Six Years Later

In November of 2006 I moved from Texas to Arizona all by myself. My parents helped me pack, drive, and unload the truck before I delivered them and my last bit of home to the airport. I wanted to share this entry because I know there are many of us who are waiting for a transition to feel “normal.” 7 months into my desert adventure and I was still missing home. I think that’s to be expected. But I also want to remind us all that joy is available, even in the midst of lonely or challenging situations. We simply have to remember where to turn when we feel lost.

I wrote the following post on June 1, 2007.

az collage

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The crazy thing is that I’ve spent the last few conversations convincing everyone (including myself) that things couldn’t be peachier out in the desert.  And yes, some days I might describe with a peach, however, other days are less like a peach and more like raw hamburger meat.  I’m quick to remind myself that no matter my location, my days would be varied.

As the plane left the muggy Houston runway on Tuesday evening I could not get control of my tears. I’m so glad I had the window seat because I’m sure I would have drawn lots of attention from the short woman next to me whose business suit was 4 inches too long at the wrist and ankle hems.  Instead I stared out the window at the greenery that is not the desert and reminded myself once again of Abraham’s journey from the land of Ur, a place he had called home for 80 years before he received quite a different calling from the Lord.  Surely he had to have had a meat day every once in a while.

(Speaking of meat, I must stop here and say that if I try to actually pay for a trainer…for someone to physically torture me, please fly out here and hit me in the face.  I can’t tell you how many times I have said the word OUCH today as a result of a disastrous gym workout two days ago.  Just now I nearly passed out from pain as I tried to bring a fork up to my mouth.)

Speaking of pain…this distance from all that is familiar and dear has left me pretty emotional lately.  Besides feeling like someone has beat my arm muscles into raw meat, I’ve been feeling slightly less than peachy.  It all came to a head as I pulled my car into my apartment complex and a song came on a mixed cd.  I lost it.  Not just the tears, the deep wrenching sobs.  I pulled into my brightly lit spot and prayed my neighbors would not choose that moment to make a trip to Wal-mart.  (Also, do not go to Wal-mart at 6:30 pm on a Friday.  Bad Choice.)  I managed to put the car in park and pull my knees up in front of the steering wheel.  It’s not that this is hard; per say…it’s just that being home would be easier.  I don’t want to live for easy…but boy doesn’t that sound…well, easier?

I could pack it all up and be home in a week if I wanted.  But I don’t really want to do that.  Things are just getting interesting, exciting even.  There are big transitions coming at work and I truly want to be a part of what is happening here.  I’m even going to take my first Seminary class in August.  Who would have thought?

So as I sat hugging my knees, the song continued to play and I heard these words over and over:

“You hold my hand, through all of my struggles, you carry me through.   You hold my hand; though dark surrounds me…you carry me through.  Patience, a thousand years and a day it’s all the same, O to you, the God of Space and Time…I will wait on You. Do not be afraid, for I am your God.” (My God from Freedom Time by Colin Bates)

I let my crying subside before I took a deep breath and popped the trunk.  I had groceries to take upstairs.  And somehow, even though my arms felt like they were going to rip from their sockets because of the weight of the bags, I knew I wouldn’t be crying anymore tonight.  No guarantee for tomorrow…but I’m hopeful.

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of me on those who take refuge in you.”  Psalm 31:19

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I want to remember the hard times that eventually became the good times. I need to remember the moments when I thought I was alone, but clearly He was beside me through it all. His good is so, so good.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.”  Psalm 57:2

Following and learning,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Prep

Dear Ginger,

Hi! I’m a freshman in high school and i go to a church where at one winter retreat you spoke to all the girls! Now I’m doing a sermon to my Bible class on 2 Timothy 1:3-12 (verse 7 is my main point) so I was wondering if maybe you could give me some ideas or pointers or anything to help me make an awesome sermon that everyone can enjoy, remember, and learn a lot from. -A

Dear A,

Great question. I feel like I’ve had several people ask me over the past year about how to develop a sermon, message or Bible Study. I don’t have a set list of “to do’s” every time that I speak, but I am happy to share some of the things that help me on a weekly basis!

1.  Know that section of Scripture well!
Read it over and over and fall in love with the Word of God. Your passion for the text will translate into the way you speak about it!

2. Read the passage in multiple translations.
Bible Gateway is a great resource for that. Sometimes I can better understand a passage if I read a different translation. At times New Century Version, New Living Translation, God’s Word Translation, New American Standard Version, the English Standard Version and the Message Version have ALL helped me to better understand a passage.

3. Read the whole chapter of the text that you are working with.
So if I’m speaking on Philippians 3:11-12, I’m at least going to read all of chapter 3, but I would probably understand the verses if I read ALL of Philippians. I should also look for the:
who
what
where
when
and why of a book (This video might help explain that further!)

4. When it’s finally time to develop the message the first step is to pray, and then pray some more!
I have to remind myself that getting guidance from the Lord is going to be the best tool. Sure, I might have lots of ideas for what to say to a group, but I know that God has the PERFECT take-aways for a message.

5. Identify one take-away.
My hope is that even if my audience is distracted or doesn’t pay attention to my whole message, they are at least able to summarize an important point from the message. After I’ve studied and prayed I simplify and write that one phrase or take-away at the top of my notes. Something like “God is the ONLY thing that will ever satisfy” or “God’s promises are all GOOD!”

6. Open up some resources!
Once I have studied and prayed about a passage on my own, I then utilize all the resources I have at my disposal. Here’s a retro Thursday Tip video that will show you what I mean!

Last bits of advice:
Stay real and vulnerable. No one wants to hear how we’ve got it all together.
Keep the message simple.
Practice, practice, practice. The more comfortable you are with your message, the more comfortable your audience will be.
Remember that enthusiasm and energy play a big part in your delivery!
Pray some more.

A- I hope this helps. I can’t wait to hear how the class goes!

Following and Listening,
Ginger