No More Holding Back

berries

Well HELLO there. It has been 3 months since my last blog post and about 5 months since I was posting on a regular basis. What can I say, life has been full and my computer has remained closed. I’ve been reading, playing, running, connecting, studying, teaching, parenting, prepping, traveling, resting, cooking new recipes, and trying to just live in the moment. I wouldn’t trade the last few months for anything.

But since the last post in March, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of another story behind the garage sale. God has been teaching me a beautiful and messy lesson about hospitality. I’m learning more and more what it looks like to not simply offer the convenient, easy parts of my life- but to offer all of my life and trust the Master. Here’s what I mean…

No More Holding Back from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

John 6:5-15 The Message (MSG)

When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”

One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.

When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.

Whether blueberries, loaves or fish, I long to be a woman who opens the doors to her home, sets out the very best, and stops apologizing for the state of my kitchen. I want to unclench my hands and give it all to the One who makes miracles over lunch. No more holding back.

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More to come – recipes, a With Joy Retreat update, some new favorite things, top reads this year, and even a foray into podcasting. WHAT.

Following,
Ginger

Notes from the Road

Hello from 35,000 feet in the air! This flight marks the halfway point of my full travel schedule for this autumn. I realize that this post is about 3 months post due. I must ask your apologies for stepping back from blogging (yet again) without so much as a “see you later.”

This four-hour flight without a baby has provided the longest window of time to process than I’ve had in a long, long time. Who cares how long the layover might be, the freedom is glorious! (Can I get an Amen?)

Since July I’ve had my gaze locked on seven upcoming speaking engagements. The variety of the groups keeps me on my toes and also necessitates hours of prep work. Thus any free time – aka baby-napping time – was devoted to study and preparation, leaving zero time to even think about blogging.

With almost all the work behind me, I feel like I can slowly start to bring writing back into my regular routine.

I realize I wrote last week about my new venture, WITH JOY RETREATS, but this week’s post sat like a blinking cursor. I don’t want to write just to fill up another page on the internet. If I get to choose what I speak about, my most favorite thing to share is whatever God is teaching me in that moment. I sat through my first flight just trying to summarize and think about all the most recent things God is teaching me and working through my life. I hope you find one or more of these tidbits to be challenging or encouraging.

road

A FEW LESSONS FROM THE ROAD

  1. My abilities, although God-given, do not have the power to change hearts. Only God has that power. Lest I forget and make my calling about what I say or communicate, Paul reminds me in 1 Corinthians 3:7, So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 

Whether I speak to 250 Jr. High School Students or 50 women, obedience looks like offering up what I have and trusting God to give the growth. This freedom keeps me from negative self-talk or the tendency to feel puffed up by the compliments and encouragement of others. This truth reminds me to keep God’s Word at the forefront and my words and stories for the background. I still fail, often my motives are not pure, but I cling to the promise that God’s Word will not return void.

 

  1. I should seek God, not comfort, ease, or safety. I should seek God, not adventure, experiences, or a bucket list.

I can allow the Western story of culture be the lens through which I view scripture… “I can do all things. God has a happy plan for me. Delight yourself in the Lord and you get what you want. God makes everything easy for those who love Him. Following God is a great adventure, #as long as its not too hard.The mantra of my generation tells me I don’t deserve to be unhappy. I’m learning not to put those words in God’s mouth.

“What does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered? Or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?” Gene Edwards

 

  1. I know God desires obedience over sacrifice but I forget that often obedience requires sacrifice. I am on the road 17 days out of 31 in October. Thankfully my daughter and husband were able to join me for a large portion, but saying good-bye is still difficult. Through tears I broke down and told my husband that this is just hard. It’s hard living out of a suitcase, keeping all of the topics straight. It’s hard not getting to choose what I eat, when or if I exercise. So much of life on the road means things are out of my control. My husband, David, was gracious to remind me that there is a cost to following the call. The Bible is full of story after story where obedience means sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice is miniscule in the grand scheme, and other times obedience feels impossible because of the sacrifice required.

 

  1. I am compelled to love because I have been forgiven so much. I’m praying that my heart would continue to change. I want to be the one to volunteer when someone needs help picking up his or her kids from school or a ride to the airport. I long for my heart to stop trying to defend my sin to others, but instead respond in grace and readily ask for forgiveness. I’m reading the book “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller (HIGHLY recommend) and this definition of the gospel has been working itself out in my head and heart since chapter one: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Tim Keller

 

  1. Look for Jesus in everything. When I release my grip on my need for control and my definition of success and instead turn out my hands and say, “Give me what you want me to have,” something monumental shifts in my day. The peace that I can’t explain apart from Jesus, it’s at my disposal all the time. I boarded my plane this morning as one of the last passengers. Although my seat is in the front of the plane, my luggage is in the very back. When we touch down I will have to wait for the entire plane to empty to get to my luggage. Oh how I prayed to have overhead space right about my seat so I could exit and make it to my connecting flight with plenty of time. God was gracious to remind me of the question He asks me in moments just like this, “What if I’m writing a different story than the one you had planned for your day? Do you trust me?”

“Move toward God. In all things see Jesus. In all circumstances, whether success or failure, questions or answers, beauty or ashes, acceptance or rejection, look for Jesus.” Emily Freeman

  1. Hospitality is not the same thing as entertaining. I attended the Allume Conference this past weekend and the theme of hospitality is still ringing in my ears. Something Shauna Niequist said (or ALL of what she said) keeps pressing around my heart.
  • True hospitality is giving people a place to be when they would otherwise be alone.
  • True hospitality is a sacred space big enough to let God move in and through us.
  • True hospitality leaves people feeling better about themselves (rather than me) when they leave.

hospitality

All of the speakers were quick to remind us that there is something out of control and messy about hospitality- and that’s a beautiful thing. I want my front door to open more. I want to invite others in – not just the bits I choose to tell on social media or while speaking on a stage. I must get better about bringing people into my life rather than standing at arm’s distance. There’s so much stirring in me now, I can’t vocalize it all, but I’m excited- and terrified- and excited.

What has God been teaching you in this season of life?

Following,
Ginger

P.S. I just finished reading Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. It is not just for married people – lots of great truths for everyone in any kind of relationship or friendship. Also – it is hands down my favorite book on marriage, and I’ve read a lot of them. Put it on your list!

Friday Finds: Reading My Mind

finds reading

I typically decide upon a theme for the week each Monday. I spend time reading, journaling, thinking, praying and then determine the posts that will follow. By 10:00am Monday morning I knew I wanted to explore hospitality this week.

Hours later my dear friend Renea beat me to the punch! She is a contributing writer to a great blog (Thinking Through Christianity) and also happens to be one of the wisest people I know. I wanted to share her thoughts on hospitality with you this Friday.

She begins…

When we hear or use the word hospitality, it conjures a pretty specific picture: (mostly married) women hosting dinner parties, (mostly married) women bringing covered dishes (which is Southern-speak for food that makes for delicious leftovers) to the homes of those who are suffering.

We might get a broader picture when we invoke the phrase Southern hospitality.* This consists of everything from someone offering you a ride in their chicken truck to nearest PepBoys when your car breaks down (true story), to bumming a cigaret off a stranger; from holding the elevator without being asked, to insisting on water breaks for the movers you’re paying by the half-second.

These are all good examples of hospitality. The first examples happen mostly among friends and family, the latter between strangers. Both are vital to the possibility of our progressing as… human beings.

But these expressions of hospitality are not usually part of our everyday comings and goings. They’re generally either extremely planned or extremely unplanned. And, sometimes what we primarily think of as hospitable acts lend themselves toward being extraverted acts.

Proposal: Hospitality is neither for certain sects of people—extraverts and women**—nor is hospitality a once in a while, or “merely polite,” venture. Hospitality, in it’s most essential form of expression, is ontological…

I can’t encourage you enough to follow the link and finish her article. (Don’t worry, I had to look up ontological for a refresher too. Ontology: The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.) She makes some great points that still have me thinking.

May our homes and hearts be open!

Following,
Ginger

Martha, Martha

hospitalitea

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42, NIV

I’ve always felt like a Martha, and because of that, books that praise Mary in their titles have left me feeling defensive. “Couldn’t Mary have helped her sister and then they BOTH could have sat and listened together?”

When I read this story my heart goes out to Martha. Perhaps, like me, she was addicted to the approval of others, and relished the praise received from authority figures. I watch as an honored guest and friend graced her home and understand why she wants everything to be perfect: clean, inviting, pristine, lovely, filling, tasty… these are her synonyms for hospitality.

And yet, Jesus responds to her request (which was quite possibly passive aggressive, if not at least frustrated) with the following:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The Martha inside of me is crushed. I’ve been corrected in front of my sister and told I’ve chosen incorrectly. Obviously if Mary has chosen what is better, I’ve chosen wrong. And that’s the very word I am deathly afraid to hear: WRONG.

If I’m honest with myself I know that my greatest desire is to hear Him say, “Ginger has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I need the affirmation and approval, I’m addicted.

But by focusing in on better or wrong, I have missed His point completely.

Hospitality within your home and heart should not leave you upset and worried about many things. There has been one purpose, one goal all along. Sh’ma: Love God. Love Others.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40, NIV

Jesus desired for Martha to rest in His presence rather than worry about ironing napkins. He desires for me to rest in Him rather than stressing about menus and seating. In that instance I make hospitality about me, rather than my guest.

During my trip to Israel last spring, we had the unique opportunity to witness hospitality in the middle of a desert. We walked a great distance down a long dirt road, not really knowing where our final destination might be.

DCIM100SPORT

As we approached a small cluster of homes, our group of fifty Americans was greeted by scores of children who led us to the Matriarch of their large family. We were welcomed by the Bedouins and encouraged to sit in an open air shelter upon scores of rugs. The family received us and shared cups of hot tea and prepared bread on a fire before us. They fed fifty strangers. I didn’t witness scrambling or arguing from the women serving us. The smiles on their faces were constant. They appeared honored to receive us rather than imposed upon by our presence. We left considering how willingly we open our homes and hearts.

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My fear of getting it “wrong” often keeps me from the one thing that is needed… but I don’t intend to stay that way. My hope is to move toward an open door and open heart policy.

Following and learning,
Ginger

Hospitality

house

…”To be a hostess, I’m going to have to surrender my notions of ‘Good Housekeeping’ domestic perfection. I will have to set down my pride and invite people over even if I have not dusted. This is tough: My mother set a high standard. Her house is always immaculate, most especially if she’s expecting company. But if I wait for immaculate, I will never have a guest.

God’s Creation gives us a model for making and sharing homes with people, but the reality of God’s Trinitarian life suggests that Christian hospitality goes further than that. We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also to invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests- we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. It is this forging of relationships that transforms entertaining (i.e., deadly dull cocktail parties at the country club) into hospitality (i.e., a simple pizza on my floor.) As writer Karen Burton Mains puts it, ‘Visitors may be more than guests in our home. If they like, they may be friends.'”

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner

How would you define hospitality? Looking into this and more. Catch you tomorrow!

Following,
Ginger