Crazy Thursday

Good morning! To those of you that received the abbreviated post early this morning, I apologize! I had every desire to finish that post and have it ready to go, but life stepped in and rearranged my plans yesterday.

I took a two month old to the grocery store for the first time.

The good news: we survived, but we’ll just say that all of my brain power and energy were sapped.

The even better news: I did not say “I feel so overwhelmed” yesterday. Instead, my prayer was, “Lord, let me be overwhelmed by your goodness.”

That’s the kind of overwhelming I want in my life: more gratitude, wonder, and attention to the way my heavenly Father loves me on a daily basis. Tomorrow I’m sharing a Friday Find that reminds me of just that!

Following,
Ginger

Unbury

Yesterday we started our conversation about feeling overwhelmed. Today we are going to address the first definition of the word: 1. To bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

When I admit to feeling overwhelmed by my life, I am essentially saying that I am living in a grave. The weight of the dirt changes in various seasons of life, but chances are, you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t think we are supposed to feel this way. I know we’re not supposed to live this way.

Did you know that unbury is a word? I’ve never used it before. It means to remove (something) from under the ground. Friday morning I felt as though I finally came above ground. My to do list was just as long as it had been on Thursday. The items that had brought me to tears on Wednesday night still needed to be tackled. So what changed?

I learned some simple steps to getting unburied.

Step #1. Talk to yourself!

My pastor quoted D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Sunday. This is a good one.

jones

We spend so much time listening to our worries and fears. I how tempting it can be to dwell on your problems the moment your eyes open in the morning. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is suggesting that we instead start the day by dwelling on our joys.

 

Step #2. Claim truth!

On Friday morning I woke up, poured my cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table. Even though I wanted to rush to shower or jump straight into my never-ending task list, I instead pulled out my Bible and journal. My daughter rocked contentedly in her chair (for a brief moment!) and I started by reciting the verse that kept coming to mind.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2, NKJV)

I could feel those items on my list wanting to bury me, so I started saying the verse aloud. Over and over I repeated those words from Psalm 61 until I began to picture myself being led to a higher rock. I needed a visual picture. This time last year we were visiting Ireland. Gorgeous, green, the island was a perfect break from the desert heat. We spent many days hiking in craggy rocks. Those rocks are what I pictured on Friday morning.

 

rocks

 

Step #3. Admit your feelings in prayer.

I knew what was making me feel overwhelmed, so I listed everything out in my journal. Then, one by one, I listed everything in prayer.

Lord, I cannot write all of these posts without you. Lead me to the rock that is higher …

Lord, I cannot figure out how to balance all of my roles right now. Please lead me to the rock that is higher …

Father, I don’t know how to make this decision. Lead me to the rock that is higher …

With each prayer spoken it felt as though layers of dirt were being pulled off of me. The burden was lighter every time I admitted I did not have the answer, the stamina, or the wisdom to face this day.

 

Step #4. Focus on this day.

The moment I let my brain dive into everything I have to do in October, the overwhelmed spiral would begin again. One of my favorite verses, 1 Timothy 1:12, says … “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 

God is faithful to give me the strength for right now. Don’t let the worries of tomorrow affect your mindset today. Remind yourself that God is able to guard what you entrust to Him today.

 

Step #5. Get vulnerable.

Wednesday night our small group convened at our house. We all went around the room sharing our stories from the summer. We hadn’t convened since early June and a lot of life change has taken place. When it was my turn I started crying. Gah. Not my favorite thing to do. I used the key word: overwhelmed. I tried to convey that I am so thankful, blessed, and grateful for this season of life, but that I just don’t know how to structure my days so that I can be both mom, wife, blogger, friend, and now author.

Had I not shared on Wednesday night, I would not have received the texts, e-mails, and phone calls that so encouraged me on Friday. The Lord knew exactly when to send in reinforcements. When we are willing to get real, others respond in turn.

So that’s the short initial list that has been guiding my new outlook. Instead of letting myself get buried by emotions and fears, I’m choosing to be active in my unburial. Who knows if that’s a word?

 

Following and learning,

Ginger

Over+whelmed.

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 2.19.49 PM

-Google search

I throw around the word overwhelmed like it’s my key word lately. I don’t want it to be my go-to verb, but it seems to sit on the tip of my tongue and the forefront of my mind. “This is so overwhelming.”

I know our lives don’t look exactly the same during this season, but I do know what it is like to be overwhelmed in LOTS of different life seasons.

Finals week. Rehearsals. Auditions. New School. Practice. Social events. Projects. Appointments. Tasks. Responsibilities. E-mail inbox. Chores. Relationships. Health. Exercise. Packing. Waiting. Dating. Planning. Lack of sleep. Correspondance. Dreams. Goals. Training. Conflict.

You get the idea.

This week I want to examine how to take the over out of overwhelmed. I think it can be done.

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”       – 10 Things I Hate About You

Q: What currently makes you feel overwhelmed?

Following,
Ginger

Wednesday Throwback

I’ve been cleaning up  the files on my computer and I came across this guest post spot that I wrote for a friend. I know the semester has been well underway for a few weeks, but I thought it was worth a share even in mid-September!

-COLLEGE REDO-

Don’t even get me started on the fact that I am old enough to have my 10-year college reunion soon. I still feel like that 18 year-old who pulled up in front of Gardner Hall with her parents and matching Target bedding set. If I could walk up to that version of myself today, I might just slap her in the face… not in a mean way, just in a “Listen here, girlie” way so she’d know I was serious.

I didn’t have a freak-out or breakdown in college, per say. I walked in and out a relatively adjusted member of society. There are simply some things I wish I’d done differently. And luckily for you, I’m going to share them right here, right now.

throwback

1.     Remember that change brings grief. Everyone is so excited the first few weeks of the semester. And yet, I found myself blinking back tears on more than one occasion. I wasn’t homesick; I was missing my “normal.” Every face, place, class, and relationship in my life had suddenly changed. If I could sit with the18 year-old me, I would tell her that it’s ok to grieve those changes. You don’t have to run past them and ignore the feelings. Acknowledge them, be sad about them, but then embrace the new adventures that lie ahead.

2.     Eat with a different set of people once a day. Forget A, B, and C crowds. College creates a uniquely level playing field. Take the opportunity to walk up to a group of people and introduce yourself. The conversations will all start the same way: your name, your major, and where you’re from, but from there they can lead anywhere. Friendships start when someone is willing to take a risk and say, “Hey, can I sit here?”

3.     Plug into a church by the end of your first semester. You can church shop for four years and still never find a home. Or, you can pray and decide that there is a timeline. Locating a church home is more than walking into the same church for the last service (Likely 10 minutes late) each week. Invest in such a way so that you are held accountable. Volunteer! I finally started volunteering as a junior and my church-going experience vastly improved. Those 4th and 5th grade girls were looking for me and I didn’t want to disappoint. When you feel known by a body of people, it’s hard not to love where you are planted… or sleep in.

4.     Stop comparing your (love) story to anyone else’s. There will be people from your class who marry before they graduate. Engagements abound the spring of senior year. I mourned the fact that everyone else appeared to find their match in college. In retrospect, I wish I would have shook off the worry and sadness and just enjoyed the journey of my college years. Comparison stole my joy. (This is quite possibly the reason I would actually slap my 18 year-old self.) “Ginger, stop waiting and sighing and start living your story.”

5.     Try everything. (Within reason!) I attended maybe 3 sporting events in all four years of my education. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken a walk out of my world in the theatre department and experienced all of the things my university had to offer. An art department on campus usually has a gallery. Music departments offer countless recitals. Even the science buildings offer displays. And yet, I can count on my hands the free concerts, multi-cultural events, or even socials that I attended. School is more than studying. College is more than your major. Intramurals would have been the perfect chance for me to do something I loved without fearing making some sort of a team. Audition, sign up, join, go on a trip… now is the time to learn how God has uniquely wired you to serve Him and love others.

6.     Remember that friendships are seasonal. As we get older the breadth and span of our relationships get wider and wider: high school, college, camp, work, church, neighbors, family… and on and on! I can’t keep all of those balls in the air. As painful as it is, I had to finally realize that friendship works both ways. Some friends I bounce the ball to them and they joyfully send it right back. Others seem to… well, drop the ball. Not everyone will return your texts, e-mails, or calls. That hurts, but it’s ok. Mourning that change is healthy and necessary. We just have to be careful about hanging our happiness on a friendship or relationship.

7.     Choose wisely. Indulgence is fabulous. Every once in a while I love having dessert for dinner, but my freshman year in college I made it a precedent. More often then not I walked up to the Belgian waffle bar and then topped it off… not with syrup, but with a trip to the Blue Bell Ice Cream bar. Just because you CAN choose anything in this newly independent phase (what to eat, when to sleep, what to tattoo, who to date) doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Choices always have consequences.

You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23, NLT

8.     Stop worrying so much about post-graduation. 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 finally went and made an appointment with one of my favorite professors. Through tears I explained to her my deep desire to know God’s 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?”

Do the work, use your head, make an effort, and then trust the Lord.

I’m sure I could talk to my 18 year-old self for hours on this topic, but those seem to be the tips that resonate after all these years. Everyone talks about how college is the best time in your life, and for that reason some people don’t seem to ever want to let it go. But I firmly believe that the present can be the best time in your life. So live in it, wherever you are!

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there…” 1 Corinthians 7:17, The Message

Following,

Ginger

Sharing the mess.

I know what you’re thinking. ANOTHER post about being authentic in our messes?

I have to. This is an exercise in changing my mindset. I am perpetual perfectionist, and if I can’t actually BE perfect then I will often give the illusion of perfection. I don’t say it, but I also don’t ask for help. I enter relationships that are convenient. But this is all about to change.

This Wednesday night our home will be filled with an additional fourteen adults and three more infants. Our small group is convening for the first time post baby boom. We’ve debated about where to host this ever-growing crew and it became obvious that the Lord was asking us to open up our home this time.

Remember that part about the illusion of perfection?

 messy

This is what my kitchen currently looks like. I told my husband last night that even if someone came and babysat for two straight weeks I still couldn’t get to everything on my list. This is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

My list is too big. I feel overwhelmed. Any of these tasks alone would be enough to fill my days.

-Writing for other blogs … when I feel like my inspiration has vanished.

-Speaking outlines

-Caring for a new baby

-Maintaining friendships

-Time in the Word

-Cooking and cleaning

-Exercise? (HAH!)

-Growing my marriage

-Book promotion

-More thank you notes

-Financial decisions

-My own blog

-Connecting with neighbors

-Investing in the community and our church

I need a workable plan/schedule. LORD I NEED YOU!

And after coming slightly unglued, I felt the Lord speak into the massive messy list. “You need me.”

I’m not sure why I thought I could do this, any of this, on my own. I didn’t notice the change. I was lifting up my concerns and requests to the Lord when one day I must have just started reaching up and taking a few of them back. “Oh, I’ll take that one. Don’t worry about this one. I’ve got it.”

I don’t got it.

I teeter on the edge of grace and mess each and every day. Here’s the real kicker- life was like this even before the addition of a baby! God is simply using this lifechange to remind me that I cannot do any of this on my own. Why would I want to?

I’m telling you and I’m telling me: stop taking the stuff back. He really wants to take it! This week I’m meditating, claiming, writing and memorizing these gems.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:2, NIV)

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

Be encouraged. Share the mess.

Following,

Ginger

 

Friday Quote

ftcquote

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life …”

1 Corinthians 7:17 (MSG)

Happy Friday, Friends!

Following,
Ginger

From the bottom of my heart.

thanks

Thank you!

I don’t know if I have the words to say how much I appreciate the kind words and responses that you’ve sent my way since the release of my book. To say I’ve been blown away would be putting it lightly. So I figured I’d just say “thank you” face-to-face. Check out the video below. (If you’re reading through e-mail click on the link!)

Thank You, Thank You! from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Today I concur with the Apostle Paul:

We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our lives. That’s how dear you were to us! 1 Thessalonians 2:8, GWT

Thank you, friends.

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

Cost

Don’t you sometimes wish Romans 8:28 read this way, “And we know that in all things God works for the ease of those who love him”?

98% of the time I desire comfort, safety, and ease more than anything else… at times even more than God. Comfort(and not just the kind that involves good food and a soft bed) can quickly become my idol. I like feeling safe, cared for, and worry free. I want everyone I love to make the best choices that lead to the greatest level of peace and harmony. Let’s shut down conflict, stay in the air conditioning, volunteer when it’s convenient, give when asked, sleep when we’re tired, purchase when and what we want to, and above all else: let’s take it easy.

None of those items are bad or wrong in and of themselves… but anything that takes the place of the Lord is a big-bold-red-flag-neon warning sign. The end goal was never ease or even heaven. The goal has always been more of Him.

“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, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:28-29, NIV

I don’t know about you, but I know that my greatest spiritual growth has occurred during some of the hardest times in my life. Seasons full of transitions, loneliness, conflict, and especially sacrifice have led me to drink deeply from the Living Water of God- His presence and His Word. During those times He caused His good to come out of seemingly bad situations. He walked with me through pain to make me more like His Son.

I know that God honors obedience and dependence upon Him. My read through the Old Testament this year finally brought me to Hosea, Joel, and Amos this past week. All three are short books that pack a powerful punch. God is faithful to use His Word to remind me of the abundance and blessing that have filled my life with joy and ease for almost two years. He has been so good to me. But rather than using this time to serve and sacrifice, I have grown inward, convincing myself that what I needed was to fill up my schedule with personal items and receive little to no input from the Lord.

“But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Hosea 13:4-6

This verse in Hosea convicted me to my core. While the passage speaks of the history of the Israelites, I could sense the Spirit telling me that I was behaving just like God’s people!

The summer and fall of 2009 found me in an emotional desert- discouraged, opportunities removed, and with loneliness entering the picture in a very real and palpable way. I turned my hands out to the Lord and asked like the Israelites, “Have you brought us to the desert to die?” And yet, when I turned out my hands to the Lord He fed me, and I was satisfied. He led me gently and lovingly into a time of contentment.

But I let that contentment and ease become my idol. I confess it freely and openly. I’m selfish.

But I want to be like David when he cried out…
“I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV)

Sacrifice

1. A surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable

Sacrifice from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

“Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present.” -James I (J. I.) Packer

Following and learning,
Ginger

Being Still

 

d12

I sat staring at the computer and realized this is all I have today. And I’m more than okay with that.

I hope you take time to stop and be still.

Following,
Ginger