Because Showing Up is Half the Battle.

My new season of life has meant scaling back on a lot of things. You’ve probably noticed how limited my blogging has become in the past six months. Entering this phase of life has also seen cutbacks in almost every area of my time. Less coffee dates with girlfriends. Less volunteering. Less free time. Less saying “yes.”

But in my exhaustion, I think I ended up scaling back WAY too much. The first few months it makes sense to pull back when your main goal each day is to survive and maybe shower. But I’ve put a lot of my relationships on hold and I’m ready to jump back in.

Lesson learned: Facebook and Instagram are no real substitutes for actually being present in relationships.

There are definitely positives to be found in social media. I can connect and share with hundreds of friends and acquaintances at one time. I can literally watch my college roommate grow with her children in California. I can stay in the loop with my childhood Girl Scout troop. But there’s no real substitute for a phone call, snail mail, or in-person communication. I just skyped with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. I met her daughters and we laughed and reminisced for over an hour. It was so much better than writing “I miss you” notes on a social media wall.

I have a list of excuses a mile long for choosing ease and convenience over authentic and present:

“They didn’t send me a card last year, so I guess we are phasing that out.”

“I’m sure they are out to dinner with friends celebrating. I don’t want to interrupt.”

“A text is less intrusive.”

“I don’t think adding one more person will make the event that much more special.”

“They won’t even notice I’m not there.”

This weekend I flew to San Antonio to attend my cousin’s wedding. I was in the state for less than 24 hours. My husband stayed with the baby, we juggled schedules, and just decided I should go.

I love all of my cousins. That alone is incentive enough to attend a family wedding. And sure, Grant flew to Arizona to come to my wedding a few years ago. And also, he was in an accident three years ago that makes his very presence on this earth a miracle. Every indication pointed to making this wedding a priority.

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I spent less than 5 minutes total conversing with Grant this weekend. There were lots of guests at the wedding and I know he would have understood if I couldn’t have attended, and yet every challenge to be there was worth it.

I am so glad I went.

**But trust me, this is not a bragging moment, because I deeply regret NOT going to several other life events for friends and family.

Sometimes I let the excuses win out, and that’s a shame. I’m trying to think of an instant when I regretted showing up. I honestly cannot think of a single instance.

My surprise 30th Birthday party was just about the best of all my birthdays. The thoughtfulness of my husband was evident. He kept an incredible surprise, planned the event, and ordered the food. The gifts, cookie cake, and even favorite restaurant didn’t touch my heart that evening, although they were all wonderful. My tears fell that evening when I looked at the wide array of friendships represented in the room. I was astonished that several knew no one but me and yet they still came. Their presence was a huge gift and meant more to me than any wrapped present on a table.

Loving well may take extra time and effort, but it is always well worth it. Loving well doesn’t have to be poetic, perfect, profound, or even alliterative. ;) Simply be there.

This week I hope we all take the time to show up.

Send the card.

Make the call.

Surprise them.

RSVP.

Clear your afternoon.

Invite them to lunch.

Ask them into your mess.

 

You won’t regret it.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

Step #6. Practice Prayer

season

First words that come to mind when I tell you that there are eight days until Thanksgiving and thirty-four until Christmas? I’m guessing rest and renewal don’t make the cut.

The expectations of this season are so high that what often gets side-lined in preparation for these holidays is time with the Lord in prayer.

“The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.” –Rick Warren

Today I want to talk you through the idea of rest and renewal through prayer. I believe with all of my heart that if we invest in this time, the reward will astound us.

Now when I mention prayer, some of you immediately feel more rested. For some of us, prayer is as comfortable as pulling on comfortable sweats.

For others prayer can feel like fitting into a suit we purchased in 1998… it’s a ton of effort only to end up feeling uncomfortable, out of date, and defeating.

This is coming from the perfectionist who served up rote prayers for decades and felt uncomfortable with free-styling prayers that went longer than two or three minutes. Prior to finding freedom, my prayers were giant lists of names and sins. I prayed for the requests and needs of others and asked for forgiveness for all the wrong I had done. Much more than that and I began worrying about the construction and content of my prayers. Simple tools like ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication only made me feel nervous. My mind wandered and I lived in guilt. I didn’t want to pray.

And yet.

God invites us to pray. Jesus demonstrates how to pray.

If we desire to have our hearts tuned to sing God’s grace we must spend time communicating with Him.

stepStep #6. Practice Prayer.

The truth: I know I should pray so much more than I do AND I often feel as though everyone else prays more and enjoys it far more than I do.

Sybil MacBeth seems to feel similarly and writes in her book Praying in Color, “…But a short attention span and a proclivity for daydreams hamper my efforts. Five or six sentences or breaths into a well-intentioned prayer, I lose focus…. The words of my prayers and the words of my distractions collide in an unholy mess. On a good day, when words flow with more ease, I become so impressed with my successful articulation that I become the center of my own worship. It is not a reverent sight.”

If prayer is something worth doing, then it’s something worth practicing. We aren’t seeking perfection, but communication with our Father. Write, color, draw, sing, walk, speak, just start somewhere!

I know why I must pray in spite of any perceived shortcomings. I must pray because of the deep hunger that stirs inside of me to know the Creator of the Universe. Prayer is our direct way to connect with Him. “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” Psalm 66:20.

luther

In prayer we find a connection to the One who holds our worth, our futures, hopes, fears, dreams, and longings. Jesus lived through prayer, learning to speak God’s words, to do God’s will, and to pursue God’s glory.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

Following and learning,

Ginger

 

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Prom and a Giveaway!

Dear 18-year-old Ginger,

I know everyone else has been asked to the prom. I know that the guy you were hoping would ask you has asked your friend. I know how crummy this feels, but I want you to go ahead and ask one of your guy friends. Even though he isn’t going to show up until 10 p.m., it’s going to be okay. But do not, I repeat, do not wait for him to arrive. Do not stand outside your senior prom waiting to go in for over an hour. Have fun. It’s okay. A date isn’t a requirement to enjoy the dance or, for that matter, anything else this life has to offer. Go and get your groove on.

Love,
Today’s Ginger

That’s the opening of chapter 1 in Forget the Corsage. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but you get the idea. The guy I liked wasn’t available so I determined to make the most of the situation. I was going to dress to the nines, take a friend, and dance the night away. I might have also envisioned a few dances with my crush. I was mildly convinced that he was going to take one look at me and realize he had made the wrong decision. I also might have seen one too many romantic comedies in the late ‘90s. How do you watch “She’s All That” or “10 Things I Hate About You” and not expect to get the guy in the end? Anyone with me?

prom collage3

I mean. Take a look at that two-piece dress. I even went shopping in another city so I wouldn’t have the same dress as anyone else.

My expectations for the evening were pretty far-fetched, but I hung my hopes on the books and movies that filled my mind and imagination. There’s nothing wrong with fantasy, until we let it eclipse our reality.

I was talking to a dear friend about that very fact this weekend. She mentioned how she had to turn a movie off to preserve her contentment. It may seem a small gesture, but I completely agree with the method. We have to know our buttons and triggers.

For years Ever After was my mess-up movie. It’s a Cinderella story, and I would absolutely lose it every time I watched Drew Barrymore’s character get rescued. The movie left me in a heartsick state for days! Movies may not mess you up, but I know a lot of women who can’t watch romantic comedies without feeling depressed when they end. Certain movies, books, and TV shows only serve to bring on heartache. Be strong enough to recognize when your entertainment isn’t entertaining but hurting. (Forget the Corsage, Chapter 5)

forget the corsage

This week I’m sharing passages and thoughts from Forget the Corsage. To celebrate the release I’m also going to be giving away two e-book versions in a giveaway – winner to be announced next Monday!

There’s a rafflecopter entry below with three easy ways to enter each day.

    1. Leave a comment on the blog post answering the question of the day.
    2. Tweet or FB post a link to the giveaway.
    3. Pin this pic of the book on Pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it! One lucky winner will win two books.

Question for Tuesday: Do you have a mess-up movie or book? What is it?

Following,
Ginger

Sharing the mess.

I know what you’re thinking. ANOTHER post about being authentic in our messes?

I have to. This is an exercise in changing my mindset. I am perpetual perfectionist, and if I can’t actually BE perfect then I will often give the illusion of perfection. I don’t say it, but I also don’t ask for help. I enter relationships that are convenient. But this is all about to change.

This Wednesday night our home will be filled with an additional fourteen adults and three more infants. Our small group is convening for the first time post baby boom. We’ve debated about where to host this ever-growing crew and it became obvious that the Lord was asking us to open up our home this time.

Remember that part about the illusion of perfection?

 messy

This is what my kitchen currently looks like. I told my husband last night that even if someone came and babysat for two straight weeks I still couldn’t get to everything on my list. This is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

My list is too big. I feel overwhelmed. Any of these tasks alone would be enough to fill my days.

-Writing for other blogs … when I feel like my inspiration has vanished.

-Speaking outlines

-Caring for a new baby

-Maintaining friendships

-Time in the Word

-Cooking and cleaning

-Exercise? (HAH!)

-Growing my marriage

-Book promotion

-More thank you notes

-Financial decisions

-My own blog

-Connecting with neighbors

-Investing in the community and our church

I need a workable plan/schedule. LORD I NEED YOU!

And after coming slightly unglued, I felt the Lord speak into the massive messy list. “You need me.”

I’m not sure why I thought I could do this, any of this, on my own. I didn’t notice the change. I was lifting up my concerns and requests to the Lord when one day I must have just started reaching up and taking a few of them back. “Oh, I’ll take that one. Don’t worry about this one. I’ve got it.”

I don’t got it.

I teeter on the edge of grace and mess each and every day. Here’s the real kicker- life was like this even before the addition of a baby! God is simply using this lifechange to remind me that I cannot do any of this on my own. Why would I want to?

I’m telling you and I’m telling me: stop taking the stuff back. He really wants to take it! This week I’m meditating, claiming, writing and memorizing these gems.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:2, NIV)

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

Be encouraged. Share the mess.

Following,

Ginger