Summer Graces

When you live in the middle of a desert, you grow used to the oven that greets you in the middle of the day. But I will never adjust to having temps over 100 once the sun goes down. I do my best to get out of the house so we aren’t cooped up every day, but it’s still a challenge to keep from going just a little bit crazy.

I do well for pockets of time and then something happens to frustrate me: the cup of water dumps over, the website won’t load, the batteries died, the price changed, or the creative juices won’t flow. I am pretty bad with frustrations. But I’ve found that one of the quickest fixes for my mood is music. It’s an instant way to lower my pressure gauge. Sometimes I turn on kid music and dance with my daughter or blast top 40 radio and run laps in the living room. But the best fix this summer?

morgan

 

Morgan Harper Nichols – this album is so, so good. My friend Carey pointed me in this direction a few months ago and I find myself listening to it at least once a day. The truth stops me in my tracks. The music is medicine to my soul. Here’s my current favorite off of the album, although I will probably switch to something else tomorrow.

 

 

Cooking through Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around breadthe Table with Recipes has also been aiding my summer sanity. I love me some Shauna Niequist. I feel like we sometimes share the same brain. This book did wonders for challenging my ideas on community and hospitality – as in – a paradigm shift. Some basic observations.

  1. Hospitality is not the same as entertaining.
  2. I want a tribe of people who know which drawer holds my spoons.
  3. There is something sacred that happens around a table if I will simply take the time to notice.

I don’t have the space to give you a full run-down, but know that this has been one of my favorite reads of 2015. I’ve also given away three copies of this book thus far. There’s another sitting in my Amazon shopping cart. The food is good, but I really love rereading my favorite passages and notes as I prepare to cook. I’ve never cooked all the way through any book, so this seemed like a great start. I made salad dressing for the first time. (As a Chopped fanatic, I’m only mildly ashamed to admit this to you.) I purchase almond meal and crafted homemade breadcrumbs. I just purchased new towels to try to make my own bread in the coming weeks. WHO AM I?

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book:

“I felt within myself the desire to shoo her out, to hide, to keep her from the disorder that is my real, actual life some days. But I took a deep breath, and she sat there listening to me across my dirty coffee table, and we talked about community and family and authenticity. It’s easy to talk about it, and really, really hard sometimes to practice it.

This is why the door stays closed for so many of us, literally and figuratively. One friend promises she’ll start having people over when they finally have money to remodel. Another says she’d be too nervous that people wouldn’t eat the food she made, so she never makes the invitation.

But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the riches moments in life–the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love–if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door. I know it’s scary, but throw open the door anyway…” – Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

I feel like reading this book pushed me to pursue deeper friendships, especially when it comes to the girlfriends in my small group. We’ve committed to eating together once a month in the coming year. We will meet in a home to break bread, ask the “how are you REALLY doing” questions, and study the word. I have no doubt that this tribe will come out of this experience changed. My people, my tribe – I like how that sounds.

 

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And lastly, I feel like I should tell you that yesterday was pretty much a wash. I struggle daily with balancing my various roles. On the days I get good time in the word, play with my kiddo, and maybe exercise, I feel some guilt about not working. And on the days when I try to make calls or send e-mails while my daughter is awake, I feel guilty about screen time or just not spending time with her. Yesterday I tried to cram way too much into her nap time. I wanted to clean the house, record a podcast, send e-mails, read, and exercise. Sounds like I have 6 hours to work with, right? FALSE. I get on average about an hour and forty-five minutes. At the hour and a half mark I began crying. Do you ever feel like you have so many “I HAVE TO DO THIS” that it’s hard to ever get to the “I WANT TO DO THIS”?

I was still living in that frustration around 7:30pm. My daughter was in bed, my husband left for the gym, and I was gearing up to do a workout DVD in my living room. But I was tired. I was sore. And a dear friend text to say, “What if you just don’t?” So I thought, “Lord, can you take care of me tonight?” I filled my water-glass, took a shower, lit a candle, and then wrapped myself up in clean sheets. I had recently checked out a new book at the library and I was finally giving myself the space to read.

small victories

Enter Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott. I love tender, crass, poetic, thoughtful Annie Lamott. She has eyes open to things I often miss. This quote in particular brought a smile to my tired face.

You can change the world with a hot bath, if you sink into it from a place of knowing that you are worth profound care, even when you’re dirty and rattled. Who knew?

The lesson of this summer has been to remember that God loves all of me extravagantly. He cares about my obedience, my service, and the condition of my heart- but He also cares about my body, my soul, and my spirit. He sees my weakness and He promises to match and exceed it with His grace.

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Summer On,

Ginger

 

Growing Forward in 2014

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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

Step #7. Give Grace

season

I didn’t post anything yesterday. Since starting this series I’ve made an attempt to post every Tuesday and Wednesday. My parents were in town visiting until late yesterday afternoon. I made being present a priority. I hardly opened my computer. Apologies if you are awaiting an e-mail response from me! It’s coming soon.

In the past I might have let my inbox or the need to post translate into stress. But not this year. I’m finally learning to just let go. There is zero chance of me living up to a Martha Stewart Christmas. My side dishes for Thanksgiving won’t make it onto your Pinterest board. I will not be meeting the expectations of our culture’s holiday season, and the sooner I remember that fact the more pleasant my days will be! Part of tuning my heart to sing grace actually involves the permission to say “no” in order to say “yes” to receiving grace.

I’m talking to you, Miss/Mr./Mrs./Ms. Perfection. This season that celebrates the Prince of Peace also threatens to steal our peace. But let’s make a promise right here and now: fight guilt with grace.

stepStep #7. Give Grace

  • The house doesn’t have to be perfect. Maybe this is the year to scale back on decorations, or even gifts. Perhaps the tree doesn’t make an appearance until December 20th. Don’t take on the whole meal, ask guests to bring all the side dishes. Stop apologizing for the mess, instead, welcome others into your home with a willing heart.
  • It’s okay to play hookie every once in a while. I don’t want to miss an appointment or be rude, but sometimes I also just need to tell myself that the world will not stop spinning if I don’t write a blog post! You can express real regret (when you RSVP – which apparently is a lost art!) when you have to decline attending your 8th party of the year.
  • On the other hand, sometimes we say “yes” to others in order to bless them, even when there’s nothing gain on our end. I will always remember my mom telling me about the shift she made in her thinking about funerals. She doesn’t attend for the person who has passed, instead she attends in order to love on those who are hurting and grieving. There are a lot of things I don’t “feel” like doing – but it’s not always about me, is it? Maybe White Elephant exchanges aren’t your thing, so you take one for the team rather than acting the Grinch at the party.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt to the cashier, waiter, or staff member. We never know what kind of day someone else is having. Demonstrating patience is a tangible evidence of grace.
  • Freely dole out grace to friends and family who are also fighting the stress of the season! Push off any drama by being the one who is quick to speak kindly and forgive quickly.

“Grace isn’t natural, but supernatural. The natural responses when you get hurt are either to strike back or to withdraw. When we instead step out of the way and allow God to work through us, responding with unfailing love, even perennials that have endured a deep freeze may lift up their wilting heads and live.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

  • Encourage others to walk in grace. Instead of bragging in this year’s Christmas letter, speak truth! Lead by example and be willing to admit that although you had a great 2013, it also had some really trying chapters. For instance: I just wrote this sentence after my daughter made me cry. Yes. We’re both crying. I’ve been trying to put her down for a nap for almost 2 hours. SHE JUST NEEDS SLEEP. Forget accomplishing anything today, the kid needs to nap for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Love her to the moon and back but want to scream, “CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SLEEEEEEEP.” Authenticity is a gift this time of year.
  • Daily connect with the Author of Grace. If we want to have grace for ourselves we need to find it at the true source!

This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all. 

…To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

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Gift yourself the chance to be less than perfect this season. Rely on the Lord and depend upon His strength. When you start resting on the promise that you are loved and that His grace is enough, you can’t help but sing of that grace.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

One Month Later

promises

One month ago my life changed for the better. It’s certainly isn’t easier or more restful, but the addition of my daughter to our home has certainly added a depth of joy I hadn’t known before.

I’ve been learning a few things in this little furlough. I thought I would be back to blogging and working from home just a few weeks postpartum. I’ve had every intention to write thank you notes, respond to e-mails, and finish projects as soon as they cross my path.

But a “new normal” has entered my life and it contains a lot more grace. God’s promise of grace is something I’m slowly beginning to accept in new and real ways. I know I fall short of His holiness and perfection, but often I’m more concerned about meeting the expectations I set for myself. I expect each day to be filled with accomplishments. I never guessed those accomplishments might include a list of only three things in one day… four if I shower.

Can you identify?

Today grace looks like shorter posts, delayed responses, and heaping doses of forgiveness. I have so much to learn.

Following,
Ginger

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I didn’t post anything yesterday. Two years ago I would have agonized over that fact. Little by little I’m learning to accept imperfection. The good girl trapped in me really wants to do EVERYTHING by the rules. Believe it or not, there are not rules for blogging. Last year I made the switch from posting five days a week down to four… and even sometimes down to three. But I had yet to give myself permission to miss posting on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Don’t even ask where that OCD bit came from.

I spent yesterday packing my hospital bag and organizing my house. I’m nine months pregnant and nesting is in full swing. I don’t even have a kid yet and it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I have planned. So rather than beating myself up for not finishing every task, or for taking time to read over my lunch break, I’m learning just to let go. I’m a much more pleasant version of myself when I’m not stressed or anxious.

All of the progress I’ve made in the past year with my counselor is fueling the other aspects of my life. This self-shamer is leaving guilt at the door and learning to give grace more readily. My mantra…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28, MSG

 grace

Here’s how I’m practicing grace this summer:

1. The house doesn’t have to be perfect. Invite people into your mess.

2. It’s okay to play hookie every once in a while. I don’t want to miss an appointment or be rude, but sometimes I also just need to tell myself that the world will not stop spinning if I don’t write a blog post.

3. Sometimes we say “yes” to others in order to bless them, even when there’s nothing gain on our end. I will always remember my mom telling me about the shift she made in her thinking about funerals. She doesn’t attend for the person who has passed, instead she attends in order to love on those who are hurting and grieving. There are a lot of things I don’t “feel” like doing – but it’s not always about me, is it?

4. Give the benefit of the doubt to the cashier, waiter, or staff member. We never know what kind of day someone else is having. Atticus Finch will always remind me how “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird) Demonstrating patience is a tangible evidence of grace.

5. Write letters. There’s something so enchanting, exciting, and wonderful about seeing your name on an envelope that does not contain a bill. Perhaps your note might be the perfect picture of grace to someone struggling this week.

6. Daily connect with the Author of Grace. I’m working through a book that I’ve owned for nine years and yet have never actually read. I needed a workbook so I pulled Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson off my shelf. I’m only in the second chapter but this book is getting highlighted quite a bit. This section is sticking with me today:

“Spiritual disciplines are like garden tools. The best spade and hoe in the world cannot guarantee a good crop. They only make it more likely that growth will be unobstructed. They mystery of maturation lies in the heart of the seed, and the outcome of planting depends largely on the vagaries of weather. Still, tools are important in helping to ensure that planted seeds will bear fruit. Tools can remove stones and roots, aerate the soil, weed and water the garden.

Disciplines like prayer, scriptural reflection, and hospitality have the character of garden tools. They help keep the soil of our love clear of obstruction. They keep us open to the mysterious work of grace in our heart and our world. They enable us not only to receive but to respond to God’s love, which in turn yields the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.” (Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast)

I know the list isn’t long, so feel free to suggest some more. This is just what came to mind at the moment. I’m sure I will be seeking more grace in the coming weeks and months.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Get Real

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I think a lot of us are pretty good at acting and pretending. We smile through pain and maintain the image that we want the world to see. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision and sometimes… it just happens. That’s why today’s retro Thursday Tip is all about awareness. How do YOU answer this question: “How are you?!”

Check it out.

Thursday Tip: Stop Pretending from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Do you struggle with fine-itis too? What would happen if you were to answer that question honestly? What if you let yourself feel AND be vulnerable with those feelings? What then?

“…If you are anything like me, then you know the fine art of how to be vulnerable enough so people believe you are authentic, but not so vulnerable that all your mess hangs out. You know how to be vulnerable with boundaries… We may be able to hide some of the mess with each other, but we have a God who sees and knows and loves no matter what. He is a generous, patient, compassionate God and his expectations of us are not the same as our expectations of ourselves.” (Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl)

Even if you still struggle with sharing all of your mess with those around you, I would encourage you to allow yourself to be honest in your time with the Lord. Nothing will surprise Him… He knows and LOVES the True You. Find freedom in being totally honest without any pretending.

Following and learning,

Ginger

Friday Finds: Grace For Gayle

I met Gayle all the way back in 2000! She went to a local rival high school and then we both attended the same college. It’s always nice to catch a familiar face when you are in a new place. This past year Gayle launched a brand new dream and website and I would love to share it with you today. Gayle was kind enough to submit to a mini-interview so you could get to know her and a little bit about her heart. Read it and then make sure to bookmark or subscribe to Grace For Gayle!

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1. Tell me about your title, “Grace for Gayle.” What’s the story behind it?

I have been blogging since 2004; writing and photography have been a hobby and passion of mine for a long time.  However, around 2009, some especially challenging things cropped up in my life.  Things that challenged my faith, and ultimately threatened my life in a very real way.
The Lord is many things, but one thing that He is the most clearly to me is my Redeemer and Rescuer.  By the end of 2011, I had given up; I honestly and truly had completely given up on God, myself, and life itself.
 
On January 3, 2012, I experienced a radical change in my life, when God freed me from the strongholds and bonds that had taken over my life — He not only broke those chains, He shattered them.  Hallelujah!
As God and I started rebuilding my life from the ground up, I felt like He was prompting me to return to writing and photography.  I wanted to share my joy with anyone who would listen!!  So, I stopped writing on my previous blog, and started Grace for Gayle in March 2012.  I chose the name “Grace for Gayle” because I RECEIVED GRACE.  I received redemption.  I received mercy.  I received rescue.
 
I am reminded of the story of the prostitute who washes Christ’s feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair.  She so desperately needed Christ’s forgiveness that she didn’t care what the onlookers thought.  He said:
 
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” {Luke 7:47}
 
Those who have been forgiven much, love much — it is our human nature.  The reality is, I am alive today because of God’s mercy and grace, and I want to share that with the world, one blog post at a time.
 
2. Who is the target audience of “Grace for Gayle”?
I believe I am here to be an encourager.  I connect most with women, but I have a deep love for all people who are hurting and feel hopeless.  I write posts about a variety of things, from fashion and makeup and decorating, to embarrassing moments and funny things that happen in daily life.  But, all of it is through the lens of my faith, and I do my very best to weave God’s truth into everything I do.
 
There are soooo many hurting people out there, and a lot of those people are women, and a lot of those women are online!  I want to write about topics that interest women from all walks of life (moms, young marrieds, single folks, students!), and encourage them in any way I can through my writing.
 
A couple things I do consistently is Wednesday Wisdom (a faith-based post pretty much every week), I have a place for submitting prayer requests (anonymous is fine!), women can sign up for G-Mail (receive encouraging notes from me, via snail mail!), and many other ways to build community on my site.
 
3. What should we know about you?
First of all, I absolutely love you.  Cheesy, no?? ;) But in all seriousness, I love people, and would love to know you, personally. :)
 
Now that I hopefully have thoroughly convinced you either that I really do love y’all, or that I’m a little nuts (both?), I suppose I should tell you some other fun facts about me!  I was born in Indiana, raised in Texas, and have lived in Dallas almost my entire life, except for college (where I met Ginger!).  I currently live in McKinney, with my two dogs and two cats.  My profession is in Human Resources, but I dream of being a counselor someday.  I love working out (yoga, pilates, strength training), reading, blogging, and I’m addicted to podcasts, especially sermons.  I love to read, but rarely have time.  I love kids, especially hanging out with my friends’ kiddos.  I’m currently single, and currently not “looking” — and praying for contentment in that area!  (He’ll come along when he comes along, if he comes along . . . )
 
I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl: I either give something my all, or it completely falls by the wayside; I’m working on a little something called “balance”.  I am an introvert in an extrovert’s body, and treasure my alone time almost as much as being around those I love.
 
4. What’s something on your Christmas list this year?
Talk about planning ahead!  Christmas lists are hard for me, but something that is definitely on my list is a new DSLR camera, mine is starting to show its age!  I also have a whole slew of projects I’d like to complete at my house, so a shopping spree (or a gift card) for Lowe’s would also be fantastic. :)
 
5. And finally, what are three books that shaped or continue to shape your spiritual walk? (Aside from the Bible)
Having walked away from God for several years, I’m finding that I’m in need of re-learning things that my mind and heart used to know so well.  In the past, the books that I loved the most are The Unique Woman (Edwin Cole & wife), The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Gary Chapman), Sex, Love & Happily Ever After (Craig Groeschel), and my daily reads are Jesus Calling (Sarah Young) and Praying God’s Word Day by Day (Beth Moore).
What are you waiting for? Head over to Grace for Gayle and start reading!
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Happy Friday!
Ginger

Was, Is, and Will Be

Advent is upon us. It’s time to celebrate and prepare our hearts for the coming of the King of Kings. In my mind, the Advent readings, candles, and music serve as a giant pause button. That pause tells me to close my computer, hide my to-do list, and stop with the shopping and decorating. The pause helps me reclaim peace in the midst of busy.

Usually I read through two Advent devotional booklets during the season. But this year is different… not intentionally, it just worked out that way.

I’ve been reading through the Bible for the last two years and am just about to finish up this time around. Ordinarily I would take a break for Advent, but I’m so close to the finish line. That’s how I found myself reading Revelation chapters 1-2 yesterday morning.

My Advent reading appears to be the book of Revelation. I’ll admit, the thought was a little deflating until I found the narrative of Scripture swirling all around me – reminding me that all of the pieces point to the same promise:

“Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come…” (Revelation 1:4)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the LORD God, ‘Who is, and who was, and who is to come…”  (Revelation 1:8)

On Sunday morning the candle of promise was lit in our small church sanctuary and our pastor shared from the lyrics of the beautiful hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Not only has the song been in my head for three days, but the promise of God with us replays as well.

The main theme of the sermon: “Through faith in Jesus – God was, and is, and will be with us.”

Advent is the promise of His presence. God is with us. This was the comfort provided to a fearful Mary, a worried Joseph, terrified shepherds, and doubting disciples. Time and again the answer, the hope of all our fears, is met in the promise of God’s presence.

Confession: I have yet to play a single Christmas song in my home. There’s not a stitch of decor in my house. It’s 80 degrees outside. It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

But the promise running through the Gospel story rings clear this morning. The truth of God’s presence trumps my wandering feelings. God is with us.

“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored. The LORD is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

This is the theme for my reading and writing this season. I welcome you to join me.

Following,
Ginger

 

Winner, Winner… chicken dinner.

Thanks to so many of you who subscribed, shared, and entered the “Graceful” giveaway! The rafflecopter program makes my job super easy. We have two copies and two winners!

Congratulations to Maddie Q and Erin W! You are the winner, winners. Shoot me an e-mail with where you would like me to send your copy of “Graceful”!

Too everyone who entered and doesn’t yet have one of Emily Freeman’s books, I wanted to be sure and promote them one more time. Christmas is around the corner. There is someone in your life (maybe you!) who could use a rush of grace in the form of one of these books. God speaks to us through many things, He just happened to use “Grace for the Good Girl” in my life.

Many of you have asked which book you should purchase or read first. I’ll let the author, Emily P. Freeman, speak from her heart.

“Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life” (for young women)

This book is for the prom queen, the athlete, the bookworm and the dreamer. For the self-critic, the silent judge and for the girl who feels invisible. Many girls in high school are trying hard to catch up but aren’t quite sure what it is they’re chasing. It’s no wonder they have a hard time understanding God’s grace as a gift they can’t earn or be worthy of. We don’t have to be perfect, but we can trust the One who is. 

“Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the try-hard life”

Growing up in the church, I picked up a version of the gospel that had little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with me. I tried hard to be good but never felt good enough. And so I learned to hide. I believe women need to talk about the ways we hide, the longing to be known, the fear in the knowing. Beyond that, I believe in the life-giving power of story, in the beauty of vulnerability, and in the strength that is found in weakness.

This book is an invitation to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. I hope in reading you will move from trying so hard to please God to discover what it might be like for you to trust him.

I enjoyed both books. I underlined and dog-eared in both books. But I do think each of them is targeted toward a specific audience, and rightly so!

“Graceful” is the perfect choice for any reader in junior high and high school, while “GFTGG” would be a great gift for women in college on up. The books contain some similar portions, but they simply approach embracing grace in a style that best fits the two audiences. These beauties will definitely be making an appearance under more than one Christmas tree this year. Happy Reading!

Walking in Grace,
Ginger

Grace for Today

This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all. 

…To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

 

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

-John Newton

 

May His grace be yours this day and always…

Following,
Ginger

It’s the final day to enter the GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” by Emily Freeman are up for grabs. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“An invitation has been offered, but only the desperate can hear it. Dare to life your eyes up from your books and achievements. Tilt your head toward the gentle whispers of a God who says, What is it you truly seek?” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)