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: Transitioning Transitions

thursday tips

“We have no idea what lies ahead or how God will open doors of potentiality when we consciously choose to get out of the ruts we’re in and start moving down new paths about which we can be excited–even passionate.” 
― Luci Swindoll, I Married Adventure

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite video posts with you. I wrote about shaking knees in the midst of big changes and this clip was a reminder of how life is one transition after another. I hope you are embracing uncertainty and running full speed toward opportunities on the other side of possible.

Thursday Tips: Transitions from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Here’s to transitions!

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tip: Transition Lenses

“There is a time for everything, 
       and everything on earth has its special season.
  There is a time to be born 
       and a time to die. 
    There is a time to plant 
       and a time to pull up plants.
  There is a time to kill 
       and a time to heal. 
    There is a time to destroy 
       and a time to build.
  There is a time to cry 
       and a time to laugh. 
    There is a time to be sad 
       and a time to dance.
  There is a time to throw away stones 
       and a time to gather them. 
    There is a time to hug 
       and a time not to hug.
  There is a time to look for something 
       and a time to stop looking for it. 
    There is a time to keep things 
       and a time to throw things away.
  There is a time to tear apart 
       and a time to sew together. 
    There is a time to be silent 
       and a time to speak.
  There is a time to love 
       and a time to hate. 
    There is a time for war 
       and a time for peace. ” 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NCV

Today’s Thursday tip is all about acknowledging the varying seasons of our lives…

I hope you will process today’s tip with a grain of salt: emotions are helpful but they are not what we should use to guide our lives. God’s Word must be the ultimate lamp to our feet and light to our path!

“If I choose to live out of my emotions, not telling what might happen or where I might go to salve my depression, dissatisfaction, or discouragement. Feelings fluctuate with the day, the wind, my hormones, circumstances, and human relationships. But because God told me he doesn’t change, I can choose to believe Him no matter how I feel…

I’m not denigrating the feelings and desires that cross our minds. Feelings aren’t what do us in, thought they constantly demand satisfaction. We are done in when we live out of those ever changing-feelings.”

– Luci Swindoll

My hope and prayer in taking time to acknowledge feelings and emotions is that we might take those very things to the One who brings joy out of challenging situations. Let yourself acknowledge your pain, but don’t let yourself stay in that place for too long. The hope is that in time we will move from grief to joy.

“…Crying may last for a night, 
       but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5, NCV

Following,
Ginger

p.s. A gentle reminder that while there is a time to cry… there’s also a time to release. More on this topic HERE.

Dear Ginger: The fear of being left behind.


Dear Ginger,
As all of many of my close friends from school have been getting into serious relationships and some even getting engaged, I have found myself having a really hard time with the way that my friendships are now changing as a result. I have this constant fear in the back of my head of being left behind. I wanted to ask you if have any advice or encouragement from your season of singleness before getting engaged and then married. Did you have these struggles and if so, how did you handle them?
-M

Dear M,

Thank you so much for sharing your question today. I can totally identify with your struggles.  I know well the fears, the hopes, and the frustrations that you’ve expressed. I spent my teen years and most of my 20’s wondering if I was EVER going to have a relationship. Through those decades there were many weddings to attend, friends to cheer on, bridesmaid dresses to buy… and yet, there I was… still minus the “plus one” portion of my invitations.

Most days I was okay filling my time with ministry, friendships, books, and goals. But catch me near a holiday, wedding, or after a chick flick… and you would have found me weeping on my bed at night, terrified that I would be the only one still on my own while all of my friends built new lives. I look back at those younger versions of myself – 15,18, 20, 23, 26, 27 – and see girl who was trying so hard to be Miss Independent and all the while desperately desiring to be claimed as someone’s “dependent.”

So before I go into my thoughts and suggestions let me just say that I know none of this is going to be a perfect answer. I’m praying right now that it won’t feel like a pat response from a married woman. Half of the books on singleness on Christian bookshelves make me want to roll my eyes and pick up Harry Potter as a diversion instead. “Dance like a wildflower princess!”  Lovely sentiment, but during my seasons of singleness, I just wanted someone to shoot straight and acknowledge that even though I trust the Lord, that sometimes waiting feels awful and painful. And sometimes it feels okay and not bad at all.

I went through a really warped time in my relationship with the Lord where I truly thought that unless I could be happy being a lonely, that I was being disobedient. But there’s a problem with that line of thinking: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18, NLT)

I felt like I was being more holy by being completely alone. That’s not good. In fact, GOD says it’s NOT GOOD for us to be alone. Yes, He has given us the gift of marriage, but He has also given us the gift of platonic relationships. Life is going to contain some lonely parts, but I don’t think we should punish ourselves with it. Some seasons will hold more friendships and relationships. Others will require that we depend upon the Lord and remain thankful for a small circle of friends.

I also had a time in my life where I honestly believed that as long as I wanted “a someone” or to be married, that God was going to hold out on me until I learned to be content in the current situation. And while God does sometimes desire to teach us patience, there was another problem with my line of thinking.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:9-13, NLT)

I would tell my 20-something year old self that It’s okay to hope for and want marriage. It’s ok to want a relationship. It’s ok to ASK for a relationship. You don’t have to be ashamed of your requests or fearful of His response. Trust His timing and His desire to see you live an exciting and heroic story full of love.

But what do we do when everyone around us seems to be moving into a new season of life? We have to remember that relationships are seasonal. I’m working through that very concept with my counselor each week. I broke down crying out of loneliness and fear that I don’t give my friends enough attention. As we get older the breadth and span of our relationships get wider and wider: high school, college, camp, work, church, neighbors, family… and on and on! I can’t keep all of those balls in the air. As painful as it is, I had to finally realize that friendship works both ways. Some friends I bounce the ball to them and they joyfully send it right back. Others seem to… well, drop the ball. Mourning that change is healthy and necessary. We just have to be careful about hanging our happiness on a friendship or relationship. Of course it’s sad to see any relationship change, but we have to know that some friendships are seasonal. Will you still be able to find joy in the life God has given you even if your friendships change?

I think it’s also okay that you aren’t overwhelmed with joy for your friends right now. I think your heart to love them in spite of that fact shines through in the way you are seeking wisdom and advice during this season. You want to be joyful for your friends, I can hear it in the way you wrote about them. So why not ask? Cry out to God, surrendering your hurt and desires to Him a thousand times a day if you have to. Just remember that through every season, God is with you. He is near and not far off.

As you pray, acknowledge the blessings in your life. Ask God to show you ways you aren’t alone, and give thanks. I hope that you do have friends with whom you can be your real self – even the hurt, disappointed and tear-stained version of yourself. We don’t have to go through the hard seasons alone. Rather than turning inward, let the community around you lift you up during this time. It’s okay to be the one who needs the encouragement!

I tend to find joy when I look outward. I know that my own pain is magnified when I focus all of my attention on me. Continue to serve and love those around you. Let yourself enjoy serving, giving, and receiving love.

Again – my hope and humble prayer is that God will somehow use this rambling post to remind your heart how specifically and tenderly He loves you… in this and every season.

Following,
Ginger

p.s. You might check out an older series that touches on some of these themes: Live a better [love] story.

Present

We’re talking about transitions this week for a number of reasons.

  1. I received a great question about coping with changing seasons that I’ll share with you tomorrow.
  2. Real life transitions are happening in the lives of so many of my friends and family: weddings, adoptions, dating, new jobs, moving, disappointments, pregnancies, exciting opportunities, grad school, challenges… and on and on and on!
  3. I continue to struggle with how to respond to all of the changes going on around me. How do you rejoice with others when you don’t feel like rejoicing? Is it ok to enjoy a season of blessing when friends are walking through a season of hardship?
  4. I feel as though every conversation has someone wistfully longing for a season of life that’s to come… or one that’s already happened. Can we learn to be content in our present situation?
  5. I just read through every one of my journals during the month of June. I was hunting some specific info for my project, but it was also very entertaining. A common theme through all 18 books that span my middle school years to present day: a desperate search for contentment during just about EVERY season and transition of life.

My journal hunting also revealed how much I enjoy recording quotes and passages from books, articles, lectures, and sermons. I could fill a whole journal or two just with quotations. One of the most interesting passages I discovered in my high school journal was a poem written by a 14 year-old boy. I’m not certain where I first discovered it, but I know exactly why I copiously copied it into the sunflower spiral-bound journal. See for yourself…

Present Tense
It was spring, But it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, And the great outdoors.
It was summer, But it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.
It was fall, But it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, And the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, But it was spring I wanted,
The warmth, And the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom, And the respect.
I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, And sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,
The youth, And the free spirit.
I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,
The presence of mind, Without limitations.
My life was over.
But I never got what I wanted.
-Jason Lehman, 14 yrs

 

Are you living for the future, past, or present?

Following,
Ginger

Smooth Transitions

Hey Ginger, I am a soon-to-be college freshman! What advice/resources can you recommend for me as I start off on this new journey? –T

Congratulations, T! What an exciting transition you are entering. If you are anything like me, you were ready for your freshman year in college when you were a high school junior. I couldn’t wait for the adventure of starting something so completely different and fresh. New friends, new home, new church, new rules, new classes, new everything!

I’ve been jotting down things to share with you all week long, but I’m hoping other readers will comment with some bits of advice to add to the list!

  1. Remind yourself that change brings grief. This IS going to be so exciting, but it’s also going to be so different. Even if you thrive with change, there is some part of you that will mourn a shift or two. Let yourself be sad. It’s ok and it’s normal. Acknowledge your feelings and grieve… just don’t stay in that place for too long!
  2. Repeat this out loud: “When expectations and reality don’t line up, the only thing left is disappointment.” Your freshman year isn’t going to look like what you see in the movies. (Thank goodness.) The reality of grades sets in and sometimes you need to close your door and study, or even sleep. There will be someone staying up all night long just about every night of the semester. You don’t have to be the person that joins them!
  3. Sit with someone new at lunch. There are no more social stigmas. You can introduce yourself to anyone you like and tell them where you are from and your major. They will in all likelihood, share the same info with you! College is a social blank slate. Make the most of it!
  4. Take your time to visit churches, but I suggest selecting one by the end of your first semester. Having a place to belong will help get you out of bed and to spiritual nourishment. I’d also recommend volunteering at your church. When I was super tired and considering staying home, that obligation to the 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class kept me accountable and responsible!
  5. Don’t let yourself assume that you will meet your spouse in college. I certainly didn’t and I only went on 3-4 dates during my whole 4 year experience. Letting go of that expectation will make reality a lot more pleasant!
  6. There are so many things you can do with your time. Try lots of things – take random classes, and try intramural sports. Just make sure you also remain diligent to the purpose of school: your degree! Focus when it’s time to focus and have fun when it’s time to have fun!
  7. You don’t have to get a tattoo, piercing, or anything else to make college memorable. It’s four years. It will be memorable on it’s own.
  8. If you have the ability to study abroad – go for it! I don’t know of a single person who has ever told me, “I regret those 3 weeks/months I spent in that other country.”
  9. Rather than focusing on “WHAT do I want to do when I grow up?”– May I suggest a different question? “WHO do I want to be when I grow up?” Your job can change; your character and integrity are with you for a lifetime.

And lastly,
10. Live out what God has already spoken! Follow His Word and enjoy the experience. You will find Him on the journey with you at every turn.

My favorite books about transitions, change, and adventures:
“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller
“Chasing Daylight” by Erwin McManus
“I Married Adventure” by Luci Swindoll

And I have a FAVORITE book that I love to give graduating seniors:
“You are Special” by Max Lucado

Alright friends, what would you add to the list for T?

Following,
Ginger