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

Heading South for the Weekend

Happy Friday, Friends!

This post is headed out late this morning… it’s just been one of those weeks. I had the opportunity to speak to a college group yesterday and am headed off to a middle school this morning after which I will swiftly begin packing! Tonight we will load up the car with toothbrushes, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and medical supplies and leave for Mexico around 3:45am. I think I need to go to sleep right now. ;)

As always, we would love your prayers for safe crossing, smooth travels, and a great clinic in the morning. Here’s where we’re headed

 

 

Rocky Point Medical Clinics, a ministry of Family of God Fellowship in Puerto Penasco, sees hundreds of patients each month, providing much-needed health care as well as the Gospel. Begun by two amazing people whom we have come to love, the clinics are staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses and other health care workers to provide patient care and health screenings. The clinics attempt to provide care when no other resources are available to people desperately hurt by the changing economic conditions of the area. In addition, funds channeled through the ministry help to provide surgeries and procedures which could not be afforded by the local people.

 

Obviously I’m not part of that medical staff. (Nor should anyone want me to be!) I will be bringing crayons, hundreds of coloring sheets (Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 634!), and multiple copies of The Jesus Storybook Bible in Spanish. “Este libro es muy importante.” I’m a kid wrangler for the day while the families wait to be seen by one of the doctors. It’s an amazing privilege to watch the medical staff work, no matter the conditions presented. I’ll be honest, it’s a special window into the life and heart of my husband that I don’t get to see on a daily basis. It might be slightly uncomfortable for his patients if I just trailed around all day, so I definitely take the time to glance over and watch during the clinics.

 

This is going to be a fast trip. Four hours south, a six-hour clinic, and then four hours back home. All that to say: bring on the prayers! I’ll post a few pics on my Facebook page this weekend if you care to see some of the images from this journey.

Blessings on your weekend, wherever the road takes you!

Following,
Ginger

Flooded with Thanks

Checkup with my favorite doc!

As David and I began the trip back home on Sunday, we were flooded with thanks.  The clinic on Saturday was a great experience.  David gave checkups to 30 kiddos and I spent the day coloring and reading The Jesus Storybook Bible.  Really, that’s what I did for five hours.  I read Daniel and the Lion’s Den in Spanish four times.  It’s a big hit with the little boys.

After the clinic finished we cleaned up and enjoyed a seafood dinner with our generous hosts and some of the other volunteers – nurses and translators.  We had been up since 3am, so we said our good-nights early and crashed.  When we awoke around 7am it had already been raining for four hours.  Ordinarly this wouldn’t be a problem, but the home we were staying in only had one road back to the highway – and it wasn’t paved.  A trip that usually takes 10 minutes took 55 minutes in our Camry.  The streets were brimming and we said prayers aloud over and over, “Dear Lord please get us through this rush of water and out the other side… thank you, Lord!!”

Thanks would belong to God even if we had been forced to abandon our car or remain in the city for another night- but thanks also belong to God for seeing us through the floods and back home late yesterday afternoon.

photo by simplybelle.net

Thank you for your prayers.  They were felt both days!

Triage center!

“Oh give THANKS unto the Lord, for He is good, for his mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136:1, NIV

Father God,

Thank you for the weekend.  Thank you for swift travel Saturday morning along darkened highways that brought us through the border and to the clinic on time.

Thank you for a building that provided relief from blowing sand and chilly winds.  Thank you for the families that walked and waited to be seen.  Thank you for the doctor, nurses, and translators who attended to physical needs.  Thank you for the volunteers and a pastor who has loved and labored for 15 years to see the spiritual growth of his people.

Thank you for dollar store coloring books and crayons that opened doors of conversation.  Thank you for the colorful pages of your Word.  Thank you for Consuelo’s eager face and the way her father bent low to the ground to hear her read about Abraham and Sarah and the promise of the Great Rescuer.  Thank  you for Daniel’s smile as we read about Daniel y los leones.

My favorite spot.

 Thank you for the generosity of Dr. Stavros and his wife- for the way you moved in their hearts over a decade ago to begin these free clinics.  Thank you for prayers in Spanish and English.

Thank you for safe passage after 6 hours of steady rain and rapidly filling streets.  Thank you for moving our car through each gully and wash.

Thank you for the prayers of strangers and friends.  Thank you for flooding us with your goodness and grace.

Amen and amen.

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19, NIV

So thankful,

Ginger

With the voracious reader!

Yes.

When my husband proposed he expressed his desire for us to use our gifts together in different parts of the world. Since that time we’ve had the opportunity to twice travel to Puerto Penasco, Mexico and serve with a free medical clinic. The Doctor who began these free clinics doesn’t actually have his own building. He hops around to churches and clinics, setting up wherever he finds availability. I almost wrote that he sets up where there is the greatest need… but the truth is that the need is great everywhere in Puerto Penasco.

-15 thousand+ families living in 50-150 sq ft. shacks, burnt out cars, underneath cardboard and pallets
-No running water or power
-Limited or no access to health care services
-60% of kids don’t advance to high school
-40% of the population is unemployed

D and I always thought that we might travel to Africa or India, in hopes of helping where the need for medical attention was most profound. But if I’m honest with myself I know that I also want to travel to Africa and India for selfish reasons. I’ve been dreaming of Africa for years, not Mexico.

Count the use of “I” in that last paragraph. I though, I know, I want, I dream, I haven’t… I (hah) will be the first to admit that dreams and desires are good things… but they aren’t always the best for what’s right now. There is a need four hours from my home. There are needs on my own street.

 

Several people have asked why now and why Puerto Penasco. The answer really is simple. It’s a need that was specifically presented to us. Someone asked and we said yes. The time reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible and seeing children with toothaches and stomach pain takes a small effort on our part but gives much to the families who walk for hours to give their children medical attention.

Our Pastor, Scott Brown, said in a recent sermon: “God is changing the world through ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.”

I am using my broken Spanish and love for children to do a very ordinary thing. I’m reading and telling stories. My husband is using his profession as he examines children sitting in folding chairs on a dirt floor. We are merely saying yes. We ask each trip that God would do the extraordinary through the ordinary.

The needs are everywhere: on your street, in your school, in your city, in Mexico, in Africa, and all over the globe. Are you ready to say yes?

Following,
Ginger