Book List #2

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HOWDY, FRIENDS!

I hope you have had a lovely summer full of fond memories and much-needed rest. School has just started (!) in my neighborhood, and I felt the compulsion to drift back into a more routine schedule and even try some writing.

I appreciate your grace and patience as I’ve continued to embrace letting go of some of the most time-consuming parts of my day. That release included this blog. Two years ago I would have been in full-on panic mode if I missed blogging more than three days in a row, much less only blogging TWICE in THREE MONTHS. HAH.

This post is a continuation of the reading list I shared in January and updated in March. I’ve always loved reading but I found the opportunity to do so dwindling in the past years. I missed it. Since making reading both priority and reward in 2014, I feel like I’ve finally found a balance that works for me and my days.

I’m sharing the books I’ve read these past months and what’s on tap for future reading. Check out the video below for details and a short list!

Book List Part 2 from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Books mentioned in this segment:
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger
Son by Lois Lowry
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

I would love to hear your recommendations for this year. What’s the best book you’ve read this summer?

Happy Reading!

Ginger

Reading List Update

2014books

I know. It’s been dead quiet around here, but it has been anything but quiet in my house.

Who knew an 8 month-old would be so screechingly loud? Love my little ball of personality, but MAN she is a lot of work. I’m not saying anything earth shattering here, except to acknowledge that this ideal of “having it all” and “doing it all” is a pretty big myth. I can give 100% to what’s in front of me, but that means something else isn’t getting done. I don’t want to multi-task my whole life, I’m not very good at it. So my working windows are really when my child sleeps – but that’s also my window for cooking, cleaning, showering, e-mails, lesson prep, and blog writing. Something has to give everyday, and as you could probably tell, the blog tends to get the stiff arm. My goal was to write once or twice a week. I want to hold to it, so thanks for your grace in the midst.

That being said, I HAVE been making reading a priority this year. We turn off the T.V. earlier or keep it off, and spend more time reading. Thus, I have a quick roundup of the goods thus far. Check out the video update on the 2014 reads below and I’ll catch you afterward.

Good Reads from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

So, here’s my original booklist for 2014 if you want to see the titles. I don’t know if I could really rank the books, because they’ve all been so good for different reasons. My husband and I are still reading “Dad is Fat” and I just started the Jeff Shinabarger book. So looking forward to vacations this summer to also get caught up on some fiction and memoirs!

What about you? Any good ones you’ve read this year? DO TELL.

Happy Wednesday!

Following,
Ginger

Fill it Up, Hold the Guilt

I signed up for a mentoring program at my church. I’ve been paired up with a mentor (hurray!!) and this week was our second time getting together. We’ve elected not to go through a book or create any additional homework. We are attempting “life on life” discipleship. This week we walked, next week we are making dessert together. During our quality time we share a little bit about our past, our present, and especially what God is teaching us.

About 45 minutes into our walk I made the remark that I just felt a little dry. Life has been filled with lots of great things, but lately has left little room for me to open up the Word each day. I explained,

“I wanted to pull out my Bible this morning, but every time I went to open it, my daughter just needed me. Diaper changes, naps, feeding, falling, teething, and then the laundry buzzer sounds.  I feel like it’s just out of my grasp today. I so need it to set my mind and heart each day or I just don’t think I can make it.”

My mentor shared about her past struggle with legalism. She felt guilty for years because she wasn’t a morning person and rarely pulled out her Bible until the evening.

But then she decided to stop feeling guilty and just start enjoying the time she did have to read. The important thing was to not get caught up in rote performance. Her words have replayed in my head for the past few days.

“You talk about filling up in the morning and getting set for the day. That’s great when that can happen, especially if it’s how you are wired. But don’t forget that you have the Holy Spirit – you ARE filled up.”

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I’m the first person to tell you not to let guilt keep you from the gift of God’s presence, but I often forget that truth in my own life. This season of life makes me hunger for the Word like never before. That’s a good thing. But I cannot let myself feel guilty or defeated if I don’t have that thirty minutes to give. I can turn to the Lord and know that He is faithful to give His presence in so many ways, especially in prayer. Time in the Word is worth it, but I don’t have to live like my well has run dry. My cup runneth over because of a living, moving, and personal God. He provides streams in the desert.

Maybe I’m the only one who needed that reminder today. But just in case, I thought I’d share it here too.

 “… keep on being filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18, ISV

Following in freedom,

Ginger

Reading List for 2014

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This year is a wide mix of material, and I’m excited for all of it!

Spiritual Growth Titles:

1. (Not pictured) Currently Reading – Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
I feel as though I’m one of the few who have never read this in its entirety. I’m working to fix that at the moment. He provides such logical explanations and examples to so many complex thoughts, ideas, and theology in this work.

Mere Christianity is a theological book by C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1942 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during World War II. Considered a classic of Christian apologetics…” (Wikipedia)

2. Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness by Andrew Murray
Yet another book I’ve had for ages and still not done my due diligence and read it all the way through. Perhaps 2014 is the year to finish every book I’ve started. This one came highly recommended by several of my friends. It’s not long at all, but packs a firm punch.

“Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.” 

3. A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
I’m also currently reading this book. My copy is marked and worn and I haven’t even finished it yet. I read chapter 6 three times before moving on. So much of Emily’s writing feels as though it has been taken from a page in my journal, only my journal from a few years down the road and with a lot more wisdom. The subject line of this book speaks to my heart: Uncover the art you were made to live. You don’t have to be an artist or even an art enthusiast to enjoy this book. She’s taking the truth of Ephesians 2:10 and applying it to living daily art. “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” (NCV)

4. More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Generosity by Jeff Shinaburger
I don’t know much about this book. My friend Carey text me while she was at the Allume Conference this October and told me I should look into Shinaburger’s stuff, that apparently I would really connect with it. So I put the book on my Christmas list and my mother-in-law was kind enough to oblige. Now I have the book and I look forward to reading it and sharing what I learn.

In More or Less, Jeff Shinabarger calls readers to create their own social experiments to answer the question, “What is enough?” (Amazon)

 

Family Growth Books

5. On Becoming Baby Wise: Book II by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
Can you tell I needed some more titles to round out my list?

6. Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
My friend and former boss, Kevin East, highly recommends this one. I’ve only heard positive reviews so I’m definitely looking forward to cracking this one open.

Despite the numerous examples the author cites where parents fail, this text is overwhelmingly upbeat with hope and possibility: Parents who strive to live a life of faith characterized by daily trust in God will pass on this message of possibility and potential to their offspring. Kimmel asserts that this “radical” mode of parenting will meet the three essential needs in kids’ lives: for security, significance and strength. He assures parents that these needs can be met with grace-laced love, purpose and hope. Kimmel’s gentle heart is evident in every chapter, and his obvious passion will spur frustrated parents to keep at the task with new resolve and optimism. (Publishers Weekly Review)

7. Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just isn’t Good Enough by Justin and Trisha Davis
Yet another title that I don’t know much about. I actually saw this book pinned on someone’s Pinterest board and decided to do likewise. I pinned it and my husband gave it to me for Christmas. I’m hoping we can read it together.

How safe is your marriage? The answer may surprise you. The biggest threat to any marriage isn’t infidelity or miscommunication. The greatest enemy is ordinary. Ordinary marriages lose hope. Ordinary marriages lack vision. Ordinary marriages give in to compromise. Ordinary is the belief that this is as good as it will ever get. And when we begin to settle for ordinary, it’s easy to move from “I do” to “I’m done.” (Book Description, Amazon)

 

Fun Reading

8. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
My husband received this book from my dad this Christmas. We’ve been slowly reading it out loud on nights when we feel alert enough to stay up past 9:30. Jim is one of my favorite comedians. He’s pretty sarcastic and down-to-earth. This book is his memoir of sorts about surviving life with his wife and 5 kids in their 2-bedroom New York apartment. We’ve laughed aloud. A lot.

9. Son by Lois Lowry
Yesterday I wrote about books two and three of the “Giver” series. This is the final installment, book four. David wants to read it aloud also, so I’m having to sit on my hands to keep from tearing it open and reading it on a 24-hour binge!

My thoughts on the series: The Giver (book one) has been one of my favorite books for the past decade. It took having lots of downtime to finally check out the rest of the series. Think Hunger Games minus the violence. It’s young adult fiction but the themes within the book have nothing to do with teen romance. Each of the books has left me thinking for days.

– – – –

There you have it. Looks like I have an odd nine books on my list. I would love to add at least three more asap! I’m still formulating, although I’m fairly certain my sister’s top choice (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by  Mindy Kaling)  will be making an appearance fairly quickly. That’s why I’m also looking to you, friend. What should I add to my hold list at the library ASAP?

What’s on your list for 2014?

Following,
Ginger

Step #2: Today’s Manna

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This scenario happens far too frequently in my life:

My husband I go out to dinner and can’t decide whether or not to order an appetizer or dessert with our meal. We usually cave and get both. And then we often forgo debating which dessert and simply order two of them. It’s fabulous and waaay too much food. We placate ourselves by talking about how rarely we go out or how much we deserve a treat. By the time we hit the car to drive home I usually remark, “I’m not going to eat ANYTHING tomorrow.”

It doesn’t matter the ridiculous amount of calories I consume in the evening, I’m still going to wake up hungry. I always wake up hungry. I’ve never been one of the lucky few who could just forget to eat lunch. I also know that if I don’t eat when I’m hungry, my hunger can quickly turn into hanger. Hunger + anger = Hanger. “Sorry I snapped. I’m hangry.” I try not to use it as an excuse, I simply acknowledge this fact and make sure to pack a Larabar with me at all times.

Hunger is an important driving force in the Bible. God provides food miraculously for the hungry time and again. Case in point, this story from Exodus.

The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. (Exodus:16:3-4, NASB)

God was making an important point with the Israelites. If they tried to utilize the manna from the day before, they discovered it rotted through. He wanted to be their source of provision each and every day. Layer that truth with Matthew 4:4 and you find our 2nd step to staying in tune this season.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

stepSTEP #2. Collect Manna for Today.

I know how easy it can be to read the Word on Sunday and want that manna to be our fix for the whole week, but God desires to speak to us each and every day. The Bible is meant to be our fuel for the journey, the sustanance that will keep us graceful in the midst of the most trying times.

Jeremiah 15:16 is one of my all-time favorite verses and speaks to the precious nature of God’s Word.

When your words came, I ate them;
    they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
    Lord God Almighty.

If we want our hearts to remain in tune, we would be wise to fill up each and every day. My hope and prayer is that the Word of God would be our joy and delight, the source we turn to satisfy our hunger.

“Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty–more of the glory of God? Because that is what I am made for–to give Him more glory. More eucharisteo, more. And not only yesterday. But today– manna today or I starve.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

“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.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

 

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Book It

dear ginger

Ginger –

You read A LOT of books! How do you recommend getting started reading books? I have such a huge bookshelf with so many I want to read when really I feel like the Bible is the one I should be opening for the few moments I have each day to read. Do you set book reading goals? I sometimes think I’m just not a reader. But I feel like that’s like someone saying “I’m just not a runner.”

-L

Dear L,

As soon as you compared reading to running I totally understood where you were coming from. For years I was the non-runner in a world of race-loving friends. I strongly felt bibs were for eating and NOT for exercise. But there’s something about a goal that can get me to do the most unexpected things. I have to say it, declare it, and then just go for it. Thus this non-runner came home with her 13.1 medal.

run run

I love that you are setting a goal for reading. I think the “Book It” reading program in elementary school might have fostered some of my early page-turning. Winning prizes really appealed to me, and then the love for literature soon followed. I don’t enjoy all types of reading, some books make me want to poke my eyes out. I need stories throughout even a non-fiction book to stay engaged and interested. But I suppose I also just enjoy learning. I prefer to read paper books, although I do enjoy my Kindle while on vacation. I love to mark up my books with underlining, highlighting and lots of notes. I think it keeps me engaged and helps me to find passages that I want to refer to at a later time.

The list that your question came from just happened to contain a lot of Spiritual Growth material. I talk about a lot of books, but the list has been growing since I was about 13 years old. I also happen to have attended a ton of Bible studies that went through books and also have a degree in theatre ministry from College. Much of my required reading from school still sits on my shelves. But aside from that, here’s how I usually approach reading.

I spend the morning reading my Bible, usually over breakfast. I am a “MUST HAVE BREAKFAST” gal so it’s an easy way to make sure I get fed in every way possible. I typically read one page from “The Valley of Vision” prayer-book or “My Utmost for His Highest.” Then I start an entry in my journal and read anywhere from 1-4 chapters of whatever book of the Bible I’m currently reading. (I do set some goals in Bible reading. This year I’m reading through the Gospels over and over. There’s not a number of times I’m hoping to hit all four, I simply wanted to focus on the words of Jesus. So I suppose you could say it’s a theme rather than a goal.)

Since I eat lunch alone, (or dinner when I lived by myself) that’s when I spend a good portion of time reading whatever book is next on my list. I usually ask for books on my Birthday or for Christmas after keeping a running list of suggestions from others in the front of my journal all year long. I don’t have a “finish this by this time” goal – I just read a book until it’s done. Some slower books can take me 2-3 months on my lunch pace… but if a story or theme catches me I will usually make my lunch last a little longer each day.

I used to read fiction in the evenings until I realized I was reading more Harry Potter than anything else. (Not joking.) I needed some veggies and protein in my high-carb reading diet! I now typically only read fiction on vacation. It gives me something to look forward to and a good reason to load up my Kindle.

I’ve also learned that it’s ok not to read every page of a book. I’m not in school any more. If I’m struggling through a chapter for too long, I just move on. That’s really hard for my personality to allow, but I started considering that option after perusing these posts from “Following to Lead.” (How Do Leaders Read So Much? and To Read A Book in An Hour)

Like running, there are days when you pull out the book and do the work even if you aren’t feeling it. But don’t let a missed day keep you from jumping back in after a break.

Hope this helps! Does anyone else have any other suggestions for L?

Following,

Ginger

Advent Reading

Resource list #1. Favorite reads for December…

“Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas” by John Blase. I can’t tell you how much my heart enjoys reading the Story with new eyes. “This retold story of Word made flesh invites readers to react appropriately—with eyes opened wide in wonder, jaws dropped in amazement, and hearts rejoicing.”

The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent by Calvin Miller. These 31 days of readings and Scriptures will invite you to rest in the presence of God throughout the Christmas Season and the whole year. “Revisit the Manger… the miracle… the meaning.”

“How in the World to get ready for Christmas?”  A beautiful blog post by Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience. ”This will take time. This will take waiting. I must make space for these….”

God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This book comes highly recommended by one of my nearest and dearest friends. Becca’s desire to savor the mystery of the season causes me to want to pick up every book she reads… this one by Bonhoeffer especially!

God Came Near: Chronicles of the Christ by Max Lucado.  A beautiful book that paints a unique picture of the humility and humanity of the Incarnation.

Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen. This book was a gift from a dear friend and I have treasured reading it for the past 6 years. There are so many thought-provoking reminders throughout this devotional.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Every story bears His name… and I especially love the voice given to Mary’s story in this one! “At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David—every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together.”

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Although I don’t own this one (yet!) I’ve given multiple copies away in the past year. The text, the artwork… everything about this book is beautiful. “On one quiet night, creation whispered a secret. Grass and bees, robins and trees all spread the word. Sheep told their young while angels sang the song to the shepherds. Hushed news of a miracle echoed to the ends of the earth. The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived!”

What am I missing?

Following and waiting…
Ginger

Food for Thought

This fall I traveled with my family to Ireland. One word: amazing.

I love hiking and being outdoors, so this was the perfect location for some beautiful walks. One day early on in our journey we set out on what we believed would be a 6 mile hike to a boat dock. We would then catch a little ferry back to our starting location and snag some lunch. Only problem, around mile 6 it became clear that we still had quite a ways to go. We were nearing 1pm and by this point my oatmeal and granola bars were a distant memory. I was approaching hangry status. (Anger fueled by hunger. Can anyone relate?)

That’s when we saw the berries.

Although I was raised in Texas, I have zero memories of picking my own fruit. We lived in the suburbs. I know of farms you can visit and pick your own berries, but I’ve never been to one.

It took some convincing to get me to reach my hand into the bushes and snag my first blackberry. I was concerned about dust and bees and thorns and poison… you know, the usual. But I finally just reached into the brambles and pulled out a dark juicy one. SO GOOD.

There’s something about reaching out and grabbing that fruit, even if there’s a possibility for a scratch or sting. It just tastes sweeter when I pick my own berries.

Ready for the metaphor?

Check out the quote by Spurgeon.

“We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Big vocabulary words, but the point Spurgeon is making is timeless.

Intimacy with the Lord is sweeter when we dig into the Word with our own eyes. Sermons, books, blog posts, podcasts, youth group, Bible study… all of these are great ways to mature and grow in our walk of faith. But are we letting ourselves be “raised” by the books we read and the studies we attend rather than carving out our own time to read and enjoy?

Remember: there is no substitute for a hand-picked blackberries.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Summer Reading

I’m not actually going on a vacation this summer, so there’s no time set aside for more reading than usual- but it just feels right to stack up the books and make a goal. Jordy Liz posted her pic this week and inspired me to do the same. Here’s my list, in no particular order.

The non-fiction titles:

1. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller: “Facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of God.”

2. God’s Story, Your Story by Max Lucado: “When His becomes yours.”

3. Under The Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken: “A sequel to A Severe Mercy.” (*A Severe Mercy is one of my fav books of all time!)

4. Worldview Conversations by Stanley J. Ward: “How to share your faith & keep your friends.”

5. Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw: “Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on creativity and faith.”

6. Love Does by Bob Goff: “Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.”

7. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: “A dare to live fully right where you are.”

8. The Well by Mark Hall: “Why are so many still thirsty?”

I have to keep a steady diet of non-fiction… otherwise fiction would keep me from having a functional life! During college I would spend my breaks reading through entire series lying on a couch and soaking in stories. But for a treat, here are my few pieces of fiction for the road:

9. The Arabian Nights: “Sometimes called The Thousand And One Nights, is the title of a collection of fanciful Oriental tales first brought to the notice of English readers in 1704, by Antoine Galland, Professor of Arabic in the Royal College of Paris.”

10. Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos: “A memoir, by turns harrowing and hilarious, about a huge mistake.” (-Miami Herald)

That’s the list, but I’m sure it will grow with each passing day.

And now I’m curious. What’s on your nightstand, dresser, or list for this summer? Do tell!

Happy Friday,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Starred

I’m going through the starred items in my google reader and sharing my favorite blog posts from the past few weeks. When I star something in my reader it’s like hanging a picture on my wall – total framer. If you haven’t read them yet, may I strongly recommend that you check each one of them out!

Happy reading and Happy Friday!

-Joy’s post at Love And Respect NowLessons from John Maxwell & a Four-Year-Old – that title alone should capture your attention! Great reminder about being intentional in our questions and conversations.

-From the intentional and challenging writers over at Fast. Pray.The Marriage Calculator – This post packs a powerful punch.”In terms of singleness, it often takes the form of a giant mental calculator where marriage is the end goal and various life choices have point values.  And somehow, when you get over a certain number of points – voila! – spouse!”  Follow the link and keep reading!

-Jordy once again hits me where it hurts – my selfish pride. Jordy Liz Blogs: Selfish Expectations Will I ever learn to check unrealistic expectations at the door when it comes to relationships?

Jeff Goins post at Michal Hyatt’s blog: How to live your dream when you’re scared to death“Remember: Until you start living it, you’re only dreaming.” Once again I’m reminded to choose passion and obedience over fear.

Care to share what you’ve been starring and saving up this month?

Following,
Ginger