Best of the New Year Posts

New Leaf

There were SO many fabulous resources going around the interwebs last week. Everyone had hopeful and helpful thoughts to propel us all into this new year. I’ve finally changed all the calendars in the house, rewritten all of the birthday reminders, and boxed up the decorations from December. 2014 feels fresh and full of potential.

Before I share my favorite blog reads from last week, I wanted to take a moment and clarify some thoughts from my last post, Growing Forward in 2014.

  • I LOVE my daughter. Even at 2:30am last night, I was singing her praises and thanking God for the gift of one more diaper to change, one more hour to hold her and still her crying.
  • When I mentioned that I was looking forward to getting away with the hubs, know that I was not speaking out of desperation. I’m simply excited to do something for longer than 3 hours without having to return home to feed my girl. We most certainly can and will travel with her, I’m just pumped for a hiking trip with just the grownups to celebrate our anniversary.
  • My goal list does look different this year. The posts by Ann Voskamp and The Tiny Twig have both helped to shape my focus. (See links in the list below.) I’ve chosen one focus phrase for the year: Intentional Growth and then I broke that up into manageable chunks of 3. They are going to seem really simple, but I NEED simple in this season.

Morning 3 goals: Make the Bed, Read the Word, Get Dressed/Shower

Afternoon 3 goals: Correspond (e-mail, phone, snail mail), Exercise, Play with my kiddo

(That’s not all I hope to accomplish in a day, but if those things can happen I will be pumped.)

Weekly 3 goals: Blog posts, Meal Planning, Family Date

Monthly 3 goals: Marriage enrichment, community building, sacrificial giving/serving

So yes, I am choosing a few things to help me cross items off my list and stay growing forward. On top of these mini goals I also have 3 big yearly goals that I’m holding close. (See the post by Donald Miller below.) Here are some posts to help you carve out your own intentional growth for the year!

Yearly thoughts from Ann Voskamp:
Monthly goals from Hayley Morgan, The Tiny Twig:
A contrasting post from Donald Miller:
A reading challenge from Sarah Bessey
A challenge from Jon Acuff
Carey Bailey on resolutions with resolve
5 Tips to creating Resolutions with Resolve

Can you tell reading is finding its way back into my life? In the past year I filled my empty spaces with so much noise that I lost the joy of words. I’m back tomorrow to share my favorite books of 2013 (or let’s face it, the books I actually READ and liked in 2013 – not necessarily new books in 2013) and then on Thursday to show the books just waiting to be read on my nightstand.

 

I would LOVE for you to comment on both Wednesday and Thursday with your best reads of the past year and what you are looking forward to this year. 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.

 

Okay. Enough for now!

 

Following,

Ginger

 

 

Jump In.

I was paging through some old journals yesterday and came across a single sentence on one page. Usually I fill every space of paper within my books, and yet this question was given lots of blank space to surround it.

“Are you living or just existing?”

The question hit me again today, but probably not in the same way as when I wrote it in 2009.

DCIM100SPORTIn 2009 I was considering making another career change, moving to a new state, writing, traveling abroad … you name it, I was considering it. But at the end of the day all of those ideas seemed far-fetched or in poor timing. I wondered if my life had enough adventure in it. I often questioned whether or not I was settling for movies, reality T.V., trips to Starbucks, and long walks when I could actually do something amazing with my life and time on this earth. At that time I was working and thriving  in children’s ministry but still questioning what the next step might look like.

I’ve always been looking for the next step. As a junior in high school I experienced “senoritis.” While my friends were tearing up at college graduation I was ready and eager to go and start something new. I’ve spent my entire life considering what’s “next.”

But all of a sudden I find myself at a place where the next thing looks the same for the forseeable future. I’m still working from home but now I have a kiddo that demands a majority of my time and energy throughout the day. My lists have gone from the macro to the micro. Here’s my list for today: “Laundry, send an e-mail, return a phone call, eat lunch, shower.” I’ll be honest with you, the micro list feels way more overwhelming than the macro list ever did.

Here’s what I’m learning in the midst of this challnge: I still need to make some big goals. I don’t mean that I should rush ahead of the season of life that lies before me. On the contrary, I need to learn to fully embrace it! So yes, traveling will happen one day, but in the meantime I need to travel to my friend Lindsay’s house to continue to build our friendship. (Right now getting out of the house is a BIG goal.) More speaking opportunities are coming in the year, but I should also pick up the phone and speak life into the friendships God has already blessed me with. I will eventually master Photoshop and develop more confidence in photography, but presently I’m going to document life with my daughter on my phone. Instead of waiting, I’m having to learn to just jump headfirst into the life I have right now.

So what about you? Are you waiting for the next season? Are you holding out for the big dreams and forgetting to soak up what’s right in front of your face? Go snag a snowcone with your friend. Dance in your car. Take your Grandma to lunch. Go hike. Wake up and watch the sunrise. Compliment someone. Volunteer. Audition. Get a group together and play sand volleyball. Worship with your hands raised. Open up the Word and soak it in. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the joys all around you.

“Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.”

-Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Time is short. Let’s get to jumping, friends. It doesn’t matter how big the leap, just move …

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: How can I be happy?

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,

…I have convinced myself that I am the most self-conscious person on earth. Which is probably true. I have never believed truly that I am beautiful or that I am a good person. And after reviewing your website I wish I had the help you receive from God. Truthfully I am not the most religious person out there… Right now in my life I am absolutely self-conscious about everything I do, unaware as to what I will do in my life, or how to be happy in life. So my question is this, “How can you achieve a happy life? With no doubt in your my mind that you are beautiful on the inside and out and that you can rise from the ashes and become something new.” It seems so easy to say but impossible to achieve. I am sorry for the long letter, but I’ve really never really opened to anyone or asked for help. Thank you so much for reading this letter…

Best Wishes- S

Dear S,

Thank you so much for your heartfelt and beautiful note. I finished reading and immediately admired your maturity and honesty. Thank you for taking the time to write and share so much of your struggle with me.

I am so sorry that you’ve never felt lovely, good, or confident in whom you were made to be. I hurt knowing that you’ve been bullied or made to feel less-than by anyone else in this world. But I can also hear the glimmer of hope in your question: “How can you achieve a happy life? I have no doubt in my mind that ‘you are beautiful on the inside and out’ and that you can ‘rise from the ashes’ and become something new.”

Thank you for entrusting me with this precious question. First of all, let me say that I don’t know if I will be able to answer in such a way that you will feel any immediate change in your life. My own growth and self-worth have taken place over several years and dramatically over the past year through counseling. It’s true; my faith plays a huge role in the way that I see myself. My belief in God does influence how I handle the worst days. So even if we come from a different spiritual place I’m just going to speak from the heart and pray that something I type encourages you in your own journey.

I remember when I was in fifth grade and played soccer on my school’s team. We were called the Lions and proudly wore purple and gold. On one particularly sunny day I was dressed in uniform and standing on the sideline just waiting for my chance to play. Only I wasn’t really ready. I had completely stopped paying attention. Out of nowhere, a soccer ball came flying in and hit me hard in the face. It was a pretty rude awakening. Not only did the ball burst the blood vessels in my left cheek, but it also raised a pretty nasty bruise in rapid time. Of course fifth grade pictures were scheduled for the next day. True story. Pull out the yearbook and the rest of the class is all facing forward in their photos. I’m the only one facing a wall in profile.

We can quickly lose sight of the fact that we are in a battle here on this earth – and that’s a dangerous place to be. If we don’t recognize that we are in the middle of a fight, we are left vulnerable. There is no such thing as a sideline when it comes to battle. We don’t call time out. Think of the movie Lord of the Rings or any big battle scene from an epic film. The soldiers are ready for war, the challenge has been given, the screaming speech has been delivered, and now the two sides are running toward each other in slow motion.

Now picture those thousands of men fighting when suddenly one of them starts daydreaming. He notices a spread of wildflowers on the ground and promptly sets down his battle-axe to gather a bouquet. Highly unlikely, right?

We’ve got to keep our heads in the game! It’s those times when we forget we are actually warriors in an army that we incur the greatest injuries. Just like my soccer ball to the face scenario, I allowed my weight struggle to influence my self-esteem to such an extent that I was crippled for battle.

Here’s what I mean by battle. I believe that we were created for a purpose. You weren’t a random speck of dust or anything close to an accident. The God who created the universe imagined and designed you to enter this world at a specific time. I believe that 100%. God created both you and I as human beings with a mind and a heart, with fears and desires. Not only that, he created us to live out an incredible story during our time on this earth. Sometimes though we let the distractions (our worries, stigmas, body issues, fears) keep us from living out the role that we alone were created to fill. It is a daily battle to not get discouraged from that very purpose.

Here’s the thing I’ve come to know and believe about God: He doesn’t force himself on us, but He does invite us to participate in His effort to overcome the conflict and junk in this world.

That’s where I think lasting happiness originates. (Confession: I’m not “happy” every day but I have found a source of joy that’s more than momentary.) When I drop the distractions of how I look and feel and just pursue loving others and living an exciting story – I find joy, peace, and contentment. No amount of journaling, self-help, or positive thinking changes my outlook for long. It’s the living that changes my perception and brings fulfillment. The recognition that my smaller story has a HUGE part to play in the bigger story God is telling gives me purpose each and every day.

“What if the positive and negative turns of your life have prepared you for something great? …Do you know that the world needs something from you? There are probably days when you feel like the world would be better off if you stayed in bed but it isn’t true. God created you and He created you with the power to bring light into darkness and order into chaos. You are necessary. And the sooner you believe that, the sooner you’ll bond with God in living a great story.” (Donald Miller, Storyline)

So where do you start? Find yourself a quiet place, maybe the library or your bedroom. Turn off distractions and take time to really consider the story your life is telling and the one you want it to tell. List out all of the gifts that make you unique, the things you enjoy and are good at. What do you like to do? What are some goals you want to accomplish in your life? Take your time.

If you need somewhere to start on your list I can already tell you that you are a gifted writer! I didn’t post your whole letter today, but you should know that you have a powerful way of conveying ideas. I’m so glad you were willing to be vulnerable and ask for help.
Take the vulnerability you have on the page and translate it into some of your relationships. If you continue to struggle with eating or cutting at any point please, please take a step and share with a trusted adult. I believe you have an incredible life ahead of you filled with both happy and challenging moments. The hard moments make the joy that much sweeter in the end.
Your story matters. You matter.
Praying for your journey,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Fuel for the Weekend

Book Finds

 

 

 

Dear, dear [FRIENDS]…

“I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The small ness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively.”

(2 Corinthians 6:11, MSG)

“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” -Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Here’s to a weekend filled with stories to tell, moments shared, and adventures to be had!

Following,
Ginger

Hurts and Hopes

 globe

It’s been a whirlwind of a week in my life. How about you? It feels as if once again the hurts and hopes swirl together until there is no longer valleys and peaks, but instead a whirlpool of life experience.

A car crash that causes us to remember how fragile and short this journey actually is.

A wedding and celebration that point to the best parts of life on this earth.

New babies, old friends, close hugs, exhausting days, and a sun that just keeps coming up in the morning.

This is life.

I’m spending the next days speaking to two groups of teens. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? I love connecting. I love storytelling. I treasure when a student finds me in a hallway, lowers her voice and looks in earnest as she says, “The story you shared? That’s my story too.”

When we hold our hurts and hopes so close that no one ever sees or knows, we prevent shared experiences. But when we tell our stories we remind each other that we are all in the whirlpool together.

“I listened so hard because it felt like, while she was telling me stories, she was massaging my soul, letting me know that I was not alone, that I will never have to be alone, that there are friends and family and churches and coffee shops. I was not going to be cast into space.”  Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Share your story with someone today. The hard parts and the redeemed parts can both be equally encouraging and strengthening.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” Psalm 107:2, NIV

Following,
Ginger

Sacrifice

“I was in San Francisco recently staying at this bed and breakfast place for people who are in the city to do ministry.  It was a small house, but there were probably fifteen people living there at the time.  The guy who ran the place, Bill, was always making meals or cleaning up after us, and I took note of his incredible patience and kindness.  I noticed that not all of us did our dishes after a meal, and very few people thanked him for cooking.  One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table.  I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy.  I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness.  Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye.  “Don,” he said.  “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
-Matthew 16:24-25, NIV

I think I have a lot to learn about following.

Following,
Ginger