All the Things 2015

I started writing my 2016 goals yesterday. I used this great dream guide by Jennie Allen, which took me through some deep processing and analyzing. Highlights, lowlights and everything in between ended up in my journal. Here are some moments worth mentioning.

 

With Joy Retreats: BE

There’s nothing like starting your own business to put your heart on the line and dredge up unknown fears and idols. Carey and I entered 2015 with less than 10 attendees for our very first women’s retreat. Personal obstacles, devastating circumstances in the lives of many of our friends, and the enemy tossing around defeating words at every corner all caused my hope to dwindle and my faith to falter. But from the dark moments of late winter came the life-giving fulfillments of spring.

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44 women gathered in Prescott, AZ for a weekend that was of the Lord and for His glory. Carey perfectly summarized the 2015 experience with one word: beautiful. What a joy to see women from so many states, so many ages, and so many chapters from my life connect in one place. Through art, nature, and worship we all were given the opportunity to let go, be still, and know God.

Because our first retreat was both enjoyable and soul-filling, we decided to do it again! This April 2016, With Joy will be hosting our 2nd retreat. We had the same space to fill – up to 60 women. As of January 1st we only have 11 spots remaining! Carey and I could not have imagined such a response at this time last year. We have an incredible team joining us for 2016 that we will be announcing in the next few weeks!

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The theme is one close to my story and my heart. As someone who was both a believer and a prisoner to a sin stronghold for many years, my passion is to see all women set free to live in the freedom given by Christ. 11 spots left. Would you consider joining us?

 

Man to Man defense

On Labor day, my husband and I learned that we were pregnant with kiddo number two. Another little girl will be joining our family this May! I’m delighted and terrified at the same time. I find working from home, parenting one toddler, and simply taking showers to be (at times) ridiculously challenging and completely rewarding. I want to look at other women and say, “HOW DO YOU DO THIS – DO ALL THE THINGS SO WELL?” Truth mantra: no one does everything… at least without a lot of help.

So, I made 2016 goals through the end of April, and then post-baby I’m going to reevaluate my new reality. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about parenting. I get a good 4-5 months in a routine before something else shifts and changes. Adaptation is my middle name. Or at least I want it to be my middle name so I don’t go insane!

In between writing outlines and dancing to “Let it Go” for the thousandth time, I hunt for baby names, pin nursery ideas, and think about what this new little one might bring to the world. I think she’s a mover and a shaker.

 

Good Reads

I managed 12 books this year. I have the most free time when I’m traveling, so I got a few really interesting reads in on some long flights. My top picks?

Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Hailey Barton. This made my list because it was a completely refreshing and new spiritual discipline for me. She’s serious about bringing silence into your communion with God. I loved the scripture and stories she walked through. If you’re interested in the practice of stillness, this is a great read.

Sea Biscuit by Laura Hilenbrand. I was moved and fascinated by Unbroken in 2014, so I thought this would be a good follow-up. I know I’m late to the Sea Biscuit party (I never saw the movie) but this was excellent and so very interesting. I am a sucker for books with historical photos included.

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. This was my first read by Jen and I completely get her appeal. She’s refreshingly honest. I underlined the entire first chapter. This one is set up like a book of essays on various topics generally tied to love. Some I enjoyed more than others, but over all, this was the perfect fit for some of the thoughts my own heart was wrestling through.

(I went and ordered her book Interrupted as soon as I finished, as she said that THIS was the book she most wanted her readers to open. I just completed the final chapter last night. It’s almost completely underlined. I also made my husband stop reading his book so he could listen to me read it aloud. All this Jen Hatmaker is likely what caused me to dream about being invited to the Hatmaker’s for dinner. I turned them down. Apparently it was the night of the season premier of Downton Abbey. Because, #priorities.)

You Can Change by Tim Chester. My pastor recommends this book about three times a year. And I will agree with Him: wonderful book, iffy title. The title might lead you to believe that this is a self-help book. Instead this is an incredible dependency book about ditching the sin in your life utilizing means of grace: service, hope, suffering, prayer, worship, the Word, and community. Convicting and challenging, this is a book to add to your reading list.

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. This one did wonders for challenging my ideas on community and hospitality – as in– total paradigm shift. Some basic observations.

  • Hospitality is not the same as entertaining.
  • I want a tribe of people who know which drawer holds my spoons.
  • There is something sacred that happens around a table if I will simply take the time to notice.

The thoughts, words, and recipes found within have pushed me in ways I could have never expected. My heart yearns to be a woman with the gift of hospitality. Maybe that’s my word for 2016. I’ve prayed and pondered about finding the word. I made my lists, dreams, and goals. Free, fruit, earnest, yes, gentle, sink, lower, others, give, release… all of these fall under an open door policy. I want to be inviting, welcoming, and free with all I’ve been given. Bread & Wine sits on the shelf with my cookbooks, and aside from the Bible, it’s the book I’ve pulled out most regularly in 2015. I want it close to the heart of my home and ready to prod my own heart once again. Left to my own devices, I will care for my little family and call it a day. I don’t want to open my home to the neglect of those living in it’s rooms, but I do know there are 6 chairs around my table and only 3 of us filling them. Commence hospitality.

 

Other Random Favorites

Ellie Holcomb. I’m late to this train! The lyrics. The melodies. A playlist of Ellie Holcomb is what I use to focus and prep before I speak. This was my theme song for the fall. I am a little starstruck (FINE, a lot) to see her live in February.

The No Fuss Calligraphy Starter Kit. I am not a crafter, but I do love words and handwriting. Ashley Gardner has a beautiful Etsy shop called Printable Wisdom. I have several pieces of her design in my daughter’s room. So this Christmas I asked for and received a kit to help me learn to work with a calligraphy brush pen. It’s proving to be a fun and random challenge. (For the record: Ciminello is really, really hard to write in calligraphy.)

My latest Stitch Fix win. Once or twice a year I take myself shopping with a delivered Stitch Fix box. I usually have enough credit (WOOHOO!) through referrals to get one piece for FREE. In July I scheduled a fix for September, not knowing that I would be pregnant when the box finally arrived. This definitely limited what I was going to keep, but the red shirt has been a staple for speaking engagements this fall. I also loved the gold clutch, but I can find something similar for $30 cheaper at TJ Maxx. So that was out. The other pieces were too small for the maternity version of me. If you are interested in signing up for a fix, may I recommend using THIS LINK? Thanks! (Also, I need a new stance for photos, right? Hello. This is my arm. It goes on my hip.)

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Favorite WHOOPS moment on Social Media: OY! An old friend kindly alerted me to the fact that I had been repping WithOYretreats for many weeks.

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Speaking. From women’s retreats, Mops groups, mother/daughter weekends to jr. high retreats, this has been a gem of a year. I feel so blessed to not only love what I do, but to continue to have opportunities to share. Speaking God’s Word is my absolute passion. I can’t wait for the new adventures in 2016, including both the Aurora Girl’s Conference and There4 Gathering. (If you are in OK or TX – check them out!)

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And with that – my kiddo is up from nap time, so here’s where I close. Thanking God for 2015, the highs and the lows – and everything in between. Now to nail down those 2016 goals!

Following,

Ginger

P.S. THIS from Shauna Niequist… I <3 this.

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Summer Graces

When you live in the middle of a desert, you grow used to the oven that greets you in the middle of the day. But I will never adjust to having temps over 100 once the sun goes down. I do my best to get out of the house so we aren’t cooped up every day, but it’s still a challenge to keep from going just a little bit crazy.

I do well for pockets of time and then something happens to frustrate me: the cup of water dumps over, the website won’t load, the batteries died, the price changed, or the creative juices won’t flow. I am pretty bad with frustrations. But I’ve found that one of the quickest fixes for my mood is music. It’s an instant way to lower my pressure gauge. Sometimes I turn on kid music and dance with my daughter or blast top 40 radio and run laps in the living room. But the best fix this summer?

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Morgan Harper Nichols – this album is so, so good. My friend Carey pointed me in this direction a few months ago and I find myself listening to it at least once a day. The truth stops me in my tracks. The music is medicine to my soul. Here’s my current favorite off of the album, although I will probably switch to something else tomorrow.

 

 

Cooking through Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around breadthe Table with Recipes has also been aiding my summer sanity. I love me some Shauna Niequist. I feel like we sometimes share the same brain. This book did wonders for challenging my ideas on community and hospitality – as in – a paradigm shift. Some basic observations.

  1. Hospitality is not the same as entertaining.
  2. I want a tribe of people who know which drawer holds my spoons.
  3. There is something sacred that happens around a table if I will simply take the time to notice.

I don’t have the space to give you a full run-down, but know that this has been one of my favorite reads of 2015. I’ve also given away three copies of this book thus far. There’s another sitting in my Amazon shopping cart. The food is good, but I really love rereading my favorite passages and notes as I prepare to cook. I’ve never cooked all the way through any book, so this seemed like a great start. I made salad dressing for the first time. (As a Chopped fanatic, I’m only mildly ashamed to admit this to you.) I purchase almond meal and crafted homemade breadcrumbs. I just purchased new towels to try to make my own bread in the coming weeks. WHO AM I?

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book:

“I felt within myself the desire to shoo her out, to hide, to keep her from the disorder that is my real, actual life some days. But I took a deep breath, and she sat there listening to me across my dirty coffee table, and we talked about community and family and authenticity. It’s easy to talk about it, and really, really hard sometimes to practice it.

This is why the door stays closed for so many of us, literally and figuratively. One friend promises she’ll start having people over when they finally have money to remodel. Another says she’d be too nervous that people wouldn’t eat the food she made, so she never makes the invitation.

But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the riches moments in life–the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love–if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door. I know it’s scary, but throw open the door anyway…” – Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

I feel like reading this book pushed me to pursue deeper friendships, especially when it comes to the girlfriends in my small group. We’ve committed to eating together once a month in the coming year. We will meet in a home to break bread, ask the “how are you REALLY doing” questions, and study the word. I have no doubt that this tribe will come out of this experience changed. My people, my tribe – I like how that sounds.

 

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And lastly, I feel like I should tell you that yesterday was pretty much a wash. I struggle daily with balancing my various roles. On the days I get good time in the word, play with my kiddo, and maybe exercise, I feel some guilt about not working. And on the days when I try to make calls or send e-mails while my daughter is awake, I feel guilty about screen time or just not spending time with her. Yesterday I tried to cram way too much into her nap time. I wanted to clean the house, record a podcast, send e-mails, read, and exercise. Sounds like I have 6 hours to work with, right? FALSE. I get on average about an hour and forty-five minutes. At the hour and a half mark I began crying. Do you ever feel like you have so many “I HAVE TO DO THIS” that it’s hard to ever get to the “I WANT TO DO THIS”?

I was still living in that frustration around 7:30pm. My daughter was in bed, my husband left for the gym, and I was gearing up to do a workout DVD in my living room. But I was tired. I was sore. And a dear friend text to say, “What if you just don’t?” So I thought, “Lord, can you take care of me tonight?” I filled my water-glass, took a shower, lit a candle, and then wrapped myself up in clean sheets. I had recently checked out a new book at the library and I was finally giving myself the space to read.

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Enter Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott. I love tender, crass, poetic, thoughtful Annie Lamott. She has eyes open to things I often miss. This quote in particular brought a smile to my tired face.

You can change the world with a hot bath, if you sink into it from a place of knowing that you are worth profound care, even when you’re dirty and rattled. Who knew?

The lesson of this summer has been to remember that God loves all of me extravagantly. He cares about my obedience, my service, and the condition of my heart- but He also cares about my body, my soul, and my spirit. He sees my weakness and He promises to match and exceed it with His grace.

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Summer On,

Ginger