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!

 

With Joy Retreats Flyer (1)

 

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

restful

 

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)

chapel

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)

 

listen

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.

 

retreat2

 

Following,

Ginger

Step #12. Remember

season

This entire series, 12 Steps to Stay in Tune this Season, isn’t the end all be all. I don’t attempt to claim expert status. I’ve simply been sharing what the Lord has taught me about keeping the main thing THE MAIN THING throughout November and December. Thanksgiving must be more than turkey and Black Friday deals. Christmas is so much more than decorations and wish lists. Around Mid-October I determined that I didn’t want to end up frustrated and worn thin on Christmas Eve. I resolved this year would be different.

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

This song easily became my motto. I heard it while shopping. I sang it as I rocked my baby. The lyrics have stayed with me and reminded me to seek what matters, to have a heart tuned to God’s grace.

Reminded.

Remembered.

We must remember why these dates are celebrated on the calendar. We must tell our souls the stories of God’s provision and faithfulness. We remember so we don’t forget.

stepStep #12. Remember.

“I am a wandering Israelite who sees the flame in the sky above, the pillar, the smoke from the mountain, the earth open up and give way, and still I forget. I am beset by chronic soul amnesia. I empty of truth and need the refilling. I need to come again every day–bend, clutch, and remember…” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

 

Remember how Mary was not chosen out of her perfection, but out of her willingness. Remember the first “Silent Night” was probably anything but silent. For while our Savior was sinless, he was most certainly fully human-  and much crying he probably did make. Remember the wise men who saw with their eyes and believed with their feet… they followed.

 

All this to say, in five days, when you sit by yourself or with your family in front of a tree, around a table, in a wooden pew, or on a cushioned chair… remember the 42 generations who awaited the birth of the Messiah. Recall the young teenage girl who gave up her expectations for God’s amazing reality. Picture the infant breathing his first gulp of air and wailing – and then the man who cried out and gave up his last breath on Calvary. This God made flesh has come.

remember

 

 

“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9

 

Following,
Ginger

Step #11. Spread Joy

season

I want you to think of something that you really wanted for Christmas when you were a kid.  Make sure you choose something that you actually ended up receiving!  It should be the kind of gift that made it difficult for you to sleep on Christmas Eve.  You couldn’t wait for it.  When you discovered that very gift waiting for you in the morning you began hyperventilating and being terribly overdramatic.  (Wait, was that just me?)  Ok, have you picked something yet?  Did you choose your most-desired Christmas gift?  Good.

New question: Did you wake up thinking about that Christmas item this morning?

Isn’t it amazing that something that held so much JOY all those years ago is now lost and forgotten.  Maybe the memory of it put a smile on your face.  But the truth is that stuff (no matter how great in the moment) just doesn’t bring lasting joy.

christmas morning

But what about the huge trampoline that was waiting in the backyard in 4th grade?  I don’t think I even asked for it.  It was an AMAZING surprise that brought joy to my siblings and I (and let’s face it, the whole neighborhood) for years.  But like everything else, the trampoline wore out, fell apart, and eventually made it’s way to the trash.

Even if you enjoyed your favorite item for a few years, it doesn’t hold the same daily joy for you now.

So if we want joy like Christmas morning throughout the season, do we simply continue to replace the old stuff with the new stuff?

Rather than changing out our stuff, I think we need a change of heart and mindset.  God is always in the business of changing us from the inside out.  He desires for us to find real and lasting joy- something that’s done by spending time in His presence.  It’s totally contrary to the solution the world would give us.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Romans 12:2. 

I tend to lose joy when I put all the focus on me.  Joyless living is often wrapped up in self-focus and selfishness. So how do I break the cycle this season and stay tuned to sing God’s grace?

stepStep #11. Spread Joy

Buddy the Elf was headed in the general direction when he quips, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

I think our joy is multiplied when we look upward and outward. Too much time on MY list, MY expectations, MY gifts and suddenly worry, resentment, and stress can take over. Joy flows most often when we take a step back from ourselves and notice those around us. Joy comes from blessing and encouraging others, rather than focusing on our own needs. When life is all about me, it leaves little room for the joy that emerges through loving people.

“The secret of joy is always a matter of focus: a resolute focusing on the Father, not on the fears. All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends.” (Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift)

I long for my heart to remain tuned to the key of grace. I want my interactions at the post office, grocery store, and with my family to bring joy, so my prayer is that I will choose joy in spite of any challenging circumstances or unmet expectations. The Lord has come, what a reason to spread the joy!

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

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

Step. #7. Give Grace

Step. #8. Prepare Him Room

Step. #9. Set Your Hope.

Step #10. Give Love.

I Trust You

Nativity

When I read the gospels, I usually skim through the Christmas story. The nativity is repeated so often during December that I consider my Christmas story quota filled. But recently I started researching Mary, the mother of Jesus, and discovered something both deeply humbling and encouraging.

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you’” (Luke 1:26-28). . .

For the rest of the post follow this link to the Whatever Girls Blog! I’m sharing how Mary continues to teach me about trusting God even in the midst of uncertainty and change.

whatevergirls

I’ll be back tomorrow with the next installment of 12 Steps to Stay in Tune this Season. Catch you then!

Following,

Ginger

Step #8. Prepare Him Room

season

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

Here was my expectation:

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

Doesn”t that sound lovely?

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

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

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

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

step

Step #8. Prepare Him Room

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

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

Preparing Room

Advent Sounds

Advent Viewing

Advent Reading

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

tree

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

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

Step. #7. Give Grace

12 Ways to Stay in Tune this Season

season

November is upon us, but we need not fear the upcoming calendar. Pinterest may have you pining to do more with your decorations, but my goal this month is to remind us to stay focused on our hearts. I need this encouragement on a daily basis! The usual stresses of the season don’t just happen for homeowners and parents. Students are preparing for finals. The working crew is trying to eek out as much vacation time as possible, and we are all seeking to create amazing moments for our favorite people. This season piles expectation upon expectation, and I’m not just talking about Christmas. Somehow Thanksgiving and Christmas get rolled into one and the exhaustion creeps in earlier each year.

Yesterday I mentioned one of my favorite hymns and my theme for the rest of 2013.

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

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

My prayer is that my heart would keep in tune with God’s grace and not drift sharp or flat.

If you’ve ever played an instrument you know how easy it can be to let things slide out of tune. You lose your focus, forget to check, the weather changes… so many things play into the perfection of the pitch. So let’s keep the pitchy notes at bay and stay engaged in the process.

Today kicks off 12 Ways to Stay in Tune this Season.

STEP #1. Demonstrate GRATITUDE!

An attitude of gratitude is completely counter-cultural. Everything about our culture tells us we will be happy if… we get the right stuff, have enough house, take the big vacations, have the best body… and on and on. Thankfulness should be our daily rhythm because it’s the truth. We have SO much to be thankful for.

“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.” St. John of Avila

Gratitude is like a muscle; we’ve got to work it out. So while I LOVE combing Pinterest to find projects and things to beautify my house, maybe I need to start walking through my own house and pin post-its of thanks for the blessings I DO have. The growth could start by simply thanking the baggers at the grocery store. Or maybe it looks like voicing my thanks to the Lord in the morning and listing out my thanks in a journal before I go to sleep.

I love the trend to list thanks in November on social media, but what if that same attitude could continue throughout the year. What if we took up the challenge to ONLY use social media to spread an attitude of gratitude rather than gloating, complaining, or arguing?

The more readily we express thanksgiving, the less room we have for negative thoughts and words. So let’s be intentional and let’s be proactive. Ideas for active gratitude:

1. Volunteer with those less fortunate
2. Write thank you notes
3. Purposefully call, text, or e-mail to tell someone why you are thankful for their presence in your life
4. Memorize a verse about giving thanks: “… Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)
5. Go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for
6. Get a paper tablecloth and record your blessings
7. Speak your gratitude out loud even in challenging situations: “Thank you for another diaper to change… for a daughter who is healthy, arms that are strong enough to lift her, hands that are able to love her in this way.”
8. Make eye contact and say thank you to any service staff you come in contact with: waiters, drive-thru employees, clerks… you get the idea!
9. I keep hearing about people getting “Boo’d” for Halloween or “Egged” for Easter. Someone start giving “THANXED” blessings on doorsteps. Hah! Leave a cornucopia of encouragement and thankful notes for the house.
10. Let your prayers begin with thankfulness and praise!

Any other ideas?

 

The list is just a start, but I hope it stirs your thoughts. If we want to live more fully in tune with God’s grace, a thankful heart is the perfect launching point.

“The real problem of life is never a lack of time. The real problem of life – in my life – is lack of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks-take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks-and He miraculously makes it more than enough.” – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Following,
Ginger

Wait

 

Ten years ago I enrolled in one of my favorite college courses. Not only was the professor a personal hero and mentor, but the class itself was engaging, inspiring, and challenging. I was organizing my desk last month when I came across journal entries required as part of my grade for “Developing Faith in Children.”

It’s been so interesting to read back through the entries written by my 21 year-old self in the spring of 2003. Each entry in the book covered an assigned topic and the one I’m going to share stands out today more than the others- and not just for some poor grammar choices. It’s a letter I wrote to my child. I don’t have much to mention about it, I think the lesson I was learning in my own life is fairly apparent through these words.

To my child,

I am writing you a letter you might not expect to receive. If you are anything like I was around your age, you are starting to see a very interesting occurence. Maybe you saw it in the 5th grade, or maybe you will finish high school before you notice… but I doubt that. What I want you to remember over the years to come as everyone else seems to be “pairing up” is that relationships are meant to be cherished… BUT having a boyfriend or girlfriend cannot make you “complete”!

No other person can ever make you whole. I say this today, and I will say it over and over for the rest of your life.

Your fulfillment can only be found in a solid, intimate, growing relationship with _______. Care to guess? With your Creator! Another person can enhance your fulfillment, but they cannot be your fulfillment. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. It took me years before I realized that when my security, self-image, and wholeness were based truly on God, it didn’t matter who was or wasn’t in my life.

It’s the only way to go! Your purpose and self-esteem won’t fluctuate because they’ll be grounded in God. It’s an amazing thing. Will you trust Him to bring the right relationships into your life at just the right time? I hope and pray daily that you will.

Dear one, God wants your fulfillment even more than you do. His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.” So often we make this verse seem like a Christmas list – everything will be GOOD. But the promise is that this “good” is our conformity into the likeness of Christ – an event BETTER good! I love the way that Beth Moore puts it when she says that “God is faithfully putting a puzzle together in each life so that the final picture will resemble Christ.”

Again, I know this is not the “letter” you expected – but it was on my heart to tell you. I love you so very much… but He loves you even more!

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away… slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (The Message)

He’s never early! He’s never late!

Lifting you up,
Mom

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

 

I’m not sure what you are waiting for today, but my hope is that Habakkuk 2:3 encourages you in your own journey. I likely wouldn’t have chosen my own story from the front end of things, but I am so thankful for the One who is never early and never late. His timing is perfect and thankfully, He does strengthen us as we wait.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Grace For Gayle

I met Gayle all the way back in 2000! She went to a local rival high school and then we both attended the same college. It’s always nice to catch a familiar face when you are in a new place. This past year Gayle launched a brand new dream and website and I would love to share it with you today. Gayle was kind enough to submit to a mini-interview so you could get to know her and a little bit about her heart. Read it and then make sure to bookmark or subscribe to Grace For Gayle!

gayle

1. Tell me about your title, “Grace for Gayle.” What’s the story behind it?

I have been blogging since 2004; writing and photography have been a hobby and passion of mine for a long time.  However, around 2009, some especially challenging things cropped up in my life.  Things that challenged my faith, and ultimately threatened my life in a very real way.
The Lord is many things, but one thing that He is the most clearly to me is my Redeemer and Rescuer.  By the end of 2011, I had given up; I honestly and truly had completely given up on God, myself, and life itself.
 
On January 3, 2012, I experienced a radical change in my life, when God freed me from the strongholds and bonds that had taken over my life — He not only broke those chains, He shattered them.  Hallelujah!
As God and I started rebuilding my life from the ground up, I felt like He was prompting me to return to writing and photography.  I wanted to share my joy with anyone who would listen!!  So, I stopped writing on my previous blog, and started Grace for Gayle in March 2012.  I chose the name “Grace for Gayle” because I RECEIVED GRACE.  I received redemption.  I received mercy.  I received rescue.
 
I am reminded of the story of the prostitute who washes Christ’s feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair.  She so desperately needed Christ’s forgiveness that she didn’t care what the onlookers thought.  He said:
 
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” {Luke 7:47}
 
Those who have been forgiven much, love much — it is our human nature.  The reality is, I am alive today because of God’s mercy and grace, and I want to share that with the world, one blog post at a time.
 
2. Who is the target audience of “Grace for Gayle”?
I believe I am here to be an encourager.  I connect most with women, but I have a deep love for all people who are hurting and feel hopeless.  I write posts about a variety of things, from fashion and makeup and decorating, to embarrassing moments and funny things that happen in daily life.  But, all of it is through the lens of my faith, and I do my very best to weave God’s truth into everything I do.
 
There are soooo many hurting people out there, and a lot of those people are women, and a lot of those women are online!  I want to write about topics that interest women from all walks of life (moms, young marrieds, single folks, students!), and encourage them in any way I can through my writing.
 
A couple things I do consistently is Wednesday Wisdom (a faith-based post pretty much every week), I have a place for submitting prayer requests (anonymous is fine!), women can sign up for G-Mail (receive encouraging notes from me, via snail mail!), and many other ways to build community on my site.
 
3. What should we know about you?
First of all, I absolutely love you.  Cheesy, no?? ;) But in all seriousness, I love people, and would love to know you, personally. :)
 
Now that I hopefully have thoroughly convinced you either that I really do love y’all, or that I’m a little nuts (both?), I suppose I should tell you some other fun facts about me!  I was born in Indiana, raised in Texas, and have lived in Dallas almost my entire life, except for college (where I met Ginger!).  I currently live in McKinney, with my two dogs and two cats.  My profession is in Human Resources, but I dream of being a counselor someday.  I love working out (yoga, pilates, strength training), reading, blogging, and I’m addicted to podcasts, especially sermons.  I love to read, but rarely have time.  I love kids, especially hanging out with my friends’ kiddos.  I’m currently single, and currently not “looking” — and praying for contentment in that area!  (He’ll come along when he comes along, if he comes along . . . )
 
I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl: I either give something my all, or it completely falls by the wayside; I’m working on a little something called “balance”.  I am an introvert in an extrovert’s body, and treasure my alone time almost as much as being around those I love.
 
4. What’s something on your Christmas list this year?
Talk about planning ahead!  Christmas lists are hard for me, but something that is definitely on my list is a new DSLR camera, mine is starting to show its age!  I also have a whole slew of projects I’d like to complete at my house, so a shopping spree (or a gift card) for Lowe’s would also be fantastic. :)
 
5. And finally, what are three books that shaped or continue to shape your spiritual walk? (Aside from the Bible)
Having walked away from God for several years, I’m finding that I’m in need of re-learning things that my mind and heart used to know so well.  In the past, the books that I loved the most are The Unique Woman (Edwin Cole & wife), The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Gary Chapman), Sex, Love & Happily Ever After (Craig Groeschel), and my daily reads are Jesus Calling (Sarah Young) and Praying God’s Word Day by Day (Beth Moore).
What are you waiting for? Head over to Grace for Gayle and start reading!
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Happy Friday!
Ginger