Under Construction

On the Sea of Galilee!

It’s 5:00am in Arizona and I’ve been up since 3:00. Perhaps sleeping 12 hours the night before wasn’t the best idea. Regardless, I spent the last two hours tossing and turning and praying and dreaming until I just couldn’t stand it any more. I had to get up.

BLOG CONSTRUCTION
I just pulled up my e-mail account and noticed a string of messages from my friend, Jon. Jon is my web guru of sorts. He is part of a small team of magic workers who graciously provide advice and skill to this technology/media deficient soul. I mentioned something yesterday about wanting some future changes and tweaks and the man took the idea and ran with it! If you are reading through google reader you probably won’t notice anything different, but the blog is getting a makeover to say the least. THANK YOU, JON!!

Things are still in transition, so bear with me while we make everything all fancy. :)

HEART CONSTRUCTION
Once I hit 3:30am on the clock this morning I knew I wouldn’t be heading back to sleep any time soon. So I turned to prayer. Usually my prayers during the night tend to go something like this, “Lord… please be with everyone that I know. Help me to love them. Now PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help me to go back to sleep as soon as possible.”

My Aunt Kathy was able to join us on our trip to Israel. I loved having her there. The Lord used her to speak into my life just as powerfully as He did the lessons each day. She had trouble sleeping several nights. She would go to sleep by 9:00pm only to wake up at 1:00am or 3:00am. She told me how she used that time to pray for everyone in our family by name, to read God’s Word, and to search His heart. Not once did she talk about begging to go back to sleep.

I want my heart to be under God’s construction. I’ve seen and heard too much in the last two weeks to stay the same.

But there’s this part of me that’s terrified that I won’t be able to make all the changes; that somehow I will stay in the same ruts and routines. I stared into the darkness this morning and begged that God wouldn’t let me stay the same… that He would touch me and heal me.

In the stillness of the early hours of the morning I felt the answer wash over me like the waterfall I stood under at Ein Gedi. [In the desert where David hid from Saul! Check out Psalm 63!] His water causes dead things to come to life. As long as I am connected to the Living Water I will grow strong roots that can withstand any drought or flood. His power is what works in me, not my own strength or will. You don’t stand to the side of a stream and hope to get wet… you jump in. The water does the work. His passionate, filling, life-giving water is available each and every day. I just have to remember to come to the water.

 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, 
   whose confidence is in him. 
 He will be like a tree planted by the water 
   that sends out its roots by the stream. 
It does not fear when heat comes; 
   its leaves are always green. 
It has no worries in a year of drought 
   and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV

Under construction,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Pull out the Markers

My friends.

I once made a video about one of my favorite ways to pray. It was one of my favorite videos I have ever made.  And to this day it is the 2nd least viewed video in the history of ever.

I’m sharing about “Praying in Color” again today because this avenue for prayer gave me such freedom in my prayer time!  I was just telling another friend about it this week and I became so excited that I knew I wanted to share the video again.

I tried my best to create a short clip to help you understand the process developed and written about by SybilMacBeth.  Sybil has lots of her own videos, books, seminars and other helps on the Praying in Color website and blog that I would encourage you to check out if this at all speaks to a creative side of you.

Let’s face it: we were made by a Creative God to increase His goodness in this world.  Since we are indwelt by His Spirit and made in His image, we can also claim creativity as one of our defining traits… even when we don’t feel particularly gifted in this area.

I can tell you that some of my friends and co-workers panicked when we tried this together.  They wanted more rules and structure.  That’s fine!  This isn’t for everyone.  This is hopefully just another suggestion to get us out of our usual patterns and into some much needed time of communion and communication with the Father.

Here goes nothing!

Praying in color,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Prayers

We are waking up at 3:00am tomorrow to pack up and head south of the border!  It’s a short 4 hour drive to the coast and then we will set up for a day of medical clinics.

D will see to the physical needs of the kiddos who walk with their parents from all corners of the city.

I will try and be helpful by entertaining the little ones waiting for their parents to be seen by the other doctor.  This time I’m armed with coloring books, crayons, footballs, and of course – the Jesus Storybook Bible in Spanish.

Will you join our small team and pray for our whirlwind 36 hour trip?

-Pray for safe travel

-Pray for a smooth border crossing

-Pray for the translators who work with the doctors so that each patient can feel understood and cared for

-Pray that our Spanish vocabulary and pronunciation continues to improve and expand

-Pray for the families who will walk with their children for miles to be seen by a pediatrician

-Pray that the never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love of Jesus would be shared in ways we couldn’t imagine

Thank you, friends!

Following,
Ginger

A Honest Prayer

DEAR LORD,

I am feeling so tired of the ordinary.  I seek out balance and then I remember that Jesus never commanded or demonstrated our idea of balance.  He wasn’t centered.  He did not live life in the middle- but on the edge.  He was only and wholly centered on You.

The widow who gave her coins, didn’t give what was just in her pocket, she gave all that she had.

Wake me from this stupor, Oh Lord… from desiring furniture more than I desire Your face and Your glory.  Let me want a better story.

Am I asking you to do my part of the equation?  Have I lulled myself to sleep with coffee and trips to the gym?  Why would I pray for you to change me and yet do nothing to change?  I keep my schedule, my wants, my comfort, my gain… and yet I claim I want only You.

I think I want to serve and give and love on my terms.  I want to share when I feel comfortable and when it’s convenient.

I don’t want just this.  

I want more You.  

I want less me.

Please help me to set my mind on Heavenly things and not on earthly things.

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:2, The Message

Following and stumbling,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Blind Request

Check out chapter 10 of the book of Mark. There’s a story there about a blind man (Bartimaeus) who was begging by the road. As Jesus and his disciples pass the man cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some of the people were annoyed with him, but the man continued to only shout louder. Jesus finally responds and asks him this question: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Sometimes I struggle with how to pray more specifically.  This story has challenged me to do just that.  I’ll catch you after the video…

In Wide Awake Erwin McManus writes, “Now isn’t that a strange question? I mean, a blind man walks up to him, and Jesus asks, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ To begin with, Jesus is supposed to be God. Shouldn’t he already know what the blind man wants? But even if he wasn’t God and he was just intuitive, surely, with a blind guy standing in front of Him, what Bartimaeus wants would be pretty obvious…. Why make something so obvious a point of emphasis? It’s all about the question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?'”

He asks the same question of you as you approach the Throne of Grace.

Asking and Following,
Ginger

Ask

Yesterday I jumped into the discussion that’s been all over the interwebs for the past few weeks. How do you live a good love story?

I want to recognize that not every good love story has to involve a wedding here on earth. Marriage is not the end all, be all culmination of this life. It’s not the goal. It’s certainly not the climax in the story. It’s simply a possible addition to the arc in your story. Plenty of men and women have lived single lives full of far more love than some marriages will ever demonstrate. As I said in the previous post, you start living a good love story by LIVING your life rather than waiting for life to happen to you.

Now that we’ve got that out in the open, I want to point out that V’s question specifically boiled down to requesting advice for someone hoping to one day be married: “Do you have any practical advice for what Christian singles can do to prepare for a future spouse?”

I went through a really warped time in my relationship with the Lord where I truly thought that unless I could be happy being a lonely, that I was being disobedient. There’s a problem with that line of thinking:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18, NLT)

I felt like I was being more holy by being completely alone. That’s not good. In fact, GOD says it’s NOT GOOD for us to be alone. Yes, He has given us the gift of marriage, but He has also given us the gift of platonic relationships. When I moved to Arizona I was alone. I could have spent my years watching television, going to the gym, and going to work… but I would have been terribly lonely. Somewhere along the way I realized that I was designed for community and relationship. We all are.

Life is going to contain some lonely bits, but I don’t think you should punish yourself with it. Some seasons will hold more friendships and relationships. Hurray! Others will require that you depend upon the Lord and remain thankful for a small circle of friends.

I also had a time in my life where I honestly believed that as long as I wanted “a someone” or to be married, that God was going to hold out on me until I learned to be content in the current situation. And while God does sometimes desire to teach us patience, there was another problem with my line of thinking.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:9-13, NLT)

Second piece of practical advice: It’s ok to hope for it! It’s ok to want marriage. It’s ok to want a relationship. It’s ok to ASK for a relationship. Keep a watch on your heart. If you are spending more time praying for “someone” and wanting “someone” than living your life (loving God, loving others, and making disciples), then ask that God would help you to desire Him more than anything else this world has to offer. If you are IN a relationship and that other person has become your everything, ask that God would also show you how He should be the greatest desire of your heart.

We serve a God who loves to give good gifts in His perfect timing. He wants to hear from you and to know the desires of your heart. You don’t have to be ashamed of your requests or fearful of His response. Trust His timing and His desire to see you live an exciting and heroic story full of love.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: In a Box

Joy!

About this time ELEVEN years ago I was packing up to make the long drive from Houston to Abilene, Texas.  I had no idea what was in store for my four years at college.  I knew less than five people in the entire city of Abilene.  I was learning  how to trust in a big way.  Luckily for me, my advisor paired me up with a great roommate.  She had worked her magic and placed my name along-side a young woman who would prove to be a life-long friend!  Joy – or Joyous as I most often refer to her, was a welcoming presence in a new place!  We scrambled into our 8am classes together, filled our fridge with skim milk and string cheese, and took the time every night to pray together.  Yep.  We did.

Today’s Thursday Tip comes straight from my dorm room in the fall of 2000!

Thursday Tips in a Box from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Prayer is your way to connect to God.  I can’t encourage you enough to go to whatever lengths are needed and necessary to keep talking to Him!  Use a journal, a zip-lock bag, or a box… just keep praying!  “Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.”  Ephesians 6:18, NCV

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Giving In

I was sitting here trying to think of what I could possibly have to share this week.  There are movies, cds, books, blogs, companies, causes galore… but this week I can’t do it.

Here’s the story…

-I’m packing up to fly to Texas on Saturday morning to speak next week at a youth camp. (Yay!)

-I’m teaching through the entire book of Nehemiah during the week. (Overwhelming.)

-I get to see a friend AND spend time with my parents for a few hours as a result of said trip to Texas. (Huzzah!)

-My health is not cooperating and lymph nodes are swelling on my neck like crazy. (No bueno.)

-But if God has given me a task to do He certainly knows HOW it’s going to get done. (Amen.)

-As a result of all this craziness and the fact that I do not know if I will have wifi next week… I’m seriously considering taking a week off blogging. (*Sigh*)

-As soon as I typed that last statement, I started wondering how I could still pull 5 posts together, still set up twitter, and facebook, and… and I just don’t have it in me. (Head shake.)

-And then I remembered this post and I decided to give in. (Relief.)

-So forgive me, blog friends.  I’m sorry I’m not better prepared… but this Friday I’m finding peace by giving in and looking up.

-I’m going silent next week.  No e-mails, tweets, status updates, blog posts or anything of the sort.  I’m going to take a break… pour out, fill up, spend some time in nature and hopefully return to you in a better state… more Him, less me.

While I’m gone, will you pray for me?

-Pray that my body wards off sickness
-Retention from the months of studying and learning about Nehemiah
-That I’m able to connect with these high school students
-That my heart would be fully engaged, right where I am
-And more than anything, will you pray that they remember HIS name and not mine

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” Ephesians 6:19

Following and learning,
Ginger

 

Friday Finds: The Hook Up

As often as I have led prayer or encouraged students in prayer – you might think that I’d become totally comfortable in my own prayer life.  But the sad truth is that I’ve never been much of a prayer warrior. I find myself concentrating more on not messing up than actually thinking through the words I’m saying.  Prayer aids on note cards only seem to confuse me and leave me frustrated.  Can I ask for supplication before I’ve adored?  Was my adoration section long enough to then move to confession?  What if I ask for my needs for a majority of the prayer – have I disappointed God?  Are my prayers selfish?  Why do my prayers sound the same even when I’m alone and not in front of a large group?  My prayers lately all begin with “God, I don’t know how to pray.  I’m not doing this right.”

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.”

I want to pray more and deeper, and I struggle with a short attention span and wondering mind.  However – that doesn’t mean I write it off.  I’m always on the lookout for ways to enrich and enliven my time in prayer.

Two books that have done that in vastly different ways are Praying in Color by Sybil Macbeth and Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore.

Praying in Color was the perfect book for the constant doodler and list maker in me.  When my thoughts wanted to wander, this book taught me how to use and focus those rabbit trails!

From the Praying in Color homepage:

Maybe you hunger to know God better. Maybe you love color. Maybe you are a visual or kinesthetic learner, a distractable or impatient soul, or a word-weary pray-er. Perhaps you struggle with a short attention span, a restless body, or a tendency to live in your head.

This new prayer form can take as little or as much time as you have or want to commit, from 15 minutes to a weekend retreat.”A new prayer form gives God an invitation and a new door to penetrate the locked cells of our hearts and minds,” explains Sybil MacBeth. “For many of us, using only words to pray reduces God by the limits of our finite words.”

Be sure to spend some time on the website and check out this unique book and method of praying.  There are tons of samples and examples.  Hopefully someone will get as excited about this book as I am!

Praying God’s Word has spoken to my heart in a totally different way.  Through this book I learned to discipline my prayers, to pray the truth of Scripture, and to combat lies and fight strongholds.  Through Scripture-prayer and chapters addressing strongholds such as pride, idolatry, temptation and more, Beth reminds us that nothing is bigger or more powerful than the Lord.  Learn to pray God’s Word to break free from that which has a hold on you, so that the joy and authority of Christ may rule in your life.

AMEN!  My great friend Becca summarized the book and why it should be on your shelf here.  “My book is all kinds of marked with scriptures that I have prayed or that have helped me when I was struggling. I return to this book often, thankfully I have it in hardback so it can withstand all the use.”

I hope that these books and our continued discussions on prayer encourage you to approach the Throne of Grace with confidence!  I push on past my own shortcomings to pray with deep hunger stirring 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.

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Just Talking.

This advice is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to prayer. I’m hoping that someone somewhere benefits from years of trying, failing, fumbling and seeking!

Let’s Talk. from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.” Ephesians 6:18 (NCV)

Tomorrow we will be checking out TWO books that have challenged my own prayer life in a big way.

Do you have tools or books that aid you in prayer?

Following,
Ginger