: 6-7, NLT

2.  Actively begin thanking God for the struggles and challenges of the everyday.  Cultivating an attitude of thankfulness will go a long way when the big waves threaten to overtake us.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4, NLT

3.  Ask God for wisdom NOW.  God invites us to approach Him and to share our needs with Him.  I know that they days and years coming are going to require more than just the wisdom I currently possess.  Ask that He would begin preparing your heart and mind for whatever road lies ahead.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1: 5-6, NLT

4.  Hide God’s Word in your heart.  I know I mention this ALL THE TIME, but it’s because I know I can’t survive without it.  God’s Word is our comfort, weapon, water, bread, and what can give us the courage to face even the darkest moments.  Memorize it, read it, sing it, meditate on it, write it, record it, eat it… just know it.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105, NLT

5.  Remember that He is with you every step of the way.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39, NLT

The valleys of heartache are coming.  Have you made your choice?  Will you worship the King even on the darkest of days?

“Have you predetermined your loyalty to Christ?

In other words, Have you already answered the question in your own heart and mind about whether anything could make you turn away from Him?

Could any circumstance (such as an unhealed disease, unanswered prayer, loss of a loved one, an incarceration in a country where Christianity is illegal, or other situations) make you renounce your faith in Christ?” – Beth Moore, Daniel

I believe your answer to this question is important.  Spend some time praying, seeking, and asking that you would rest secure in Him… even in the midst of the fire.

Following,
Ginger

Good Choice/Bad Choice

Have you ever made a bad choice?

I feel like my friends with kids are always challenging them to make wise or good choices.  I love it when the kids understand the concept and then challenge their own parents with the same advice.  My friend Chad wrote something on his hand at work in order to remember to pay a bill when he returned home.  Jack, his three year-old son, was quick to point out that “Daddy made a bad choice!”

Getting a perm in 1992 when I was in 3rd grade was excusable.  However, getting a perm in 2002 when I was 21 was what we will call NOT a good choice.

Super "Awesome" Perm. (Also, Whitney don't hate me.)

You choose your friends, your hobbies, your attitude, your college, your major, how to dress, how to decorate, what you say, and how to spend your time.  And for obvious reasons, some choices hold a lot more weight than others.  Have you ever made a bad choice and had your parents ask you WHY you made such a choice?  Have you ever answered that question with an “I don’t know”?  That’s a big deal because our choices indicate a lot about who we are.

How you choose to fill your day is how you live your life.  Your choices matter – and the choices that you make give us a direct insight into your character.

You will have countless voices to listen to in your lifetime when it comes to making choices.  WHO you listen to makes all the difference.

Last week we covered making big decisions, but this week I want to talk about some specific choices that we all make every day.

How we respond to challenges/trials.
How we spend our time.
How we spend our talent.
And how we spend our treasure.

I believe that how we respond to these questions will tell us a lot about our hearts and our character.  I hope you’ll stop by every day and jump in on the conversation. 

“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  Deuteronomy 30:19-20, The Message

Following,
Ginger

Choosing

Dear Ginger,

How do I make a decision when it looks like both decisions are good options?  I’m weighing both choices and I don’t think either of them are a “bad” or “disobedient” way to go.  I’m trying to listen, but what if I don’t feel like I hear God? -J

Dear J- thanks for taking the time to send in your question!  I am smiling just thinking about how much I identify with you.  I don’t like choosing when I don’t feel confident.  I’m the person that doesn’t even like picking the restaurant.  My husband will quickly tell you that he tires of hearing me respond, “Wherever you want to go is fine with me.”  I’m not indecisive I just don’t want to make the WRONG choice.  I want everyone to be happy, and that includes my Heavenly Father.

So what happens when the choices become weightier than picking Italian food?  Think about the importance of the sort of questions listed below.

What do I do with my summers?
How do I pick a school?
What should I major in?
What do I do with THE REST OF MY LIFE?
Should I move or stay?
Is this guy THE guy?
Do I stay in this job or look for another one?
Should I buy this house?

Each of these moments held (at least for me) a healthy dose of trepidation and a desire to know God’s Will.  I was desperate to know EXACTLY what He wanted me to do.  I want to get it right.

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 felt like I had endless options, but I only wanted one… His best.  So I made a plan.  I wasn’t hearing God audibly, so I decided to take a lesson from Elijah.  In 1 Kings 19 Elijah expects to find God in the storm, in the fire, and in the earthquake.  Instead, God reveals Himself in a gentle whisper.

I wanted to hear that whisper so I did the only thing I knew to do.  I quieted myself.  I tried driving my car out into the middle of a field, opening the sunroof and gazing at the stars.  I only heard the crickets and the sound of distant cars rumbling by on the highway.  I tried going in my closet, opening my Bible, closing my eyes and pointing at random verses… but I didn’t really get an answer.

I even went to the building known as “The Quiet Place” on campus and locked myself in a room.  I laid on the floor and tried to even quiet my breathing… but I only heard students working on a group project.  I felt desperate.  I had tears rolling down my face as I begged, “GOD, JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

I finally went and made an appointment with one of my favorite professors.  Through tears I explained to her my deep desire to know Gods 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?”

My tears stopped and my head cleared.  Hebrews 11:1 became my mantra each day.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Is God able to tell us exactly where and when to go?  Absolutely?  He does this countless times in Scripture and even does so audibly.  But does that mean He will speak to each of us that way in every situation?  Probably not.

If your heart is attune to Your Father and His given commands in the Bible, then step forward in faith even when you can’t see or hear his answer.  You have the Holy Spirit inside of you and His Word to guide you: make a decision and go.

Is it alright if we continue this question for the next couple of days?  I have a few more thoughts and stories that I think would directly and aptly apply.

Praying for you J – that you would have the faith to go in confidence.

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Check out the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14:1-23.

My Chapter in HIStory

I’ve learned that in order to say yes to some big adventures, you also have to learn how to say no and wait.  I learned that lesson in a huge way during the summer of 2006…

“I am captivated by stories.  I find myself taken in by song lyrics, stolen from reality by a Jane Austin heroine, and challenged by the men and women of scripture.  All scripture is indeed inspired and written to teach us and bring us hope; however, it is the skillfulness with which it is all woven together that excites and thrills me.

I think what really gets me going is the way that my story is a part of His story.  Although my own story isn’t found in scripture, it’s amazing to think that I could have my own little chapter in the record of time.  Each book, chapter, and story is vastly different from the other.  Each call is unique and the Lord seems to use individual ways to catch the attention of His beloved people.

I was challenged last night to consider how the Lord might be calling me.  I recently interviewed for a completely different job than what I am currently doing.  I’ve been trying to listen to the Lord and make a clear cut decision, and I just wanted to hear an audible voice this time.  Samuel was audibly called when he wasn’t even asking to hear, while Moses saw a bush and Elijah discerned a whisper.  Jesus called out to Peter to walk on water as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ran into fire.  Isaiah had to race around naked for two years and Esther was challenged by her uncle to change the course of her people!  I’ve always wanted to be a dynamic character.  My prayer has been for the life less ordinary and the road less traveled.  I claim that I will take North Dallas or South Africa, I simply want a calling.

But I have received a calling.  I am called by my Creator to make his name known in every situation in which I find myself.  I do desire to work “in the way that I am bent” (Proverbs 22:6), that when I ____ I feel God’s pleasure.  I’m finding out that I feel like I might be able to fill in that blank with about 20 different things.

As I think about where this road I’m on may be leading me, I am reminded specifically of Abram.  The Lord called him to leave it all and come into the desert.  I examine my own comfortable suburban life and wonder if I am as willing as I claim to be.  I find comfort in the story of Abram.  All God told Abram about his ultimate destination was that He would be faithful to show it to him. But I’m excited because even if I really wanted it to be, my story is not Abram’s.  I am not going to Canaan, but God’s promise to finish his work in his people applies just as much to me as it did to Abram.  Slowly but surely I am learning what it means to rest in God’s faithfulness.  I keep reminding myself that there is a difference between waiting on the Lord and just waiting for life to pass me by.  I’m getting excited about “tomorrow”, not worrying, just making the most of today.  I am waiting with arms wide open to catch hold of the sail and let the wind take me.

When I was younger we spent almost every warm holiday at the family beach house.  Every available moment of sunlight was spent at the beach.  All 11 grandchildren and plenty of chaperones would make their way to our claimed patch of sand.  Some of my favorite moments occurred out in the water as we prepared to body surf the “mighty” waves that hit the coast of Texas.  We would go out into waist deep water, sometimes higher and then the waiting would begin.  Some would dive into any wave that came across, only going a few feet towards shore.  But if you waited for the BIG ONE and then took that plunge, you were rewarded with up to 20 seconds of a ride.  The undertow and power of the surge would throw you and push you towards any destination they chose.  My fear was always missing the BIG ONE.  I would begin to place all my attention on the perfect one and bypass the hundreds of smaller ones.  I’m not sure what the perfect one would have even looked like, but I wanted it.

I still want the BIG ONE.  I don’t want to forfeit because I’m not willing to wait.

I’ve made my decision.  I’m turning down the job offer.  It’s not easy, but I’m at peace.  I am setting out to make His name known right here; one conversation, e-mail, phone call, and relationship at a time.  When He wants me to move, I will be ready.  But until then, and beyond, I will be the adventurous heroine.  Watch out Jo Marsh, Elizabeth Bennett, and Anne of Green Gables.  My chapter isn’t nearly finished.”

The pages that followed that decision were more than I could ask for or imagine.  This whole journey has been that way.  Are you willing to dream and wait for the best?

  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
      and no mind has imagined
   what God has prepared
      for those who love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT

Following,
Ginger