The Story of a Story

About two and a half years ago I left my job working in youth ministry at a church to begin working full-time as a writer and speaker. It has been an exciting and crazy journey. I am so thankful for the countless MOPS groups, youth ministries, camps, and schools that have allowed me the opportunity to come and speak. In between speaking prep and connecting through this blog, I have been working on a manuscript. It has been a labor of love, although I certainly haven’t loved every minute of the process. I’ve confessed to you before- I don’t really see myself as a writer but I do believe I have a very specific message to convey.

I lived my entire high school journey in expectation of my senior prom. I had the dress, the heels, and the perfect hair but I didn’t have the date. At the last-minute, I recruited a friend to accompany me. He was to pick me up at the house, escort me to dinner, and drive me to the dance. He was supposed to bring me a corsage. Instead my date arrived to the dance after 10:30pm. (He had a good excuse!) He rushed in to find me standing at the bottom of the escalator that had already delivered my entire senior class to their “Night to Remember.” I had waited by myself for over an hour because I was convinced that I couldn’t enter the dance until I had my date and my corsage. (I did not have a good excuse!) I danced to only three songs that night and spent most of my prom thinking, “No one will ever want me.”

Since that time God has laid those words heavily upon my heart. If I truly am a daughter of the King, then I know the response to my own lament. Not only does Christ want me, but also He has given me an abundant and exciting life. His love provides the courage to live adventurously regardless of any dating status.

That’s the inspiration behind my book, Forget the Corsage.

 cover

Forget the Corsage is a reminder to stop waiting for life to happen to us, but instead to go and live life to the full right now. It can be tempting to buy into the lie that real living starts when we graduate, get the perfect body, find Mr. Right, and land our dream job. But the truth is that we are waiting for something that has already been given to us from God: life to the full.

Who is the target audience? You. I told my first readers that the book was geared toward young women, but then everyone told me that window was too narrow. Not only was the age gap to small, but so was the gender gap. Although I’m addressing women in the book, I think guys could find it interesting and helpful as well.

What kind of book is this? This book is in the form of a spiritual memoir. You will find it filed under “Non-Fiction Religion/Spirituality.” It is written in first person so that the experiences could be shared directly and straight from the heart. I wanted to connect with the reader in a very personal way. This is the story of a young woman who believed two lies:

(1.) That she was unwanted and undesired

(2.) That her life would only begin when she found “The One.”

This is also the story of a God who taught her fragile heart to trust that His good IS good.

Where can I find this book? The book is currently listed with Westbow Press, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble. I’m hoping to get the book into some local bookstores near my home and to some of the places I speak most often. (Hello, Texas!) The book is available in hard back, soft cover, and ebook. It is currently available for order!

What’s next? I’m hopeful that I will develop a way for you to order the ebook straight from this website. I have a webpage for my book that is almost finished. (I was holding revealing all the details about the book until EVERYTHING was done, but when is EVERYTHING ever done?) The new site will keep anyone interested with information about book signings, speaking engagements, and any new developments with the book.

I’m honored and blessed by the response that this little book has received so far. Thank you for the love you’ve shown through texts, Facebook, Twitter, and personal e-mails. You’ve made my year!

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Much of the next steps are going to be grassroots efforts and require a lot of work, but I’m excited for the coming months. If you are interested in being a part of this next phase, feel free to contact me through the CONTACT GINGER tab at the top of the page! In the meantime, spread the word, snag a copy of the book, leave a review of the book on one of the websites, and know that I’m looking for opportunities to speak to groups and share this message!

More to come …

Following,
Ginger

This side of the manger.

manger

“What we do when we leave the manger says a lot about who we met there.” – Bob Goff

That phrase is sticking with me today. It’s just two days since Christmas and already my routine is changing. My Advent books are back on the shelf. The final to-do list of 2012 is quickly filling. But something about this Christmas just won’t let me go.

Perhaps reading the Story in a new way opened my eyes to see the humanity of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and even Simeon. Perhaps it was the extended time of rest with my family. Or it might have even been the losses felt most deeply this time of year. I know without a doubt that those hurting and grieving in Newton have been laid heavily on my heart.

The manger points me to the God who entered into the mess and anguish of our world in order that He might bring us light.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

There’s something about the darkness we witnessed on December 14th which made the light that much more poignant.

We grieve, but because of the manger, we grieve with hope.

 

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

Preparing Room

Last week there wasn’t a stitch of Christmas in my home. And although we still have a long way to go, the tree is up with lights (sans ornaments) and the Bach Christmas Station is playing through Pandora this morning. Even though it might look or seem like a half-hearted or minimalist attempt, my heart is more engaged with the Story than it has been in a long time.

I’m continuing to read through Revelation, but I also picked up a great little e-book called “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.

“Let every heart prepare Him room!”

That’s one of my favorite stanzas from Joy to the World. I love the visual imagery and the perfect reminder to prepare what’s most important.

Our small group discussed that very idea around a fire and S’mores (WIN) last week. How are you preparing your heart for Advent? I can’t stop thinking about that question, especially when I wake up in the middle of the night.

Do we begin our own traditions now or wait until we have kids one day? My parents used to light the candles of an Advent wreath in the evenings during the month of December. The three siblings would fight to light and extinguish the candles, we would sing a song or two, and someone would read a small passage. I’m sure it was stressful at times, but there was something about the hush of the lights, the circle, and our small family celebrating together.

I’m currently on the hunt for my own Advent wreath. It might take some convincing to get my husband to sing, but the hope is that our home, as a family unit, will prepare for Christmas in a very intentional way.

What about you? How are you preparing the room of your heart this Advent?

This week I’m going to share some of my favorite Advent resources and I hope you’ll do the same. Preparing the way for Emmanuel… who was, is, and will be.

Preparing,
Ginger

 

The Quest

 

We need to know where we came from. Knowing connects us, links us, bonds us to something greater than we are. Knowing reminds us that we aren’t floating on isolated ponds but on a grand river.

That’s why God wants you to know his story. Framed photos hang in his house. Lively talks await you at his table. A scrapbook sits in his living room, brimming with stories. Stories about Bethlehem beginnings and manger miracles. Enemy warfare in the wilderness and fishermen friends in Galilee. The stumbles of Peter, the stubbornness of Paul. All a part of the story.

But they are all subplots to the central message: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16). This is the headline of the story: God saves his people! He casts his net over cities and individual, princes and paupers, the Pontius Pilates of power and the Peters, Jameses, and Johns of the fishing villages. God takes on the whole mess of us and cleans us up.

This quest is God’s story. And we are a part of it!

– Max Lucado, God’s Story, Your Story: When His Becomes Yours

That passage gave me chills when I read it. You and I are a part of something greater than ourselves. I’m more than the dishes I loaded in the dishwasher and the dentist appointment I sat through last week. It’s so easy to make life about to-do lists, isn’t it? I’m doing my best to remind myself the central message every day: God saves his people! Amen.

Living out His Story,
Ginger

My Chapter in HIStory

I’ve learned that in order to say yes to some big adventures, you also have to learn how to say no and wait.  I learned that lesson in a huge way during the summer of 2006…

“I am captivated by stories.  I find myself taken in by song lyrics, stolen from reality by a Jane Austin heroine, and challenged by the men and women of scripture.  All scripture is indeed inspired and written to teach us and bring us hope; however, it is the skillfulness with which it is all woven together that excites and thrills me.

I think what really gets me going is the way that my story is a part of His story.  Although my own story isn’t found in scripture, it’s amazing to think that I could have my own little chapter in the record of time.  Each book, chapter, and story is vastly different from the other.  Each call is unique and the Lord seems to use individual ways to catch the attention of His beloved people.

I was challenged last night to consider how the Lord might be calling me.  I recently interviewed for a completely different job than what I am currently doing.  I’ve been trying to listen to the Lord and make a clear cut decision, and I just wanted to hear an audible voice this time.  Samuel was audibly called when he wasn’t even asking to hear, while Moses saw a bush and Elijah discerned a whisper.  Jesus called out to Peter to walk on water as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ran into fire.  Isaiah had to race around naked for two years and Esther was challenged by her uncle to change the course of her people!  I’ve always wanted to be a dynamic character.  My prayer has been for the life less ordinary and the road less traveled.  I claim that I will take North Dallas or South Africa, I simply want a calling.

But I have received a calling.  I am called by my Creator to make his name known in every situation in which I find myself.  I do desire to work “in the way that I am bent” (Proverbs 22:6), that when I ____ I feel God’s pleasure.  I’m finding out that I feel like I might be able to fill in that blank with about 20 different things.

As I think about where this road I’m on may be leading me, I am reminded specifically of Abram.  The Lord called him to leave it all and come into the desert.  I examine my own comfortable suburban life and wonder if I am as willing as I claim to be.  I find comfort in the story of Abram.  All God told Abram about his ultimate destination was that He would be faithful to show it to him. But I’m excited because even if I really wanted it to be, my story is not Abram’s.  I am not going to Canaan, but God’s promise to finish his work in his people applies just as much to me as it did to Abram.  Slowly but surely I am learning what it means to rest in God’s faithfulness.  I keep reminding myself that there is a difference between waiting on the Lord and just waiting for life to pass me by.  I’m getting excited about “tomorrow”, not worrying, just making the most of today.  I am waiting with arms wide open to catch hold of the sail and let the wind take me.

When I was younger we spent almost every warm holiday at the family beach house.  Every available moment of sunlight was spent at the beach.  All 11 grandchildren and plenty of chaperones would make their way to our claimed patch of sand.  Some of my favorite moments occurred out in the water as we prepared to body surf the “mighty” waves that hit the coast of Texas.  We would go out into waist deep water, sometimes higher and then the waiting would begin.  Some would dive into any wave that came across, only going a few feet towards shore.  But if you waited for the BIG ONE and then took that plunge, you were rewarded with up to 20 seconds of a ride.  The undertow and power of the surge would throw you and push you towards any destination they chose.  My fear was always missing the BIG ONE.  I would begin to place all my attention on the perfect one and bypass the hundreds of smaller ones.  I’m not sure what the perfect one would have even looked like, but I wanted it.

I still want the BIG ONE.  I don’t want to forfeit because I’m not willing to wait.

I’ve made my decision.  I’m turning down the job offer.  It’s not easy, but I’m at peace.  I am setting out to make His name known right here; one conversation, e-mail, phone call, and relationship at a time.  When He wants me to move, I will be ready.  But until then, and beyond, I will be the adventurous heroine.  Watch out Jo Marsh, Elizabeth Bennett, and Anne of Green Gables.  My chapter isn’t nearly finished.”

The pages that followed that decision were more than I could ask for or imagine.  This whole journey has been that way.  Are you willing to dream and wait for the best?

  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
      and no mind has imagined
   what God has prepared
      for those who love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT

Following,
Ginger