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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In Need Today

My faith is a floundering mess.

My soul is worn.

My heart hurts.

And all of this is over circumstances and relationships over which I have NO control. I tried to verbalize my frustrations and hurts to my husband last night. “Everything just looks so broken and there’s a stubborn part of me that believes if I could just be the one in control, it might go differently. If I was in charge of the internet, our website would stop being ridiculous. It’s making us look so unprofessional. Doesn’t God know that? Doesn’t He see her running and hurting? Doesn’t He know how much I want them to stay here? Can’t He just direct him? Why are these babies struggling? Why is everything so broken?”

For all of my  all of my words about hope, I still struggle with surrender. I struggle to release. Just like you, I have to remember that things are broken this side of heaven. I must surround myself with the truth of God’s character and promises.

A favorite verse keeps running through my head today. “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, AMP.

My studies are teaching me that the verb for let be in the original Hebrew, rapha, actually means to release, to stop fighting, to just drop it.

So much of my inner struggle over what I cannot control (circumstances or behaviors) comes from a disconnect between what I claim to believe and how I actually lean into God’s promises. As I prayed to learn how to release and trust, God has been faithful to actually teach me. I can normally navigate my life in my own strength. This season, it’s not possible. I hate it. And I love it. And I hate it.

I wrote this verse during my quiet time early this morning, “…May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Psalm 79:8, NIV

I am in desperate need. I need more wisdom. I need God’s presence. I need to decide today whether I will choose truth over feelings. My flesh says my prayer list holds reasons to worry and doubt. My Father says His ways are higher than my ways. And that, should be enough. That is enough… for today.

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12, NIV

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Our website is back up and running. Praise the Lord. There’s one small change if you are still having trouble connecting. We’ve moved from http://withjoyretreats.com to http://www.withjoyretreats.com. Our knight in web armor, big-time-help man deserves a lot of credit for his hard work. John Griffith, you are the bomb-diggity. THANK YOU.

Thank YOU for praying, asking, and encouraging this week. Both Carey and I have needed it. God is good, all the time. Let’s keep pressing on to know Him, friends.

Following,

Ginger

Trust is a verb

Trust

My ministry and business partner, Carey, responded quickly and specifically when I text her asking what one word I could pray for her during the month of January: Trust.

Neither one of us could have guessed all of the ways God would call her (and me) to trust at the start of 2015. Just a few weeks into a new year and changes were quickly brewing. In the midst of questions we entered into February and I text her again. What’s one word I can pray for you this month?

The answer came once more: Trust.

I prayed that she would continue to trust and I would begin to release and rest. And then, last Friday, our website for With Joy Retreats disappeared. That’s the not-so-technical way of describing the tickets, back up data, hosting, and other jargon I don’t really understand. Our business, which relies on the web for everything- ticket sales, information, registration, contacts – just went away. Even with some amazing help, we still don’t feel any closer to having the problem solved. We are praying a fix comes soon enough.

Even as I attempt to look at this logically through the lens of my faith, the questions and doubts keep coming: Ginger, will you release and rest in this? Will you trust that my plans look differently from your plans? Will you believe that I don’t need a website to accomplish my purposes?

I was in a bad place on Friday. My heart was racing for long stretches of time and I was close to panic. I had to stop and remember that in the midst of unexpected situations, I have a choice. Will I choose to believe that God cares for the details of my life, OR, will I spiral into worry, anxiety, and panic?

Trust is so much more than hopeful concept. In selecting trust as a prayer for these two months, I’m realizing how much Carey longs to know and live surrendered to God’s will. She is teaching me through every challenge and change that God is always faithful to His promises.

If you are one of the many who have attempted to find our With Joy Retreats website this weekend, know that you can contact us at withjoyretreats at gmail dot com and we can answer any questions and even register you individually through e-mail and an invoice. It’s a lot less fancy (and a bit humbling on our end) but we are going to keep rolling and trusting.

Registration is still open for the 2015 BE Retreat. Spots are limited, and the website is broken – but God is good and we hope you can join us in April to rest and be known.

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Following (and trusting!),

Ginger

Learning to Be.

I’ve learned to adapt. The me of fifteen years ago would have had a minor meltdown over changed plans or to-do lists that remain undone. Life has taught me to prepare and then adjust. With seemingly so much to do and so little time to spare, I have learned to make the most of opportunities. My biggest chunk of time is between 12:30 and 2:30 (give or take) each afternoon. My daughter naps and I furiously run from task to task. Dishes, laundry, e-mails, maybe lunch, exercise, cleaning, phone calls, meeting. It’s MY time.

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You can imagine my dismay when my daughter awakens early from that afternoon nap. If you listen closely enough you can probably hear my cries from your home.

But my heart is slowly shifting.

In the Gospels we find Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. From the outset it didn’t look like enough. That boy with the lunch might have just kept it hidden. But when God steps into a situation, He makes plenty out of what seems tiny. He multiplies what we offer.

Monday afternoon I made myself stop. I was (once again) eating my lunch while I washed dishes. My mind was running in circles of worry and need. Frustration over the lack of time to accomplish was threatening to choke. So I did the only thing I know to do. I prayed aloud and I talked to myself.

“HELP, LORD.”

“Ginger, the dishes can wait. Light a candle, get some water, and eat the WORD.”

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I am desperate for wisdom in so much of my life: friendships, parenting, marriage, work, writing, and so on. My soul thirsts for something real and true. Something inside me is stirring to desire silence and rest over noise and busyness. The tyranny of the to-do can’t keep winning. I want TO JUST BE.

Perhaps you are like me and you need to train your soul to be still. I’ve got a pile of books, but really, I just need a chair and 10 minutes of silence. 10 minutes where I give up control.

Perhaps this video speaks to your heart as it does mine…

If you would like to be a part of the very 1st With Joy Retreat this April, there are still a few spots remaining.Still considering? Follow this link to explore, ask questions and register. Don’t miss out! Registration closes on February 1st.

Following,

Ginger

P.S. The breakout sessions have been announced! Check out the descriptions here!

With Joy Update

You spoke, we heard!

So many of you have expressed interest in attending the 2015 With Joy BE Retreat, and yet have felt the constrains of the $250 registration fee. While the cost of the retreat remains the same, we are now offering a payment plan. Our hope is that this option helps make the registration process more feasible and convenient for you.

 

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Payment Plan Option – Retreat Pass 
Here’s how it works…
  • The first non-refundable deposit of $125 is due upon registration. (This must be purchased by February 1st, 2015.)
  • You will receive an invoice for the remaining balance of $125 will be due no later than March 31, 2015.
  • Failure to make the final payment will result in forfeiting your retreat spot and initial deposit. This retreat pass includes 4 meals, 2 nights lodging at Chapel Rock Conference Center and all conference materials.

Follow this link for registration and more information!

Thanks for letting me break into regularly scheduled blogging to share the update! I’ll be back later in the week with a new post.

Following,
Ginger

All I Want for Christmas (& Forever)

 

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Time is a precious commodity. I cannot believe how quickly the days and weeks roll by. There is so much I want to accomplish, and most of my list is really good: clean the house, write a blog post, laundry, sew some bunting, have neighbors and friends over for dinner, organize my freezer, call friends and have lengthy conversations, meet and know all of my neighbors, exercise, bake, attend classes, volunteer… I mean really. I could keep going, but I don’t feel like I have the time.

If I could ask and receive for anything this Christmas, it would be the gift of more time. (I promise I’m not speeding past Thanksgiving – more to come!)

Life will not slow on its own. I have to be mindful of the days and hours I’m given. In the midst of baking and holiday preparations, I have to tell myself to slow down and declare thanks for each moment. I have to remind myself not to wish these days away- believing somehow that living will be easier, cleaner, or more spacious in the future.

Life is messy in all its parts. The days will run into months if we don’t take time to pause. If we long for God to fill in our gaps, we must give Him space to move and be.

This year, may I suggest a gift for all of us? be

BE.

 “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, AMP

God’s answer for our busy schedules, constant striving, and stress-induced insomnia is simple. Be. Just Be.

Be rested.
Be known.
Be filled.

Carey Bailey and I have a dream to gift women just that. A weekend retreat to step away from the striving and to step into being present.

 

Here’s the heart behind With Joy Retreats…

With Joy from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to watch and share. I so hope to see some of you in attendance April 10-12, 2015. The Chapel Rock Camp and Conference Center is gorgeous and we are hard at work pulling together an incredible team and intentional sessions for our first retreat. For more information or to register,  follow this link to the With Joy Retreat website.

 

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Following,

Ginger