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

 

 

Growing Forward in 2014

growth

Usually I am so jazzed to be making lots of lists this time of year, looking back and dreaming forward. I do have pages of notes full of lessons learned in 2013 and thoughts for 2014, but when I saw my friend’s pointed question at the top of my newsfeed, I couldn’t help but reevaluate my lists.

“What are you most excited about in 2014?”

I set my fingers on the keys and considered responding in various ways.

The deeply spiritual: experiencing God’s Grace.

The attempt at humor: showering daily.

The practical: sleep.

But my honest answer?

The first thought that came to mind when I read that question: a night away with my husband… next October.

I love Norah to the moon and back, but baby girl won’t take a bottle, thus making us fairly inseparable.  So call me crazy, but I’m looking forward to getting away, if even only for two days… next fall.

But if I step back and examine the goals I’m laying out for 2014 (here’s my process for creating goals), I can admit to not feeling a ton of excitement. Does that sound awful?

Let me rephrase.

The other night I was working through my goals and I began to feel very, very overwhelmed. Paralyzed, in fact.

The reality of my days has changed so much in the past year. I told my husband through tears that all of this goal-making was important, but it just didn’t seem feasible. I’m lucky if I do much more than keep my daughter and I fed, clean, and out of pajamas by noon. So when I keep seeing tweets and posts about goal-setting and BIG dreams for 2014, I can’t help but start to feel a little discouraged.

Are there seasons where we hang up our dreams for a while?

I don’t believe so. I think there are seasons where we simply need to think about our goals differently.

“Consider the lilies how they grow.” Luke 12:27

The whole point of making goals for the year is to foster growth. Even if a goal is about scaling back, I make that goal in order to grow. So yes, I make the goals and declarations (maybe not a 30 point manifesto or even 10 big hitters) but I claim something for 2014 in order to grow forward, to lean into the gospel.

“God doesn’t want us to give more, God wants us to give the best.” –Margaret Feinberg, Scouting the Divine

How can I give God the best this year?

How can I live out of joy, gratitude, and contentment rather than worry, stress, or anger?

How can I do less and yet experience more of what really matters?

My word for 2014 is INTENTIONAL. If I desire to see growth in all sorts of areas: social, family, career, physical, personal development, and spiritual – I must look at even the smallest moments with intentional eyes. Joy will come when I give thanks, when I notice, when I appreciate, when I acknowledge God’s hand each and every day.

I’m looking forward to 2014. I’m excited for the growth that’s coming.

Following,
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

For days when the dream feels too big.

dreams

 

November 4, 2010 – Journal Entry

Father, I feel all tangled up inside and as disorganized as our bedroom. I am so thankful for this home, for my new husband, but I don’t know what I’m doing.

I keep saying that on Monday I will start writing a book, but I’m doubtful of my drive, my passion, and even my abilities. I see others trusting You in this FOR me – having faith – and it makes me want to at least try.

 

November 12, 2010 – Journal Entry

I am striving to write this book. I can see the end product far down the road but I am hesitant to do the work. I don’t know if I am fearful or lazy. My excuses abound.

 

You have dreams, right? My guess is that we all have some form of hope, goals or dreams for the future. I love listing my goals  for the year rather than making resolutions. I have a huge top 100 things to do in my lifetime list, and another list for travel that my husband and I are still creating. Some of the items on my list are totally manageable and achievable. “Cultivate an herb garden.” Although a bit challenging with Arizona heat, it’s definitely doable. I’ve managed to keep my basil plant alive for the whole summer. This has led me to believe that we can indeed manage the full garden.

But other items on my list feel HUGE. Writing a book was like that. At first the dream was just to have a completed manuscript, but then I realized I wanted it to actually benefit someone else – so it would have to be printed. I wasn’t going to print out copies on my printer and hand it out to friends, so I needed to explore publishing. It felt as though the closer I came to actually making my dream a reality, the more decisions had to be made and the more tasks completed. Some days, actually most days, the dream just felt way too big.

So how do we move from dreaming to action?

November 16, 2010 – Journal Entry

I was reading about Solomon today. He took 7 years to build the temple. One day he just STARTED. He did everything to the highest quality and the best standards. Like his father, he would not give to God that which cost him nothing.

Yes.

We take the first step. We write the first word. We get up early and we stay up late. If you have dreams resting in the back of your mind and on the tip of your tongue, may I challenge you to follow Solomon’s example?

“Hiram king of Tyre sent ambassadors to Solomon when he heard that he had been crowned king in David’s place. Hiram had loved David his whole life. Solomon responded, saying, “You know that David my father was not able to build a temple in honor of God because of the wars he had to fight on all sides, until God finally put them down. But now God has provided peace all around—no one against us, nothing at odds with us.

Now here is what I want to do: Build a temple in honor of God, my God, following the promise that God gave to David my father, namely, ‘Your son whom I will provide to succeed you as king, he will build a house in my honor.’

… Four hundred and eighty years after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s rule over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, Solomon started building The Temple of God.” (1 Kings 5:1-5, 6:1, MSG)

This was an immense project, one that Solomon could have continued to put off. But instead, at the beginning of his reign as king, he simply started.

Don’t let fear keep you from creating and experiencing all that this life and our Father has to offer. The dream will likely always seem big, but keep reminding yourself that God is bigger.

“The foundation for God’s Temple was laid in the fourth year in the month of Ziv. It was completed in the eleventh year in the month of Bul (the eighth month) down to the last detail, just as planned. It took Solomon seven years to build it.” (1 Kings 6:37-38, MSG)

Following and learning,

Ginger

Looking Back, Leaning Forward.

So, New Year, we meet again.

I really enjoy this time of year. I anticipate opening the new calendar and filling it up. Having two planners on my kitchen table for the past month has been driving me crazy. But now all the Christmas celebrations have passed, and all that’s left is reflection and goal setting for 2013. So if you haven’t already started resolving, dreaming, cleaning, and declaring… there’s no time like the present.

 

calendar

 

If the idea of making anything close to a resolution causes you to pull your hair out, this post is for you. I’m not about banishing snacks from my home or even picking a number on the scale. I prefer to speak in terms of goals that help me to live a better story. So today I wanted to share some thoughts, resources, and encouragement for embracing the new year.

1. Write out your story from 2012. I did this last week and spent  45 minutes to an hour tops on the whole project. I wrote out my highs and lows for the year. After doing so I stared at a list of God’s provision and providence. I was overwhelmed to see how many good gifts were poured out in abundance. I’m also humbled to see His hand in the midst of heartache. Writing out my story helps me to remember where I have come from and where He is taking me.

2. Read this post by Kevin East. Every year this list influences how my husband and I create our family goals, but the areas could be applied to ANYONE, even if you call all the shots in your family. If you are looking for a great place to start when it comes to some serious introspection and goal setting, look no further.

3. Watch this video that talks through how I create my personal goals with some important guidelines: the goals should be measurable, attainable, realistic, and time managed. It’s dated from last January, but the main points apply just as easily today.

4. Don’t get discouraged! I didn’t finish everything on my list from last year, but that doesn’t mean I failed. It just means those things need to be reworded, reworked, and refocused. This verse keeps me encouraged:

“So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t.” 2 Cor 8:10-12 Msg

5. Write out your hopes for the year. When I step into 2014 (yikes!) I hope to:

– Have a copy of my book in hand. (Whether e-reader or printed.)
– Know my neighbors – beyond their names and a few surface details. I want to know their stories.
– Have finally read “Mere Christianity.” (How many times can you stop and start one book?)
– Tried out and attended a group activity class at my local rec center. (I’m not meeting people jogging by myself.)
– Have given away multiple copies of the Jesus Storybook Bible in English and Spanish.
– Own and have utilized an Advent wreath during the season.

Those are just a few… there are some more that are going to stay close to heart for safe keeping. But more than any hope I have for the year, I am waiting in expectation for all that the Lord has in store. For “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21) I trade in my lists for whatever He purposes!

My hope is that these words encourage you in your own story!

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Fix Your Eyes

Run the race with perseverance.

Make the most of your time.

Fix your eyes on the prize.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Today’s Friday Find is a visual picture of everything we discussed this week. A video by Elevation Church…

Run fast and run hard, my friends.

Running, following & listening,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Getting Started

As I was lamenting the hill that we were tackling somewhere around mile 9 of the race this past weekend, I looked over and read a sign that was being held high over the crowd.  It read:

THE FIRST STEP IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST

So true.  As with any goal, physical or spiritual, taking that first step is going to be the most challenging!  Once we get the hang of things we generally fall into a rhythym.

I know, sometimes picking up your Bible can be the equivalent to starting to train for a marathon.  We don’t know where to start, it seems to big, and we’ve been burned out in the process before.  But that’s why I wanted to share a tip today that has helped countless people of all ages get started in their Bible reading goals.  This is a retro post (originally posted in July of 2011), but the count on the viewership tells me that only my family and a few friends caught this one.

I hope you’ll check it out and share your own personal training tips in the comment section for other runners/readers!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24, NIV

Running,
Ginger

Living History Challenge

MAKE A BUCKET LIST
I understand the reasoning behind titling your dream list with the word “bucket – but I also have quite the aversion to it.  And no, it’s not because it references dying, but because “bucket” is an ugly word.  I don’t want to have to keep writing or saying that word when speaking of my innermost hopes and dreams.  So my list is actually called “THE LIST.”  It’s pretty self-explanatory.

I love hearing when others achieve their goals and cross items off of their list.  It’s challenging and, oftentimes, inspiring.  Watching as friends and family chase their dreams, take on the remarkable, and learn life-altering truths has only fueled my own hopes.

GOALS vs. DREAMS
Last week we spent a lot of time talking about expressing our goals and making them happen.  Goals are good.  They are a great way to remain motivated and forward thinking.  Goals keep me away from the TV and out accomplishing.  But dreams require more than just an errand or a little extra effort.  My dreams are the things I whisper in prayer, share carefully, and cultivate in the back of my mind.  In order to make my dream list, the item must require more than I have within me to achieve on most days.  Dreams, at least for me, tend to motivate my everyday thinking and living.  They keep me living wide-awake and looking for opportunity.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE
I would encourage you to think about your own list… be it bucket, goals, dreams, or just “The List”.  Keep adding, keep the list handy, and dream bigger than what you could ask for or imagine.  The satisfaction of crossing off completed missions is enjoyable, but it’s the process, the journey, that makes for the actual living.  Mt. Kilimanjaro… one day you and I WILL meet!

“Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”  2 Samuel 7:3

Living out His story,
Ginger

Run Fast

I’ve had “run a half marathon” on my bucket list for almost a decade now. I eventually started getting serious enough to change my list to read “run a half marathon by the time you are thirty.” I am running in a race in just two short weeks. I am turning thirty in just three short weeks. (There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute.) God willing, I’m going to cross that finish line and accomplish my goal. I’m proud of the progress and thankful for a ton of encouragement that has gotten me over the “I can’t do this” and the “I don’t want to do this” humps.


SURPRISE

Do you want to know what the biggest surprise in all of this has been? It’s how having a plan (with tangible goals), evaluating progress each day, and staying encouraged have made this whole process relatively… well… easy.

And yet, here’s the list that I had stacked up against me:

1. I’m not a runner.
2. I’ve been diagnosed with asthma for most of my life.
3. The sports I enjoy playing least contain the most running.
4. I am really good at quitting any sort of physical goal.

Prior to 2010 the longest I had ever run was a 5K. Prior to last month I had never run more than a 10K. And then last Friday I ran 10 miles. My knees hurt and my body shook, but I just did it.

DO THE WORK
Gang- as you set goals for this year my hope is that your spiritual workout takes priority on your list. Being healthy and honoring God with our bodies and physical goals is important, but not at the expense of our hearts and minds. Have you ever read the whole Bible? Ever memorized a verse before? Have you ever tried talking to God first thing when you wake up each day?

I don’t know where you are in your relationship with God or which spiritual goals you should aim for this year, but I do know that a step forward is a step forward! Set a goal for 2012 that will draw you closer to the King of History. Run fast and run hard after him!

POINTERS
If nothing else, running has helped me to learn the following about goal setting.

  • Make a tangible, realistic goal.  (I want to read Ezekiel through Revelation by the end of 2012)
  • Vocalize your goal to someone who can help encourage you.  (My husband and I both shared our goals)
  • Reevaluate at the end of the first week or month – is your goal still realistic?  (Do I need to devote more time?)
  • Change up the routine from time to time.  (Sometimes I read from a different translation or at a different time in the day.)
  • Walking is still moving. Just keep moving forward.  (Some days I can read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting and other days I only make it through a verse or two.)
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or if your just off your game. Pick it back up tomorrow.  (Don’t let guilt keep you away from a gift!)

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing even on our lamest of days. Your efforts will be rewarded!

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

-2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV

If you want your story to be an adventure, invest time with the Master Storyteller!

Living out His Story,
Ginger