Love first, ask questions later.

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Last fall I attended the Allume conference and was privileged to hear many amazing authors and speakers. I returned home from my trip with piles of books and pages of notes. But out of all of the amazing talent and famous names that graced the stage, there was an Iraqi High School teacher who has challenged the way I think about the world every day.

The Middle East feels so far removed from my every day life. It’s hard to identify with the struggles of a far off place I’ve only seen on the nightly news. But Nassir’s father changed my heart in 2 minutes and 46 seconds. It took 2 minutes and 46 seconds to move from apathy to concern. My heart broke at the 34-second mark of this video. I hope you will take a moment to watch.

“His Surgery Would Be Five Years Away”—A Father Shares His Story! from Preemptive Love on Vimeo.

I wept, missing my own daughter after having been on the road for weeks, and I wept for Nassir, his father, and the many children of Iraq who are struggling with very little hope of healing. I cried when I thought of the countless parents who feel powerless to help their children. Because of the use of chemical warfare in Iraq over the past three decades, heart defects affect roughly one in ten children. Although expensive in the U.S., children here at least have access to life-saving surgery.

Picture the landscape of Iraq: cities devastated by war upon war, large populations now running from ISIS. Many of the most skilled professionals left the country years ago for more opportunity. Hospitals are understaffed and under qualified to meet the surmounting needs of the people.

And that’s where Preemptive Love comes in. For less than $1,000, a child can receive a life-saving heart surgery. A tagline printed on Preemptive Love t-shirts explains their heart perfectly: Love first, ask questions later. It’s a beautiful motto for me to remember all day, every day. Love first, Ginger. Love first.

 

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Needless to say, I was touched and moved by the stories shared by the Preemptive Love Coalition. I couldn’t stop telling the stories of Nassir and other children like him. What would I do if my daughter had a life-threatening condition and no possible hope? Our small group from church determined that we wanted to take part in giving hope to Iraqi families.

 

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So we gathered our excess, picked a Saturday, and had a garage sale to benefit Preemptive Love. All proceeds benefited that one organization. We planned, advertised and THE PEOPLE CAME. (Hallelujah!) We had so much stuff, so much traffic, and so much craziness in one morning. It took time and effort, but the result, both in memories and monetarily, was completely worth it. I have a deeper connection, and a truer love for the people God has placed in our community. Serving alongside our small group served to connect our lives and unite our hearts in a new way.

 

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It was so encouraging to see friends, strangers, and neighbors all together in one space. In all, thanks to donations and sales, we raised roughly $1,900 and will help to fully fund two heart surgeries. Two lives. Two stories changed for good.

 

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Damaged hearts in Iraq broke my heart, but something else may tug at yours. I am deeply touched as I watch the world being remade, rather than undone, by acts of love. My friend Tanuja donates her time and energy to tutor and teach reading every Saturday in New York City. My friend Mary works tirelessly with the refugee population of Phoenix. My mother-in-law has volunteered every Monday for over two-decades at a homeless shelter. Countless friends have opened their homes and hearts through fostering and adoption. In such a dark world, your light is desperately needed.

Not every problem in this world has your name on it, but I guarantee you, something does. Someone needs your hands, your presence, and your generosity. How can you help mend the broken places? Sometimes writing a check is the answer, but sometimes, God is asking you to stand with your people and do the work. I cannot perform a heart surgery, but I can educate, promote, and stand in the gap.

So, what breaks your heart?

Following,

Ginger

 

P.S. THANK YOU to so many of you who have reached out with kind and generous encouragement over the past month. 2015 has been full of unexpected moments, but God continues to give grace each day. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

P.P. S. With Joy BE retreat is ONE month away and we do have a spot left for you! There’s even a little scholarship waiting. If your heart just perked up, head here for more info and to message me. We want you here!

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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!)

Thursday Tips: Heart Checkup

We’ve been talking about awakening our passive hearts this week. I want to recognize that the transformation of our hearts isn’t something we can put on a to-do list or make into a resolution. Heart change comes from God alone, but I do believe that we also have a part to play.

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I was driving to an appointment last week and something just felt funny about my car. I turned off the radio and tried to listen hard. I’ve had a few friends traumatized by blown tires and I wanted nothing of the sort. I made sure I was in the far right lane of the freeway and then took an exit and pulled into a parking lot. Sure enough, the tire pressure in all four of my tires was low. After living so many years as a single independent woman I had prided myself on my car maintenance. But now that I’m married, it’s become easier for me to slack off responsibility and just think, “I’m sure he’s checking that.” But I’m the one that drives this car. Had I not been paying attention or listening while I drove, I could have experienced a worse case scenario. Thanks to a portable air compressor, the tires are now full and I’m back to driving with confidence.

Cue the metaphor.

We must keep checking on our hearts. We are the ones driving with them each and every day. I know from experience how easy it can be to just stop caring and fail to notice the state of our hearts.

The strength to fill, to revive, to replenish – that comes from an outside, greater Source… like the air compressor. But along the way we’ve got to be listening, asking and watching. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a blow-out to get me on course. Watch the retro video below for more…

Checkup from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Checkup. Fill up.

Following,
Ginger