Talkin’ Trash: Treasure in the Trash

Have you ever thrown something  in the trash can that was REALLY valuable? Maybe a wedding ring, car keys, tickets, money…or perhaps a prized piece of fridge art?

If you have, chances are you rolled up your sleeves, grimaced your way through the various textures in hopes you’d find the object of desire.

A number of years ago, I had worked for a faith-based recovery program in Minneapolis called Teen Challenge. The clients in the program lived on site, and at the time, I worked the evening shift.

On one particular evening, one of the ladies threw away her set of false teeth after her meal!

Let me say it again: She threw her false teeth in the trash.

She was laughing and enjoying the company at her table one moment, and the next, she was panick-stricken as she realized she was missing her sparkling white smile!

The giant bags of dinner time trash had been taken out to the dumpsters already. My co-worker and I did what ever good Christian staff would do…put our gloves on, pushed our sleeves up and we went on a search for her teeth! We gagged our way through bag upon bag of spaghetti-sauce smeared contents of 60 residents, and praise The Lord, we finally found her chompers! (Guess that gives new meaning to the phrase, “Trash Talker!”)

When searching for something important, it doesn’t matter if the desired object was in the trash or sitting in pristine condition on the kitchen counter, it never loses its value! Most people would do whatever they could to find their missing treasure even if means getting dirty! (And for me…it takes a lot to motivate me to get dirty!) If my wedding ring was stuck in a puddle of mud, it would still be every bit as valuable to me. It would take some effort, but it could be cleaned off and brought back to its original shine again with a little TLC!

Like the diamond in the dirt, many of us have spent time in places that diamonds just don’t belong!

Our smiles may have been hidden beneath the heavy weight of the trash tossed at us. We may have been caked with the mud of this world, or we may have been splattered with a mess that didn’t even belong to us. Family wounds, sinful attitudes and actions, unhealthy relationships, abuse…there are many kinds of trash that we have been faced with.

But one thing remains the same: treasure is always treasure whether it is in the trash can or in the treasure box!

Who wants to dig through trash? Not me! Even driving past a trash dump is enough to ignite my gag-reflex. I can’t imagine many of us want to spend our days sorting through the things that have been deemed “garbage.”

Eeeewwwwwww….

I’ve heard it said, that “if you sit around the trash long enough, you’re going to begin to smell!” That may be true, but what if the deep wounds of the heart, the pain of the past, held pearls of wisdom that if we sorted through it for a moment would help us to see the diamond in the dirt?

The Treasure in the Trash

The things that we have packed in our hearts may not alwasy be lovely…the memories, the piercing words spoken …the pain of the past. Some of those memories we may never want to think about because of the painful response it invokes in our hearts. It is not necessary to look at the trash, but to look through the trash to find the treasure. 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not necessary to look at the trash, but to look through the trash to find the treasure.

 

To find the treasure in the trash, we need God’s perspective. He is the expert at making beauty out of a ashes. He sees the treasure in the ash heap. He sees us in our most vulnerable moments, covered in wounds and trash as a priceless treasure that He came to save.

Trash is nasty. That is the nature of trash. However, what is lovely is the treasure that comes out of it! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That has been true for many when it comes to finding something in a garage sale pile or thrift store. But When it comes to considering pain, hurt, and brokenness a treasure, that is typically not our first response. At least not mine. Thankfully, we have God’s word to anchor our thought process with truth.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite scriptures, James 1:1-5,

“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The first time I read this portion of scripture, my heart did a belly-flop. “Consider trials pure joy?!?” How in the world am I supposed to do that? You see, at the time I read this passage, I was a young single woman, filled with so much pain and grief that I cried myself to sleep almost every night. I had a heart filled with broken dreams, unfulfilled promises, shame and pain that I just didn’t know what to do with all of the pain in my heart. So I did what I thought a Christian should do, slapped on a smile and shoved that pain deep into to the basement of my soul. And when nobody was around, I cried. Deep, deep cries  that only Jesus and my cat knew about (and probably my mom because moms just know those things). I cried for years, and years and years. And it was during that that time of healing, God healed my heart. He taught me how to see the good in the trial. To consider the joy in the trial. To see the beauty in the ashes. The trials themself really stunk. (Trash stinks, remember?) But the testing of my faith during that painful time truly brought about the greatest healing I could’ve imagined. And God used it all, and continues to use it. Thankfully, those tearful years have passed, but it was in the most painful time in my life that my relationship with Jesus grew. Some of the pain was a result of my own doing, some from others. I have forgiven and moved forward, but know that Jesus was with me and not one tear was wasted.

He never wastes a tear.

He always knows where his treasures are. You are His treasure! No matter what you’re going through, no matter what trash is around you, God has His eye on you, my dear!

You are His delight. He would go anywhere to redeem you. No pit is to great, no trial is too big, to amount of pain is too deep for God to heal. He will rescue those who are in need. He will redeem all that was lost. He will restore all that has been broken.

He sees the treasure in the trash, and He will do whatever it takes to bring His beloved to a place of freedom.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬ ‭

Time

Keep it short. Make it quick. Time is wasting…

tick tock tickTime keeps ticking. Seconds fly. Time is ever passing by.

Family time with phones in hand, Face to face with Facebook Quality time with Instagram.

The little kids now fully grown, Day by day the years have flown. Look at all the time we’ve blown!

Life is a vapor. When will we learn We just have one life There is not another turn? 

So take your time, enjoy the ride. Live it up with loved ones by your side. 

Time is ticking…

Tock tick tock 

Look at the time–there goes the clock…

            *********************

This little poem just popped into my heart as I was thinking of just how quickly this summer has gone by. Isaiah is napping now and I’m in a sentimental state thinking of how all of the treasured memories we have had with loved ones this summer. There are things we really wanted to do, but never did. People I never got together with who I wish I could see more often. And certainly never got enough journal time with my Jesus. 

And then I get to thinking about what comes after the time on earth runs out. I believe as the Bible says that we will all one day come before God and have to make an account for our lives. I just tremble inside thinking of that day! The glory of His majesty and the deep sorrow of my heart for all that was left undone. I imagine that as I stand before God I will tremble as I am face down before His majesty. I think about the questions I will be faced with, and how my whole life flashes before me even now as I wrote the words! Did I truly know HIM? Did I do what God wanted me to do with my time? Did I honor my commitments? Did I share my faith with those He was calling me to? Was I a faithful servant? Did I live a life that was honoring to Him? Did I stand for Christ even in the face of persecution???

These thoughts bring me to tears as I can say that I am well aware that I have not lived a perfect life. I have missed the mark. None of us have lived exactly as we ought to. But I know for certain we can learn from the past and make a decision to live God-honoring lives. One life. One death. One Savior to cover the sins of our one life. Will we choose to live a fully devoted life for God with our one life or will we live it for ourselves???? As long as we have breath we still have time to choose. But after that…no.more.time.

With love,

Ginger

Gotch Yer Back

Just seeing this picture and it’s caption brings me to tears of gratitude as I think of–the kindness of strangers and friends who have seen little man in meltdown mode in public and drop whatever they are doing to help. (Not defiance meltdown–usually–but sensory overload meltdown…BIG difference.) Doesn’t happen much these days, but it does happen. Too tired, full moon, too much sugar, not enough exercise, fluorescent lights, loud music, standing too close to him, changing directions in our usual route…could be a slight breeze and POOF we are in the battle of our lives in the middle of Walgreens. A sensory meltdown is like that–it seems to come out of nowhere–like a tornado touchdown in the middle of a picnic lunch. Each time we go somewhere and Isaiah is calm, it is a miracle. Each time we have to change a plan and he doesn’t have a meltdown, it is a miracle. He is a MIRACLE! Being in a store or busy public places–even church–can be very overwhelming for a child with autism. 

We stay home a fair amount because our little guy is at his best at home–his toys, his own peaceful sanctuary. And yet, the very best thing for him is to experience new things. We go places because every time we do he overcomes and can expand his comfort zone (and mine)! It does take some planning, but we have expanded our list of places that we like to go and he and I came up with a list of 100 places to go this summer! And with God’s help, we have gone many of those places already!

On behalf of mommas and the poppas of special needs kiddos who are having a screaming session, don’t just do something–stand there! Yep-just stand there! Even if you don’t know what to do, come on over and stand there. There have been many times when I was in the middle of a store and have had to do a restraint hold. It isn’t cute. It may look like I’m a child abuser as my child fights to break free from my wonder-woman grasp, and I fight back tears of great frustration as my strength wanes. Sadly, there have been countless pairs of shoes who have shuffled by, while I was below on those tile floors. And there have been the shoes that have stopped. Those were not the shoes of a creepy stranger–instead their presence told me, “You’re not alone. I see you in the battle.” They didn’t need to have advice, they didn’t quote any scripture.  They stood.

Well, speaking of scripture, Isaiah‬ ‭52:7‬ says,

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!””

The feet of those stopping by in those moments brought good news, peace and a sense of God’s goodness. It was a tangible reminder to me that God sees the battle and He reigns. 

We can all be there for someone else…to see beyond our own agenda to be the feet of those who bring the goodness of God to those in a hurting world. 

As we in Minnesota say, “Gotch yer back.” 

 

‭‭

Unforgettable 

Unforgettable                                       By Ginger Ekholm*

  

Your name is written forever on the palm of my hand 
You are my child with whom I have a purpose and a plan 

Don’t grow weary when it seems too hard to walk

I myself will hold you up and listen when you talk

I know every tear you cry and bend my ear to hear everything you say 

I myself will be with you when others have gone away 

My child when pain surrounds your soul, when it seems too hard to bear 

Just remember I have not forgotten you and I will always be there. 

You are unforgettable and I will never leave you. 

Don’t listen to the lie that you have been forgotten 

While you watch with an aching heart the blessings others have gotten 

The time will come for you, dear one, but that time is not for you to know. 

Just reach out to me and seek my face, learn from me and grow. 

As your destiny unfolds, you see that the purpose in the pain endured, and in every loss. 

And there will be true fellowship with Me, as you daily bear your cross. 

I have not forgotten you, and I know where the road will lead 

I know the plans I have for you and I know everything you need 

And in due time new blessings will come, new seasons will unfold 

But trust in me and be content and I will take your silver and give you gold. 

For you are not forgotten and you will never be. 

For you are my child and I will love you for all eternity. 

*I wrote this poem with tears streaming down my cheeks as I had yet another friend tell me they were getting married. While I was truly happy for them, I couldn’t help but note the longing in my own heart to be married. Ever since I was a young girl, I knew part of my calling was to be a pastors wife. All I needed to fulfill my calling was a pastor! 

Time seemed to be slipping away and It was several years later after writing this poem that I met my super amazing husband Steve. But during the loooooooong time of waiting I remember wondering if there was something wrong with me or if I had standards that were too high. I asked God if he had forgotten about my heart’s desire to be a wife and a mom and this poem is what He whispered to my heart. 

Thankfully God has far exceeded my expectations by blessing me with a hubby who is even more wonderful than I ever dreamed! All those years of waiting were some of the most stretching years of my life, but it was also the sweetest, as I grew closer to Jesus than ever before. 

If you’re in a time of waiting, I know just how hard that can be. Whatever you’re waiting for, just know you’re not forgotten. God sees you. He loves you and He has a wonderful plan.

💗Ginger


Prayer Hit List

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””

Galatians 5:14 NIV

Sometimes the best way we can love someone is to pray for God to bless them. Sounds so simple but even if it doesn’t change them it will change us! When there are people in my world who just aren’t friendly or who are negative on a daily basis, I see that as an opportunity to put a prayer target on them! They automatically get an arrow with their name on it that gets shot to Heaven daily!


It is my mission to pray for the frowny-faced grumps every day and give a smile to them even if they don’t smile back. Someone needs to show them the love of God even if they keep growling and scowling! I love getting Jesus on their case!!! I learned some time ago that if someone is mean to me or others they are probably just really hurting, as someone said, “hurting people hurt people.” So I get em on my prayer hit list!!! Look out–blessings are gonna chase you down and pretty soon that frown will turn upside down into a perma-grin on your face because of God’s love!!! 


I really don’t care so much about whether or not people care for me–that is a waste of my time and energy! I also cannot judge them–for all I know they are deaf and have facial muscle disorders and aren’t able to smile–or maybe they are hurting deeply and have nothing to give–but I do pray God to bless them! I’m looking for ways to be a blessing. 


The love of God melts even the toughest hearts. It is easy to love those who love you, but not so easy to love those who cannot give you anything in return. We need His love to flow through us–we can only love because He first loved us!

 

I’m reminded that Jesus took the hit for us. He took the hit for the grumps of the world. He will take those prayers and acts of kindness towards those who are depleted of love and turn worlds inside out! 


Who in your life that needs to be on your prayer target list? Listen to The Lord for direction as to how you can pray and be a blessing to those in your world. Be a world changer by shooting your prayers like arrows on behalf of those who seem angry, mean or hurting and ask the Holy Spirit how you can show people the kindness of Jesus–even if it seems small. ☺️


Dear Father,

Send me to be the light in this dark world today. Let your love shine in me to ALL around me and show me how to be honoring to those who are not honoring to me so that they may see Jesus and come to know how much you love them too. In Jesus’ name, Amen


Identity: Spoken Word/Oral Interpretation Reading

This is meant to be a reading for 3-5 people to in unison. They will read the parts that are the same together in unison and any part that is different will be read separately.

Person 1:

Some say I am
worthless to
society
all because of

poverty

But the life I live is

family
loyalty

Survival in depravity
Is so familiar to me

You see
I’ve learned to

watch TV…
my escape from
reality

this is my

I   D   E   N   T   I   T   Y.

Person 2:

Some say I am
worthy to
society
all because of

money

But the life I live is

lonely
empty

Survival in popularity
Is so familiar to me

You see
I’ve learned to

watch TV…
my escape from
reality…

Money…
this is my

I   D   E   N   T   I   T   Y

Person 3:

Some say I am
trouble

a burden to
society
all because of my history

But the life I live is

lonely
empty

Survival in addiction
Is so familiar to me

You see I’ve learned
To numb the pain of my reality

To only think of me.

addict…
this is my

I   D   E   N   T   I   T   Y.

Person 4:

Some say I am
worthy to
society
all because of

My degrees.

But the life I live is

lonely
empty

Survival in stress
Is so familiar to me

You see
I’ve learned to

Work perfectly
my escape from
reality…

Success
this is my

I   D   E   N   T   I   T   Y.

Person 5:

God says I am
worthy to
be free
all because of

the Cross of Calvary

But the life I live

Not my own

Victory
Is so familiar to me

You see
I’ve learned to

turn off the TV…
to embrace the reality

CHILD OF GOD
this is my

I   D   E   N   T   I   T   Y.

AHHHHHtism…Awarness Every Day

Today is April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day. Maybe you’ve seen the “Light it Up Blue” ads or are wearing blue today in honor of a loved one who has autism. I’m glad people are recognizing the need for Autism awareness. There is a sense of support that lends itself to those who have a family member with Autism. The thoughts I’m jotting here are some things I’m aware of as a mom of a sweet boy with autism not only today, but every day. Autism is not glamorous but it is amazing. It is our reality and we are aware of it. Pretend for a moment this was a reality show…well here’s just a few reality stories from our little family… 🙂

1. Lobby Lady

Some days I’m more aware of Autism than others. I’m aware of the challenges that we face in our family. Just the other day, I was taking Isaiah to an appointment for Speech and OT (Occupational Therapy) and the battle to get into the door was quite a doozie. While most days he leaps out of the car to go to his appointments, that day he wanted to stay in the car. I’m guessing it was partially related to fact we were driving daddy’s car (which we didn’t know would be the case) and while on the road, he was just fixated on turning right instead of me taking the normal left that we do every week into his appointment at the last minute. Just the smallest thing can set a meltdown in motion. And once a meltdown is in motion…buckle up because it will be quite a ride…at least until something better comes along to fixate on!  That day we made it inside the doors about 5 minutes (which was pretty quick all things considered,) and he began full on biting and kicking and throwing anything at me he could get his hands on. I quickly morphed into Ginga the Ninja mom and put into practice my restraint skills and backed up against the front office desk and slid down to the floor to get some support and hoped to prevent him from harming himself or others. The waiting room was fuller than normal that day of other moms and their perfectly behaved little children sitting quietly in their seats waiting to be called on…and though nobody said a word, I could feel them watching as I attempted to calm Isaiah down with a “hug”–holding both of his wrists tightly across his body like a hug as he screamed and struggled to get loose. I felt myself dissociate from the situation, fighting back the urge to cry (which I did later believe me!) and turned my thoughts to my source of strength, “God you are my rock. My fortress. My strong tower. In you I take refuge right now.” Even in those awful wrestling match tantrum moments, God is always there. And just at that moment of helplessness, as my ninja powers were wearing thin, a sweet mom noticed my purse was in the way, and asked, “can I take your purse for you?” That simple act of kindness was all I needed to feel supported at that moment. In those moments, we may not know how to help, but we can do something. And I will never forget how supported I felt in that moment of feeling so alone with an out of control child.  Sometimes all that needs to be done is to just stand there and say, “I’ll just stay here until you think of how I can help.” Just being there. Isaiah eventually calmed down when he saw his favorite therapist was ready to bring him to his appointment, but those moments in between are a battle sometimes. It was such a reminder to me to never judge a parent whose child is acting out…we never, ever know the full story, but we can always offer to be there. Thank you mom in the lobby for being there. You were my hero that day.

Line Up. Isaiah loves American flags. He is obsessed with them. Anything he does can be related back to an American Flag! Our front yard has 100s of garden size American flags aerating the grass in the spring and summertime. He loves to line them up and watch them as the wind makes them flap in perfect rows. He sure does love straight lines, and I see this in his daily activities. These flags have become his toys. There are mom flags, daddy flags, even little baby flags with broken legs, or flags that are old grandpas. He told our neighbor that he is a “flag farmer.” He faithfully plants his flags year after year, and wonderful care of them! This past week we took a quick trip to grocery store and I asked him to put items from the cart onto the conveyer belt. Everything was perfectly arranged in a straight line…a 4 inch space between every item. Applesauce and Gluten free pretzels lined up like little soldiers ready for battle.

He loves to put things in rows, sequence and thrives on order. (which is really a blessing because I tend to be more of a free spirit!) He loves writing lists and if we don’t have a list, we often have a meltdown later in the day, so we love lists too! Routines are our best ally. Our daily list might look something like this:

1. Wake up at 6:00
2. Cuddle at 6:05
3. Get dressed. Undies, socks, pants, shirt.
4. See the sunrise
5. Breakfast at 6:30.

And so on…
Last night, I tucked Isaiah into bed and we said our prayers. I admit I was being a little silly in my prayer and he said, “Mommy, now you’re just being silly. You need to stop that praying and just go out now so I can get some rest.” Ok then, little man! He never ceases to put a smile on my face in such unexpected ways.

Autism Awareness.
There is autism at our table…we love to celebrate huge victories of a bite of  rice or even smelling food that is unfamiliar. I cried when he ate a sandwich for the first time. And just yesterday he ate two bites of eggs. These may seem like small victories, but for us they were monumental.

There is autism in our church as we watch Isaiah dance freely to the music, offering up his own form of praise and worship…or the time when he went to be baptized and stripped down to his underwear! Only to find the water in the tank was freezing cold! So he screamed at the top of his lungs and sat along the ledge of the baptism tank with his Captain America briefs facing the crowd, as he cheered for each participant in his skivvies!

There is autism at school…he loves to figure out number patterns. He learned to count by 60s well into the 1000s while the other children struggle to count to 30! Or watching him read books that are waaaaaaay beyond his recommended reading level, and spelling “hippopotamus” as a 3 year old. Or writing the alphabet Z-A instead of A-Z just because he can.

We are all in this together.
My hope is that as awareness of autism in our society continues to spread, the judgmental stares will get less and less, and people will not say foot-in-mouth things like, “Get a handle on your son!” Or, “If he were my kid he would be grounded” during a screaming fit in the store because the music was too loud and hurting his ears. There are people who just probably won’t get it. Other sweet and well meaning moms and dads will say things like, “Oh I know what you are going through, my child had a meltdown the other day too…” Thanks but I know you don’t get it. They mean well, but they don’t get it. And that is ok. We don’t have to fully understand in order to care. have no idea what it is like to be in their shoes either, and that is OK. It really is. God knows what it is like to be in my shoes. I hold on to that hope that the meltdowns will fade over time (and they are!), that Isaiah will grow up to be well loved and that he will be all that God has intended him to be. With our without a diagnosis of Autism, there is a little boy in our lives who we love so very much! His spirit is fully alive and full of so much love! He happens to have Autism and we are totally aware of our love for him!!!

We are not the perfect parents. I’m sure there are parents who would do things differently if they were in our shoes. But they are not in our home, or our shoes, so I try not to worry about those people who aren’t there! (Now I sound like a crazy lady…well at least that’s out in the open now! Just kiddin.) We don’t strive for perfect because we never will be perfect…some days simply surviving is as good as it gets!!! Every family has their set of challenges, and there is a fresh grace available for any trial that we face. Truth is, we will never be perfect, but we do have the perfect God who has given us the perfect love for Isaiah. And He can do the same for anyone! He gives strength and solutions to our every issue, and I have certainly found that to be true. When my hubs or I feel low on fuel, we run to God. He is our refuge. There are moments when Isaiah is having a moment and I ask God, “What do I do?” And an idea will pop into my head and will be the key to a peaceful evening. God knows our kids better than we do! He created them and knows just what they need. As parents, we are His kids too, and He promises to walk with us and give us instruction if we ask for it.

These promises in Isaiah 40 are such a wonderful comfort to me…and God has proven faithful time and time again. He gives us strength to keep going and no matter what challenge we are facing, God is there.

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I’m so grateful I don’t have to drag my feet just to get by, but we can SOAR! God will help us to rise above our circumstances and challenges with a light heart and joy for the journey. Be blessed my friend!

Peace and Giggles, ❤
Ginger

Glam on A Dime: Fashion Forward into Spring!

With Daylight savings approaching in a few hours, I’m reminded to FASHION FORWARD as well! This is the time of year I start to pack up my fall/winter clothes and re-introduce my spring/summer clothes!  As I take inventory of my closet his spring, I plan to find a few wardrobe updates to freshen up what I currently have. While it is indeed fun to update the seasonal wardrobe, money is usually the biggest factor. I’ve learned LOTS of ways to stay fashion forward without spending un-necessary dollars! There have even been times when I was able to new spring clothes without spending any money at all!!! If this interests you, read on!

10 Ways to be Glam on a Dime this spring:

1. Have a PLAN.
Sift through your closet at the beginning of the season and pull the things you don’t LOVE. What are the holes in your closet? Do you have 10 dressy tops but not even 1 pair of dress pants? Come up with a list of items you need and know what you have. What is on your list for this season? Is there anything you can stretch to wear another season? Keep what you love and toss what you don’t. Simple.

2. KNOW YOUR STUFF.
Knowing what you’re looking for before you hit the racks will help eliminate unnecessary purchases. Do your best not to buy impulsively and think about what you already have. Maybe you have a few terrific dresses you never wear because you just don’t have a place to wear them…could one of those be used instead of making a new purchase? Look for items that you can wear for many occasions. Find out what your best colors are and think about what you really enjoy wearing. Before making any purchase for your wardrobe, ask yourself the question: 1. What do I currently have in my wardrobe? 2. Do I wear what is in my wardrobe? Find out what you need, what you want, what you have and what you can live without. If you know what you have it will be so much easier to add to your wardrobe.

3. KNOW YOUR UNIFORMS.
Plan ahead for events that you know you need a special outfit for…weddings, family photos…etc. When you plan ahead, chances are you’ll have a little time to scour some clearance racks, ask friends to borrow or find one of a kind pieces at thrift stores or consignment shops. Find outfits that you can mix and match and wear for multiple occasions simply by styling them differently. If you have questions about what to wear, see my #9 tip on Pinterest below!

4. INVEST in good, quality basic pieces.
This doesn’t mean spend a LOT. If you’re like me and you’re a little (LOT) thrifty, chances are you wear your clothes and shoes until they can’t be worn any more! I have learned that for items like shoes, purses and outerwear, that it is more cost-effective in the long run to purchase items that are quality made. Shop garage sales, thrift stores and clearance racks during the off season at the outlet malls and look for quality pieces that will last over the years. There have been many occasions when I’ve run across fantastic quality pieces at a thrift store simply because I knew what to look for and was able to snag a staple piece for a super deal!!

5. Be true to yourself.
Don’t just wear something because it is trendy. Many women (myself included) see something on a friend and assume that it is going to be right for us as well. This is not always the case. Wear an item because it is awesome on you and you feel amazing in it! Find out what your best colors are, what fabrics and fits are most flattering and stick with what works for you. There may be things in your closet you LOVED 5 hair styles ago, but are just not representative of your current style. If you have items in your closet that are not your color or that you love but never wear because they never quite “feel right” that is more than likely an indicator that they are not you. If it is stained or beyond repair, either find a re-use for it or toss it out.

6. Accessorize.
Can’t afford a new outfit this spring? Not to worry! Try a new scarf, belt, colorful tank top or statement necklace to change up your staple wardrobe or find pieces you already have to change up your current looks. You’d be amazed at what a little piece of costume jewelry can do to spruce up an old outfit! This is my FAVORITE way to change my wardrobe. Another trick is to take an old tarnished piece of costume jewelry that you already have and paint it with a pretty opaque shade of nail polish or even metallic polish! I have several pieces of silver costume jewelry that I have painted with silver nail polish and they look brand new for practically nothing! And if you know how to do some simple sewing, consider taking the old buttons off of an outdated blouse or cardigan and putting more modern ones on…sometimes a little button goes a long way to bring something old back to life!

7. Remember the LATTE RULE.
Don’t spend more than you would on a foo-foo latte drink to purchase a super trendy piece of clothing. Say whaaaat??? Yep–That is my rule. Has the style been around for awhile or is it something that is going to go out by the next season? I have found some high quality, VERY cute, trendy pieces for less than $10 at name brand stores simply because I’ve waited to shop the clearance racks. If something is ultra trendy, I will ask myself a few questions: . Does this look good on ME? Just because something is a trend doesn’t mean that it will be flattering to my shape or coloring. Do I NEEEEEEEED it? Just beacuse a $3 shirt fits and looks good doesn’t mean you NEEEEEEED it. Do you have an occasion to wear it for? If you don’t wear it again, what would you do with the item?

8. SELL, GIVE, TRADE.
When you clean out your wardrobe at the end of each season, take a look at EVERY item in your closet and ask yourself or a friend if it STILL looks good on you. Is it in good condition? Are there visible stains or discolorations to the fabric? Any buttons missing or areas that need to be sewn? How does it fit? What can you give away? What is in great shape that could go to a consignment shop? I have a friend who also LOVES clothes, but we have an agreement that if we are going to give an item away, we ask the other one if they would like first dibs. This is wonderful to have a friend who wears the same size and has a great sense of style! Many of my “toss” items are her new wardrobe staples, and vice versa! Sell-what items have you got in your closet that you could sell for some extra cash for. There are several 2nd hand retail shops that will purchase your clothing from you. I often have a garage sale in the spring and in the fall and find that I make some good money on clothing I would’ve otherwise just had hanging in my closet. I also find that there are online garage sale pages on facebook dedicated to helping people sell their items. I have made hundreds doing this in just a short amount of time, and that way I don’t have to have much of a budget for newer items! I have been able to make money on many of my “latte” priced trendy pieces, and internally smile as the buyer purchases the gently used quality item for a fraction of what I paid for it NEW! Have a SWAP party with your friends and bring purses, shoes, or clothing that you don’t wear anymore and make exchanges with one another! Have a garage sale! Use money earned from your sales to put towards some new up-to date duds!

9. Get on PINTEREST!
Learn how to rock what you’ve got with Pinterest! Have a blazer you love but don’t know how to wear it? What to know how to wear a trendy necklace you got for Christmas? There are more than likely great ideas that will spark your memory of what you already have and how you can wear it! For example, I have a basic denim dress that I got for a super deal and thanks to Pinterest now have at least 15 different ways I can wear one dress! Love that!

10. BE CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE!!!!
Chances are, you have items that you certainly could wear for another season. If you love it, the fit is right and it is in good condition, there is no need to toss it. Don’t keep something because you “might” wear it in a few years! Sell it, trade it or give it away! Or find a re-purpose for it! Old sweaters can make really cute scarves or mittens! I’ve used RIT dyes to change the colors of my favorite items that just were not my best color and was so happy with the end result and was able to keep the item that was a perfect fit, but the wrong color. Wear what you have and be thankful for what you have. You may not like what is in your closet at times, but always remember to be thankful to God for His provision! Cute and fashionable clothes are NOT a necessity but a blessing. In our country we have an abundance that we are blessed with. If you have more than one pair of shoes, consider yourself rich! There are many parts of the world that don’t have the luxuries we do here. I never want to take for granted all that I’ve been blessed with! Maybe you have an abundance and know of someone who doesn’t have much….bag it up and give her the option to sort through it to see if she could use pieces that you don’t need. You’ll be blessed by the opportunity to give and she will be blessed to receive!

That’s my glam on a dime tips for the day! Set your clocks ahead and be fashion forward this spring!!!
Ginger ❤

Unpacking the Heart: Toll on the Soul

Welcome to Unpacked Heart.
Over the past few years, there has been a stirring in me to write. I went through a time when I would sit down at the computer or with my journal and chirpety-chirp went the crickets. Was it writers block? Words have always come easy for me and for a span of several years, I would sit down to write and…chirp. My heart was clogged. It was packed to the brim with details, trying to keep up with the wild schedule we were keeping in an unusually busy season of transition.

Clogged.
When I think of something that is needing to be un-packed, I think of something full that needs to be emptied. In the medical world, a clog in the heart is not to be ignored. My heart was truly clogged, packed to the fullest capacity and deeply craving to find normalcy and rest in the middle of this zany season we were in. While in the middle of day to day life, I didn’t necessarily notice how stressed I had become, but when I would sit down to have quiet time with the Lord or attempted to write, I began to recognize that my time, my focus, my passion even seemed to be a little clogged. While I could always find some sense of deep peace and rest in time with Jesus, life was anything but restful! Activities that were once so exciting began to lose their zest. I have always been a walker and love to be on the move, but during this season of constantly being on the go, I had lost my motivation…most nights falling into bed and reaching for the snooze the next day. Life in the fast lane can do that to a person.

Life in the Faster-Than-a-Speeding-Bullet Lane
The past 5 years of my life and family’s life have not just been lived in the fast lane, but more like the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet lane. In that short amount of times my husband and I met and got married, moved 4 times. Between my husband and I, we had 11 jobs (at various times!), and our son went to 4 different schools. I resigned from my dream job where I worked for 10 years and had many close friends there. My grandfather passed away which was a very painful time to watch him decline so quickly and unexpectedly. Several of our family members have moved out of state, and we miss them deeply. We have also made many new friends–who have also moved away and we have had to start fresh making new friends and trying to maintain old relationships from a distance. Our son with special needs also had to have several new weekly services added to his plate, and he also began a series of 8 hard-plaster casts on both feet to help him walk better. And to top it all off, we started a new pastorate at a church in a brand new community 90 miles from our friends and loved ones. Yes…life was FAST during this time.

The dust is finally beginning to settle after all the changes. We are becoming familiar with our new community and moved into a new home (again!). There are many items yet in storage, but we are pretty much all settled in and loving this new season! There is a lot inside of me that still needs to be unpacked–memories, stories, life lessons, and even a deeper look at the emotions that may have been brushed aside during the chaotic time of transition.

Facing Feelings
I had the opportunity for a few weeks to fill in for another staff member at my former job. On my 95 minute drive home, tears were streaming down my cheeks and I was hit with a wave of emotion I didn’t even know was packed deep inside. I spent that time thanking God for the ways that that “job” not only paid the bills, but it shaped who I am today. There are thousands of memories that I will hold in my heart, and being back on the old stomping grounds helped me to realize that I had been so very thankful for my decade in that Christ-centered environment and the hundreds of people who had touched my life in deeply profound ways. It was a place where I knew I was loved and valued and could bring all that God set inside of me to do and was free to do it there. What a gift. Even now, as I  am writing, the lump is visiting my throat and tears and welling up. Being confronted with this painful emotion reminds me that the soul must be unpacked on a regular basis. Over the years, I have been a pastoral counselor to many and a common responses are to self-medicate, to focus on the pain of others, to become bitter or angry, to minimize the pain or even to pretend the pain isn’t there. In the busy-ness of my recent life, it is so much easier to tell myself, “Its not that bad” or “I’m fine” when in reality, there may be deeper levels of grief to face that in the hustle and bustle of life, I told myself, “this doesn’t hurt. I need to move forward.” If someone had an arm chopped off, got hit by a car or punched in the gut, it would call for a response to the pain. But all too often, we tell ourselves that our pain doesn’t matter…not because we don’t feel it, but because we are too busy to deal with it. I hear quite often from others, and have said myself, “I don’t have the time to cry.” Tears are a gift from God! There is a science behind tears (google it!) that there are different types of tears. For example the tears we shed from cutting onions are just saline. But when we shed tears of sorrow or stress…there are toxins in the tears! God created us to detoxify our bodies and get the tears out!

“A hurried soul is not a deep soul.”
A wise pastor friend of ours said, “A hurried soul is not a deep soul.” While life in the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet lane can be adventurous, fun and exciting, it can also be stressful and if we are not careful that stress can take a toll on our soul! There is always something to think about, something to plan, something to do. Scientists have proven that the negative stress that comes in response to turbulent times (distress) and positive stress that comes along with circumstances one is excited about (eustress) have a very similar effect on the body. That being said, soul care is of utmost importance. Whether it is a challenging time of a funeral or a loss of a job or a joyful time of planning a wedding or a vacation, the soul needs to find a place of rest.

Soul Spa.
When I was single, date nights with Jesus were frequent. I loved to call these nights “soul spas!” A time when my soul would be refreshed. Whether it was a time to go and get my nails done, go for a walk or to lock myself in the bedroom with my journal and Bible, it was a discipline I really began to enjoy and have adapted into my life on a regular basis now. When we first got married, I told my husband that these “soul spa” times were a must! I’m so thankful for a husband who sees the importance of caring for his own soul and encourages me to do the same for mine. One winter night, I came home from work and was ready to get busy packing for a move (again!) and was also getting prepared to resign from my beloved job. He handed me an envelope when I got home and told me to go right back to my car. He kissed me goodbye and sent me on my way! The envelope had several other smaller envelopes inside of it and on each one was a designated time when I could open it. The first one read, “Go here first.” I opened it up and there was a gift card to Starbucks! He encouraged me to spend some time with Jesus while I enjoyed a delish drink! I spent time there for a little bit and when the time came to open the second envelope I found a slip waiting for me that he had made an appointment for me to get a massage! And after my massage, he blessed me with some cash to go and purchase a new outfit. What a guy! As wonderful as that night was, what stands out is not the massage, the coffee or the new outfit, but rather the love my husband has for me and the way he encourages my relationship with God to be nourished. Even more, the desire that Jesus has for me to come and find rest for my weary soul. Matthew 11:28-30 says,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Time to Unpack.
I’m speaking to myself here, because I’m in a different season now. Life is still full and there are many things going on, but it is slower. I’m learning to unwind and take time for myself. I am taking time to write and to plan for things that are important to me. I am taking time to sit for as long as it takes so that all that has been packed inside can be pulled out.
There is a process that goes into packing. Depending on how organized a person is, the process can be quite tedious! It seems that no matter how much I prepare for a big move, there are always a few last minute items that are shoved into the box right before it is sealed and ready to put into the U-Haul. In a similar way, no matter how much I address my emotions as I’m going through life, there are often feelings that just get shoved inside my heart in the hustle and bustle of life to be unpacked later. As I sit in God’s presence, there are often hurts and feelings that come to the surface that I’ve either packed away or was just too busy to want to face them. Just like taking the time to unpack after a vacation or a big move, sometimes we have to take time to let God show us what is in our hearts so that we can be free to live the life that God has called each of us to live. We are called to be the light in this dark, stressful, adventurous, wonderful world that He created. There are stories and memories that are yet to be unpacked, burdens that I might not even realize I need to give to Jesus and light that He wants to shine through me. As I unpack my heart, my prayer is that you’ll find a lightened load for your own soul. That you’ll find peace in the midst of your busiest moments where you can sit at the feet of Jesus, unpacked heart wide open and ready to receive all He has for you.

Prayer for An Unpacked Heart
Heavenly Father, my soul’s delight,

help me sit still with you and help me travel light.
Lift the burdens from my soul,
Free me God and make me whole.

Unpack my heart from worry, shame and fear.
In this place of stillness, I know that you are near.
Unpack my heart from burdens, the shame that lies inside.
Free my from my sorrows, from the pain I try to hide.
Unpack my heart and fill me with strength from above
As together we unpack my heart and you fill me with your love.

Happy unpacking!
Ginger ❤

Don’t Have Coffee With the Devil!

Imagine for a moment that you’re on the way to have a coffee date with Jesus. You walk in to the cafe and find Him smiling, seated with a worn leather chair reserved for you next to the crackling fire place. He leans your way and begins to tell you about how much He loves you. He tells you how glad He is that you’re there and that He has so much to share! He tells you of your intrinsic value and promises never to leave your side. He reminds you how much He simply enjoys you and that He is so glad that you’ve chosen to spend time with Him. Right in the midst of your conversation, eyes lovingly locked with Jesus, soaking up every word, you notice your former friend, the devil, out of the corner of your eye. He walks boldly into the room, and you flinch as he scoots right up to the empty table next to you and begins to whisper to you, “don’t listen to Him…that is a bunch of garbage…you’re not even a real Christian! Your foolish to believe that you’re valuable! I mean, look at you! You’re an idiot! Do you want me to tell you how many times you’ve messed up!?!”
That old, familiar whisper reminds you of your insecurities, your failures, your broken dreams. You try to keep your eyes locked in with Jesus, but there seems to be some validity to what the devil is saying…after all…he’s right, isn’t he? You lean in closer to the whisper of your enemy, and now begin to take to heart what he says. The words of Jesus fade into the background of the cafe rumblings. Jesus continues to talk to you, telling you the truth about your identity, but you find yourself listening intently to the devil’s whisper. Eventually he notices that you quit paying attention to His words of life, and doesn’t leave, doesn’t stop loving you, but just waits to talk until you turn back to Him.

Within a few minutes of soaking up the filthy lies of the enemy, your heart has been saturated with filth, leaving no room for the truth of the One who loves you. You turn back to Jesus and say, “you know, I hear what you’re trying to tell me and all, but I really don’t deserve to hear it. After all, I really don’t believe what you say about me…I really believe what the devil says about me.”
Now, that may be a bit extreme, but think of how often we do that when we choose to believe the lies of the enemy in our daily lives! It may come as a passing thought in the mirror, “I sure am ugly” or we may reach for our vice of choice, believing “once an addict, always an addict.” The problem is, that when we believe the lies about our identity, we are in agreement with the father of lies. Let me say that again…when we believe lies about our identity, we are agreeing with the devil and are basically telling Jesus that we would rather side with the one hates and wants to kill, steal all we have and destroy everything God wants for our lives!

Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32, 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:44 says this, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Each day we have the choice to agree with what God says about us or to agree with the adversary and what he has to say about us. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we must know our identity as God’s beloved children who can walk in total freedom if we would just believe what He says! If we don’t know who we are, the devil would be glad to define that for us!

One way that we can know who God says we are, is to read the Holy Bible, His word and to study it. A great place to study about our identity in Christ is the book of Ephesians. One of my favorite passages in all of scripture talks about putting on the armor of God. In Ephesians 6:12-18, Paul reminded the church in Ephesus to be aware that they are in spiritual battle that cannot be won with earthly weapons. Among those weapons is the belt of truth. Now, as a fashion-conscious gal, I love a good belt to accessorize my wardrobe. But Paul wasn’t talking about being fashion forward…he was taking about standing in war…and having the truth buckled around the waist so as never to lose it…to keep it on even in the battle. The important principle here is that we must hold to the truth of our position and identity in Christ in this day. Long after those words were written by the Apostle Paul, we are still challenged to hold on to the truth of who we really are.

Lean in to the voice of the One who is longing to share His love for you! Go ahead– tell that devil that you’re on a date with Jesus…and his days with you are OVER! Then, be sure to tell him as you and Jesus sit side by side, “Oh and by the way, devil, you are a LIAR and nothing you ever say is true…so thanks for confirming that the opposite of what you try to tell me is true…I AM LOVED and VALUABLE! I AM MORE THAN A CONQUEROR, AND THE CROSS WAS AND IS ENOUGH AND THE BLOOD COVERS AND CLEANSED ME FROM THE PAST!!!”

Raise that Latte up high to toast the Most High!!!
Ginger ❤