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!

Growing Forward in 2014

growth

Usually I am so jazzed to be making lots of lists this time of year, looking back and dreaming forward. I do have pages of notes full of lessons learned in 2013 and thoughts for 2014, but when I saw my friend’s pointed question at the top of my newsfeed, I couldn’t help but reevaluate my lists.

“What are you most excited about in 2014?”

I set my fingers on the keys and considered responding in various ways.

The deeply spiritual: experiencing God’s Grace.

The attempt at humor: showering daily.

The practical: sleep.

But my honest answer?

The first thought that came to mind when I read that question: a night away with my husband… next October.

I love Norah to the moon and back, but baby girl won’t take a bottle, thus making us fairly inseparable.  So call me crazy, but I’m looking forward to getting away, if even only for two days… next fall.

But if I step back and examine the goals I’m laying out for 2014 (here’s my process for creating goals), I can admit to not feeling a ton of excitement. Does that sound awful?

Let me rephrase.

The other night I was working through my goals and I began to feel very, very overwhelmed. Paralyzed, in fact.

The reality of my days has changed so much in the past year. I told my husband through tears that all of this goal-making was important, but it just didn’t seem feasible. I’m lucky if I do much more than keep my daughter and I fed, clean, and out of pajamas by noon. So when I keep seeing tweets and posts about goal-setting and BIG dreams for 2014, I can’t help but start to feel a little discouraged.

Are there seasons where we hang up our dreams for a while?

I don’t believe so. I think there are seasons where we simply need to think about our goals differently.

“Consider the lilies how they grow.” Luke 12:27

The whole point of making goals for the year is to foster growth. Even if a goal is about scaling back, I make that goal in order to grow. So yes, I make the goals and declarations (maybe not a 30 point manifesto or even 10 big hitters) but I claim something for 2014 in order to grow forward, to lean into the gospel.

“God doesn’t want us to give more, God wants us to give the best.” –Margaret Feinberg, Scouting the Divine

How can I give God the best this year?

How can I live out of joy, gratitude, and contentment rather than worry, stress, or anger?

How can I do less and yet experience more of what really matters?

My word for 2014 is INTENTIONAL. If I desire to see growth in all sorts of areas: social, family, career, physical, personal development, and spiritual – I must look at even the smallest moments with intentional eyes. Joy will come when I give thanks, when I notice, when I appreciate, when I acknowledge God’s hand each and every day.

I’m looking forward to 2014. I’m excited for the growth that’s coming.

Following,
Ginger