And suddenly, it’s time for Fireworks!

Happy Summer!

Thank you so much for your patience during June. I appreciate your answers and candor to a month full of questions. I feel like I was able to take all the energy I pour into the blog to finally finish up a manuscript that I’ve been working on for almost two years! Hopefully I will have more news on that front in the coming weeks and months. But in the meantime… WHEW.

We are going to get back into a routine soon, but I’m treating today like a phone call with a close friend. So… Hey, Friend! Thanks so much for calling, things are good. Yeah, wow, where to start? Well…

1.) Aside from focused writing, this has been such an exciting month! Engagements, birth announcements, new jobs, travels, volunteer opportunities, growing community, adoption news, spiritual journeys, and emotional breakthroughs – I feel like my circle of friends and family has had so many things to rejoice about. PRAISE THE LORD!

2.) I spent the first few weeks of my writing project working at the local library. I loved the atmosphere and found myself bringing home way too many new books to read at the end of the day. It was so nice to finally have some fun reads to mix in with my usual serious reading. (My favorite new read was “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Lee Billon!)

3.) On top of some Ireland travel guides, travel memoirs, and foodie books, I also brought home several cookbooks. My husband and I love to cook together. We especially enjoy tackling complex Italian cuisine. We braved homemade fig and prosciutto ravioli, pizzas, orecchiette, and roasted onion risotto. It’s been a good day in the Ciminello house when you see two aprons draped over the counter and flour everywhere.

4.) To feed our appetite for cooking, we’ve now become slightly addicted to cooking shows. Anyone with me? I feel like I can’t get enough of them. I can do without the ones full of drama – just show me how to combine ingredients!

5.) I’m going to a counselor for the first time at age 30. I’ve wanted to go for years and now I can honestly say that counseling has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Seriously, I look forward to the one hour with my counselor the way some people anticipate a new movie release. I love it and feel as though we are making some awesome progress.

6.) I’m continuing to read and treasure a book of Puritan Prayers that my friend Becca gave me for my 28th birthday. “The Valley of Vision” is part of my daily read and I love starting my day with the prayers. If you’ve never heard of the book be sure and check it out!

7.) I know it’s really hot wherever you live. It’s probably more humid in your state than here, but can I just say that 112 degrees is miserable no matter what? Remind me again why anyone goes outside in Arizona in the summer…

8.) I received a great question from a friend regarding the fear of being left behind when your friends move into new seasons of life. I’m really looking forward to addressing it this week or next on the blog. I’m planning out the next month, so if you have a “Dear Ginger” question that you’d like to have answered, be sure to send it my way soon!

9.) Just one last group of questions, I promise! What’s your: favorite summer read thus far, favorite cooking show, or 4th of July plans?

10.) I’m excited to be back, to share my heart and continue to hear from you.

Happy July, my friends!


Friday Finds: Summer Reading

I’m not actually going on a vacation this summer, so there’s no time set aside for more reading than usual- but it just feels right to stack up the books and make a goal. Jordy Liz posted her pic this week and inspired me to do the same. Here’s my list, in no particular order.

The non-fiction titles:

1. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller: “Facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of God.”

2. God’s Story, Your Story by Max Lucado: “When His becomes yours.”

3. Under The Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken: “A sequel to A Severe Mercy.” (*A Severe Mercy is one of my fav books of all time!)

4. Worldview Conversations by Stanley J. Ward: “How to share your faith & keep your friends.”

5. Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw: “Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on creativity and faith.”

6. Love Does by Bob Goff: “Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.”

7. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: “A dare to live fully right where you are.”

8. The Well by Mark Hall: “Why are so many still thirsty?”

I have to keep a steady diet of non-fiction… otherwise fiction would keep me from having a functional life! During college I would spend my breaks reading through entire series lying on a couch and soaking in stories. But for a treat, here are my few pieces of fiction for the road:

9. The Arabian Nights: “Sometimes called The Thousand And One Nights, is the title of a collection of fanciful Oriental tales first brought to the notice of English readers in 1704, by Antoine Galland, Professor of Arabic in the Royal College of Paris.”

10. Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos: “A memoir, by turns harrowing and hilarious, about a huge mistake.” (-Miami Herald)

That’s the list, but I’m sure it will grow with each passing day.

And now I’m curious. What’s on your nightstand, dresser, or list for this summer? Do tell!

Happy Friday,

Smooth Transitions

Hey Ginger, I am a soon-to-be college freshman! What advice/resources can you recommend for me as I start off on this new journey? –T

Congratulations, T! What an exciting transition you are entering. If you are anything like me, you were ready for your freshman year in college when you were a high school junior. I couldn’t wait for the adventure of starting something so completely different and fresh. New friends, new home, new church, new rules, new classes, new everything!

I’ve been jotting down things to share with you all week long, but I’m hoping other readers will comment with some bits of advice to add to the list!

  1. Remind yourself that change brings grief. This IS going to be so exciting, but it’s also going to be so different. Even if you thrive with change, there is some part of you that will mourn a shift or two. Let yourself be sad. It’s ok and it’s normal. Acknowledge your feelings and grieve… just don’t stay in that place for too long!
  2. Repeat this out loud: “When expectations and reality don’t line up, the only thing left is disappointment.” Your freshman year isn’t going to look like what you see in the movies. (Thank goodness.) The reality of grades sets in and sometimes you need to close your door and study, or even sleep. There will be someone staying up all night long just about every night of the semester. You don’t have to be the person that joins them!
  3. Sit with someone new at lunch. There are no more social stigmas. You can introduce yourself to anyone you like and tell them where you are from and your major. They will in all likelihood, share the same info with you! College is a social blank slate. Make the most of it!
  4. Take your time to visit churches, but I suggest selecting one by the end of your first semester. Having a place to belong will help get you out of bed and to spiritual nourishment. I’d also recommend volunteering at your church. When I was super tired and considering staying home, that obligation to the 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class kept me accountable and responsible!
  5. Don’t let yourself assume that you will meet your spouse in college. I certainly didn’t and I only went on 3-4 dates during my whole 4 year experience. Letting go of that expectation will make reality a lot more pleasant!
  6. There are so many things you can do with your time. Try lots of things – take random classes, and try intramural sports. Just make sure you also remain diligent to the purpose of school: your degree! Focus when it’s time to focus and have fun when it’s time to have fun!
  7. You don’t have to get a tattoo, piercing, or anything else to make college memorable. It’s four years. It will be memorable on it’s own.
  8. If you have the ability to study abroad – go for it! I don’t know of a single person who has ever told me, “I regret those 3 weeks/months I spent in that other country.”
  9. Rather than focusing on “WHAT do I want to do when I grow up?”– May I suggest a different question? “WHO do I want to be when I grow up?” Your job can change; your character and integrity are with you for a lifetime.

And lastly,
10. Live out what God has already spoken! Follow His Word and enjoy the experience. You will find Him on the journey with you at every turn.

My favorite books about transitions, change, and adventures:
“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller
“Chasing Daylight” by Erwin McManus
“I Married Adventure” by Luci Swindoll

And I have a FAVORITE book that I love to give graduating seniors:
“You are Special” by Max Lucado

Alright friends, what would you add to the list for T?


Lessons from the Road

I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks.  I’ve missed you, bloggies, but I’m so thankful for the wonderful writers who stepped in to lend their voices and stories for the Hindsight series.  My time during the series contained 4 plane trips, a dozen board games, 3 hikes, 12 mosquito bites, and more sweat than I would care to mention.

Here’s a little something I’ve taken from life out of a suitcase:

  1. Obedience brings joy. Even if you are reluctant or hesitant, trust and obey.  He knows what He’s doing.
  2. Take a hike! Even if it’s 95 degrees and 95% humidity or 103 by 10am, get up, get out, get moving, get hydrated, and get in God’s creation.  It’s totally worth it.
  3. Learn to be a humble and graceful loser.  (FAIL.)  I try to laugh this one off, but my own “hunger for the win” is neither flattering nor God-honoring when it makes me the grumpiest loser at the table.  I’m trying to do better at this!
  4. Call them back. If you finish a phone call and feel uneasy about it – call them back rather than stew or worry about it!  Call them back a third time if needed. ;)
  5. FILL UP: drink water and saturate yourself with Living Water.  I am my worst self when I am dehydrated, sick, tired, or lacking in quality time in God’s Word.  I was caught red-handed with ALL FOUR of these one day during my travels one day and it wasn’t pretty.  Just picture me crying for an hour… in grocery stores, restaurants, and the airport.
  6. Look up. I spent one of my evenings standing in an open field and gazing up to the stars.  I just started singing.  I didn’t worry about people or bugs or the volume of my voice.  I was praising God with eyes full open and it was honestly the most honest, sincere, and heartfelt praise I’ve given in over a month.
  7. Seek TRUTH! The last week of my travels I was actually “performing” for a youth camp.  We were learning how Satan twists the truth to be his version of truth.  My role was to play the deceiver every morning.  Watching the students response has reminded me that instead of just getting angry about the lies of the world, I should know the truth so well that I can recognize a fake in an instant.
  8. Ask for help. I’ve had SO much help along the way!  I received rides from friends, bug spray and sunscreen from strangers, family members reading e-mails to me over the phone, guest posts, and countless prayers from faithful people.  I could not have made it through June alone.  (THANK YOU!)
  9. Ask questions. You want someone to feel loved and valued?  Stop talking at them and start listening to them.  Ask questions, lots and lots of questions.
  10. Be thankful! Thank you, Father for…

-60 years of marriage to celebrate
-Loving family who laugh and play together
-The beauty of God’s creation
-Safe travel
-The kindness of strangers
-Opportunities to go, obey, and learn.
-A loving home to return to.
-Grace for each day.

Grand Canyon = WOW.

“Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you;

Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

Isaiah 26:8