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!

Friday Finds: The Whatever Girls

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In the late summer months I was approached by Erin Bishop to see if I was interested in joining the contributing team for a blog called The Whatever Girls. Here’s all about the organization in Erin’s own words:

The Whatever Girls are intentional moms and intentional daughters. We exist to empower girls to choose God’s best for their lives by exemplifying the pillars of Philippians 4:8: “whatever is truenoble,rightpurelovelyadmirable—if anything is excellent orpraiseworthy—think about such things.”

As one who stumbled through middle and high school making a series of poor decisions, my hearts desire is for teen girls to know their true value and identity comes from Jesus.  Stability, acceptance and unconditional love are critical for shaping our daughters character.

I was totally on board with the mission and am now happy to have my very first post on the blog today. I’m sharing an excerpt from Forget the Corsage and talking all about our worth and value as God’s masterpiece. I hope you’ll take a second to follow this link to the post! While you’re there, take a look around at all of the great resources available to both mothers and daughters.

Happy Friday!

Following,
Ginger

p.s. I will be continuing the 12 steps to Staying in Tune this Season on Tuesday. Catch you then for the next installment!

Winner, Winner, Chicken and Waffles Dinner

Last week I shared posts from my new book release, Forget the Corsage, and offered up two ebook copies through a raffle. Thanks so much to everyone who entered. I enjoyed your feedback on each of the questions of the day.

Rafflecopter takes away the stress of picking one name. I just hit the button that says pick winners.

Drumroll please! The winner is…

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Congratulations, Melissa Armijo. I will be e-mailing you today with instructions on how to download or gift your ebooks!

Happy Monday to all! If you are still interested in picking up your own ebook version of Forget the Corsage, check out Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Westbow Press.

Following,
Ginger

Trust the Chef

During my sophomore year in college, I spent a semester studying in England. When it came time to plan spring break, I had one destination on my mind: Italy. I made plans with my friend Katie for the perfect trip roaming around the Italian countryside. We met in Milan and traveled to Florence, Fiesole, and Venice. We spent hours riding trains, walking in museums, and trying to discern the menus at sidewalk cafes. It was an experience full of terrifying and transcendent moments for two twenty-year-olds trying to act like adults.

On our last evening in Venice, after spending an hour on a gondola ride with a driver who sang only a medley of Beatles classics, we decided to eat a meal to rival Italy itself. Katie’s grandfather had given us 100 Euro with specific instructions that it be spent on one fantastic Italian meal during our trip. We asked several locals for suggestions and ended up at Antica Trattoria PosteVecie, one of the oldest restaurants in Venice. It was to be our final meal before returning to the significantly less fabulous fare offered to us by the United Kingdom. (Sorry, but who puts cottage cheese on a hamburger?)

We made our way to the banquet table in the dimly lit establishment. Our waitress approached and we gave her our only request. Our instructions: “Bring us whatever the chef recommends. We have 100 Euro and we are spending it all tonight.” Five courses and two full stomachs later, we determined that Katie’s grandfather was the greatest person to have ever walked the earth. Italy had offered us extraordinary cuisine before, but this was an entirely new level of fine dining. In retrospect, I realize that our meal would have been amazing even if we had only had 50 Euro. What made our meal so fabulous were the expert selections of our Italian chef.

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It’s a simple concept, but one I often forget. I tend to assume that my decisions will make for the most memorable meal. But generally, without the thoughts of an expert, my Italian feast could end up like an appetizer from the Olive Garden. Although I’m fine with the Olive Garden, it just can’t compete with Trattoria PosteVecie.

The chef knows. He knows what pairs well together and what can make an ordinary dinner completely extravagant and delightful. I like to think I’m the expert when it comes to what I need in my life. If there’s one thing I want to get right, it’s my life! I have list after list of things to do before I die. I would probably order all the courses of my life from a menu if it were an option. It seems I want God to sign off on my dreams without ever even asking for His recommendations.

_______ (A selection from chapter 5, Forget the Corsage) _______

 

I’m the first to say, “Dream big dreams!” Don’t hear me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we stop dreaming. I just know that I often want to run ahead to make them happen without consulting the One with the power! Here’s encouragement for us all this weekend. When it comes to dreams, God loves to blow our expectations out of the water!

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

Today is the last day to enter to win the set of Forget the Corsage ebooks. Follow this link and enter today! I will be announcing the winner on Monday. Have a fabulous weekend!

QUESTION: What’s a dream you have for the next decade of your life?

Following,
Ginger

Garbage In, Garbage Out

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” That’s Jesus speaking in Luke 6:45. It’s easy to breeze through this verse and not really let the truth penetrate.

A dear friend and spiritual mentor from my summer camp put it this way: “Imagine you come to our house and ask for a cup of hot coffee. We pour it into a mug for you, and maybe you pour in some creamer until liquid fills the cup to the brim. The coffee is on the verge of spilling. You slowly walk to take a seat on the couch when all of a sudden one of our kids runs through the room and bumps your elbow. No matter how good your reflexes are, you are going to spill. So even as you try and shield the cup, liquid is going to pour out over the side of the cup and cover yourself or my kid. And in this moment, that’s going to be hot coffee. If any other liquid were to come out of the cup, it would be a total surprise.”

Every day we interact with others and every day we have the chance of being bumped, so to speak. Whatever you are filling up on is going to spill over and ultimately what is going to cover others. So what’s it going to be?

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Think about the last time you said something you wish you hadn’t. Perhaps it was a mean word to a friend, a passive-aggressive remark to a coworker, or an ungrateful response to a parent. Have you ever said something you regretted and then thought (or said), “Where did that come from?” Jesus makes the source of our words very clear in Matthew 12:34: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” The answer is inside us. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Tie both of these ideas together and we get a complete picture. Your words and thoughts come out of your heart and your heart reflects you as a woman. As women, what does this mean for all of us?

Music, movies, conversations, television – everything we put into our hearts ultimately determines what comes out of our mouths and is expressed through our actions. Garbage in, garbage out. If we want pure and good things to flow from our mouths and thoughts we have to fill up with the good stuff. I cannot put hot coffee in my cup and then expect to see cold water spill out. The surest way to change how we respond to the people we resent, dislike, fear, or envy is to speak and think good things over them.

Have you ever trained for a race or increased your level of exercise? At first you don’t want to run or go to the gym, but eventually, you crave exercise and miss it on the days when it doesn’t fit in your schedule. If blessing those who you compare yourself with is hard to swallow, keep at it.

Remember, your thoughts and words reflect your heart and your heart reflects you.

———– a selection from Forget the Corsage, Chapter 3 (Want your own copy? Click here!) ———-

 

I think about this analogy on a regular basis. It’s a great filter for how I spend my “me” time. You know, that time of day when you say, “I deserve this.” I’ve mentioned it before, but I actually had to completely expel celebrity tv shows and magazines. I found myself getting so wrapped up in their lives that I became envious, jealous, and distracted. What I was digesting wasn’t producing a great heart outflow. But I know tons of people who can pull out a magazine on vacation or catch “Extra” at the gym and have it not affect their heart or thoughts one iota. I put this section in the book so that we can all simply be alert and aware.

When I lived in England for a semester in college I began to notice my language becoming more colorful. (And I don’t mean with an accent.) As someone who never really cussed I found myself picking up the words that were so common even to the kids at the school where I volunteered. I had to actively weed out the things I was hearing, otherwise I would have come home with an entirely different #$%@ vocabulary.

Garbage in. Garbage out.

Question: What’s an area of media intake that’s a struggle for you? Movies? Music? Comparison through social media?

Following,

Ginger

P.S. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RAFFLE TO WIN TWO COPIES OF FORGET THE CORSAGE! You have until 12:00am Saturday morning to enter! (Multiple ways to enter each day!)

Self-Esteem Pit

forget the corsage

“I have a major problem.

I don’t really know who I am.

I’m not speaking in an “I hit my head and can’t remember my name” kind of way. I know my name, age, and my address. I know my parent’s middle names and my sister’s phone number.

But if you took all that away and asked, “Who are you?” I think I might be hard-pressed to answer. That’s because the answer changes every day and might even change several times within the same day. Who am I? No, really. Who am I? More importantly, am I my real self with anyone?

This inability to identify my true self is one of the big problems I have with self-esteem.

The definition of self-esteem according to Dictionary.com:

1. a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

2. an inordinately or exaggeratedly favorable impression of oneself.

Now compare that with what we read in Philippians 2:3,“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” In humility, we are to consider others, everyone else, as better than ourselves. This does not say to have a poor view of yourself, but merely a right view of who we are in God’s eyes. We are His, but we are not better than each other.

Even if we totally ignore God in this equation and what He wants, I believe that we still have a problem!

Here is the issue I have with self-esteem. Although I often times have zero trouble discovering an exaggeratedly favorable impression of myself, most days my self-esteem fluctuates almost hourly. The way I identify myself is directly connected to my emotions and feelings. Emotions change quickly. What we are feeling for a period of time, unless depression is involved, tends to change countless times throughout the day. That means I can be on cloud nine in the morning because I received an encouraging text from a friend, and then the next minute I’m depressed about the quiz for which I forgot to study. I might just walk out the door in the morning full of joy, only to trip in front of a really attractive guy and find myself in the pit of despair. Yes, a pit of despair.

The idea that I could work on or grow my self-esteem doesn’t connect with me because I can’t maintain a favorable impression of myself for longer than ten minutes. I embarrass myself more times than I would like to admit.” (Chapter 2, Forget the Corsage.)

I’ve mentioned my feelings about self-esteem before. I really do embarrass myself too often to think that I could muster up good feelings to see me through my day. It’s like wearing water floaties in the middle of a hurricane, not exactly what we need.

But there is hope! God’s word is our shelter from the storm. He promises to keep us safe in the shadow of His wings if we will learn to turn to Him! He offers protection but I am the one who often pulls on the floaties and declares, “Don’t worry! I’ve got this!”

We don’t have to fake it until we make it. God’s truth is real and relevant. His words are enough to see us through our most embarassing moments. Yes. Even the ones that involve peeing in your pants.

For more on that story, you’ll want to enter this giveaway and win the set of e-books I’m offering this week! There are several ways to enter and you can do so each day through Friday. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!

 Question for Wednesday: What was your most embarassing moment in elementary school?

Following,
Ginger

Prom and a Giveaway!

Dear 18-year-old Ginger,

I know everyone else has been asked to the prom. I know that the guy you were hoping would ask you has asked your friend. I know how crummy this feels, but I want you to go ahead and ask one of your guy friends. Even though he isn’t going to show up until 10 p.m., it’s going to be okay. But do not, I repeat, do not wait for him to arrive. Do not stand outside your senior prom waiting to go in for over an hour. Have fun. It’s okay. A date isn’t a requirement to enjoy the dance or, for that matter, anything else this life has to offer. Go and get your groove on.

Love,
Today’s Ginger

That’s the opening of chapter 1 in Forget the Corsage. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but you get the idea. The guy I liked wasn’t available so I determined to make the most of the situation. I was going to dress to the nines, take a friend, and dance the night away. I might have also envisioned a few dances with my crush. I was mildly convinced that he was going to take one look at me and realize he had made the wrong decision. I also might have seen one too many romantic comedies in the late ‘90s. How do you watch “She’s All That” or “10 Things I Hate About You” and not expect to get the guy in the end? Anyone with me?

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I mean. Take a look at that two-piece dress. I even went shopping in another city so I wouldn’t have the same dress as anyone else.

My expectations for the evening were pretty far-fetched, but I hung my hopes on the books and movies that filled my mind and imagination. There’s nothing wrong with fantasy, until we let it eclipse our reality.

I was talking to a dear friend about that very fact this weekend. She mentioned how she had to turn a movie off to preserve her contentment. It may seem a small gesture, but I completely agree with the method. We have to know our buttons and triggers.

For years Ever After was my mess-up movie. It’s a Cinderella story, and I would absolutely lose it every time I watched Drew Barrymore’s character get rescued. The movie left me in a heartsick state for days! Movies may not mess you up, but I know a lot of women who can’t watch romantic comedies without feeling depressed when they end. Certain movies, books, and TV shows only serve to bring on heartache. Be strong enough to recognize when your entertainment isn’t entertaining but hurting. (Forget the Corsage, Chapter 5)

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This week I’m sharing passages and thoughts from Forget the Corsage. To celebrate the release I’m also going to be giving away two e-book versions in a giveaway – winner to be announced next Monday!

There’s a rafflecopter entry below with three easy ways to enter each day.

    1. Leave a comment on the blog post answering the question of the day.
    2. Tweet or FB post a link to the giveaway.
    3. Pin this pic of the book on Pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it! One lucky winner will win two books.

Question for Tuesday: Do you have a mess-up movie or book? What is it?

Following,
Ginger

Whirlwind

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I’m finally back after a whirlwind trip to Texas. We had a fabulous time seeing family and friends, and I had an encouraging time speaking at the conference. I felt very loved and supported. My child was held around the clock. My book was promoted and I was rewarded with hugs and quick conversations with loyal friends. Other than the exhaustion, I really can’t complain! Making it to the grocery store was a huge achievement yesterday! I have lots of writing to work on, but I’ve taken the past two days to just be with my daughter. We’ve played together, and I’ve rocked her for every nap during the day. It just feels right. My Bible study class was just talking about saying “no” to some things in order to say “yes.” Work has had my yes for almost the past month. My family was due for some quality time!

Random list for the weekend.

1. Tricia Goyer interviewed me on her Living Inspired online radio program. Woohoo! We discussed my book, motherhood, and embarrassing moments. You can find the archive of the interview here. It also looks like if you follow the link and look at the bottom of the page, you can enter a drawing to win a copy of my book. Free = Win.

2. Hubs and I snuck away for an early anniversary date. We went to a movie theater that serves food and enjoyed burgers and the movie, Captain Phillips. It was a tense but really well made movie. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie and also appreciated that the language wasn’t extreme. I think we are going to check out Gravity for our post-anniversary date this weekend. Have you seen any movies lately that you’d recommend?

3. Highs are in the 80’s in Phoenix now. Thank you, Lord! We are celebrating the cooler weather a few weeks behind the rest of the country. I did jump on the bandwagon and purchase some pumpkin spice creamer. I made dinner in the crock pot last night. If you are looking for an easy winner, check out this recipe. Delish. (I don’t like the word yummy or the phrase nom-nom. Neither sound appetizing to me. I know… random. You’re welcome.)

4. I spoke at 11:00pm last Friday evening. I KNOW. I’m impressed too. I can’t remember the last time I willingly stayed up past midnight.

5. I have a new favorite song. Build your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective. I made both a Pandora and an iTunes Radio station based on the song. It’s Mumford & Sons meets Gungor. And now that I’ve watched the music video… it’s pretty Mumford. Muy Bueno. What’s your latest new music wins?

6. I think it’s time for a giveaway. Yep. That’s in the works for next week. Check back in on Tuesday for details and the chance to win an e-book version of my book.

7. Wish us luck. We are taking a 3 month-old to a pumpkin patch tonight, because that’s what you do during this time of year, right? RIGHT?!

8. YOU have a fabulous weekend, you hear?!

Following,

Ginger

Texas Bound

Pray for my little family of three right now if you have a moment. We are taking Little Miss on her first flight this morning. I’ve never been afraid of flying but I do have an immense fear of disrupting the peace. I am a rule follower. So the idea that I have this little someone who will possibly scream, leak out fluids, and cause disruptions is less than exciting. But I know that we will learn a lot. God continues to teach me about releasing control. YAY FOR ANOTHER LESSON!

I’m thrilled for the opportunity to introduce Baby Girl to my extended family, but I’m also pumped to be speaking at my first event post-baby. I’m going to be hanging out with Jr. High students this weekend and talking about living wide awake. Throw a prayer up for that one as well!

Saturday afternoon I’m having my first event for the release of my book, Forget the Corsage. I’m so thankful it is happening in a place that has such a rich history for me: Tyler, Texas.

If you are in the area on Saturday afternoon, I would love to see you, meet you, and hug your neck. (Just your neck. My sister tells me this phrase is a little terrifying.)

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Because it’s a party, cookies are likely to be involved. (I’m not above bribery.) See you at The Scroll on Saturday. If not, I’ll be back on the blog next week.

Happy Weekending!

Following,
Ginger

Hopes and Dreams

Bibles

 

During my summers in college, I worked as a camp counselor. I spent three months each year ministering to junior high students and added all sorts of skills to my resume: I taught sailing, basketball, drama, and high ropes. I fought off bees, ate my share of corn dogs, and made countless friendship bracelets. I loved almost every second. But some of my favorite moments were spent in the home of my camp director. Each week his wife would host some of the women on the staff for a small group. We sat in the air-conditioned living room, eating popcorn and maturing through the study of God’s Word.

I remember one conversation in particular. We were discussing the dreams we had for our lives when she issued us a challenge …

That’s the start of my post that I’m sharing over at Trochia. I am beyond blessed to be guest posting on their blog and hope you’ll click on the link below and keep reading. Here’s an incentive for you: they are giving away TEN free copies of my book this week. Who doesn’t like free books?

Click here -> Life Starts Now: Trusting God with our Hopes and Dreams 

Hope you win!

Following,

Ginger