All I Want for Christmas (& Forever)

 

listen

Time is a precious commodity. I cannot believe how quickly the days and weeks roll by. There is so much I want to accomplish, and most of my list is really good: clean the house, write a blog post, laundry, sew some bunting, have neighbors and friends over for dinner, organize my freezer, call friends and have lengthy conversations, meet and know all of my neighbors, exercise, bake, attend classes, volunteer… I mean really. I could keep going, but I don’t feel like I have the time.

If I could ask and receive for anything this Christmas, it would be the gift of more time. (I promise I’m not speeding past Thanksgiving – more to come!)

Life will not slow on its own. I have to be mindful of the days and hours I’m given. In the midst of baking and holiday preparations, I have to tell myself to slow down and declare thanks for each moment. I have to remind myself not to wish these days away- believing somehow that living will be easier, cleaner, or more spacious in the future.

Life is messy in all its parts. The days will run into months if we don’t take time to pause. If we long for God to fill in our gaps, we must give Him space to move and be.

This year, may I suggest a gift for all of us? be

BE.

 “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, AMP

God’s answer for our busy schedules, constant striving, and stress-induced insomnia is simple. Be. Just Be.

Be rested.
Be known.
Be filled.

Carey Bailey and I have a dream to gift women just that. A weekend retreat to step away from the striving and to step into being present.

 

Here’s the heart behind With Joy Retreats…

With Joy from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to watch and share. I so hope to see some of you in attendance April 10-12, 2015. The Chapel Rock Camp and Conference Center is gorgeous and we are hard at work pulling together an incredible team and intentional sessions for our first retreat. For more information or to register,  follow this link to the With Joy Retreat website.

 

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Following,

Ginger

Life Starts Now

dear me

Dear Eighteen year-old me,

I’m looking down at my sleeping daughter as I write this letter to you. You won’t believe the journey that has led from 18 to being thirty-one. It has been an incredible ride. I have so many things that I want to tell you. I could talk for hours and hours with lessons learned and mistakes made… but I know the experience will only serve to grow you and teach you. So instead, I’ll summarize some main points that I hope you learn sooner than later. For starters:

1. Don’t get that perm in two years when you move overseas. Yes, England is damp and wet, but perming your hair won’t fix that. I repeat. It will be 2002. DO NOT GET A PERM.

2. When those guys say, “I don’t think we should date any more,” let yourself be sad. That’s fine. But then repeat these words to yourself: “Rejection is a good thing.” I know it sounds harsh, but relationships end in one of two ways: rejection or marriage. You didn’t want those to be marriage. Trust me.

3. You can spend years trying to “find” yourself, but if you identify yourself with an anchor other than your heavenly Father, you will end up in a road that leads to nowhere. Finding my identity in the Lord has been the most freeing and exciting discovery of my life.

4. Who you are is more important that what you want. Let me see if I can explain. I wanted to be in a romantic relationship but it felt like zero guys were interested. So I decided I needed to lose weight to fix that. Long story short, don’t sell out who you are for anything. Don’t let your story get hijacked by bad decisions.When I know the WHO I want to be it helps me choose my “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?” Set your heart and mind on who you want to be … a woman of integrity, honor, compassion, and inspiration. Stay true to your identity in the Lord.

5. You can trust the Lord with the desires of your heart. I know it’s confusing when things don’t happen in your timing or within your parameters, but I want to remind you that God loves to give you GOOD gifts! He’s not waiting to throw your decisions in your face or spoil your plans. His good IS good.

6. Your heart is worth guarding and sharing. Ugh. That word “guard” has become such a touchy one. So here’s what I mean. Love yourself enough to protect your heart from unnecessary hurt. Don’t be careless with your time, your body, or your emotions. But don’t wall yourself up from experiencing real relationships either. We have to risk big to win big. Share, give, and receive love with your heart … just don’t settle for the cheap version.

7. Your mistakes don’t define you. I stand here and acknowldege a long list of life mess-ups. I could label myself easily, stand before you and declare:

Hi, I’m Ginger and I’m a recovering food addict.

Hi, I’m Ginger and I’m a liar.

Hi, I’m Ginger and I’m deceitful.

Hi, I’m Ginger and I’m a recovering bulimic.

All of those statements have been true of my life at one time or another, but I am also united with Christ. His past is my past and His future is my future! He calls me Beloved.

Hi, I’m Ginger and I struggle with food and body image, but I am IN CHRIST.

8. Get out of your comfort zone! Sure, it’s safe to sit by yourself, watch t.v. and spend all of your Saturdays at the library, but growth comes when you are willing to take on challenges. I know you like to hold your cards close and are afraid to share too much, but you have got to get past that fear. This life has too much waiting for you and I don’t think it will be found watching reruns of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

9. God isn’t hiding. I know you want to hear from Him, but don’t make it complicated. He’s not holding out on you. His Word promises that if we seek Him we will find Him. Hayley Dimarco says, “You cannot seek anyone with all your heart in your spare time.” True that. Give Him your time and attention and then be patient. Sometimes He wants you to take a step even if you don’t know what the path ahead looks like. Be brave and keep seeking.

10. Life starts now. Oh, Ginger. This is the message I want you to get through your head and into your heart. Your life will not start when some guy to rides up on a white horse and invites you to be the heroine of his story. You ARE the heroine. Your heavenly Father has given you an amazing life to live, so why are you stuck waiting for someone else to confirm that truth? Life is not on hold until you find “the one.” Life does not start with a corsage, a diploma, a ring, a job, or even the perfect group of friends. Real life begins with Jesus.

Love,
This Ginger

– – – –

These are the truths I would tell my eighteen year-old self. Those main points (really, rethink the perm) are what I would share with any woman if we had the chance to sit down and share a cup of coffee and an hour of time together. So, of course, those are the points that shaped my first book. I can’t wait to share Forget the Corsage with you.

 forget the corsage

More to come…

Following,
Ginger

Jump In.

I was paging through some old journals yesterday and came across a single sentence on one page. Usually I fill every space of paper within my books, and yet this question was given lots of blank space to surround it.

“Are you living or just existing?”

The question hit me again today, but probably not in the same way as when I wrote it in 2009.

DCIM100SPORTIn 2009 I was considering making another career change, moving to a new state, writing, traveling abroad … you name it, I was considering it. But at the end of the day all of those ideas seemed far-fetched or in poor timing. I wondered if my life had enough adventure in it. I often questioned whether or not I was settling for movies, reality T.V., trips to Starbucks, and long walks when I could actually do something amazing with my life and time on this earth. At that time I was working and thriving  in children’s ministry but still questioning what the next step might look like.

I’ve always been looking for the next step. As a junior in high school I experienced “senoritis.” While my friends were tearing up at college graduation I was ready and eager to go and start something new. I’ve spent my entire life considering what’s “next.”

But all of a sudden I find myself at a place where the next thing looks the same for the forseeable future. I’m still working from home but now I have a kiddo that demands a majority of my time and energy throughout the day. My lists have gone from the macro to the micro. Here’s my list for today: “Laundry, send an e-mail, return a phone call, eat lunch, shower.” I’ll be honest with you, the micro list feels way more overwhelming than the macro list ever did.

Here’s what I’m learning in the midst of this challnge: I still need to make some big goals. I don’t mean that I should rush ahead of the season of life that lies before me. On the contrary, I need to learn to fully embrace it! So yes, traveling will happen one day, but in the meantime I need to travel to my friend Lindsay’s house to continue to build our friendship. (Right now getting out of the house is a BIG goal.) More speaking opportunities are coming in the year, but I should also pick up the phone and speak life into the friendships God has already blessed me with. I will eventually master Photoshop and develop more confidence in photography, but presently I’m going to document life with my daughter on my phone. Instead of waiting, I’m having to learn to just jump headfirst into the life I have right now.

So what about you? Are you waiting for the next season? Are you holding out for the big dreams and forgetting to soak up what’s right in front of your face? Go snag a snowcone with your friend. Dance in your car. Take your Grandma to lunch. Go hike. Wake up and watch the sunrise. Compliment someone. Volunteer. Audition. Get a group together and play sand volleyball. Worship with your hands raised. Open up the Word and soak it in. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the joys all around you.

“Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.”

-Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Time is short. Let’s get to jumping, friends. It doesn’t matter how big the leap, just move …

Following,
Ginger

March 28th Mercies

I’m not sure how many years it will take before I stop considering March 28th an anniversary of sorts. I didn’t buy a card and we aren’t going out to dinner, but I’m remembering it just the same.
The tree stump.
The book.
The ring.
THE question.
After just four months of dating, D asked me to marry him.
“A Severe Mercy” has been an important book in our story. I read about David before I actually met him. Talk about a first impression. When D mentioned this book on his eHarmony profile, I was schocked. I couldn’t believe I had found a guy who had not only READ this book, but had enjoyed it as much as I did. I knew there had to be something unique and special about this man.
eharmony
That hunch was correct.

 

“A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as “the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers.” Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful love born out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share.” -Jacque Holthusen

It was only fitting that the story of Sheldon and Davy be present at our engagement and that their words had a place in our ceremony. If you haven’t read the book before, may I suggest you add it to the list this year? It’s one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read.

“She knew without my saying that I was hers, that I was full of happiness that we were deeply together… wherever the road led. And I knew without her saying that she had, somehow, come to a new understanding that God in His ample love embraced our love with, it may be, a sort of tenderness, and we must tread the Way to Him hand in hand. We understood without words that we must hold the co-inherence of lovers and be Companions of the Co-inherence of the Incarnate Lord: she in me and I in her; Christ in us and we in Him.” – A Severe Mercy

 

Dear Sheldon and Davy…
Happy March 28th.
Following,
Ginger

Talents

dear ginger

“My best friend always gets the main character after auditions for school plays and other things. It has really hurt my feelings this time, so bad. What should I do?” – M

Dear M, I can’t tell you enough how much I feel for you right now. I have been there, and not just figuratively. I was the girl auditioning for choirs, concerts, and plays and feeling as if I would never get to take center stage. It seemed as if no matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t good enough to get the lead.

But your situation is even more challenging!  You are managing your own disappointments while also having a best friend who you probably want to be happy for… but find it so difficult to do so. That makes sense. When we want something for ourselves it can make it REALLY hard to be joyful for others. So what I want you to know first and foremost is that I understand why you are hurting. But I also want you to know that this is a situation that just might repeat itself as you get older.

Gulp.

What do I mean?

Comparison is a sticky business. When I set my sights on wanting what someone else has, it can lead to all sorts of  envy and bitterness. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my life always hurting because someone else seems to have it made. I need you to remember something right off the bat. God has gifted all of us differently. He is telling a unique story in your life that will look different from any other story.

Did you know that there’s a parable in Matthew 25 that actually talks about comparing our talents. For real. Here’s the set up: Jesus is talking to His disciples and explaining the Kingdom of Heaven with a story. Here’s what He said…

“The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.”

Notice anything interesting so far? This translation of the Bible (CEV) uses the word “coin” while other translations utilize another term for a coin: a talent. But what I want you to be sure and see is how each of the servants was given a different amount of money to take care of. When I read that something inside of me wants to scream, “But that’s not fair!” I probably feel that way because of how easy it is to compare “coins” with my own friends. Some of them seem to have everything! They have crafting abilities, a way with words, perfect families, lots of money, trips galore, trim bodies, lots of popularity… I could go on and on. Sometimes I sit back and wonder why we don’t all seem to have the same amount of “coins”.

Let’s keep reading the story and see what happens.

“As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.

Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”

“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”

“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”

The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”

Again, I want to scream, “That’s not fair! You didn’t give him the same amount as the others and now you are getting upset with him?”

Here’s the thing: Jesus is telling us that He wants us to do our best with WHATEVER we’ve been given. We look around and it see other people with way more talents, gifts, money, or opportunities than we do. But God created you, M, to be uniquely talented, gifted, and called to live your life for HIS glory. He wired you with your likes, dislikes, talents, and quirks. I’m sure your friend is a lovely girl, but I want you to know that you are too! You are both precious daughters of the King of Kings. No matter what happens in an audition, you are always the one He picks!

This may not be your time in the spotlight. It could be that your chance to be the lead will look more like mine… I was the understudy in 10th grade and finally got to have a go as the lead character. It was so exciting. But more than my time on the stage as an actress, God is teaching me what it looks like to serve Him even in areas where I may not feel all that skilled. He wants me to love my neighbors and get to know them, even if it feels awkward. He wants me to play Jenga with high school students. He is teaching me to honor my friends by hosting wedding and baby showers, even when I’m anything but crafty! And He is leading me to open up my home and be more hospitable, something I’m not really wired to do in my own strength. It’s not my thing. And yet… it is because He is calling me to do so!

theatre

I might feel more comfortable holding a mic and speaking from stage, but God is all about stretching and growing me to be more like Him. So even if I’m a “one thousand coin” person, my calling is STILL to do whatever I can with the time He has given me. I could spend all my time wishing I had more coins, or I can do something with what I’ve got!

Each of the servants was given something, and apparently it was given to them depending on their abilities. Please note that the master didn’t expect the man with two talents to have turned in ten.  He had no control over the amount he was given, but he did have all the control over what he did with it. The master did not outline what they should do with the money, he simply asked them to make more with what they had been given.

The quote I shared on yesterday’s Imperfect post comes straight out of a book by Erwin McManus called Awaken. This section gave me a window into this parable and it has given me a lot to think about. In my own life I let the “ten thousand coin” friends get me down, rather than finding joy in their success. Comparison stole my joy. Here’s the quote in a larger context:

“Why did the third servant bury his bag of gold? He was afraid of his master; he feared he would lose his gold and then be punished. This is where many of us have been misled or at least have misunderstood. We’re absolutely afraid of God. We think if we risk and then fail, then God is going to punish us. We are paralyzed by the fear of failure because we misunderstand the character of God. Life doesn’t have a failsafe. Failure is real and can be very painful. God, though, isn’t looking at failure but faithfulness. He’s not waiting for you to fail so he can punish you or succeed so he can pillage you. He wants to celebrate your life.

Jesus loves you so much, M. He delights to see you doing something you love. Even if you struggle along the way, remember that He just wants to see you be faithful with ALL of the gifts He has given you. I’m praying that Galatians 6:3-5 in The Message Translation will speak directly to your heart today. It reads, “Live creatively, friends… Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

Keep creating joy in this world for Him. Please write again soon.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: The List

finds

Ginger, why are you listing your favorites of 2012 on the first Friday in 2013?

Life happens, my friends. And sometimes, we have to be okay with being just a step behind. I  love receiving recommendations from others. I’ve spent the week catching up on Google Reader and reading the “Best Of 2012” lists that abound. I’ve bookmarked some must-reads/watch/see/find/wear/pin for this year. But I also took the time to think through my year and jot down a few of my top recommendations!

My standouts for 2012:

Best New Recipe Tried and Tasted: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili. We aren’t vegan, paleo, or vegetarian but we both agree that this recipe is a SUPER WIN. Hearty, tasty, and yet full of vitamins. This here is good eats.

Favorite New Reads: Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman, Love Does by Bob Goff and the chef inside of me loved My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

Favorite Films: The Chef, Argo, Lincoln, Les Miserables

Favorite New Albums: Babel by Mumford & Sons and Give Us Rest by The David Crowder Band

Favorite Television Show: Parenthood (Weeping just thinking about it)

Best Books to read again: The Giver by Lois Lowry and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Song with the most plays on iTunes: Waiting Here for You by Christy Nockles

And finally looking forward – on the reading list for 2013:

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Storyline 2.0 by Donald Miller
Help, Thanks, Wow by Ann Lamott
Forgotten God by Francis Chan
Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges
Written Together by Shanna Mallon
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and The Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan

Care to share your favs for the year or what’s in store for 2013? My list is calling for some additions!

Following,

Ginger

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday, Friends.

I can’t stop thinking about dear ones on the east coast this morning. My sunny and 80-degree weather couldn’t feel more removed from the winds of the storm. Praying for safety and protection for all, and especially for the homeless population.

I’ve been on the road for the past week and a half, so forgive the infrequent posting. I’m excited to share what I’ve been learning through middle school students (yee-haw), time with family and friends, the book of Hebrews, and two of my fall reads. So much. I’m going to catch up on life today, but will be back with more soon. I promise. And if I owe you an e-mail or phone call… that’s happening too.

October Reads

I just finished Love Does by Bob Goff and just started Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner. Lots of dog-earring and underlining happening in these pages.

Q: What’s the latest on your reading list?

Following,

Ginger