Love first, ask questions later.

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Last fall I attended the Allume conference and was privileged to hear many amazing authors and speakers. I returned home from my trip with piles of books and pages of notes. But out of all of the amazing talent and famous names that graced the stage, there was an Iraqi High School teacher who has challenged the way I think about the world every day.

The Middle East feels so far removed from my every day life. It’s hard to identify with the struggles of a far off place I’ve only seen on the nightly news. But Nassir’s father changed my heart in 2 minutes and 46 seconds. It took 2 minutes and 46 seconds to move from apathy to concern. My heart broke at the 34-second mark of this video. I hope you will take a moment to watch.

“His Surgery Would Be Five Years Away”—A Father Shares His Story! from Preemptive Love on Vimeo.

I wept, missing my own daughter after having been on the road for weeks, and I wept for Nassir, his father, and the many children of Iraq who are struggling with very little hope of healing. I cried when I thought of the countless parents who feel powerless to help their children. Because of the use of chemical warfare in Iraq over the past three decades, heart defects affect roughly one in ten children. Although expensive in the U.S., children here at least have access to life-saving surgery.

Picture the landscape of Iraq: cities devastated by war upon war, large populations now running from ISIS. Many of the most skilled professionals left the country years ago for more opportunity. Hospitals are understaffed and under qualified to meet the surmounting needs of the people.

And that’s where Preemptive Love comes in. For less than $1,000, a child can receive a life-saving heart surgery. A tagline printed on Preemptive Love t-shirts explains their heart perfectly: Love first, ask questions later. It’s a beautiful motto for me to remember all day, every day. Love first, Ginger. Love first.

 

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Needless to say, I was touched and moved by the stories shared by the Preemptive Love Coalition. I couldn’t stop telling the stories of Nassir and other children like him. What would I do if my daughter had a life-threatening condition and no possible hope? Our small group from church determined that we wanted to take part in giving hope to Iraqi families.

 

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So we gathered our excess, picked a Saturday, and had a garage sale to benefit Preemptive Love. All proceeds benefited that one organization. We planned, advertised and THE PEOPLE CAME. (Hallelujah!) We had so much stuff, so much traffic, and so much craziness in one morning. It took time and effort, but the result, both in memories and monetarily, was completely worth it. I have a deeper connection, and a truer love for the people God has placed in our community. Serving alongside our small group served to connect our lives and unite our hearts in a new way.

 

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It was so encouraging to see friends, strangers, and neighbors all together in one space. In all, thanks to donations and sales, we raised roughly $1,900 and will help to fully fund two heart surgeries. Two lives. Two stories changed for good.

 

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Damaged hearts in Iraq broke my heart, but something else may tug at yours. I am deeply touched as I watch the world being remade, rather than undone, by acts of love. My friend Tanuja donates her time and energy to tutor and teach reading every Saturday in New York City. My friend Mary works tirelessly with the refugee population of Phoenix. My mother-in-law has volunteered every Monday for over two-decades at a homeless shelter. Countless friends have opened their homes and hearts through fostering and adoption. In such a dark world, your light is desperately needed.

Not every problem in this world has your name on it, but I guarantee you, something does. Someone needs your hands, your presence, and your generosity. How can you help mend the broken places? Sometimes writing a check is the answer, but sometimes, God is asking you to stand with your people and do the work. I cannot perform a heart surgery, but I can educate, promote, and stand in the gap.

So, what breaks your heart?

Following,

Ginger

 

P.S. THANK YOU to so many of you who have reached out with kind and generous encouragement over the past month. 2015 has been full of unexpected moments, but God continues to give grace each day. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

P.P. S. With Joy BE retreat is ONE month away and we do have a spot left for you! There’s even a little scholarship waiting. If your heart just perked up, head here for more info and to message me. We want you here!

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Last Minute Gift List

Twas two weeks until Christmas and all through each day, the people were scurrying, ordering, and wondering what present to give Uncle Clay…

Love always perseveres.

 

Actually, we are down to the last few items on our list and – wait for it – we finally found the perfect gift for Uncle Clay! But perhaps you are still hunting for some unique gifts. Have no fear, this super handy list for last minute gifts is just for you!

1. For the young women in your life: My book – Forget the Corsage. I still feel strongly that this book is exactly what I would share over coffee conversations with any gal I could snag some time with. I’m passionate about the message and believe strongly that women (of all ages) need to be reminded that life is found in Jesus- not in a significant other, success, wealth, or even the pursuit of happiness. Written as letters to myself at various ages, I think this makes the perfect gift for gals ages 12 to 20-something. It’s full of my personal (and embarrassing!) journal entries and provides questions and space for readers to respond.

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2. For the person who has everything: make a donation to the Preemptive Love Coalition. I heard about this organization at the Allume Conference and was beyond moved. I told my husband that this year I want to fund a heart surgery. Take away all my gifts, I just want to help in any way I can. God continues to stir my heart for these children, families, and this country. Spend some time on the website watching videos, reading stories, and you will likely be pulled to action.

“Thousands of Iraqi children, born with life-threatening heart defects, are waiting in line for a lifesaving surgery. Already the world’s most common birth defect, heart defects are even more common in Iraq—some Iraqi cities estimate that their children are ten times more likely to be born with a defect.But their parents search for a solution in vain. Iraq’s once great medical infrastructure can no longer serve these children. 

To eradicate The Backlog of children in need of lifesaving heart surgery, Iraq needs a nation-wide solution for Iraqis, led byIraqis. That is why we created Remedy Mission – a pediatric cardiac training program that brings international heart surgery teams into Iraq to train locals and save children.”  

In simple numbers: $49 covers supplies, $275 sends a surgeon, and $650 sponsors a heart surgery.

 

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3. For your littles: These delightful books!

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

You Are Special by Max Lucado (Also comes in board book!)

God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner

 

4. For the fashionista in your life: Noonday Jewelry! I love this jewelry and am making plans to host a trunk show in 2015 because I’m that big of a fan. I’m not a fan of themed parties, but for this company, I will make an exception! Not only do I love the look of the products, but I so admire the mission and purpose behind everything they do.

“Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, we create dignified jobs at living wages. This allows our artisans to earn more in order to support their families. We also offer no interest loans and make advance payments on orders. This way we are able to shoulder the costs of materials and build a lasting relationship based on trust. We offer scholarship programs and emergency assistance. Noonday Collection also donates a portion of sales from adoption trunk shows to place orphans in forever families.

Noonday Collection is not a charity and we do not believe that providing a hand out is a sustainable long-term solution to poverty. We aim to be a sustainable business that gives women across the United States a way to make a lasting difference in the fight against poverty and injustice. This is what makes this movement so special. To learn more about Noonday’s impact, click here: http://www.noondaycollection.com/impact.”

 

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5. For the women who need rest: Registration for the 2015 With Joy Retreat: BE.

I absolutely believe in this retreat and the hope that it holds for all of us run down and worn out by doing, trying, and never-stopping. Consider joining us in Prescott, Arizona for a weekend of respite, creativity, and worship. Details about payment options coming soon so stay tuned if you’ve been waiting to secure a spot!

 

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I know I’m missing some other wonderful things to share, but the 16 month-old is demanding I take her hand and go get the mail – so if I want this post to ever see the light of day I must hit publish and go with what I’ve got! :) Thanks for understanding the infrequent posts and scattered thoughts. I’m working on giving what I can, when I can and dropping any sense of guilt for the rest. Anyone with me?

May your Advent be full of wonder and sacred pauses, and may your days ahead be merry and bright.

Let every heart prepare Him room!

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Congrats to Elyse R who was the randomly selected winner of the REST PACKAGE! Elyse was notified by e-mail and should be receiving her prize soon. Thanks to everyone who entered and shared!