Out of the Boat

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ronald E. Osborn

I have 6:30am flight to Charlotte, North Carolina this Friday morning. I’m attending the Proverbs 31, She Speaks Conference. I’m really excited and a tad bit nervous for my first gathering of this kind. There are lots of new opportunities for networking, learning, and growing, but I kind feel like I’m walking into my freshman year of high school all over again. Yeesh. When does that go away? Perhaps it’s the 650 women in attendance (that’s a LOT of women), or the business professional dress code, or the evaluation groups… but I feel a little like a fish out of water.

And while I think some of my feelings are valid, I’m not about to let them do the decision making over the weekend. Typical Ginger would keep to herself, act like there’s something interesting on her phone, and head to bed around 9:30pm. It’s time to move past typical if I want to see some growth.

I’m hoping that I muster all of my courage and become a social butterfly. When we are forced to break from our comfort zones, I think it pushes us to rely on God and to stop making excuses for the stagnate parts of our lives. Adventures begin with doing, going, and trusting. Peter may have only walked on water for a few moments but he is still the only one of the twelve disciples who can say they walked on water AT ALL. God-sized adventures start when we get out of the boat.

“Make no mistake. God tests our willingness to follow Him in obedience even if no one can or will go with us. We won’t embrace with both hands what God has for us if we hold our old lives with a death grip.” -Beth Moore

“While at first simply trusting God to take you outside your experience is a huge leap of faith, eventually God will expect more of you.  Remember, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Erwin McManus

Is God calling you to take a step out of the boat?

Following,
Ginger

Sometimes socializing is like going to the dentist…

I really don’t enjoy being in a situation where I do not know a majority of the company present. When I first moved to Arizona I was forced to do this on a weekly basis. I was constantly forcing myself to get out of the car and walk into my own personal version of torture. Ok, maybe torture is too strong. It was like going to the dentist. That’s it. Slightly painful and not overly enjoyable until the very last few minutes.The thing is that in these situations, I know that I will be fine… eventually. I’m just really good at arguing with myself. Often the discussion goes a little something like this:
Ginger: You need to get out of the car and go into this Bible Study.
Ginger: But I don’t know anyone in there..
Ginger: That’s WHY you are going. So you can make some friends.
Ginger: But I have friends.
Ginger: Um, it doesn’t count if they are 18 hours away.
Ginger: I know, but what if these people…

Ginger: Stop making excuses.
Ginger: You know, I’m probably at the wrong place. I don’t see many cars. I should just go.
Ginger: GET OUT OF THE CAR.
Ginger: Ok!! I’m going! Gosh! (Yes, I say gosh.)
I’m getting pretty good at getting out of the car. I’ve been in Arizona for almost six years and I’ve come to realize that the best things have come once I get out of the car.  I can’t address an audience from a car.  I can’t audition for theatre from my car.  My first date with my now husband would have been REALLY awkward if I had remained in my car the whole time.  Sometimes wisdom might dictate otherwise.  Not every opportunity available is what’s best for you… but I can tell you that most of the life-changing moments in your future won’t happen while you sit in your car and watch everyone else walk inside.

 

I still have a lot of fear to overcome.  I’m still creating friendships and new business relationships.  I’m trying to take risks and push myself.  But sometimes I need a REALLY BIG PUSH.

Dear Lord, please help me to trust you more.  Help me to take steps of faith every day.

Help me get out of the car.

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  Philippians 3:12-14, The Message

Don’t miss out on anything our Father has to offer… He is beckoning you onward!

Following,
Ginger

*previously posted on August 9, 2011

Venturing Out

“No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath… We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?”

-Donald Miller,Through Painted Deserts

I’m personally facing some unknowns this week – so hopefully we can all seek out courage to live a better story together. Big hint: it involves taking risks.

“Risk is right. And the reason is not because God promises success to all our ventures in his cause. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least not in the short run. John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother’s wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. Jesus had no criticism for him, only the highest praise (Matthew 11:11).”

-John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

Following and venturing out,
Ginger

When fear is an excuse…

“The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is ‘Do not fear.’ It’s in there over two hundred times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around. Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose. But fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life… the great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.”

–Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

It seems as if facing fear continues to be a theme around here. I’m slowly learning to recognize and face my own worries and anxieties. Friends are asking for prayer about things they fear most. And the “Dear Ginger” questions keep pouring in with repeated similarities: I’m afraid… I’m so scared… I’m worried… I can’t sleep… I’m terrified…

“The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is ‘Do not fear.’ It’s in there over two hundred times.”

Questions:

1. What are your greatest fears?
2. How often is fear the greatest influence in your choices?

Facing fear to live a better story,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: HELP PLEASE

photo by Andrea Alley, 2011

Dear Ginger,

Lately I have been having tons of guy problems. Many guys are “asking” me for stuff if you know what I mean. Some were really good guy friends… well I guess they’re not good guy friends anymore. But each time it gets harder and harder to say no. SO MUCH PEER PRESSURE! And it seems like each time I say no the relationship gets weaker and weaker. I don’t want to lose them as friends but I also don’t want to be known as the ‘slut’ of the grade. Its just getting harder and harder going to school and seeing the guys that “ask” me for stuff and not being able to say anything about it. I can’t tell my parents about it or they will FREAK OUT! HELP PLEASE. –K

Dear K,

Thank you so much for entrusting me with your question. I can feel the anxiety pouring through this paragraph. Let’s walk through what you’ve shared and make sure I understand the situation:

#1. Guys who were your good friends are asking you for “stuff.”
#2. You don’t think they are such good friends any more.
#3. You don’t want to give them what they are asking for.
#4. When you say “no” you feel like the relationship suffers.
#5. You don’t want to lose their friendship.
#6. In order to not lose their friendship you will have to do things that will make you feel or be perceived as “the slut of the grade.”
#7. Your resolve is weakening each time: it gets harder to say no.
#8. You want help to know what to do.

It’s obvious that you are really struggling. I’m so sorry that you’ve been put in a position where you feel like you have to choose between the person you want to be and the friends that you want to have.

I don’t think those guys are behaving like friends at all. They are making your friendship conditional based on you doing something you don’t want to do. Think about it this way: what if some of your girl friends demanded that you rob a convenience store in order to hang with them? I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but I just want to show the ridiculousness of what these guys are demanding. They are not treating you with respect, much less common decency. Frankly, I wouldn’t hang out with guys that speak to me inappropriately, much less call them my friends. I’m just being honest with you.

You, K, get to decide who you want to be and how you want to handle your relationships. That is not a decision to be made by a teenage boy. Say “NO” like you mean it. Make eye contact. The more certain you are in your refusal, the less they will bring it up. I think you should make this part conditional in your friendship. Either they back off or you back out of this twisted friendship. Trust me, there are too many godly men in this world to waste our time and give up the goods for impatient boys. It may seem like a tough choice now, but the you in the future will thank the you of today for standing firm.

You are a precious daughter of the King of the Most High!

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. 
The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:10-11

These boys would be smart to realize that truth and drop this issue NOW. Girl, this is a form of sexual harassment. Don’t think it’s just going to go away. Take a stand for yourself and for your Heavenly Father! If the boys don’t get the immediate hint, it’s time to tell a teacher or even your parents. Don’t stay silent on this one.

The truth is, and I hope you know this – you will only feel fulfilled and complete when you let God be your first love. No man – especially one who is not treating you the way you deserve to be treated – will even come close.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2, NCV

Praying you stand firm and run the race,
Ginger

Frying Pan

Confession: One of my biggest fears for as long as I can remember has been making a decision outside of God’s will. I think it paralyzed me for years. I have prayer journals filled with the like:

Lord, I am asking for you to speak clearly about the direction of my steps. My life is moving after you… wherever I am. Please show me the steps I should take. But what if I can’t hear you? I feel like I can’t hear!! I’m afraid of staying, but I’m questioning my motives for going. What do you want from me? I want that answer. Show me where I should go… India, Uganda, Bolivia, Peru, Texas, Right here? Housing situation? Roommate? Stay put? Plan for the future? Prepare for transition?

Can you hear the desperation and fear in my requests. Although I was coming to God in prayer, I was still terrified that somehow I would miss Him.

So rather than moving forward (here or there) in confidence, I clung to my square of carpet and declared, “I’m not going unless you tell me specifically where and when to move forward.”

God used my dear friend Adrianne to challenge me in my moment of fear. She wrote this to me in an e-mail:

God is drawing all things together under Christ, and our part is to pursue holiness and blamelessness in the midst. Ministry will happen in your life because you have already declared Christ as Lord and you live towards that end… so choose! God will close doors if he doesn’t want you there, but move forward.

I had forgotten that our God is constantly pushing us forward. Or as C.S. Lewis pointed to us through Narnia… “Aslan is on the move!” Our God is moving and we would be wise to step in and join Him.

Either God is powerful enough to direct and guide your steps… or He isn’t. I choose to believe that all power is His. So now my prayers have turned from the fearful, terrified fumbling to something more concrete.

Lord, I’m going to choose to step forward in this direction, believing that I’m joining you. If I’m wrong, please quickly hit me over the head with a frying pan of truth… whatever it takes for me to get the message!

It’s not poetic and it certainly won’t make it into a book of prayers any time soon, but it reminds me to keep the right perspective when I pray. God is greater than all of our fears.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)

Facing Fears,
Ginger

Courage Habit

“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are, to see through plastic sham to living, breathing reality, and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love.” Madeleine L’Engle

FOOD HABIT
I am by nature, a creature of habit. I hang my keys in the same place each time I return home. I keep my socks folded and tucked away in their proper drawer. I think that’s why I resort to drastic measures when it comes to food selections. When shopping for cereal I make it my goal to never purchase the same product twice in a row. I could go eight months in between boxes of Cheerios, one of my favorites. If I don’t live on the edge in the morning, I probably won’t during the rest of my day. I used to be so predictable that you could tell me what I was about to order at any given restaurant. In recent years I have made it my goal to live life on the edge when dining, to incur some sort of a risk. If I don’t like lunch, I can always eat dinner, right? (Sometimes it’s the small victories that make your day.)

I’m not suggesting that food is a major fear for me. It’s not. (Quite the opposite, my friends.) I am telling you that my natural tendency is to play it safe. Sometimes it takes practicing courage in the simpler tasks to remind me that living without fear is possible.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” -Ronald E. Osborn

COURAGE
Dictionary.com defines courage as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. I love that! Doesn’t it just make you want to run through a field screaming and waving a banner? Nope? Just me? Look, the only problem with this definition is that I do not think courage is one of my defining characteristics. The sad truth is that I line my bookshelves with inspiration, purchase maps of the world, and make life mission statements that would rival the greatest explorer. I take notes on anything that has to do with adventure… and yet sometimes I’m too afraid to actually explore.

Check out this definition of courage that came up in a Bible study: “taking action (despite fear) for a purpose.” I recognize that there isn’t a great moral or philosophical purpose in choosing Special K. I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow ready to take on the world, but I am taking steps daily toward reckless abandonment in every aspect of my life. I am asking that the Lord would show me where a fear of failure rips the courage out from under me. My fear isn’t heights, speaking in front of a crowd, or even being alone. My fear is missing out on the adventurous life God has for me because of my own self-doubts. Thankfully He is and will always be there to push and guide every step of the way.

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

What are you afraid of? How can you push yourself to be brave today?

Facing Fears,
Ginger

Shark Week

“What we fear is what we’re subject to; our fears define our master. When we fear God and God only, we are no longer bound by all of the other fears that would hold us captive. The fear of death, the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of insignificance ~ all…become powerless when we know the fear of the Lord… Perfect love casts out all fear.” –Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way

It’s the Shark Week on the blog. Okay, so not really shark week… but we are definitely facing our fears.

Facing Fears,
Ginger

Get Out of the Car

I really don’t enjoy being in a situation where I do not know a majority of the company present. When I first moved to Arizona I was forced to do this on a weekly basis. I was constantly forcing myself to get out of the car and walk into my own personal version of torture. Ok, maybe torture is too strong. It was like going to the dentist. That’s it. Slightly painful and not overly enjoyable until the very last few minutes.The thing is that in these situations, I know that I will be fine… eventually. I’m just really good at arguing with myself. Often the discussion goes a little something like this:
Ginger: You need to get out of the car and go into this Bible Study.
Ginger: But I don’t know anyone in there..
Ginger: That’s WHY you are going. So you can make some friends.
Ginger: But I have friends.
Ginger: Um, it doesn’t count if they are 18 hours away.
Ginger: I know, but what if these people…

Ginger: Stop making excuses.
Ginger: You know, I’m probably at the wrong place. I don’t see many cars. I should just go.
Ginger: GET OUT OF THE CAR.
Ginger: Ok!! I’m going! Gosh! (Yes, I say gosh.)
I’m getting pretty good at getting out of the car. I’ve been in Arizona for almost six years and I’ve come to realize that the best things have come once I get out of the car.  I can’t address an audience from a car.  I can’t audition for theatre from my car.  My first date with my now husband would have been REALLY awkward if I had remained in my car the whole time.  Sometimes wisdom might dictate otherwise.  Not every opportunity available is what’s best for you… but I can tell you that most of the life-changing moments in your future won’t happen while you sit in your car and watch everyone else walk inside.

I still have a lot of fear to overcome.  I’m still creating friendships and new buisness relationships.  I’m trying to take risks and push myself.  But sometimes I need a REALLY BIG PUSH.

Dear Lord, please help me to trust you more.  Help me to take steps of faith every day.

Help me get out of the car.

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  Philippians 3:12-14, The Message

Don’t miss out on anything our Father has to offer… He is beckoning you onward!

Following,
Ginger