Trust is a verb

Trust

My ministry and business partner, Carey, responded quickly and specifically when I text her asking what one word I could pray for her during the month of January: Trust.

Neither one of us could have guessed all of the ways God would call her (and me) to trust at the start of 2015. Just a few weeks into a new year and changes were quickly brewing. In the midst of questions we entered into February and I text her again. What’s one word I can pray for you this month?

The answer came once more: Trust.

I prayed that she would continue to trust and I would begin to release and rest. And then, last Friday, our website for With Joy Retreats disappeared. That’s the not-so-technical way of describing the tickets, back up data, hosting, and other jargon I don’t really understand. Our business, which relies on the web for everything- ticket sales, information, registration, contacts – just went away. Even with some amazing help, we still don’t feel any closer to having the problem solved. We are praying a fix comes soon enough.

Even as I attempt to look at this logically through the lens of my faith, the questions and doubts keep coming: Ginger, will you release and rest in this? Will you trust that my plans look differently from your plans? Will you believe that I don’t need a website to accomplish my purposes?

I was in a bad place on Friday. My heart was racing for long stretches of time and I was close to panic. I had to stop and remember that in the midst of unexpected situations, I have a choice. Will I choose to believe that God cares for the details of my life, OR, will I spiral into worry, anxiety, and panic?

Trust is so much more than hopeful concept. In selecting trust as a prayer for these two months, I’m realizing how much Carey longs to know and live surrendered to God’s will. She is teaching me through every challenge and change that God is always faithful to His promises.

If you are one of the many who have attempted to find our With Joy Retreats website this weekend, know that you can contact us at withjoyretreats at gmail dot com and we can answer any questions and even register you individually through e-mail and an invoice. It’s a lot less fancy (and a bit humbling on our end) but we are going to keep rolling and trusting.

Registration is still open for the 2015 BE Retreat. Spots are limited, and the website is broken – but God is good and we hope you can join us in April to rest and be known.

With Joy Retreats Flyer (1)

Following (and trusting!),

Ginger

A New Prayer

I’ve struggled with having a consistent prayer life for as long as I can remember. I get into a routine and then something happens and suddenly I realize that I haven’t been in communication with my heavenly Father for days. Sometimes it’s all I can do to pray in short spurts – “I need You, Lord!”

God hears our prayers – all of them – the desperate pleas, the silent hopes, and the thankful jubilations. He loves to hear from His children.

My prayers have shifted in the past two weeks. My labor began in the dark and early hours of July 13th and ended at 10:28pm with the birth of our daughter, Norah.

babybaby

My prayers throughout the day were cries for help, begging to see through to the end of the pain… but as soon as I came face to face with our little light (the meaning of her name), my prayers took on a whole new dimension.

Never have I felt so completely without control. This little life is dependent upon her dad and me for everything. Her cries of hunger, exhaustion, and discomfort are for us to relieve and tend to. I do not want her to know hurt or pain. I want her to stay safe in my arms, forever.

But I know I have to relinquish this control. I must trust the Lord with the life of my child, just as I have trusted Him with my own life.

As wave upon wave of contractions threatened to leave me sobbing on that Saturday afternoon, I recited the words of Psalm 139 over and over and over again. Particularly this portion from verse 16:

“All the days ordained for me we were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

All of our days, mine and Norah’s, are in the hands of my Father. And so I turn to Him in what feels like every second of the day. I pray. I ask. I give thanks. And slowly, I learn to loosen my grasp and to trust.

feet

Thank you so much for your patience during this transition time. I hope to be back to blogging regularly in a few short weeks. In the meantime I will post here and there and share some favorite throwback posts.

Following and learning… every second of the day,

Ginger

Dear Ginger: Seeking and Waiting

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,

I’m trying to wait but how do I know what God wants me to do?  I feel like I can’t tell the difference between His voice and my voice… and I want to.

-B.

Dear B,

Thanks so much for writing!

First, I want you to know that God speaks to all of us differently and calls us in different ways! Check it out: Moses experienced the radiance of God, Paul got a light, Isaiah had to run naked for 3 years, Ezekiel watched dry bones, Elijah saw the fire, felt the quake, and then found God in the whisper, Gideon was visited by an angel, and still others were met by talking donkeys and storms that held them at bay.

The important point in your question is that you are aware and you are seeking. When you desire to be in God’s will, He HONORS that.

That being said, have you ever heard of the game Sardines? I used to play it all the time as a kid. It’s almost a reverse of traditional “Hide and Seek.” In Sardines the “it” person goes to hide and everyone else counts. Then everyone heads out looking for the person – we’ll call them “the sardine” for ease. If I find the sardine, I have to try to hide WITH that person in their hiding place. This continues until there is only one man left standing. The last person to find the crew will be “it” in the next round.

And? I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with anything.

The truth is that for a long time I thought of my relationship with God as if it was a game of Sardines … especially in high school and college. I wanted to know God’s will for my life so desperately. I felt that no matter how hard I asked or looked I just couldn’t determine what God wanted for me. I looked at all of my friends, confidently making decisions, and couldn’t help but think that they had all found the answer.  That was it.  The entire world was hiding with God in a huge game of Sardines and I was the last one still looking for answers.

Everyone else can find you, why can’t I?” I would lose heart and I resign myself to being last.

Confession: I feel like that, every once in a while, even to this day. I’ve read and memorized Jeremiah 29:13 until it’s practically a daily saying: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Mark Batterson writes, “God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go.”

I don’t know about you, but that truth about God let’s me take a deep and contented sigh. Even in the midst of confusing times, waiting periods, or even silence – I can find joy and peace from knowing God isn’t hiding – He is simply teaching me to seek after Him. Don’t give up! Continue to pray, to ask, and to follow.

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

Praying for your time of waiting!

Following,
Ginger

Seasons of Waiting

One of my favorite lovelies, Megan, got married this weekend. Woohoo! I was so sad to miss the wedding in Louisiana. Boo. I know it was gorgeous and I’m sure plenty of tears were shed. She has an incredible love story set to the tune of “waiting on the Lord” in the key of patience and trust. I missed her wedding because I am 9 months prego and my due date was actually Saturday. I’m learning my own lessons in waiting.

I want what I want when I want it. I am an American consumer used to getting her way. I’m thankful that things don’t run on my timeline. Perspective has shown me that God’s ways and timing, although sometimes frustrating in the moment, are always for the best. This week I’m taking the time to give thanks for His timing.

passion

More to come… unless Baby Girl shows up and surprises me.

Following and waiting,

Ginger

Thursday Tips: Releasing Control

thursday

Did the title make you shudder?

The Thursday Tip I’m sharing this morning came out of a real life experience from this week.

  • I had something on the calendar.
  • I was looking forward to that event on the calendar.
  • One phone call an hour before the event and suddenly everything changed. The appointment was cancelled.

And by my response… you would have thought I’d been told that my leg would be amputated later that day.

I don’t like last-minute changes. I like to be in control. ALWAYS. I’m learning new lessons about this every day. Here’s what happened:

Thursday Tips: Releasing Control from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

I love this quote from John Newton. I’m copying it onto a card and placing it on the front of my calendar today.

“…If the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient; – then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue… How happy are they who can resign all to him, see his hand in every dispensation, and believe that he chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves!”

Amen. Amen. And Amen!

May this reminder serve to give us all peace in the midst of changed plans this week!

Following,
Ginger

Learning to Wait

 strong

 

Journal Entry – April 2, 2008

Waiting is the worst.

The first day of school, Christmas Eve, movie theater slides, long lights with censors that don’t pick up your car so you back up and pull forward repeatedly in hopes that you will trip the sensor. I’m sure there are many other things that come to mind. I know much of it has to do with our culture. I need my microwave lunch faster and I find myself frustrated when the internet takes too long to load. Sometimes I scream loudly on my insides about having to wait, and often times in my car, I scream on the outside.

I think I’ve been doing some screaming lately. I’m generally quite content and have been for a good period of time. I’ve tried to tell myself that wishing time away will result in a life not fully lived, and who wants that? I’m in a little bit of a holding pattern for the minute. I’m hoping that I’m not missing out on anything, but I really feel as if I have been holding my breath for too long and fear that I may just faint before I’m giving the ok to come up for some water. Breathe.

Can you identify?

Although I definitely don’t feel like I’m holding my breath anymore, I do know how tempting it can be to want to fast-forward through any waiting period. This is a lesson I want to learn and live.

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” -Elisabeth Elliot

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Cultivate

It feels as if I’m constantly moving from one awaited event in life to the next. I wait for vacations, visitors, treats, appointments… and most of the time I’m somwhere between irritated and excitedly anxious. But I so want to enjoy the present without living in impatience all of the time!

So how do you and I bridge the gap from impatience to patience?

Grow

1. Ask for it! 

God loves to give good gifts to His children. Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal.  I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week.  You could try this per day, per month, or even year.  But know that answer won’tjust come in an extra dollop of patience.  I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.

Remember strength training from yesterday? Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym?  Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter.  Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life.  “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you.  Help me!”

His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him!  (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)

2. Root yourself in good soil.

I can’t say it enough: eat the Word!  When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source.  Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff.  I’m going to be really honest with you.  I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it.  I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life.  I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!

Struggling with impatience?  Try memorizing some of these verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one ammo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant.  (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized?  Yeesh!)

3. Soak up the accountability.

Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves!  Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer.  If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots.  If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit.  (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.)  Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!

Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us.  Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!

Happy Thursday!
Ginger

Patiently

I learned about the Fruit of the Spirit when I was just a kid going to Sunday school.  I’m not sure I understood what they were, but I absolutely had them memorized thanks to a catchy tune.  Here’s the verse that addresses the fruit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23, NIV

Background info: Galatians is a letter written by Paul to a church in Galatia. In the paragraphs of chapter five, Paul is talking about having freedom through Jesus from sin and death and also how to live by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh… meaning my own selfish desires. He lists all sorts of behavior associated with living by the flesh, and it’s not a pretty picture: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions… the list goes on and on and doesn’t get any better.

But… (there’s a but) Paul then says that the fruit that comes from the Spirit are these 9 great characteristics.  These are the FRUIT of the Spirit.  So how does one grow a specific trait… say patience?

 basil

Patience is one of nine traits listed in the Fruit of the Spirit. Plant yourself, connect yourself, abide with Jesus and the Bible says that the fruit produced will be these nine eye-catching things. (Don’t you notice when someone oozes kindness or patience?)

But what happens if you feel like one or some of these fruits aren’t defining character traits for you? Is this yet another time to throw up your hands and shift the blame elsewhere?

I don’t think so.

We were born with personality traits  I’m fairly outgoing but my husband tends to be more of an introvert. He can speak to a whole room of people if needed, but he won’t enjoy it as much as I will. The Fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23 aren’t personality traits. They are different aspects of godly character– and character is something that can be developed and grown. I don’t get to blame impatience on my personality, even though I certainly might like to!

You see, usually impatience comes because I have unmet expectations. (We’ve talked about these before!)  We had a plan for the day and it didn’t involve the printer jamming, our friend making us late, or the driver in front of us going 15 under the speed limit. It’s all about control and it is all about ME. Notice that none of the Fruit of the Spirit have to do with self-promotion. That’s just it… it’s not about ME.

Step #1 to cultivating fruit: Recognize that it’s not about me because it’s all about Him.

Check out 2nd Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”

This passage talks about a definite change in our lives. When we recognize that we can’t hold it together, that we’ve made mistakes (yes, sinned), and that we need a rescuer… that’s when Jesus steps in to make us new. Notice it doesn’t say that we receive perfection in that moment. You and I are a work in progress for our entire lives.  Remember that God is FOR us. He’s not waiting for us to mess up, He is coming along-side us right where we are!

I recognize that sometimes impatience isn’t associated with irritability. Sometimes our impatience looks more like anxiety and worry. That’s still a problem because it’s basically saying that we distrust God and what He has for us.  God is head over heels crazy about us and (thankfully) He is in control. His timing is for His people.

Step #2 to cultivating fruit: Strengthen your muscles.

While there is no growth or change happening without the Lord, gaining strength in this area requires exercise.  I take the time to strengthen my arms with weights, and my spiritual life isn’t any different. I have to daily notate where I am living selfishly and not producing good fruit. Thankfully God seems to be totally aware of my blind spots and seems more than happy to keep giving me situations in which to recognize the lacking fruit. “I have the slow cashier again?!” Maybe that’s an opportunity to meet the cashier and show kindness… and in doing so you utilize vast amounts of patient strength you didn’t know you had! Growth is going to take some strength training, so don’t get frustrated if you feel like a lightweight when it comes to patience. The time devoted will pay off.

Cultivating good fruit in our lives is a process that will take a lifetime.  I will not arrive at a point where I am never impatient, but perhaps one day I will be thought of as a patient woman.

Oh would that day come sooner! ;)

Following,
Ginger

I Can’t Wait.

young

My mom was such a trooper when we were kids. She carted three kids and various carpool friends around for about 20 years- if I’m doing the math correctly. But more than the sounds and smells, I keep thinking about what she had to listen to during that time- especially in our early years.

Wee Sing

Raffi

Psalty the Singing Songbook

Round Up

We had multiples in each of these series. But there was another cassette tape that received plenty of play in the early 90’s. This song by Rappin’ Rabbit especially. (MOM – I AM SO SORRY.)

If you can get past the fabulous beats and catchy tune… just catch the lyrics of the chorus. Cheesy? YES. Have they stuck with me for over 20 years? Absolutely.

“I can’t wait to have patience, because patience is a wonderful thing. Hurry up, let me at it, got to have it now. I want it more than anything. This has taken long enough, give me some of that patience stuff.”

I can SO identify this week. I’m awaiting big news, exciting visitors, and much-anticipated events this week. I’ve tried to hard to remain in the present and not wish my time away. My prayers have sounded much like Rappin’ Rabbit. (Good grief, what a sentence!)

“Father, allow me to trust you and to rest. Let me have patience for each day, for each moment. PLEASE!!”

So aside from simply knowing we should be more patient, how do we actively cultivate patience in our lives? Let’s learn together, shall we?

Until tomorrow…

Impatiently,
Ginger

p.s. Please tell me someone else can identify with these golden albums!

Dear Ginger: Losing My Friendship?

Dear Ginger,

My best friend has been pushing me away a lot recently. I have asked her if I did anything to make her not want to be friends anymore, but she says nothing has happened. I don’t want to lose her as a friend, but I don’t know what to do. Any advice? -A

A – I am so sorry that your friendship seems to be filled with unknown conflict. That’s such an uncomfortable feeling. I think the hardest part about relationships is that we only get to control half of the behavior in them. I often think how much less conflict I would have in my life if I could just choose how my friends or family members act! But you don’t get to choose how your friend acts or behaves, you only get to choose your response. I think that can be both freeing and very frustrating at the same time.

I know from experience.

One of my best girlfriends and I went from hanging out every day to barely speaking in a matter of just a few months. There wasn’t a fight. One of us wasn’t jealous of the other. We just stopped hanging out and I didn’t really know why. I kept asking if I had done something wrong. My friend always shrugged it off and acted like our friendship wasn’t really that different. It felt like every time I tried to talk about the distance in our friendship, she just pushed me away even further. I felt hurt and confused. I cried to my mom about it a few times. But eventually I just decided that maybe she needed time. So I stopped checking in every day.

What I didn’t know was that she was going through some really tough stuff with her family. She felt uncomfortable sharing about her home life so she just started shutting people out. Because I asked so many questions she felt like she was lying to me all the time, and she didn’t want to do that. Rather than sharing her hurt, she tried to protect her heart by putting up guards.

I’m happy to say that my friend and I eventually rebuilt our relationship. I am so thankful that she’s in my life. But that season of distance is now a part of our journey as friends. We both wish it could have been different, but all we can do is work toward continuing to build the friendship we have now.

I say all this to let you know that I hear what you are saying and I’ve felt that sort of confusion and pain over a friendship. That season of struggles taught me a few things that I wish I would have known so many years ago.

Give her time. My friend needed to know I was for her, that I would support her, and that I would be there for her whenever she was ready. Instead she felt pressured, frustrated, and like she was being forced into a corner. Patience can bring peace to a tense situation. See Proverbs 15:18…

“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18, NIV

Be careful about hanging your happiness on a friendship or relationship. Of course it’s sad to see any relationship change, but we have to know that some friendships are seasonal. This situation may or may not be resolved the way you are hoping. Will you still be able to find joy in the life God has given you even if this friendship doesn’t look the way it always has? Placing our ultimate expectations on anyone but God can lead to some major disappointment and heartache.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5, KJV

Pray for your friendship. It’s very possible that your friend is going through something that she can’t share. Pray that God would give you the words to say at just the right time. Pray that God would show you if you’ve been in error in some way. Pray that God would restore your friendship. And then ask that He would give you the strength to trust Him no matter what happens.

“And those who know your name put their trust in you,
 for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10, ESV

A- I’m praying for you and your friend. Hang in there.

Following,
Ginger